The concept of God in Islam

Umari Stambuli

It is a known fact that every language has one or more terms that are used in reference to God and sometimes to lesser deities.

This is not the case with the Arabic language and the word Allah.

Allah is the personal name of the One True God. Nothing else can be called Allah.

The term has no plural or gender and this shows its uniqueness when compared with the word God which can be made plural (as in gods) or even feminine (as in goddess).

It is interesting to notice that “Allah” is the personal name of God in both the original Aramaic (the language of Jesus- peace be upon him) and the sister language of Arabic.

The One True God

The One True God is a reflection of the unique concept that Islam associates with God.

To a Muslim, Allah is The Almighty, Creator, Sustainer and Cherisher of the universe, who is similar to nothing and nothing is comparable to Him.

The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was asked by his companions about Allah; the answer came directly from God Himself in the form of a short chapter of the Holy Qur’an, which is considered to be the essence of the unity of the God-head or the motto of monotheism.

This is chapter 112 which reads: “Say (O Muhammad) He is Allah the One (and Only) God, Allah is the Unique, who has not begotten, nor has He been begotten, and none is comparable unto Him!” (Ch112)

The unique usage of Allah as a personal name of God is a reflection of Islam’s emphasis on the purity of the belief in God which is the essence of the message of all God’s Messengers. Because of this, Islam considers associating any deity or personality with God as a grave sin which God will never forgive, despite the fact that He may forgive all other sins.

Misconceptions

Some non-Muslims allege that God in Islam, or Allah, is a term referring to a cruel God who demands to be obeyed fully and that He is not loving and kind.

Nothing can be further from the truth. It is enough to know that with the exception of only one, each of the 114 chapters of the Qur’an begins with the verse: “In the name of Allah (God), the Most Merciful, the Most Compassionate”.

But Allah is also just, hence evil doers and sinners must have their share of punishment; whilst the virtuous and righteous must get His bounties and favours.

Actually Allah’s attribute of Mercy has full manifestation in His attribute of Justice.

People suffering throughout their life for His sake and people oppressing and exploiting other people all their life should not receive similar treatment from their Lord – God Almighty. Expecting similar treatment for them will amount to negating the very belief in the accountability of man and the hereafter and thereby negating all the incentives for a moral and virtuous life in this world.

The following verses of the Holy Qur’aan are very clear and straightforward in this respect: “Verily, for the Righteous are gardens of Delight, in the Presence of their Lord.

Shall We then treat the people of faith like the people of sin? What is the matter with you? How do you judge?” (Ch68: v 34-36)

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