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The Concept of God in Major Religion

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Concept of God in World Major Religion (Part 1)

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Concept of God in World Major Religion (Part 2)


The concept of God espoused by a religion cannot be judged by merely observing the practice of its followers. It is quite common for the followers of many religions to be ignorant of the concept of God in their scriptures. It is therefore better to analyze the concept of God in any religion by referring to its holy scriptures.

Let us understand the concept of God in major world religions by analyzing what their scriptures have to say about it.


First we shall discuss the Concept of God in Hinduism

a. COMMON CONCEPT OF GOD IN HINDUISM

If you ask some persons who are Hindus that how many gods do they believe in, some may say three, some may say thirty-three, some may say a thousand, while some may say thirty-three crores i.e. 330 million. But if you ask this question to a learned Hindu who is well versed with the Hindu Scriptures, he will reply that the Hindus should actually believe and worship the One and Only God Who is the Creator and Sustainer of all

b. DIFFERENCE BETWEEN ISLAM AND HINDUISM IS THAT OF ‘S

Everything is ‘God’s’– – – Everything is ‘God’

The major difference between the Hindus and the Muslims is that many Hindus believe in the philosophy of Pantheism, i.e. everything is God – the tree is God, the sun is God, the moon is God, the snake is God, the monkey is God and the human being is God.

Muslims believe that everything is God’s. GOD with an apostrophe ‘s’. Everything belongs to the One and Only unique eternal God. The tree belongs to God, the sun belongs to God, the moon belongs to God, the snake belongs to God, the monkey belongs to God and the human beings belong to God.

Thus the major difference between the Hindus and the Muslims is the apostrophe ‘s’. The Hindu says “everything is God”. The Muslim says “everything is God’s” – GOD with an apostrophe ‘s’. If we can solve the difference of the The Concept of God in Major Religions, then inshaAllah the Hindus and the Muslims will be united.


The Glorious Qur'an says: “Come to common terms as between us and you”


Which is the first term?


“that we worship none but Allah”(Al Qur’an 3:64)


So let's come to common terms by analyzing the scriptures of the Hindus and of the Muslims.


Upanishads

Upanishads are one of the sacred scriptures of the Hindus.


i. Chandogya Upanishad Chapter 6 Section 2 Verse 1

It is mentioned in the Chandogya Upanishad:

“Ekam Evadvitiyam”

“He is one only; without a second.”

(Chandogya Upanishad 6:2:1)

(The Principal Upanishads by S. Radhakrishnan Pages 447 - 448)

(Sacred Books of the East Volume 1, The Upanishads Part I Page 93)

ii. Shwetashvatara Upanishad Chapter 6 Verse 9

It is mentioned in the Shwetashvatara Upanishad:

“Na chasya kascij janita na chadipah”

“Of Him there are neither parents nor Lord.”

(Shwetashvatara Upanishad 6:9)

(The Principal Upanishads by S. Radhakrishnan Page 745)

iii. Shwetashvatara Upanishad Chapter 4 Verse 19

It is mentioned in Shwetashvatara Upanishad:

“Na tasya pratima asti”

“There is no likeness of Him.”

(Shwetashvatara Upanishad 4:19)

(The Principal Upanishads by S. Radhakrishnan Pages 736 - 737)

(Sacred Books of the East Volume 15, The Upanishads Part II Page 253)

iv. Shwetashvatara Upanishad Chapter 4 Verse 20

It is mentioned in Shwetashvatara Upanishad:

“na samdrse tisthati rupam asya, na chaksusa pasyati kascanainam.”

“His form cannot be seen, no one sees Him with the eye.”

(Shwetashvatara Upanishad 4:20)

(The Principal Upanishads by S. Radhakrishnan Page 737)

(Sacred Books of the East Volume 15, The Upanishad Part II Page 253)

Bhagavad Gita

The most popular amongst all the Hindu scriptures is the Bhagavad Gita. The Bhagavad Gita mentions: “Those whose intelligence has been stolen by material desires worship demigods” – that is “Those who are materialistic, they worship demigods” – i.e. others as deities besides the True God.It is mentioned in the Bhagavad Gita: “He who knows Me as the unborn, as the beginningless, as the Supreme Lord of all the worlds...”

(Bhagavad Gita 7:20)

Yajurveda

Vedas are the most sacred amongst all the Hindu scriptures. There are principally four Vedas: Rigveda, Yajurveda, Samaveda and Atharvaveda.


i. Yajurveda Chapter 32 Verse 3


It is mentioned in Yajurveda:


“na tasya pratima asti”


“There is no image of Him”


It further says, “As He is unborn, He deserves our worship.”

(Yajurveda 32:3)

(The Yajurveda by Devi Chand Page 377)


ii. Yajurveda Chapter 40 Verse 8


It is mentioned in Yajurveda:


“He is imageless and pure.”

(Yajurveda 40:8)

(Yajurveda Samhita by Ralph T. H. Griffith Page 538)

iii. Yajurveda Chapter 40 Verse 9


It is mentioned in Yajurveda: “Andhatama pravishanti ye asambhuti mupaste”


“They enter darkness, those who worship natural things.”



For example worship of natural elements like air, water, fire, etc.

(Yajurveda 40:9)(Yajurveda Samhita by Ralph T. H. Griffith Page 538)


It further continues and says:


“They sink deeper in darkness those who worship ‘sambhuti’i.e. created things”


For example, created things such as table, chair, idols, etc.


Atharvaveda

I. Atharvaveda Book 20 Hymn (Chapter) 58 Verse 3


It is mentioned in Atharvaveda:


“Dev Maha Asi”


“God is Verily Great.”

(Atharvaveda 20:58:3)

(Atharvaveda Samhita Vol. 2 William Dwight Whitney Page 910)


Rigveda

The oldest and most sacred amongst all the Vedas is the Rigveda.


i. Rigveda Book 1 Hymn 164 Verse 46


It is mentioned in Rigveda Book 1, Hymn 164, Verse 46:


“Ekam sad vipra bahudha vadanty.”


“Sages (learned Priests) call one God by many names.”


(Rigveda 1:164:46)

Truth is one, God is one, sages call it by various names.

Asimilar message is given in Rigveda, Book 10, Hymn 114, Verse 5


ii. Rigveda Book 2 Hymn 1


Rigveda gives no less than 33 different attributes to Almighty God. Several of these attributes are mentioned in Rigveda Book 2 Hymn 1.

1703a. Brahma - Creator - Khaliq – Rigveda Book 2 Hymn 1 Verse 3

Amongst the various attributes given in Rigveda, one of the beautiful attributes for Almighty God is ‘Brahma’. ‘Brahma’means ‘the Creator’. If you translate into Arabic it means ‘Khaliq’. Islam does not object to anyone calling Almighty God as ‘Khaliq’or ‘Creator’or ‘Brahma’, but if someone says that ‘Brahma’i.e. ‘Almighty God’has got four heads and on each head is a crown and this Brahma has got four hands, Islam takes strong exception to it because such descriptions give an image to Almighty God. Such descriptions are also against what is taught and propounded in Yajurveda Chapter 32, Verse 3 which says:

“Na tasya pratima asti”

“There is no image of Him.”

(Yajurveda 32:3)


b. Vishnu - Sustainer - Rabb – Rigveda Book 2 Hymn 1 Verse 3

Another beautiful attribute mentioned in the Rigveda Book 2, Hymn 1, Verse 3 is ‘Vishnu’. ‘Vishnu’means ‘the Sustainer’. If you translate this word into Arabic it means ‘Rabb’. Islam has no objection if anyone calls Almighty God as ‘Rabb’or ‘Sustainer’or ‘Vishnu’, but if someone says that Vishnu is Almighty God and this Vishnu has four arms, one of the right arms holds the ‘chakra’i.e. a discus and one of the left arms holds a ‘conch shell’and he rides on a bird or reclines on a snake couch, then Islam takes strong exception to this, because such descriptions of Vishnu give an image to Almighty God. Such descriptions are also against what is taught in Shwetashvatara Upanishad Chapter 4 Verse 19

which says:

“There is no likeness of Him”

iii. Rigveda Book 8 Hymn 1 Verse 1

It is mentioned in Rigveda

“Ma Chidanyadvi Shansata”

“Do not worship anybody but Him, the Divine One, Praise Him alone.”

(Rigveda 8:1:1)

(Rigveda Samhita Vol. IX, Pages 1- 2 by Swami Satyaprakash Sarasvati & Satyakam Vidyalankar)

iv. Rigveda Book 5 Hymn 81 Verse 1

It is mentioned in Rigveda

“Verily great is the glory of the Divine Creator.”

(Rigveda 5:81:1)

(Rigveda Samhita Vol. 6 Pages 1802 - 1803 by Swami Satyaprakash Sarasvati & Satyakam Vidhyalankar)

v. Rigveda Book 6 Hymn 45 Verse 16

It is mentioned in Rigveda

“Ya Eka Ittamushtuhi”

“Praise Him who is the matchless and alone.”

(Rigveda 6:45:16)

(Rigveda Samhita Vol. 7 Pages 2108-2109 by Swami Satyaprakash)

BRAHMASUTRAOF HINDU VEDANTA

The Brahma Sutra of Hindu Vedanta is:

“Ekam Brahm, dvitiya naste neh na naste naste kinchan”

“Bhagwan ek hi hai doosra nahin hai, nahin hai, nahin hai, zara bhi nahin hai.”

“There is only oneGod, not a second, not at all, not at all, not in the least bit.”

All the above quoted verses and passages from Hindu scriptures clearly amplify the Oneness and Uniqueness of Almighty God, the Creator of all. Furthermore, they negate the existence of any other deity besides the One True God. These verses essentially teach and propound monotheism.

Therefore only if one carefully studies the Hindu scriptures, will one understand and realize the correct concept of God in Hinduism.

Thus we have highlighted similarities between the concept of God in Islam and in Hinduism as mentioned in their respective scriptures.

Definition of Sikh and Sikhism

The word ‘Sikh’is derived from the word ‘Sisya’meaning ‘disciple’or ‘follower’. Sikhism is a religion of 10 Gurus, the first Guru being Guru Nanak and the 10th and the last being Guru Gobind Singh. The sacred book of Sikhism is Sri Guru Granth Sahib also called as Adi Granth.

The Five ‘K’s

Every Sikh is supposed to keep the five ‘K’s which also serveas his identity.

(i) Kesh - uncut hair

(ii) Kangha - comb

(iii) Kada-metal or steel bangle; for strength and self-restraint

(iv) Kirpan - dagger for self defense

(v) Kacchha - special knee length underwear or underdrawer for agility

Moolmantra - The Fundamental Creed of Sikhism

The best definition that any Sikh can give regarding the concept of God in Sikhism is to quote the “Moolmantra” - the fundamental creed of Sikhism, which occurs at the beginning of Sri Guru Granth Sahib.

It is mentioned in Sri Guru Granth Sahib Vol. 1, Japuji, the first verse:

“There exists but one God, who is called the True, the Creator, Free from fear and hate, Immortal, not begotten, self-existent, Great and Compassionate.”

Sikhism enjoins on its followers strict monotheism. It believes in only One Supreme God who is, in the unmanifest form called ‘Ek Omkara’.

In the manifest form He is called as ‘Omkara’and has several attributes such as:

Kartar-The Creator

Sahib- The Lord

Akal-The Eternal

Sattanama -The Holy name

Parvardigar-The Cherisher

Rahim -The Merciful

Karim -The Benevolent

He is also called‘Wahe Guru’- the One true God.

Besides Sikhism being strictly monotheistic, it does not believe in Avataaravada - the doctrine of incarnation. Almighty God does not incarnate Himself in what is known as Avataar. Sikhism is also strongly against idol worship.

Guru Nanak influenced by Kabir

Guru Nanak was influenced by the sayings of Sant Kabir so much that several chapters of Sri Guru Granth Sahib contain couplets of Sant Kabir.

One of the famous couplets of Sant Kabir is

“Dukh mein sumiran sab kare sukh mein kare na koye Jo sukh mein sumiran kare to dukh kahe ko hoye”

“Everyone remembers God during trouble but no one remembers Him during peace and happiness. The one who remembers God during peace and happiness why should he have trouble?”

Compare this with the following verse of the Glorious Qur’an:“When some trouble toucheth man, he crieth unto his Lord, turning to Him in repentance: But when He bestoweth a favourupon him as from Himself, (man) doth forget what he cried and prayed forbefore, and he doth set up rivals unto Allah... (Al Qur’an 39:8)


God in Zoroastrian religion is known as ‘Ahura Mazda’. ‘Ahura’means ‘the Lord’and ‘Mazda’means ‘the Wise’, hence ‘Ahura Mazda’means ‘the Wise Lord’or ‘the Wise God’. ‘Ahura Mazda’stands for God, in a strictly Monotheistic sense.

Qualities of God according to Dasatir

According to Dasatir, Ahura Mazda has the following qualities:

(i) He is One.

(ii) Nothing resembles Him.

(iii) He is without an origin or end.

(iv) He has no father or mother, wives or children.

(v) Without a body or form.

(vi) Neither the eye can behold Him, nor the power of thinking can conceive Him.

(vii) He is above all that you can imagine.

(viii) He is nearer to you than your own self.

Attributes of God according to Avesta

According to Avesta, the Gathas and the Yasna give various characteristics to ‘Ahura Mazda’such as:

(i) Creator

(Yasna 31:7 & 11) (Yasna 44:7) (Yasna 50:11) (Yasna 51:7)

(ii) Most Mighty - the Greatest

(Yasna 33:11) (Yasna 45:6)

(iii) Beneficent - ‘Hudai’

(Yasna 33:11) (Yasna 48:3)

(iv) Bountiful - ‘Spenta’

(Yasna 43:4,5,7,9,11,13,15) (Yasna 44:2) (Yasna 45:5) (Yasna 46:9)(Yasna 48:3)


(i) The following verse from the book of Deuteronomy contains an exhortation from Moses (pbuh):

“Shama Israelu Adonai Ila Hayno Adonai Ikhad”

It is a Hebrew quotation which means

“Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord.”

(Book of Deuteronomy 6:4)

(ii) Consider the following verses from the Book of Isaiah:

“I, even I, am the Lord; and beside me there is no saviour.”

(Book of Isaiah 43:11)

(iii) “I am the Lord, and there is none else, there is no God beside me.”

(Book of Isaiah 45:5)

(iv) “...I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me.”

(Book of Isaiah 46:9)

(v) Judaism condemns idol worship in the following verses:

“Thou shalt have no other gods before me. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them; for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God.”

(Book of Exodus 20:3-5)

(vi) Asimilar message is repeated in the book of Deuteronomy:

“Thou shalt have none other gods before me. Thou shalt not make thee any graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that in the earth beneath, or that is in the water beneath the earth. Thou shalt not bow down thyself unto them, nor serve them; for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God.”

(Book of Deuteronomy 5:7-9)


Before we discuss the concept of God in Christianity, let us examine the position of Jesus (pbuh) in Islam:

(i) Islam is the only non-Christian faith, which makes it an article of faith to believe in Jesus (pbuh). No Muslim is a Muslim if he does not believe in Jesus (pbuh).

(ii) We believe that Jesus (pbuh) was one of the mightiest messengers of Allah (swt).

(iii) We believe that he was born miraculously without any male intervention, which many modern day Christians do not believe.

(iv) We believe that he gave life to the dead with God’s permission.

(v) We believe that he healed those born blind and the lepers with God’s permission.

One may ask, if both Muslims and Christians love and respect Jesus (pbuh), where exactly is the parting of ways? The major difference between Islam and Christianity is the Christians’insistence on the supposed divinity of Christ. Astudy of the Christian scriptures reveals that Jesus (pbuh) never claimed divinity. There is not a single unequivocal statement in the entire Bible where Jesus (pbuh) himself says, ‘I am God’or where he says, ‘worship me’. The Bible contains statements attributed to Jesus (pbuh) in which he preachedquite the contrary. Consider the following statements in the Bible, attributed to Jesus Christ (pbuh):

“...my Father is greater than I.”

(Gospel of John 14:28)

“My Father... is greater than all.”

(Gospel of John 10:29)

“I cast out devils by the Spirit of God...”

(Gospel of Matthew 12:28)

“...I with the finger of God cast out devils”

(Gospel of Luke 11:20)

“I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge; and my judgement is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father, which hath sent me.”

(Gospel of John 5:30)

THE MISSION OFJESUS CHRIST(PBUH) - HE CAME TO FULFILLTHE LAW

Jesus (pbuh) never claimed divinity for himself. He clearly announced the nature of his mission. Jesus (pbuh) was sent by God to confirm the previous Judaic law. This is clearly evident in the following statements attributed to Jesus (pbuh) in the Gospel of Matthew:

“Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets; I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill. For verily, I say unto you, till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.

Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven; but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

For I say unto you, that except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.”

(Gospel of Matthew 5: 17-20)

God sent Jesus (pbuh)

The Bible mentions the prophetic nature of Jesus’(pbuh) mission in the following verses:

“...and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father’s which sent me.”

(Gospel of John 14:24)

“And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou has sent.”

(Gospel of John 17:3)

Jesus refuted even a remote suggestion of his divinity. Consider the following incident mentioned in the Bible:

“And, behold, one came and said unto him, ‘Good master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?’

And he said unto him, “Why callest thou me good? There is none good but one, that is, God; but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.”

(Gospel of Matthew 19:16-17)

The above statements from the Bible refute the Christian dogma of divinity of Jesus (pbuh) and of salvation through the sacrifice of Jesus (pbuh). Jesus (pbuh) exhorts keeping the commandments as the means to achieve salvation.

Jesus (pbuh) of Nazareth - a man approved of God

The following statement from the Bible supports the Islamic belief that Jesus (pbuh) was a Prophet of God.

“Ye men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know.”(Book of Acts 2:22)

The First Commandment is that God is One

The Bible does not at all support the Christian belief in trinity. One of the scribes once asked Jesus (pbuh) as to which was the first commandment of all; to which Jesus (pbuh) reiterated what Moses (pbuh) had said, namely:

“Shama Israelu Adonai Ila Hayno Adonai Ikhad”

It is a Hebrew quotation, which means,

“Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord.”

(Gospel of Mark 12:29)

The Concept of God in Islam

( Download Part 2 in pdf )

The Most Concise Definition of God

The most concise definition of God in Islam is given in four verses of Surah Al Ikhlaas which is Chapter 112 of the Glorious Qur’an:

“Say: He is Allah, the One and Only;

Allah, the Eternal, Absolute;

He begets not, nor is He begotten;

And there is none like unto Him.”

The word ‘Assamad’ is difficult to translate by one or two words in English. It means ‘absolute existence’, which can be attributed only to Allah, all other existence being temporal or conditional. It also means that Allah is not dependent on any person or thing but all persons and things are dependent on Him.

(Al Qur’an 112:1-4)


First we shall discuss the Concept of God in Hinduism

Surah Al Ikhlaas - The touchstone of theology

Surah Al Ikhlaas (Chapter 112) of Glorious Qur’an, is the touchstone of theology. ‘Theo’ in Greek means ‘God’ and ‘logy’ means ‘study’. Thus, ‘Theology’ means ‘study of God’ and to Muslims this four-line definition of Almighty God serves as the touchstone of the study of the concept of God. Any candidate to divinity must be subjected to this ‘acid test’. Since the attributes of Allah given in this chapter are unique, these verses can be used to easily dismiss false Gods and pretenders to divinity

What does Islam say about ‘god-men’?

India is often called the land of ‘god-men’. This is due to the abundance of so-called spiritual masters in India. Many of these ‘babas’ and ‘saints’ have a large following in many countries. Islam abhors deification of any human being or any entity

To understand the Islamic stand towards such pretenders to divinity, let us analyze one such ‘god-man’, Osho Rajneesh. Rajneesh was one among the multitude of ‘spiritual teachers’ produced by India

To understand the Islamic stand towards such pretenders to divinity, let us analyze one such ‘god-man’, Osho Rajneesh. Rajneesh was one among the multitude of ‘spiritual teachers’ produced by India

Let us put this candidate to divinity, Bhagwan Rajneesh, to the test of Surah Al Ikhlaas, the touchstone of theology:

(i) The first criterion is “Say, He is Allah, One and Only.” Is Rajneesh one and only? No! There are many people like Rajneesh who claim divinity. Some disciples of Rajneesh may still hold that Rajneesh is one and only.

(ii) The second criterion is, ‘Allah is Absolute and Eternal’. Rajneesh was surely not absolute and eternal. He died in 1990. We know from his biography that he suffered from diabetes, asthma and chronic backache. He alleged that the US Government gave him slow poison in jail. Imagine Almighty God being poisoned! Rajneesh was neither absolute nor eternal.

(iii) The third criterion is ‘He begets not, nor is He begotten’. We know that Rajneesh was born in Jabalpur in India and had a mother as well as a father who later became his disciples.

In May 1981, he went to the United States and established a town called ‘Rajneeshpuram’. He later fell foul of the US and was arrested and asked to leave the country. He came back to India and started a commune in Pune which is now known as the ‘Osho Commune’. He died in 1990. The followers of Osho Rajneesh believe that he is Almighty God. A visitor to the ‘Osho Commune’ in Pune will find the following epitaph on his tombstone:

“Osho - never born, never died; only visited planet earth between 11th December 1931 to 19th January 1990.”

They forgot to mention that he was not given visa for 21 different countries of the world. The followers of Rajneesh see no problem in their ‘god’visiting the earth and requiring a visa to enter a country. Imagine, God needing a visa to visit any part of his created planet!

The Archbishop of Greece said that if Rajneesh had not been deported, they would have burnt his house and those of his disciples

(iv) The fourth test, which is the most stringent, is “There is none like unto Him.” The moment you imagine ‘God’ or compare ‘God’ to anything then he (the candidate to divinity) is not God. It is not possible to conjure up a mental picture of the One True God. We know that Rajneesh was a human being with a white flowing beard. He had two eyes, two ears, one nose and one mouth. Photographs and posters of Rajneesh are available in plenty. The moment you imagine what god is, that imagined entity is not God.

Many are tempted to make anthropomorphic comparisons of God. Take for instance, Arnold Schwarzenegger the famous body builder and Hollywood Actor who was given the title of ‘Mr Universe’, the strongest man in the world. Let us suppose that someone says that Almighty God is a thousand times stronger than Arnold Schwarzenegger. The moment

you compare any entity to God, whether the comparison is to Arnold Schwarzenegger or to King Kong, whether it is a thousand times or a million times stronger, it fails the Qur’anic criterion, “There is none like unto Him.”

Thus, the ‘acid test’ cannot be passed by anyone except the One True God.

The following verse of the Glorious Qur’an conveys a similar message:

“No vision can grasp Him.

But His grasp is over all vision:

He is above all comprehension,

Yet is acquainted with all things.”

(Al Qur’an 6:103)

What is the concluding remark to this section of ‘acid test’? This acid test cannot be passed by anyone except the One true God

By what name do we call God?

Muslims prefer calling the Supreme Creator, Allah, instead of the English word ‘God’. The Arabic word, ‘Allah’, is pure and unique, unlike the English word ‘God’, which can be played around with.

If you add ‘s’ to the word ‘God’, it becomes ‘Gods’, that is the plural of God. Allah is one and singular, there is no plural of Allah. If you add ‘dess’ to the word ‘God’, it becomes ‘Goddess’ that is a female God. There is nothing like male Allah or female Allah. Allah has no gender. If you pre-fix ‘tin’ before the word ‘God’, it becomes ‘tin-God’ i.e., fake God. Allah is a unique word, which does not conjure up any mental picture nor can it be played around with. Therefore, the Muslims prefer saying ‘Allah’, but sometimes while speaking to the non-Muslims we may have to use the inappropriate word ‘God’ for Allah. Since the intended audience of this book is general in nature, consisting of both Muslims as well as non-Muslims, I have used the word ‘God’ instead of Allah in several places in this book

God does not become a human being

Some people argue that God can do everything, then why cannot He take a human form? They contend that if God wishes He can become a human being. But then He no longer remains God because the qualities of God and human beings in many respects are completely incompatible. The following paragraphs will show the absurdity of the idea of God becoming a human being.

God is immortal and human beings are mortal. You cannot have a God-man i.e. an immortal being and a mortal being at the same time and in the same entity. It is meaningless. God does not have a beginning while human beings have a beginning. You cannot have a person, not having a beginning and at the same time having a beginning. God does not have an end while human beings have an end. You cannot have a being, which has no end and yet have an end at the same time. It is meaningless.

Almighty God does not require to eat whereas human beings require nourishment to sustain life.

“And He it is that feedeth but is not fed.”

(Al Qur’an 6:14)

God does not require rest or sleep while human beings cannot go indefinitely without rest.

“Allah! There is no god but He - the Living, the SelfSubsisting, Eternal. No slumber can seize Him nor sleep. His are all things in the heavens and on the earth.”

(Al Qur’an 2:255)

Worship of another human is useless

If the idea of God becoming human is unacceptable, we must also agree that there is therefore no sense in worshiping another human. If God takes a human form, He ceases to be God and possesses all the qualities of a human. For example, if a brilliant professor meets with an accident and suffers irreparable loss of memory, it would be foolish on the part of his students to continue to take lessons from him in his subject.

Moreover, if God takes a human form, the same human cannot later become God, since human beings, by definition, do not possess the power to become God. The worship of God in a human form is therefore a logical fallacy and should be abhorred in all its forms

That is the reason why the Glorious Qur’an speaks against all forms of anthropomorphism. The Glorious Qur’an says in the following verse:

“There is nothing whatever like unto Him, and He is the One that hears and sees (all things).”

(Al Qur’an 42:11)

God does not perform ungodly acts

The attributes of Almighty God preclude any evil since God is the fountainhead of justice, mercy and truth. God can never be thought of as doing an ungodly act. Hence we cannot imagine God telling a lie, being unjust, making a mistake, forgetting things and such other human failings. Similarly, God cannot be unjust because being unjust is an ungodly act.

The Glorious Qur’an says:

“Allah is never unjust in the least degree.”

(Al Qur’an 4:40)

God can be unjust if he wants, but the moment God does injustice, He ceases to be God.

God does not forget nor does He make mistakes

God will not forget anything because forgetting is an ungodly act, which reeks of human limitations and failings.

Similarly God will not make a mistake, because making mistakes is an ungodly act.

“...my Lord never errs, nor forgets.”

(Al Qur’an 20:52)

God performs Godly acts

The Islamic concept of God is that God has power over all things. The Glorious Qur’an says in several places:

“For Allah has power over all things.”

(Al Qur’an 2:106, 2:109, 2:284, 3:29, 16:77 and 35:1)

Further the Glorious Qur’an says:

“Doer (without let) of all that He intends.”

(Al Qur’an 85:16)

We must keep in mind that Allah intends only Godly acts and not ungodly acts.

Many religions at some point believe, directly or indirectly in the philosophy of anthropomorphism i.e. God becoming a human. Their contention is that Almighty God is so pure and holy that He is unaware of the hardships, shortcomings and feelings of human beings. In order to set the rules for human beings, He came down to earth in the form of a human. This deceptive logic has fooled countless millions through the ages. Let us now analyze this argument and see if it stands to reason.

The Creator prepares the instruction manual

Allah (swt) has endowed us humans with reason and intelligence. We invent and manufacture appliances for specific purposes. DVD players for instance are manufactured in large numbers . It has never been suggested that in order to understand what is good for the DVD player, the manufacturer should become a DVD player himself. One simply assumes that the manufacturer will publish an instruction manual, since he has complete knowledge of his product. In short, the instruction manual gives the do’s and don’ts for the machine or the equipment.

If you think of the human being as a machine, it is indeed a complex creation of Allah (swt). Our Lord and Creator, Allah (swt), need not come in the form of a human being to know what is good or bad for the human beings. He only has to reveal the instruction manual to mankind. The Glorious Qur’an is the instruction manual for human beings.

Moreover, Allah will call this creation to account on the Day of Judgement. It therefore stands to reason, that the Creator informs us about the do’s and don’ts of life.

Allah chooses Messengers

Allah (swt) need not come down personally for writing the instruction manual. Over the ages Allah has chosen men in every nation to deliver the Divine message. Such chosen men are called as messengers and prophets of God.

Some people are ‘blind’ and ‘deaf’

Despite the absurdity of the philosophy of anthropomorphism, followers of many religions believe in and preach it to others. Is it not an insult to human intelligence and to the Creator who gave us this intelligence? Such people are truly ‘deaf’and ‘blind’despite the faculty of hearing and sight given to them by Allah. He says:

“Deaf, dumb, and blind, they will not return (to the path).”

(Al Qur’an 2:18)

(to the path).” (Al Qur’an 2:18) The Bible gives a similar message in the Gospel of Matthew:

“... they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand.”

Asimilar message is also given in the Hindu Scriptures in the Rigveda:

“There may be someone who sees the words and yet indeed do not see them; may be another one who hears these words but indeed does not hear them”

(Rigveda 10:71:4)

All these Scriptures are telling its reader that though the things are made so clear yet they divert away from the truth.

A similar message regarding the beautiful names of Allah is repeated in the Glorious Qur’an in Surah Al A’raaf 7:180, in Surah Taha 20:8 and in Surah Al Hashr 59:23-24.

The Qur’an and Ahadith give no less than 99 different attributes to Almighty God and the crowning one is Allah. The Qur’an refers to Allah as Ar Rahman (the Most Gracious), Ar Raheem (the Most Merciful) and Al Hakeem (the Most Wise) among many other names. You can call Allah by any name but that name should be beautiful and should not conjure up a mental picture.

Each Attribute of God is unique and possessed by Him alone

Not only does God possess unique attributes, but also each attribute of Almighty God is sufficient to identify Him. I shall clarify this point in detail. Suppose we take the example of a famous personality, say astronaut Neil Armstrong

If someone says Neil Armstrong is an American, the attribute of being American possessed by Neil Armstrong is correct but not sufficient to identify him. Similarly, Neil Armstrong is an astronaut. The attribute of being an astronaut is not unique to Neil Armstrong. To identify the person uniquely we must look for a unique attribute. For example, Neil Armstrong was the first human to set foot on the moon. So when one asks, who was the first man to set foot on the moon, the answer is only one, i.e. Neil Armstrong. Similarly the attribute of Almighty God should be unique e.g. Creator of the Universe. If I say creator of the building, it may be possible and true but it is not unique. Thousands of people can make a building, so there would be no difference between man and God. But each attribute of Allah points to none but Allah.

For example:

“Ar Raheem”- the Most Merciful

“Ar Rahman”- the Most Gracious

“Al Hakeem”- the Most Wise

One attribute of God should not contradict with other attributes

To continue with the earlier example, if somebody says Neil Armstrong is an American astronaut who was an Indian, the attribute (American astronaut) is correct but its associated quality (of being an Indian) is false. Similarly if someone says that God is the Creator of the Universe with one head, two hands, two feet, etc. The attribute (Creator of the Universe) is correct but the associated quality (in the form of human being) is wrong and false

All attributes should point to one and the same God

Since there is only one God, all the attributes should point to one and the same God. To say that it was an American astronaut who first set foot on the moon, but his name was Edwin Aldrin is wrong. Similarly to say that the Creator is one God and the Cherisher is another God is absurd because there is only one God with all these attributes combined together.

Unity of God

Some polytheists argue by saying that the existence of more than one God is not illogical. Let us point out to them that if there were more than one ‘God’, they would dispute with one another; each ‘God’ trying to fulfill his will against the will of the other ‘Gods’. This can be seen in the mythology of the polytheistic and pantheistic religions. If a ‘God’ is defeated or unable to defeat the others, he is surely not the one true God. Also popular among polytheistic religions is the idea of many Gods, each having different responsibilities. Each one would be responsible for a part of man’s existence e.g. a Sun god, a Rain god etc. This indicates that one ‘God’ is incompetent of certain acts and moreover he is also ignorant of the other “Gods’” duties and responsibilities. There cannot be an ignorant and incapable God. If there were more than one God it would surely lead to confusion, disorder, chaos and destruction in the Universe. But the universe is in complete harmony.

If there were more than one God, they would have taken away what they have created. The Glorious Qur’an says:

“No son did Allah beget, nor is there any god along with Him: (if there were many gods), behold, each god would have taken away what he had created, and some would have lorded it over others! Glory to Allah! (He is free) from the (sort of) things they attribute to Him!”

(Al Qur’an 23:91)

Thus the existence of one True, Supreme, Almighty God, is the only logical concept of God.

There are a few religions like Buddhism and Confucianism, which are agnostic religions. They do not comment on God. They neither confirm nor deny the existence of God. There are other religions like Jainism, which are atheistic religions and which do not believe in the existence of God. (Inshallah I shall be publishing a book “Is the Qur’an God’s Word?” which can Alhamdulillah prove the existence of Allah (swt) to an atheist or an agnostic by means of reason, logic and science on the basis of the Glorious Qur’an.)

ALL RELIGIONS ULTIMATELY BELIEVE IN MONOTHEISM

All major religions that believe in the existence of God ultimately, on a higher level, believe in one Supreme God. All religious scriptures actually speak about monotheism i.e. belief in the only one true God.

People change scriptures for their benefit

By the passage of time most of the religious scriptures have been distorted and changed by people for their own benefits. The creed of many religions has thus been distorted from monotheism to pantheism or polytheism. The Glorious Qur’an says:

“Then woe to those who write the book with their own hands, and then say: “This is from Allah,” to traffic with it for a miserable price! - Woe to them for what their hands do write, and for the gain they make thereby.”

(Al Qur’an 2:79)

TAWHEED

Definition and Categories

Islam believes in ‘Tawheed’ which is not merely monotheism i.e. belief in one unique God, but much more. ‘Tawheed’ literally means ‘unification’ i.e. ‘asserting oneness’ and is derived from the Arabic verb ‘Wahhada’ which means to unite, unify or consolidate.

Tawheed can be divided into three categories

(i) Tawheed Ar Ruboobeeyah

(ii) Tawheed Al Asmaa was Sifaat

(iii) Tawheed Al Ibaadah or Uloohiyah

a. Tawheed Ar Ruboobeeyah (Maintaining the Unity of Lordship)

The first category is ‘Tawheed Ar Ruboobeeyah’. ‘Ruboobeeyah’ is derived from the root verb ‘Rabb’ meaning Lord, Sustainer and Cherisher

Therefore ‘Tawheed Ar Ruboobeeyah’ means ‘maintaining the unity of Lordship’. This category is based on the fundamental concept that Allah alone caused all things to exist when there was nothing. He created or originated all that exist out of nothing. He alone is the Sole Creator, Cherisher and Sustainer of the complete universe and all between it, without any need from it

b. Tawheed Al Asmaa was Sifaat (Maintaining the Unity of Allah’s names and attributes)

The second category is ‘Tawheed Al Asmaa was Sifaat’ which means ‘maintaining the Unity of Allah’s names and attributes’. This category is divided into five aspects:

(i) Allah should be referred to as described by Him and by His Prophet (pbuh)

Allah must be referred to according to the manner in which He and His prophet have described Him without explaining His names and attributes by giving them meanings other than their obvious meanings.

(ii) Allah must be referred to as He has referred to Himself

Allah must be referred to without giving Him any new names or attributes. For example Allah may not be given the name Al Ghaadib (the Angry One), despite the fact that He has said that He gets angry, because neither Allah nor His messenger has used this name.

(iii) Allah is referred to without giving Him the Attributes of His creation

In reference to God, we should strictly abstain from giving Him the attributes of those He has created. For instance in the Bible, God is portrayed as repenting (1 Samuel 15:35) in the same way as humans do when they realize their errors. This is completely against the principle of Tawheed. God does not repent as He does not commit any mistakes or errors.

The key principle when dealing with Allah’s attributes is given in the Glorious Qur’an in Surah Ash Shoora:

“There is nothing whatever like unto Him, and He is the One that hears and sees (all things).”

(Al Qur’an 42:11)

Although hearing and seeing are human qualities, when attributed to the unique Creator, Almighty God - they are without comparison in their perfection, unlike when associated with humans who require ears, eyes, etc. and who are limited in their sight and hearing.

(iv) Humans should not be given any attribute of God

To refer to a human or for that matter any creation of God with the attribute of God is also against the principle of Tawheed. For example, referring to a person as one who has no beginning or end (eternal).

(v) Allah’s name cannot be given to His creatures: Some divine names in the indefinite form, like ‘Raoof’ or ‘Raheem’ are permissible names for men as Allah has used them for Prophets; but ‘Ar Raoof’ (the Most Pious) and ‘Ar Raheem’ (the Most Merciful) can only be used if prefixed by ‘Abd’ meaning “slave of” or “servant of”, i.e. ‘Abdur Raoof’or ‘Abdur Raheem’.

c. Tawheed Al Ibaadah or Uloohiyah (Maintaining the unity of worship only for Allah)

(i) Definition and meaning of ‘Ibaadah’:

‘Tawheed Al Ibaadah’ means ‘Maintaining the unity of worship’ or ‘Ibaadah’ for Him. ‘Ibaadah’ is derived from Arabic word ‘Abd’ meaning ‘slave’ or ‘servant’. Thus ‘Ibaadah’ means servitude and worship. Salaah is one of the highest forms of ‘Ibaadah’ i.e. worship but is not the only form. People misunderstand that worship of Almighty God only means ritual prayers and servitude. Following the commandments of God and abstaining from things He has forbidden is also Ibaadah (worship) and this worship is only due to Allah alone and to no one else

(ii) All three categories to be followed simultaneously

Only believing in the first two categories of Tawheed without implementing ‘Tawheed Al Ibaadah’ is useless. Qur’an gives the examples of ‘Mushrikeen’(idolators) of the Prophet’s time who confirmed the first two aspects of Tawheed but did not implement on the third category of Tawheed .

A similar example is repeated in Surah Az Zukhruf of the Glorious Qur’an

“If thou ask them, Who created them, they will certainly say, Allah: how then are they deluded away (from the Truth)?”

(Al Qur’an 43:87)

The pagan Makkans knew that Allah was their Creator, Sustainer, Lord and Master. Yet they were not Muslims because they also worshipped other gods besides Allah. Allah categorized them as “Kuffar” (Disbelievers) and “Mushrikeen” (idol worshippers and those who associate partners with God).

“And most of them believe not in Allah without associating (others as partners) with Him!”

(Al Qur’an 12:106)

Thus Tawheed Al Ibaadah i.e. maintaining worship for only the One True God is the most important aspect of Tawheed. He alone deserves worship and He alone can grant benefit to man for his worship.

SHIRK

a. Definition

The omission of any of the above mentioned categories of Tawheed or deficiency in the fulfilment of any criterion of Tawheed is referred to as ‘Shirk’. ‘Shirk’ literally means sharing or associating partners. In Islamic terms, it means associating partners with Allah and is equivalent to idolatory.

b. Shirk is the greatest sin which Allah will never forgive

The Glorious Qur’an describes the greatest sin in Surah An Nisa:

“Allah forgiveth not that partners should be set up with Him; but He forgiveth anything else, to whom He pleaseth; to set up partners with Allah is to devise a sin most heinous indeed.”

(Al Qur’an 4:48)

The same message is repeated in the same Surah:

“Allah forgiveth not (the sin of) joining other gods with Him; but He forgiveth whom He pleaseth other sins than this: one who joins other gods with Allah, hath strayed far, far away (from the right).”

(Al Qur’an 4:116)

c. Shirk leads to the Hellfire

The Qur’an says in Surah Al Maidah

“They do blaspheme who say: ‘Allah is Christ the son of Mary.’ But said Christ: ‘O Children of Israel! Worship Allah, my Lord and your Lord’. Whoever joins other gods with Allah - Allah will forbid him the Garden, and the Fire will be his abode. There will for the wrongdoers be no one to help.”

(Al Qur’an 5:72)

d. Worship and obedience to none but Allah

The Qur’an mentions in Surah Ale Imran:

Say: “O people of the Book! come to common terms as between us and you: that we worship none but Allah; that we associate no partners with Him; that we erect not from among ourselves, lords and patrons other than Allah.” If then they turn back, say ye: “Bear witness that we (at least) are Muslims (bowing to Allah’s will).”

(Al Qur’an 3:64)

CONCLUSION

The Glorious Qur’an says:

“Revile not ye those whom they call upon besides Allah, lest they out of spite revile Allah in their ignorance.”

(Al Qur’an 6:108)

“And if all the trees on earth were pens and the ocean (were ink), with seven oceans behind it to add to its (supply), yet would not the Words of Allah be exhausted (in the writing): for Allah is Exalted in power, full of Wisdom.”

(Al Qur’an 31:27)

“O men! Here is a parable set forth! Listen to it! Those on whom, beside Allah, ye call, cannot create (even) a fly, if they all met together for the purpose! And if the fly should snatch away anything from them, they would have no power to release it from the fly. Feeble are those who petition and those whom they petition!”

(Al Qur’an 22:73)

And all Praise be to Allah, the Lord, Creator, Cherisher and Sustainer of all the Worlds!

Download in PDF -By Dr. Zakir Naik

Concept of God in Hinduism Part 1 (20.6 MB) Concept of God in Hinduism Part 2 (17.9 MB)

General Frequently Asked Questions

Islam is the name of the religion that Muslims follow. People who practice Islam are called Muslims, just like those who practice Christianity are called Christians. The literal and lexical meaning of Islam means submission. Islam comes from the root Arabic letters s-l-m which are the same root letters the word peace (salam) comes from. The term Islam itself does not mean peace, but it implies that one finds peace (salam) through submission (islam). The term Arab is often used interchangeably with Muslim, but this is incorrect. Arab is a ethnicity while Islam is a religion. Not all Arabs are Muslim and most Muslims are actually not Arab. Arabs make up about 13% of the Muslim population.

Islam is named after the action of submitting to God’s commands and will and not a person. Other religions are often named after a person or people. For instance, Christianity is named after Christ, Judaism is named after the tribe of Juda, and Buddhism is named after Buddha. Islam is not name after Muhammad because Islam existed before him. The message of previous Prophets, such as Adam, Abraham, Noah, and Moses was to submit (islam) to God. Hence, the message of Islam did not start with the Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him. It started with Adam and continued until today. With the passing of time, God would send new Prophets and Messengers to remind mankind of His message, to worship Him alone. Muhammad peace be upon him is the last of these Prophets.

What do Muslims believe?

  • Muslims believe in God the Creator of the universe. The Arabic term for God is Allah. Sometimes Muslims prefer to use the name Allah over God because Allah linguistically does not have a gender and cannot be made plural. The English name God could become goddess or gods. The main message of the Qurʾān is that God is one. He has no partner, child, or helper.
  • Muslims believe in angels. There are many angels and that all obey God. Unlike humans, angels do not have free will and must obey all the commands of God. Different angels have different tasks. For example, the angel Gabriel was responsible of communicating the message of God to human Prophets and Messengers. The Angel Michael (Mikaaeel) was responsible for rain. Angels also help and assist believers in times of difficulty.
  • Muslims believe in all Prophets and Messengers. A Muslim is required to believe in Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, David, Joseph, Jesus, and Muhammad peace be upon all of them. They all came with the same message, to worship one God and not associate any partners with him.
  • Muslims also believe in all previous scripture that God sent to His Prophets and Messengers. Moses was given the Torah, Abraham was given the scrolls, David was given the Psalms, and Jesus was given the Injeel. With the exception of the Qurʾān, no previous scripture is completely preserved in its original form. With time, many of these scriptures were lost or corrupted. The Qurʾān was sent as a the “final testament” and it functions as God’s final message to mankind.
  • Muslims believe in the afterlife. There will be a day of judgment where God will hold people accountable for their actions in this world. Those who did good will enter paradise and those who did evil will either be forgiven or punished in hell. Everyone will be compensated for their actions in this world.
  • Lastly, Muslims believe in God’s divine will and decree. God has knowledge of all things that will happen. He does not force humans to make decisions, we choose what we want to do. However, there are certain things that God decreed and are outside of our control. These things include the time and place we were born, where and when we will die, and anything that happens that is outside our control. Muslims submit to these things as part of God’s decree and will.

Belief in these six items is what makes one a Muslim. One might not practice Islam perfectly, they may commit sins and make mistakes, but as long as they have these beliefs they are considered to be a Muslim. Put differently, these are the most basic requirements of being a Muslim.

What makes one a Muslim is the acceptance of Islam’s core beliefs found here. This article will not focus on the main beliefs of Islam, but rather the core practices of the faith. Islam is built on five pillars. These pillars do not make up the entire religion, but they are the pillars that hold up the rest of the religion.

Testimony of faith (shahada):

The testimony of faith in Islam is the that one testifies that there is no God except Allah and that Muhammad is the messenger of Allah. The testimony is what one says to become a Muslim Ash-hadu Ana Lā ilāha illā Allah wa ash-hadu Ana Muhammad Rasul Allah.

Prayer (salah):

Muslims must pray 5 times a day. This prayer is not to be confused with supplication or calling on God which can be done at anytime. These ritual prayers consist of standing, reciting some Qurʾān, bowing, prostrating, and glorifying God. The prayers are done before sunrise, in the afternoon, late afternoon, sunset, and night. There are windows of time in which these prayers are performed and they do not need to be done at an exact time. For example, the afternoon prayer might begin at 1 pm and end at 5 pm. This gives you a 4-hour window to perform the afternoon prayer. Each prayer takes about 5-10 minutes to perform and can be done anywhere such as your home, office, or a park. The prayer is meant to keep one connected to God. It gives one a break from the business of the day and reconnects them to God.

Charity (zakah):

Zakah is an obligatory charity for Muslims who are not poor. This charity must go into the hands of the poor and not given to institutions, mosques, or schools. The charity is 2.5% of one’s extra money that has been sitting for a year. For example, if one has $100 in their bank account on Jan 1, and then a year goes by and they still have $100 sitting in their bank account on Jan 1 of the next year, they are to give 2.5% of that money in charity directly to the poor and needy.

Fasting (sawm):

There is a month in the Islamic calendar called Ramadan. Ramadan is the holiest month in the Islamic calendar. During Ramadan, Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset. They refrain from eating, drinking, and intercourse during the daylight. Fasting instills a sense of discipline and control over one’s desires and most basic needs. It teaches that happiness can be found outside of food, drink, and satisfying the needs of the body. Although Muslims experience fatigue, hunger, and thirst, there is a spiritual happiness that is only found when one experiences during the month of Ramadan. During the nights of Ramadan Muslims go to the mosque, break fast together, and spend much time in prayer and supplication. When the month of Ramadan is over, Muslims celebrate and have a holiday called The Feast Holiday (Eid al-Fitr).

Pilgrimage (hajj):

Once in their lifetime, any Muslim who is financially and physically able to make a journey to Mecca during the pilgrimage season must do so. During the pilgrimage, Muslims wear two pieces of white cloth. By replacing all their attire with these two pieces of cloth it brings the individual down to their basic humanity. Ultimately, we are all the same and no matter what fancy clothes or attire we decorate ourselves with, we are all the same. It is meant to allow each pilgrimage to feel a sense of equality. The white and black, the rich and the poor, the king and the servant are all the same before God. This has a tremendous impact on the lives of many . The hajj is the largest annual religious gathering in the world, every year over two million people perform the pilgrimage. The ocean of people also serves as a reminder of the day of judgment where God will resurrect and gather all mankind for accountability.

These are called the pillars of Islam because, although they are not the entire faith, they are necessary to complete it. When one performs these actions, it helps him or her refrain from other bad habits. In this regard, Islam is a complete way of life where one is always connected to God in some way shape or form.

The most fundamental teaching of Islam is to believe in the Oneness of God, in the sense of His being the only Creator, Preserver, Nourisher, etc. But this belief is not enough. Many of the idolaters knew and believed that only the Supreme God could do all this and yet they associated other gods with Him. Therefore, one must acknowledge the fact that it is God alone who deserves to be worshipped, and thus abstain from worshipping any other thing or being. Likewise, Muslims believe that God has no father or mother, no son or daughter. None is equal to Him. He is God of all humankind, not of a special tribe or race.

 

Worship of God alone and no one else

The Quran, the holy book of Islam, reminds us of the falsity of all alleged gods. To the worshippers of man-made objects, it asks: ‘How can you worship things you carve with your own hands, when it is God who has created you and all your handiwork?’ (37:95-96)

At another point, God says, “Say, ‘Why do you take protectors other than Him, who can neither benefit nor harm even themselves?’ Say, ‘Are the blind equal to those who can see? And are the depths of darkness equal to the light?’ Have the partners they assign to God created anything like His creation so that their creation is indistinguishable from His? Say,‘God is the Creator of all things: He is the One, the All Compelling.’” (13:16)

To the worshippers of heavenly bodies the Quran cites the story of Abraham: “When the night grew dark over him he saw a star and said, ‘This is my Lord,’ but when it set, he said, ‘I do not like things that set.’ And when he saw the moon rising he said, ‘This is my Lord,’ but when it too set, he said, ‘If my Lord does not guide me, I shall be one of those who go astray.’  Then he saw the sun rising and cried, ‘This is my Lord! This is greater.’ But when the sun set, he said, ‘My people, I disown all that you worship beside God. I have turned my face as a true believer towards Him who created the heavens and the earth. I am not one of the polytheists.’”  (6:76-79)

 

Importance of Faith: Belief in God Unseen

Having achieved this knowledge of the One True God, one should constantly have faith in Him, and should allow nothing to induce them to deny the truth. When true faith enters a person’s heart, it impacts the person’s outlook and behavior. Prophet Muhammad, the final messenger of Islam, said, “Faith is that which resides firmly in the heart and which is proved by deeds.”

One of the striking results of faith is the feeling of gratitude towards God, which could be said to be the essence of worship.

Believers love, and are grateful to, God for the bounties He bestowed upon them. They are aware of the fact that their good deeds can never be equivalent to Divine favors, and therefore they are always anxious to please God. They remembers God often. The Quran promotes this feeling of gratitude by repeating the attributes of God very frequently.

“He is God: there is no god other than Him. It is He who knows what is hidden as well as what is in the open, He is the Lord of Mercy, the Giver of Mercy. He is God: there is no god other than Him, the Controller, the Holy One, Source of Peace, Granter of Security, Guardian over all, the Almighty, the Compeller, the Truly Great; God is far above anything they consider to be His partner. He is God: the Creator, the Originator, the Shaper. The best names belong to Him. Everything in the heavens and earth glorifies Him: He is the Almighty, the Wise.” (59:22-24)

On their own, human beings cannot be fully guided, understand God, the hereafter, or the purpose of life. Accordingly, God communicated to mankind by selecting prophets who would deliver his message to the rest of humanity. To convey the purpose of existence to humans, God sent clear and practical instructions through prophets. Muslims believe that a prophet was selected for every nation at some point in its history. These prophets Adam, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Moses, Jesus, and Muhammad, peace be upon them all. Muslims believe there were about 124,000 prophets in all, of whom only 25 are mentioned by name in the Quran, the holy book of Islam.

Each Prophet Conveyed the Same Message

The religion that God established for all mankind is Islam, which means to submit or surrender. Islam is not limited to the revelation that was sent to the prophet Muhammad peace be upon him, but was also the message of previous prophets. Therefore, the Qurʾān teaches that previous religions, such as Christianity and Judaism, in their authentic and original forms were based on the Oneness of God.

Each prophet conveyed the consistent divine message of worshiping one God and living a morally upright life. However, the message of these prophets was lost, abandoned, or changed over time, and only parts of the original message remained intact. God sent Muhammad, peace be upon him, as the final prophet to all of humanity in the 7th century C.E. to restore the divine message of all prophets. Muhammad did not bring a new message, but conveyed the same message as previous prophets. In the chapter of the Qurʾān titled “The Prophets” (Al-Anbiyā’) it states: We did not send any messenger before you except that We revealed to him that, “There is no deity except Me, so worship Me.” (Qurʾān 21:25). In this same chapter, we also find God describing all prophets as belonging to the same religion Indeed this, your religion, is one religion, and I am your Lord, so worship Me (Qurʾān 21:92).

Abraham, Noah, Moses, Jesus, Muhammad and all other prophets are considered to be one family. The Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him said: “I am the nearest of all the people to Jesus, the son of Mary both in this world and the hereafter. The prophets are paternal brothers; their mothers are different, but their religion is one.” (Bukhari) This spiritual connection of brotherhood between prophets is due to the fact that all prophets delivered the same message, but at different times to different people. Muslim scholars have stated that the above quoted tradition, prophets are described as having different mothers because their laws and practices were different. However, they are paternal brothers because their creed was the same. In other words, prophets may have had different laws concerning prayer, marriage, charity, and purification, but their beliefs concerning God, the hereafter, scripture, and morals were the same.

Islam, Judaism and Christianity share the core concept that God sent prophets to guide their fellow people. However, Islam also differs from these two faiths on important aspects related to prophethood. For instance, Islam teaches that all prophets of God were of high moral character and did not succumb to the sins their people committed. For example, the Qurʾān exonerates Aaron even though the Old Testament depicts him as someone who worshipped the golden calf. Additionally, Islam strongly rejects deification of prophets, so Jesus is revered as a prophet of God, but not God or the son of God. At the same time, Islam recognizes that prophets were capable of human errors of judgment, but these unintended mistakes did not diminish their superior integrity.

Muslims honor all prophets

Muslims are obligated to believe in and honor all the prophets, and to testify that prophethood has been completed with the coming of Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him.

“Say, ‘We believe in God and in what was sent down to us and what was sent down to Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob, and the Tribes, and what was given to Moses, Jesus, and all the prophets by their Lord. We make no distinction between any of them, and we devote ourselves to Him.’” (Quran, 2:136)

In common folklore, angels are thought of as good forces of nature, hologram images, or illusions. Western iconography sometimes depicts angels as fat cherubic babies or handsome young men or women with a halo surrounding their head.

In Islam, they are real created beings who will eventually suffer death, but are generally hidden from our senses. They are not divine or semi-divine, and they are not God’s associates running different districts of the universe. Also, they are not objects to be worshipped or prayed to, as they do not deliver our prayers to God. They all submit to God and carry out His commands.

In the Islamic worldview, there are no fallen angels: they are not divided into ‘good’ and ‘evil’ angels. Human beings do not become angels after death. Satan is not a fallen angel, but is one of the jinn, a creation of God parallel to human beings and angels.

Angels were created from light

Angels were created from light before human beings were created, and thus their graphic or symbolic representation in Islamic art is rare. Nevertheless, they are generally beautiful beings with wings as described in Muslim scripture. Angels form different cosmic hierarchies and orders in the sense that they are of different size, status, and merit.

The greatest of them is Gabriel. Muhammad (pbuh) actually saw him in his original form. Also, the attendants of God’s Throne are among the greatest angels. They love the believers and beseech God to forgive them their sins. They carry the Throne of God, about whom the Prophet Muhammad, may the mercy and blessings of God be upon him, said:

“I have been given permission to speak about one of the angels of God who carry the Throne. The distance between his ear-lobes and his shoulders is equivalent to a seven-hundred-year journey.”

Angels do not eat or drink. The angels do not get bored or tired of worshipping God:

“They celebrate His praises night and day, nor do they ever slacken.” (Quran 21:20)

The Number of Angels

How many angels there are? Only God knows. The Much-Frequented House is a sacred heavenly sanctuary above the Kaaba, the black cube in the city of Mecca. Every day seventy thousand angels visit it and leave, never returning to it again, followed by another group.

The Names of Angels

Muslims believe in specific angels mentioned in the Islamic sources like Jibreel (Gabriel), Mika’eel (Michael), Israfeel, Malik – the guard over Hell, and others. Of these, Gabriel and Michael are also mentioned in the Bible.

Angelic Abilities

The angels possess great powers given to them by God. They can take on different forms. The Muslim scripture describes how at the moment of Jesus’ conception, God sent Gabriel to Mary in the form of a man:

“…Then We sent to her Our angel, and he appeared before her as a man in all respects.” (Quran 19:17)

Angels also visited Abraham in human form. Similarly, angels came to Lot to deliver him from danger in the form of handsome, young men. Gabriel used to visit Prophet Muhammad in different forms. Sometimes, he would appear in the form of one of his handsome disciples, and sometimes in the form of a desert Bedouin. Angels have the ability to take human forms in some circumstances involving common people.

Gabriel is God’s heavenly messenger to mankind. He would convey the revelation from God to His human messengers. God says:

“Say: whoever is an enemy to Gabriel – for he brings down the (revelation) to your heart by God’s will…” (Quran 2:97)

Tasks of the Angels

Some angels are put in charge of executing God’s law in the physical world. Michael is responsible for rain, directing it wherever God wishes. He has helpers who assist him by the command of his Lord; they direct the winds and clouds, as God wills. Another is responsible for blowing the Horn, which will be blown by Israafeel at the onset of the Day of Judgment. Others are responsible for taking souls out of the bodies at the time of death: the Angel of Death and his assistants. God says:

“Say: the Angel of Death, put in charge of you, will (duly) take your souls, then shall you be brought back to your Lord.” (Quran 32:11)

Then there are guardian angels responsible for protecting the believer throughout his life, at home or traveling, asleep or awake. Others are responsible for recording the deeds of man, good and bad. These are known as the “honorable scribes.” Two angels, Munkar and Nakeer, are responsible for testing people in the grave. Among them are keepers of Paradise and the nineteen ‘guards’ of Hell whose leader is named ‘Malik.’ There are also angels responsible for breathing the soul into the fetus and writing down its provisions, life-span, actions, and whether it will be wretched or happy. Some angels are roamers, traveling around the world in search of gatherings where God is remembered. There are also angels constituting God’s heavenly army, standing in rows, they never get tired or sit down, and others who bow or prostrate, and never raise their heads, always worshipping God.

In summary, the position in Islam is that angels are a grandiose creation of God, varying in numbers, roles, and abilities. God is in no need of these creatures, but having knowledge and belief in them adds to the awe that one feels towards God, in that He is able to create as He wishes, for indeed the magnificence of His creation is a proof to believers of the magnificence of the Creator.

In Islam, an individuals life after death or their Hereafter, is very closely shaped by their present life. Life after death begins with the resurrection of man, after which there will come a moment when every human will be shaken as they are confronted with their intentions and deeds, good and bad, and even by their failure to do good in this life. On the Day of Judgment the entire record of people from the age of puberty will be presented before God. God will weigh everyones good and bad deeds according to His Mercy and His Justice, forgiving many sins and multiplying many good deeds. One who excels in goodness will be rewarded generously, whereas one whose evils and wrongs overweigh his good deeds will be punished. Those who emerge successful in this judgment will go to paradise and the doors of eternal bliss will be opened to them. Those who are condemned and deserve punishment will be sent to Hell – the abode of fire and torture.

Those who disbelieve say: The Hour will never come unto us. Say: Nay, by my Lord, it is coming unto you surely. (He is) the knower of the unseen. Not an atoms weight, or less than that or greater, escapes Him in the heavens or in the earth, but it is in a clear Record.That He may reward those who believe and do good works.For them are pardon and a rich provision. But those who strive against our revelations, challenging (Us), theirs will be a painful doom of wrath.[Al-Quran: 34: 3-5]

 

The Need to Believe In Life After Death

Belief in life after death has always been part of the teachings of the Prophets and is an essential condition of being a Muslim.Whenever we are asked to do something, it is our very nature to think about its benefits and its costs.We regard a useless action as unnecessary and are not prepared to waste our time doing it. Similarly, we are not very eager to avoid a thing that is harmless. The deeper our conviction about the usefulness of something, the firmer our response to it will be. The more doubtful we are about its usefulness, the more wavering and shaky would be our attitude.After all, why does a child put his hand in fire? Because he is not sure that fire burns. Why does he evade studying? Because he does not fully grasp the importance and benefits of education.

 

This Belief Divides People Into Three Categories

First, there are those who do not believe in the Hereafter and regard life on this earth as the only life and nothing destroys them except time. Naturally, they judge something to be good if it produces desirable results and evil if it brings about undesirable results.

Second, there are those who do not deny the Hereafter, but they depend on the intercession or atonement of someone to absolve them of their sins. Among them are some who regard themselves as Gods chosen people, who will receive only nominal punishment, however grave their sins may be. This deprives them of the moral advantage, which they could have derived from their belief in the Hereafter. As a result their behavior becomes very much like that of those who deny the Hereafter.

Third, are those who believe in the Hereafter and do not delude themselves that they have any special relationship with God or that anyone can intercede on their behalf. They hold themselves accountable for their actions and their belief in the Hereafter becomes a great moral force. As a result they find a permanent guard, stationed within them, which cautions and admonishes them whenever they deviate from the right path. There may be no court to summon them, no policemen to apprehend them and no public opinion to pressure them. Instead the guard within them is ever alert and ready to remind them when they transgress.The consciousness of this inner presence makes them fear doing anything that is prohibited. Should they succumb to temptation and violate the law of God, they are ever ready to offer sincere regrets and to enter a firm contract with God not to repeat the same mistake in the future.

A person who is focused on successes or failures in this world alone will be concerned with the benefits and harms that come to him in this life only. He may be reluctant to do good deeds that have no worldly benefit. Similarly, he may not be prepared to stop doing awrong act that will not harm him in this world.

On the other hand, a person who believes in life after death would look upon all worldly gains and losses as temporary and would not put at stake eternal bliss for a transitory gain. Belief in the next world instills in one the desire to do well and avoid the wrong, however costly it may be in terms of worldly sacrifices.

What! Do those who seek after evil ways think that We shall hold them equal with those who believe and do righteous deeds, – that equal with their life and their death? Ill is the judgment that they make. God created the heavens and the earth for just ends, and in order that each soul may find the recompense of what it has earned, and none of them be wronged.[Al-Quran 45:21]

There is a big difference in the way of life of the two types of people. For one, the idea of a good act may be limited to its value in this temporary life: for example gains in money, property, public recognition or similar things which give one position, power, reputation or worldly happiness.

Such things become the objectives of life and they may not deter one from pursuing cruel and unjust means in their achievement. In contrast, for a believer, all that pleases God is good and all that invokes His displeasure and wrath is evil. A good act for a believer will remain good even if it brings no personal benefit in this world.

A believer will be confident that God will reward him in the eternal life and that would be the real success. Similarly, they would not fall a prey to evil deeds merely for some worldly gain, for they would know that even if they escape punishment in this short worldly life, they would still have to answer to God.

True justice becomes apparent by believing in Life after Death.

God created people and made them responsible for their actions. In this world, we notice that the virtuous often live in a wretched state while the wicked often seem to have the good things in life.

Innocent people often suffer at the hands of exploiters and criminals, who seem to gain rather than suffer by their crimes in this world. If there were no future life in which the virtuous are rewarded and the vicious are punished, there would be no justice. There would be no point in creating people with a conscience and in sending Prophets to remind them of their responsibility.

We shall set up scales of justice for the day of Judgment, so that not a soul will be dealt with unjustly in the least. And if there be (no more than) the weight of a mustard seed,We will bring it (to account): And enough are We to take account.[Al-Quran: 21:47]

God is the Most Just; He will establish justice among all His creatures and no one can escape from God. Islam, therefore, places great emphasis on having absolute assurance of the Hereafter.This assurance should be similar to the certainty we have in death (which can overcome us at any time). Therefore, striving to earn the pleasure of God becomes the objective of life.

February 1, 2003 – Shortly before the scheduled end of its 28th mission, space shuttle Columbia disintegrated over Texas and Louisiana as it reentered Earth’s atmosphere, killing all seven crew members.  It was indeed an unexpected, abrupt and horrible end of a momentous journey.

Can anyone believe that NASA, by any stretch of imagination, expected this catastrophic end to Columbia?  And, were they so careless as to neglect preparing themselves to the minutest details to avoid such disasters? Your answer to both these questions would most probably be ‘No.’ Then, why did it happen?

Of course, it was the choice of those seven crew members to travel in the space shuttle, but they didn’t opt for that tragic end.  And, herein lies the difference between the Islamic concept of destiny and the free will we human beings possess – we’re free to choose our actions but God has ultimate control over the outcome of those actions.  According to teachings of Islam, God (Allah in Arabic) has given humans free will to make choices in their lives but only God has foreknowledge of our destiny, and He has total control over it. (Read more: Concept of God in Islam)

 

Predestination: An Islamic Perspective

To understand the Islamic perspective on destiny and free will, we first need to know a few basic facts which form the foundation of faith for Muslims:

1-      God is the Only Sustainer of the whole universe and He is the Most Merciful. The Quran begins with, “Praise belongs to God, Lord of the Worlds, the Lord of Mercy, the Giver of Mercy…” (1:1-2)

2-      God has created humans in the finest state. God mentions in the Quran: “We have certainly created man in the best of stature.” (95:4)

3-      The primary objective of human life is to worship God. “And I did not create the jinn and mankind except to worship Me.” (Quran, 51:56). It must be noted that the Islamic concept of worship encompasses all human endeavors that are pursued for just ends, and in accordance with God’s commandments.

4-      Our life is a test and we’ll be judged for our actions in the hereafter.  God says in the Quran, “Blessed be He in Whose hands is Dominion; and He over all things hath Power; He Who created Death and Life, that He may try which of you is best in deed: and He is the Exalted in Might, Oft-Forgiving.” (67:1-2).

5-      He’s All Wise, and He tests us according to our strength.  The Quran cites: “God does not burden any soul with more than it can bear: each gains whatever good it has done, and suffers its bad.” (2:286)

6-      God is Omniscient and Omnipresent – i.e., he is fully aware of His creation and is always present.  He is also All Powerful, so whatever He decrees takes place, and whatever He does not will does not happen. God – there is no deity except Him, the Ever-Living, the Sustainer of [all] existence. Neither drowsiness overtakes Him nor sleep. To Him belongs whatever is in the heavens and whatever is on the earth. Who is it that can intercede with Him except by His permission? He knows what is [presently] before them and what will be after them, and they encompass not a thing of His knowledge except for what He wills. His Throne extends over the heavens and the earth, and their preservation tires Him not. And He is the Most High, the Most Great. (2:255)

In other words, humans are God’s best creation who have a special purpose in life, i.e., to worship Him. Islam teaches that in order for us to freely perform in the test of life, He has given us free will to lead our lives as we wish, but the outcome of each of our actions is governed by the will of God. If God does not will for something to take place, it will not happen no matter how hard we try. And if He wills for something to occur, it will transpire no matter what we do to stop it.

One may say then, “What’s the use of striving in this life if we will get what is already decreed by God?”  This seems logical, but it is, of course, a misconception. In fact, Islam places great emphasis on making efforts towards a desired end. In the Quran, God says, “And that there is not for man except that [good] for which he strives And that his effort is going to be seen – Then he will be recompensed for it with the fullest recompense And that to your Lord is the finality”(53:39-42).

Again, making an effort is part of the power we have in the form of free will – if we waste it away with a complacent attitude, then we’re being ungrateful for the blessing we have. We must do everything within our power to optimize our lives – at the same time, we must recognize that God’s power and domain are far greater. He is not thinking only about us, but for the entire humanity, the whole world, nay, the universe itself! He is the One who, through destiny, balances the lives of humans, animals, plants, while at the same time harmonizing planets and other celestial bodies.

Many people protest that if God controls everything, why does He allow massacres of innocent people, torture, disease and the worst forms of evil to exist? Indeed, Islam does not ascribe evil to God. God allows tragedy and misery to take place in this world for reasons which often escape humans; it could be a test for those people, a form of purification, or warning for the rest of us to rehabilitate our lives. The Ultimate Truth is known only to God and our conviction is that God is Just and Good, even in those matters where we do not understand His Will. The Quran gives us a glimpse of this in the interaction between Moses and a learned man in Chapter 18, verses 60 through 82. (See it here.)

In addition, God has ordained accountability for humans on the Day of Judgment, when He will reward us for obeying Him and acting righteously in this world or punish us for transgressing His limits and living a whimsical existence. This further proves the importance of free will in our lives. God will judge us according to the choices we make in this life, not based on the destiny He has decreed for us. The Quran confirms this as: “Whoever does righteousness – it is for his [own] soul; and whoever does evil [does so] against it. And your Lord is not ever unjust to [His] servants.” (41:46).  

 

The Impact of Belief in Divine Destiny

Truly, when we accept the Divine Destiny we lead a more satisfying and productive life.  When we don’t get what we wish or strive for, our belief in divine destiny prevents us from becoming despondent or frustrated.  We accept the tragedy as a test from God and submit to His will with patience and dignity.

And if our plans work successfully or something good happens to us, belief in divine destiny will prevent us from becoming too boastful or arrogant.  Many successful people feel that their wealth and status are because they are smarter, wiser, stronger, or just more deserving of success than others.  But the truth is, they may have made certain choices, it is God who made those choices work out well for them.

God says in the Quran, “No misfortune can happen, either in the earth or in yourselves, that was not set down in writing before We brought it into being––that is easy for God–– so you need not grieve for what you miss or gloat over what you gain. God does not love the conceited, the boastful” (57:22-24). This mindset helps us live a fulfilling and happy life.  We become more thankful and learn to give empowering meanings to our experiences, whether good or bad.

The belief in divine destiny is also a great source of courage.  When we know that no calamity or harm can touch us without the will of God and the time of our death is prefixed, we lead a righteous and valiant life.  Quran mentions:

“Say, ‘Only what God has decreed will happen to us. He is our Master: let the believers put their trust in God.’” (9:51)

“Wherever you may be, death will overtake you, even if you should be within towers of lofty construction…” (4:78)

In conclusion, Destiny is one of the articles of faith in Islam. It teaches Muslims to make the most out of their resources and leave the results to God.

Quran – an intricate and beautiful book that is a light, a warning, a promise for Muslims. It was divinely revealed over fourteen hundred years ago. Ever since, the Quran remains a Muslim’s solace, hope, and guide.

Quran, the holy book of Islam

The Quran, the holy book of Islam, was given to Muhammad, the final prophet of Islam. The Quran contains many references to other books that God sent to prophets at different times in history – namely, the Book of Abraham, the Torah (Taurat) to Moses, the Psalms (Zabur) to David and the Gospel (Injeel) to Jesus. Believing in all four books is an essential part of the Islamic creed.

Each book was revealed by God to these messengers who then passed His words onto their people. While the Book of Abraham has been entirely lost, the Psalms, the Torah, and the Gospel, according to Islam, are no longer in their original state. They have been added to, cannot be traced directly to their prophets, or were simply altered. Only the Quran has been preserved in its original state, exactly as it was revealed to Prophet Muhammad.

 

Quran affirms the messages that preceded it

The Quran affirms the core message present in the former books. It verifies that each contained divine guidance and elaborates upon their beliefs. At the same time, it points out the modifications and reinforces the correct message. Hence, the Quran, the final revelation for all of humankind until Judgment Day, was sent to confirm, explain, and to an extent, correct the books that already existed.

“We sent Jesus, son of Mary, in their footsteps, to confirm the Torah that had been sent before him: We gave him the Gospel with guidance, light, and confirmation of the Torah already revealed– a guide and lesson for those who take heed of God. … We sent to you [Muhammad] the Scripture with the truth, confirming the Scriptures that came before it, and with final authority over them.” (Quran, 5:46, 48)

Despite their differences, the central beliefs in all four books are the same. Each text preaches that there is one God. They share the concept that God sends prophets to teach the common people how to live their lives according to God’s instructions. The four books also say that we will all be held accountable on the Day of Judgment, and that, eventually, everyone will end up in either hell or paradise.

Each holy book is greatly significant to its people, and every Muslim must believe in them. After all, they were sent down by the One God, with one purpose: to guide people to His worship which enables them to lead righteous lives. And, although all four books are, by now, very different, they are still bound, as one, by the same message: that God is eternally, infinitely one.

Introduction

The Quran is the last revealed Word of God. It is a record of the exact words revealed by God to the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) through the Angel Gabriel. It was then dictated to his Companions who memorized it, and it was written down by scribes. The Quran is in every detail the unique and miraculous text which was revealed to Muhammad fourteen centuries ago. Not one word of its 114 chapters has been changed over the centuries.The Quran deals with all subjects which concern us as human beings: wisdom, doctrine, worship, and law, but its basic theme is the relationship between God and His creatures.

There are also many verses in the Quran concerned with natural phenomena that are astounding. It is impossible to explain their presence in humans terms, given the state of knowledge at the time the Quran was revealed.

In the West, such statements had never before formed the subject of a scientific communication until recent times. On 9th November 1976, an unusual lecture was given at the French Academy of Medicine. Its title was ‘Physiological and Embryological data in the Quran’ and was delivered by the famous French physician Dr. Maurice Bucaille. His reason for doing this was that “our knowledge of these disciplines is such, that it is impossible to explain how a text produced at the time of the Quran could have contained ideas that have only been discovered in modern times.The citations included in this pamphlet appeared in the Quran during the 7th century C.E. [Read more: The Quran and Modern Science by Dr. Maurice Bucaille]

The Prophet Muhammad was himself illiterate and was living among illiterate people. The Arabs at that time worshipped idols and believed in horoscope and magic and were superstitious. The Arabs very actively opposed the teachings advanced by the Prophet through his revelations.This short article is for you to read and to consider. Because the subject matter is so vast, we have space to mention only a few brief facts from the Amazing Qur’an.

The Creation of the Universe

“Do not the unbelievers see that the heavens and the earth were joined together, then We clove them asunder? And We made from water every living thing. Will they not then believe?”(21:30) This verse is specifically addressed to non-believers, and touches upon the creation of the universe and the origins of all life. The Quran mentions the existence of a gaseous mass (41:11) which is unique and whose elements, although at first fused together  subsequently became separated (fatq). The separation process resulted in the formation of multiple worlds, a notion which crops up dozens of times in the Quran (1:1): “Praise be to God, Lord of the Worlds.” [1,2]

 

The Origins of Life

“And We made from water every living thing.Will they not then believe?” (21:30)

The building blocks of all living things are called cells. They are the basic units of life.

Protoplasm (cytoplasm nucleus) is the substance of all living things. Cytoplasm is a jelly-like material consisting of water and dissolved substances. The constitution of protoplasm is about 80-85% water. Without water life is not possible. [2]

None of the myths on the origins of life that abounded at the time of the Quran are present in the text. Furthermore, the fact that all life originated from water would not have been a very easy thing to convince people of 1400 years ago, especially in the desert!

 

The Expansion of the Universe

The expansion of the universe is the most imposing discovery of modern science. Today it is a firmly established concept and the only debate centres around the way this is taking place.

“The heaven, We have built it with power. Verily, We are expanding it.” (51:47)‘We are expanding it’ is the translation of the plural present particle musi’una of the verb ausa’a meaning “to make wider, more spacious, to extend, to expand.” Some translators were unable to grasp the meaning and provided mistaken translations. Others sense the meaning, but were afraid to commit themselves eg. Hamidullah talks of the widening of the heavens and space, but he includes a question mark. Zidan & Zidan, and The Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs refer to the expansion of the universe in totally unambiguous terms. [1,2]

 

The Mountains

Mountains have always been looked upon as conspicuous landforms, characterized by lofty protrusions above their surroundings, high peaks and steep sides. However, the Quran accurately describes mountains as stabilizers for the Earth that hold its outer surface firmly, lest it should shake with us, and as pickets (or pegs) which hold that surface downwardly as a means of fixation.”Have we not made the earth an expanse, and the mountains stakes (awtad)?” (78:6-7) and “And God cast into the ground mountains standing so that it does not shake with you.” (31:10). [1,3]

 

The Developing Human Embryo

Statements referring to human reproduction and development are scattered throughout the Quran. It is only recently that the scientific meaning of some of these verses has been fully appreciated. The Quran determines that human development passes through stages (39:6). The realization that the human embryo develops in stages was not discussed and illustrated until the 15th century.

The staging of human embryos was not described until the 20th century. Streeter (1941) developed the first system of staging which has now been replaced by a more accurate system proposed by O’Rahilly (1972). However, the Quran was the first source to mention this (23:12-16).

The Quran and Hadith also state that both parents share in the origins of the offspring: “O mankind! We created you from male and female.” (49:13) and “We created mankind from a mixed drop (nutfah-amshaj).” (76:2) The mixed drop refers to the mixture and convergence of a small quantity of sperms with the ovum (and its associated follicular fluid) to form the zygote. It has the form of a drop and consists of a mixture of male and female secretions.”Then we made the drop into a leech-like structure (‘alaqah).” (23:14) ‘alaqah in Arabic means (i) to cling and stick to a thing; (ii) a leech or bloodsucker; (iii) a suspended thing; and (iv) a blood clot.

Amazingly, each of the meanings for ‘alaqah can be applied to human prenatal development.For example, taking ‘alaqah to mean a leech we find that the embryo is surrounded by amniotic fluid just as a leech is surrounded by water. The human embryo clings to the mothers womb, in the same way that a leech clings to the skin. A leech is a pear shaped organism and thrives on bloodsucking. The diagram above clearly indicates that the shape of the embryo does in fact resemble a leech! At this stage the cardiovascular system has started appearing and the embryo is now dependant on the maternal blood for its nutrition like a leech! As there were no microscopes or lenses available in the 7th century, people could not have known that the embryo has this leech-like appearance.”Then out of that leech-like structure We made a chewed lump (mudghah).” This statement is from Surah 23:14. The Arabic word mudghah means “chewed substance or chewed lump.” Towards the end of the 4th week, the human embryo looks somewhat like a chewed lump of flesh. The chewed appearance results from the somites which resemble teeth marks. The somites represent the beginnings of the vertebrae (backbone). (For a detailed discussion concerning the Quran and modern embryology see 1,2,4,5,6).

 

Lost Civilizations

In the 89th chapter of the Quran, the city of “Iram” is mentioned: “Have you not seen how your Lord dealt with Aad, of the city of Iram, with lofty pillars the like of which was never created in any land?” Iram has been unknown to history, so much so that it apparently became an embarrassment to some Muslim commentators of the Holy Quran. In 1975, in North-Western Syria the ancient city of Ebla was excavated. Ebla is over 4500 years old. In the ruins of the Palace Library they found the largest collection of cuneiform clay tablets ever discovered – around 15,000. Written in the oldest Semitic language yet identified, the tablets reveal that Ebla rivalled Egypt and Mesopotamia as a major power of the ancient world. They found in there a record of all the cities that Ebla used to do business with including one IRAM! [7,8,9]

 

What happened to the body of Pharaoh of the Exodus?

The Biblical version of Pharaoh’s story states that he was drowned in the pursuit of Prophet Moses (Exodus 14:28-29). Unknown to the world till only of late, the Holy Quran made a definite prediction about the preservation of the body of that same Pharaoh of Moses’ time 10:90-92: “This day We shall save you in your body so that you may be a sign for those that come after you”. The body was discovered in the tomb of Amenhotep II in 1898. [2,12]

 

The resting place of Noah’s Ark

The Bible states that “And the Ark rested… upon the mountains of Ararat.” Genesis 8:4. According to the Holy Quran (11:44): “The Ark came to rest upon Al-Judi.” According to recent evidence from an archaeological find in Eastern Turkey, experts believe they may have discovered the remains of an ancient vessel whose dimensions mirror those of Noah’s Ark as told in the Bible. However, the discovery was made on Al-Judi! [10,11]

 

The Holy Quran:- God’s final Guidance to Mankind

“How could a man, from being illiterate, become the most important author in terms of literary merits in the whole of Arabic literature? How could he the pronounce facts of a scientific nature that no other human being could have possibly known at that time, and all this, without once making the slightest error in his pronouncement on the subject?” (Dr. Maurice Bucaille).

You owe it to yourself to find out the TRUTH about : ISLAM, the Holy Quran and the Life and teachings of God’s final Messenger, Muhammad.

 

The message of ISLAM is simple:

There is nothing worthy of worship except GOD alone, and Muhammad is his messenger and servant. There are today, over one-thousand million followers of ISLAM. Find out the truth!

Muslims acknowledge the TORAH, OLD TESTAMENT and NEW TESTAMENT, but believe these Texts have become corrupted over time. God promised in the Quran to protect and preserve the Quran.

Absolutely, we have revealed the reminder, and, absolutely, we will preserve it.[Quran 15:9]

This is an honorable Quran. In a protected book. None can grasp it except the sincere. A revelation from the Lord of the universe.[Quran 56:77-80]

Indeed, it is a glorious Quran. In a preserved master tablet.[Quran 85:21-22]

The Quran literally meaning "the recitation" is the central religious text of Islam, which Muslims believe to be a revelation from God. The Quran is divided into chapters, which are then divided into verses. Muslims believe the Quran was verbally revealed by God to Muhammad through the angel Gabriel (Jibril), gradually over a period of approximately 23 years, beginning on 22 December 609 CE when Muhammad was 40, and concluding in 632, the year of his death.

CONGRATULATING AN ATHEIST

Normally, when I meet an atheist, the first thing I like to do is to congratulate him and say, "My special congratulations to you", because most of the people who believe in God are doing blind belief - he is a Christian, because his father is a Christian; he is a Hindu, because his father is a Hindu; the majority of the people in the world are blindly following the religion of their fathers. An atheist, on the other hand, even though he may belong to a religious family, uses his intellect to deny the existence of God; what ever concept or qualities of God he may have learnt in his religion may not seem to be logical to him.

My Muslim brothers may question me, "Zakir, why are you congratulating an atheist?" The reason that I am congratulating an atheist is because he agrees with the first part of the Shahada i.e. the Islamic Creed, 'La ilaaha' - meaning 'there is no God'. So half my job is already done; now the only part left is 'il lallah' i.e. 'BUT ALLAH' which I shall do Insha Allah. With others (who are not atheists) I have to first remove from their minds the wrong concept of God they may have and then put the correct concept of one true God.


LOGICAL CONCEPT OF GOD

My first question to the atheist will be: "What is the definition of God?" For a person to say there is no God, he should know what is the meaning of God. If I hold a book and say that 'this is a pen', for the opposite person to say, 'it is not a pen', he should know what is the definition of a pen, even if he does not know nor is able to recognise or identify the object I am holding in my hand. For him to say this is not a pen, he should at least know what a pen means. Similarly for an atheist to say 'there is no God', he should at least know the concept of God. His concept of God would be derived from the surroundings in which he lives. The god that a large number of people worship has got human qualities - therefore he does not believe in such a god. Similarly a Muslim too does not and should not believe in such false gods. If a non-Muslim believes that Islam is a merciless religion with something to do with terrorism; a religion which does not give rights to women; a religion which contradicts science; in his limited sense that non-Muslim is correct to reject such Islam. The problem is he has a wrong picture of Islam. Even I reject such a false picture of Islam, but at the same time, it becomes my duty as a Muslim to present the correct picture of Islam to that non-Muslim i.e. Islam is a merciful religion, it gives equal rights to the women, it is not incompatible with logic, reason and science; if I present the correct facts about Islam, that non-Muslim may Inshallah accept Islam. Similarly the atheist rejects the false gods and the duty of every Muslim is to present the correct concept of God which he shall Insha Allah not refuse. (You may refer to my article, 'Concept of God in Islam', for more details)


QUR'AN AND MODERN SCIENCE

The methods of proving the existence of God with usage of the material provided in the 'Concept of God in Islam' to an atheist may satisfy some but not all. Many atheists demand a scientific proof for the existence of God. I agree that today is the age of science and technology. Let us use scientific knowledge to kill two birds with one stone, i.e. to prove the existence of God and simultaneously prove that the Qur'an is a revelation of God. If a new object or a machine, which no one in the world has ever seen or heard of before, is shown to an atheist or any person and then a question is asked, " Who is the first person who will be able to provide details of the mechanism of this unknown object? After little bit of thinking, he will reply, 'the creator of that object.' Some may say 'the producer' while others may say 'the manufacturer.' What ever answer the person gives, keep it in your mind, the answer will always be either the creator, the producer, the manufacturer or some what of the same meaning, i.e. the person who has made it or created it. Don't grapple with words, whatever answer he gives, the meaning will be same, therefore accept it. SCIENTIFIC FACTS MENTIONED IN THE QUR'AN: for details on this subject please refer to my book, 'THE QUR'AN AND MODERN SCIENCE - COMPATIBLE OR INCOMPATIBLE?


THEORY OF PROBABILITY

In mathematics there is a theory known as 'Theory of Probability'. If you have two options, out of which one is right, and one is wrong, the chances that you will chose the right one is half, i.e. one out of the two will be correct. You have 50% chances of being correct. Similarly if you toss a coin the chances that your guess will be correct is 50% (1 out of 2) i.e. 1/2. If you toss a coin the second time, the chances that you will be correct in the second toss is again 50% i.e. half. But the chances that you will be correct in both the tosses is half multiplied by half (1/2 x 1/2) which is equal to 1/4 i.e. 50% of 50% which is equal to 25%. If you toss a coin the third time, chances that you will be correct all three times is (1/2 x 1/2 x 1/2) that is 1/8 or 50% of 50% of 50% that is 12 x 1/2%. A dice has got six sides. If you throw a dice and guess any number between 1 to 6, the chances that your guess will be correct is 1/6. If you throw the dice the second time, the chances that your guess will be correct in both the throws is (1/6 x 1/6) which is equal to 1/36. If you throw the dice the third time, the chances that all your three guesses are correct is (1/6 x 1/6 x 1/6) is equal to 1/216 that is less than 0.5 %. Let us apply this theory of probability to the Qur'an, and assume that a person has guessed all the information that is mentioned in the Qur'an which was unknown at that time. Let us discuss the probability of all the guesses being simultaneously correct. At the time when the Qur'an was revealed, people thought the world was flat, there are several other options for the shape of the earth. It could be triangular, it could be quadrangular, pentagonal, hexagonal, heptagonal, octagonal, spherical, etc. Lets assume there are about 30 different options for the shape of the earth. The Qur'an rightly says it is spherical, if it was a guess the chances of the guess being correct is 1/30. The light of the moon can be its own light or a reflected light. The Qur'an rightly says it is a reflected light. If it is a guess, the chances that it will be correct is 1/2 and the probability that both the guesses i.e the earth is spherical and the light of the moon is reflected light is 1/30 x 1/2 = 1/60. Further, the Qur'an also mentions every living thing is made of water. Every living thing can be made up of either wood, stone, copper, aluminum, steel, silver, gold, oxygen, nitrogen, hydrogen, oil, water, cement, concrete, etc. The options are say about 10,000. The Qur'an rightly says that everything is made up of water. If it is a guess, the chances that it will be correct is 1/10,000 and the probability of all the three guesses i.e. the earth is spherical, light of moon is reflected light and everything is created from water being correct is 1/30 x 1/2 x 1/10,000 = 1/60,000 which is equal to about .0017%.


The Qur'an speaks about hundreds of things that were not known to men at the time of its revelation. Only in three options the result is .0017%. I leave it upto you, to work out the probability if all the hundreds of the unknown facts were guesses, the chances of all of them being correct guesses simultaneously and there being not a single wrong guess. It is beyond human capacity to make all correct guesses without a single mistake, which itself is sufficient to prove to a logical person that the origin of the Qur'an is Divine.


CREATOR IS THE AUTHOR OF THE QUR'AN

The only logical answer to the question as to who could have mentioned all these scientific facts 1400 years ago before they were discovered, is exactly the same answer initially given by the atheist or any person, to the question who will be the first person who will be able to tell the mechanism of the unknown object. It is the 'CREATOR', the producer, the Manufacturer of the whole universe and its contents. In the English language He is 'God', or more appropriate in the Arabic language, 'ALLAH'.


QUR'AN IS A BOOK OF SIGNS AND NOT SCIENCE

Let me remind you that the Qur'an is not a book of Science, 'S-C-I-E-N-C-E'but a book of Signs 'S-I-G-N-S' i.e. a book of ayaats. The Qur'an contains more than 6,000 ayaats, i.e. 'signs', out of which more than a thousand speak about Science. I am not trying to prove that the Qur'an is the word of God using scientific knowledge as a yard stick because any yardstick is supposed to be more superior than what is being checked or verified. For us Muslims the Qur'an is the Furqan i.e. criteria to judge right from wrong and the ultimate yardstick which is more superior to scientific knowledge.

But for an educated man who is an atheist, scientific knowledge is the ultimate test which he believes in. We do know that science many a times takes 'U' turns, therefore I have restricted the examples only to scientific facts which have sufficient proof and evidence and not scientific theories based on assumptions. Using the ultimate yardstick of the atheist, I am trying to prove to him that the Qur'an is the word of God and it contains the scientific knowledge which is his yardstick which was discovered recently, while the Qur'an was revealed 1400 year ago. At the end of the discussion, we both come to the same conclusion that God though superior to science, is not incompatible with it.


SCIENCE IS ELIMINATING MODELS OF GOD BUT NOT GOD

Francis Bacon, the famous philosopher, has rightly said that a little knowledge of science makes man an atheist, but an in-depth study of science makes him a believer in God. Scientists today are eliminating models of God, but they are not eliminating God. If you translate this into Arabic, it is La illaha illal la, There is no god, (god with a small 'g' that is fake god) but God (with a capital 'G').


Surah Fussilat:

"Soon We will show them our signs in the (farthest) regions (of the earth), and in their own souls, until it becomes manifest to them that this is the Truth. Is it not enough that thy Lord doth witness all things?"


[Al-Quran 41:53]


What is the Purpose of Life?

Where did I come from? Why am I here? Where am I going? One of the first questions that comes to mind when considering our purpose of life is, "where did we come from?" Are we here based on random natural coincidences or is there a higher intelligent being, a creator? Acknowledging the existence of a creator is the first step in understanding our true purpose in life. There are many logical and rational reasons for believing in a creator. Three reasons are briefly mentioned below.

1. Beginning of the Universe

The first evidence that points to the existence of God relates to understanding the origin of the universe.

Imagine walking in a desert and finding a watch. We know a watch consists of glass, plastic and metal. Glass comes from sand, plastic from oil, and metal extracted from the ground - all these components are found in the desert. Would you believe that the watch formed itself? That the Sun shone, the wind blew, lightning struck, the oil bubbled to the surface and mixed with the sand and metal, and over millions of years the watch came together by random or natural coincidences?

Some may ask, "Who created God"? God, the Creator, is different to His creation. God is eternal, has always existed and has no beginning; therefore the question of who created God is irrational.

Human experience and simple logic tells us that something that has a beginning does not simply come from nothing, nor can something create itself. Therefore, the most rational explanation is that a higher "being" created the universe. This "being" must be powerful and intelligent as it brought the whole universe into existence and created the ‘laws of science' which govern it. We can also reason that this "being" is timeless and spaceless, because time, space and matter began at the creation of the universe. All of these attributes make up the basic concept of God, the creator of the universe. This is in perfect agreement with modern science which concludes that the universe is finite and has a beginning

2. Perfection of the Universe

The second evidence that points to the existence of an intelligent creator is the order and perfect balance of our complex universe.

Many features in the universe clearly indicate it to be specially designed to support life, such as the earth's distance from the sun, the thickness of the earth's crust, the speed at which the earth revolves, the percentage of oxygen in the atmosphere, and even the earth's tilt. If these measurements were slightly different to what they currently are, life could not exist.

In the same way that a watch has an intelligent maker to keep accurate time, so too must the earth have an intelligent maker to keep accurate time around the sun. Could this occur by itself?

When we see the order, precise laws and systems within ourselves and throughout the universe, is it not rational they have an organiser? This ‘organiser' is best explained by the existence of God - the one who brought about this order.

3. Revelation from God

  • The third evidence that points to the existence of God is the actual revelation that God has sent to humankind as a sign of His existence. There are clear signs that the book of Islam, the Quran, is the word of God. Below is a brief summary of reasons that support this claim. The Quran:
  • Is over 1400 years old and contains many scientific facts that were unknown to people of that time and which have only been discovered recently by science. Examples include: water being the origin of all living things (Quran 21:30); the expanding universe (Quran 51:47); and the individual orbits of the sun and moon (Quran 21:33).
  • Contains many historical facts that were unknown to the people of that time as well as numerous predictions which have proven to be correct.
  • Is free from any errors or contradictions despite gradual revelation over 23 years and covering a wide variety of topics.
  • Has been preserved, word-for-word, since its revelation in its original Arabic language, unlike other scriptures which no longer exist in their original form.
  • Has a simple, pure and universal message which appeals to Man's intellect and inherent beliefs about Almighty God.
  • Has a deep and moving effect on people.
  • Was revealed to Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) who was known to be illiterate, yet contains a unique style of language that is universally known as the pinnacle of Arabic eloquence and linguistic beauty.
  • The most rational explanation for the many unique and miraculous aspects of the Quran is that it is from God.

God Sends Guidance

Upon acknowledging that we have been created by the All-Wise Creator, we would expect to be informed of our purpose. How can we know what God expects from us? Do we live in trial and error, or make our own purpose? Do we "go with the flow" by following others? No. God sent Prophets and revelation to inform us of our purpose.

God sent thousands of Prophets, at least one to every nation, with the same message: to worship God alone and to follow His guidance. They included Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus and Muhammad (peace be upon them all).

Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), the last in the chain of Prophets, was the perfect example of an honest, just, compassionate and brave human being. He was sent with the final revelation from God, the Quran, to demonstrate how its teachings should be applied.

The Quran is a book of guidance and explains many concepts such as the purpose of our existence; who God is; the actions liked and disliked by God; the stories of the Prophets and their lessons; accounts of Heaven, Hell, and the Day of Judgement. It aims to clarify misunderstandings about the nature of God, such as clarifying the nature and role of Jesus compared to the nature of God.

Jesus, like all the other Prophets, performed miracles and called to the worship of The One true God (Quran 19:36).

The Nature of Jesus

When trying to understand the concept of God in Islam, it is important to discuss the status of Jesus, given the widespread confusion and claims about his nature.

Some Christians claim that "Jesus is God" or part of a trinity - that is, he is the incarnation of God on earth and that God took on a human form. However, according to the Bible, Jesus was born, ate, slept, prayed and had limited knowledge – all attributes not befitting God. God has attributes of perfection whereas Man is the opposite. So how can anything be two complete opposites both at the same time? This is not rational.

However, some may ask, "If God can do anything, why can't he become a man?" By definition, God does not do ungodly acts, so if God became man and took on human attributes, he would, necessarily, no longer be God.

Furthermore, the Bible contains many verses in which Jesus speaks and behaves as if God is a separate being to himself. For example, Jesus "fell on his face and prayed" [Matthew 26:39]. If Jesus was God, then would a God fall on his face and pray? And, who would he be praying to?

Some Christians claim that "Jesus is the Son of God." We should ask ourselves, what does this actually mean? Surely God is far removed from having a physical and literal son. Rather, we find that the term "Son of God" is symbolically used in the earliest biblical languages for a "righteous person". It is used throughout the Old Testament for many righteous people such as David, Solomon and Israel - not exclusively for Jesus, "...Israel is my firstborn son," (Exodus 4:22) is one such example. "It is not befitting for Allah to take a son; He is perfect and flawless!"Quran 19:35The Islamic belief about Jesus explains who the real Jesus was, whilst maintaining the pure belief about God and His complete Greatness, Uniqueness and Perfection. Jesus was as an honourable Prophet sent by God to call to the worship of God alone.

So... why am I here?

Everyone would acknowledge that our body parts, such as our eyes, ears, brains and hearts, have a purpose. Wouldn't it then make sense that the individual, as a whole, also has a purpose?

God, the All Wise, did not create us to simply wander aimlessly or to only fulfil our basic instincts and desires. Rather, we have a higher purpose - to acknowledge and worship God alone, so that we live upon the guidance of our Creator. This guidance enables us to live a successful and blessed life in all aspects. This includes personal acts of virtue like prayer, as well as beneficial acts to society, like being good to one's neighbours, supporting one's family, honesty, and caring for animals.

God forbids us from worshiping anything else (e.g. statues, the sun, moon, saints, priests or even Prophets). He does not need any partners or intermediaries. Everyone can always worship God directly.

God describes this life as a test, and people are tested in different ways. We cannot control what happens to us, but we can control how we react. Patience during adversities, and gratitude for blessings, are a means of getting closer to God and attaining eternal Paradise. We are also warned of a terrible punishment in Hell if we choose to disbelieve and ignore His commands.

So... what do I do now?

The test of one's faith is in using one's intellect to contemplate and recognise God's signs and live according to His guidance. This is done by submitting to God's commands, which in Arabic means to become a "Muslim".

God, the One and only Creator - 'Allah' in Arabic - has made Islam accessible to everyone, regardless of their history, background or present situation. Therefore, anyone can become a Muslim by simply believing in, and uttering the following testimony of faith:

"I testify that there is no god worthy of worship except Allah, and I testify that Muhammad is Allah's Messenger."

Isn't it time for you to fulfil your purpose of life, submit to the truth and acknowledge your Creator?