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How Man Should Understand God. ‘The God’ - Allah The essential name (ism al-dhat إسم الذات ) History: Allah as compound of al-ilah = the god, the great.

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Presentation on theme: "How Man Should Understand God. ‘The God’ - Allah The essential name (ism al-dhat إسم الذات ) History: Allah as compound of al-ilah = the god, the great."— Presentation transcript:

1 How Man Should Understand God

2 ‘The God’ - Allah The essential name (ism al-dhat إسم الذات ) History: Allah as compound of al-ilah = the god, the great supreme god of Arabia Al-Rahman: South Arabian supreme god

3 Quranic Descriptions of God “He is the God, other than whom there is no god, the Knower of the unseen and the seen. He is the Beneficent, the Merciful. He is the God, other than whom there is no god, the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One, Peace, the Keeper of Faith, the Guardian, the Majestic, the Compeller, the Superb. Glorified be the God from all that they associate with Him. He is the God, the Creator, the Shaper out of naught, the Fashioner. His are the most beautiful names. All that is in the heavens and the earth glorifies Him, and He is Mighty and Wise.” (59:22-24)

4 The Ninety-Nine Names of God God is the Most Beneficent (al-rahman), the most merciful (al- rahim) the One and Unique (al-ahad, al-wahid), the Living, the Self-subsisting (al-hayy al-qayyūm, the Real, the Truth ( al- haqq), the Sublime (al-’azim), the High and Great (al-’ali al- kabir), Light (al-nur), the Sage (al-Hakim), the Omnipotent ( al- aziz,al-qadir), absolute Creator (al-badi’), creating the world (al- khaliq), Who does not cease to create (al-khallaq), unlike all creation (laysa ka-mithlihi shay’), the Hearing, the Clearsighted, the Omniscient (al-sami’, al-basir, al-’alim), the Witness (al- shahid), the Bountiful (al-wahhab), the Surety (al-wali), the Protector (al-wakil), the Generous (al-karim), the Forgiver (al- ghafur), the Compassionate (al-ra’uf), the Benevolent (al- wadud)… “To God belong 99 Names, a hundred less one; for He, the Odd Number (= the Unique) likes (to be designated by these enumerated Names) one by one; whosoever knows the 99 Names, will enter paradise” a hadith narrated from the Prophet by Abu Hurayra

5 The Verse of the Thone (Ayat al- Kursi) “God, there is no deity save Him, the Living, the Eternal. Neither slumber nor sleep overtakes him. Unto Him belongs whatsoever is in the heavens and whatsoever is on the earth. Who is he that intercedes with Him save by His leave? He knows that which is in front of them and that which is behind, while they encompass nothing of his knowledge save what He will. He throne includes the heavens and the earth, and He is never weary of preserving them. He is the Sublime, the Tremendous.” (2:255)

6 The One, Unique God Most salient theme of the Quran: there is nothing worthy of worship except the God, Muhammad is the messenger of the God. No associates, no progeny –“Say: He is the One God, the God ever sought after. He is not born and does not beget. And there is nothing like Him.” (110) –“Warn mankind that there is no god save Me, so keep your duty unto Me.” (16:2)

7 Eternal Reality and Truth “The Ultimate Truth (al-Haqq)”: so does anything else exist (ex. al-Hallaj)? “And cry not unto any other god along with the God. There is no god save him. Everything will perish save His countenance. His the command, and unto Him will you be brought back.” (28:88) Universe is created “in truth”: an ordered world…

8 Unencompassable, Unknowable He is the “First (al-awwal)” and the “Last (al- akhir)”, the “Inner (al-batin)” and the “Outer (al-zahir)” “There is nothing like unto Him, and He is all- hearing, all-perceiving.” “So do not coin parables for God. Indeed God knows and you know not.” (16:74) “Sense do not grasp Him, but He grasps the senses, and He is benevolent, all-aware.” (6:103)

9 Close to Man “And if My slaves ask you about Me, indeed I am near, answering the prayer of whoever invokes Me. So let them seek out My response and believe in Me, that they may be guided.” (2:186) “And indeed We created mankind, and We know what his soul whispers to him, and We are closer to him than his jugular vein.” (50:16)

10 The Creator & Sustainer He creates ex nihilo: He says “be! And it is” (16:40) He constantly re-creates and sustains the universe… He is the “Blesser (mun’im)” –Cattle, crops, ships in the sea, the moon and the stars made useful for us (3:5-14) Resurrection is no chore for God: –“Indeed, He can even reconstitute your fingertips.”

11 All-Knowing, All-Seeing… “most knowing of all things” (bi-kull shay’ alim) Talking about Joseph and his brothers, God says, “We raise in levels whom We chose, and above every possessor of knowledge there is the Most Knowledgeable.” (12:76)

12 Utterly Just ‘The Just’ (adil) “He does not wrong any of His servants”… … people only wrong themselves: people when they die and face their fate, “God wronged them not, but they did wrong themselves.” (16:33) The Story of Moses and the Sage (18:59-81) (like Midrash story of Elijah and Rabbi Joshua ben Levi) Reprieve until the Day of Judgment: “If God were to take mankind to task for their wrongdoing, He would not leave hereon a living creature! But He gives them a reprieve until an appointed term…” (16:61)

13 The Light “God is the light of the heavens and the earth, the similitude of His light is a niche in which there is a lamp. The lamp is inside a glass, the glass as if it were a shining star, kindled from a blessed tree, an olive tree neither of the east or of the west. Its oil almost illuminates although no fire has touched it. Light upon light, God guides unto His light whom He wills. And God speaks to mankind in allegories, and God knows all things.” (24:35) Al-Ghazali (d. 1111) and Islamic Neo-Platonism

14 Traditions of Speculative Theology Textualists: ahl al-hadith Muslim Rationalists (Mutazila): reason as a tool for understanding God The Ashari Compromise: figurative understandings Knowing God vs. Human Attributes (Aquinas)

15 The Problem of Anthropomorphism God’s “eyes” God’s “hand” God’s “throne”


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