What is the basic teaching of Islam
Islam teaches that there is one, and only one, God Who is the
Creator and Controller of the entire universe. He is unique in every respect, and there is
nothing which bears any likeness to Him. He is the Knower of all things, and has full
power over the whole of creation. He does not stand in need of anything at all, while
everything is totally dependent on Him. He possesses all the perfect qualities, and man
should worship Him, and Him alone.
Is there any name for God that Muslims
Yes. According to Islam, the personal name of God is the
Arabic word Allah. Personal name means that it is the name which refers only
to Him, and to Him rather than to any particular quality that He possesses. It is
pronounced as follows:
AL - as in the English word al-arm.
LAH - la as in the word la-rge.
The word Allah denotes that God is the One Who possesses all
the perfect attributes. The Quran itself gives this meaning when it says:
"Allah has the most excellent names (or qualities)."
The names of God in other languages, such as God in English,
or Khuda in Urdu, only convey some particular attribute of the Divine Being, and
they are also used for those other than God (as in god, gods, goddess, etc.). Allah,
however, has only ever been applied to God Himself.
Does Islam give any arguments to prove
the existence of God?
Yes, the Holy Quran gives three kinds of arguments on this point.
Firstly, it refers us to the physical world which shows great order and arrangement, works
according to laws, and where everything has a set purpose in the whole scheme of things.
There is also immense beauty in nature which attracts man's heart. Science is discovering
more and more of these characteristics of the world all the time. So behind this highly
purposeful and beautiful working of nature must be One, single Intelligence of great
beauty and attraction.
Secondly, the Quran tells us about the close and deep connection between God and the inner
nature of every person. There is an in-built desire in each and every person to search for
something higher than oneself, and when in difficulties a person instinctively wants to
call upon a Hidden Power to help him.
Thirdly, and most convincingly, Prophets and men of God appeared in every nation in the
world and showed their people the reality of God through their teachings and works. Just
as most of us learn about science not by making all the discoveries ourselves, but by
accepting the work and evidence of those who devote themselves to the study of science,
similarly the proof of the existence of God is provided by the lives of the great
luminaries whom God sent all over the world for this very purpose.
Other religions also teach the existence
of God. Is there any difference between their teaching and the Islamic concept of God?
Yes, there are some important differences.
The first major difference is that Islam teaches the absolute one-ness of God, with Whom
no one can share in Divinity. No idol or heavenly object, nor any religious or spiritual
teacher, can possess some Divine power or attribute.
Secondly, Islam teaches the highest conception of God, and does not accept any limitation
to His power and knowledge, while other religions set limits to Him. For instance, Islam
rejects the Hindu belief that God is not the Creator of matter and souls but exists
alongside them. It also rejects the Christian doctrine that God is unable to forgive sins
unless He punishes someone, and so He sent His 'son' to suffer the punishment for the sins
of all humanity. Moreover, a son is needed to take the place of the father when the father
dies, and clearly this cannot apply if God is perfect.
Thirdly, Islam refutes the idea that any human being, however great, was a 'manifestation'
of God on earth, or a Divine incarnate.
What are the practical consequences of
these three differences?
These differences dignify and elevate the position of man. Belief in
the one-ness of God means that man should not worship or be a slave to anything in the
world, such as idols, forces of nature, heavenly bodies, religious leaders, kings,
dictatorial systems, etc. So man is meant to conquer the world around him, not be afraid
of it; and each person is meant to use his or her own intelligence and reason, not blindly
obey someone else.
Belief in the highest conception of God means that man's own progress is unlimited. His
knowledge and power, though insignificant as compared to God's, can go on increasing.
Rejecting the belief that a person could be a 'manifestation' of God, means that one
should look upon the great Founders of religions, not as 'gods' shrouded in mystery and
possessing supernatural powers, but as mortal human beings who by their own lives and
example showed others how to live.
Is there any other important distinctive
feature of the Islamic concept of God?
Yes. Islam teaches that Allah is "the Lord (Rabb) of all
the worlds". (Rabb is pronounced like the word rub.) Allah is,
therefore, not just the 'god' of the Muslims, nor the god of a particular race, religion
or nation, but the only One God for the whole of mankind. As the Lord of all the nations
He has not only provided means of physical sustenance for all the countries on earth, but
also sent His guidance to every nation for its moral progress. He is equally just and
loving towards every section of humanity, and has no favourite or chosen people, or
How does man stand in relation to God,
according to Islam?
God has given man not only a body, but also a soul through which he
can come into contact with his Creator. But whereas the body, like the rest of nature, is
bound to obey the laws of God, the soul is free to follow God's guidance or to reject it.
The soul's development lies in willingly following the guidance God has revealed through
According to the Quran, each person's soul is "God's Spirit" which has been
breathed into him or her (32:9). This means that man's soul has a special relationship
with God, and man is capable of emulating the Divine attributes on his own small scale
(see no. 23 below). God is unimaginably near to man's soul, nearer to it than even man
himself. He knows a person's innermost thoughts, even those which the person himself does
not consciously realize. In man's soul there is implanted love for God and yearning after
God, and it cannot find complete contentment without God. (See, for example, the following
verses of the Holy Quran for these ideas: 50:16; 56:85; 20:7; 2:165; 5:119; 89:27-30.)
What are the other things the Holy Quran
tells us about God?
It tells us a great deal. Most frequently it calls God Rahmaan
(Beneficent) and Raheem (Merciful). Rahmaan really means that God is so
loving and generous that He has granted man innumerable blessings as free gifts without
any effort on man's part. God is Raheem means that He is merciful so that when man
makes the effort to use his God-given bounties for good purposes, God helps him to
succeed. For instance, God has given man all sorts of physical resources in this world,
without any effort on his part. When man tries to exploit these resources for the good,
God makes him successful. The Holy Quran also tells us that God is Forgiving,
Compassionate, Just, Answerer of prayers, Creator of everything, All-powerful,
A passage of the Holy Quran which mentions several attributes of God
is as follows:
"He is Allah besides Whom there is no God. The Knower of the
unseen and the seen. He is the Beneficent, the Merciful. He is Allah besides Whom there is
no God; the King, the Holy, the Author of peace, the Grantor of security, Guardian over
all, the Mighty, the Supreme, the Possessor of greatness . . . He is Allah, the Creator,
the Maker, the Fashioner. His are the most beautiful names. Whatever is in the heavens and
the earth declares His glory; and He is the Mighty, the Wise." (59:22-24)
What is the purpose of believing that
God possesses these attributes?
So that man can try to acquire and display the same kind of
qualities in his life. The Quran says:
"(Take) Allah's colouring - and who is better than Allah at
God is the Rabb (the Provider and Fosterer of the whole
world), so man should try to provide for others. God is Rahmaan, and so man too
should take the initiative in doing good to other people, whether they have done anything
to deserve it or not. God is Raheem, and so man should join with, help and
encourage those who are doing good. God is All-Knowing and Wise, so man too should try to
perfect his knowledge and acquire wisdom.
Believing in the Divine attributes also stops one from harming
others for personal gain. A person who truly believes God to be his Rabb (Provider)
knows that He will always look after him, and so such a person would never try to take
someone else's due. A person who truly believes that God is All-Seeing and All-Knowing
would know that he could never hide any bad deed, however secret, from God.