God

From WikiAhmadiyya, the free encyclopedia on Islam and Ahmadiyyat

In different languages there are many different names for God. In the Hebrew Bible and Judaism the tetragrammaton YHWH has been used as a name for God, while Yahweh and Jehovah are sometimes used in Christianity as vocalizations of YHWH. In Judaism, it is common to refer to God by the name Elohim. 

Muslims believe in the existence of one God who is the creator and sustainer of the universe. In Islam, the name Allah is used. The name is used for a supreme and perfect being who is free from all defects. In Arabic, the word is never used for any other being. Equivalent words in other languages are often attributive or descriptive and often used in the plural (eg God vs gods) whereas in Arabic Allah can never be used in the plural. 



Description of God


Overview

Listen, O those who can, to what God desires from you. And what He desires is only that you become solely His and do not associate any partners with Him, neither in the heavens nor on the earth. Our God is that God who is alive even now as He was alive before. He speaks even now as He used to speak before. And even now He hears as He used to hear earlier. It is a false notion that in these times He does hear but does not speak. But He hears and speaks, too. All His Attributes are eternal and everlasting. None of His Attributes is in abeyance, nor will it ever be. 

He is the One without any associate Who has no son, nor has He any wife. He alone is the peerless Who has no one like Him. And He is the One Who is unique in that none of His Attributes are exclusively possessed by anyone besides Him. He is the One Who has no equal. He is the One Who has no one to share with Him His Attributes. And He is the One no Power of Whose is less than perfect. 

He is near, though He is far and He is far, though He is near.He can reveal Himself to Ahl-e-Kashf in personification, but He has no body, nor any shape. He is above all, but it cannot be said that there is anything beneath Him. He is on Arsh, but it can't be said that He is not on the earth. He is the sum total of all Perfect Attributes and He is the Manifestation of every True Praise. He is the source of all that is Good and encompasses all Powers and He is the source of all Beneficences. He is the One to Whom everything returns. He is the Lord of all realms. He possesses every Perfection and is free from all defects, imperfections and weakness. 

It is His sole prerogative that all those who belong to the earth as well as all those who belong to the heavens should worship Him. As far as He is concerned nothing is impossible for Him. All souls and their potentialities, and all particles and their potentials are His and only His creation. Nothing comes into existence without His agency.

Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, The Will

God in the Quran

The opening Chapter of the Quran (Sura al-Fatiha) illustrates the operation of the attributes of God. It explains that the divine attributes, the operation of which affects man in any manner, branch out from four principal attributes. Of these, the first is Rabh al-Alamin; that is to say, God creates everything and then fosters everything gradually towards perfection. Secondly, He is Rahman This means that without any effort on the part of His creatures He provides everything that is necessary for their development and progress. Thirdly, He is Rahim This means that when those of His creatures that are endowed with will and intelligence voluntarily choose to do good and to resist evil, God bestows upon them the highest reward and that reward continues indefinitely. Fourthly, He is Malik Yaum al-Din. This means that the ultimate judgement concerning everything rests with Him. Everything owes its origin to Him and the end of everything is also in His hands. Man and other creatures may bring about temporary and ephemeral changes but have not the power to effect any permanent change in the universe. For instance, man has no power to create either matter or soul...

The Quran says that since God is beyond physical perception: "Eyes cannot reach Him" (6:104), that is to say, God is by His nature different from all material objects and it is not therefore possible to perceive Him through any of the physical senses. 

The Quran teaches that God knows all about everything in the universe. There is nothing that is outside His ken. It says: "His knowledge extends over the heavens and the earth" (2 : 256). Again, it says: "And thou art not engaged in anything, and thou recitest not from Him any portion of the Quran, and you do no work, but We are Witnesses of you when you are engrossed therein. And there is not hidden from thy Lord even an atom's weight in the earth or in heaven. And there is nothing smaller than that or greater, but it is recorded in a clear Book" (10:62). These verses show that the condition of a man's mind and that which he utters by word of mouth and that which he does by the exercise of his limbs are all manifest to God. Objects even as minute as an atom or even smaller are not hidden from His sight. 

Hazrat Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmud Ahmad, Introduction to the Study of the Holy Quran

Attributes of God

The Messenger of Allahsa said: “Indeed, Allah has ninety-nine Names, one hundred less one, whoever counts them shall enter Paradise. He is Allah, the one whom there is none worthy of worship except for Him (Allahu La Ilaha Illa Huwa), the Most Merciful (to the creation) (Ar-Raḥman), the Most Beneficent (Ar-Raḥim), the King (Al-Malik), the Free of Deficiencies (Al-Quddus), the Granter of Safety (As-Salam), the Granter of Security (Al-Mumin), the Watcher (Al-Muhaimin), the Mighty (Al-Aziz), the Compeller (Al-Jabbar), the Supreme (Al-Mutakabbir), the Creator (Al-Khaliq), the Originator (Al-Bari), the Fashioner (Al-Muṣawwir), the Pardoner (Al-Ghaffar), the Overwhelming (Al-Qahhar), the Giving (Al-Wahhab), the Provider (Ar-Razzaq), the Opener (Al-Fattaḥ), the Knowing (Al-Alim), the Taker (Al-Qabiḍ), the Giver (Al-Basiṭ), the Abaser (Al-Khafiḍ), the Exalter (Ar-Rafi), the One who grants honor (Al-Muizz), the One who humiliates (Al-Mudhil), the Hearing (As-Sami), the Seeing (Al-Baṣir), the Judge (Al-Ḥakam), the Just (Al-Adl), the Kind (Al-Laṭif), the Aware (Al-Khabir), the Forbearing (Al-Ḥalim), the Magnificent (Al-Aẓim), the Oft-Forgiving (Al-Ghafur), the Grateful (Ash-Shakur), the Most High (Al-Aliyy), the Great (Al-Kabir), the Guardian (Al-Ḥafiẓ), the Powerful (Al-Muqit), the Reckoner (Al-Ḥasib), the Glorious (Al-Jalil), the Generous (Al-Karim), the Watcher (Ar-Raqib), the Responder (Al-Mujib), the Liberal Giver (Al-Wasi), the Wise (Al-Ḥakim), the Loving (Al-Wadud), the Majestic (Al-Majid), the Reviver (Al-Baith), the Witness (Ash-Shahid), the Truth (Al-Ḥaqq), the Guarantor (Al-Wakil), the Strong (Al-Qawiyy), the Firm (Al-Matin), the One Who Aids (Al-Waliyy), the Praiseworthy (Al-Ḥamid), the Encompasser (Al-Muḥṣi), the One Who Begins things (Al-Mubdi), the One Who brings things back (Al-Muid), the One Who gives life (Al-Muḥyi), the One Who causes death (Al-Mumit), the Living (Al-Ḥayyu), the Self-Sufficient (Al-Qayyum), the One Who brings into existence (Al-Wajid), the Illustrious (Al-Majid), the One (Al-Waḥid), the Master (Aṣ-Ṣamad), the Able (Al-Qadir), the Powerful (Al-Muqtadir), the One who hastens (Al-Muqaddim), the One who delays (Al-Muakhkhir), the First (Al-Awwal), the Last (Al-Akhir), the Apparent (Aẓ-Ẓahir), the Inner (Al-Baṭin), the Owner (Al-Wali), the Exalted (Al-Mutali), the Doer of Good (Al-Barr), the Acceptor of repentance (At-Tawwab), the Avenger (Al-Muntaqim), the Pardoning (Al-Afuww), the Kind (Ar-Rauf), the Owner of Dominion (Malikul-Mulk), the Possessor of Glory and Generosity (Dhul Jalali wal Ikram), the One who does justice (Al-Muqsiṭ), the Gatherer (Al-Jami), the Rich (Al-Ghaniyy), the Enricher (Al-Mughni), the Preventer (Al-Mani), the Harmer (Aḍ-Ḍar), the One who benefits (An-Nafi), the Light (An-Nur), the Guide (Al-Hadi), the Originator (Al-Badi), the Lasting (Al-Baqi), the Inheritor (Al-Warith), the Guide (Ar-Rashid), the Tolerant (Aṣ-Ṣabur).”

- Tirmidhi


Relationship with Humankind


Overview

The Quran teaches that man has been created to serve as a manifestation of God's attributes and to illustrate them in his life. It says: "And I have created the Jinn and men only that they may serve Me and receive the impress of My attributes" (51 : 57).

Hazrat Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmud Ahmad, Introduction to the Study of the Holy Quran

Love for his servants

Abu Hurrairah reported Allah's Apostlesa as saying that Allah, the Exalted and Glorious, said: "When My servant draws close to Me by the span of a palm, I draw close to him by the cubit and when he draws close to Me by the cubit, I draw close to him by the space (covered) by two armspans, and when he comes to me walking, I go in a hurry towards him."

- Muslim


Abu Hurairah reported: The Messenger of Allahsa said, "Allah the Exalted has said: 'I will declare war against him who shows hostility to a pious worshipper of Mine. And the most beloved thing with which My slave comes nearer to Me is what I have enjoined upon him; and My slave keeps on coming closer to Me through performing Nawafil (prayer or doing extra deeds besides what is obligatory) till I love him. When I love him I become his hearing with which he hears, his seeing with which he sees, his hand with which he strikes, and his leg with which he walks"

- Bukhari

Forgiving Nature

Abu Said Al-Khudri reported: The Prophet of Allahsa said: "There was a man from among a nation before you who killed ninety-nine people and then made an inquiry about the most learned person on the earth. He was directed to a monk. He came to him and told him that he had killed ninety-nine people and asked him if there was any chance for his repentance to be accepted. He replied in the negative and the man killed him also completing one hundred. He then asked about the most learned man in the earth. He was directed to a scholar. He told him that he had killed one hundred people and asked him if there was any chance for his repentance to be accepted. He replied in the affirmative and asked: 'Who stands between you and repentance? Go to such and such land; there (you will find) people devoted to prayer and worship of Allah, join them in worship, and do not come back to your land because it is an evil place.' So he went away and hardly had he covered half the distance when death overtook him; and there was a dispute between the angels of mercy and the angels of torment. The angels of mercy pleaded: 'This man has come with a repenting heart to Allah,' and the angels of punishment argued: 'He never did a virtuous deed in his life.' Then there appeared another angel in the form of a human being and the contending angels agreed to make him arbiter between them. He said: 'Measure the distance between the two lands. He will be considered belonging to the land to which he is nearer.'...Allah commanded (the land which he wanted to leave) to move away and commanded the other land (his destination) to draw nearer and then He said: "Now measure the distance between them.' It was found that he was nearer to his goal by a hand's span and was thus forgiven". It is also narrated that he drew closer by a slight movement on his chest.

- Bukhari


Verily Allah the Almighty has written down the good deeds and the evil deeds, and then explained it [by saying]: “Whosoever intended to perform a good deed, but did not do it, then Allah writes it down with Himself as a complete good deed. And if he intended to perform it and then did perform it, then Allah writes it down with Himself as from ten good deeds up to seven hundred times, up to many times multiplied. And if he intended to perform an evil deed, but did not do it, then Allah writes it down with Himself as a complete good deed. And if he intended it [i.e., the evil deed] and then performed it, then Allah writes it down as one evil deed.

- Bukhari


Existence of God


Belief in God advantageous

Even if there is no God and the universe is a result of chance, it can do us no harm to believe in God. If, on the other hand, God does   exist, then our belief would be most useful and beneficial for us. These are the only propositions. There is no third option. If we deny the existence of God altogether, then the possibility that He might exist lands us into a more problematic situation. But if we believe in God, the possibility of His non-existence does not pose any problems for us. 'Which, then, of the two parties has greater right to security, if indeed you know?' (6:82) 

It is reported that someone asked Hazrat Alira as to what was the proof of the existence of God? Observing that the inquirer was a simple man, he replied, 'It should suffice for you to know that if there is no God then believers and non-believers are all equal and none would be at a loss. However, if there is a God, then the disbelievers will be in deep trouble indeed!' The man was satisfied with this reasoning and did not question any further. Where is the harm in believing in God even if He does not exist? Just reflect: The things we have to give up in accepting God are illicit sex, rape, murder, theft, robbery, lying, deceit, and everything which our nature, our intellect, and our governments already condemn and want to eliminate! So where is the disadvantage of belief in God, which does not stop us from fulfilling any of our legitimate needs? We can eat, drink, sleep, sit,stand, play, read, perform our daily chores, earn money, make friends, keep wives and have children. The only things it forbids us are those which are harmful to ourselves and to other people.

Hazrat Mirza Bashir Ahmad, Our God

Creation requires a creator

The Universe needs a creator because it came from a state of nothingness into a state of existence. This process cannot happen by chance. The definition of chance is the random selection of a set of possibilities. When there are no possibilities – because nothing yet exists - then how can there be a selection of them? Thus, the only possible origin of anything is design, not chance.

Scientists generally accept that the expansion of the universe began with the Big Bang. What caused the Big Bang? And what caused the cause of the Big Bang and so on and so forth? Eventually, Muslims believe the chain leads back to an original cause - God:  

The Quran also teaches that God is the ultimate cause of all creation; that is to say, that the whole of creation has proceeded from Him and reverts to Him. It says: "He is the First and the Last" (57:4). 

This means that everything in the universe owes its existence to God and that the extinction of everything is also brought about under divine laws. Had not God chosen to confer existence upon the universe, it could not have come into existence and had not God promulgated laws for its destruction it could not have been destroyed. All creation and destruction are thus controlled by divine laws and this is proof of the fact that the system of the universe has been established by an intelligent Being. 

The Quran says: "The Originator of the heavens and the earth! How can He have a son when He has no consort and when He has created everything and has knowledge of all things? Such is Allah, your Lord. There is no god but He, the Creator of all things, so worship Him. And He is Guardian over everything" (6:102-103) These verses point-out that as God is the source of all creation. 

Hazrat Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmud Ahmad, Introduction to the Study of the Holy Quran

Testimony of the righteous

The testimony of truthful, sane and righteous men and women from every age and nation acts as further evidence of the existence of God. In the case of prophets, the evidence becomes stronger still. They claimed to be guided directly by God's command and with His support. Often, these prophets seem entirely helpless and pathetic from a worldly perspective. Yet they are able to prevail over every worldly power. Examples include Moses' victory of the mighty emperor Pharaoh and Muhammad'ssa complete triumph over the Arab tribes who sought to wipe him out. The fulfillment of these seemingly impossible prophecies vindicates the prophet's claims of a promise of support from a divine and supreme power. 

The power of prayer

Muslims believe in an active God who can accept prayers from those who sincerely seek Him. The fourth Caliph of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community has described how as a young child he prayed intensely and regularly about God's very existence and was thus guided to the truth:  

I would pray to God: 'If you exist, then I am in search of you.Let me know that you are there otherwise I may drift astray...I was in a state of semi-consciousness - halfway between a dream and reality. I saw the entire earth squeezed into a ball. There was no creation of any sort visible - no life, no cities, nothing - just the earth. Then I saw each particle of the world tremble and burst into a slogan: OUR GOD! Each particle was proclaiming the reason for its existence. The whole world was flooded with a strange light and every atom of the earth began to swell and contract in rhythm. I found myself repeating the words 'Our God'. 

Hazrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad, A Man of God


Criticism


Theory of evolution

The theory of evolution is often presented as an alternative to God. 

We need not go into the details of evolution, for it throws no light on the origin of the universe and does not, therefore, possess any argument against the existence of God. It only states that the world has not always existed in its present form, rather it has progressed from a simpler state to a more complex one. The question is, where did the initial simple world come from? The supporters of the theory of evolution do not throw any light on this question. Evolution cannot be accepted as a proof of the absence of God. Unless the dilemma of the creation of the universe is first solved, this argument offers no proof whatsoever against the existence of the Creator of the universe.

Hazrat Mirza Bashir Ahmad, Our God

Who created God?

If the question of a creator does arise with regard to the world, why can it not be raised about God as well? Let us assume, for the sake of argument, that the Being Who is regarded as the Creator and the Lord of this universe has actually been created by another higher being. This would not pose any problem for us, for in this case we would call the Higher Being ‘God’ and the lower being a creation among creations and a cause in the chain of causes. If someone poses the same question about the creator and the lord of this Higher Being, then my answer would be that if the Higher Being is also a creation of a still Higher Being, then that Higher Being will be called ‘God’ and everything created by Him would be considered His creation. In fact, we will use the word 'God' only for the Being Who is the Supreme and the First, there being none above Him and everything else being His creation.

So we have to posit the first link of this chain, which in other words implies that we believe in a Being above Whom there is no other. Only such a Being can be worthy of being called 'God' Who is not a creation. It does not matter how long we may stretch this chain. One thing is certain that it cannot be infinite and at some point we will have to accept a Being as its first link and it is Him we call God. He is uncreated and all other beings without exception are His creation and under His absolute control, irrespective of their superiority over one another.

Hazrat Mirza Bashir Ahmad, Our God

Why not many gods?

God is one, even as the law to which the world is subject is one law, and the system which links one part of it to another is one system. 

Hazrat Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmud Ahmad, Introduction to the Study of the Holy Quran

Does God need our worship?

The Quran says: "He it is Who made you vicegerents in the earth. So he who disbelieves, will himself suffer the consequences of his disbelief" (35:40). 

This means that if a man voluntarily abdicates the position that God has assigned to him, he does not thereby in any manner injure God but merely dislodges himself from a position of honour and will suffer the consequences himself. 

Hazrat Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmud Ahmad, Introduction to the Study of the Holy Quran

Can God create a stone so heavy even he cannot lift it?

The Quran teaches that God has full power to carry out all His designs. It says: "Allah has the power to do all that He wills" (2:110). 

It should be noted that the verse does not merely say, God has power to do all things; for such phraseology would leave room for foolish people to raise absurd questions. It has, for instance, been asked whether God has power to destroy Himself or whether He has power to create another god like Himself. It is obvious that for God to do any such thing would be absurd and undesirable and it is incompatible with His Majesty and Perfection to indulge in anything absurd or undesirable. The Quran has, therefore, refrained from stating that God has power to do everything and has merely said that God has power to carry into effect all that He may determine to do. God, being perfect, determines only that which is perfect and it would be the height of folly to attribute to God a desire to destroy Himself or to create another god like unto Himself.

Hazrat Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmud Ahmad, Introduction to the Study of the Holy Quran

Why can't we see God?

Answering the question why we can't see God, Ahmadi Muslim scholar Hazrat Mirza Bashir Ahmad notes that there are many forces - such as magnetism - that are naked to the invisible eye. Moreover, nor can feelings such as love be seen. Yet they exist, as do the minuscule cells and particles modern science has established the existence of. He adds:

Would it not be sheer insanity to insist that unless we could see a certain smell with our eyes, or smell a particular colour with our nose, or feel a particular sound with our hands, we shall not believe that it exists? Whoever makes such demands would be considered insane, and if perchance he is not sent to the lunatic asylum, he will certainly become a laughing stock for the street urchins. Strange to say, people raise such objections about God all the time and are still considered wise!...

The trouble is that there are millions of blind people in this world. Would they too not have the right to demand that God should assume some other material form so that they may taste, smell or feel Him?

Hazrat Mirza Bashir Ahmad, Our God