Who is Allah? Part 1

Shehnaz Merali (United Kingdom)

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 Allah (SWT). Allah (SWT) is the personal name of the One true God. Nothing else can be called Allah (SWT). The term has no plural or gender. This shows its uniqueness when compared with the word god which can be made plural, gods, or feminine, goddess. It is interesting to notice that Allah (SWT) is the personal name of God in Aramaic, the language of Jesus and a sister language of Arabic.

The One true God is a reflection of the unique concept that Islam associates with God. To a Muslim, Allah (SWT) is the Almighty, Creator and Sustainer of the universe, Who is similar to no other and no other is comparable to Him. The Prophet Muhammad (SAW) was asked by his contemporaries about Allah; the answer came directly from God Himself in the form of a short chapter of the Qur’an, which is considered the essence of the unity or the motto of monotheism. This is chapter 112 which reads: “In the name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate.
Say (O Muhammad) He is God the One God, the Everlasting Refuge, who has not begotten, nor has been begotten, and equal to Him is not anyone.”

Some non-Muslims allege that God in Islam is a stern and cruel God who demands to be obeyed fully. He is not loving and kind. Nothing can be farther from the truth than this allegation. It is enough to know that, with the exception of one, each of the 114 chapters of the Qur’an begins with the verse: “In the name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate.” In one of the sayings of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) we are told that “God is more loving and kinder than a mother to her dear child.”

But God is also Just. Hence evildoers and sinners must have their share of punishment and the virtuous, His bounties and favours. Actually God’s attribute of Mercy has full manifestation in His attribute of Justice. People suffering throughout their lives for His sake and people oppressing and exploiting other people all their lives should not receive similar treatment from their Lord. Expecting similar treatment for them will amount to negating the very belief in the accountability of man in the Hereafter and thereby negating all the incentives for a moral and virtuous life in this world. The following Qur’anic verses 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 judge you?” (68:34-36)

Islam rejects characterizing God in any human form or depicting Him as favouring certain individuals or nations on the basis of wealth, power or race. He (SWT) created the human beings as equals. They may distinguish themselves and get His favour through virtue and piety only.

The concept that God rested on the seventh day of creation, that God wrestled with one of His soldiers, that God is an envious plotter against mankind, or that God is incarnate in any human being are considered blasphemy from the Islamic point of view.

The unique usage of Allah (SWT) 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 deadly sin which God will never forgive, despite the fact He (SWT) may forgive all other sins.

[Note that what is meant above applies ONLY to those people who die in a state wherein they are associating others with God. The repentance of those who yet live is acceptable to God if He wills. – MSA of USC]

The Creator must be of a different nature from the things created because if he is of the same nature as they are, he will be temporal and will therefore need a maker. It follows that nothing is like Him. If the maker is not temporal, then he must be eternal. But if he is eternal, he cannot be caused, and if nothing outside him causes him to continue to exist, which means that he must be self-sufficient. And if He does not depend on anything for the continuance of his own existence, then this existence can have no end. The Creator is therefore eternal and everlasting: “He is the First and the Last.”

He is Self-Sufficient or Self-Subsistent or, to use a Qur’anic term, Al-Qayyum. The Creator does not create only in the sense of bringing things into being, He also preserves them and takes them out of existence and is the ultimate cause of whatever happens to them.

“God is the Creator of everything. He is the guardian over everything. Unto Him belong the keys of the heavens and the earth.” (39:62, 63)

“No creature is there crawling on the earth, but its provision rests on God. He knows its lodging place and it’s repository.” (11:6)

 

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Defining Muslim, Mu’min and Muttaqi from the Qur’an

By Akber Hameer  – (Dar es Salaam, Tanzania)

 MUSLIMEEN: Submitters

Simply someone who submits to Allah (SWT) alone and does good in life.

Submitting to Allah Alone.

“Who can utter better words than one who: calls to God, and does good work, and says: ‘I am one of the Submitters (Muslimeen)?” (41:33)

 “Who is better in his religion than one who a) submits himself to God, b) while he does good, according to the creed of Abraham: GOD has chosen Abraham as a beloved friend.” (4:125)

 “…Anyone who believes in GOD and does good work, He will remit his sins, and will admit him into gardens with flowing streams. They abide therein forever. This is the greatest triumph.” (64:9)

“Anyone who believes in God and does good work, He will admit him into gardens with flowing streams; they abide therein forever. God will generously reward him.” (65:11)

 Doing Good

“Say, “Come let me tell you what your Lord has really prohibited for you:

You shall not set up idols besides Him.

You shall honour your parents.

You shall not kill your unborn children from fear of poverty-We provide for you and for them.

You shall not commit gross sins, publicly or privately.

You shall not kill – God has made life sacred – except in the course of justice. These are His commandments to you, which you may understand.

You shall not touch the orphans’ money except in the most righteous manner, until they reach maturity.

You shall give full weight and full measure when you trade, equitably. We do not burden any soul beyond its means.

You shall be absolutely just when you bear witness, even against your relatives.

You shall fulfill your oaths to God. These are His commandments to you, that you may take heed.” (6:151-152)

  MU’UMINEEN: Believers

 “Mu’meens (believers) are those who: Believe in God and His messenger…” (49:15)

 This is similar to what the ‘Submitter/Muslim’ would have accepted, except that believing in GOD’s messenger brings on the responsibility of accepting the HOLY QUR’AN.

They attain the status of having no doubt:

“…and Attain the status of having no doubt whatsoever…” (49:15)

They are believers in what has been revealed, and its words only grant them more faith.

They Strive with their money and lives:

“…and Strive with their money and their lives in the cause of God. These are the truthful ones.” (49:15)

 Believing is just the ‘1st-step’ to their journey…they are ones who strive towards God with their money and lives. Their Hearts tremble when God is mentioned:

“The true believers are those whose hearts tremble when GOD is mentioned…” (8:2)

 Their faith is strengthened by hearing God’s revelations:

“…and when His revelations are recited to them, their faith is strengthened…” (8:2)

They trust in their Lord:

“…and they trust in their Lord.” (8:2)

They observe the Obligatory Salaat:

“They observe the Contact Prayers (Salat)…” (8:3)

Due to the journey that these people have undertaken, more spiritual linking with God is required through the method of establishing the ‘Salaat’ and constantly reciting the words and commands of the Lord.

They give to charity:

“…and from our provisions to them, they give to charity.” (8:3)

They are also givers to charity in order to attain the ‘purification/Zakat’ that can cleanse the soul and perfect the journey towards God.

“Such are TRULY THE BELIEVERS. They attain high ranks at their Lord, as well as forgiveness and a generous provision.” (8:4)

MUTTAQEEN : Righteous

“Righteousness is not turning your faces towards the east or the west. Righteous are those whobelieve in GOD, and the Last Day, and the angels, and the scripture, and the prophets; and they give the money, cheerfully, to the relatives, the orphans, the needy, the travelling alien, the beggars, and to free the slaves; and they observe the Contact Prayers (Salat) and give the obligatory charity (Zakat); and they keep their word whenever they make a promise; and they steadfastly persevere in the face of persecution, hardship, and war. These are the truthful; these are the Righteous (Mutaqeen).” (2:177) 

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Allah (SWT), the Sufficient One; Al-Qur’an, the Complete Guide

By Akber Hameer  – (Dar es Salaam, Tanzania)

 Alif Laam-Meem Raa. These are the signs of the Scripture. And what has been sent down to you from your Lord is the truth; but most of the people do not believe…. Surah 13 verse 1.

Here is a small attempt at demonstrating how Allah (SWT) is the Sufficient One and how the Holy Qur’an is a complete guide to humankind, with the help of Qur’anic verses.

Allah (SWT) – the Sufficient One

“And there is not a (living) creature on the earth but on Allah is the sustenance of it, and He knows its dwelling place and its repository. All (things) are in a manifest book” (11:6)

“And if Allah afflicts you with harm, then there is none to remove it but He; and if He intends good for you there is none to repel His grace; He brings it to him who He pleases of His servants; and He is All-Forgiving, All-Merciful.” (10:107)

“Allah will soon bring about ease after difficulty” (65:7)

“What Allah wills (happens). There is no power save in Allah” (18:39)

“Allah is sufficient for us, and the most excellent Protector” (3:173)

“And I entrust my affair to Allah, Surely Allah sees the servants” (40:44)

“There is no god but You’ glory be to You; surely I am of the unjust” (21:87)

“My Lord, surely I’m in need of whatever good You may send down to me” (28:24)

“My Lord leave me not alone; and You are the best of inheritors” (21:89)

Al-Qur’an – The Complete Guide

“Shall I seek other than God as a judge, when He has revealed to you this book fully detailed? Those who received the scripture recognize that it has been revealed from your Lord, truthfully. You shall not harbor any doubt.” (Quran 6:114)

 “…We have revealed to you this book to provide explanations for everything, and guidance, and mercy, and good news for the Submitters.” (Quran 16:89)

 “The word of your lord is complete, in truth and justice. Nothing shall abrogate his words. He is the Hearer, the Omniscient.” (Quran 6:115)

 “In their history, there is a lesson for those who possess intelligence. This is not a fabricated saying; THIS (Quran) authenticates all previous scriptures, provides the details of everything, and is a beacon and mercy for those who believe.” (Quran 12:111)

“Say: If the ocean were used for the words of my Lord, the ocean would run out, before the words of my lord run out, even if we double its supply.” (Quran 18:109)

 Perhaps it is only prudent that I add here a couple of extracts from a letter written by Imam Ali A.S. to Harith Hamdani…….

 “Never forsake the orders, instructions and advice given by the Holy Qur’an.”

 “So far as presumptions of actions and things, lawful, legitimate and allowable or unlawful, forbidden and prohibited are concerned, accept the rulings of the Holy Book.”

Source: Nahjul Balagha, Vol. II, Letters # 69 & 68

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3G’s of Modern Urban Societies

By Mohamedarif M Suleman  – (Nairobi, Kenya)

After constantly reading about the 4P’s of this and the 3C’s of that, it is no doubt that the title of this article must have caught your eye.  So if it has, and the if the fascination to the title has subsided into realism, then comprehend that this is perhaps list of shame, as you may choose to call it.  The 4P’s of Marketing and the 3C’s of Knowledge are perhaps associated with the “How to..” manuals of living but when it comes to the 3G’s of modern urban societies, there is little to learn from it.

Glamour, Glitz and Gaiety.

In a recent letter published in a business monthly in East Africa, the writer – a Christian by name, criticizes the paradoxical role that big beverage companies play in the positive direct development of nations against a ghastly backdrop of devastation for the youth.  The youth.  A word Khoja Shia Ithnasheries are so fond of for the last three decades, or more that this statement alone is bound to nurture further flavour for the subject at hand.  David, the Writer, tragically states, “An increase in teenage alcohol consumption is putting youngsters at risk.  Teenagers are binge drinking at a younger age and nobody seems to be caring.  Substance abuse experts are also reporting people as young as 16 years with alcohol dependence and say easy access to alcoholic drinks is the main contributing factor.”

He further ensues, “An important current feature of young people’s drinking is the importance of the “buzz”.  Many young people now drink in order to get drunk.  Drunkenness is widely tolerated, indeed positively approved…It is this pattern that tends to receive celebrity endorsement in young people’s media and it is reflected in the common assumption that if young party-goers can remember what they were doing, then they cannot have had a very good time; quite unfortunate indeed.”

While David’s concerns are vociferous, categorical and focused, they are buried in a heap of troubles and tragedies that have befallen our new generation that is slowly taking them away from the promise of eternal bliss and into the vicinity of the grand inferno.  With that, each one of us, members of our respective societies stand equally punishable by divine law as we shun the true realities of modern day urban living and hide beneath the culture of “My child? Never.”, or “We like to mind our own business”.

The New World Order prescribes, propagates and preaches to our young, right under our noses that Glamour (G1), oops read nudity and attitude, Glitz (G2), symbolic of Shaitan’s promise to Allah (SWT) of a glittery world embezzling the “your followers”, and gaiety (G3), sexual permissiveness, whether within the same sex or with the opposite gender, but necessarily for enjoyment and devoid of responsibility and boundaries.  But are we alive and awake to this fundamental ritual that is intoxicating our youths at an alarming rate and with the speed of woodpecker, to borrow from a rarely-used cliché?

Gentlemen and ladies, to hide behind the cultural barrier in thinking that your child is receiving the same spiritual attention as you did when you were an adolescent, then this is fallacy of its utmost kind.  For the pressures, the demands and the prerequisites of membership into youth groupings not only tolerate, but make available all of these 3Gs in aplenty.  One should neither read this article in a personalized spirit, nor should the content be translated to mean that all of our youths are prey to these vices.  Nay, undoubtedly, there will be many exceptions to this rule, but to imagine without information, background or sufficient knowledge that Shaitan, who once cleverly tried to influence even a Prophet against his own parents (recall the incident of Nabi Ismail before the sacrifice), is truly reflective of our ignorance, naievity and helpless agony.

This call is to all parents.  Regardless of our manners of upbringing, we must borrow heavily from that incident of Shaitan’s woeful attempt, because we are worse off today then people were at that time.  Then, Shaitan was ensembling disguises to stray his prey, today he is everywhere – in the form of alcoholic and drug pushing football stars, who our sons revere; in the form of gorgeous young female pop and cinema stars barely covering their bodies, who our daughters adore and wish to model; in the form of indirect invitations through friends, television, movies, music, the internet towards more bold professions such as modeling, and the like, which our children collectively watch and swoon over; in the form of constant reminders by advertisers, movie makers, newspapers, lifestyle magazines that one must gratify audaciously their desires for sex, power and money.  In all their innocence, our children, not superior in creative design to the besieged Prophet, continue to be at a massive disadvantage against this embodiment of evil and deceit.

If all parents, bolt up their act, not aggressively but within the friendly and calm atmosphere that they have carved in the homes (hopefully), and monitor with effectiveness and astute leadership; if they indeed redirect and divert the interest in symbols and celebrities of bad to those of the good, then the prayer in the qunoot of this day of ‘Idd (Wa an-tudkhilani fi kulli khayrin Muhammad wa ‘aale Muhammad, wa an tukhrijani min kulli soo-in Muhammadan wa ‘aale Muhammad…) will be actualized in all of our lives.

It is strange to think that whereas children growing up in the 1930s had little access to pornographic material or the power to purchase vice, parents were rather strict and aware.  In the 2000s, we claim to be more aware, more enlightened and more educated, and despite acknowledging the superior power that our children yield, we sometimes behave as though they are far more responsible than even we are.  So, in the final analysis, who is a more efficient parent – the one in 1930, or we the modern day urban-thinking, cash-oriented ones? And how do you reflect on David’s sentiment anyway on the unrestrained power that commerce has over our children?

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Of Honourable Morals…

By Mohamedarif Suleman,

Nairobi, Kenya

If there is one very significant trait of a Muslim, it has got to be related to manners, etiquettes, or what has been referred to as honourable morals. When Allah (SWT) referred to His creation this: “And indeed you are of a great moral character” (Al Qalam:4), He was not only praising the seal of the Prophets (SAW), but was as well, setting a standard for his followers to emulate.

Khateeb Uthman Dhumayrihhah, in his sermon on Truthfulness and Honourable Manners, states, “High morals are the protecting fortresses which Muslims seek security in and the Holy Prophet (SAW) pointed to its importance when he said: “I was sent to perfect honourable morals.”…”

The trouble is, like everything else, morals and morality today have modified meanings and abridged comprehensions. Whereas Islam, through its Messenger (SAW) has always propagated the need for high moral standards in society as a way to creating harmony and respect for others, the new Global Culture, whose victims and subscribers are resident in the younger generation across the world today, has other messages to imprint in our minds through the potent vehicles of information and technology at their disposal.

In the scheme of things, a class calibrated society that adopts “equal opportunities” for all is a paradox of the highest nature. But it exists in our midst. The developers of this class society, which dictates the honour and repute of a person on the basis of his or her wealth and possessions, is concurrently spreading the use of information, communications and technology on the pretext of its ability to be “democratic” and universally progressive. So, what makes this so unusual? Naturally, from the time immemorial, the aristocratic class of any society, have even shed innocent blood in order to protect their privileged lifestyle, and have never been known to accommodate those lower in the wrung to enjoy similar, let alone equal benefits.

But we must be able minded to understand that the main agenda is not to create prosperity, that of course is a by product which then enables the further success of such actions. The main agenda is to spread a culture of irreligiousness or moderation, as it is nowadays known as. And yet, whereas we must not dare to exclude ourselves from this technological revolution lest we are left behind, we must also ever shun what we must call responsible practice and logical knowledge simulation.

The very anti-religious concepts such as “live-in” partnerships, homosexuality and lesbianism, coupled with the need and desire for the fulfillment of physical and material needs, that were not very long ago mocked at, have today found unchallenging acceptance in most societies. The result? Young people all over the world are questioning the motives of the leaders as to why they should not allow people to practice their sexual and material preferences. Today, no one is prepared to accept that the basic objection is based on each and every religion, and therefore accepting such sinful activities, are tantamount to atheism or nihilism. For once, man and woman are getting above their gods.

The rot is rapidly spreading into the Muslim youth at an incredible rate. The new world order mow says that you can wear open clothes in a strictly Hindu setting and at a family gathering in front of their godly idols (see Indian Channel TV dramas); that what once were harmless embraces between to (Muslim) brothers can today be interpreted as gay culture which is not in any way bad (see Western Films and Pop Culture), that respect for the elders on a matter if right and wrong is subordinate and insignificant, and where the determination of right and wrong is one’s own prerogative.

When the former US President Bill Clinton underwent the Lewinsky scandal, the writing was on the wall that Americans (Global culture) can forgive obscenity but not lies. And the punishment for such lies was “censure”.

As Muslims, isn’t it about time we thought hard on how to divert this negative influence on society and on our youths? Don’t we owe it to the Holy Prophet’s (SAW) mission to save our own generations from going completely astray?

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