Is Allah God?
In high school I read a (comic) book that claimed that Allah was a myth created out of an idol worshipped during the pre-Islamic era. Eh? Hello? Where is the sense in a faith based on an idol then going on to condemn not only the worship of idols, but the association of anything with God?
It’s a tragically funny accusation, but it does neatly brings us to the first essential Root without which, there is no Islam. Literally. And that belief is:
- That there is Only One God. (Arabic: Tawhid)
Simple, right? It actually is. 🙂 (Anyone ever wondered why finding the Truth isn’t so much about adding complicated layers, but rather distilling down to the bare basics?)
Tawhid means that Allah – which is an Arabic name for God – is One. Absolutely, Infinitely, Perfectly so. This Oneness applies in every sense. For example, when counting in Arabic you say wahid, ithnayn, thalatha… (one, two, three). However, you cannot say God is wahid. You say instead that God is Ahad.
Ahad is a One that is uniquely used for God. It is a One that cannot be added to or subtracted from, divided or multiplied, neither can it be categorized into a one of a ‘kind’. It has no numerical value, just a theological one.
This Oneness extends in principle to the Unity of God, because He is Absolute to such an extent that only He exists and through His Existence do all other things exist. He Unites all things into one harmonious Whole and everything reflects this Unity from vastest expanse of the cosmos to the the smallest atomic structure that constitutes the universe.
In its purest form, Tawhid means admitting God is the Only Reality. So when, for example, a Muslim says “Allahu Akbar” (God is Great), what he or she means is that God is Great and there is no greatness except His. The same applies for every attribute of God – Beauty, Love, Mercy, Glory – all these exist in their absolute form in Him.
It’s not just in attributes that we consider God as absolute, but also in existence. You’ll often hear descriptions of Allah being Eternal in such a way that He is the First for Whom there is no ‘before’ and the Last for Whom there is no ‘after’; that He Exists, but not through the phenomenon of coming into being; that He is Everywhere but not in the sense of occupying space. So Tawhid means believing that God is not limited by time, space, ability or anything really, because everything has been created by Him and is constantly in need of Him to exist.
The thing I really *heart* about Islamic theology is how versatile it is. The basics never change, but you can explore it from almost any angle and come across a new facet that will make you sit back and go ‘hmmm’. Like this excerpt:
“Because God is at once absolute and infinite, the Divine Nature, although usually referred to in the masculine, also possesses a feminine ‘aspect’, which is, in fact, the principle of all femininity. If God in His absoluteness and majesty is the Origin of the masculine principle, in His Infinitude and beauty, God is the Origin of femininity…The Islamic conception of God, while emphasizing His Majesty is certainly not oblivious to His Beauty, and this truth is reflected not only in female spirituality in Islam but in the female dimension of all Islamic spirituality.
(Seyyed Hossein Nasr, Encyclopaedia of Islamic Spirituality, Volume One: Foundations)
When I read this, the first thing that came to my mind was how much yin and yang there was in this theory. The fact that the Unity of God comes from His being Judge and Creator as well as Cherisher and Nourisher. That He metes out Justice, and is also Merciful; that He is All-Powerful and yet Forgiving. That He is not only the Truth we seek out, but the Balance as well.