Islam's Conception of God


#1

Islam’s conception of God is well known, and represents a kind of via media between the Greek and the Jewish notions; “There is no God but God; and Mohammed is his prophet.” So, too, Christ Jesus was his prophet, and indeed many another, since the Qur’an proclaims, “there is no nation but has had its warner.” Nevertheless, the greatest of the prophets and apostles, such as Moses, Christ, and Mohammed, are mere mortals, and the same gates of spiritual advancement that were open to them are open to all mankind. They are “warners,” admonishers, voices calling men always to the contemplation of the sublime unity of the Godhead. In no sense are these prophets intermediaries betwen God and his creatures: there are no intermediaries. However proficient in sanctity these “warners” may be, at best they are but guides. They do not even reflect the light of divinity, for just as the sun in the heavens is the sole source of light to this planet, so God in his isolation is the sole source of light to the spiritual world . . . This is indeed a beautiful and arresting piece of imagery, but it must be confessed that the concept of deity which it sets forth is so dazzling that we are intellectually blinded by it. It is like looking at the sun with the naked eye: we are so dazed by its brilliance that we learn nothing about it.

The plain fact is that Islam, equally with paganism, though in a different way, failed to realize the true nature of God, failed to understand that he is the God of life and love, of that life which is supremely active, and of that love which is infinitely diffusive. He is not a god who dwells like a lone star apart, but the God whose pulsating life and illimitable love find expression in the gracious condescension of his self-revelation. It is to one’s intimate friends that one reveals the secrets of one’s inner life, and consequently it is in the New Testament, with the coming of the Eternal Son of God in the flesh for the love of man, that the veil is dranw aside from the majesty and mystery of the divine life, so that we may catch some glimpse of it as it is in itself, and not merely as it was known hitherto in its outward and visible manifestations.

From revelation it is obvious that the divine life in itself is not solitary either in the Aristotelian or the Mohammedan sense. We are given many inklings of this basic truth in the Old Testament, especially in those passages wherein Wisdom is personified and speaks in accents which are unmistakably divine, as, for instance, in the following: "The Lord possessed me in the beginning of his ways, before he made anything from the beginning. I was set up from eternity, and of old before the earth was made. The depths were not as yet, and I was already conceived . . . " (Proverbs 8:22)

Tomster


#2

Nice point.

However, I have to disagree that Islam is similar to paganism in any theological sense. It’s a historical fact that Muhammed’s religion eliminated pagan worship from large areas of the Middle East and central Asia not yet accepting or learning of Christ.

However, I totally understand, and agree with you, that Islam’s God is not a personal one. Allah (for Muslims) is not immanent and not ever or continuously acting within the world; whereas Emmanuel means “God with us”, it can be said “Allah not with us”. Allah is rather a solitude somewhere out there in a fixed position who is commanding the world with subjugation of his will which theoretically is forced upon. Allah has 99 names, and not one of them is “love” as in Christianity, Allah has not given man the personal gift of free will (even the free will not to worship Him), rather we are slaves (in a literal sense) to this one-way will of Allah. The Spirit of Allah is non-existent, oh but by the way the Qu’ran will tell you that “Jesus has a spirit proceeding from Him”.

Muhammed, after traveling to various regions in Syria and Palestine, gained a very limited and inaccurate knowledge of the numerous Catholic Christians and Jews throughout these regions (ie: Muhammed’s claim in the Qu’ran that Christians believe in 3 gods). While he incorporated many of the teachings of those (such as Jesus was indeed born of the Virgin Mary, and He will come again, belief in Heaven and Hell), he was speaking to a people who were on the outskirts of the Eastern Roman Empire (the deserts of Arabia) and therefore were highly uneducated and uncultivated by the Roman and Greek learning which blossomed just outside their borders to the north and west. Muhammed simplified Christianity for the Arab peoples, by eliminating the Divine mysteries difficult to comprehend to the common masses, such as the Trinity, the priesthood, the Sacraments, Liturgical worship, the Incarnation; and by commencing a political revolution for the Arabs (who were highly opporessed by the Eastern Roman Greeks) under that banner of “true religion”. Muhammed relaxed the moral code, eliminating the Christian virtue of sacrifice; promised liberation to the common man, freedom from debt, freedom from slavery (though not truly), freedom from oppression, if they accept Islam. Muhammed led military campaigns against his enemies and was quite ruthless to many of his captives, thus his successors copied that example, interpretating it as a necessary way of bringing victory to Allah. This is why today, when Muslim nations or states want to impose Sharia Law in their region (which is practiced still in many Islamic countries), they do it not out of love for Allah, but out of a political motive or agenda so as to “gain an edge” over the non-Muslim minorities, since Sharia Law will highly restrict non-Muslims.


#3

He said Islam mistakes the nature of God equally as paganism, but NOT in a similar fashion. You might have misunderstood.


#4

“Allah is One, without any partners. He has no sharers in His essence, attributes, actions, or rulings. He is the sole Creator of all that exists, has existed, and will ever exist. Everything other than Him is His creation – that is, a contingent being that came into existence after it did not previously exist.

He alone controls all events, causes, and effects, and no power exists independently of His power. Nothing happens outside of His will, neither before He willed it, nor after He willed it, neither more than what He willed, nor less than what He willed.

There is nothing like Him, and it is impossible to imagine or conceive Him. He is not qualified by the laws of His creation. He is not encompassed by direction or distance. Allah existed as He has always been before the creation of time and space.2 He not only created time and space, but He is transcendentally beyond them, such that He cannot be “in” a place, He cannot be “everywhere,” and He cannot be “nowhere.”

Allah is the eternally-existing, necessary first cause. Unlike His creation, which is a possible existent subject to nonbeing, beginning, and ending, Allah has no beginning and He will never perish or come to an end. Scholars have also explained, “Bringing creation into existence did not add anything to His attributes that was not already there.”3

He is the Sustainer of everything, directly sustaining every instant of the existence of all things. He alone gives life and He alone gives death, and He will re-create and resurrect living rational beings for judgment and retribution just as He created them the first time. Nothing is difficult for Him.

His omnipotence encompasses all things intrinsically possible. He cannot terminate His own existence, for “the divine nature necessarily entails the divine perfections, of which being is one. It is impossible that Allah could cease to have this perfection or any other, for otherwise He would not be God.”4 Similarly, it is impossible for created things to contravene the knowledge or speech of Allah, for by being connected with either of these two divine attributes, it has become contingently necessary for any created thing to conform and submit.

His knowledge encompasses all things. It is not subject to change or increase; it is not based on time or chronology. He knew the actions and eternal abodes of all of humanity before its creation, and its actual existence and conformity to Allah’s pre-temporal knowledge neither increased nor benefited Him.

He sees all events and things in a manner wholly unlike our means of seeing things. His sight does not depend on distance, light, and appendages. Likewise, He hears all events and things with a hearing that transcends sound waves, volume, tone, and pitch.

Allah is the source of all benefit and harm. If all of humanity gathered together with the sole intention of benefiting or harming a single person, it would be absolutely powerless to do so save by the will and permission of Allah.

In a similar vein, Allah alone guides to His single, eternal truth, and He likewise leads astray. All good works done by a person are not a consequence of his own knowledge, effort, or piety, but rather they issue from a divinely-bestowed ability that Allah grants to whom He wills. Source


#5

"Allah is manifest by being Powerful over everything, manifest to mental proofs. All existing things in heavens and on earth, organisms, celestial bodies, the described and the description, cause and effect bear witness to their need of the Originator Who ordains, originates and endows His creatures with their special traits and characteristics; He, the MANIFEST, said, “On the earth are Signs for those of assured Faith, as also in yourselves, will ye not then see?” (ZARIYAT, 20, 21). Stars attest to His Glory every time they rise and set. All the living beings asserted His Grace in providing them with their sustenance. The whole universe, with its most minute details is but a sign and manifestation of Allah’s names and attributes.

Allah is the IMMANENT Who is veiled from the perception of sights, concealed from the perception of mentalities and minds. He is the IMMANENT, Who is too exalted from the perception of senses and the treasure of fancy; He is different from all that occurs to our mentalities.

Allah, Praise and Glory be to Him, is MANIFEST through intellectual faculties, IMMANENT to senses and fancy; He is the MANIFEST as far as definition is concerned and He is the IMMANENT as far as modality is concerned.

Glory be to Allah, Who veiled Himself from His creatures by His Light, and Who is hidden from them despite His overwhelming Presence. He is the MANIFEST and nothing is more manifest than Him, and He is IMMANENT and nothing is more IMMANENT than Him; He is the First and the Last, and of all things He has perfect Knowledge, Praise and Glory be to Him, He is Allah" Source


#6

Joseph,

So who revealed this to you? How do you know what you know?

Tomster


#7

Behold, the Muslim “trinity”… ONE in rationale, yet manifests itself in THREE equally absurd arguments that perpetuate themselves into INFINITY!! :smiley:

*The Quran is from God?
“Yes, because Mohammed said so.”

Why would you believe him?
“He is Allah’s prophet.”

Why do you think Mohammed was a prophet?
“Allah tells us in the Quran.” (repeat question 1, continue ad nauseum)*


#8

Yet he calls himself ‘we’


#9

Yet he calls himself ‘we’

I can think of few theological arguments more absurd than arguments about the linguistic and grammatical style of a foreign language which neither party reads.

Try reading shakespeare sometime: there’s the “royal we” and third person references to the self in there too. “We” isn’t just used for the majestic singular in Arabic; it’s also used in English and other European languages.

The Islamic conception of God is very straightforward, and, in my opinion, discourages the kind of useless theological speculation that gave Christians centuries of warfare over the trinity.


#10

English is not a foreign language to me. Perhaps it is to you. Several experts in English and Arabic have chosen the English words that best represent the meaning in Arabic. They have chosen the word ‘we’.

BIRON: Your wit makes wise things foolish
Love’s Labour’s Lost: V, ii

I’m not aware the bard ever used the Pluralis majestatis

So now you’re suggesting that it is the correct word! You need to make up your mind which argument you wish to have.

Given you’re not a Moslem, and reminding you again of your own rule of exclusion, you’re not allowed to comment on it.

I also take it that this means that the centuries of warfare between Sunn’i and Shi’a was useful?


#11

Salaam Tomster;

[quote=Tomster]Joseph,
So who revealed this to you? How do you know what you know?
Tomster
[/quote]

Muslims would never, ever dare to say something about God which He did not reveal Himself. It is all in the Qur’an and the Hadiths (sayings) of the Prophet (PBUH).

Salaam.
Joseph.


#12

So you need the words of the prophet (a man) to understand the Koran?


#13

Yes, but the source material is arabic. Meaning that the english used “we” for a reason you might not understand, for example, to match a general sense of the english “royal we”.

I’m not aware the bard ever used the Pluralis majestatis

Read Julius Caesar for some “grammatical errors.”

So now you’re suggesting that it is the correct word! You need to make up your mind which argument you wish to have.

No, I’m pointing out that in english “we” can refer to the singular majestic. It is common, and something you should know being a native english speaker. Why you would read it and assume “ah ha! plural!” in a context like this is puzzling.

I also take it that this means that the centuries of warfare between Sunn’i and Shi’a was useful?

It was not a theological dispute. They argued over who should be the temporal ruler, a political dispute in the truest sense of the word.

What you will never find in Islamic history is a war over whether or not “God is one” means “God is equal to hiimself and his son” or “Muhammad is God” or anything else of the sort. Speculation as to the nature of God’s “parts” (err, persons) as a source of warfare is a Christian phenomenon.


#14

[quote=Montalban]English is not a foreign language to me. Perhaps it is to you. Several experts in English and Arabic have chosen the English words that best represent the meaning in Arabic. They have chosen the word ‘we’.
[/quote]

[quote=pro_universal]Yes, but the source material is Arabic. Meaning that the English used “we” for a reason you might not understand, for example, to match a general sense of the English “royal we”.
[/quote]

How do you know it to be so? It moves, as I’ve exampled from first person in one verse to first person in the next, and it’s a totally different person in both (Allah, then Muhammad).

[quote=Montalban]I’m not aware the bard ever used the Pluralis majestatis
[/quote]

[quote=pro_universal]Read Julius Caesar for some “grammatical errors.”
[/quote]

Ah, yes. I forgot about Brutus! et tu!
You’re now comparing Shakespeare to the Koran, that’s a novel argument. I think Shakespeare’s better written

[quote=Montalban]So now you’re suggesting that it is the correct word! You need to make up your mind which argument you wish to have.
[/quote]

[quote=pro_universal]No,
[/quote]

Then make up your mind

Because it’s not common in English. It’s known as the Ambiguous Collective logical fallacy

[quote=Montalban]I also take it that this means that the centuries of warfare between Sunn’i and Shi’a was useful?
[/quote]

[quote=pro_universal]It was not a theological dispute. They argued over who should be the temporal ruler, a political dispute in the truest sense of the word.
[/quote]

ROFL. Of course!

Given that Moslems agree that their god is one of course you’d not find this type of debate. They will instead fight over different theological reasons.
What wars have been fought over the Trinity?


#15

The point is that you don’t know unless you have some grasp of the arabic that was translated. Apart from that, you can’t possibly have any clue why the english was translated as it was, and hence, can’t draw conclusions about this issue.

How are they grammatical errors? And what examples do you have in mind? Simply directing me to a rather large play

They’re not, but they’re uses of these phrases in english in a way that’s similar what you’re harping on in the Quran.

Because it’s not common in English. It’s known as the Ambiguous Collective logical fallacy

That’s true I guess. Common English is english spoken by the average and underaverage. It’s commonly known if you make a point of studying English literature, though.

Given that Moslems agree that their god is one of course you’d not find this type of debate. They will instead fight over different theological reasons.
What wars have been fought over the Trinity?

Let’s see, the Arianism, Monophysite, Monothelite, Cathar (Albigensian) and other battles raged for something like 1300 years.

After that, we had wars over whether or not “faith alone” saves you and whether the bread and wine is or is not Jesus’s blood and body.

There was war after war over idle theological speculation until Christianity was finally divested of any temporal authority.


#16

[quote=Montalban]How do you know it to be so? It moves, as I’ve exampled from first person in one verse to first person in the next, and it’s a totally different person in both (Allah, then Muhammad).
[/quote]

[quote=pro_universal]The point is that you don’t know unless you have some grasp of the arabic that was translated. Apart from that, you can’t possibly have any clue why the english was translated as it was, and hence, can’t draw conclusions about this issue.
[/quote]

Actually I can, given the fact that the experts have chosen this word to best represent the Arabic.

[quote=Montalban]How are they grammatical errors? And what examples do you have in mind? Simply directing me to a rather large play
[/quote]

[quote=pro_universal]They’re not, but they’re uses of these phrases in english in a way that’s similar what you’re harping on in the Quran.
[/quote]

So the Koran is like a play? It moves from first person = allah to first person = Muhammed in the space of one verse

[quote=Montalban]Because it’s not common in English. It’s known as the Ambiguous Collective logical fallacy
[/quote]

[quote=pro_universal]That’s true I guess. Common English is english spoken by the average and underaverage. It’s commonly known if you make a point of studying English literature, though.
[/quote]

I am aware of its use in English literature. But you have your god talking on behalf of the people and then switching to Muhammed next verse as the first person. Muhammed isn’t differentiated from his god.

[quote=Montalban]Given that Moslems agree that their god is one of course you’d not find this type of debate. They will instead fight over different theological reasons.
What wars have been fought over the Trinity?
[/quote]

[quote=pro_universal]Let’s see, the Arianism, Monophysite, Monothelite, Cathar (Albigensian) and other battles raged for something like 1300 years.
[/quote]

You missed the “Bogomils” and other dualists
’Battles’ or wars? I don’t deny that there were wars against dualists such as the Cathars, but you have said that these wars were fought over the Trinity. Your analysis is over-simplistic, and its based on a strange comparison by declaring that Islam didn’t have any wars over the Trinity! Doh!

In Islam they just pretend that the Christian Trinity consists of God the Father, Mary the Mother and Jesus the Son.

[quote=pro_universal]After that, we had wars over whether or not “faith alone” saves you and whether the bread and wine is or is not Jesus’s blood and body.
There was war after war over idle theological speculation until Christianity was finally divested of any temporal authority.
[/quote]

Again you would indeed not find such was in Islam. It’s a dumb comparison to make. Instead you’d find other intra-Islamic wars based on what’s central to Islam. Kharijites anyone?
these words mean nothing to you?
Al-Ibāiyyah
Azraqī
Sufrī


#17

Actually I can, given the fact that the experts have chosen this word to best represent the Arabic.

Okay, one more time: You don’t know why they chose it. So you don’t know if they mean to use it as “royal we”, do you?

I am aware of its use in English literature. But you have your god talking on behalf of the people and then switching to Muhammed next verse as the first person. Muhammed isn’t differentiated from his god.

Okay, “I” and “we” are two different words in English. If I use the two in a sentence, that’s differentiation.

Again you would indeed not find such was in Islam. It’s a dumb comparison to make. Instead you’d find other intra-Islamic wars based on what’s central to Islam. Kharijites anyone?
these words mean nothing to you?
Al-Ib?iyyah
Azraq?
Sufr?

Nothing to do with the nature of God there, unlike the wars over the trinity (dualism was a problem because it conflicted with trinitarian authority…same for arianism, monophysitism, monotheletism, etc etc etc.)

Idle speculation over what God’s parts are up there in heaven if one of the surest ways to get people fighting. A simple, straightforward, impossible to dispute conception of God is better: God is One.


#18

Salaam;

[quote=Montalban]So you need the words of the prophet (a man) to understand the Koran?
[/quote]

He did not speak from his own authority. He was The Messenger. Most of what was revealed to the people through him was new to them; some they understood and some not; he explained what was not.
Just curious, what difference it makes to you? Don’t you believe the Qur’an to be his words as well?

Salaam.
Joseph.


#19

Yes I do, because it’s the best representation in English of the Arabic meaning. That’s what happens in ‘translations’. They don’t just go picking words at random

I’ve already explained how the Koran moves from verse to verse in first person, only the person speaking changes.

They are both first person. When it says “I” we know it’s Muhammad speaking, that’s the whole point of my “Who wrote the Koran” thread. It’s Muhammad forgetting that it’s supposed to be al-lah speaking.

a)
You don’t know what wars were done against Arians over matters of religion. As you wish to discern a difference between wars amongst Moslems (that you just happily suppose weren’t about religion), then show me which wars against Arians were made over the Trinity.
b)
They had religious wars, the groups I mentioned
Kharijite theology was a form of radical fundamentalism, preaching uncompromising observance of the teachings of the Qur’an in defiance of corrupt authorities.[citation needed] They preached absolute equality of the faithful, in opposition to the aristocracy of the Quraysh which had grown more pronounced under the Umayyad Caliphate.[citation needed] They spread their views by violent conflict, which they considered to be a righteous jihad (struggle) and the sixth pillar of Islam.[citation needed]

Their beliefs included radical anti-authoritarianism,[citation needed] for example that only the most pious should be caliph, they believed, even if he were an Abyssinian slave (the lowest social class of the era). For some Khajirites the role of caliph was not even necessary, though they insisted only that if one were chosen, he should be elected by the entire community of believers.[citation needed] Their communities expelled from their midst those who committed ‘grave sins’, typically defined as any action contrary to the Qur’an.
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kharijites

Really? Give me the study that shows that most fights are caused by idle speculation over what God’s parts are.

As I say, please present the study that backs up your claims (else it’s just supposition).

I agree. God is also three.


#20

Excepting the Hadith is reported by others.

I’ll get there in due course :slight_smile:


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.