Who is Allah? A Brief Introduction to Your Creator
Before we talk about Jesus Christ and his actual teachings in detail, you will need an introduction to Allah. Allah is not a foreign God and does not bear a foreign name. Allah, instead, is the semantic term for God. Regardless, some people harbor the mistaken belief that Muslims worship a different God than Christians and Jews and that Allah is the God of the Arabs or the Muslims. This is far from the truth. The word Allah is the unique name of God. It is the Arabic name connoting Almighty God. Arabic-speaking Jews and Christians use this same word to refer to God. If one were to peruse an Arabic translation of the Bible, one would see the word Allah used in place of the term God. However, Muslims, Christians, and Jews all have different concepts of God. Muslims and Jews reject the Christian belief in the Trinity and the Divine incarnation. Yet, this does not mean that these three religions worship a different God: There is only One true God.
The name of God in Hebrew is Eloah (pronounced eeLo), and the name of God in Aramaic is Elahh (pronounced as El-aw), and Assyrian Aramaic is Alaha (pronounced the way it is read ʼAlâhâ), and in Arabic, it is Allah (pronounced as AaLaH / Allawh). All the names of God in these languages are pronounced about the same as there is only One True God. If one were to pursue an Arabic bible, it reads: ‘In the beginning Allah created the heavens and the earth’ (Genesis 1:1) & ‘For Allah so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life’ (John 3:16)
Muslims prefer to use the name ‘Allah’ instead of “God” because the word “God” can be made plural and rendered masculine or feminine. In contrast, the Arabic word “Allah” that God chose for Himself cannot be made plural and is genderless. For instance, if you add the letter “s” to the word God, it becomes gods — the plural of God. In the case of the Arabic word Allah, one cannot make the word plural by adding “s” or in any other way morphing the word’s structure. Likewise, if one adds “ess” to the end of the word “God,” it becomes “goddess,” which connotes a female god. God is neither female nor male. He is genderless. The Arabic term Allah does not have a gender. It cannot be made feminine.
Muslims prefer to use Allah instead of God because using the word God has different connotations for different people. God indicates an entity worthy of worship. Regretfully, people assign a godlike status to many other beings, divine or otherwise. However, while speaking to non-Muslims, one may use God instead of Allah to help the intended audience understand the word’s context.
Allah originates from the word Al-ilah, which enjoins the two terms “The” and “God,” as in The God. The Arabic word illah, the closest synonym to God, is rich and has several meanings. Illah refers to an entity worthy of worship and service, an object of devotion and love, someone you turn to in desperate times, someone you adore and think about. Illah also is one you turn to for protection, help, or aid. One can find sanctuary and rest in their Illah, who is always present to comfort and guide His creation.
The relationship with God is expressed in the Arabic word Al-Rabb, which is used frequently in the Holy Quran. Linguistically, it is defined as sticking close to something. It also means joining something with another. In the Holy Quran, the word Al-Rabb implies that the owner (God) has full authority over His property (his servants) and is the Master who ultimately sustains His creation by regulating affairs, providing provisions, and granting all varieties of favors and blessings. Al-Rabb also means the One who sustains and nurtures the hearts and souls of His creation.
Allah is The One and Only, the Absolute & Eternal God. He is the Creator of the Heavens and Earth, the Creator of the Universe. He is the Lord of all lords, King of all kings. He is the Most Compassionate and Most Merciful. He knows no equal. Allah neither begets nor is born. God offers a description of Himself in His final book, the Holy Quran, stating:
“Say, ‘He is Allah, [who is] One, Allah, the Eternal Refuge. He neither begets nor is born, nor is there to Him any equivalent” (Quran 112:1–4)
Muslims believe in One, unique, incomparable God who has no son, no daughter, no father, no mother, no family, and no partner. He is the Knower of the unseen and the Source of All Mercy. He is the Creator, the Maker, the Fashioner, and the Wise. All that is in the Heavens and Earth magnify Him. Muslims believe that none should be worshipped but Him alone. He is the true God, and every other deity is false. None carries the right to be worshipped, revered, adored, invoked, supplicated, or shown any act of worship but Allah alone.
God is unique, indivisible, and like nothing. Whenever you try to compare God to anything in this world, it cannot be God, as God is incomparable. God has a unique nature, is free from gender and human weakness, and is beyond anything human beings can imagine. Our finite human minds cannot fully comprehend and grasp God as a concept. Muslims avoid conceptualizing His image because imagining or visualizing Him would limit Him. Human imagination is limited, based directly on what it observes and experiences. The human imagination cannot fully grasp the state of God, who is timeless and eternal, with no beginning or end. God states:
“There is no god but He, the Creator of all things; then worship Him, and He has the power to dispose of all affairs. No vision can grasp Him, but His grasp is over all vision; He is the Sublime, Well-Aware” (Quran 6: 102–103)
God is the King, the Holy, the One free from all defects, the Protector, the Keeper, the Sustainer of Earth and the Universe and all it contains. He is the Glorious, the Great, the deserving of all Praise. The Kingdom of the Heavens and the Earth belong to Him. Nothing is hidden from Him, and nothing is beyond His capabilities. He is the Lord and Master of the physical Universe and the Ruler and Lawgiver for human life. Allah is the Creator of everything from the smallest to the greatest. He heats and brightens the Earth, varies the direction of the winds, and keeps the planets in their separate orbits. He is the one that merges night into day, and that merges day into night. He is the Master of the Day of Judgment. Allah does not sleep or slumber, nor does sleep overtake Him. After all, He created the Universe in six days with no rest. God states:
“[He is] Creator of the Heavens and the Earth. He has made for you from yourselves, mates, and among the cattle, mates; He multiplies you thereby. There is nothing like unto Him, and He is the Hearing, the Seeing” (Quran 42:11)
God is Loving, Compassionate, and Merciful. He is the answerer of prayers and is indeed involved and concerned with the daily affairs of all human beings. God is the Beneficent, the Merciful. He is the Giver of life and the Causer of death. He is the Master of the Day of Judgment. He is the Most-High, the Most Supreme. He is most generous and loving to his creation. God gives, without measure, to His servants. To humanity, He gifted life and the ability to hear, feel, taste, and see — God gifted humans their hearts, minds, souls, strengths, and skills.
“And He gave you from all you asked of Him. And if you should count the favor of Allah, you could not enumerate them. Indeed, mankind is [generally] most unjust and ungrateful” (Quran 14:34)
God created all things from nothing. He is in no need of His creation, although His creation needs Him. He is all Knowledgeable and encompasses all things — the open and the secret, the public and the private. He knows all the secrets that lie hidden in the hearts and minds of men. He knows of all that happened in the past, what is happening now, and what will happen. Our Lord neither errs nor forgets. He is free from all defects and imperfections. He is the One that accepts repentance from His servants and forgives all sins. Allah knows what you endure and understands your feelings and struggles. Allah understands because He has been there with you all along.
Allah has power over all things. No other power or might or strength or influence can cause benefit or harm to anyone or anything except that which flows through Him. Nothing can happen unless God wills it so.
“Not a leaf falls but that He knows it. And no grain is there within the darknesses of the Earth and no moist or dry [thing] but that it is [written] in a clear record” (Quran 6:59)
God can make anything happen. He states in His book:
“Whenever We will anything to be, We say unto it Our word ‘Be,’ and it is” (Quran 16:40)
Some people assume that God is a harsh, stern, cruel God who demands to be respected, worshiped, and obeyed fully and is not loving and kind to His creation. Nothing could be further from the truth. God is All-Loving. Among His Names, He claims Al-Wadoud (the All-Loving) in Arabic. The love of God is expressed and emphasized many times throughout His Book, the Holy Quran. God bespeaks His love for the righteous, the charitable, the steadfast, the doers of good, the just, the fair, the ones that purify themselves, the ones that fulfill their obligations, and the ones who place their trust in Him. The entire Universe and everything in it contains is proof of Allah’s love for all His creation.
Although Allah is not answerable to anyone, He has promised to be just and fair to everyone. God is All-Just; hence, evildoers and sinners must be held accountable for their actions. God is Holy, Righteous, and Fair. If He did not punish evil, He would allow that evil to exist without consequences. Because God cannot let that happen, His justice requires that proper punishment be executed for evil sins.
He has prohibited injustice against the innocent. Allah would never punish an innocent person nor hold anyone accountable for their sins. Unlike Christianity, Islam imposes no burden on original sin. Every human being is born with a clean slate and is rewarded or punished based on willful intent, words, and deeds. Allah is the Absolute Judge and Legislator. God is the One who distinguishes right from wrong. God is more merciful to His creation than a mother to her child. God is far removed from injustice and tyranny. He is All-Wise in all His actions and decrees.
To be genuinely devoted to Allah and love Him above all else imaginable, one must have knowledge of God that goes beyond the basic aspects of His role as the sole Creator and Sustainer. To reward any seeker who strives to learn more about Him, He reveals information about Himself and His Attributes. Allah has the most magnificent and beautiful Names and sublime perfect Attributes. No one shares His Divinity or Attributes. Allah’s Attributes are incomparable, greater, and more perfect than those acquired by people, as there is nothing like Him, His Attributes, and His Actions.
God has an infinite number of names. He has a unique category of 99 names as listed in the Holy Quran and the teachings of Prophet Muhammad PBUH. Among His names are The Ever-Merciful, The Forgiving, The Loving, The Nourisher, The Sustainer, The Compassionate, The Exalter, The Just, The Great, The Protector, The Caregiver, The Ever-Living, The Powerful, The First, The Last, The Pardoner, The Light, The Supporter, The Eternal, The Preserver, The Wise, The Originator, and The One Who Gives Life and Resurrects. If our Creator is Eternal and Everlasting, then His Attributes must adhere to this edict. God has perfect attributes. He has limitless and infinite Hearing, Vision, Mercy, and Love.
We attribute certain factors to every quality of God. None of His Attributes ever knew a beginning, nor will they ever have an ending. For instance, He has always been, and will always be, All-Hearing. Allah hears everything from our inner thoughts to the eruption of volcanoes. Language is no barrier for Him, for God understands all. All His Attributes are infinite. While humans can hear only what is in front of them, God can listen to simultaneous conversations inside and outside a room. God can hear all. All our attributes as humans were given to us as gifts, while all of God’s Attributes originated within Him. His Attributes were not given to Him; they were within Him all along.
The most significant and honorable knowledge is of Allah’s Names, Attributes, and Actions. God encourages His creation to learn His names to learn more about Him. How would one love, worship, fear, and trust God if they did not know His Identity and Attributes? By learning Allah’s Names and Attributes, one can appreciate His Power over all things and increase the pleasure and sublime awe they find in God’s company. That is why the knowledge of Allah is a central tenet of the Islamic faith.
Muslims are advised to study and ponder His Names and Attributes; they are encouraged to worship and call Him by those names. When you genuinely ponder the Majesty of Allah, your humility increases. God states:
“And to Allah belong the best names, so invoke Him by them” (Quran 7:180)
God is above His creation, above the Heavens, and above His Throne. However, He is never contained by any physical dimension. Allah is close, very close. God is near to those who believe in Him, and He answers their every call. Saying that God is with His servants does not mean that He intermingles or dwells with His creation; instead, He establishes His presence through Knowledge and Power. Nothing is hidden from Him of what His creation does or says. God states in the Holy Quran:
“Verily Allah knows all the hidden things of the Heavens and the Earth; Verily He has full Knowledge of all that is in (men’s) hearts” (Quran 35:38)
Allah is in no need of His creation, although His creation needs Him. Allah wants humans to worship Him for their benefit. Humans always need God in their lives. Those who recognize the Majesty of our Creator soon become awestruck and humble. He who rejects God and His Guidance is like a patient refusing a doctor’s medicine for his pain. This patient would be foolish, ignorant, and illogical in his actions, just like the one who rejects Allah. Allah is fully omnipotent and self-sufficient. He does not need worship or anything else.
The first article of faith in Islam presents the belief in the Oneness of God. Iman (faith) begins with the belief in Allah, the Glorious, from which all other facets of faith spring. A Muslim must adhere to and acknowledge the idea that no deity other than Allah is worthy of their worship, love, subservience, hope, and fear. Nothing in existence is worthy of one’s ultimate loyalty and sacrifice, nor of lowering their head in prostration or humility, except for Allah, the Creator of All.
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