Ali Selim: God or Allah
witness an intellectual and cultural vacuum drawing man away from believing in
the existence of God. Hence many people are in a whirl and the question arises:
Does God Exist? To answer this question objectively one should counter a very
surging tension, as if the answer is affirmative one needs to answer a series of
questions e.g. who is God? Is He masculine or feminine? etc. The most important
question will be how to reach God.
Among the fundamental intellectual topics, the existence of God enjoys a paramount importance. Some confirm and others deny. Undoubtedly, one of the major factors of the emergence of a phalanx of deniers of God is the intellectual prevention and domination of some followers of certain religions.
Since the earliest eras man has been strenuously endeavouring to increase his knowledge about God. Efforts were exerted to gain knowledge about the transcendent Patron of the universe, God the Unseen, the belief of whom is, yet some disbelieve, an innate characteristic of every man. It is an inward inclination that impels man to make intellectual investigation and research to learn about God. But how to learn about God?
The essential nature of the resplendent sun, which is the most manifest of all things, remained unknown to man for many centuries and its movements and effects were subject to interpretations of all kinds. In spite of the fact that none could deny the luminosity of its rays, the minds of most men remained in total ignorance of its knowledge. God sent his prophets to educate us about Him and to make us aware of the subtle perception of our original nature and to make our Godly inclinations flow in the proper course.
Man was in dire need of prophets to gain knowledge about God, since God is Unseen and there is non-like unto Him. God cannot be coloured with the brush of materiality and does not correspond to our experience and observation. Hence, by all means, God cannot be captured by imagination.
This does not mean depriving man of his right to think. To the contrary, the prophets came to assist man’s positive inclinations and instincts enabling them to grow and develop in the right direction through the proper channels. The Qura’n, the Muslim Holy Scripture, urges man to seek knowledge about Allah through His universal signs – the earth, the heavens and all that exists. This method has recently been called “The Law of Walking and Looking.” In the Qur’an God frequently bids man to ponder over the universe. Allah said: “Say: "Behold all that is in the heavens and on earth" (10:101) (Yusuf Ali Trans.). In another place Allah said: “Say (to them O Muhammad (peace be upon him)) "I exhort you to one (thing) only: that you stand up for Allâh's sake in pairs and singly, and reflect”(34:46) Again Allah said: “Say: "Travel in the land and see how (Allâh) originated creation, and then Allâh will bring forth the creation of the Hereafter (i.e. resurrection after death). Verily, Allâh is Able to do all things."(26:20)
The appliance of our mental faculties could be curtailed by the blind obedience granted to some human beings. Islam exhorts people to think for themselves. Allah said: “And give glad tidings to My worshippers. Those who listen to the Words and follow the best thereof. Those are (the ones) whom Allâh has guided and those are the people of understanding.”(458:17-18)
All the prophets, from Adam to Muhammad, preached one basic fact i.e. the Oneness of God and His Unity that can never be represented in any external object. All the divine revelations have summoned mankind to a pure declaration of God’s oneness untainted by attribution of partners unto Him. The oneness of Allah is the corner stone of Islam. Had there been more than one god, each of them would have ruled the world and gave commands according to his convenience, which would definitely have dissolved the order of the universe into anarchy. Allah said: “If there were, in the heavens and the earth, other gods besides Allah, there would have been confusion in both! But glory be to Allah, the Lord of the Throne: (High is He) above what they attribute to Him!”(21:22) Yusuf Ali Trans).
The concept of the Unity of God is asserted by the fact that God is not a body. A body is a compound of series of various elements, the union of which is essential to form the existence of the body. For compounding and division pertain to beings of beginning and end, whereas God is Eternal and Ever-lasting. A compound being is susceptible to dismantling and assembling. Glory be to God, hence it is not feasible to conceive the plurality of God.
This Muslim belief has a profound impact on Muslims’ lives. The firm belief of the Oneness of Allah is interpreted in every aspect of the Muslim life. If Allah is one then one’s lifestyle should be moulded in a way that attains His pleasure. Things that one does or refrains therefrom should be a result of Theo-centred life.
Although the Muslim commonly use the term Allah to refer to God, Muslims are not hesitant to use the term God. Nevertheless, Muslims prefer to use the term Allah since it reflects certain Muslim connotations. According to English linguistics, the plural form of the word god can be formed by adding “s”. So it will become gods. To the contrary, the Muslim word Allah is a unique word in the sense that it is a singular that neither dual nor plural form can be made thereof. It cannot refer to more than one. The term god is a masculine formula that can be changed into feminine form by adding “dess” so it will become goddess, which makes another difference between the two terms. The third major difference is that the term God is written in capital “G” when it refers to what is believed to be true God, whereas it is written in small “g” to refer what is believed to be untrue god. The term Allah can only be used to refer to the true God.
Allah, as distinct from His creations, is Self-Sufficient and utterly Independent. Self-evident are the extensive interrelatedness and interdependence of all the components of the world. It is a set of creations that if any of them dies out the whole world collapses. Man produces carbonic gas, which plants breathe. In return, plants reciprocally produce oxygen that man breathes. This is a continuous process. If it pauses or gets confused for a minute it may cause a fatal destruction. The earth receives certain amount of heat necessary for living on earth that rotates around the sun at certain distance and speed. A slight change of any of part of the system results not only in the impossibility of life on earth but also a total change of the nature on earth or its termination. In actual fact, there is a profound invisible link of all the components of this world; the break of it jeopardizes the existence of all.
Unlike Allah, the components of this world are intrinsically and extrinsically interdependent. They are subject to the rule of the cause and effect. Allah is different. Had He been dependent He would have been in need and that would have categorized Him as helpless. But Allah is not.
Allah the Creator Who cannot be circumscribed by a place, the essence of whom is limitless, is All-Knowing. His knowledge encompasses everything. None can escape the grip of His knowledge. Contained in the sphere of His knowledge are the events that happened billions of years ago and the events that are happening now and those that will happen in the near and far future whether they occur in the most distant part of the universe or elsewhere. In the scope of His knowledge is contained the events that did not happen and how they would have happened had they happened.
Man’s intelligence and skills indicate the great knowledge of his Creator. Man’s accomplishments cannot be comparable to Allah’s. Nonetheless, it suggests, likewise the harmonious orderly scheme of the universe, the boundless comprehensive knowledge of his Creator. Allah is aware of the course of stars in the space and the rotation of galaxies. Allah’s knowledge is not restricted to time or place. Everything wherever it might be and whenever it occurs falls within the scope of Allah’s knowledge.
At this point it must be marked that all the created objects in this universe ranging from the minute whirling electron to the mighty nebula represent a vivid manifestation of the Divine justice that rules the whole scheme of creation. Despite his remarkable talents, man forms a part of this universal order. He cannot be excluded from the comprehensive universal rules. Nevertheless, due to his possession of the freedom of decision he is set apart thereof. He can decide what to do and where to do and when to do. There is no deterministic power to conduct him towards lofty values or evil. Based on his possession of freedom and according to the universal principle of all creations, namely justice, man should stand one day in the court of God’s justice to be judged for his deeds.
In this world we can discern many criminals and oppressive rulers who encroach people’s lives and their freedom, yet they enjoy opulence and luxury until the end of their lives. They shun no evil action that their polluted minds inspire them, but they never fall in the grip of justice and they never suffer the natural consequences of their evil deeds. In the end if the oppressors and the oppressed, the ones polluted with sins and the ones who strive to gain virtues draw the ultimate end by closing their eyes, then it will be oppression and transgression. Where would the infinite divine justice be the traces of which are manifested in every aspect of this life?
Throughout all the historical phases occurred revolutions. There were tension and counter tension. The term colonization is not strange in various parts of the world. But why would a country invade another? The simple answer is to loot their natural resources or to have power over their territory. Whether for this reason or another, invasion is oppression. Revolutions are organized to stop this oppression. If this is the human response to oppression, then how do you expect God’s?
It is reported that prophet Muhammad asked his companions: “Who is the bankrupt?” They answered: “He is the one who does not have money.” Prophet Muhammad explained to them that the bankrupt is the person who has performed a lot of prayers and a lot of fasting, but he has oppressed this person and cursed that and transgressed on that. So in the hereafter it will be taken from his virtuous deeds and given to the people he has wronged as compensation until he runs out of all his virtuous deeds.
At this point it must be marked that Allah is the most Merciful and the most Gracious and the Oft-Forgiving. It was narrated that in the days that Moses wandered with The Children of Israel in the desert a grizzly drought befell them. Together, they all raised their hands towards the heavens praying for the blessed rain. Then, to the astonishment of Moses and all those watching, the few clouds that scattered in the sky vanished and the drought intensified.
It was revealed to Moses that there was a sinner amongst The Children of Israel who had disobeyed Allah for more than 40 years of his life. “Let him separate himself from the congregation,” Allah told Moses. “Only then shall I shower you all with rain.”
Moses called “There is a person amongst us who has disobeyed Allah for 40 years. Let him separate himself from the congregation and only then shall we be rescued from the drought.” That man, waited, looking left and right, hoping that someone else would step forward, but no one did. He knew he was the one.
If he stayed amongst the congregation all would die of thirst; yet, if he stepped forward he would be humiliated for all eternity. He raised his hands with sincerity he had never known before, with humility he had never tasted, tears poured on both cheeks, “O Allah, have mercy on me! O Allah, hide my sins! O Allah, forgive me!”
As Moses and The Children of Israel awaited the sinner to step forward, the rain poured. Moses asked Allah “O Allah, you blessed us with rain even though that sinner did not come forward.” And Allah replied, “O Moses, it is for the repentance of that very person that I blessed all of The Children of Israel with water.”
Moses wanting to know who was this blessed man asked; “Show him to me O Allah!” Allah replied, “O Moses, I hid his sins for 40 years. Do you think that after his repentance I shall expose him? ”
"Say: O `Ibadi (My worshippers) who have transgressed against themselves (by committing evil deeds and sins)! Despair not of the Mercy of Allah: verily, Allah forgives all sins. Truly, He is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful". (39:53)
Abu Dharr (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: The Prophet (PBUH) said,
"Allah, the Almighty, says: `Whosoever does a good deed, will have (reward) ten
times like it and I add more; and whosoever does an evil, will have the
punishment like it or I will forgive (him); and whosoever approaches Me by one
span, I will approach him by one cubit; and whosoever approaches Me by one
cubit, I approach him by one fathom, and whosoever comes to Me walking, I go to
him running; and whosoever meets Me with an earth-load of sins without
associating anything with Me, I meet him with forgiveness like that".
Umar Ibn al-Khattab related
that some prisoners were brought before Allah's Messenger and amongst them was a
woman who was frantically searching for someone in the crowd. When she found a
baby amongst the prisoners, she took it in her arms, cradled it next to her
chest and suckled it. So Allah's Messenger said: "Do you think that this woman
would ever throw her child into the fire?" We said: 'By Allah, Never!' So he
said: "Allah is more merciful to His believing servants than that mother could
ever be to her child." [Saheeh al-Bukharee (10/426) and Saheeh Muslim (18/80)]
Abu Hurayrah relates that Allah's Messenger said: "Indeed, before
Allah created the creation, He decreed for Himself, 'Indeed My Mercy prevails
over My Anger.” [Saheeh al-Bukharee and Saheeh Muslim (17/68)]
It is recorded in the two Saheeh, the Hadeeth of Abu Said from the Messenger of Allah about the man who killed ninety-nine people. Later on, he regretted it and asked a worshipper among the children of Israel whether he could repent. He told him no, so he killed him, thus completing one hundred. Then he asked one of their scholars whether he could repent. The scholar said: 'What is stopping you from repenting?' Then he asked him to go to a town where Allah was worshiped. He set out for the town, but death came to him while he was on the way. The Angels of Mercy and the Angels of Punishment disputed over him, so Allah commanded them to measure the distance between the two towns; whichever he was closer to was the one to which he belonged. They found that he was closer to the town he was heading for, so the angels of mercy took him. It was said that when he was dying, he moved himself (towards the town), and Allah commanded the good town to move closer to him and the other town to move away. [See Fath al-Baree (6: 591)]
other numerous Ahaadeeth and Qur'anic verses give hope to the sinful believer in
the Mercy of Allah for forgiveness of his sins, for Allah is full of
forgiveness, pardon and covering mistakes of people, in spite of the people’s
persistence upon transgression: “And never give up hope of Allah's Mercy.
Certainly, no one despairs of Allah's Mercy, except the people who disbelieve.”
However, it is important to correctly understand the concept of Allah’s Mercy, for some who are mistaken in this issue rely completely upon the hope that Allah will forgive their sins without even intending to refrain from evil deeds.
Await the fruits of Paradise, by planting the seeds for Hell-Fire; and to seek the abode of the obedient ones, by doing acts of disobedience; and to expect a reward, without doing any worthy action; and to hope in Allah - the Mighty and Majestic - after overstepping the bounds." "You hope for salvation but do not tread its path. A ship never sails upon dry land
By Ali Selim
Islamic Cultural Center of Ireland 012080000
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