The Nature of God
Both Christianity and Islam share many similar ideas about God. Look at the table below:
Key Characteristics of God
Exam Tip – There are many characteristics of God but you need to be able to explain seven fully. You should always try to give an example of how a Christian or a Muslim knows God has a particular characteristic.
God is actively involved in His creation on a daily basis. This might be shown through miracles at eg Lourdes or for Christians the ongoing presence of the Holy Spirit who guides them on a daily basis. In Islam, the Qur’an teaches “He is with you wherever you may be” (Qur’an)
God is too great for us to understand. He is totally separate from us. He is above and beyond and not limited by time or space. For many Christians their view is that they may never fully understand God’s will and simply have to trust and have faith. Muslims would also say that Allah can be viewed as transcendent due to Him creating the world. Allah is above and beyond all space and time.
God is all powerful and capable of anything. This idea is most obviously shown in the creation of the world, which was ex nihilo – out of nothing! Muslims would share this belief.
God is all seeing, He knows our actions before we perform them. In Islam this is linked to the idea of Predestination. God knows what each individual will do before they do it. The Qur’an also states, ‘God knows the secrets of the heavens and the earth, and God sees all that you do.’ (Qur’an)
God is all loving, no matter what people do, He will never give up on them. In Christianity, the greatest act of love by God was Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross which rebuilt the relationship between God and mankind, “God so loved the world that He gave His only Son” In Islam, Allah’s benevolence is highlighted in the Qur’an. Every chapter except one begins with the Bismillah, “In the name of God, the Gracious, the Compassionate”
Believers feel that they have a personal relationship with God. Words such as Father or Friend may be used to describe God in Christianity. In Islam, it is believed that Allah has 99 names many of which are everyday words used to describe what Allah is like eg ‘Merciful’ “Compassionate”. Muslims would say they have a personal relationship with Allah through prayer.
God is not like a physical being. He is like a spiritual force, spirit or idea.
Most Christians and Muslims would say that God has all of these characteristics.
Exam Tip – Why might some people view certain characteristics as more important? Why might believing God has certain characteristics such as omnibenevolence lead to some uncomfortable questions? If you are not sure please ask your teacher in class or via e mail.