The Nature of God

Allah the Exalted – Part 7

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. The Promised Messiah (as) describes how God Almighty continues to manifest Himself through the laws of nature, and how everything comes into being through Him.

Extracts from The Essence of Islam – Vol. I, 101-112.

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

Limitless Manifestation of God’s Attributes

God’s divinity and Godhead are related to His unlimited power and countless mysteries which man cannot confine within the limits of law. For the recognition of God, it is an important and fundamental principle that the powers and wisdom of God the Glorious are unlimited. By understanding this principle and reflecting deeply upon it everything becomes clear and one is able to see the straight path of the recognition of Truth and the worship of Truth.

We do not deny that God Almighty always operates in accordance with His eternal attributes, and it would not be improper if we were to call this acting according to eternal attributes by the name of divine law. What we question is whether acting in accordance with those eternal attributes, or in other words, the eternal divine law, should be regarded as limited and defined. We believe that the effects of the attributes, which are part of God’s Being and are unlimited, are manifested at their appropriate times and nothing occurs outside of them and those attributes affect all creation in heaven and earth. The effects of these attributes are called the way of Allah or the law of nature; but because God Almighty, along with His perfect attributes, is Unlimited and Endless, it would be folly on our part to claim that the effects of those attributes, that is to say, the laws of nature, do not extend beyond our experience, intelligence or observation.

It is a great mistake on the part of those who are philosophically inclined that they first regard the law of nature as something which has been completely defined and then they refuse to accept anything new which they encounter. It is obvious that this attitude is not well founded. Had this been true no way would have been left open to accept anything new and it would have become impossible to discover new things, for in such a case everything new would appear to contravene the laws of nature and one would have to reject it which would mean the rejection of a new truth. A contemplation or the lives of the philosophers would show along how many tracks their thinking has proceeded and how often they have shame-facedly discarded one view in favour of another, and having held for a long time that something was contrary to the law of nature and having denied it, they in the end accepted it remorsefully. What was the cause of this change? It was that what they had adhered to at one time was a doubtful thing which was falsified by new experience. As new experiences came to light their thinking went on changing in accordance with them. Their thinking has been guided by new experiences and yet even now there is a good deal which is hidden from their view and concerning which it is to be hoped that, after stumbling and passing through diverse humiliations they would in the end accept it.

The laws of nature are not so firm within the ambit of human reason that they should exclude new research. Can any reasonable person imagine that in the school of this world, man, despite his short age, has completed his knowledge of eternal mysteries, and that his experience of divine wonders has become so comprehensive that whatever falls outside this experience is outside the power of God Almighty? It is only a shameless and foolish one who would entertain any such idea. Those philosophers who were truly good and wise and whose thinking was inspired by spiritual values have confessed that their thinking, which was limited and tentative, could not become the means of discovering and recognising God and His limitless secrets and wisdom.

It is an established truth that everything contains within itself a quality which continues to be affected by the limitless powers of God Almighty. This shows that the qualities of things are limitless whether we come to know of them or not. If all philosophers, ancient and modern, were to employ their intellectual capacities till the Day of Judgement in discovering the qualities of a grain of poppy seed, no reasonable person would believe that they would comprehend completely all those qualities. Thus there is nothing more foolish than to think that the qualities of heavenly and earthly bodies are limited to those which have so far been discovered through astronomy or physics.

In short, the law of nature is something which cannot withstand an established truth. The law of nature means such divine action which was manifested or might be manifested in a natural way, but God Almighty has not tired of manifesting His powers nor has He become disabled from doing so, nor has He gone to sleep, nor has He moved away into a corner, nor has He been overpowered and has under compulsion ceased manifesting His wonders, leaving us only His actions during a few centuries. Reason, wisdom, philosophy, literature and education all demand that we should not confine the body of natural law to the few demonstrated phenomena of which hundreds of details are still to be discovered and we should not foolishly insist that the action of God Almighty cannot go beyond what we have already observed…

I wonder how can such things as are still awaiting a complete explanation of themselves, be the absolute measures of truth or be the criteria for judging it. This complicated problem has confused the philosophers so much that some of them, namely the Sophists, have denied altogether the qualities of matter, and some of them have asserted that though the qualities of matter are admitted yet they lack permanence. Water puts out fire, but it is possible that under some heavenly or earthly effect the water of a spring might lose this quality. Fire burns wood, but it is possible that some fire, by reason of some inner or outer effect, might not exhibit this quality. Such wonders continue to happen from time to time.

Philosophers have also said that certain heavenly or earthly qualities are manifested after thousands or hundreds of thousands of years. They appear supernatural to the uninitiated. Sometimes wonders occur in the heavens or on earth which confound great philosophers. They are driven to invent some law of physics or astronomy to accommodate them so that their law of nature may not be upset. So long as no flying fish had been observed, no philosopher admitted its existence. So long as through the process of continuously cutting off the tails of some dogs, tailless dogs were not produced, no philosopher admitted this possibility. So long as it was not discovered that in consequence of a severe earthquake in some place, a fire had started which melted stones but did not burn wood, philosophers considered such a quality as contrary to the law of nature. So long as an aspirator was not invented, which philosopher knew that transfusion of blood was part of the law of nature? Could anyone name a philosopher who admitted the possibility of machines being run with electricity before electricity was discovered?…

Allamah Shareh Qanun, who was both an eminent physician and a learned philosopher, has recorded in his book that among the Greeks it was generally known that some chaste and righteous women gave birth to children without consorting with a male. He expresses his own view that all these incidents cannot be rejected as false as they could not have been invented without some factual basis…He has recorded that although all human beings are of one species and as such they are all alike, yet some of them, in rare cases, are endowed with certain high abilities which are not matched among the rest of their contemporaries.

It has been established that in modern times there have been cases in which a person has attained the age of more than three hundred years, which is most extraordinary. Some have been endowed with memories or eyesight of so perfect a nature as is not equalled in anyone of their contemporaries. Such people are rare and appear once in a while after hundreds and thousands of years. As the common people have in mind only that which happens on a large scale and frequently they are apt to regard that as the law of nature, that which is rare is looked upon with doubt and is considered false.

The mistake philosophers make is that they fail to make research into that which is rare of occurrence and get rid of it by describing it as mere tales and stories. It is the eternal way of Allah that occasionally He manifests rare wonders along with that which is of common occurrence. There are many instances of this, but it would take too long to set them down. Hippocrates, in one of his books of medicine, has mentioned certain cases known to him of people who were suffering from diseases which, according to the laws of medicine and the experience of physicians, were not susceptible of treatment and who yet recovered their health. Concerning these cases, he has noted that their recovery was due to some rare heavenly or earthly effects.

We wish to add that this phenomenon of common occurrence and rare occurrence is not confined to man alone, but is to be discovered among other species also. For instance, Ak – swallow wort – is bitter and poisonous, but sometimes after a long period, it produces a vegetable which is very sweet and delicious. A person who has never seen it and has always associated swallow wort with extreme bitterness, is bound to regard the new vegetable we have mentioned, as a contravention of the law of nature. In the same way, among other species also, after a long time, a rare quality is manifested. A short while ago, in Muzaffargarh a he-goat was found which yielded milk like a she-goat. When this became generally known in the town, Mr Macauliffe, the Deputy Commissioner of Muzaffargarh, sent for the he-goat deeming it contrary to the law of nature that it should be yielding milk. When the he-goat was milked in his presence it yielded about three pints of milk…Three serious-minded, trustworthy and respectable gentlemen testified before me that they had seen some men who yielded milk like women…Some people have observed a female silkworm laying eggs without the intervention of a male, these eggs were hatched in the normal manner. Some people have seen a rat emerging from dry clay with half its body still as clay. A physician Qarshi or Allamah (Shareh Qanun) has recorded that he had seen a patient whose ear had ceased to function and he had become deaf. Later, a sore appeared below his ear in which there was a hole through which he could hear. In this way God bestowed another ear upon him…

Galen was asked: Can a man ever hear with his eyes? He answered: Present experience does not support this, but it is possible that there might be a hidden relationship between ears and eyes which as a result of an operation or through some heavenly intervention might manifest itself in this form, because the knowledge of the qualities of bodies is not yet complete.

Dr Bernier, in his journal describing the ascent of Pir Panjal in Kashmir, has mentioned a strange incident at page 80 of his book, that at one place they saw a big black scorpion which had emerged from under a rock, which was taken up by a young Moghul of his acquaintance and he passed it on to Dr Bernier and a servant of his, but it did not bite any of them. The young Moghul stated that he had pronounced a verse of the Holy Qur’an upon it and that in this manner he often seized scorpions which proved harmless. The author of Futuhat and Fusus, who is a well-known and learned philosopher and mystic, has written in his book that on one occasion at his house there was a discussion between a philosopher and another person with regard to the burning property of fire. In the course of the discussion, the other person took hold of the philosopher’s hand and thrust his own hand and the philosopher’s hand into a charcoal fire which was burning in a stove and kept them there for a while. Fire did no harm to the hand of either of them. I myself saw a dervish, who on a very hot day would recite the verse:

وَإِذَا بَطَشۡتُم بَطَشۡتُمۡ جَبَّارِينَ [1]

and would seize hold of a wasp and be immune to its sting. I have also experienced some wonderful effects of verses of the Holy Qur’an, which display the wonders of the power of God, the Glorious. In short, this museum of the world is filled with numberless wonders. Wise and noble philosophers have never taken pride in their limited knowledge and they have considered it a shameless impertinence to call their limited experience by the name of God’s law of nature…Can one set a limit to the powers of the One Who has created this splendid heaven which is ornamented with the sun, the moon, and the stars, and has created this earth which is the envy of gardeners and which is peopled by diverse types of creatures, without the least effort, only by the exercise of His will?

—Surmah Chashm Arya, Ruhani Khaza’in, Vol. 2, pp. 90-101

Creation and the Words of God

It is a mystery of Rububiyyat that creation comes into being by God’s words. This may be understood as meaning that creation is the reflection of God’s words or that God’s words themselves, by divine power, take on the shape of creation. The words of the Holy Qur’an are susceptible of both interpretations. At some places in the Holy Qur’an that which has been created is called the words of Allah, which, having acquired new qualities and characteristics by divine power through the manifestations of Rububiyyat, took on the character of created objects. This is one of the mysteries of the attribute of creation which cannot be easily understood through reasoning. For the average person it is enough to realise that whatever God Almighty determines to create comes into being and that everything is His creation and has proceeded from His power.

But this mystery of creation becomes plain to the men of understanding after their disciplinary exercises, through visions, and they seem to realise that all souls and bodies are words of God which, through perfect divine wisdom, have been clothed as created objects. But the basic principle to be adhered to is the factor that is common to visions and reason, that is to say, that God is the Creator of everything and that souls and bodies could not come into being without Him. The phraseology of the Holy Qur’an in this context is multifaceted but that which the Holy Qur’an lays down conclusively and with certainty is that everything has come into being through God Almighty and nothing has come into being without Him, or on its own. This is enough for the elementary stage. Thereafter, to those who voyage through the different stages of understanding, the mystery would be disclosed after their striving, as Allah the Exalted has said:

وَٱلَّذِينَ جَٰهَدُواْ فِينَا لَنَهۡدِيَنَّهُمۡ سُبُلَنَا  [2]

Surmah Chashm Arya, Ruhani Khaza’in, Vol. 2, pp. 173-175, footnote

Here it is necessary to explain that when God, Who is the Cause of causes and to Whose Being all beings are related, makes a move towards the creation of anything, then if that move is on a full scale it occasions a move in all creation, but when it is a partial move, it occasions a move in some sections of the universe. The relationship of the whole of creation and of all the worlds to God, the Lord of Honour and Glory, resembles the relationship which subsists between the soul and the body. As all the limbs of the body are subject to the designs of the soul and they all move in the direction in which the soul moves, the same relationship subsists between God Almighty and His creation.

Although I do not say like the author of Fusus about the Ultimate Being that:

خَلَقَ الْأَشْيَاءَ وَهُوَ عَيْنُهَا [3]

yet I do say:

خَلَقَ الْأَشْيَاءَ وَهُوَ كَعَيْنِهَا * هَذَا الْعَالَمُ كَصَرْحٍ مُمَرَّدٍ مِنْ قَوَارِيْرَ وَمَاءُ الطَّاقَةِ الْعُظْمَى يَجْرِيْ تَحْتَهَا وَيَفْعَلُ مَا يُرِيْدُ * يُخَيَّلُ فِيْ عُيُوْنٍ قَاصِرَةٍ كَأَنَّهَا هُوَ * يَحْسَبُوْنَ الشَّمْسَ وَالْقَمَرَ وَالنُّجُوْمَ مُؤَثِّرَاتٍ بِذَاتِهَا وَلَا مُؤَثِّرَ إِلَّا هُوَ [4]

The All-Wise has disclosed this mystery to me that the whole of this universe including all its sections is designed to carry out whatever is intended by the Cause of causes and is like the limbs which do not operate on their own, but are supplied with power all the time by the Great Soul as all the faculties of the body operate under the direction of the soul. This universe is a substitute for limbs for that Great Being. There are some things in it which are as the light of His countenance, which serve as light overtly or covertly according to His will. Some are like His hands, some are like His wings and some are like His breath. In short, this universe collectively is like a body for God Almighty and all the glory and the life of this body is derived from that Great Soul, Who is its Sustainer. Whatever movement is willed by that Sustainer, the same appears in all or some of the limbs of that body as may be desired by that All-Sustaining Being.

To illustrate this, we can imagine that the Sustainer of the universe is the Great Being, Who has numberless hands and feet and numberless other limbs possessing unlimited length and breadth and like an octopus this Great Being has tentacles which spread out to all corners of the living world and draw everything to themselves. These limbs are called the universe. When the Sustainer of the universe makes a move, full or partial, it necessarily creates movement in His limbs and He manifests His designs through these limbs and not in any other way. This is an easily understood illustration of the spiritual reality that every section of creation is subject to the designs of God Almighty and discloses His hidden designs in its countenance and carries them out with the utmost degree of obedience. This obedience is not at all based on governance and coercion. Everything is drawn towards God Almighty as if by a magnetic power and every particle is naturally inclined towards Him as the different limbs of a body are inclined towards that body. Thus, it is quite true that the whole of this universe is like the limbs of that Great Being and that is why He is called Sustainer of the universe. As the soul is the sustainer of the body, He is the Sustainer of the whole of creation. Had that not been so the whole system would have run out of order.

Everything willed by that Sustainer whether overt or covert, whether related to the faith or to the world, is manifested through the creation and none of His designs is manifested on earth except through that means. This is the eternal law of nature which is in operation since the beginning.

—Taudih-e-Maram, Ruhani Khaza’in, Vol. 3, pp. 88-91


[1] ‘And when you lay hands upon any one, you lay hands as tyrants.’ ­– The Holy Qur’an, 26:131.

[2] ‘And as for those who strive in Our path, We will surely guide them in Our ways.’ – The Holy Qur’an, 29:70.

[3] ‘He created things and that He is those very things.’

[4] ‘He created all things and He is like those very things. This universe is like a great hall paved smooth with slabs of glass. A great power flows underneath it and does whatever It wills. In the eyes of the short-sighted, everything appears as if it existed by itself. They imagine that the sun, the moon, and the stars exist on their own, but all existence belongs to Him.’