Monday, 8 April 2013

The Concept of God in Islam

The first part of the Muslim confession of faith (the Shahada) is the basis for the concept of God in Islam.The Muslim bears witness that: "There is no god but God". or "no divinity but the (one) Divinity". The revealed Scripture of Islam, the Qur'an, is like a vast commentary on this simple statement, drawing from it all its implications for human life and thought.

This conception of the Deity is strictly monotheistic and unitarian. God alone has absolute being, totally independent and totally self-sufficient. Whatever exists or ever could exist does so by His will. He has no "partner" either in creating the universe or in maintaining it in existence. He is not only the "First Cause" hut also ultimately, the only cause, and He is Himself uncaused. The Qur'an tells us: "Say: He is Allah. One, the utterly Self-sufficient: He begets not neither is He begotten, and there is nothing that is like unto Him". It tells us also that: "When He wills a thing to be. He but says unto it - Be!; and it is".

A further implication of the first part of the Shahada is that there can be no power, force or agency in the heavens or on earth which is independent of God.Everything that exists -and everything that happens-is subject to His control; there is nothing that can compete with Him or that escapes His grasp, nothing that does not bear witness to His creative power and majesty. "The
seven heavens and the earth and all that is therein praise Him", says the Qur'an.

"And there is not a tiling that does not hymn His praise, though you understand not their praise".
In the Islamic view, it is impossible for the human mind to form an adequate conception of God as He is in His eternal and absolute being. The creature cannot comprehend the Creator. According to the Qur'an, "No (human) vision encompasseth Him, yet He encompasseth (all) vision".

But Islam does not demand blind belief. The Qur'an tells us a great deal about the nature of the Divine, and it describes God by a number of terms-called "The most beautiful Names" - which help us to understand Him. The Qur'an tells us: "Allah, there is no god but He, the Living, (the eternally Self-subsistent. Slumber overtakes Him not, nor sleep. To Him belong all that is in the heavens and all that is upon earth. Who is there than (can) intercede with Him except by His leave? He knows what is before them and what is behind them, and they comprehend naught of His knowledge save what He pleases. His Throne extends over the heavens and the earth, and He is not wearied by preserving them; and He is the Most High, the Immense".

He is Al-Ahad. "the One", absolute unity. This is in sharp contrast to the Christian conception of the Trinity. The One cannot be divided, nor can it be diminished or "humanised" by incarnation in any created form. God does not become His own creature, in fact He does not "become" anything: because He is the God.

The Qur'an describes Him also as Al-Ala. "the Most High", totally transcendent in relation to His own creations and therefore infinitely beyond all that we might attempt to associate with Him. He is Al-Aziz. "the Almighty", and Al-Jabbar", for there
is no one and nothing that could possibly resist His power,which governs and regulates all existence in accordance with a predetermined measure. It follows that there is no earthly power that is not derived from Him, no strength nor any virtue that is not loaned to us by Him: and no one can help us except by His will, nor can anyone harm us unless He permits them to do so (in which case this harm is a trial to be horne with patience).

He is called Al-Haqq, "the Truth" (or "the Reality"),and to deny Him is to be far distant from truth at every level of experience. The Arabic word Al-kafirun, and this word suggests a deliberate act of "covering", in other
words, those who deny Him whose name is "the Truth" have "covered" their own understanding with an opaque
covering so as not to see what is ultimately self-evident. In so doing they have shut out the light, for another of His
names is Al-Nur. "Light". These are they whom the Qur'an describes as the "blind", for "Allah is the Light of
the heavens and the earth". In Islam everything is derived from the divine nature and therefore from the "names" by
which God has made Himself known, and it He were not "Light" there could be no light any where, whether

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