CONCEPT OF GOD IN ISLAM

Allah, the Arabic word for God, is a unique term which has neither gender nor plural forms. It, therefore, alludes to the Islamic concept of the One and Only God, distinguished from all of His creations.

The One true God is a reflection of the unique concept that Islam associates with God. To a Muslim, Allah is the Almighty Creator and Sustainer of the universes, who is similar to nothing and nothing is comparable to Him. The Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) was asked by his contemporaries about Allah; the answer came directly from God Himself in the form of a short chapter of the Qur'an, which is considered the essence of the unity or the motto of monotheism.

In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful
"Say: He is Allah, the One and Only; Allah, the Eternal, Absolute; He begetteth not nor was He begotten, And there is none like unto Him." (Qur'an, 112: 1-4 ) .

God: the Merciful and the Just
With the exception of one, each of the l 14 chapters of the Qur'an begins with the verse "In the name of A1lah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful." In one of the sayings of Prophet Muhammad (P.B.U.H.) we are told that "Allah is more loving and kind than a mother to her dear child."

But God is also Just. Hence evildoers and sinners must have their share of punishment, and the virtuous, His bounties and favours. Actually, God's attribute of mercy has full manifestation in His attribute of Justice. People suffering throughout their lives for His sake and people oppressing and exploiting other people all their lives should not receive similar treatment from their Lord. Expecting similar treatment for them will amount to negating the very belief in the accountability of man in the Hereafter and thereby negating all the incentives for a moral and virtuous life in this world. The following Qur'anic verses are very clear and straightforward in this respect:
"Verily for the righteous, are gardens of delight, in the presence of their Lord.
Shall We then treat the people of faith like the people of sin ?
What is the matter with you ? How judge ye?" (Qur'an, 68: 34-36 ) .

Islam rejects characterising God in any human form or depicting Him as favouring certain individuals or nations on the basis of wealth, power or race. He created human beings as equals. They may distinguish themselves and get His favour through virtue and piety only.

The concepts that God rested on the seventh day of creation, that God wrestled with one of His soldiers, that God is an envious plotter against mankind, or that God is incarnate in any human being are considered blasphemous from the Islamic point of view.

God, the Unique
The Creator must be of a different nature from the things created because if He is of the same nature as they are, He will be temporal and will therefore need a maker. It follows that nothing is like Him. If the maker is not temporal, then He must be eternal. But if He is eternal, He cannot be caused, and if nothing outside Him causes Him to continue to exist, this means that He must be self-sufficient. And if He does not depend on anything for the continuance of His own existence, then this existence can have no end. The Creator is therefore eternal and everlasting:
"He is the First and the Last, the Evident and the Hidden: and He has full knowledge of all things."
) Qur'an, 57: 3 ) .

He is Self-sufficient or Self-subsistent or, to use a Qur'anic term, Al-Qayyum. The Creator does not create only in the sense of bringing things into being, He also preserves them and takes them out of existence and is the ultimate cause of whatever happens to them.

"Allah! There is no god but He - the Living, the Self-Subsisting, Eternal. No slumber can seize Him nor sleep. His are all things in the heavens and on earth. Who is there that can intercede in His presence except as He permitteth? He knoweth what (appeareth to His creatures as) before or after or behind them. Nor shall they compass aught of His knowledge except as He willeth. His throne doth extend over the heavens and the earth, and He feeleth no fatigue in guarding and preserving them. For He is the Most High, the Supreme (in glory)."
(Qur'an, 2: 255 ) .

God's Attributes
If the Creator is Eternal and Everlasting, then His attributes must also be eternal and everlasting. He should not lose any of His attributes nor acquire new ones. If this is so, then His attributes are absolute. Can there be more than one creator with such absolute attributes? Can there be for example, two absolutely powerful creators? A moment's thought shows that this is not feasible.

The Qur'an summarises this argument in the following verses:
"No son did Allah beget, nor is there any god along with Him: (if there were many gods), behold, each god would have taken away what he had created, and some would have lorded it over others! Glory to Allah (He is free) from the (sort of) things they attribute to Him!" (Qur'an, 23: 91 ) .

"If there were, in the heavens and the earth, other gods besides Allah, there would have been confusion in both! But glory to Allah, the Lord of the Throne: (high is He) above what they attribute to Him!"
( Qur'an, 21: 22 ).

The Oneness of God
The Prophet Abraham (P.B.U.H.) found that his countrymen, including his father, were worshipping idols and stars. Abraham tried to show them how meaningless these activities were and the Qur'an narrated this:
He said, "Worship ye that which ye have (yourselves) carved?" (Qur'an, 37: 95 ).

"When the night covered him over, he saw a star: he said: 'This is my Lord.' But when it set he said: 'I love not those that set.'
When he saw the moon rising in splendour, he said: 'This is my Lord.' But when the moon set, he said: 'Unless my Lord guide me I shall surely be among those who go astray.'
When he saw the sun rising in splendour, he said: 'This is my Lord; this is the greatest (of all).' But when the sun set he said: 'O my people! I am (indeed) free from your (guilt) of giving partners to Allah.'
"For me, I have set my face, firmly and truly, toward Him Who created the heavens and the earth, and never shall l give partners to Allah." (Qur'an, 6: 76-79 ) .

The Believer's Attitude
In order to be a Muslim, i.e., to surrender oneself to God, it is necessary to believe in the Oneness of God, in the sense of His being the only Creator. Preserver, Nourisher, etc. But this belief is not enough. Many of the idolaters knew and believed that only the Supreme God could do all this. However, that was not enough to make them Muslims. One must also acknowledge the fact that it is God alone Who deserves to be worshipped, and thus abstain from worshipping any other thing or being.

Having achieved this knowledge of the one true God, man should constantly have faith in Him, and should allow nothing to induce him to deny truth. When faith enters a person's heart, it causes certain mental states which result in certain actions. Taken together, these mental states and actions are the proof for the true faith. The Prophet said, "Faith is that which resides firmly in the heart and which is proved by deeds." Foremost among those mental states is the feeling of gratitude towards God, which could be said to be the essence of worship. This feeling of gratitude is so important that a person who denies the truth of Islam is called a "Kafir" which means one who is grossly ungrateful to God.

A believer loves and is grateful to God for the bounties He bestowed upon him, but being aware of the fact that his good deeds, whether mental or physical, are far from being commensurate with Divine favours, he is always anxious lest God should punish him, here or in the Hereafter.
therefore, he fears Him, surrenders himself to Him and serves Him with great humility. One cannot be in such a mental state without being almost all the time mindful of God. Remembering God is thus the life force of faith, without which it fades and withers away.

The Qur'an tries to promote this feeling of gratitude by repeating the attributes of God very frequently. We find most of these attributes mentioned together in the following verses of the Noble Qur'an:
"Allah is He, than Whom there is no other god - Who knows (all things) both secret and open; He Most Gracious, Most Merciful.
Allah is He, than whom there is no other god - the Sovereign, the Holy One, the Source of Peace (and Perfection), The Guardian of Faith, the Preserver of Safety, the Exalted in Might, the Irresistible, the Supreme: Glory to Allah! (High is He) above the partners they attribute to Him.
He is Allah the Creator, the Evolver, the Bestower of Forms (or colours). To Him belong the Most Beautiful Names: Whatever is in the heavens and on earth doth declare His Praises and Glory: and He is the exalted in Might, the Wise." (Qur'an, 59: 22-24 ).