Islam: beliefs and teachings 2 – THE NATURE OF GOD

The Nature of Allah – What do Muslims believe Allah is like?

 1.  Tawhid – The Oneness of Allah

 Islam is a monotheistic faith meaning Muslims believe in ONE god. This idea is important as Islam developed during a time when polytheism and idol worship was common. To establish Islam Muhammad cleared the Kaba in Mecca of all of the idols. Allah is creator and the ultimate source of power. Nothing can be put on the same level as Allah. This is seen as the greatest sin of Shirk.

 

The importance of Tawhid is shown in Sura 112:

“Say He is Allah, the One and only; Allah is The Eternal, Absolute; He begetteth not, nor is He begotten; and there is no one like Him”

 

For Muslims, Allah was not born and has not fathered children in the human sense of the word. This passage marks out Islam as different to Christianity where Christians view God as a Trinity and that Jesus was the Son of God. Such beliefs go against the strict monotheism of Islam.

 

The importance of Tawhid is also shown in the first of the Five Pillars of Islam:

“There is no God but Allah and Muhammad is His messenger

 

2.  Omnipotence – Allah is all powerful

According to the Qur’an Allah is ‘Able to do all things’. Allah is responsible for creation and knows all that is happening in the world. For a Muslim, accepting that Allah is omnipotent gives them total confidence and trust that Allah is with them. Everything that happens in life is part of Allah’s plan for mankind.

 

3.  Immanence & Transcendence

The word immanence means that Allah is involved in His creation. The word transcendence means that Allah is above and beyond human understanding. For Muslims, Allah is both of these things at the same time.

‘He is closer to humans than their jugular vein’ (Qur’an 50)

          ‘And He is with you wherever you may be’ (Qur’an 57)

 

If the jugular vein is cut a human will die. It is vital to life and existence. Similarly, Allah is vital to human existence. He is with mankind always.This gives a Muslim confidence but also an awareness that Allah is watching their actions and will judge them on their behaviour.

Transcendence

No vision can grasp Him….He is above all understanding” (Qur’an 6)

‘Nothing there is like Him’ (Qur’an 42)

 

Allah is transcendent. He is outside of the world, space and time. He has no beginning or end. Transcendence is the characteristic, which allows Allah to be outside of His creation and control it but not be affected by it.

4.  Beneficence & Mercy

The word beneficence means kind, loving and compassionate. The word mercy means to forgive. For Muslims, Allah is both loving and forgiving. In the Qur’an Allah is referred to as the Beneficent 57 times and over 160 times as The Merciful. Evidence that Allah is beneficent and merciful is:

  • Sent prophets to guide mankind on the right path
  • Gave humans freewill to follow His path
  • Allah will forgive those who are genuinely sorry for their actions
  • Suffering must be viewed as a test of faith
  • Humans should seek to live out these characteristics in their daily lives for example giving to charity and forgiving those who have acted against them

5.  Fairness & Justice

Justice (Adalat) means fairness. Despite often experiencing pain and suffering Muslims are taught to accept that all  that they face is part of a test from Allah and their response will be used to judge them fairly on the Day of Judgment. Allah fairly rewards those who have lived a good life and fairly punishes those who have not followed the correct path. Muslims are also expected to treat others with fairness eg not cheat in business dealings or campaign for social justice eg volunteer with a charity such as Muslim Aid.

Advertisements