Question:

What is the concept of God in Islam? From the viewpoint of adherents of other religions such as Christianity and Hinduism, God in Islam (Allah) seems a very ‘distant’ and ‘impersonal’ God, since no representation of Him is allowed in whatsoever manner or form. Is it not so?

Answer:

Islam is a God centered religion. In anything that a Muslim does, God always comes first and everything else is ‘adjusted’ accordingly. That being the case, it is very important to a Muslim that the one true God be clearly distinguished from false deities.

The holy Qur’an offers the most concise definition of God in four-versed Chapter 112, named Al-Ikhlas, meaning ‘purity’;

Say: He is Allah, The One and only. Allah, the Eternal, Absolute (Assamad). He begets not, nor is He begotten. And there is none like unto Him (Qur’an: 112:1-4)

It is absolutely essential that Allah is One-and-Only. There cannot be more than one God co-existing at the same time, else there will be chaos as the ‘overlapping Gods’ would fight one another to absolute destruction. Imagine a car driven by two different drivers. Now imagine what would happen if the universe which is far more complex than a car is administered by more than one God!

Allah is also eternal and absolute. There is no beginning or ending for God. God is also free from any needs. God does not require sustenance from his creation. To the contrary, it is He who provides sustenance for all.

God does not give birth. If God were to ‘give birth’, then His ‘children’ too would be Gods, which would mean there would be more than one God. God’s children would give birth to more Gods! Then we would end up with overlapping Gods leading to total destruction as mentioned earlier.

God Himself must be unborn. The moment we say God is born we are instantly faced with two main problems. First, it would mean God has at least a ‘Parent’ which implies the Parent must be greater than God. Is it possible for someone else to be greater than God? Secondly, it would mean God did not exist at one point in time and only later came into existence. Who then created and managed the universe in His absence?

God is the Creator while the entire universe is His creation. Could the Creator and the creation be the same? Could the character of the Creator and His creation be the same? The creation is subject to time and space whilst the Creator is not limited in time and space. Therefore, NOTHING in our physical universe could resemble God.

The above four verses of the Qur’an also serve as the “touchstone” of theology in Islam. Supposed if you wanted to sell gold to a goldsmith, the goldsmith will first use a touchstone to verify the gold whether it is 24 karat, 18 karat or maybe imitation gold. Not everything that glitters is gold! Similarly if there is any ‘candidate’ claiming divinity, we would put the candidate through the above “acid tests”. If he/she/it could pass the tests, then Muslims should/would not have any problem worshipping him/her/it as God. But the tests are so stringent that only the one true Almighty God could pass. Any false deity would fail miserably.

Yes, I have indeed been asked how Muslims could worship such a ‘distant’ and ‘impersonal’ God (as opposed to ‘personal Gods’ represented by idols, etc) as Allah. On this matter, the holy Qur’an explains:

When My servants ask you concerning Me, I am indeed close (to them): I listen to the prayer of every suppliant when he calleth on Me: Let them also, with a will, listen to My call, and believe in Me: that they may walk in the right way (Qur’an 2:186)

It was We who created man, and We know what dark suggestions his soul makes to him: for We are nearer to him than (his) jugular veins. (Qur’an 50:16).

As can be readily understood from the above two verses (there are numerous other verses too describing how ‘personal’ God can be), Allah is not at all ‘impersonal’, ‘distant’ or ‘unapproachable’.

Selamat Berkenalan

ALLAH Matlamat Utamaku

~ حيّ على الصلاة ~

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