The Nature of God

Allah the Exalted

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) describes the beneficence, will and power of God.

Extracts from The Essence of Islam – Vol. I, pp. 92-101.

This is the sixth part of a multi-part series.

Perfect praise is offered for two kinds of excellences, fullness of beauty and fullness of beneficence. If anyone possesses both these excellences, one’s heart becomes enamoured of him. The principal function of the Holy Qur’an is to display both these excellences of God, so that people may be drawn towards that Being Who has no equal or like, and should worship Him with the eagerness of their souls. For this purpose, in the very first chapter, it sets out the excellences of the God to Whom it invites people. That is why this chapter opens with Alhamdulillah, which means that all praise belongs to the Being Whose name is Allah. In the idiom of the Qur’an, Allah is the name of the Being Whose excellences have reached the perfection of beauty and beneficence, and Who suffers from no deficiency. The Holy Qur’an invests the name of Allah with all attributes and thus indicates that Allah comprehends all perfect attributes. As He comprises every excellence, His beauty is obvious. By virtue of this beauty, He is named Light in the Holy Qur’an as is said:

ٱللَّهُ نُورُ ٱلسَّمَٰوَٰتِ وَٱلۡأَرۡضِ

Allah is the Light of the heavens and the earth.

This means that all light is but a reflection of His light.

Almighty Allah’s Attributes of Beneficence

Divine qualities of beneficence are many, of which four are basic. In their natural order, the first one is that which is described in Surah al-Fatihah as Rabb al-‘Alamin. This means that the Rububiyyat of God Almighty, that is to say, the creation and carrying to perfection of the universe, is in operation all the time. The world of heaven and earth, the world of bodies and souls, the world of animals, vegetables and minerals, and all other worlds, are being nurtured by His Rububiyyat. The worlds through which a human being passes before his taking shape as a sperm till his death, or his arrival in his second life, are all nourished from the fountain of Rububiyyat. Thus divine Rububiyyat, because it comprehends all souls, bodies, animals, vegetables, and minerals etc. is named the most general grace, inasmuch as everything that exists is its recipient and comes into being through it. Although divine Rububiyyat is the originator of everything that exists, and nourishes and sustains it, yet its greatest beneficiary is man because he derives benefit from the whole of creation. Therefore, man has been reminded that his God is Rabb-ul-‘Alamin so that he should be encouraged to believe that the power of God Almighty is vast and that for man’s benefit He can bring into being all types of resources.

The second excellence of God Almighty, which is His beneficence in the next degree and which is called general grace, is Rahmaniyyat, by virtue of which God is named Rahman in Surah al-Fatihah. In the idiom of the Holy Qur’an, God Almighty is called Rahman because He bestowed upon every living thing, which includes man, its appropriate shape and qualities. That is to say, man was bestowed all faculties and powers and was given a shape and limbs which were needed by the type of life which had been designed for him and to which they were suited. Whatever was needed for his maintenance was provided. Birds, animals and man were all bestowed powers that were suited to them. Thousands of years before their coming into being, God Almighty by virtue of His attribute of Rahmaniyyat, created the heavenly and earthly bodies so that all living things might be safeguarded. No one’s action has anything to do with the Rahmaniyyat of God Almighty. It is pure mercy which came into operation before the coming into being of living things. Man is the principal beneficiary of the Rahmaniyyat of God Almighty, inasmuch as everything is sacrificed for his success. Therefore, he is reminded that God is Rahman.

The third excellence of God Almighty, which is His beneficence in the third degree, is Rahimiyyat, by virtue of which God has been named Rahim in Surah al-Fatihah. In the idiom of the Holy Qur’an, God is called Rahim when accepting the prayers, supplications and righteous actions of people, He safeguards them against calamities, misfortunes and waste of effort. This beneficence is described as special grace and is confined to human beings. Other things have not been bestowed the faculty of prayer and supplication and righteous action, but man has been bestowed this faculty. Man is an articulate animal and can be the recipient of divine grace through the exercise of his faculty of speech. Other things have not been bestowed this faculty. It is obvious, therefore, that supplication is a quality of humanness, which is inherent in man’s nature.

Man derives grace from the divine attribute of Rahimiyyat as he derives from the attributes of Rububiyyat and Rahmaniyyat; the only difference is that Rububiyyat and Rahmaniyyat do not demand supplication as they are not confined to man and bestow their grace upon all living things, and indeed Rububiyyat comprises within itself beneficence towards animals, vegetables, minerals and heavenly and earthly bodies. Nothing is outside the operation of its grace. As a contrast, Rahimiyyat is a special robe of honour for man. If man does not derive benefit from this attribute, he reduces himself to the condition of animals, nay, even of minerals.

The operation of Rahimiyyat having been confined to man, and supplication being needed for bringing it into operation, it shows that there is a type of divine grace which is conditioned upon supplication and cannot be achieved without supplication. This is the way of Allah and is a definite law the contravention of which is not permissible. That is why all prophets [peace be on them] supplicated for their followers. The Torah reveals that on many occasions the children of Israel offended God Almighty and were about to be chastised, but the chastisement was averted by the prayers, supplications and prostrations of Moses [peace be on him] though time after time God announced that He would destroy Israel.

All this shows that prayer is not in vain, nor is it a type of worship which does not procure any grace. This is the thinking of those who do not estimate God Almighty as He should be estimated, and who do not reflect deeply on God’s words nor do they observe the law of nature. The truth is that grace does certainly descend in response to supplication and bestows salvation upon us. It is the grace of Rahimiyyat through which man makes progress. Through this grace, man arrives at the stage of Wilayat, and believes in God Almighty as if he was beholding Him. Intercession also depends upon the attribute of Rahimiyyat. It is Rahimiyyat of God Almighty that demands that good people should intercede for bad people.

The fourth beneficence of God Almighty, which might be named most special grace, is Malikiyyat of the Day of Judgement, by virtue of which He has been named Malik Yaum al-Din in Surah al-Fatihah. The difference between this attribute and Rahimiyyat is that through prayer and worship Rahimiyyat operates to establish a person’s worthiness and through Malikiyyat the reward is awarded. Through the operation of Rahimiyyat, a person deserves success in an affair like a student’s passing an examination, but to be awarded the rank or other object for which the examination was undertaken and passed is by virtue of the attribute of Malikiyyat. These two attributes indicate that the beneficence of Rahimiyyat is achieved through God’s mercy and the favour of Malikiyyat is achieved through the grace of Almighty God. Malikiyyat would manifest itself on a vast and perfect scale in the hereafter, but in accordance with the measure of this world, all these four attributes manifest themselves in this world as well.

—Ayyam-us-Sulah, Ruhani Khaza’in, Vol. 14, pp. 247-251

The Will and Power of God

God Almighty operates in this world in three capacities: one, in the capacity of God; two, in the capacity of a friend; and three, in the capacity of an enemy. His treatment of His average creatures proceeds from His capacity as God and His treatment of those who love Him and whom He loves, proceeds not only in His capacity as God, but also predominantly in His capacity of a friend. The world feels that God is supporting the person concerned like a friend. His treatment of His enemies is characterised by painful chastisement and such signs as indicate clearly that God Almighty is the enemy of that people or that person. Sometimes God tests a friend of His by making the whole world his enemy and for a time subjects him to their tongues and their hands, but He does not do this because He desires to destroy His friend, or to disgrace or humiliate him. He does this so that He might show His sign to the world and so that His impertinent opponents should realize that despite their utmost efforts they were not able to harm the person concerned.

—Nuzul-ul-Masih, Ruhani Khaza’in, Vol. 18, pp. 517-518

In the Holy Qur’an, the attributes of God Almighty are mentioned in the subjective and not in the objective. For instance, He is Holy, but He has not been described as safeguarded, because then it would have to be supposed that there was someone to safeguard Him.

—Malfuzat, Vol. IV, p. 119

Our God has power over everything. They are false who say that He created neither souls nor the particles of the body. They are unaware of God. We witness His new creation every day and He ever breathes a new spirit of progress into us. Had He not the power to bring into being from nothing that would have been the death of us. Wonderful is He Who is our God. Who is there like unto Him? Wonderful are His works. Who is there whose works are like His? He is Absolute Power.

—Nasim-e-Da‘wat, Ruhani Khaza’in, Vol. 19, p. 435

The real cause of worship of other deities and of belief in the doctrine of transmigration of souls is the denial of divine attributes and considering God Almighty as disabled from exercising complete control over the universe. Since God’s wise and just attributes were supposed to have been suspended, other deities were invented for seeking fulfilment of needs, and natural changes and upsets were described as the consequence of deeds done in a previous existence. Thus, transmigration of souls and the worship of other deities resulted from this one fundamental mistake.

—Shahna-e-Haqq, Ruhani Khaza’in, Vol. 2, pp. 407-408

Through His Might, does God prove His existence;

This is how He unveils His invisible countenance.

Whatever God wills and is pleased to announce;

Cannot be averted, for such is the power of God.

—Announcement dated 5 August 1885, Majmu‘ah Ishtiharat, Vol. 1, p. 143

Our God possesses many wonders, but they are visible only to those who become His out of sincerity and loyalty. He does not disclose His wonders to those who do not believe in His power and who are not sincere and loyal to Him. How unfortunate is the man who does not know that he has a God Who has power to do all that He wills.

—Kashti Nuh, Ruhani Khaza’in, Vol. 19, p. 21

His powers are unlimited and His wonders are without end. For His special servants He can even change His law, but even that changing is part of His law. When a person falls at His threshold with a new spirit and carries out a change in himself, only to win His pleasure, God also makes a change for such a one so that the God Who appears to him is quite a different God from the One known to the average person. God appears weak to a person whose faith is weak, but to him who appears before God with a strong faith, He shows that for his help He too is Strong. Thus in response to changes in man there are changes in divine attributes. For him who is without any strength in his faith as if he is dead, God also withdraws His help and support and becomes silent, as if, God forbid, He had died. But all these changes He carries out within His law and in accord with His Holiness. No one can set a limit to His law. Therefore, to assert hastily that such-and-such a matter is contrary to natural law without any conclusive reason, which is bright and self-evident, would be mere folly, for no one can argue on the basis of something whose limits have not yet been defined and who cannot be the subject of conclusive reasoning.

—Chashma-e-Ma‘rifat, Ruhani Khaza’in, Vol. 23, pp. 104-105

If God is not believed in as All-Powerful, all our hopes would be frustrated. The acceptance of our prayers is dependent upon the belief that when God wills He can create in the particles of the body or in the soul powers that they may not possess. For instance, we pray for the recovery of a person who is ill and he appears likely to die. Then we supplicate that God may create in the particles of his body a strength that should save him from death. We observe that very often such supplication is accepted. In many cases, we are at first intimated that a certain person is about to die, and that his powers of life are at an end. But when our supplication reaches its climax and its intensity becomes poignant and painful, we seem to arrive at the point of death, then it is revealed to us by God that the powers of life have been revived in the person concerned. Then suddenly he begins to show signs of health as if he was dead and has come to life. I remember that at the time of the plague I supplicated: O Mighty and Powerful God, safeguard us against this calamity and create in our bodies an antidote which should save us from the poison of the plague. Then God Almighty created that antidote in us and said: ‘I shall safeguard you against death by plague and all those who dwell within your house and are not arrogant’, that is to say, those who are not disobedient to God and are righteous would all be saved. God also said that Qadian would be safeguarded, that is to say, Qadian would not be destroyed by the plague like many other villages.

This is what we all saw, and we observed the fulfilment of all these things…Thus our God creates new powers and qualities in the particles of the body. Having been reassured by God the Perfect, we avoided the human precaution of inoculation against the plague. Many of those inoculated died, but we are, by the Grace of God Almighty, still alive. Thus does God Almighty create particles as He created particles in our bodies by way of antidote. He also creates souls as He breathed into me a pure soul by which I came alive. We need not only that He should create the soul and revive our body, but our soul also needs another soul which should revive it. Both these souls are created by God. He who has not grasped this mystery is unaware of God’s powers and is heedless of God.

—Nasim-e-Da‘wat, Ruhani Khaza’in, Vol. 19, pp. 390-391


[1] The Holy Qur’an, 24:36.