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God in Islam

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God in Islam (Arabic: ٱللَّٰه‎, romanized: Allāh, contraction of ٱلْإِلَٰه al-Ilah, lit. "the God")[1] is the only deity and he is absolutely one, unique, and perfect, free from all faults, deficiencies and defects; He is omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient, and completely infinite in all of His attributes, who has no partner or equal, being the sole creator of everything in existence.[2][3][4][1][5][6] Islam emphasizes that God is strictly singular; unique; inherently one;[1][5][7] and also all-merciful and all-compassionate, whose mercy embraces everything;[8] who neither slumbers nor sleeps, nor is obnoxious to decay nor death.[9][10] According to Islamic theology, God has no body or gender (neither male nor female), and there is absolutely nothing like Him in any way whatsoever. Therefore, Islam rejects the doctrine of the incarnation and the notion of a personal god as anthropomorphic, because it is seen as demeaning to the transcendence of God. The Qur'an prescribes the fundamental transcendental criterion in the following verse: "There is nothing whatever like Him" [Qur'an 42:11]. Therefore, Islam strictly and categorically rejects all forms of anthropomorphism and anthropopathism of the concept of God.[11][12][13][14] Thus, the Qur'an says: "Do you know any similar (or anyone else having the same Name or attributes/qualities, which belong) to Him?" [Qur'an 19:65].[15][16]

The Islamic concept of God is absolutely pure and free from every tinge of Shirk which means attributing the powers and qualities of God to His creation, and vice versa. In Islam, God is never portrayed in any image. The Qur'an specifically forbade ascribing partners to share his singular sovereignty, as He is the absolute one without a second, indivisible, and incomparable being who is similar to nothing and nothing is comparable to Him. Thus God is absolutely transcendent, unique and utterly other than anything in or of the world as to be beyond all forms of human thought and expression.[17][18] This has been described in the Qur'an at various places, such as the following: "He knows (all) that is before them and (all) that is behind them (their past, present and future, and whatever of intentions, speech, or actions they have left behind), whereas they cannot comprehend Him with their knowledge." [Qur'an 20:110] And in another place in the "Ayat al-Kursi", the Qur'an states: "while they cannot comprehend any of His knowledge, except what He wills." [Qur'an 2:255] The briefest and the most comprehensive description of God in Islam is found in Surat al-Ikhlas.[19]

According to mainstream Muslim theological scholars, God is described as Qadim [ar][17][20] (Eternal, timeless, and infinite, which literally means: "ancient"), having no first, without beginning or end; absolute, not limited by time or place or circumstance, nor is subject to any decree so as to be determined by any precise limits or set times, but is the First and the Last. He is not a formed body, nor a substance circumscribed with limits or determined by measure; neither does He resemble bodies as they are capable of being measured or divided. Neither do substances exist in Him; neither is He an accident, nor do accidents exist in Him. Neither is He like to anything that exists, nor is anything like to Him; nor is He determinate in quantity, nor comprehended by bounds, nor circumscribed by differences of situation, nor contained in the heavens, and transcends spatial and temporal bounds, and remains beyond the bounds of human comprehension and perceptions.[21][22][19]


Allāh is the Arabic word referring to God in Abrahamic religions.[23][24][25] In the English language, the word generally refers to God in Islam. The Arabic word Allāh is thought to be derived by contraction from al-ʾilāh, which means "the God",[1] (the only "1 true God") and is related to El and Elah, the Hebrew and Aramaic words for God.[26][27] It is distinguished from ʾilāh (Arabic: إِلَٰه‎), the Arabic word meaning deity, which could refer to any of the gods worshipped in pre-Islamic Arabia or to any other deity.[28]

Other names[edit]

God is described and referred to in the Quran and hadith by 99 names that reflect his attributes.[29] The Quran refers to the attributes of God as "most beautiful names".[30][31] According to Gerhard Böwering,

They are traditionally enumerated as 99 in number to which is added as the highest Name (al-ism al-ʾaʿẓam), the Supreme Name of Allāh. The locus classicus for listing the Divine Names in the literature of Qurʾānic commentary is 17:110[32] “Call upon Allah, or call upon The Merciful; whichsoever you call upon, to Allah belong the most beautiful Names,” and also 59:22-24,[33] which includes a cluster of more than a dozen Divine epithets."

— Gerhard Böwering, God and God's Attributes[34]

Some Muslims may use different names as much as Allah, for instance "God" in English. Whether or not Allah can be considered as the personal name of God became disputed in contemporary scholarship.[35]



Islam's most fundamental concept is a strict monotheism called tawhid, affirming that God is one and Tanzih (wāḥid). The basic creed of Islam, the Shahada[36] (recited under oath to enter the religion), involves لَا إِلَٰهَ إِلَّا ٱللَّٰهُ (lā ʾilāha ʾilla llāh), or "I testify there is no deity other than God."

Muslims reject the Christian doctrine of the Trinity and divinity of Jesus, comparing it to polytheism.[37] Jesus is instead believed to be a prophet.

Tawhid constitutes the foremost article of the Muslim profession.[38] The deification or worship of anyone or anything other than God (shirk) is the greatest sin in Islam. The entirety of the Islamic teaching rests on the principle of Tawhid.[39]

According to Vincent J. Cornell,[40] the Quran also provides a monist image of God by describing the reality as a unified whole, with God being a single concept that would describe or ascribe all existing things: "He is the First and the Last, the Evident and the Immanent: and He has full knowledge of all things."[41]

Argument of antagonism[edit]

There is an argument for Divine unity that has long been favored by Muslim theologians (mutakallimūn) known as the Dalil al-Tamanu' [ar] (or Burhan al-Tamanu'). It can be translated as the "proof from hypothetical mutual prevention" or the "argument from hypothetical mutual hindrance". The argument is designed to refute the suggestion that there could be two or more gods in existence. The proof states that if there were two gods, the world would not be created, because they would prevent each other from acting. But since an orderly, harmonious world exists, its creator must be one. This proof has its basis in Qur'anic verses, such as the following:[42][43]

Say: "If there were, as they assert, deities apart from Him, surely they would seek a way to the Master of the Supreme Throne (the dominion of the creation)."

— Quran 17:42 (Translated by Ali Ünal)

But the fact is that had there been in the heavens and the earth any deities other than God, both (of those realms) would certainly have fallen into ruin. All-Glorified God is, the Lord of the Supreme Throne, in that He is absolutely above all that they attribute to Him.

— Quran 21:22 (Translated by Ali Ünal)

God has never taken to Himself a child, nor is there any deity along with Him; otherwise, each deity would surely have sought absolute independence with his creatures under his authority, and they would surely have tried to overpower one another. All-Glorified is God, in that He is far above what they attribute to Him,

— Quran 23:91 (Translated by Ali Ünal)

As is evident in these verses, the fact that polytheism is not compatible with the creation of the universe and its order is proved. Consequently, the existence of the universe and the excellence of its order is the reflection and the proof of existence of God and His oneness, and that there can be only one transcendent will. However, if there had been multiple deities, each deity would have tried to overpower other deities; and thus there would have been conflicts, disputes, and clashes between them. If there were such gods, they would desire and attempt to be lord of the universe themselves or, at least, to have a part in the creation and administration of things. The order and operation of the universe also contradicts this; because if there had been multiples deities, in order for one deities to impose its authority, a restriction which limits the authorities of other deities should been made.[44]

For example, if there were two gods, the first one is god which created the Sun, and the second one is god which created the Moon. In order to create a consistency within the law of physics in the universe, the movements of both the Sun and the Moon must be restricted in such a fashion that the movements of both the Sun and Moon do not inflict any harm toward human beings living of the Earth. This implies that the acts of both gods concerning how they control their own creations must be suppressed. On the other hand being restricted is an attribute which is not befitting to any deity. Thus, each god would have tried to take fully dominance upon its own creations. This could have resulted in inconsistency within the law of physics in the universe, possibly harming human beings on Earth. Nonetheless, as can be clearly understood from the Qur'an chapter 21 verse 22, and chapter 41 verse 37, since Allah is the only God who created the Sun, the Moon, and other heavenly bodies, all of them behave consistently, and bring many benefits to human beings.[45]

The second example is explained as follows. If there were two gods, the first one is god which creates, and the second is god which destroy. When the first god imposes its authority, which is to create, the second god must be suppressed so that it does not operate. Otherwise, the first god cannot successfully operate, because its creation will be soon get destroyed by the second god. Being suppressed or being limited is not a befitting attribute to a deity. Thus, if there had been multiple deities, each deity would have tried to overpower other deities. Therefore, in reality there is only one deity, and that is Allah.[46] Furthermore, this explanation was emphasized in the Qur'anic verse (7:158). It was explicitly stated that there is no other deities besides Allah. Allah is the owner of the heavens and the earth. Allah is the God who creates, and Allah is the God who destroys.[45]


Islam emphasises the absolute uniqueness and singularity of God in His essence, attributes, qualities, and acts.[47] As stated in Surat al-Ikhlas: God is Ahad[48] (the Unique One of Absolute Oneness, who is indivisible in nature, and there can be no other like Him); God is al-Samad[49] (the Ultimate Source of all existence, the Uncaused Cause who created all things out of nothing, who is eternal, absolute, immutable, perfect, complete, essential, independent, and self-sufficient; Who needs nothing while all of creation is in absolute need of Him; the one eternally and constantly required and sought, depended upon by all existence and to whom all matters will ultimately return); He begets not, nor is He begotten (He is Unborn and Uncreated, has no parents, wife or offspring); and comparable/equal to Him, there is none.[50]

God's absolute transcendence over His creation, as well as His unlimited individuality were asserted and emphasized with support from appropriate quotations from the Qur'an as follows:

(He is) the Lord of the heavens and the earth and all that is between them; so worship Him alone, and be constant and patient in His worship. Do you know of any whose name is worthy to be mentioned along with His (as Deity and Lord to worship)?

— Quran 19:65 (Translated by Ali Ünal)

The Qur'anic verse (19:65), "Do you know of any that can be named with His Name?" emphasizes that as Allah is Unique, His name is shared by none other.[51]

To those who do not believe in the Hereafter applies the most evil of attributes, and to God applies the most sublime attribute, and He is the All-Glorious with irresistible might, the All-Wise.

— Quran 16:60 (Translated by Ali Ünal)

Such as that described in the previous three verses (16:57-59). For the disbelievers in the Hereafter, there is an evil description, or in other words, the most evil attribute (i.e., the most vile), which is their ignorance and ingratitude, and their burying alive of newborn girls, despite the fact that they are needed for the purposes of marriage and not allowing women to even inherit property, and their ascribing female gender to angels and claiming that the angels are the daughters of God while so preferring sons for themselves (this is also mentioned in the verses 37:149-155); whereas to God belong the highest attribute, namely, that there is no deity except Him, immensely exalted beyond and above all comparison and likeness.[52][53]

So, do not invent similitudes for God (do not liken Him to others to associate partners with Him, for there is nothing similar to Him). Surely God knows and you do not know (the exact truth about Him and the exact nature of things).

— Quran 16:74 (Translated by Ali Ünal)

The Originator of the heavens and the earth (each with particular features and on ordered principles): He has made for you, from your selves, mates, and from the cattle mates (of their own kind): by this means He multiplies you (and the cattle). There is nothing whatever like Him. He is the All-Hearing, the All-Seeing.

— Quran 42:11 (Translated by Ali Ünal)

The Qur'anic verse (42:11) emphasizes that there is no similarity whatsoever between the Creator and His creation in essence, in attributes or in actions, and therefore, God is beyond all human concepts of Him. So He has no mates and nothing is like Him, nor does He beget, nor is He begotten. Nothing – neither matter, nor space, nor time – can restrict or contain Him. And this is why His Attributes – His Hearing, Seeing, Knowledge, Will, Power, Creating, and so on – are also beyond anything we can conceive.[54]

The same sentiment is expressed in the Qur'anic verse (6:103) which states:[50] "Vision perceives/comprehends Him not, and He perceives/comprehends (evaluates) all vision." In some interpretations, this verse also asserts that the senses and intellects cannot fully comprehend God.[55] Likewise, the Qur'an also says: "whereas they cannot comprehend Him with their knowledge."[Quran 20:110 (Translated by Ali Ünal)]

The Hanafi jurist and theologian, al-Tahawi (d. 321/933), wrote in his treatise on theology, commonly known as al-'Aqida al-Tahawiyya:[56][17]

"Whoever describes Allah even with a single human quality/attribute, has disbelieved/blasphemed. So whoever understands this, will take heed and refrain from such statements as those of disbelievers, and knows that Allah in His attributes is utterly unlike human beings."

Al-Tahawi also stated that:[56][17]

"He is exalted/transcendent beyond having limits, ends, organs, limbs and parts (literally: tools). The six directions do not encompass/contain Him like the rest of created things."

The six directions are: above, below, right, left, front and back. The above statement of al-Tahawi refutes the anthropomorphist's dogmas that imagine Allah has a physical body and human form, and being occupied in a place, direction or trajectory.[56]


According to the teachings of Islam, God is the Creator of the worlds and all the creatures therein. He has created everything in the worlds in accordance with a definite plan and for a particular purpose. There is no shortcoming or defect of any sort in any of His creations.[57] The Qur'an confirms this in the following verses:

God is the Creator of all things, and He is the Guardian (with power of disposition) over all things.

— Quran 39:62 (Translated by Ali Ünal)

Surely, We have created each and every thing by (precise) measure.

— Quran 54:49 (Translated by Ali Ünal)

Do those who disbelieve ever consider that the heavens and the earth were at first one piece, and then We parted them as separate entities; and that We have made every living thing from water? Will they still not come to believe?

— Quran 21:30 (Translated by Ali Ünal)

The Qur'an also says in verse (25:2): "and He has created everything and designed it in a perfect measure (and ordained its destiny in a precise manner)." And in another verse (25:59) it is emphasized: "It is He who created the heavens and the earth, and all that is between them."

The Qur'an states that God is the Rabb al-'Alamin. When referring to God, the Arabic term "Rabb" is usually translated as "Lord", and can include all of the following meanings:[58][59] "owner, master, ruler, controller, creator, upbringer, trainer, sustainer, nourisher, cherisher, provider, protector, guardian and caretaker." The same term, Rabb, is used in a limited sense for humans as in the "head" of the family, "master" of the house, or "owner" of the land or cattle. The Arabic word "al-'Alamin" can be translated as the "Worlds" or "Universes".[60] There are many worlds, astronomical and physical worlds, worlds of thought, spiritual worlds, everything in existence including angels, jinn, devils, humans, animals, plants, and so on.[61] The "Worlds" may also be taken to refer to different domains or kingdoms within this earthly world, or other worlds beyond this earth. Thus, the Qur'anic expression Rabb al-'Alamin really means the "Creator of the Worlds",[62] the "Ruler of the Universes",[63] the "Creator and Sustainer of all the peoples and Universes".[64]

God's creation of human acts[edit]

According to Sunni Muslims, God is the creator of human actions and man is the acquisitor. They affirms that God is the Creator of all actions. However, He has given man power and desire so that he himself may choose whether to do a certain action or not. God creates in man the power to act and also gives him an ability to make a free choice between the two alternatives — right and wrong. When he does choose to do it, God creates that act.[65] As it is revealed in the Qur'an:

"While it is God Who has created you and all that you do?"

— Quran 37:96 (Translated by Ali Ünal)

This means that it is God Who creates us and enables us to do things. He has given us will and power so that we are able to will something and do it. However, it is He Who creates and gives external existence to what we do. Our performing an action does not mean that action must come about. Were it not for His creation, we could do nothing. We are doers or agents, while God is the Creator. If we had no ability to do something and God did not create our actions, then our having free will would be meaningless and we would have no responsibility for our deeds.[66]


The most commonly used names in the primary sources are Al-Rahman, meaning "Most Compassionate" and Al-Rahim, meaning "Most Merciful".[67] The former compasses the whole creation, therefore applying to God's mercy in that it gives every necessary condition to make life possible. The latter applies to God's mercy in that it gives favor for good deeds. Thus Al-Rahman includes both the believers and the unbelievers, but Al-Rahim only the believers.[68][69] God is said to love forgiving, with a hadith stating God would replace a sinless people with one who sinned but still asked repentance.[70]

His mercy takes many forms as he says in the Quran "and My Mercy embraces all things." [7:156] This is shown in Sahih Muslim narrated from Abu Hurairah, who said the Prophet said:

Allah has one hundred parts of mercy, of which He sent down one between the jinn, mankind, the animals and the insects, by means of which they are compassionate and merciful to one another, and by means of which wild animals are kind to their offspring. And Allah has kept back ninety-nine parts of mercy with which to be merciful to His slaves of the Day of Resurrection.[71][72]

God's mercy, according to Islamic theology, is what gets a person into paradise. According to a hadith in Sahih Al Bukhari "No one’s deeds will ever admit him to Paradise." They said, "Not even you, O Messenger of Allah?" He said, "No, not even me unless Allah showers me with His Mercy. So try to be near to perfection. And no one should wish for death; he is either doing good so he will do more of that, or he is doing wrong so he may repent."[72][73]


God's omniscience is the knowledge of all things,[74] whether they are actual or possible whether they are past, present, or future. It also includes His knowledge of people, places, events, circumstances, etc. God has full knowledge of everything, everywhere, always and from eternity past, and He is fully aware of whatever one thinks, intends, and does, and the reins of all things and events are in His power. He knows whatever happens in the universe, down to the fall of a leaf, and He knows all the deeds, thought, and intentions of humankind. His appointed angels record these, and people will be called to account for these acts in the other world.[75] His knowledge is eternal in the sense of being timeless, i.e., atemporal. So since God's knowledge is eternal and unchanging, it is likewise self‐existent and infinite. It is self‐existent in that it is not dependent on anything, not even time. According to the Qur'an, God (Allah) is omniscient; He eternally knows whatever comes into being, be it universal or particular in character. He has known all things from before the creation of the world. His knowledge of things before their coming into existence and afterwards is exactly the same. Hence, there is no discovery or surprise with God. Muslim theologians therefore considered that “omniscience” is a necessary and “ignorance” is an impossible property for God. Various Qur'anic verses designate this basic intuition, such as: 3:5, 6:59, 65:12, and 24:35.[76]

Relationship with creation[edit]

Muslims believe that God is the only true reality and sole source of all creation. Everything including its creatures are just a derivative reality created out of love and mercy by God's command,[77] "..."Be," and it is."[9][78] and that the purpose of existence is to worship or to know God.[79][80][81] It is believed that God created everything for a divine purpose; the universe governed by fixed laws that ensure the harmonious working of all things. Everything within the universe, including inanimated objects, praises God, and is in this sense understood as a muslim.[82] An exception are humans, who are endowed with free-will and must live voluntarily in accordance with these laws to live to find peace and reproduce God's benevolence in their own society to live in accordance with the nature of all things, known as surrender to God in the Islamic sense.[82][83]

As in the other Abrahamic religions, God is believed to communicate with his creation via revelations given to prophets to remind people of God. The Qur'an in particular is believed by Muslims to be the verbatim word of God as revealed to Muhammad. Hadith are the records of Muhammad's sayings and example, and Hadith Qudsi is a sub-category of hadith, which Muslims regard as the words of God repeated by Muhammad. According to al-Sharif al-Jurjani (d. 816/1413), the Hadith Qudsi differ from the Qur'an in that the former are "expressed in Muhammad's words", whereas the latter are the "direct words of God".[84]

In Islam, there are no intermediaries between God and people, so Muslims address/contact God directly in their prayers, supplications and dhikr, and also seek forgiveness and repentance from sins directly from God, as the Qur'an states: "And when (O Messenger) My servants ask you about Me, then surely I am near: I answer the prayer of the suppliant when he prays to Me."[Quran 2:186 (Translated by Ali Ünal)] Therefore, according to this verse, God answers all the prayers done sincerely. However, He answers sometimes by giving whatever is asked for, sometimes by giving what is better, sometimes by postponing giving to the afterlife, and sometimes by not giving at all, since it will not turn out in favor of the one who prays. The way that God answers a prayer depends on His wisdom.[85]

Al-Bukhari, in his Ṣaḥīḥ Bukhārī, narrates a hadith qudsi that God says, "I am as My servant thinks (expects) I am."[86][87] When Sufis claim union with God, it is not that they become one in essence, rather the will of the Sufi is fully congruent to God.[88] The Sufis are in fact careful to say, no matter what degree of union is realized, "the slave remains the slave, and the Lord remains the Lord".[89]

The Qur'an affirms that God does not stand in need of anything outside him, and nothing external to him can affect or influence him in any way. All His creatures are responsible to Him and dependent on Him. There is no other being to whom He can be responsible or on whom He can be dependent.[90] He has the right to do whatever He wants with His possessions/creatures – it is under God's own total sovereignty. Accordingly, He is not answerable for His actions, due to His wisdom and justice, greatness and uniqueness of Divinity, while all others (jinn, humans, or false deities)[91] are accountable for what they do (and don't do), as God says in the Qur'an:[92] "He shall not be questioned about what He does, but they shall be questioned."[Quran 21:23 (Translated by Royal Aal al-Bayt Institute)]

While the existence of the creation is dependent, contingent, temporal, and received from beyond itself, the existence or reality of God is eternal, independent, self-sufficient, and self-existent being who needs no other being for His existence, and consequently exists by and through Himself alone. The Divine Name al-Samad (the supremely independent, self-sufficient being endowed with all the attributes of perfection to which all else turns in need for existence, life, guidance, help, forgiveness, etc.) implies that there is a blessed linkage between the Creator and His creation where the One Creator will sustain the creation by looking after it. This relationship also signifies that since God is the Sustainer, He is in need of nothing, and even as He gives, nothing is diminished from His treasury.[93][94]

Concepts in Islamic theology[edit]


A rock carved with the text of "al-'Aqida al-Murshida" (the Guiding Creed) by Ibn Tumart (d. 524/1130) — the student of al-Ghazali (d. 505/ 1111) and the founder of the Almohad dynasty — praised and approved by Fakhr al-Din Ibn 'Asakir (d. 620/1223), located at al-Salah Islamic secondary school in Baalbek, Lebanon.

Ash'aris and Maturidis[edit]

Ash'aris and Maturidis are in agreement that God's attributes are eternal and are to be held to be metaphorically.[95] References to anthropomorphic attributes can probably not be understood correctly by humans.[96] Although God's existence is considered to be possibly known by reason, human mind can not fully understand God's attributes. Ash'ari and Maturidi scholars have two positions regarding the Mutashabihat texts (ambiguous passages in the Qur'an and Hadith) related to God's attributes:[97] Tafwid (affirming the attributes of God, but consigning/entrusting both their meaning and modality to God, or in other words, leaving the interpretation of anthropomorphic expressions to God) and Ta'wil (metaphorical interpretation). The two positions disregard the literal meaning of the texts due to the definitive evidences denoting the transcendence of God above the attributes of His created beings as per His words: "There is nothing whatever like Him."[Quran 42:11 (Translated by Ali Ünal)] and "And comparable to Him there is none."[Quran 112:4 (Translated by Ali Ünal)] For example, when believers in paradise see God, they do not see God in the way humans are able to see on Earth.[96] Ash'aris and Maturidis asserts, since God is the creator of everything that exists and creation does not affect nor alter God, the Throne of God is not a dwelling place for God.[98]

Abu Mansur al-Baghdadi (d. 429/1037) in his al-Farq bayn al-Firaq (The Difference between the Sects) reports that 'Ali ibn Abi Talib, the fourth Caliph, said: "Allah created the Throne as an indication of His power, not for taking it as a place for Himself."[99] Accordingly, expressions such as God's istiwa' on the Throne means by ta'wil or figurative interpretation, exercise of His power upon the Universe, this denotes His assumption of authority of His created world, the throne being a symbol of authority and dominion, while in tafwid, they just say: Allahu A'lam (God knows best), together with their understanding of Tanzih (God's incomparability and transcendence), which means that His istiwa' upon the throne, in the manner which He Himself has described, and in that same sense which He Himself means, which is far removed from any notion of contact, or resting upon, or local situation. It is impermissible to say that He established Himself with a contact or a meeting with it. Because God is not subject to change, substitution, nor limits, whether before or after the creation of the throne.[100]

Ash'aris and Maturidis are in general agreement that God is free from all imperfections and flaws. He has Divine attributes. Divine attributes are characteristics or qualities that God alone possesses. The Divine attributes are classified into: negative and positive. By the “Negative Attribute” they mean the negation of the negative, i.e. negation of imperfection. Among the most important are the following:[101]

  • The negative Divine attributes are of two kinds; firstly those which are meant to deny all imperfections in God's Being, e.g., that He has no equal and no rival, no parents and no children; secondly those which indicate His beyondness, e.g., that He is not body or physical, is neither substance nor attribute, is not space or spatial, is not limited or finite, has neither dimensions nor relations, i.e., He is above the application of our categories of thought.
  • The positive Divine attributes are such as Life, Knowledge, Power, Will, Hearing, Seeing, and Speaking.[102]

The Ash'ari and Maturidi scholars emphasise that the Qur'an expresses that God does not need any of His creation as He is perfect.[103] He is immutable (does not change), self-subsisting and self-sufficient, without figure, form, colour or parts. His existence has neither beginning nor end. He is not a body composed of substances or elements. He is not an accident inherent in a body or dwelling in a place.[104] He is unique, unlike anything in His creation. He is ineffable, beyond human understanding, comprehension and therefore human description,[105] as per His words: "There is nothing whatever like Him."[Quran 42:11 (Translated by Ali Ünal)]

He is omnitemporal in the way that He is omnipresent, as per His words: "And He is with you, wherever you may be."[Quran 57:4 (Translated by Ali Ünal)] He is everywhere by His knowledge and power, and nowhere, without being in a place, direction or location, because He existed eternally before all the creations (including time and space) and is clear from change. He is always in the present, yet transcends time. God is not within time; time is one of His creations and doesn't affect Him, so for Him there is no past, present and future.

The Hanafi-Maturidi scholar, 'Ali al-Qari (d. 1014/1606) in his Sharh al-Fiqh al-Akbar states: "Allah the Exalted is not in any place or space, nor is He subject to time, because both time and space are amongst His creations. He the Exalted was present in pre-existence and there was nothing of the creation with Him".[56]

Thus, according to Maturidis and Ash'aris, God is beyond time and space, and is transcendent, infinite (not limited) and eternal, without beginning or end, as per His words: "He is the First, the Last, the All-Outward, and the All-Inward."[Quran 57:3 (Translated by Ali Ünal)] A hadith mentioned in Sahih Muslim explains this part of the verse as follows:[106][107]

O Allah, You are the First, there is none that precedes You. You are the Last, there is none that will outlive You. You are al-Zahir (the Manifest or the Most High), and there is nothing above You. You are al-Batin (the Hidden or the Most Near), and there is nothing below You (or nearer than You).

At the same time, He is near to everything that has being; nay, He is nearer to men than their jugular veins (this is alluded to in the verse 50:16), and is witness to everything —though His nearness is not like the nearness of bodies, as neither is His essence like the essence of bodies. Neither does He exist in anything or does anything exist in Him; but He is beyond space and time; for He is the creator of space and time, and was before space and time were created, and is now after the same manner as He always was (i.e., without place nor time).

He is also distinct from the creatures in His attributes, neither is there anything besides Himself in His essence, nor is His essence in any other besides Him. He is too holy to be subject to change or any local motion; neither do any accidents dwell in Him, nor any contingencies before Him; but He abides with His glorious attributes, free from all danger of dissolution. As to the attribute of perfection, He wants no addition. As to being, He is known to exist by the apprehension of the understanding; and He is seen as He is by immediate intuition, which will be vouchsafed out of His mercy and grace to the believers in the paradise, completing their joy by the vision of His glorious presence.[108]

The possibility of seeing God in the afterlife became a pillar of the Ash'ari and the Maturidi schools. Al-Ash'ari holds that God will be seen in the next world by sight. Al-Maturidi also accepts the visibility of God, however his explanation is qualified: people will see God in way that it is incomprehensible to humans in this life and is not like the normal sight that we use to sense light and distance. Al-Ghazali promised that people would enjoy the pleasure of looking on God's noble face.[109]

Ash'aris and Maturidis insisted on the reality of that vision even if they admitted their inability to fully explain how it will happen. According to them, God can be seen even if He cannot be perceived through vision. Al-Ghazali in his al-Iqtisad fi al-I'tiqad (Moderation in Belief) explains the Ash'ari position that God will be seen in the afterlife despite the fact that He has no physical body, nor any location or direction.[110]

Mu'tazilis and Shi'is deny that God can be seen for the simple reason that visibility, as man understands it requires the object of vision to be in place and this is inconceivable in reference to God. Ash'aris and Maturidis agree with this proposition, but only if they are talking of vision here on Earth and within the physical laws applicable here. However, if it is going to happen somewhere else and under a different set of laws, visibility is possible, for whatever exists can be seen under proper conditions.[111]

Ash'aris and Maturidis unanimously agree that it is only in the Hereafter that God will be seen. Among the evidences that have been used by them in establishing the permissibility of seeing God are the following:

The Quran, chapter Template:Surah, verses 22–23:[112]

22. Some faces on that Day will be radiant (with contentment), 23. Looking up toward their Lord.
— translated by Ali Ünal

The Quran, chapter Template:Surah, verse 26:[113]

For those who do good is the greatest good, and even more.
— translated by Nureddin Uzunoğlu

Goodness (or ihsan, husna) is to act in accordance with the wise commandments of God. The Prophet Muhammad defined it as being a servant to God as though one saw Him. The greatest good shall be for them (i.e., Paradise), and also "even more"; the delight of gazing upon the ineffable and blessed Countenance of God.[114]

It was narrated that Suhayb said:[115]

"The Messenger of Allah recited this verse: 'For those who have done good is the best (reward) and even more.' Then he said: 'When the people of Paradise enter Paradise, and the people of the Fire enter the Fire, a caller will cry out: "O people of Paradise! You have a covenant with Allah and He wants to fulfill it." They will say: "What is it?" Has Allah not made the Balance (of our good deeds) heavy, and made our faces bright, and admitted us to Paradise and saved us from Hell?" Then the Veil will be lifted and they will look upon Him, and by Allah, Allah will not give them anything that is more beloved to them or delightful, than looking upon Him.'"

— Narrated by Ibn Majah, al-Tirmidhi, and Muslim.

During the lifetime of the Prophet Muhammad some people asked:[116]

"O Allah's Messenger! Shall we see our Lord on the Day of Resurrection?" The Prophet said: "Do you have any difficulty in seeing the moon on a full moon night?" They said: "No, O Allah's Messenger." He said: "Do you have any difficulty in seeing the sun when there are no clouds?" They said: "No, O Allah's Messenger." He said: "So verily, you would see Him like this (i.e., as easy as you see the sun and the moon in the world when it is clear)."

— Narrated by Al-Bukhari, Muslim, Abu Dawud, and Ibn Majah.

Prophet Muhammad said also in an authentic hadith mentioned in Sahih al-Bukhari, Sahih Muslim, Jami' al-Tirmidhi, Sunan Abi Dawud, and Sunan ibn Majah: "Certainly, you will see your Rubb (on the Day of Resurrection) as you see this (full) moon, and you will have no difficulty (or trouble) in seeing Him."[117][118]

In addition, the Qur'an also confirms in 83:15 that: "No! Indeed, from (the sight and mercy of) their Lord, that Day, they will be veiled/blocked (i.e., on the Day of Judgment, the disbelievers will not be able to see Him)."[Quran 83:15]

Among the most significant Ash'ari-Maturidi theological works are:

  • Kitab al-Tawhid by Abu Mansur al-Maturidi (d. 333/944).
  • Al-Insaf fima Yajib I'tiqaduh by Abu Bakr al-Baqillani (d. 403/1013).
  • A Guide to Conclusive Proofs for the Principles of Belief by Abu al-Ma'ali al-Juwayni (d. 478/1085).
  • The Moderation in Belief by Abu Hamid al-Ghazali (d. 505/1111).
  • Tabsirat al-Adilla by Abu al-Mu'in al-Nasafi (d. 508/1114).
  • Asas al-Taqdis by Fakhr al-Din al-Razi (d. 606/1209).
  • The Commentaries on Al-'Aqida al-Tahawiyya.


The majority of Sufis adhere to the same beliefs and practices of orthodox theology of Sunni Islam,[119] both the Ash'ari and Maturidi schools, the essential difference in theology being that Sufis believe Ma'iyyat Allah (God's presence, togetherness, companionship) – derived from the Qur'anic verse 4 in Surat al-Hadid which states: "and He is with you wheresoever you may be."[Quran 57:4 (Translated by Nureddin Uzunoğlu)] – is not only by knowledge, comprehension and power, but also by nature and essence, which is God Himself, being everywhere by presence. According to Ahmad ibn 'Ajiba (d. 1224/1809) in his al-Bahr al-Madid:[120] Ahl al-Batin (people of the inner knowledge who follow the esoteric interpretation, i.e., the Sufis) have a consensus on that God is everywhere by presence and essence (in all places at once with His entire being despite his spacelessness), but without Hulul (God's indwelling, fusion/infusion, incarnation in creation) and without Ittihad (God's identification, unification, union with creation),[121] unlike Ahl al-Zahir (people of the outward observance; the uninitiated), who are unanimously agreed that God is omnipresent only by knowledge and power.[120]

Among the verses that Sufis rely on to prove God's omnipresence are:[121] 2:115; 2:255 (Ayat al-Kursi); 6:3; 43:84; 57:4; and 58:7. Based on these Qur'anic verses, God's omnipresence is not limited to certain areas, but is present everywhere, all-pervasive, and all-knowing.[122][123]

According to Muhammad Metwalli al-Sha'rawi (d. 1419/1998) in his interpretation (better known as Tafsir al-Sha'rawi [ar]) of the Qur'anic verses 56:83-85, which are mentioned in Surat al-Waqi'ah: "83. Why then (are you helpless) when it (i.e., the soul of a dying person at the moment of death) reaches the throat, 84. While you are looking on, 85. And We (i.e., God and/or His angels) are nearer/closer to him (the dying human) than you are, but you do not see."

Al-Sha'rawi stated that God's statement in verse 56:85 "but you do not see" proves clearly and unequivocally that Ma'iyyatullah (meaning 'companionship of God', literally: 'togetherness with God') is true/real with His essence (dhat), which is not like the essence of created beings, and His companionship is not only with knowledge, if so, then God wouldn't say "but you do not see".[124]

Since God in Islam is transcendental and sovereign but also immanent and omnipresent, the Sufi view holds that in reality, only God exists. Thus everything in creation is reflecting an attribute of God's names. Yet these forms are not God themselves.[125] The Sufi Saint Ibn Arabi stated: There is nothing but God. This statement was mistakenly equalized to Pantheism by critics; however, Ibn Arabi always made a clear distinction between the creation and the creator.[126] Since God is the Absolute Reality,[127] the created worlds and their inhabitants are merely illusions. They just exist because of God's command Kun, but everything that would be, was already known by God.[128]

Both beliefs Hulul (incarnation) and Ittihad (unification) had been severely denounced by moderate Sunni Sufis, such as 'Abd al-Ghani al-Nabulsi (d. 1143/1731), which he described as heresies.[129][130]

Among the most significant Sufi theological works are:

  • Al-Ta'aruf li-Madhhab Ahl al-Tasawwuf (Inquiry into the Tenets of the Sufis) by Abu Bakr al-Kalabadhi (d. 385/995), recognised as an authoritative treatise on the mystical doctrines.[131]
  • Al-Risala al-Qushayriyya by al-Qushayri (d. 465/1072).
  • Futuh al-Ghayb (Revelations of the Unseen) by 'Abd al-Qadir al-Jilani (d. 561/1166).
  • Al-Burhan al-Mu'ayyad (The Advocated Proof) by Ahmad al-Rifa'i (d. 578/1182).


The Mu'tazilis reject the anthropomorphic attributes of God because an eternal being "must be unique" and attributes would make God comparable. The descriptions of God in the Quran are considered to be allegories.[132] Nevertheless, the Muʿtazilites thought God contains oneness (tawhid) and justice. Other characteristics like knowledge are not attributed to God; rather they describe his essence. Otherwise eternal attributes of God would give rise to a multiplicity entities existing eternal besides God.[133]

Among the most significant Mu'tazili theological works is:

  • Sharh al-Usul al-Khamsa (Explaining the Five Principles) by al-Qadi 'Abd al-Jabbar (d. 415/1025).
  • Al-Minhaj fi Usul al-Din (The Curriculum/Method in the Fundamentals of Religion) by al-Zamakhshari (d. 538/1144).


The Shi'is agreed with the Mu'tazilis and deny that God will be seen with the physical eyes either in this world or in the next.[134][135][136]


According to Isma'ilism, God is absolutely transcendent and unknowable;[137] beyond matter, energy, space, time, change, imaginings, intellect, positive as well as negative qualities. All attributes of God named in rituals, scriptures or prayers refers not to qualities God possesses, but to qualities emanated from God, thus these are the attributes God gave as the source of all qualities, but God does not consist on one of these qualities.[138] One philosophical definition of the world Allah is " The Being Who concentrates in Himself all the attributes of perfection " [139] or " the Person Who is the Essential Being, and Who encompasses all the attributes of perfection".[139] Since God is beyond all wordings, Isma'ilism also denies the concept of God as the first cause.[140]

In Ismailism, assigning attributes to God as well as negating any attributes from God (via negativa) both qualify as anthropomorphism and are rejected, as God cannot be understood by either assigning attributes to Him or taking attributes away from Him. The 10th-century Ismaili philosopher Abu Yaqub al-Sijistani suggested the method of double negation; for example: “God is not existent” followed by “God is not non-existent”. This glorifies God from any understanding or human comprehension.[141]


The Twelver Shi'is believe that God has no shape, no physical hand, no physical leg, no physical body, no physical face. They believe God has no visible appearance. God does not change in time, nor does he occupy a physical place. Under no circumstances, the Shi'is argues, does God change. There is also no time frame regarding God. As support for their view, Shi'i scholars often point to the Qur'anic verse 6:103 which states: "Eyes comprehend Him not, but He comprehends all eyes. He is the All-Subtle (penetrating everything no matter how small), the All-Aware." Thus one fundamental difference between Sunnis and Shi'is is that the former believes that followers will “see” their Lord on the Day of Resurrection, while the latter holds that God cannot be seen because he is beyond space and time.[142]

Ibn 'Abbas says that a bedouin once came to the Messenger of Allah and said, "O Messenger of Allah! Teach me of the most unusual of knowledge!" He asked him, "What have you done with the peak of knowledge so that you now ask about its most unusual things?!" The man asked him, "O Messenger of Allah! What is this peak of knowledge?!" He said, "It is knowing Allah as He deserves to be known." The bedouin then said, "And how can He be known as He ought to be?" The Messenger of Allah answered, "It is that you know Him as having no model, no peer, no antithesis, and that He is Wahid (One, Single) and Ahad (Unique, Absolutely One): Apparent yet Hidden, the First and the Last, having no peer nor a similitude; this is the true knowledge about Him."[143]

— Muhammad Baqir al-Majlisi, "Knowing Allah", Bihar al-Anwar[144]

Among the most significant Shi'i theological works are:

  • Kitab al-Tawhid (Book of Monotheism) by Ibn Babawayh – also known as al-Shaykh al-Saduq – (d. 381 H/991).
  • Tajrid al-I'tiqad (Sublimation of Belief) by Nasir al-Din al-Tusi (d. 672/1274).

Salafis and Wahhabis[edit]

Salafism and Wahhabism refuse the method of ta'wil (allegorical interpretation) in all that is related to the attributes of God, but accept the literal meanings as they are to avoid altering of its message, thus taking the descriptions of God literally and oppose widespread theological concepts including the Ash'ari view.[145] Therefore, descriptions such as "God's hands" or "sitting on (above) a throne", should be taken at their linguistic meaning, without asking how, as it is regarded as the only possibility to understand God's attributes.[146]

Wahdat al-wujud[edit]

The image of God during the time of Seljuk Empire and Ottoman Empire was mostly influenced by the concept later known as Wahdat al-wujud. The concept is usually traced back to the Andalusian shaikh and mystic ibn Arabi. But the idea probably originated 200 years earlier as a result of Turkic cosmology in Turkistan[citation needed]. In this place the first Sufism-Order, the Yesevi-tariqa derived from, which had great impact on Haji Bektash Veli. He had significant influence on the understanding of Islam among Turks in Anatolia. The expression itself was used only after the disciples of Ibn Arabi.

The concept of Wahdat al-Wujud permeated the entire Ottoman culture, religion and politics. Both the advisors as well as principals of universities have usually been disciples of Ibn Arabi's philosophy.[147]

Wahdat al-Wujud is usually applied to Ibn 'Arabi's mystical doctrine, which became a target of severe criticism from some Muslim scholars.[148] and has been a highly controversial figure, as many have accused him of holding pantheistic views considered incompatible with Islam's pure monotheism,[149]

However, according to a number of scholars including al-Sha'rani (d. 573/1565) and 'Abd al-Ra'uf al-Munawi (d. 1031/1621), the books of Ibn 'Arabi have been altered, distorted, and changed by some anonymous apostates and heretics, and therefore many sayings and beliefs were attributed to him, which are not true to what he actually wrote.[150][151]

Comparative theology[edit]

Islamic theology identifies God as described in the Qur'an as the same God of Israel who covenanted with Abraham.[152] It rejects the belief once held by pre-Islamic Arabians that God has daughters. Islam and Judaism alike reject the Trinity of Christianity. But the Islamic concept of God is less personal than in the Judeo-Christian tradition,[80] and is known only from natural signs and can only be spoken about in parables.[153] Muslim Turks further assimilated Tengri, the personification of the eternal heaven, with the Islamic concept of God.[154]

Al-Ghazali (d. 505/1111) and Maimonides have played a vital role in affirming the incorporeality of God and refuting anthropomorphism in their respective religions. Both scholars denounced God to be associated to any form or figure of substance, accident and body. However, both al-Ghazali and Maimonides differ in comprehending the concept of God.[155][156]

The medieval Jewish theologians and philosophers such as Philo (d. 40 CE), Saadia Gaon (d. 942), Ibn Gabirol (d. ca. 1052-1058), Judah Halevi (d. 1141) and Moses Maimonides (d. 1204) have intensified and clarified the Jewish concept of God's absolute oneness and absolute transcendence until not the slightest vestige of anthropomorphism remains,[157][158][159] and many modern scholars have tried to eliminate or at least minimize these scriptural anthropomorphisms by various methods of interpretation.[160] They aimed at purifying the concept of the Deity of any trace of anthropomorphism. Saadia Gaon held that all corporeal references to God refer to non-corporeal matters, and that strictly speaking only the attribute of existence could be ascribed to God.[161]

Muslim apologists such as Ahmad Deedat and Zakir Naik insist that Jesus never told anyone to worship him nor claimed to be God or equal to God.[162][163]

According to Abul Kalam Azad (d. 1958), the Islamic concept of God is more advanced than the Jewish and the Christian, because the Jews regarded Him as a tribal God of a 'chosen people' while the Christians humanized him inasmuch as they regarded Jesus as the Son of God. The Qur'an was close to the Upanishads in refusing to define God but took a more positive attitude by making Him a repository of attributes – creativity, providence, justice, mercy and so on. The Islamic prophet Muhammad did his utmost to avoid his being treated as an incarnation or avatar of God. When he died, his father-in law, Abu Bakr (d. 13/634) spoke to the gathering saying: "Whoever worshipped Muhammad, then Muhammad is dead, but whoever worshipped Allah, then Allah is Alive and shall never die." Then he recited the Qur'anic verses: (3:144) and (39:30).[164][165]

See also[edit]

Other articles of the topics Islam AND Religion : Noah

Other articles of the topic Islam : Sujud Tilawa, Ahmed Deedat, Farman kharabayi, Kaaba, Strong Support, The Qur'an with Annotated Interpretation in Modern English, Quran

Other articles of the topic Religion : Hellfire preaching, Canadian Theological Society, Magic (supernatural), Christianity, Full communion, St. Columbkille Cathedral, Gary McLelland
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  • Conceptions of God
  • Existence of God
  • God in Abrahamic religions


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  121. 121.0 121.1 Ahmad ibn 'Ajiba. "Al-Bahr al-Madid fi Tafsir al-Qur'an al-Majid [Qur'an 67:16]". www.altafsir.com (in العربية). Altafsir.com. Archived from the original on 30 May 2021. واعلم أن ذات الحق ـ جلّ جلاله ـ عمّت الوجود، فليست محصورة في مكان ولا زمان، { فأينما تُولوا فَثَمّ وجه الله } ، فأسرار ذاته ـ تعالى ـ سارية في كل شيء، قائمة بكل شيء، كما تقدّم، فهو موجود في كل شيء، لا يخلو منه شيء، أسرار المعاني قائمة بالأواني، وإنما خصّ الحق ـ تعالى ـ السماء بالذكر لأنها مرتفعة معظّمة، فناسب ذكر العظيم فيها، وعلى هذا تُحمل الأحاديث والآيات الواردة على هذا المنوال. وليس هنا حلول ولا اتحاد إذ ليس في الوجود إلاّ تجليات الحق ومظاهر ذاته وصفاته، كان الله ولا شيء معه، وهو الآن على ما كان عليه
  122. Stefan Kalms; Dorothée Zerwas; Harald F. O. von Kortzfleisch (2013). Ubiquitous Entrepreneurship. BoD – Books on Demand. p. 14. ISBN 9783844102864. Search this book on Amazon.com Logo.png
  123. Nureddin Uzunoğlu. "The Holy Qur'an with Translation and Commentaries [Qur'an 2:115]". Semazen.NET. Islamic Publications for the Holy Qur'an Association. Archived from the original on 30 May 2021.
  124. Muhammad Metwalli al-Sha'rawi. "Tafsir al-Sha'rawi [Qur'an 56:85]". www.noor-book.com (in العربية). Akhbar el-Yom. pp. 14885–14886. هذه الكلمة {ولكن ﻻ تبصرون} [الواقعة: 85] حلت لنا إشكاﻻت متعددة، ﻷن البعض يفهم مسألة معية الله في مثل: {إن الله معنا ..} [التوبة: 40] و {إن الله مع الذين اتقوا ..} [النحل: 128] أنها معية علم، ولو كانت كذلك ما قال سبحانه {ولكن ﻻ تبصرون} [الواقعة: 85] إذن: هي معية حقيقية ولو كان عندكم بصر حديد يُمكّنكم من الرؤية لرأيتم، فلم ﻻ يتسع التصور في المعية بدون تحيّز، ولك في نفسك مثال: فالروح التي تدير حركة حياتك كلها، هل تعلم أين هي من جسمك؟ إذن: أنت ﻻ تدركها وهي فيك، فما بالك بالحق سبحانه وتعالى الذي يدير هذا الكون كله، فمعية الله بذاته التي ليست كالذوات، فإذا كنت ﻻ تدرك مخلوقاً لله فهل تطمع في أن تدرك معية الله لك؛ إذن فمخلوق لله ﻻ يُدرَك، فكيف تريد أن تدرك من خلق ما ﻻ يُدْرَك !!
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