The Most Concise Definition of God”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. It means ‘absolute existence’, which can be attributed only to Allah (swt), all other existence being temporal or conditional. It also means that Allah (swt) is not dependent on any person or thing, but all persons and things are dependent on Him.
Surah Ikhlas – the touchstone of theology:Surah Ikhlas (Chapter 112) of the 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 God. Any candidate to divinity must be subjected to this ‘acid test’. Since the attributes of Allah given in this chapter are unique, false gods and pretenders to divinity can be easily dismissed using these verses.
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. To understand the Islamic stand towards such pretenders to divinity, let us analyze one such ‘god-man’, Osho Rajneesh.
Let us put this candidate, ‘Bhagwan’ Rajneesh, to the test of Surah Ikhlas, the touchstone of theology:
- The first criterion is “Say, He is Allah, one and only”. Is Rajneesh one and only? No! Rajneesh was one among the multitude of ‘spiritual teachers’ produced by India. Some disciples of Rajneesh might still hold that Rajneesh is one and only.
- The second criterion is, ‘Allah is absolute and eternal’. We know from Rajneesh’s biography that he was suffering from diabetes, asthma, and chronic backache. He alleged that the U.S. Government gave him slow poison in prison. Imagine Almighty God being poisoned! Rajneesh was thus, neither absolute nor eternal.
- 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 U.S.A. and established a town called ‘Rajneeshpuram’. He later fell foul of the West and was finally 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. At the ‘Osho commune’ in Pune one can find the following epitaph on his tombstone:
“Osho – never born, never died; only visited the planet Earth between 11th December 1931 to 19th January 1990.”
They forget to mention that he was not granted visa for 21 countries of the world. Can a person ever imagine ‘God’ visiting the earth, and requiring a visa to enter a country! The Archbishop of Greece said that if Rajneesh had not been deported, they would have burnt his house and those of his disciples.
4. The fourth test, which is the most stringent is, “There is none like unto Him”. The moment you can imagine 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, having two eyes, two ears, a nose, a mouth and a white flowing beard. Photographs and posters of Rajneesh are available in plenty. The moment you can imagine or draw a mental picture of an entity, then that 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 won 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 can compare any entity to God, whether the comparison is to 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.”
By what name do we call God?The Muslims prefer calling the Supreme Creator, Allah, instead of by 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 add the word ‘father’ to ‘God’ it becomes ‘God-father’. God-father means someone who is a guardian. There is no word like ‘Allah-Abba’ or ‘Allah-father’. If you add the word ‘mother’ to ‘God’, it becomes ‘God-mother’. There is nothing like ‘Allah-Ammi’, or ‘Allah-mother’ in Islam. Allah is a unique word. If you prefix 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 using the Arabic word ‘Allah’ for the Almighty. Sometimes, however, while speaking to the non-Muslims we may have to use the inappropriate word God, for Allah. Since the intended audience of this article 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 article.
God does not become a human being:
God does not take human form:
Some may argue that God does not become a human being but only takes a human form. If God only takes a human form but does not become a human being, He should not possess any human qualities. We know that all the ‘God-men’, have human qualities and failings. They have all the human needs such as the need to eat, sleep, etc.
The worship of God in human form is therefore a logical fallacy and should be abhorred in all its forms and manifestations.
That is the reason why the Qur’an speaks against all forms of anthropomorphism. The Glorious Qur’an says in the following verse:
“There is nothing whatever like unto Him.” [Al-Qur’an 42:11]
God does not perform ungodly acts:The attributes of Almighty God preclude any evil since God is the source 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, or having any such human failings. Similarly God can do injustice if He chooses to, but He will never do it because being unjust is an ungodly act.
The Qur’an says:
“Allah is never unjust In the least degree.” [Al-Qur’an 4:40]
God can be unjust if He chooses to be so, but the moment God does injustice, He ceases to be God.
God does not make mistakes
God can make mistakes if He wants to, but He does not make mistakes because making a mistake is an ungodly act. The Qur’an says:
“…my Lord never errs.” [Holy Qur’an 20:52]
The moment God makes a mistake, he ceases to be God.
God does not forget
God can forget if He wants to. But God does not forget anything because forgetting is an ungodly act, which reeks of human limitations and failings. The Qur’an says:
“…my Lord never errs, nor forgets.” [Al-Qur’an 20:52]
God only performs Godly acts:
The Islamic concept of God is that God has power over all things. The Qur’an says in several places (Al -Qur’an 2:106; 2:109; 2:284; 3:29; 16:77; and 35:1):
“For verily Allah has power over all things”
Further, the Glorious Qur’an says:
“Allah is the doer of all that He intends.” [Al-Qura’n 85:16]
We must keep in mind that Allah intends only Godly acts and not ungodly acts.