Religious Concepts

Allah the Exhalted

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Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (as), The Promised Messiah & Imam Mahdi

The Promised Messiah (as) wrote over 80 books in Arabic, Urdu, and Persian. Excerpts of his collected works have been translated into English and organised by topic. 

The Review of Religions is pleased to present these excerpts as part of a monthly feature. Here the Promised Messiah (as) lists some of the attributes of Allah, after which he describes the four principle attributes.

Extracts from The Essence of Islam, Vol. I, 61-72.

General Attributes Mentioned in the Holy Qur’an 

The attributes of God, to Whom the Holy Qur’an calls us, are set out as follows:

ھُوَ اللّٰہُ الَّذِیۡ لَا اِلٰہَ اِلَّا ھُوَ ۚ عٰلِمُ الۡغَیۡبِ وَالشَّھَادَۃِ ۚ ھُوَ الرَّحۡمٰنُ الرَّحِیۡمُ


مٰلِکِ یَوۡمِ الدِّیۡنِ


ۚ اَلۡمَلِکُ الۡقُدُّوۡسُ السَّلٰمُ الۡمُؤۡمِنُ الۡمُھَیۡمِنُ الۡعَزِیۡزُ الۡجَبَّارُالۡمُتَکَبِّرُ 


ھُوَ اللّٰہُ الۡخَالِقُ الۡبَارِئُ الۡمُصَوِّرُ لَہُ الۡاَسۡمَآءُ الۡحُسۡنٰی ؕ یُسَبِّحُ لَہٗ مَا فِی السَّمٰوٰتِ وَالۡاَرۡضِ ۚوَھُوَ الۡعَزِیۡزُ الۡحَکِیۡمُ


عَلٰی کُلِّ شَیۡءٍ قَدِیۡرٌ


رَبِّ الۡعٰلَمِیۡنَ الرَّحۡمٰنِ الرَّحِیۡمِ مٰلِکِ یَوۡمِ الدِّیۡنِ


اُجِیۡبُ دَعۡوَۃَ الدَّاعِ اِذَا دَعَانِ


اَلۡحَیُّ الۡقَیُّوۡمُ


قُلۡ هُوَ ٱللَّهُ أَحَدٌ * ٱللَّهُ ٱلصَّمَدُ * لَمۡ يَلِدۡ وَلَمۡ يُولَدۡ * وَلَمۡ يَكُن لَّهُۥ كُفُوًا أَحَدُ  


That is, God is One and has no associate: that no one else is worthy of worship and obedience. He is so described for if He were not without associate, there would be the possibility that His associate might overcome Him and His Godhead would then be put in danger. No one else is worthy of worship means that He is so perfect and His attributes and excellences are so high and exalted that, if out of all existence, a God were to be chosen on account of His perfect attributes or if one’s mind were to imagine the best and highest attributes, that God alone would be the most exalted and none else could be greater than Him. To associate anyone lower with Him in His worship would be utterly wrong. 

Then He says that He is عَٰلِمُ ٱلۡغَيۡبِ which means that He alone has full knowledge of Himself and no one can encompass His Being.

We can wholly observe the sun, the moon and every created thing, but we are unable to observe God wholly. Then He says that He is the Knower of the seen. Nothing is hidden from Him. Being God it could not be presumed that He was unaware of anything. He observes every particle of this universe, which a human being cannot do. He knows when He will destroy this system and set up the Judgement. No one except Him knows when that will be. He alone knows all these times. 

Then He says: هُوَ ٱلرَّحۡمَٰنُ  which means that before the coming into being of creatures and their actions, out of His pure grace and in consequence of no action of anyone, He makes provision for the comfort of everyone; as for instance, He made the sun and the earth and all other things for our use before any action proceeded from us. This bounty is called in the Book of God Rahmaniyyat, and on account of this attribute, God Almighty is called Rahman

Then He says: ٱلرَّحِيمُ which means that He rewards good actions with gracious rewards and does not let anyone’s efforts go waste. On account of this attribute, He is called Rahim and this attribute is called Rahimiyyat

Then He says: مَٰلِكِ يَوۡمِ ٱلدِّينِ which means that He has in His own hands the recompense of everyone.

He has no agent to whom He has committed the governance of heaven and earth, having withdrawn Himself from it, leaving it to the agent to award punishment or reward. 

Then He says: ٱلۡمَلِكُ ٱلۡقُدُّوسُ  which means that God is the Sovereign, whose sovereignty is subject to no defect. 

It is obvious that human sovereignty is not free from defects. For instance, if the subjects of a human sovereign were all to leave the country and migrate, his sovereignty could not be maintained, or if his subjects were afflicted with famine, he would not be able to recover any revenue; or if his subjects were to dispute with him and question the basis of his sovereignty, what qualification for his sovereignty could he put forward? But the sovereignty of God is not subject to any of this. In an instant, He can destroy the whole kingdom and create a new one. Were He not the Creator and All-Powerful, His sovereignty could not be maintained without injustice, for having forgiven the world once and bestowed salvation upon it, how could He have obtained another world to rule? Would He seize upon those who had attained salvation and revoke His salvation tyrannically? In such case, His Godhead would be called in question and like worldly sovereigns His sovereignty would prove defective. Those who make laws for the world fall into different moods and have recourse to tyranny when they find that they cannot achieve their selfish purpose without tyranny. 

For instance, a law permits that to save a vessel, the occupants of a boat might be allowed to perish, but God should not be subject to any such dire necessity. Had God not been All-Powerful, possessing the capacity of creating from nothing, He would have been compelled either to have recourse to tyranny or to adhere to justice and be deprived of His Godhead. The vessel of God carries on with full power and justice. 

Then He says: ٱلسَّلَٰمُ which means that He is Himself secure against all defects and misfortunes and hardships and bestows security upon His creation. Had he been subject to misfortunes, for instance, had He been subject to being killed by people or by being frustrated in His designs, how would anyone’s heart feel secure that God would save him from misfortunes? The false gods are described in the Holy Qur’an as follows:

اِنَّ الَّذِیۡنَ تَدۡعُوۡنَ مِنۡ دُوۡنِ اللّٰہِ لَنۡ یَّخۡلُقُوۡاذُبَابًا وَّلَوِ اجۡتَمَعُوۡا لَہٗ ؕ وَاِنۡ یَّسۡلُبۡھُمُ الذُّبَابُ شَیۡئًا لَّا یَسۡتَنۡقِذُوۡہُ مِنۡہُ ؕ ضَعُفَ الطَّالِبُوَالۡمَطۡلُوۡبُمَا قَدَرُوا اللّٰہَ حَقَّ قَدۡرِہٖ ؕ اِنَّ اللّٰہَ لَقَوِیٌّ عَزِیۡزٌ


Those whom you call gods instead of Allah, cannot create even a fly, even if they were all to join hands to do so; and if a fly were to take away something from them, they do not have the power to recover it therefrom. Ignorant are those who worship them and helpless are those whom they worship. Can gods be like this? God has all power above every other powerful one and He overcomes all. No one can seize Him or beat Him. Those who fall into such mistakes do not rightly estimate God and do not know what He should be.

Then God is the Bestower of peace and sets forth reasons in support of His excellences and His unity. This is an indication that a believer in the True God will not be put to shame in any company or before God Himself, inasmuch as he is furnished with strong arguments. But a believer in an artificial god is always in great distress. Instead of putting forward reasons he describes every senseless thing as a mystery so that he should not be laughed at and thus he seeks to hide established errors. 

Then He says:

الۡمُؤۡمِنُ الۡمُھَیۡمِنُ الۡعَزِیۡزُ الۡجَبَّارُالۡمُتَکَبِّرُ


God is Guardian over all and Supreme over all. He sets everything right and is exalted above everything. 

Then He says: 

ھُوَ اللّٰہُ الۡخَالِقُ الۡبَارِئُ الۡمُصَوِّرُ لَہُ الۡاَسۡمَآءُ الۡحُسۡنٰی


He is the Creator of body and soul. He gives shape to the bodies in the womb. All beautiful names that can be conceived of belong to Him.

Then He says: 

 یُسَبِّحُ لَہٗ مَا فِی السَّمٰوٰتِ وَالۡاَرۡضِ ۚوَھُوَ الۡعَزِیۡزُ الۡحَکِیۡمُ


Inmates of the heaven and the earth glorify Him alike. This verse indicates that there is life on celestial bodies and that the dwellers therein follow Divine guidance. 

Then He says:

عَلَىٰ كُلِّ شَيۡءٖ قَدِيرٌ 


That is, He has power to do all that He wills, which is a great reassurance for His worshippers, for if God were not powerful and were helpless, nothing could be expected of Him. 

Then He says: 

رَبِّ ٱلۡعَٰلَمِينَ * ٱلرَّحۡمَٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ * مَٰلِكِ يَوۡمِ ٱلدِّينِ 


 أُجِيبُ دَعۡوَةَ ٱلدَّاعِ إِذَا دَعَانِ 


He is the Sustainer of all the worlds. He is Gracious, Merciful and Master of the Day of Judgement, and has not delegated His power to anyone else. 

He hears the call of everyone who calls on Him and responds to it, that is to say, He accepts prayers. 

Then He says: ٱلۡحَيُّ ٱلۡقَيُّومُ [17] which means that He is the Ever-Living and All-Sustaining. If He were not Ever-Living there would be the fear lest He might die before us. Then it is said that He is Single, has no father and no son and no equal and no peer.[18]

—Islami Usul ki Philosophy, Ruhani Khaza’in, Vol. 10, pp. 372-376

Four Principal Attributes of Allah 

God Almighty has four principal attributes which may be called the mothers of all attributes. Every one of them makes a demand upon our humanness. These four are RububiyyatRahmaniyyatRahimiyyat and Malikiyyat of the Day of Judgement. 

For its manifestation, Rububiyyat demands nothingness, or a state resembling nothingness. Every form of creation, whether animate or inanimate, comes into being through it. 

For its manifestation, Rahmaniyyat demands the absence of existence and its operation is related only to animates and not to inanimates. 

Rahimiyyat demands for its manifestation an affirmation of their nothingness and non-existence from the part of creation which is endowed with reason and relates only to man. Malikiyyat of the Day of Judgement demands for its manifestation humble supplication and pleading and relates only to such of mankind as fall like beggars on the threshold of Unity and spread forth their mantle of sincerity in order to receive grace and, finding themselves empty handed, believe in the Malikiyyat of God. These four attributes are in operation all the time. Of these Rahimiyyat moves a person to supplication and Malikiyyat consumes a person in the fire of fear and terror and gives birth to true humility, for this attribute establishes that God is the Master of recompense and that no one has the right to demand anything. Forgiveness and salvation are through grace. 

—Ayyam-us-Sulah, Ruhani Khaza’in, Vol. 14, pp. 242-243

In Surah al-Fatihah God Almighty has set forth four of His attributes, namely, Rabb al-‘AlaminRahmanRahim and Malik Yaum al-Din. The order in which they are mentioned is the natural order of these four attributes and they are manifested in this order. Divine grace is manifested in the world in four types. 

The first is the most general grace. This is the absolute grace which perpetually envelops everything from the heavens to the earth without distinction of animate or inanimate. The coming into being of everything from non-existence and its fullest development is through this grace. Nothing is outside of it. All souls and bodies were manifested and are manifested through it and all were developed and are developed through it. This grace is the very life of the universe. Were it to be withdrawn for an instant the universe would come to an end; and had it not been for this grace, there would have been no creation. In the Holy Qur’an this grace is named Rububiyyat and by virtue of it God is called Rabb al-‘Alamin, as is said at another place:

وَهُوَ رَبُّ كُلِّ شَيۡءٍ 


God is the Rabb of everything. 

Nothing in the universe is devoid of His Rububiyyat. So the attribute of Rabb al-‘Alamin is mentioned first of all in Surah al-Fatihah and it is declared:

ٱلۡحَمۡدُ لِلَّهِ رَبِّ ٱلۡعَٰلَمِينَ 


as of all the attributes of grace, this has natural priority, both because it comes into manifestation before the other attributes of grace and because it is the most general in its scope, inasmuch as it comprehends everything whether animate or inanimate. 

The second type of grace is general grace and the difference between this grace and the one previously mentioned is that the first one comprehends the whole of the universe and the second one is a special divine bounty which is bestowed upon animates. In other words, the special attention of the Divine towards living things is called the general grace. It operates in respect of all living things according to their needs without their having any right or title to it. It is not the consequence of, or reward for, any action. It is by the blessing of this grace that every living thing lives, eats, drinks and is safeguarded against dangers and has its needs fulfilled. Through it all the means of life which are needed by every animate or its species for their own continuance, are made available. It is the consequence of this grace that whatever the souls need for their physical development has all been provided, and for those who in addition to physical development are in need of spiritual development, that is to say, they possess the capacity for such development, the word of God has descended through eternity at the time of its need. 

It is through the operation of this grace of Rahmaniyyat that man fulfils his millions of needs. He has available to him the surface of the earth for residence, the sun and the moon for light, air for breathing, water for drinking, all varieties of food for eating, millions of medicines for treatment, a large variety of garments for wearing and divine books for guidance. No one can claim that all this has been provided through the blessing of his actions, that he had performed some good action in some previous existence in consequence of which God has bestowed these numberless bounties upon mankind. It is thus established that this grace which is manifested in thousands of ways for the comfort of all animates is an ex gratia bounty, which is not bestowed in consequence of any action but is a manifestation of divine compassion, so that every animate should achieve its natural purpose and all its needs may be fulfilled. By virtue of this grace, divine bounty provides for the needs of mankind and all animals and affords them protection so that their capacities should not remain in the realm of potentiality. 

The existence of this divine attribute is established by the observation of the law of nature. No reasonable person would deny that the sun, the moon, the earth, and the elements, and all other necessary things which are found in the universe, and upon which the life of all animates depends, are manifested through this grace. The name of this grace, of which everything that breathes takes advantage according to its needs, without distinction of man or beast, believer or non-believer, good or bad, and of which no animate is deprived, is Rahmaniyyat, and by virtue of it God has been called Rahman in Surah al-Fatihah after Rabb al-‘Alamin. The attribute al-Rahman is referred to at several other places in the Holy Qur’an. For instance:

وَإِذَا قِيلَ لَهُمُ ٱسۡجُدُواْۤ لِلرَّحۡمَٰنِ قَالُواْ وَمَا ٱلرَّحۡمَٰنُ أَنَسۡجُدُ لِمَا تَأۡمُرُنَا وَزَادَهُمۡ نُفُورًا * تَبَارَكَ ٱلَّذِي جَعَلَ فِي ٱلسَّمَآءِ بُرُوجًا وَجَعَلَ فِيهَا سِرَٰجًا وَقَمَرٗا مُّنِيرًا *وَهُوَ ٱلَّذِي جَعَلَ ٱلَّيۡلَ وَٱلنَّهَارَ خِلۡفَةٗ لِّمَنۡ أَرَادَ أَن يَذَّكَّرَ أَوۡ أَرَادَ شُكُورًا * وَعِبَادُ ٱلرَّحۡمَٰنِ ٱلَّذِينَ يَمۡشُونَ عَلَى ٱلۡأَرۡضِ هَوۡنًا وَإِذَا خَاطَبَهُمُ ٱلۡجَٰهِلُونَ قَالُواْ سَلَٰمًا[21]

This means that: When the disbelievers, pagans and atheists are admonished that they should prostrate themselves before the Rahman, they feel aversion towards the name Rahman and enquire: What is Rahman? The answer is that Rahman is the Blessed Being, Who is the perpetual source of all good and Who has made mansions in the heaven and has placed the sun and the moon in those mansions which provide light to the whole creation without distinction of believer and disbeliever. The same Rahman has made for all mankind day and night which follow each other so that a seeker of understanding should draw benefit from this wise arrangement and should find release from the coverings of ignorance and indifference and so that he who is eager to be grateful should render thanks. 

The true worshippers of Rahman are those who walk humbly upon the earth and when the ignorant ones address them harshly they reply to them in words of peace and compassion. 

That is to say, they offer kindness in place of harshness, and in return for abuse, they pray for their revilers and thus they exhibit gracious qualities, for the Gracious One bestows the bounties of the sun, the moon, the earth and other countless favours upon all His creatures regardless of whether they are good or bad. 

In these verses, it has been expounded that the word Rahman is used for God because His mercy encompasses all good and bad alike. At another place this mercy has been referred to in the verse:

عَذَابِيٓ أُصِيبُ بِهِۦ مَنۡ أَشَآءُ ۖ وَرَحۡمَتِي وَسِعَتۡ كُلَّ شَيۡءٍ 


I inflict My chastisement upon whom I so determine and My mercy encompasses everything. 

At another place it is said: 

قُلۡ مَن يَكۡلَؤُكُم بِٱلَّيۡلِ وَٱلنَّھَارِ مِنَ ٱلرَّحۡمَٰنِ 


Tell these disbelievers and the disobedient ones that were it not for the attribute of Rahmaniyyat, they could not have averted divine chastisement. In other words, it is by virtue of Rahmaniyyat that He grants respite to the disbelievers and pagans and does not seize them quickly. At another place Rahmaniyyat is referred to as:

أَوَلَمۡ يَرَوۡاْ إِلَى ٱلطَّيۡرِ فَوۡقَھُمۡ صَـٰٓفَّـٰتٍ وَيَقۡبِضۡنَ ۚ مَا يُمۡسِكُهُنَّ إِلَّا ٱلرَّحۡمَٰنُ  


Do they not observe the birds flying above them with their wings spread out and closed down. It is the Gracious One Who keeps them from falling down. 

This means that the grace of Rahmaniyyat so encompasses all animates that even birds which seem to have little value, fly joyously in the current of this grace. 

As this grace follows naturally after Rububiyyat, it has been mentioned in that order in Surah al-Fatihah


[1] The Holy Qur’an, 59:23.

[2] The Holy Qur’an, 1:4.

[3] The Holy Qur’an, 59:24.

[4] The Holy Qur’an, 59:25.

[5] The Holy Qur’an, 2:21.

[6] The Holy Qur’an, 1:2-4.

[7] The Holy Qur’an, 2:187.

[8] The Holy Qur’an, 2:256.

[9] The Holy Qur’an, 112:2-5.

[10] The Holy Qur’an, 22:74-75.

[11] The Holy Qur’an, 59:24.

[12] The Holy Qur’an, 59:25.

[13] The Holy Qur’an, 59:25.

[14] The Holy Qur’an, 2:21.

[15] The Holy Qur’an, 1:2-4.

[16] The Holy Qur’an, 2:187.

[17] The Holy Qur’an, 2:256.

[18] The Holy Qur’an, 112:2-5.

[19] The Holy Qur’an, 6:156.

[20] ‘All praise belongs to Allah, Lord of all the worlds.’ – The Holy Qur’an, 1:2.

[21] The Holy Qur’an, 25:61-64.

[22] The Holy Qur’an, 7:157.

[23] The Holy Qur’an, 21:43.

[24] The Holy Qur’an, 67:20.