The Islamic Concept of God
The first question is, what does Islam teach concerning the person and attributes of God? Islam describes God as a Perfect Being, possessing every excellence. The opening verse of the Holy Quran runs.
‘All praise is due to Allah, the Creator and Sustainer of all the worlds.’
As God has created all things, and all things depend on Him for their sustenance, He alone deserves all praise for the beauties and excellences to be found in different things, for all these beauties and excellences are derived from God. The beauty of a scene, the charm of a voice, the fragrance of a flower, the softness of a bed, the daintiness of a dish, in short the beauty and charm of all that pleases and appeals to the senses of man, is created and bestowed by God.
The verse then proceeds: al-Rahman al-Rahim i.e., God has, out of His pure grace and bounty, created all those things the need of which was to be felt by man; for instance, light and air; fire and water; different kinds of food and medicines; timber; iron, stones, etc. He has created so many things for the use and the exercise of man’s faculties that whichever way man turns he finds enough to occupy his attention and is afforded countless opportunities of improving and perfecting his knowledge and capacities. In fact, man cannot possibly feel any need which has not been met and provided for before his birth. All this has been done under God’s attribute of Rahmaniyyat.
Again, He has been called Rahim in the Holy Quran, that is to say, He rewards all labour and effort according to its deserts. Man’s effort is never wasted, and he is ever rewarded in true proportion to its merits.
Again, He is called Malik-e-Yaumid-Din, i.e., He is the Master of the Day of Retribution. In other words, apart from the operation of the laws of nature, and the rewards and punishments which are meted out contemporaneously, He has fixed the limits of every action, and as soon as those limits are reached, final judgment is passed on each action whereby the good are rewarded, and the evil ones are punished, subject always to this, that under His attribute of Malikiyyat it is always open to Him to forgive and to remit the punishment.
Again, He is called Qadir, that is to say, He has fixed the nature and properties of all things. If this had not been so, there would have been constant confusion and disorder in the world and the affairs of the world would soon have come to an end. If men had not been certain about the nature, effect and properties of things, they could never have entered upon any enterprise, not knowing what it might lead to. For instance, a man who desires to cook food lights a fire in the certain belief that fire would generate heat. If the generation of heat had not been the fixed property of fire, and the extinguishing of fire had not been the fixed property of water, if fire had sometimes generated heat and at other times had caused cold, if water had some times extinguished fire and at other times had set it alight, nobody could have derived any benefit from them, and men would have lost heart in despair and would soon have perished.
God has also been described as ‘Alim, that is to say, He has knowledge of secret as well as of manifest things. He is aware of the secrets of a man’s heart and knows all hidden things. He is acquainted with the hidden secrets of man’s nature of which the latter is not even himself aware. Things buried under the earth and those placed on mountain tops are equally within His knowledge. He knows that which is past and that which is to come.
He is Sami‘, that is, He hears everything; the slightest whisper does not escape Him and the sound of a crawling ant, and of the blood coursing through a man’s veins reaches Him.
He is Hayy, that is, He is Himself alive and bestows life on others.
He is Khaliq, the Creator.
He is Qayyum, that is, He supports the existence of others.
He is Samad, that is, nothing can exist without His support and assistance.
He is Ghafur, that is, He forgives our trespasses.
He is Qahhar, that is, all things are subject to His power.
He is Jabbar, that is, He remedies all ills and disorders.
He is Wahhab, that is, He bestows favours and bounties on His creatures.
He is Subbuh, that is, He is free from all defects.
He is Quddus, that is, He comprises in Himself all aspects of purity and holiness. He does not sleep, nor is He fatigued. He is Eternal and Ever-existing.
He is Muhaimin, that is, He guards all things. It is under the working of this Divine attribute that man is guarded from evils and sufferings, of the approach of which he may not even be aware. He is very often saved from a disease or a calamity by secret influences which have been working in his favour. As soon as a disease attacks the human system, counter influences begin to destroy germs of the disease. So long as a man does not persist in acting rashly and breaking the laws of nature, he is saved from many of the evil consequences of his conduct. God says in the Holy Quran:
‘That is, if God were to start punishing men for all their irregularities of conduct not one of them would be spared.’ 16: 62.
In short, He possesses all perfect attributes and His mercy encompasses all things, as He says: ‘My mercy encompasseth all things.’ 7:157 In other words, His attributes of anger and punishment are governed by His attributes of mercy.
He is Ahad, that is, nothing is His equal;
He is Wahid, that is, all things had their origin in His command and He is the first cause of all creation.
Many other attributes of His are mentioned in the Holy Quran, which show that Islam teaches a perfect conception of God as possessing attributes which create love on the one hand and fear on the other, both of which are indispensable for a perfect relationship between man and God.
A moment’s reflection will show that perfect unity and perfect obedience can be produced only either by love or by fear. No doubt, love is the higher and the more perfect relationship, but there is equally no doubt that some natures are affected by nothing but fear. A religion, therefore, which does not emphasize the Divine attributes both of mercy and of punishment, can never be universally beneficial. In considering the sources and causes of human conduct, a religion must have regard, not only to the motives which influence the more highly developed sections of society, but to the motives governing the actions of all classes and conditions of men. In fact, the higher sections of mankind are generally naturally inclined towards good. The greater part of our attention must, therefore, be devoted to those who have fallen low and have wholly forgotten their duties as human beings. This class of people, with rare exceptions, is amenable only to fear, and no moral or spiritual reform can be effected in this class unless it is faced with the prospect of loss or pain. A religion which claims to bring all mankind in direct relationship with God, must, therefore, have regard to this characteristic of human nature.
In describing the attributes of God, Islam has so balanced the different attributes that no more perfect combination could be imagined which could attract and control men of widely different natures. The attributes both of love and anger have been emphasized, subject to the assurance: ‘My mercy encompasseth all things,’ that is, that mercy overcomes anger, for the object of the latter is to reform and not to inflict pain. This is a supreme and perfect conception of God, and completely answers the real object of religion.
Note: This excerpt is taken from the Book “Ahmadiyyat or True Islam” written by Hazrat Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmud Ahmad. The original book can be free download here: