The Nature of God

Allah the Exalted – Part 8

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 it is the power of God hidden in the operation of all heavenly and earthly elements.

Extracts from The Essence of Islam – Vol. I, 112-123.

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

It cannot be gainsaid that whatever qualities are found physically and mortally in heavenly bodies and elements are spiritually and eternally present in God Almighty. It has been disclosed to us that the sun and the moon etc. are nothing in their own selves. It is the Supreme Power which is operating behind the scenes. It is He Who, using the moon as a cover for His Being, bestows light upon dark nights, just as entering dark hearts He illumines them and Himself speaks inside a person. It is He Who, covering up His powers with the sun, makes the day a manifestation of a grand light and manifests His works in different seasons. It is His power that comes down from the sky and is called rain which turns the dry earth into greenery and satisfies the thirst of the thirsty. It is His power that burns in the shape of fire, refreshes the breath in the shape of air, causes the flowers to bloom, raises the clouds and conveys sound to the ears. It is His power that appears in the shape of the earth and carries on its back the different species like man and animals. But are these things God? No, they are His creation. God’s power moves as the hand moves the pen. We can say that the pen writes, but it is not the pen that writes, it is the hand that writes. We can say that a piece of iron which, having been left in the fire, looks like the fire, burns and gives light, but these are not the qualities of the piece of iron, but of the fire. In the same way, it is true that all the heavenly bodies and earthly elements and every particle of the lower or the higher world which is visible and which is felt, is, on account of its different qualities, a name of God and an attribute of His. It is the power of God which is hidden in them and manifests itself. They were all in the beginning God’s words which have been manifested in different forms by His power.

A foolish one might ask how did God’s words become personified. Was not God diminished by their separation from Him? He should consider that the fire a magnifying glass obtains from the sun does not diminish the sun in any way. In the same way, the fruits by developing under the effect of moonlight do not diminish the moon in any respect. It is a secret of the understanding of God which is at the centre of all spiritual matters that the world was created by the words of God.

—Nasim-e-Da’wat, Ruhani Khaza’in, Vol. 19, pp. 423-424

When I observe these great bodies and reflect upon their greatness and wonders and realise that all this was created by God’s design and His will, my soul cries out involuntarily: Our Mighty Lord how great are Thy powers. How wonderful and beyond the limit of reason are Thy works. Foolish is the one who denies Thy powers and stupid is the one who asks: From what material did He make all this?

—Nasim-e-Da’wat, Ruhani Khaza’in, Vol. 19, p. 425, footnote

The reality of the Godhead of God Almighty is that He is a Being Who is the source of all grace and that all beings owe their origin to Him. That is why He is entitled to our worship and we accept with pleasure that He is entitled to possess our bodies and hearts and souls, inasmuch as we were nothing and He brought us into being. Thus, He Who brought us into being from nothingness is rightfully our Master.

—Shahna-e-Haqq, Ruhani Khaza’in, Vol. 2, pp. 428-429

A speciality of God’s power by virtue of which He is called God is the power whereby spiritual and physical faculties are created. For instance, in His bestowing eyes on animates, His true excellence is not that He made the eyes but that in the body cells He had already created hidden powers invested with the capacity of sight. Were those powers self-existing, God would be nothing. It would amount to giving credit to the wrong person. It is false to assert that sight is bestowed by those powers on their own and that God has nothing to do with it, and that if the particles of the universe had not had those powers, God’s Godhead would have been rendered useless. The truth is that He Himself has created all the capacities of the souls and of the particles of the universe and He continues to create them and He Himself has put certain qualities in them and goes on putting them. Those very qualities when brought in juxtaposition exhibit their wonders. That is why no inventor can equal God.

An inventor of the locomotive, or of the telegraph or of photography or of the press or of any other instrument would confess that he is not the inventor of powers by the use of which he prepares the instrument. All inventors make use of existing capacities, as, in making a locomotive work, use is made of the power of steam. The difference is that God Himself has created these capacities in the elements and the inventors are not able to create those powers and capacities. Thus unless God is accepted as the inventor of all the capacities and powers of the particles of the universe and of the souls His Godhead is not established. In that case, He would rank only as a builder or a carpenter or a smith or a potter and no more. This is obvious and irrefutable.

Nasim-e-Da’wat, Ruhani Khaza’in, Vol. 19, pp. 383-384

We bear witness with our full faith and complete understanding that the contention of the Arya Samajists that souls and particles with all their capacities are eternal and self-existing and uncreated is false. This idea is disruptive of the relationship between God and His creatures. It is a new and repulsive doctrine which has been put forth by Pandit Dyanand. We are not aware to what degree this doctrine is drawn from the Vedas. What we contend is that this principle which has been expounded by the Arya Samajists is not acceptable to sane reason after full understanding and reflection and pondering.

The principle of Sanatan Dharam lies in exact contrast. Although it has been disfigured by the exaggerations of Vedanta and the Vedantists, and is exposed to a number of objections, nevertheless it does have a spark of truth in it. If their doctrine is simplified it amounts only to this that everything has been created by Parmeshwar. In such case, all doubts are removed and one has to confess that according to the principles of Sanatan Dharam the doctrine of the Vedas also is that all souls and particles of bodies and their powers and qualities are from God.

—Nasim-e-Da’wat, Ruhani Khaza’in, Vol.19, p. 387

The Holy Qur’an has taught us that man together with his soul and all his capacities and every particle of his body, is the creation of God. Therefore, according to the teaching of the Holy Qur’an, we are the property of God and we possess no right which we can claim from Him, for not rendering which He could be held responsible. In this juxtaposition we cannot call God ‘Just’. As we are entirely empty-handed we call Him Rahim [Merciful]. To call Him ‘Just’ would imply that we have rights against Him and for failure to discharge such rights He could be charged with default.

—Chashma-e-Ma’rifat, Ruhani Khaza’in, Vol. 23, p. 36

The Holy Qur’an does not arbitrarily and without reason describe God the Glorious as the Master of all souls and all cells of bodies, as do the Vedas. Almighty Allah sets forth the reason, as He says:

لَهُۥ مُلۡكُ ٱلسَّمَٰوَٰتِ وَٱلۡأَرۡضِ [1]

خَلَقَ كُلَّ شَيۡءٖ فَقَدَّرَهُۥ تَقۡدِيرًا [2]

This means that the heavens and the earth and all that is in them belong to God Almighty, inasmuch as He has created them all.

He has put a limit to the capacity and work of each created being, so that limited things should point to a Limiter Who is God Almighty Himself.

Thus, we observe that as bodies are confined within their limits and cannot go outside of them, in the same way souls are also confined and cannot create more powers and capacities than those that have been invested in them. For instance, the moon completes its orbit within a month, that is, in twenty nine or thirty days, but the sun seems to complete its orbit in about three hundred sixty four days, and it cannot reduce the size of its orbit to that of the moon. Nor has the moon the power to extend its orbit to that of the sun. If the whole world were to agree to alter the orbits of these two luminous bodies, it would not be possible for it to do so. Nor could the sun and the moon make any alteration in them of their own power. Thus the Being Who has confined these celestial bodies to their respective orbits and Who determines their course, is God. In the same way, there is a great difference between the body of a man and the body of an elephant. If all the physicians were to combine to bring about a change in man’s capacities and in his bulk so as to make him the equal of the elephant, it would not be possible for them to do so. If they desired to confine the elephant to the bulk of man, this would be equally impossible. Here also there is a limitation, as there is in the case of the sun and the moon, and that limitation indicates a Limiter, that is to say, it points to a Being Who bestowed that bulk upon the elephant and determined a different one for man.

If one were to reflect one would find a hidden control of God Almighty over all these physical matters in a wonderful way. One observes the wonderful limitations imposed by Him. Beginning with the bulk of the insects which can be observed only under a microscope, up to the bulk of the great leviathans which can swallow a large vessel like a mouthful, one observes a wonderful spectacle of limitation. No animal can transcend the limits of its body. In the same way, the stars that are observed in heaven cannot go beyond their limits. This limitation shows that behind the scenes there is One Who lays down these limits. This is the meaning of the verse:

خَلَقَ كُلَّ شَيۡءٖ فَقَدَّرَهُۥ تَقۡدِيرًا [3]

A similar limitation to that which governs bodies is also found in the case of souls. You can easily understand that the excellences which a human soul can exhibit, or towards which it can make progress, are not available to the soul of an elephant despite its size and bulk. In the same way, the soul of every animal is confined to the limits of its species with reference to its faculties and capacities and it can acquire only those excellences which are appointed for its species. Thus as the limitations of bodies indicate that they have a Limiter and Creator, in the same way, the limitations of the capacities of souls also indicate that they have a Creator and a Limiter.

—Chashma-e-Ma‘rifat, Ruhani Khaza’in, Vol. 23, pp. 17-19

Creation and Differences in Rank

It would be an intrusion into the works of God, which is not permissible, to enquire why did God create a difference between capacities and why was not everyone bestowed such capacities as would enable him to arrive at the stage of perfect understanding and perfect love. Every reasonable person can understand that no one has a right against God to enquire that everyone should have the same rank and should be endowed with excellent faculties.

It is a matter of His grace to bestow whatever He wills. For instance, God has made you man and has not made a donkey a man. You have been endowed with reason and a donkey has not been so endowed. You can acquire knowledge and a donkey cannot. It is the will of the Master and is not a matter of right which you have and a donkey has not. In the creation of God a clear differentiation of ranks is discernible which no reasonable person can deny. Then can any part of creation which has no right to exist, let alone a right to be awarded a high rank, raise any objection before the Authoritative Master? It is a bounty and beneficence of God Almighty to bestow the robe of being upon His creatures and it is obvious that a Donor and Benefactor has the authority to regulate His bounty and His beneficence. Had He not the authority to bestow less He would not have the authority to bestow more and in such case He would not be able to exercise His Mastership.

If the creation were vested with any right against the Creator, this would involve a continuous series of claims; for at whatever stage the Creator would place any created being, the latter could claim that he is entitled to a higher rank. If God Almighty can create limitless ranks, and the exaltation of creation does not come to an end by the creation of man, the series of claims on the basis of right would be endless.

If the search should be for the wisdom underlying this differentiation of ranks, it should be understood that the Holy Qur’an has set forth three types of wisdom in that context which are obvious and clear and cannot be denied by any reasonable person. The first one is, that the affairs of the world may be adjusted in the best manner as is said:

وَقَالُواْ لَوۡلَا نُزِّلَ هَٰذَا ٱلۡقُرۡءَانُ عَلَىٰ رَجُلٖ مِّنَ ٱلۡقَرۡيَتَيۡنِ عَظِيمٍ *أَهُمۡ يَقۡسِمُونَ رَحۡمَتَ رَبِّكَ ۚ نَحۡنُ قَسَمۡنَا بَيۡنَهُم مَّعِيشَتَهُمۡ فِي ٱلۡحَيَوٰةِ ٱلدُّنۡيَا ۚ وَرَفَعۡنَا بَعۡضَهُمۡ فَوۡقَ بَعۡضٖ دَرَجَٰتٖ لِّيَتَّخِذَ بَعۡضُهُم بَعۡضًا سُخۡرِيّٗا ۗ وَرَحۡمَتُ رَبِّكَ خَيۡرٌٌ مِّمَّا يَجۡمَعُونَ [4]

This means that: The disbelievers say why was this Qur’an not revealed to some chieftain or wealthy personage of Mecca or Ta’if so that it should have suited his eminence and by virtue of his dignity and his statesmanship and his spending his money, the faith could have spread speedily? Why was a person selected for this honour, who is poor and has no property?

To these the retort is:

أَهُمۡ يَقۡسِمُونَ رَحۡمَتَ رَبِّكَ [5]

Is it for them to distribute the mercies of the Eternal Lord?

That is to say, it is the doing of the All-Wise that He limited the faculties and capacities of some as they became involved in the appendages of this world and took pride in being called chieftains and wealthy and rich and forgot the true object of existence. On others, He bestowed spiritual graces and holy excellences and they became the favourites of the True Beloved through their devotion to His love.

Then follows the explanation that:

نَحۡنُ قَسَمۡنَا بَيۡنَهُم مَّعِيشَتَهُمۡ [6]

God has made some rich and some poor, some with fine qualities and others dull, some inclined to one occupation and others to another, so as to make it easy for some to serve others and to cooperate with them in order that responsibility might be shared and human affairs might be carried on with ease. The verse concludes that in this context God’s Book is far more beneficial than worldly riches and properties. This is a subtle allusion to the need for revelation.

Man is a social animal and none of his affairs can be carried to completion without cooperation. For instance, take bread which is the staff of life. How much social cooperation is needed for its production? From the stage of cultivation of the earth to the stage when a loaf of bread becomes available for eating, scores of workers have to cooperate with each other. This shows how much cooperation and mutual help is needed in different sectors of social affairs. To fill this need the All-Wise One created man equipped with different degrees of faculties and capacities so that everyone should occupy himself pleasurably according to his capacity and inclination; some should engage in cultivation, some should manufacture agricultural implements, some should grind corn, some should bring water, some should bake bread, some should spin, some should weave, some should engage in trade, some should carry on commerce, some should undertake employment and thus everyone should cooperate and help each other. Cooperation involves dealing with each other and these dealings give rise to questions of treatment, compensation, and neglect of duty which demand a system of law which should restrain wrong, trespass, rancour, disorder, and neglect of God, so that the order of the universe should not be upset.

The making of a living and the due performance of social duties depend upon justice and the recognition of God and these demand a system of law which should provide for due administration of justice and proper understanding of the Divine and which should exclude every type of wrong and every kind of mistake. Such a system of law can be promulgated only by the Being Who is altogether free from forgetfulness, mistake, wrong and trespass and Who is worthy of obedience and respect in His Being. The law may be good, but if the promulgator of the law is not such who by his rank should possess superiority over all and the right to rule over them and if he is in the eyes of the people not free from tyranny, vice, error, and mistake, the law will either not come into operation or if it does come into operation, would give rise to every kind of disorder and instead of doing any good it would result in harm. All this would predicate a divine book, for all good qualities and every kind of excellence is to be found only in the book of God.

Secondly, the wisdom underlying a difference of ranks is, that the excellence of good people may be demonstrated, for every good quality is known only by contrast. As it is said:

إِنَّا جَعَلۡنَا مَا عَلَى ٱلۡأَرۡضِ زِينَةٗ لَّهَا لِنَبۡلُوَهُمۡ أَيُّهُمۡ أَحۡسَنُ عَمَلاً [7]

That is to say: God has made everything upon earth a source of ornament for it so that the righteousness of the righteous may be demonstrated in comparison with the wicked, and so that by the observation of that which is dull the fineness of that which is fine may become apparent. Opposites are known by comparison with opposites and the value of the good is known by comparison with the bad.

Thirdly, in differentiation of ranks, it is desired to demonstrate different types of power and to draw attention to God’s greatness as is said:

مَّا لَكُمۡ لَا تَرۡجُونَ لِلَّهِ وَقَارًا * وَقَدۡ خَلَقَكُمۡ أَطۡوَارًا [8]

This means that: What ails you that you do not admit the greatness of Allah? Whereas the differentiation of capacities and temperaments was created by the All-Wise so that His greatness and power might be recognised.

As is said at another place:

وَٱللَّهُ خَلَقَ كُلَّ دَآبَّةٖ مِّن مَّآءٖ ۖ فَمِنۡهُم مَّن يَمۡشِي عَلَىٰ بَطۡنِهِۦ وَمِنۡهُم مَّن يَمۡشِي عَلَىٰ رِجۡلَيۡنِ وَمِنۡهُم مَّن يَمۡشِي عَلَىٰٓ أَرۡبَعٍ ۚ يَخۡلُقُ ٱللَّهُ مَا يَشَآءُ ۚ إِنَّ ٱللَّهَ عَلَىٰ كُلِّ شَيۡءٍ قَدِيرُُ [9]

This means that: Allah has created every animal from water. Some of them move on their bellies, some of them on two feet and some on four. Allah creates what He pleases. Allah has power to do all that He wills.

This is an indication that all these different species have been created so that the diverse powers of the Divine might be demonstrated. Thus, the differentiation in the temperaments and the nature of creation is due to these three considerations which God has set out in the verses cited above.

—Barahin-e-Ahmadiyya, Ruhani Khaza’in, Vol. 1, pp. 203-207, footnote 11


[1] The Holy Qur’an, 57:3.

[2] The Holy Qur’an, 25:3.

[3] ‘[He] has created everything, and has ordained for its proper measure.’ – The Holy Qur’an, 25:3.

[4] The Holy Qur’an, 43:32-33.

[5] The Holy Qur’an, 43:33.

[6] Ibid.

[7] The Holy Qur’an, 18:8.

[8] The Holy Qur’an, 71:14-15.

[9] The Holy Qur’an, 24:46.