What is Islam?

by James William Lovegrove (Habeeb-Ullah)

Conception of God in Islam

Unity is the keynote to the conception of the Divine Being in Islam. There is absolute unity in the Divine nature. It admits of no participation of manifoldness. Muslims deny all plurality of persons in the Godhead and any participation of any being on the face of the earth. The God of Islam is not the God of any particular nation. He is the “Lord of the Worlds.”

The Quran describes Him in the opening verse. His are the sublimest and most perfect attributes, but the attribute of Mercy reigns over all.

Ar-Rahman (the Beneficent), Ar-Rahim (the Merciful) are the two names with which every chapter but one in the Quran opens.

“My Mercy comprehends all conceivable things” (The Holy Quran, 7:156).

Here I quote some of the Quranic verses which will enable the reader to appreciate the Muslim conception of Allah:

“Allah is He besides Whom there is no god, the Ever-living, the Self-subsisting, by Whom all subsist; slumber does not overtake Him nor sleep; whatever is in the heavens and whatever is in the earth is His; who is he that can intercede with Him but by His permission? He knows what is before them and what is behind them, and they cannot comprehend anything out of His knowledge except what He pleases; His knowledge extends over the heavens and the earth, and the preservation of them both tires Him not and He is the Most High, the Great” (The Holy Quran, 2:255).

“He is Allah besides Whom there is no god (who should be served), the Knower of the unseen and seen; He is the Bene­ficent, the Merciful. He is Allah besides Whom there is no god, the King, the Holy, the Author of Peace, the Granter of Security, Guardian over all, the Mighty, the Restorer of every loss, the Possessor of every greatness. Glory be to Allah from what they set up (with Him). High is Allah the Maker of all things, the Creator of all existence, the Fashioner (of all images). His are the most excellent names (and beautiful attributes that man could imagine); everything that exists in the heavens or in the earth declares His glory (and His perfection), and He is the Mighty, the Wise” (The Holy Quran, 59:22–24).

He is God the All-Hearing, the All-Seeing, the Deliverer from every affliction, the Generous, the Gracious, the For­giving, the Near-at-Hand, Who loves good and hates evil, Who will take account of all human actions.

The word Allah, which has been used as a proper noun for God in the Quran, is the best conceivable word in all languages of the world to convey the conception. While all the words in different languages corresponding to the English word God have been applied by men to other subjects of adoration, besides God, the Arabic word Allah has never been so used in the whole course of Arabic literature.

Even before the advent of Muhammad, though the Arabs were idolaters and worshipped hundreds of deities in pre-Islamic days, they never applied this word to any of those deities.