Allah is the personal name of the One
True God. Nothing else can be called Allah. The word Allah reflects the unique
concept that Islam associates with God. To Muslims, Allah is the Almighty,
Creator and Sustainer of the universe, who is similar to none and nothing is
comparable to Him. The essence of this Unity and Uniqueness of God is summed up
by Allah Himself in the Qur’an, chapter 112:
“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.”
This belief in the Unity and Uniqueness of God is the essence of the message of all the Prophets of God. Because of this, Islam considers associating any deity or personality with God, (which is called shirk in Arabic), as a grave sin that God will never forgive if the person dies without repenting. Thus, Islam rejects the concept of ‘son of God’ or ‘daughters of God’ or characterizing God in any human form or depicting Him in any other form, be it a tree or a mountain.
God is the originator of all creation and
as such His nature is different from His creation. Furthermore, because
creation had a beginning, it is temporal or transitory. God is the cause of the
whole creation, therefore, nothing caused Him into existence and nothing causes
Him to continue His existence. It follows that God had no beginning and He is
eternal, as we are informed in the Qur’an chapter 57, verse 3:
“He is the First and the Last, the
Evident and the Immanent: and He has full knowledge of all things.”
Since God is Eternal and Everlasting and
encompasses all His creation, His attributes must be Complete, Eternal and
Everlasting. This means that His attributes are absolute. Can there be more
than one Creator with such absolute attributes? This is not feasible, as the
Qur’an informs us in chapter 23, verse 91:
“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!”
God’s attributes are unique and absolute, among them is the attribute of Mercy to His creation. With the exception of one, each of the 114 chapter of the Qur’an begins with the verse; “In the name of Allah, the Entirely Merciful, the Especially Merciful”. This means Allah is merciful to all His creation without exception, and He is especially merciful to His sincere servants. God’s attribute of Mercy is further manifested in His attribute of Justice. God’s treatment of His faithful servants in this world and the next cannot be the same as that of His rebellious servants, for were it to be the same, it would negate all the incentives for a moral and virtuous life in this world. But God also possess the attribute of Forgiveness; Allah forgives all sins if one repents before death approaches. He says in the Qur’an chapter 39, verse 53;
God is Merciful and Forgiving, but He is also
God of Retribution. In conclusion, let us quote verses 23 and 24 of chapter 59
of the Qur’an which give us some of the other attributes of Allah:
Allah is He, than Whom there is no other
god; the Sovereign, the Holy One, the Source of Peace (and Perfection), the
Guardian of Faith, the Preserver of Safety, the Exalted in Might, the
Irresistible, the Supreme: Glory to Allah! (High is He) above the partners they
attribute to Him. He is Allah, the Creator, the Evolver, the Bestower of Forms
(or Colours). To Him belong the Most Beautiful Names: whatever is in the
heavens and on earth, doth declare His Praises and Glory: and He is the Exalted
in Might, the Wise.
Worship is motivated by different beliefs and principles in different religions. In Islam the motivation for worshiping is governed by two principles. First, man is a servant of God, created to serve Him. Allah tells us in the Qur’an:
I have only created Jinns and men, that they may serve Me. (Qur’an 51:56)
The word Ibadah used in this verse is translated as ‘serving or worshiping Allah’, but in its broader sense, it means ‘being subservient to Allah and obedient to His Will’. All our living must conform to the Will of God – all our life’s activities must comply to the directives of Allah. Thus, worship in Islam is not only confined to rituals; prayers, fasting and so on, but it encompasses all the activities of life, which have to conform to the directives of God as given to us in the Qur’an and in the traditions of the prophet. In fact, any lawful act in Islam constitutes ibadah, even eating lawful food, engaging in lawful sport and so on.
So, the first principle which motivates Islamic worship is the fulfillment of the purpose of our creation, which is Ibadah or worship. All legitimate life’s activities are forms of worship. Islam offers a complete code of life which does not segregate the secular life from religious diktat.
The second principle which motivates Islamic worship is the conviction that faith, sound belief and good conduct are the basis of good, wholesome and happy life in this world and the hereafter. Allah says in the Qur’an:
For those who respond to their Lord, are (all) good things (Qur’an 13:18)
And He also says:
Whoever works righteousness, man or woman, and has Faith, verily, to him will We give a new Life, a life that is good and pure, and We will bestow on such their reward according to the best of their actions. (Qur’an 16:97)
Thus, the second motivation for Islamic worship is the attainment of good life in this world and in the hereafter. Islamic worship seeks to cultivate this basis of good life, for the society at large and the individual, through its characteristics and built-in spiritual values.
God has set for us a way of life which ensures justice in society, love and kindness to our parents, family and all creatures, consideration and support for the needy. Man can only constantly conform to this Islamic way of life, if he is constantly conscious of God. God consciousness is the root of righteousness and righteousness is the root of good conduct and behavior. Islamic worship seeks to develop this constant God consciousness through regular prayers and through other forms of worship. Thus, for instant Allah says in the Qur’an:
And keep regular prayers for my remembrance. (Qur’an 20:14)
Constant remembrance of God means perpetual fear of going contrary to His Will. Fear of God ensures a life of harmony with our Lord and a life of harmony with our fellow creatures. Thus, Allah says:
…. and establish regular Prayer: for Prayer restrains from shameful and unjust deeds … (Qur’an29:45)
God consciousness is a safeguard against evil inclination. It fosters purification of motives and good intentions, all leading towards good.
Looking at another dimension, Islamic worship is a direct interaction with God, with no intermediaries. In Islam God is not a distant being who can not be reached. He says in the Qur’an:
It was We Who created man, and We know what dark suggestions his soul makes to him: for We are nearer to him than (his) jugular vein. (Qur’an 50:16)
And also, He says:
And your Lord says: "Call on Me; I will answer your (Prayer). (Qur’an 40:60)
That is, man is commanded to talk to Him directly, not through anybody else. Thus, God is very close to us. And this direct interaction strengthens our bond and attachment to God and enforces our belief and faith. This intimate bond with God is important because when we feel the presence of the Creator who holds all the powers, it instills in us the sense of security and spiritual strength which we need in this life of ups and downs. This in turn fosters fear of offending the Creator who provides us with this security. The consequence is harmony and peace with yourself and with your Creator and this is what Islam is all about – Peace.
We see in many societies outside Islam that faith in God and religiousness are lacking and this is because the bond with God is weak. There is no regular and constant communication with God and thus his presence is marginalized and, in many cases, even lost. The lack of bond with God creates rebellion and in turn creates fear and turmoil in individuals and the society. This is the exact opposite of peace.
In summary, Islamic worship is a school in reforming and shaping human life into a life of faith, good intentions, patience and love of God and fellow creatures.
In Islam faith is defined by six principles:
First principle: Belief in Monotheism, that is, there is only One God and His attributes are unique and cannot be shared with any other being. God is Eternal, begets not, nor is He begotten and none is comparable to Him.
Second principle: Belief in Angels who are the spiritual agents of God. Unlike human beings, Angels have no freedom of will and as such their nature is to obey God.
Third principle: Belief in all the original scriptures revealed to God’s Messengers, including those revealed to Abraham, Moses, Jesus and Muhammad, peace be upon them all.
Forth principle: Belief in all the Prophets of God whom He sent to different people at different times, including Abraham, Moses, Jesus and Muhammad, peace be upon them all.
Fifth principle: Belief in the Life after Death, the Day of Judgment, eternal Paradise and eternal Hellfire.
Six principle: Belief in the Divine Decree (or Destiny), which means that everything that happens in the creation happens in accordance with God’s Laws (physical as well as spiritual laws), and His Will.
These six principles define a believer. Rejection of any one of them, such as believing in some Prophets and rejecting others, makes one an unbeliever.
Though a Muslim is required to accept these principles as a matter of faith, they are not without reason and a logical basis, for in Islam blind faith is not acceptable. For further reading on this matter, read the book ‘Understanding Islam’ section 2, which you can view or download below under ‘Books’.
Faith is the basis of one’s life orientation, intentions and action. Religion is defined as ‘the way of life’, and as such our religion must be a practical expression of our faith. The religion of Islam is based on five pillars which are, in fact, a reflection of and true to the six articles of faith. These are:
The Shahada or testimony of the Oneness of God and Prophethood of Muhammad, peace be upon him. This testimony signifies one’s commitment to the faith and the religion in intentions and actions.
Salaa or formal obligatory prayers which are performed five times a day; at dawn, noon, late afternoon, after sunset and at nightfall. These times fit the daily rhythm of life. Prayers are an expression of our subservience to God, our obedience to Him and our dependence on Him. This continuous daily expression helps us to maintain God consciousness throughout the day.
Zakat or compulsory charity given to the poor and the needy. It amounts to 2.5% of one’s annual savings or accumulated wealth. This percentage varies according to the type of wealth. Zakat ensures that wealth does not remain in the hands of the rich but finds its way to the good of the society, removing poverty, envy, ill feelings and crime.
Sawm or fasting during the month of Ramadhan which is the ninth month of the Islamic lunar calendar. It involves abstaining from food, drink and intimate relation with a spouse during the daylight hours. Fasting strengthens our faith and will, purifies our souls and increases our God consciousness. It also reminds us of people who are less fortunate than us, people who can hardly afford one meal a day.
Hajj or pilgrimage to Makkah at least once in a lifetime, for those who are physically and financially able to perform it. The rites of Hajj are associated with the worship and sacrifices of Abraham who, together with his first son Ishmael, rebuilt the Ka’aba in Makkah. The Ka’aba is the first house built on earth for the worship of the One God, Allah. Its origins go back to the time of Adam. The annual Muslim pilgrimage to Makkah is a manifestation of the unity of religion and the unity of mankind.
These five pillars of Islam orient the heart and one’s outlook towards God consciousness and virtue. The vast majority of Muslims are practicing Muslims and it is their faith and these five pillars of religion which characterize the Muslim Ummah or community as a community of true human values, compassion and moderation. This outstanding and responsible position of the Muslim community is described in the Qur’an chapter 3, verse 110 as follows;
You are the best of peoples evolved for mankind, enjoining what is right, forbidding what is wrong, and believing in Allah.
The Qur’an was revealed to prophet Muhammad through the Angel Gabriel from Allah over a period of 23 years, from 610 CE when he was 40 years of age, to 632 CE, the year of his death. It was recorded in writing and memorized by the Prophet and his companions as it was gradually revealed. Shortly after the death of the Prophet, the Qur’an was compiled into a single book by the order of the first Caliph Abu Bakar (632 - 634 CE). During the reign of the third Caliph Uthman (644 - 656 CE) the recitation of the Qur’an was standardized by introduction of vowels and diacritical marks to ensure correct recitation of the Qur’an as it was spreading to the non-Arabic speaking populations. The original 7th. century manuscripts of the Qur’an have been preserved to this day and they can be sited at the Hast Imam Museum in Tashkent, Topkapi Museum in Istanbul, Oriental Institute Museum in Chicago and at the Institute of Oriental Studies in St. Petersburg.
The message of the Qur’an.
The Qur’an is a book of guidance to the entire mankind; it is a book of warning to those who reject it, and a book of good tidings to those who heed its directives. The Qur’an is the fulfillment of God’s promise to Adam and his descendants as we are informed in the Qur’an chapter 2, verse 38;
We said: "Get you down all from here; and if, as is sure, there comes to you Guidance from Me, whosoever follows My guidance, on them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve.
Qur’an is the only weapon to help our frail existence as we struggle against the forces of evil and temptations in this world. It is the only light (noor) as we grope in the darkness, with which to find our way to success and salvation. It is the only healing (shifa’a) for our inner sickness, as well as the social ills that may surround us. It the constant reminder (dhikr) of our true nature and destiny, our station, our duties, our rewards, our perils. It is the only means to overpower our fears and anxieties. This is the essence of the message of the Qur’an which has captivated the minds of sincere readers over the ages.
The timeless nature of the Qur’an.
In its core, the Qur’an is not a new message; it is a confirmation of the messages revealed to the earlier messengers of God, a correction of the distortions which have crept in the earlier messages, and a completion of God’s message to mankind:
We have sent down the Book to you (O Muhammad) with the truth, confirming the scripture before it and determining what is true therein, and as a guardian over it. Judge, therefore, between them by what God has revealed, and do not follow their vain desires turning away from the truth that has come to you. To every one of you We have ordained a law and a way, and had God so willed, He would have made you all a single community, but He did not so will, in order that He might try you by what He has given you. Vie, then, with one another in doing good works; to God you shall all return; then He will make clear to you about what you have been disputing. (Qur’an 5:48)
The Qur’an has come to renew the way and the law to salvation till the end of time. It is relevant today as it was relevant over 1400 years ago, and it will remain relevant till the end of time. Since its revelation it has remained completely uniform without any variations, flaws or contradictions. The Qur’an reports scientific truths unknown to man and has remained compatible with the knowledge of the natural sciences as humanity progresses. It tells about the beginning of the universe, its expansion and how it will end, the precise movement of celestial bodies, the water cycle which produces rain, the function of mountains, the development of the embryo in the womb, and many other scientific facts. None of these scientific statements contradict the knowledge of modern sciences. The Qur’an is evergreen.
The Divine origin of the Qur’an.
The revealed words and their meanings which constitute the Qur’an are Divine and inseparable. It is for this reason that part of the mission of the Prophet was to explain the Qur’an. As such, the language of Qur’an is sublime, eloquent and of high literary excellence. This, together with its profound contents in spiritual guidance, moral teachings, legislation, historical facts and scientific facts, makes the Qur’an a Divine book which can never be imitated. Allah says in the Qur’an chapter 2, verses 23 and 24:
And if you are in doubt as to what We have revealed from time to time to Our servant (Muhammad), then produce a chapter like thereunto; and call your witnesses or helpers (If there are any) besides Allah, if your (doubts) are true. But if you cannot - and of a surety you cannot - then fear the Fire whose fuel is men and stones which is prepared for those who reject Faith.
The Qur’an is the Divine revelation calling humanity to success in this world and the next.
One of the articles of faith in Islam is the belief in the life after death and the Day of Judgement. In many verses of the Qur’an, the belief in God is immediately followed by the belief in the hereafter, pointing to the fact that if one does not believe in the final accountability, the belief in God has no meaning. God has created human beings for a purpose, and therefore, there has to be a point where we will have to account to the Creator whether we have fulfilled that purpose or not, and face the consequences of our choices which we have made in our lives. Allah has told us the purpose of our creation in chapter 51, verse 56;
I have only created Jinns and men, that they may serve Me.
The word Ibadah used in this verse is translated as ‘serving or worshiping Allah’, but in its broader sense, it means ‘being subservient to Allah and obedient to His Will’. Our lives have to conform to this purpose by submitting ourselves to the Will of our Creator and by living in accordance with His revelation, the Qur’an and the teachings of the last Prophet, Muhammad, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him.
Death and Afterlife
The human soul does not die; at death it passes to the next phase of its existence. In this next phase which we call the ‘grave’, the soul wakes up with full spiritual consciousness in another plane of existence. In this phase the soul will experience felicity for the ones who have prepared for the afterlife and lived a righteous life on earth. As for the wicked who have ignored the purpose of our creation, their souls will experience anguish and agony. In fact, these two opposing states are announced to the soul right at the moment of death:
Indeed, those who have said, "Our Lord is Allah " and then remained on a right course - the angels will descend upon them, [saying], "Do not fear and do not grieve but receive good tidings of Paradise, which you were promised. (Qur’an 41:30)
And if you could but see when the angels take the souls of those who disbelieved... They are striking their faces and their backs and [saying], "Taste the punishment of the Burning Fire. (Qur’an 8:50)
This phase in the grave signals to the soul the things to come in the next phases. The Prophet is reported to have said;
The grave is the first of the stages of the next life. If one passes through it safely, then what follows is easier than it. However, if one fails at this first stage, what follows is more severe than it.
May Allah guide us and protect us from the trials of the grave! The soul will remain in this intermediate state till the End of Time or The Hour when this world will be transformed into a new plane of existence, a new World. This new World will begin with the resurrection of the dead and the entire humankind will be recreated again. This is a momentous event which will be very difficult for the disbelievers who will plead for a second chance on earth so that they can mend their ways. As for the believers, they will have nothing to fear on this day.
Warn the people of the day when torment will approach them and the unjust will say, "Lord, give us respite for a little time so that we may answer your call and follow the Messengers." (The answer to their prayer will be), "Did you not swear before that you would never perish? You lived in the dwellings of those who wronged themselves, even though it was made clear to you how We dealt with them. We also showed you examples." (Qur’an 14:44 – 45)
The resurrected humanity will then gather for the final judgement. To express its enormity and seriousness, Allah has described this the Day of Judgement in the Qur’an as the Day of Regret, the Day of Victory, a Calamitous Day, a Weighty Day, a Tremendous Day, a Day of Reckoning, and so on. People will be judged according their spiritual worth. It will be the day of joy and happy expectations for the righteous, and a day of regrets and lamentations for the wicked who imagined that they will never meet their Lord. These two states of the righteous and the wicked on the Day of Reckoning are summed up in the following verses of the Qur’an chapter 84, verses 6 to 14;
Human being, you strive hard to get closer to your Lord, and so you will certainly receive the recompense (of your deeds). The reckoning of those whose Book of records will be given into their right hands will be easy and they will return to their people, delighted. But as for those whose Book of records will be given behind their backs, they will cry for perdition (or annihilation). They will suffer the heat of hell fire. They lived among their people joyfully, and had thought that they would never be brought back to life again.
Death and the Hereafter are realities which we have to take seriously and ignoring this reality is a mighty gamble.
View or download books on Islam in your language to discover more about Islam.
View or download the Qur’an in your language to read the last message of Allah to mankind.
View or download pamphlets in your language to learn about the various aspects of Islam.
Watch and listen to scholars of religion presenting various perspectives of religion.