Belief in God

April 16, 2008 § Leave a comment

The word “Islam”, quite literally, means obedience to God. Therefore belief in God is the first and main article of the Islamic faith, as one must believe in God in order to be obedient to Him. However, one cannot be obedient unless he or she can recognize who to be obedient to. Said differently, the servant cannot serve the Master unless the servant knows certain basics about the Master in order to identify the Master and His orders from those of miscreants and impostors.

All of mankind is inclined to believe in the existence of God and His Oneness. He is the Creator of everything on Earth and in the Heavens. He is the Ruler and Sustainer of the Universe and there is no one else to that shares this with Him. He is Who has given the Universe a complete code of life:

“Glory be to Him Who created all the sexual pairs, of that which the earth groweth, and of themselves, and of that which they know not! A token unto them is night. We strip it of the day, and lo! they are in darkness. And the sun runneth on unto a resting-place for him. That is the measuring of the Mighty, the Wise. And for the moon We have appointed mansions till she return like an old shrivelled palm-leaf. It is not for the sun to overtake the moon, nor doth the night outstrip the day. They float each in an orbit. ” (Yasin, 36:36 – 36:40; tr. Pickthal)

Likewise it is He is Who will annihilate them. Yet how can we perceive God? According to the knowledge that has been passed from the Holy Prophet (may Peace and Blessings be upon him) to his Companions (may Allah be Pleased with them); on to the Successors, the Saints and the Righteous Ones (may Allah Almighty keep them all), God can be perceived by mankind through His Divine Qualities (6) and Divine Attributes (8).

His Divine Qualities are six in number:

  1. He is the Existing-One
  2. He is the Pre-Eternal-One
  3. He is the Everlasting-One
  4. He is the Unique-One
  5. He is unlike created things
  6. He is the Self-Existing-One
And His immutable Divine Attributes are eight in number:
  1. He is the Living-One
  2. He is the All Knowing-One
  3. He is the All Hearing-One
  4. He is the All Seeing-One
  5. His Will is Absolute
  6. He is Omnipotent
  7. His Speech is Unique
  8. He is the Creator of all things
This is the description of our Creator, a description explained by Himself to His Holy Messenger, Muhammad (may Peace and Blessings be upon him). And through Wisdom, Reason and Knowledge, man may perceive God by the observation and contemplation of the countless signs. But man’s intellect and capacity is not free from difficulty and certainly not immune to error. God in His Compassion and Mercy, spared His servants difficulty and burden by sending to mankind ‘men among themselves‘ whom he imparted true knowledge of Him and His Divine Qualities and Attributes. A Companion of the Holy Prophet (may Peace be upon him) named Abu Said Al-Khudri (r) narrated,

“A man heard another man reciting (in the prayers): ‘Say (O Muhammad): “He is Allah, the One.” (112.1) And he recited it repeatedly. When it was morning, he went to the Prophet and informed him about that as if he considered that the recitation of that Sura by itself was not enough. Allah’s Apostle said, “By Him in Whose Hand my life is, it is equal to one-third of the Quran.””

Shaykh Muhyiddin ibn al-‘Arabi the Great Islamic Scholar once wrote,

My brothers and loved ones, may God be pleased with you! A weak, poor servant in need of God in every phrase and glance calls on you to testify. He is the author of this book. He calls upon you to testify to the Messenger after calling on God, His angels and whoever is present of the believers and whoever hears, to testify that he testifes in word and belief that:

  • God is one without second in His divinity,
  • Free of any spouse or child,
  • The Master without partner, the King without any minister,
  • The Doer without any manager alongside Him,
  • Existing by Himself without need of anyone to bring Him into existence. Indeed, everything else in existence is in need of Him for its existence. The entire universe exists by Him and He alone is described as having existence by Himself…

In summary, it is obedience to God that we are trying to achieve as Believers. And in order to be obedient to the orders of God there are some basics that we must understand to get us started. It is our natural disposition to believe in the Oneness of God, and this Oneness can be perceived through the contemplation of His Divine Attributes. May Allah Almighty forgive me and bless you, amin.

Photograph, “Dergah @ Fall”, courtesy of yursil.com

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