Monotheism, belief in one God, is the most important and foundational concept in Islam. Muslims believe in one God who created the universe and has power over everything within it. He is unique and exalted above everything He creates, and His greatness cannot be compared to His creation. Furthermore, He is the only one deserving of any worship and the ultimate purpose of all creation is to submit to Him. The Islamic understanding of God is distinct from all other religions and beliefs in various respects since it is based on a pure and clear understanding of monotheism. This essentially captures the concept of God in Islam, which will be further elaborated in this pamphlet.
Muslims often refer to God as Allah. This is a universal name for God and does not refer to an exclusively ‘Islamic’ God. Interestingly, this name is related to the Aramaic and Hebrew names for God, Allaha and Elohim. Therefore, Allah is simply the Arabic name for God which affirms that He is One singular God with no partners or equals. The name Allah cannot be pluralized or limited to a specific gender, which establishes that God is One and that He is unique from everything He creates. Muslims continue to use this original Arabic name for God (Allah) since it perfectly expresses His unique qualities.
God is the Creator and the Sustainer of the universe who created everything for a reason. Muslims believe that He created humankind with a simple purpose – to worship Him. He sent messengers to guide people in fulfilling this purpose. Some of these messengers include Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus, and Muhammad, peace be upon all of them. They all taught a consistent message about God by affirming His greatness as the Creator and guiding people to worship Him alone. This basic concept has always resonated with people’s natural understanding of God. (Click here to learn more about prophets in Islam.)
When the final prophet, Muhammad, peace be upon him (pbuh), was asked about God, the answer came directly from God in the holy book of Muslims, the Quran (also spelled ‘Koran’): “Say, ‘He is God the One, God the eternal. He begot no one nor was He begotten. No one is comparable to Him.’” [112:1-4] This is a clear statement by God describing Himself to humanity without any room for confusion. God is One and is exalted above everything He creates and He is capable over all things.
Fully accepting the oneness of God is to accept that He is distinct from everything else. It would not suit God’s majesty and glory to associate the limited attributes of His creation to Him because He is not restricted in any way, while His creation is. He is the First with no beginning and the Last with no end. Everything in the universe was created by His will. He is not confined by space or time and He is the only One who is in control and provides for His creation.
“He is God: there is no god other than Him. It is He who knows what is hidden as well as what is in the open, He is the Lord of Mercy, the Giver of Mercy. He is God: there is no god other than Him, the Controller, the Holy One, Source of Peace, Granter of Security, Guardian over all, the Almighty, the Compeller, the Truly Great; God is far above anything they consider to be His partner. He is God: the Creator, the Originator, the Shaper. The best names belong to Him. Everything in the heavens and earth glorifies Him: He is the Almighty, the Wise.” [Quran, 59:22-24]
“God: there is no god but Him, the Ever Living, the Ever Watchful. Neither slumber nor sleep overtakes Him. All that is in the heavens and in the earth belongs to Him. Who is there that can intercede with Him except by His leave? He knows what is before them and what is behind them, but they do not comprehend any of His knowledge except what He wills. His throne extends over the heavens and the earth; it does not weary Him to preserve them both. He is the Most High, the Tremendous.” [Quran, 2:255]
The primary pillar of Islamic belief clearly states that there is nothing worthy of worship except God. Associating partners with God or attributing qualities of lesser beings to Him is considered to be the greatest sin in Islam.
In the past, this often took the form of idol worship or praying to multiple lesser gods. Although this is less common now, the current era has replaced many of the physical ‘idols’ of the past with other contemporary ‘gods.’ Many people today allow passions like entertainment, drugs, relationships or material objects to become the center of their lives. They become so consumed with these things that they submit to whatever will allow them to fulfill their desires. For example, if a drug addict allows their addiction to control their actions, beliefs, feelings, and behaviors, causing them to risk their personal safety and the safety of others, that drug has essentially become their god. Likewise, if another person puts a loved one before God by obeying that person even if that causes them to transgress against God’s commands, their loved one has taken precedence over God.
Islam teaches that people should completely submit only to God as He is the only One worthy of their worship. He is the Creator and Sustainer of the universe and everything in it belongs to Him. The Quran points out the faulty thinking of those who worship other than God:
“‘How can you worship things you carve with your own hands, when it is God who has created you and all your handiwork?’” [37:95-96]
The Believer’s Surrender
In order to be a true believer, one must believe in the absolute oneness of God, as the only Creator, Preserver and Nourisher of everything. However, this belief in the true characteristics of God is not the sole condition of true faith; one must also acknowledge that God is the only one who deserves to be worshipped. His commands and guidelines for how to live one’s life should always take precedence over the commands of anything He created. Indeed, He guides humanity to what is best for them in this life and the hereafter and He is All-Knowing and All-Wise.
Having embraced this understanding of God, one should constantly have faith in Him, and should remain steadfast on the truth. When true faith enters a person’s heart, it positively impacts their outlook and behavior. The Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said, “Faith is that which resides firmly in the heart and which is proved by actions.”
One of the striking effects of faith is a feeling of gratitude towards God. Believers love God and are grateful to Him for the blessings He gives them. They are aware of the fact that their good deeds will never be equal to His divine favors upon them so they are always striving to please Him. Furthermore, sincere believers in God accept that any hardships they face are part of the greater ‘test of life.’ They are patient through times of difficulty and turn to God for assistance. A beautiful characteristic of the believers is that they accept everything God wills and continuously remember Him in all aspects of life. (Read more: Attitude of Gratitude)
Anyone who denies the basic truth of the existence of God is considered ungrateful and a disbeliever. On many occasions in the Quran, God reminds humanity of the disbelievers’ clear misguidance and His complete power over everything:
“Behold! Verily to Allah belong all creatures, in the heavens and on earth. What do they follow who worship as His “partners” other than Allah? They follow nothing but fancy, and they do nothing but lie.” [10:66]
“It is God who has given you the night in which to rest and the day in which to see. God is truly bountiful to people, but most people do not give thanks. Such is God your Lord, the Creator of all things: there is no god but Him. How can you be so deluded? [40:61-62]
In the end, we must understand that our belief or disbelief in God does not affect Him in any way. Believing in Him, worshipping Him, and following His commands will only benefit us because we are in need of His blessings, favors and mercy. On the other hand, He does not need us because He is the Self-Sufficient Creator. However, it is never too late for a person to turn back to God, seeking His guidance and forgiveness by submitting to Him.
“Say: “O my Servants who have transgressed against their souls! Despair not of the Mercy of Allah: for Allah forgives all sins: for He is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful. Turn ye to our Lord (in repentance) and bow to His (Will), before the Penalty comes on you: after that ye shall not be helped. And follow the best of (the courses) revealed to you from your Lord, before the Penalty comes on you – of a sudden while ye perceive not!” [Quran, 39:53-55]
If you agree with the basic concepts in this pamphlet, you may still ask why Islam stands out from other religions. The reason is simply that Islam is the final and complete way of life that God revealed to guide humanity. Previous divine messages (such as the ones taught by Abraham, Moses and Jesus) have been lost or altered throughout time. God chose to send Muhammad (pbuh) to deliver His final message, which maintains the core teachings of all the previous revelations. The book sent to Muhammad (pbuh) was the Quran, which was revealed as guidance for all of humanity. Just like the Torah sent to Moses and the Gospel sent to Jesus, the Quran is a guidebook teaching us how to worship God in the purest manner and thereby achieve our purpose in life. The Quran is unique because it has remained preserved in its exact and original form for more than 1,400 years. (Learn more: Preservation of the Quran)
Islam is not a new way of life; rather, it is the final message, which upholds the same essential beliefs that God sent to humanity through all of His messengers. Through this message, God calls on each individual to lead a conscientious life by drawing close to Him and to remain cognizant of their final accountability in front of the one and only God.
“Has the time not come for those who have believed that their hearts should become humbly submissive at the remembrance of Allah and what has come down of the truth?” [Quran, 57:16]
Even on a very fundamental level we find that throughout history there is a very strange phenomenon that people of different backgrounds, living in so many different parts of the world at different points in time, have always had this strong urge within themselves to look and to yearn for the Creator. They see that there is some power, a magnificent and merciful power that is sometimes interpreted in a mistaken way by materializing that in some form or other (i.e. idols). The basic yearning has always been there. Even in places where there is no recorded history of a particular prophet, people have yearned for a Creator. That’s what I’m referring to as an innate nature. The Arabic term is ‘fitra.’ Fitra literally translates to: something that one is created with or created in accordance with: this innate nature.
Is the intellect an enemy to faith?
All human faculties such as the senses including also the intellect are part and parcel of the whole process of seeking the truth. None of these by themselves will be sufficient, but on a whole they are not really in contradiction. In fact I would say, even more positively, that from a Muslim point of view one of the main things that make the human being distinct, one of the basic blessings that he is given by God to make him different from animals since animals can think as well, is intellect. So the intellect is a God given gift or blessing. How could we interpret that as a challenge or antithesis of faith? This doesn’t really stand.
On the personal or individual level, one doesn’t have to venture far to realize that God does exist. Just look into yourself, you don’t have to be a scientist but if you are then you’ll appreciate more the construction of the body; how it is made up of many cells. One cell becomes a cell for sight and the other for hearing; it’s amazing. How does the brain operate? The circulatory system? The digestive system? The nervous system? Such coordination and beauty [is shown through their functioning]. This shows that these things didn’t come to be in a haphazard way, there must have been a deliberate design behind them. So if you want to find God then look into yourself. The Quran says, “By looking into yourselves, you will find evidence to the presence and powers of God.”
In another verse it even says, “Do they not reflect in their own minds?” (30:8) In fact, if one really divorces himself from any prejudice caused by societal pressures one way or the other, or the worship of science as the ultimate thing, if one utilizes science in the proper way, you wouldn’t have to look at the body as a whole, just start analyzing one single organ and see how it works. Like some scientists would tell you that in order to duplicate the digestive system you’d need a huge laboratory and still it wouldn’t operate as efficiently as a naturally created organ would such as the stomach. We have acids in our stomachs that can erode metal but it doesn’t hurt us. How could that be haphazard? If one aspect of that was developed by chance would everything else falling in line and falling together also happen by chance? (Learn more: Quran and Science)
The Environment and Cosmic Order
Let’s move on to beyond ourselves, to find further evidence, the Quran also implores people to consider and to think. Take one aspect that many people think about today as very fashionable, like the ecological balance for example. Many people would take that as very clear evidence again that there is a design in this universe; vegetation as it relates to animal life and to human life; and the various atmospheric layers that we have. Everything is put together to sustain human life. If you look into the Quran, you find this mentioned. In one verse, in the Quran, it says, “God created everything in exact proportion.” (16:25) This is a very important term “in exact proportion” it’s not just that He created but that there is a deliberate design behind putting all of these things together.
In another verse, when people look at the whole scheme of creation, it says, “Were they created from nothing or are they themselves the creators?” No one claims that he’s created from nothing nor can he claim that he is the creator [of the heavens and earth]. Then the verse continues, “Or did they create the heavens and earth?” No one claims that. Then it says, “Nay but they see not.” (52: 35-36) So the science is there. It’s whether we apply it in the right place and in the proper way or not that makes the difference.
Finally, if you move into what I would call the third circle, not just looking into ourselves or the environment around us but looking into the whole cosmic order, again there is a design. The planets. The solar system. The way everything is coordinated. The distance between the sun and the earth, which if decreased may burn everything and if decreased everything would freeze. This is all deliberate. The succession of day and night, the circulation or changes of seasons, which has very important relevance to the lives of the people, to vegetation, and to animal life; all of these beautiful things that we are in awe at in the universe, we look at them with great admiration, definitely show that there is a design behind them and as is obvious any design needs a designer or creator it. (Read more: Environment and Islam)
One verse in the Quran implores us in particular to this area and says, “Have they not reflected on the domain of the heavens and earth and what God created therein?”
In another verse it also says, in the general sense of the meaning: in the creation of the heavens and earth and in the succession of day and night there are certainly signs for those who reflect. Those who remember God while standing, sitting, and laying down and ponder on the creation of the heavens and the earth, saying: Our Lord you have not created this in vain. Glory be to You. Give us salvation from the penalty of the Fire. (3: 190-191)
Our Own Limitations
In talking about the senses and the intellect or knowledge, I think anyone, even a person who does not believe in God, would admit readily that our senses are limited. Our perceptions are limited. Our sight, hearing, etc- we know that. Also, we know that our perceptions could also be deceived or they can deceive us. If you put a spoon in a glass of water, it looks crooked. A very well known phenomenon is of people traveling in the desert or in hot areas and would see in front of them a lake or a puddle of water- the mirage- but it actually does not exist. At the time it’s seen it is a reality to the person seeing it. So our perception is very useful, but it still falls short of getting to know everything.
On the other hand, science is fine. Science can resolve many issues and problems that are purely scientific- that are purely technical. Science can tell you for sure how to use technology for example to communicate sounds and pictures; this can be determined fully by science. However, there are many aspects in lives of people that are beyond science also. There is the moral aspect, there are the ethical standards, and there is the application of the fundamental principal of good and bad. As we said the [principle of good and bad] is instinctive but still needs some modifications and limitations. And we know throughout history that people have always had differences as to what exactly defines the proper ethical or moral standards. In order to resolve that problem, there must be a higher authority, God, Himself, telling us and providing us with stable standards of ethics and morality within which you can interpret various details.
Finally, and perhaps this is in my mind the most important reason, is that we know that knowledge is not only limited to science or books or perception. We know that there are certain aspects of knowledge, legitimate knowledge, which does not lend itself to any of those tools. For example, take the knowledge of the unseen. What happened in the past before history was recorded? If you wanted to get any information on that there is no recorded history. Or at least there is dispute about the recorded history. Revelation can tell you what, for example, the stories of previous prophets and what they said and what their message was. (Click here to read The Need for Revelation.)
There are issues that no matter how much you use your mind you will not be able to arrive at a final conclusion. An example of that would be the knowledge about God. You can’t feel the presence of God. You can feel the attributes of God but you can’t have full knowledge without having a prophet or messenger in receiving that revelation from God and the communication from Him to us. So, in essence, I don’t see contradiction. Actually, they all supplement each other. They have to be simply used in the proper context.
Adapted, with permission, from transcribed audio lectures on http://www.jamalbadawi.org
Allah has described Himself in the Quran through His Names and Attributes. Muslims believe that studying these Names and Attributes is one of the most effective ways of strengthening one’s relationship with God. Each Name and Attribute nourishes a kind of consciousness and humility in man and their study leads one to constantly better their actions.
“The most beautiful names belong to Allah: so call on Him by them.” (Quran, 7:180)
Muslims are asked to call upon God during their supplications by the most appropriate names that relate to what they are asking for. For example, if one is seeking forgiveness from God for a sin they have committed, they would call upon Him by His name “Al-Ghaffar,” meaning “The Ever Forgiving.” If one is asking for peace and tranquility in their life while experiencing a period of tension, they would call on God by His name “As-Salaam,” meaning “The Ultimate Source of Peace.”
The table below captures an approximate translation of Allah’s names. We have chosen to provide some commentary on His names relating to Mercy. However, each of the names listed could be the subject of its own article.
God’s Names Relating to Mercy
The primary Names of Allah specifically dealing with Mercy are Ar-Rahman and Ar-Rahim. These two names frequently occur together in the Qur’an. They are both derived from the same root word rahmah which means mercy and also has elements of sympathy, kindness, gentleness, compassion and love intertwined with it. As with all the Names of Allah, these are Names of majesty and perfection. Allah therefore manifests these qualities to the most perfect level with His Creation. Ar-Rahman signifies a flood of mercy that covers us and is endless.
The mercy we see in this world which Allah has put among His Creation is just a hundredth of all His Mercy. Examples of mercy that we see in His creation includes the love a mother has for her child (human and otherwise), the eyes with which we are able to see, the food which we are provided to consume, the generosity and kindness we show to others.
Can we image what life would be like if these things, that we often take for granted, did not exist? When we realize that this is only a small portion of His Mercy, we learn to better appreciate (although we cannot comprehend) the extent of His Mercy. The other 99 parts are for the Day of Judgment and the Hereafter, when God provides shade for the believers, makes their accounting easy, and admits them to Paradise.
God’s Mercy comes before and prevails over His Anger. We take refuge in His Mercy from His Wrath.
“Say: O my servants who have acted extravagantly against their own souls, do not despair of the mercy of Allah; surely Allah forgives the faults altogether; surely He is the Forgiving the Merciful” (Quran, 39:53).
Allah’s name “Al-Ghaffar,” meaning “The Ever Forgiving,” is related to His Mercy. If one is sincere in asking for forgiveness from Allah, there is no sin that it too great for Him to forgive. When asking for forgiveness, a person would ask directly of God and there is no intermediary or religious cleric that would intervene. Islam has the principle that one has a direct relationship with God and one should learn to have dependence, faith and trust in Him for all their affairs. (Learn more: Concept of God in Islam)
People will enter Paradise by the Mercy of God
The Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) is reported to have said that no man’s good deeds are alone enough to get him admitted into Paradise, but it is only by the Mercy of God that people will enter Paradise. Our deeds are a tool to get close to God to a place where we can be hopeful of His Mercy. (Read more: Life After Death)
Some other Names of Allah that are related to His Mercy (with rough translations) are Al-Karim (the Generous), Al-Halim (the Forbearing), Al-Barr (the Generous), Al-Jawwad (the Bestower of Good), Ar-Rauf (the Kind) and Al-Wahhab (the Bestower).
|#||Arabic Transliteration||Translation (can vary based on context)||Quranic Usage|
|1||Ar-Rahman||The All Beneficent, The Most Merciful in Essence, The Compassionate, The Most Gracious||Beginning of every chapter except one, and in numerous other places|
|2||Ar-Rahim||The Most Merciful, The Most Merciful in Actions||Beginning of every chapter except one, and in numerous other places|
|3||Al-Malik||The King, The Sovereign, The True and Ultimate King||59:23, 20:114|
|4||Al-Quddus||The Most Holy, The Most Pure, The Most Perfect||59:23, 62:1|
|5||As-Salaam||The Peace and Blessing, The Source of Peace and Safety, The Most Perfect||59:23|
|6||Al-Mu’min||The Guarantor, The Self Affirming, The Granter of Security, The Affirmer of Truth||59:23|
|7||Al-Muhaymin||The Guardian, The Preserver, The Overseeing Protector||59:23|
|8||Al-Aziz||The Almighty, The Self Sufficient, The Most Honorable||3:6, 4:158, 9:40, 48:7, 59:23|
|9||Al-Jabbar||The Powerful, The Irresistible, The Compeller, The Most Lofty, The Restorer/Improver of Affairs||59:23|
|11||Al-Khaliq||The Creator||6:102, 13:16, 39:62, 40:62, 59:24|
|13||Al-Musawwir||The Fashioner of Forms||59:24|
|14||Al-Ghaffar||The Ever Forgiving||20:82, 38:66, 39:5, 40:42, 71:10|
|15||Al-Qahhar||The All Compelling Subduer||13:16, 14:48, 38:65, 39:4, 40:16|
|16||Al-Wahhab||The Bestower||3:8, 38:9, 38:35|
|17||Ar-Razzaq||The Ever Providing||51:58|
|18||Al-Fattah||The Opener, The Victory Giver||34:26|
|19||Al-Alim||The All Knowing, The Omniscient||2:158, 3:92, 4:35, 24:41, 33:40|
|20||Al-Qabid||The Restrainer, The Straightener||2:245|
|21||Al-Basit||The Expander, The Munificent||2:245|
|23||Ar-Rafi‘e||The Exalter||58:11, 6:83|
|24||Al-Mu‘ezz||The Giver of Honour||3:26|
|25||Al-Mudhell||The Giver of Dishonour||3:26|
|26||As-Sami‘e||The All Hearing||2:127, 2:256, 8:17, 49:1|
|27||Al-Basir||The All Seeing||4:58, 17:1, 42:11, 42:27|
|28||Al-Hakam||The Judge, The Arbitrator||22:69|
|29||Al-`Adl||The Utterly Just||6:115|
|30||Al-Lateef||The Subtly Kind||6:103, 22:63, 31:16, 33:34|
|31||Al-Khabeer||The All Aware||6:18, 17:30, 49:13, 59:18|
|32||Al-Haleem||The Forbearing, The Indulgent||2:235, 17:44, 22:59, 35:41|
|33||Al-Azeem||The Magnificent, The Infinite||2:255, 42:4, 56:96|
|34||Al-Ghafoor||The All Forgiving||2:173, 8:69, 16:110, 41:32|
|35||Ash-Shakoor||The Grateful||35:30, 35:34, 42:23, 64:17|
|36||Al-Aliyy||The Sublimely Exalted||4:34, 31:30, 42:4, 42:51|
|37||Al-Kabeer||The Great||13:9, 22:62, 31:30|
|38||Al-Hafeez||The Preserver||11:57, 34:21, 42:6|
|40||Al-Hasib||The Reckoner||4:6, 4:86, 33:39|
|41||Al-Jaleel||The Majestic||55:27, 39:14, 7:143|
|42||Al-Karim||The Bountiful, The Generous||27:40, 82:6|
|43||Ar-Raqib||The Watchful||4:1, 5:117|
|44||Al-Mujib||The Responsive, The Answerer||11:61|
|45||Al-Wasse‘e||The Vast, The All Encompassing||2:268, 3:73, 5:54|
|46||Al-Hakeem||The Wise||31:27, 46:2, 57:1, 66:2|
|47||Al-Wadud||The Loving, The Kind One||11:90, 85:14|
|48||Al-Majeed||The All Glorious||11:73|
|49||Al-Ba’ith||The Raiser of The Dead||22:7|
|50||Ash-Shaheed||The Witness||4:166, 22:17, 41:53, 48:28|
|51||Al-Haqq||The Truth, The Real||6:62, 22:6, 23:116, 24:25|
|52||Al-Wakeel||The Trustee, The Dependable||3:173, 4:171, 28:28, 73:9|
|53||Al-Qawee||The Strong||22:40, 22:74, 42:19, 57:25|
|54||Al-Mateen||The Firm, The Steadfast||51:58|
|55||Al-Walee||The Protecting Friend, Patron and Helper||4:45, 7:196, 42:28, 45:19|
|56||Al-Hamid||The All Praiseworthy||14:8, 31:12, 31:26, 41:42|
|57||Al-Muhsi||The Accounter, The Numberer of All||72:28, 78:29, 82:10-12|
|58||Al-Mubdi’||The Producer, Originator, and Initiator of All||10:34, 27:64, 29:19, 85:13|
|59||Al-Mu‘id||The Reinstater Who Brings Back All||10:34, 27:64, 29:19, 85:13|
|60||Al-Muhyi||The Giver of Life||7:158, 15:23, 30:50, 57:2|
|61||Al-Mumit||The Bringer of Death, The Destroyer||3:156, 7:158, 15:23, 57:2|
|62||Al-Hayy||The Ever Living||2:255, 3:2, 25:58, 40:65|
|63||Al-Qayyum||The Self Subsisting Sustainer of All||2:255, 3:2, 20:111|
|64||Al-Wajid||The Perceiver, The Finder, The Unfailing||38:44|
|65||Al-Majid||The Illustrious, The Magnificent||85:15, 11:73,|
|66||Al-Wahid||The One, The Unique, Manifestation of Unity||2:163, 5:73, 9:31, 18:110|
|67||Al-Ahad||The One, the All Inclusive, The Indivisible||112:1|
|68||As-Samad||The Self Sufficient, The Impregnable,
The Eternally Besought of All, The Everlasting
|69||Al-Qadir||The All Able||6:65, 36:81, 46:33, 75:40|
|70||Al-Muqtadir||The All Determiner, The Dominant||18:45, 54:42, 54:55|
|71||Al-Muqaddim||The Expediter, He Who Brings Forward||16:61, 17:34,|
|72||Al-Mu’akhir||The Delayer, He Who Puts Far Away||71:4|
|75||Az-Zahir||The Manifest, The All Victorious||57:3|
|76||Al-Batin||The Hidden, The All Encompassing||57:3|
|77||Al-Waali||The Patron||13:11, 22:7|
|78||Al-Muta’ali||The Self Exalted||13:9|
|79||Al-Barr||The Most Kind and Righteous||52:28|
|80||At-Tawwab||The Ever Returning, Ever Relenting||2:128, 4:64, 49:12, 110:3|
|81||Al-Muntaqim||The Avenger||32:22, 43:41, 44:16|
|82||Al-‘Afuww||The Pardoner, The Effacer of Sins||4:99, 4:149, 22:60|
|83||Ar-Ra’uf||The Compassionate, The All Pitying||3:30, 9:117, 57:9, 59:10|
|84||Malik-al-Mulk||The Owner of All Sovereignty||3:26|
|85||Dhu-al-Jalaliwa-al-Ikram||The Lord of Majesty and Generosity||55:27, 55:78|
|86||Al-Muqsit||The Equitable, The Requiter||7:29, 3:18|
|87||Al-Jami‘e||The Gatherer, The Unifier||3:9|
|88||Al-Ghani||The All Rich, The Independent||3:97, 39:7, 47:38, 57:24|
|89||Al-Mughni||The Enricher, The Emancipator||9:28|
|90||Al-Mani’e||The Withholder, The Shielder, the Defender||67:21|
|91||Ad-Darr||The Distressor, The Harmer, The AfflictorThis attribute can only be found in hadith||6:17|
|92||An-Nafi‘e||The Propitious, The Benefactor|
|95||Al-Badi||The Incomparable, The Originator||2:117, 6:101|
|96||Al-Baqi||The Ever Enduring and Immutable||20:73|
|97||Al-Warith||The Heir, The Inheritor of All||15:23|
|98||Ar-Rashid||The Guide, Infallible Teacher and Knower||2:256|
|99||As-Sabur||The Patient, The Timeless.|
Each of the basic divine attributes has a practical relevance and implication in the day to day life of various individuals. Here, we will discuss a variety of them.
Oneness of God
When discussing the oneness of God this in itself provides a base for humanity to unite. That is talking about one common Lord of the universe. The whole issue of religious, racial or any other prejudice that stems from the mindset of ‘your God vs. my God’ no longer has a place because we’re talking about the God of the entire universe- the whole of humanity. It follows from this, also, that since you have one Lord then you also have one humanity. (Read more: Does God Exist?)
The oneness of God also leads to the oneness of humanity and this understanding of the oneness of humanity is also a very profound basis in removing all the artificial barriers of racial, tribal and any other sense of superiority and all other false methods that people have devised to distinguish between one group of the creatures of God and the others.
It follows, also, from both of them (the oneness of God and the oneness of humanity) that you end with the oneness of divine revelation. By this we mean that all the messages, the divine revelations that was received by all prophets throughout history is similar to links in a constant and continuous chain of revelations.
The prophets should be viewed by their followers not as competitors trying to get the most followers but rather as those who are carrying the same basic message of goodness and submission to the will of God. At the same time they should be viewed as completing and complementing what each prophet before them had done. As we said this all culminated in the message of Prophet Mohammed as the last of those prophets. The prophets should be viewed as brothers and so their followers should try to look upon one another as brothers as well.
We find that in a very practical sense the oneness of God provides a very strong foundation to unify humanity in its entirety. Sometimes, as humans, we fail to harness this potential because of the various biases, prejudices and brainwashing that we have because of various individual, social or institutional pressures on us. But the potential is there in this single concept of oneness.
God as Sole Creator
By believing that God is the sole creator of everything that is in this universe, any animate or inanimate object, it follows that the true believer does not see anything in this universe as totally strange to him. There are things that we may not understand but the universe is never something that should be feared. We should never use the terms ‘conquest of nature’ or ‘subduing nature’ because it’s as if you’re in a struggle with an enemy that is nature. We should never look at it as this because nature is the creation of God.
Once we realize that God is the Creator then we conclude that there must be a specific purpose and wisdom behind creating us on this earth. We are not just created here to live and die. That most definitely is not the purpose. There must be a more noble mission and that is the most basic distinction between human beings on one hand and other living organisms or animals or birds or other types of creation on the other hand. This is beautifully depicted in one passage in the Quran, “Those who reject God will enjoy this world and eat as cattle eat; and the Fire will be their abode.” (47: 12) That’s the crux of the matter. By knowing and realizing the attributes and creations of God then we ask ourselves: Why are we created and what mission are we supposed to fulfill? (Learn more: The Purpose of Life)
God is All-Knowledgeable, All-Wise and All-Omniscient
In regards to knowledge and wisdom, both have very practical implications. First of all, when a believer realizes that all his deeds and actions on this earth are watched, that God is watching over what he’s doing (and as we said last time even our inner thoughts are known to the Creator) it helps infiltrate the quality of piety or more correctly God-consciousness in his actions. It causes automatic self-policing. You don’t have to have someone watch over you or tell you what to do because after all you have in direct contact and under direct observation of the Creator. This quality is not a theoretical quality. It’s a very essential quality to build any healthy community or society.
The other aspect that follows from that is that the believers’ view of morality or moral standards would be more lofty than how many view them. That is to say many people would accept moral values but would only do so in a utilitarian sense. That is the concept of having to set certain standards because it’s good for themselves, for their own businesses, and or causes social approval. It’s useful to look at it this way but that’s not all because a more lofty level of looking at morality is to tie it directly with the knowledge of God. This instills the view of following these standards because God knows them, if they cheat people; if they use the pretense of morality just to acquire the admiration of other people then they can cheat all those people but cannot cheat God Himself. This culminates in sincerity in deeds, words, and thoughts. (Click here to read about ways to develop tranquility in your life.)
If you take the question of wisdom also as one absolute attribute of the creator we find that it also relates to the acceptance of God’s command and direction and guidance as the ultimate source because one must believe that God is the ultimate infallible source of knowledge and the ultimate law-giver. Once we inculcate in ourselves this mindset then we take God and his commands as the arbitrator to judge in anything we as human beings differ on. It gives a kind of stability to the laws and differences we have just in the same sense as the constitution, which provides stability in which various flexible laws can be devised.
Adapted, with permission, from transcribed audio lectures on http://www.jamalbadawi.org
By accepting that the authority of forgiveness lies exclusively in the hands of God, the human mind is also liberated from any superstition or strange ideas about how to remit for those sins committed. As we indicated earlier, the Islamic way of remission is sincerity, stopping what was being done that was wrong and immoral, and turning back to God in repentance and sincerity.
It also avoids the tendency that humans have in deifying other human beings in the hopes that those might take care of their sins. As we mentioned before, this tendency was not specific to one case or other. There have been so many cases throughout history where people were believed to be deities or manifestations or incarnations of deities. Even though those individuals themselves have emphatically denied this and never claimed that they were anything more than sincere human beings.
Additionally, it removes and discourages the exploitation of people in the name of religion. Once you start on a path of intermediary or intercession between man and God, even when we’re talking about great prophets as intercessors, then someone would claim that ‘I am the intercessor to the intercessor’ and so a chain would develop and that would raise, as occurred in history, the exploitation of people in the name of religion.
There were cases, throughout history, where people took the power unto themselves to grant forgiveness to people. You’d have to pay a certain amount of money and you get a document that says that your sins have been forgiven. Islam insists that forgiveness only lies in the hands of God. That is one of the reasons why, in a way, Islam doesn’t accept the concept of priesthood as it is looked upon in the west. You can be a religious scholar but not a priest in the terminological sense.
Finally, the belief in the forgiveness of God as the final authority, leads the person to gain a sense of responsibility and accountability. You do not depend on the mindset that someone else will be taking care of your sins. No, you are accountable, individually, before God and as such you have this sense of trying your best in following His command.
You could say that mercy relates to forgiveness, but we’ll add a few more points. Mercy also relates to inculcating the attitude of gratefulness to God. That is we don’t take all the blessings and bounties that God has given us for granted. We know that they are manifestations of His mercy. Even the glass of water that we drink, even the smell of fresh air that is around us, we should always remember and think that these are all manifestations of the mercy of God. (Read more: My Five F’s (+1) for Fulfillment)
It, also, gives the person the feeling of assurance that there is One who cares for me. I could be sinful, I could be bad, but still there is One who cares and loves me and has mercy on me. And He’s not anyone – He’s The One. So that gives a warm feeling of identification with God.
In case the person faces and problems or difficulties in his life, he should never feel broken hearted or feel despair because, as the Quran says, one should never despair from the mercy of God. In fact, the Quran says, “Despair not of the Mercy of God, for God forgives all sins: for He is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” (39: 53)
“No one despairs of God’s soothing mercy except those who have no faith.” (Quran, 12: 87)
Absolute Will and Power of God
Realizing that all power belongs only in the hands of God removes any servitude to any other human being; servitude that we might have to other people because we have hope that they may benefit us. The Quran says the benefit only comes from God and not other human beings.
It, also, removes this servitude towards other human beings in a sense of fear for themselves. That is why we find prophets and other deeply religious individuals throughout history standing in the face of all adversity with great deal of courage in saying the truth, not to satisfy anyone but only because the truth must be said.
It removes the excessive or undue anxiety that people might have about what is happening to them or what will happen to them. The Quran says that nothing will happen to us but what God has destined us to go through. No one will live for one moment more or less than what has been decided for him.
Furthermore, it causes us to be more humble, realizing that all power is in the hands of God and so whatever we have by way of wealth, position, or whatever we should be humble because we know that God can take it all away at any moment. Therefore, we don’t exploit people. We don’t use this power or wealth or influence for our own benefit. We realize that there is a purpose to serve by having all this.
Even in the area of political life and government, we realize again that ultimate authority lies with God and as such all other human beings are equal in His sight and their affair should be decided by mutual consultation. (Click here to learn more about the concept of consultation in Islam.)
Closeness to God
Aside from the various passages in the Quran, which I quoted before saying God is closer to man than his jugular vein, that God is close to anyone who prays to Him, and that in Islam there are no intermediaries between humans and God and so in the five daily prayers you pray and communicate directly with God. This is the most noble, close, and direct personal relationship that you could have with the Creator.
In addition to this, this kind of experience or concept gives the person the chance to have the spiritual experience of direct contact with God that would inevitably lead to the feeling of peace of mind and peace of heart, which is the most valuable thing that anyone could attain in this life. Big car and big houses and lots of money and jobs with high salary are all superficial. The real value in life is to obtain this inner peace in the heart and mind. (Find out ways to have a Spiritual Awakening.)
To conclude, the Quran says:
“Whoever believes in God, God guides his heart aright.” (64:11)
“God is the Protector of those who have faith: He will lead them from the depths of darkness into light. Of those who reject faith their patrons are the evil ones: they will lead them from light into the depths of darkness.” (2:257)
“It is He Who sent down tranquility into the hearts of the Believers, that they may add faith to their faith.” (48:4)
“Those who believe and whose hearts find satisfaction in the remembrance of God- Lo in the remembrance of God do hearts find satisfaction.” (13:28)
Adapted, with permission, from transcribed audio lectures on http://www.jamalbadawi.org
The other day I scheduled a long-overdue appointment for a dental cleaning. I had called a few days in advance and arranged for an early-morning slot so that I could arrive in the office before the workload got too heavy. Leaving my apartment about 35 minutes before the appointment, I imagined I left enough time to arrive on schedule.
That is, until I got into a small car accident less than 10 minutes later.
As I waited to turn right at an intersection not far from my apartment, the car behind me abruptly drove into the rear of my small hatchback, suddenly jolting me forward and setting back my initial plans.
My plans swiftly changed course
I pulled over to the curb just beyond the intersection to assess the damage and the profusely apologetic young woman in the car behind me called the police so that we could file a traffic accident report. Once I knew officers were on the way, I called the dentist to reschedule the appointment for another day. My plans for the morning were swiftly unwritten and rather than visit the dentist, I took the police report to my insurance office to file a claim instead.
As the morning rush of traffic hurried passed, I thanked God quietly that the accident hadn’t been more serious. As I did so, I realised that not once the night before and earlier that morning had I said insha’Allah, the Arabic phrase meaning ‘God Willing’ or ‘If God so Wills’, when discussing my ill-fated plan to visit the dentist that morning.
The main reason for Muslims to say insha’Allah is to recognise that an event in the future will happen only if God wills it. So when I say “I’ll go to the dentist this morning before work, insha’Allah,” I am acknowledging that what I intend to do cannot be fully guaranteed. I concede to the presence of God in my daily life, and His ultimate control over the coordination and course of the minute and substantial happenings of my life. (Read more: Implications of God’s Attributes)
Usage of Insha’Allah
It is quite easy to forget to say insha’Allah in our everyday lives, partly because the phrase has strayed so far from its intended meaning in popular usage. Insha’Allah has in many cases become a slang way of avoiding commitment to anything. Especially when a person is too cowardly to say ‘no’, s/he will instead say insha’Allah in order to brush aside the reality: that they do not intend to do a thing, but can’t be bothered to be upfront about it.
In many modern contexts, Muslims and non-Muslims frown upon the use of insha’Allah because it carries with it the meaning that what someone is promising or intending is not reliable, always leaving the door open for escape.
This is quite paradoxical for me because growing up, I was taught that when I say insha’Allah, I am obligated before God to follow through with my word, save for some unforeseen circumstance beyond my control. By saying the phrase, I am giving my word that I will do what I say, unless God makes the event impossible to fulfill due to some unexpected event, such as the accident I was in the other morning.
Two meanings for this phrase, poles apart in their implications, have thus transpired. One very beautifully encapsulates Islam, a state of mind where a person lives in submission to God and respects the time and commitments s/he makes. The other, void of consciousness of God, gives a person a false sense of absolute control over their lives. It is easy to overlook how fragile the progress of our lives actually is. As an ocean has an unstoppable current guiding the movement of things beyond our daily comprehension, it would be egotistical to think that one single person has control over a force that guides the flow of their lives.
Facing the latter meaning in my daily life has led me to, in many cases, refrain from saying insha’Allah, even though I use it with the former intention. Having my schedule shaken up from time to time is always a good reminder of the importance of remembering to say the phrase, regardless.
In the banality of our daily routines, we often get the sense that we have control over the events of our days; that we can do and have anything we want. But the reality is we can never know what the future holds for us. All of our plans, ambitions and goals, indeed every step we take, are at God’s will. (Learn more: God’s 99 Names)
“Never say of anything, ‘I shall certainly do this tomorrow,’ without adding, ‘if God so wills.’ Remember your Lord whenever you forget and say, ‘I trust my Lord will guide me to that which is even nearer to the right path than this.’”
(Published with permission.)
Dr. Laurence Brown
At some point in our lives, everybody asks the big questions: “Who made us,” and “Why are we here?”
So who did make us? Most of us have been brought up more on science than religion, and to believe in the Big Bang and evolution more than God. But which makes more sense? And is there any reason why the theories of science and creationism cannot coexist?
The Big Bang may explain the origin of the universe, but it doesn’t explain the origin of the primordial dust cloud. This dust cloud (which, according to the theory, drew together, compacted and then exploded) had to come from somewhere. After all, it contained enough matter to form not just our galaxy, but the billion other galaxies in the known universe. So where did that come form? Who, or what, created the primordial dust cloud?
Similarly, evolution may explain the fossil record, but it falls far short of explaining the quintessential essence of human life—the soul. We all have one. We feel its presence, we speak of its existence and at times pray for its salvation. But only the religious can explain where it came from. The theory of natural selection can explain many of the material aspects of living things, but it fails to explain the human soul.
Furthermore, anyone who studies the complexities of life and the universe cannot help but witness the signature of the Creator. Whether or not people recognize these signs is another matter—as the old saying goes, denial isn’t just a river inEgypt. (Get it? Denial, spelled “de Nile” … the river Ni … oh, never mind.) The point is that if we see a painting, we know there is a painter. If we see a sculpture, we know there’s a sculptor; a pot, a potter. So when we view creation, shouldn’t we know there’s a Creator?
The concept that the universe exploded and then developed in balanced perfection through random events and natural selection is little different from the proposal that, by dropping bombs into a junkyard, sooner or later one of them will blow everything together into a perfect Mercedes.
Chaos or controlled events?
If there is one thing we know for certain, it is that without a controlling influence, all systems degenerate into chaos. The theories of the Big Bang and evolution propose the exact opposite, however—that chaos fostered perfection. Would it not be more reasonable to conclude that the Big Bang and evolution were controlled events? Controlled, that is, by the Creator?
The Bedouin of Arabia tell the tale of a nomad finding an exquisite palace at an oasis in the middle of an otherwise barren desert. When he asks how it was built, the owner tells him it was formed by the forces of nature. The wind shaped the rocks and blew them to the edge of this oasis, and then tumbled them together into the shape of the palace. Then it blew sand and rain into the cracks to cement them together. Next, it blew strands of sheep’s wool together into rugs and tapestries, stray wood together into furniture, doors, windowsills and trim, and positioned them in the palace at just the right locations. Lightning strikes melted sand into sheets of glass and blasted them into the window-frames, and smelted black sand into steel and shaped it into the fence and gate with perfect alignment and symmetry. The process took billions of years and only happened at this one place on earth—purely through coincidence.
When we finish rolling our eyes, we get the point. Obviously, the palace was built by design, not by happenstance. To what (or more to the point, to Whom), then, should we attribute the origin of items of infinitely greater complexity, such as our universe and ourselves?
Another argument to dismiss the concept of Creationism focuses upon what people perceive to be the imperfections of creation. These are the “How can there be a God if such-and-such happened?” arguments. The issue under discussion could be anything from a natural disaster to birth defects, from genocide to grandma’s cancer. That’s not the point. The point is that denying God based upon what we perceive to be injustices of life presumes that a divine being would not have designed our lives to be anything other than perfect, and would have established justice on Earth.
Hmm … is there no other option?
We can just as easily propose that God did not design life on Earth to be paradise, but rather a test, the punishment or rewards of which are to be had in the next life, which is where God establishes His ultimate justice. In support of this concept we can well ask who suffered more injustices in their worldly lives than God’s favorites, which is to say the prophets? And who do we expect to occupy the highest stations in paradise, if not those who maintain true faith in the face of worldly adversity? So suffering in this worldly life does not necessarily translate into God’s disfavor, and a blissful worldly life does not necessarily translate into beatitude in the hereafter.
I would hope that, by this line of reasoning, we can agree upon the answer to the first “big question.” Who made us? Can we agree that if we are creation, God is the Creator?
If we can’t agree on this point, there probably isn’t much point in continuing. However, for those who do agree, let’s move on to “big question” number two—why are we here? What, in other words, is the purpose of life?
Copyright © 2007 Laurence B. Brown
Permission granted for free and unrestricted reproduction if reproduced in entirety without omissions, additions or alterations.
A graduate ofCornellUniversity,BrownUniversityMedicalSchoolandGeorgeWashingtonUniversityHospitalresidency program, Laurence B. Brown is an ophthalmic surgeon, a retired Air Force officer, and the medical director and chief ophthalmologist of a major eye center. He is also an ordained interfaith minister with a doctorate in divinity and a PhD in religion, and the author of a number of books of comparative religion and reality-based fiction. His works can be found on his website, http://www.LevelTruth.com.
By Hesham Hassaballa
Another year has passed, and another Feast of Thanksgiving has come upon us. As families across our great nation gather together, eat turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, yams, gravy, and the like, it is a natural time for us as Americans to reflect over those things for which we should be thankful. As an American Muslim, I took my reflection a little deeper this year, and I have been thinking about this for many days leading up to this week’s national holiday (during which I will likely be working…hmpf!).
God is beyond an all-encompassing description. There is no way I can fit the Lord God into a box and say for sure “This is God.” Having said that, in His infinite Mercy and Compassion for us, our Creator has sought to describe Himself in the scripture so that the inherently imperfect human mind can begin to comprehend what is truly an Awesome God.
The 99 Names of God
Thus, the “99 Names of God” come to mind.
In Islamic tradition, it is believed that God has 99 names or attributes that describe God for the believer. These include the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful, the Creator, the Sustainer, the Loving, the Shaper, the Maker, and many more. A great deal of these names are found in the Qur’an, and others are found in the Prophetic literature.
Here is a particularly beautiful example:
This is the God, other than which there is no deity: Knower of the invisible and the evident, the Benevolent, the Merciful. This is the God, other than which there is no deity: the Sovereign, the Holy, Peace, the Giver of Safety, the Protector, the Almighty, the Omnipotent, the Overwhelming; glory to God, beyond any association they attribute. This is the God, the Originator, the Creator, the Shaper, to Whom refer the most beautiful names, celebrated by everything in the heavens and the earth, being the Almighty, the Perfectly Wise. (Quran 59:22-24)
Muslims have placed these 99 names on beautiful frames to be hung in the houses of God and His servants. The 99 names of God have been written in beautiful calligraphy on mosque walls across the Muslim world. They have been stamped on amulets of gold and silver, to be worn around the necks of the Muslim faithful. They have been sung in songs and chanted in Sufi gatherings. They are part and parcel of Muslim spiritual life.
Yet, is this all for which they are useful? Should there not be more to the 99 names of God than wearing them around your neck, or even chanting them aloud in a group? I believe there should. I believe we should deeply reflect over the meanings of each of these names and attributes of God and understand what they mean to each of us. It is essential for us to get to know our Creator, with Whom a strong, loving relationship is key to success in this world and the next. (Learn more: Forgiveness and God’s Mercy)
God: The Appreciative
Thus, in honor of Thanksgiving, I want to reflect over a particularly fascinating name for God: Al Shakur, or “The Appreciative.” There are several verses of the Quran which speak of God as “appreciative”:
…And if anyone willingly does what is good, God is appreciative and cognizant. (Quran 2:158)
Why would God punish you if you are grateful and faithful, since God is most appreciative, most cognizant? (Quran 4:147)
As God will pay them their due and more, from the bounty divine, for God is most forgiving, most appreciative. (Quran 35:30)
And for anyone who brings about good, We will add goodness to it, for God is forgiving, appreciative. (Quran 42:23)
If you advance God a good loan, God will multiply it for you, and forgive you; for God is most appreciative, most clement. (Quran 64:17)
This is truly, truly amazing. The Lord God – Originator of the heavens and the earth, Creator of all that exists, Giver of Life, the Most Powerful of all things, the King of all kings – is al Skakur, or “the appreciative.”
Appreciative of what, however? What have I done, as a servant of God, so that He would be appreciative of me? He gave me life when I was dead, yet I return that debt by being sinful and disobedient. There is nothing that I could do for God; yet He still is al Shakur, or the Appreciative. He is appreciative when I “do what is good,” or “advance God a good loan,” or if I am “grateful and faithful.” What an amazing, awesome God we have.
It is a tremendous manifestation of God’s Infinite Love. He loves us so much that He is merciful towards us. On top of that, He is appreciative of the faith and service we give to Him, even though we constantly sin against Him. What an amazing, awesome God we have.
So, what are the implications of that fact? What should it mean to me that God is al Shakur, or the Appreciative? It means that I should redouble my efforts to serve and please the Lord; I should redouble my efforts to try to avoid sinning against Him. It is the best way of my showing gratitude to God for His being so loving, merciful, and appreciative. If God is al Shakur, then the least I could do is be grateful for this by trying my best to stay on His path of obedience. (Read more: The Attitude of Gratitude)
“Every day should be Thanksgiving.” I have heard some Muslims say this to me in an effort to persuade me that Muslims should not celebrate Thanksgiving because it is a “non-Muslim” holiday. While I do not subscribe to this view, I do agree that every day should be Thanksgiving. Each and every day, I must celebrate the beautiful fact that God is al Shakur, or the Appreciative. And I do so by following the commands of God to the best of my ability. And If I do that, God told me that He will shower his blessings upon me because He is “most appreciative, most clement.” What an amazing, awesome God we have.
By Daliah Merzaban
When endeavouring to explain to someone how I uncovered my spirituality, I usually say it happened quite suddenly, in a moment of clarity.
Throughout my childhood and young adult years, God remained in the background of my consciousness. I believed in Him, and performed some rituals of worship to express this belief. Yet He rarely crossed my mind during day-to-day life, and I felt it was more important to focus my attention on intellectual advancement through academic and professional avenues.
I held myself to an elevated standard in work and study, always getting high grades on exams and maintaining a diligent work ethic that opened many opportunities for advancement. I sought happiness through ties of family and friendship, and on a couple of occasions, came close to forging a sincere commitment in marriage. (Read more: Marriage in Islam)
Barriers to understanding God’s message
However, as it turned out, life was full of all kinds of mishaps and disappointments. My professional success was overshadowed by office politics or ill-intentioned colleagues who managed to drain my enthusiasm. Love relationships that seemed to be headed for marriage would unravel due to dishonesty and lack of integrity. And family ties would be put to the test by financial and health difficulties. The belief in God lurking in the background of my life wasn’t sufficient to help me deal with what was flooding in its foreground.
With my lack of attentiveness to the practice of faith, I was unable to understand why God constantly placed hurdles in my path and left me to wallow in despair. It was as I was passing through one of these hurdles – frustrated, anxious and impatient to discover an answer – that I came to that moment of crisp, unhindered, spiritual and intellectual clarity.
In the Quran, which I hadn’t read up to that point, there is a description of a veil over the eyes of those who aren’t receptive to God’s message, a barrier that makes it inconceivable for them to understand faith in the true sense. Only by seeking answers with an open mind can one overcome this barrier. God refers to a divine light that, when it shines on the heart, lifts the veil and illuminates a holistic understanding of belief in God and the purpose of life.
In my moment of clarity, it was as though I was moved from the former state to the latter state, from the “depths of darkness into light.”
“He will provide for you a Light to help you walk; He will forgive you your past: for God is Most Forgiving, Most Merciful.” (Quran 57:28)
Blessings in disguise
It happened one morning before dawn more than two years ago. Unable to sleep I sat in my living room trying to decipher how to cope with the latest predicament; trying to understand why I deserved it. In a moment of inspiration, I knew the answer. What I perceived as a disappointment was actually a blessing, for it prompted me to question my state of existence, preparing me to be more receptive to God’s message and mercy.
I felt suddenly flooded with love, as though a burden was lifted from my heart. I realised I had to stop searching outside of myself for fulfilment, because the transience of relationships to things, people and places can never offer enduring satisfaction. That would be a difficult habit to break and yet I knew in that moment that all of the love, energy, loyalty and sincerity in my heart, that was often mishandled and mistreated by others, I needed to direct to God.
After that moment, I began to stop questioning why things didn’t work out and started allowing myself to give circumstances a chance to fall into place as they are meant to, with patience and a tranquil spirit. All I had learned in life through university, media, books and in my extensive professional career became comparatively trivial to the knowledge that the moment of clarity afforded me. I knew that the insight of that moment surpassed everything else that I had encountered, and felt with certainty that the knowledge I would seek and attain next would alter the course of my life. (Click here to learn more about understanding God’s will.)
In the two and a half years since, I have uncovered more and more layers of my faith in God, and found the path to peace of mind, the straight path of Islam – a state of mind where a believer lives in submission to God – laid out before me. I do, at times, encounter people who strive to label those of us who are on a spiritual journey as intellectually inferior, but these distractions are unimportant as we advance in the pursuit of knowledge.
Having experienced a truly dramatic shift in my faith and state of mind, I say with confidence that the path of uncovering and understanding God is, as 11th century Islamic theologian Al-Ghazali has pointed out, the route to the greatest knowledge a human being can attain.
“When God becomes the ruler of the heart, He floods it with mercy and sheds His light upon it, and the breast is opened and there is revealed to it the secret of the world of spirits,” writes Al-Ghazali in his book, The Marvels of the Heart. “By a gift of mercy there is cleared away from the surface of the heart the veil of whiteness that blinds its eye, and there shines in it the real nature of divine things.”
(Published with permission.)