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Islam 101- Who Is Allah?

Dec 18, 2007
One of the greatest misunderstandings of Islam in the west today is the perception of whom or what is Allah. Many people think that Allah is the "Muslim God", as if He were a separate entity from the "Christian God". In fact, Allah is the standard word for God amongst all Arabic speakers; Muslims, Christians and Jews. If you pick up an Arabic version of the Bible you will find the name Allah used for God. Surprised?

Islam teaches that there is only one God, the same God that has revealed himself since the beginning of time to various prophets such as Abraham, Noah, Moses, Jesus and Muhammad, peace be upon them all. Islam teaches that the cycle of humanity is something like this: God reveals himself to a prophet who then goes forth and preaches to his people, most of the people reject that prophet while a small number, usually the poor and downtrodden, will faithfully follow that prophet throughout his life. When the prophet dies there will be a group of people that continues to follow him, but slowly, over a period of generations, the information that the prophet taught will be lost or changed by mankind. Eventually, God sends another prophet to confirm the message that was brought before him and to bring people back to the straight path. Muslims believe that Muhammad (PBUH) was the final prophet to be sent forth by God to mankind, the seal of prophethood.

Perhaps the most important concept of God in Islam is the concept of Tawhid, which refers to the oneness of Allah. The greatest sin is to associate partners in the worship of God, this is called shirk in Arabic. God is only one, but that is not like the number one which can be divided into smaller parts, such as the trinity, but one and indivisible.

God describes himself in varying, subtle ways throughout the Qur'an, leaving the reader with no clear concept of what exactly He is. Even the pronoun that God uses for himself in the Qur'an is constantly changing, sometimes it is the "royal we", sometimes it is "I" and at still other times it is the third person "He". This is meant to leave the reader with no clear concept of God in their mind. In fact, God says in the Qur'an that He does not resemble any of His creations which is, of course, a major difference from Christianity. The fact that God is the supreme creator and doesn't resemble any of his creations, means that any image you might come up with in your mind of what God is or looks like is false, because the mind itself is a creation.

However, we can get an understanding of who Allah is by his attributes. In the Qur'an Allah gives 99 names to himself, each of which is one of His divine attributes. Those names are, in English: The compassionate, The merciful, The sovereign, The holy one who is free from all blemishes, The source of all peace, The giver of peace, The giver of protection, The mighty, The overpowering Lord, The self-glorious, The creator, The one who gives life, The fashioner of shapes, The exceedingly forgiving, The one who has control over all things, The giver of all things, The sustainer and provider, The remover of difficulties and giver of decisions, The all-knowing, The straightener of sustenance, The extender of sustenance, The one who humbles and lowers, The exalter, The giver of honor, The giver of dishonor, The all-hearing, The all-seeing, The maker of immutable judgment, The just, The knower of innermost secrets, The all-knowing, The clement, The great, The forgiving, The highly grateful, The most high, The infinite, The protector, The giver of sustenance and strength, The reckoner, The one with exalted position, The benevolent, The caretaker, The answerer of prayers, The lenient, The wise, The most loving, The venerable, The resurrector of the dead, The omnipresent, The truth, The provident, The almighty, The invincible, The patron, The praiseworthy, The keeper of counts, The originator, The one who has the power to create again, The giver of life, The giver of death, The everlasting, The sustainer of life, The all-perfect, The all-excellent, The one unequalled, The one free from want, The all-powerful, The source of all power, The one who causes advancement, The one who retards, The first, The last, The obvious, The latent, The one who exercises responsibility over all things, The one far above the attributes of the entire creation, The beneficent, The oft-returning, The one who takes retribution, The one who pardons, The king, The possessor of sovereignty, The majestic and benevolent, The most just, The assembler, The free from need, The supplier of needs to others, The hinderer, The one who can cause loss, The one who confers benefits, The light, The one who gives guidance, The devisor, The eternal, The one who remains alive after everyone and everything dies, The one who loves virtue and piety and The most forbearing.

That is Allah, the one true God.
About the Author
Laura Cosse' converted to Islam in 1996. She is the author of several Islamic children's books and currently resides in Virginia Beach, VA with her husband and twin sons, Muhammad and Hamza. For more info and articles please visit http://www.AdvocateIslam.com
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