The Nature of God

Allah the Exalted

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) mentions the notion of associating partners with God and its ill effects.

Extracts from The Essence of Islam – Vol. I. pp. 170-180

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

Refutation of the Christians’ Faith in the Unity of God 

In these days, the unity and existence of God are subject to powerful attacks. The Christians have tried hard and have written a good deal on the subject, but whatever they have said or written, is about the God of Islam and not about a dead, crucified and helpless god. We affirm it confidently that whoever begins to write on the existence and Being of God Almighty, would in the end have to revert to the God that is presented by Islam, because every leaf of the book of nature points to Him and naturally every man carries His impress within himself. 

—Malfuzat, Vol. I, p. 83

The Christians should remember that it is not at all established that Jesus was the Resurrection, nor have the Christians been resurrected. They are dead more than the other dead, and lie in narrow and dark graves and are fallen into the pit of paganism. They neither possess the spirit of faith nor the blessings of such spirit. They have not achieved even the lowest grade of faith in the Unity of God, which is to abstain from the worship of creatures. They worship as creator one weak and helpless like themselves.

The unity of God has three grades. The lowest grade is to abstain from the worship of any created thing like oneself, neither stone nor fire nor man nor any star. The second grade is that one should not be devoted to material means as if they were a sort of partner in the operation of Rububiyyat. One must concentrate on the Provider of means rather than on the means. The third grade is that having witnessed perfectly divine manifestations, one should consider every other being as non-existent including one’s own self. Everything beside God Almighty, Who possesses perfect attributes, should appear as mortal to one’s eyes. Spiritual life means that these three grades of faith in unity should be achieved.

Now consider carefully that all eternal fountains of spiritual life have come into the world through Hazrat Muhammad, the Chosen One [peace and blessings of Allah be on him]. It is only the Muslims, though they are not prophets, who experience converse with God Almighty like the prophets, and though they are not messengers, God’s bright signs appear at their hands, and the rivers of spiritual life flow through them and no one else can compete with them. Is there anyone who would take up this challenge and, standing in opposition, would exhibit blessings and signs as an answer?

—A’ina-e-Kamalat-e-Islam, Ruhani Khaza’in, Vol. 5, pp. 223-224

Evils of Associating Partners With God

I regret that I have not found words in which I should set out the evils of leaning towards anyone except God. People cringe before others and flatter them, which invokes the jealousy of God Almighty, and is tantamount to praying to people, from which God withdraws and which He casts aside. I set out the matter in a crude way, though it is not its true reality and yet it is easy to follow. A self-respecting man’s jealousy would not tolerate another person establishing a relationship with his wife, as in such a case, he would consider his wretched wife worthy of being killed and very often that is what happens in fact. Similar is the jealousy of the Divine. Servitude and prayer are reserved for His Being. He does not approve that anyone else should be worshipped or should be called on in supplication. So remember well that to lean towards any beside Allah is to cut asunder from Him. Prayer and unity – for prayer is the name of the proclamation of unity in practice – are without blessing and vain when they are empty of humility and nothingness and are not pursued with a single-minded heart!

—Malfuzat, Vol. I, pp. 167-168

Associating others with God takes many forms and is called shirk. There is the obvious shirk in which Hindus, Christians, Jews and other idol worshippers indulge, in which a man or stone or lifeless things or faculties or fictitious deities are worshipped as God. Though this form of shirk is still current in the world, yet this is the age of light and education, and reason is beginning to abhor this form of shirk. It is true that some people subscribe to these stupidities as part of their national religion, yet at heart, they are beginning to be repelled by them. 

But there is another type of shirk, which is spreading secretly like poison and it is greatly on the increase in this age and that is that there is no trust in and dependence upon God Almighty. 

We do not say, nor is it part of our faith, that means should be discarded altogether. For God Almighty has Himself urged the use of means and if means are not used to the extent to which they are necessary, this would be to dishonour human faculties and to defame the grand action of God Almighty in bestowing them. If means are discarded altogether, it would mean that all faculties which God Almighty has bestowed upon man should be left idle and should not be put to any use, which would amount to condemning God’s action as vain and useless and therefore a great sin. Therefore, we do not at all mean, nor is it part of our religion, that means should be discarded altogether. The use of means up to the proper limit is necessary. Means are needed for the hereafter also. To carry out the commandments of God Almighty and to avoid vice and to carry out good works is all undertaken so that we should be at ease in this world and the next. Thus righteous conduct is a substitute for means. God has not forbidden use of means for the fulfilling of worldly needs. A public servant should discharge his duties, a cultivator of land should occupy himself with agricultural operations, a labourer should perform his labour so that all of them should be able to discharge the obligations that they owe to their family and children and other relations and to their own selves. 

All this is right up to the proper limit and is not forbidden; but when, transcending that limit, a person places all his trust in the means, that becomes shirk which casts a person far away from his true purpose. For instance, if a person says that had it not been for a certain factor, he would have died of hunger, or that if had it not been for a certain property or an occupation, he would have been in bad shape, or if it had not been for a certain friend, he would have been in trouble, this would be displeasing to God. He would not approve that a person should rely so much upon property, or other means or friends that he should stray far away from God Almighty. This is a very dangerous form of shirk which is patently contrary to the teaching of the Holy Qur’an as God Almighty has said:

وَفِي ٱلسَّمَآءِ رِزۡقُكُمۡ وَمَا تُوعَدُونَ [1]

and as He has said:

 وَمَن يَتَوَكَّلۡ عَلَى ٱللَّهِ فَهُوَ حَسۡبُهُۥٓ [2]

and as He has said:

 وَمَن يَتَّقِ ٱللَّهَ يَجۡعَل لَّهُۥ مَخۡرَجٗا  *وَيَرۡزُقۡهُ مِنۡ حَيۡثُ لَا يَحۡتَسِبُ [3]

and as He has said:

وَهُوَ يَتَوَلَّى ٱلصَّـٰلِحِينَ [4]

The Holy Qur’an is full of verses that God is the Guardian of and provides for the virtuous. Then when a person relies wholly upon the means, and puts his whole trust in them, in so doing he ascribes to them some of the attributes of God, and sets them up as another god beside Him. When he leans towards one side, he advances towards shirk. Those who lean towards officials and receive bounties and titles from them, honour them as they should honour God and thus in a way worship them. This alone uproots a person’s belief in the unity of God and diverts him from his true purpose and casts him far away. The prophets [peace and blessings of Allah be on them] teach that there should be no conflict between unity and material means and that each should keep to its proper place and that the end should be unity. They desire to teach man that all honour and all comfort and all fulfilment comes from God. If anything else is set up in opposition to Him there would be a conflict in two opposites in which one would be destroyed. The unity of God must always prevail. Means should be used but should not be deified.

Belief in unity gives birth to the love of God Almighty, as one realises that all benefit and loss is in His hands, that He is the true Benefactor and that every particle proceeds from Him without the intervention of anyone else. When a person achieves this holy condition, he is known as a believer in the unity of God. One condition of belief in unity is that man should not worship stones, or human beings, or anything else, and should express disgust and abhorrence against deifying them; the second condition is that no undue importance should be attached to material means. The third condition is that one’s ego and its purposes should also be excluded and negatived. Very often a person has in mind his own qualities and power and imagines that he has achieved certain good with his own power and he depends so much upon his power that he attributes everything to it. Real faith in the unity of God is achieved when a person negatives his own powers also. 

—Malfuzat, Vol. III, pp. 79-82

The Christian doctrine is that those who do not believe in the Trinity and do not subscribe to the atonement of Jesus would be condemned eternally to hell…To confine Limitless God to three or four partners and to believe that each is perfect in himself and is yet in need of association, and to imagine that God was the word in the beginning and that the same word that was God descended into the womb of Mary and acquired a body from her blood and was born in the usual manner and suffered all the ailments of childhood and when he grew up, he was seized and put upon the cross, is abominable shirk, whereby man has been deified. God is above descending into a womb and acquiring a body and being seized by His enemies. 

Human nature rejects that God should undergo such suffering and that He Who is the Master of all Greatness and is the Fountainhead of all honour should permit such humiliation for Himself. The Christians admit that this was the first occasion of the humiliation of God and that He had never suffered such humiliation before. It had never happened before that God should have been established in the womb of a woman like the sperm. Ever since people had heard the name of God, it had never happened that He should have been born of a woman like a human child. The Christians admit all this and also admit that the three partners in the Godhead did not in the beginning have three separate bodies, but that at a certain point in time, 1896 years ago, separate bodies were assigned to the three partners. The form of the father is like that of Adam, for He created Adam in His own image (see Old Testament, Genesis 1:27), and the son appeared in the form of Jesus (see John 1:1) and the Holy Ghost assumed the form of a dove. (see Matthew 3:16)…

According to the Christians, these three embodied gods are embodied forever and have separate beings forever and yet all three combined are One God. If anyone can tell us, we should like to know how could all these three be one and yet have separate eternal bodies. Let someone unite Dr. Martyn Clarke and Padre ‘Imad-ud-Din and Padre Thakar Dass into one despite their separate bodies. We can confidently affirm that if the three are beaten into one and their flesh is mixed together, they who were created three by God cannot become one. Since three mortal beings, despite possessing the possibility of assimilation and division cannot become one, then how the three beings about whom the Christians do not admit of the possibility of assimilation and division, can be one?

It would not be improper to say that these three gods of the Christians are like three members of a committee and according to them every commandment is issued by them unanimously or by a majority, as if Godhead were a republican form of government and god could not run the government on his own and is dependent upon the decisions of the council. 

Such is the compound god of the Christians; let him who wishes take a look at him. 

—Anjam-e-Atham, Ruhani Khaza’in, Vol. 11, pp. 34-36

The Christian religion is deprived of the Unity of God. These people have turned away from the True God and have made a new god for themselves who is the son of an Israeli woman. But is this new god all-powerful as the True God is? His own history bears witness against this. Had he been all-powerful, he would not have been beaten up by the Jews, would not have been taken into custody by the Romans and would not have been put upon the cross. When the Jews said that if he came down from the cross on his own, they would believe in him, he would at once have come down, but on no occasion did he demonstrate his power.

As for his miracles, they are far fewer than those of most other prophets; for instance, if a Christian were to compare the miracles of Prophet Elias, which are set out in detail in the Bible and which include the revival of the dead, with the miracles of Jesus son of Mary, he would have to confess that the miracles of Prophet Elias were grander and more numerous than those of Jesus son of Mary. The Gospels repeatedly mention that Jesus used to drive out evil spirits from those who suffered from epilepsy and this is considered a great miracle, which is regarded as laughable by research scholars. It has now been established that epilepsy is caused by some weakness in the brain or some ulcer in the brain or by some other disease, but no one has asserted that it has anything to do with evil spirits…

Neither the birth of Jesus nor any of his miracles can be cited as proof of his godhead. God Almighty has mentioned the birth of John the Baptist along with the birth of Jesus in order to indicate that as the extraordinary birth of John does not take him out of the category of human beings, so the birth of Jesus son of Mary does not prove that he was God…

Jesus possessed no extraordinary power. He was a humble person and was characterised by human weakness and lack of knowledge. The Gospels show that he had no knowledge of the hidden, he went to a fig tree in order to eat of its fruit and was not aware that there was no fruit on the tree. He confessed that he had no knowledge of the Day of Judgement. Had he been God, he should have known of the Day of Judgement. He possessed no divine attribute and there was nothing in him which is not to be found in others. The Christians admit that he died. How unfortunate then is the sect whose god is liable to death. To say that he was revived after his death affords no comfort. What reliance can be placed in the life of one who is liable to death?

—Nasim-e-Da‘wat, Ruhani Khaza’in, Vol. 19, pp. 378-382

Of what use is a god some of whose faculties fell into a decline like some of the faculties of a person who grows old? Of what use is a god who cannot forgive the sins of his servants till he is flogged, spat upon, kept in custody, or nailed to the cross? We abhor a god who was subdued by the low Jews who had lost their own kingdom. We believe in the True God Who made a poor and helpless one of Mecca His prophet and manifested His power and supremacy in the same age and to the whole world. When the King of Persia sent his emissaries to arrest the Holy Prophet [peace and blessings of Allah be on him] God Almighty directed His Messenger to tell the emissaries that his God had the previous night killed their god. It is to be observed that on the one side is a claimant to godhood who is arrested by a Roman soldier and is taken into custody and his night-long supplications are not accepted; and on the other side is a person who claims only to be a Prophet and God Almighty destroys kings who are opposed to him. For a seeker after truth there is a very helpful proverb:

یار غالب شو کہ تا غالب شوی[5]

What use have we for a religion that is dead and what benefit can we derive from a book that is dead and what beneficence can a god bestow upon us who is dead?

—Chashma-e-Masihi, Ruhani Khaza’in, Vol. 20, p. 353

That to which they call us is a low idea and a shameful doctrine. Can reason accept that a humble creature who possesses all the qualities of a man should be called god? Can reason tolerate that creatures should flog their Creator and that the servants of God should spit in the face of the Powerful God and should seize Him and should nail Him to the cross and that He should be helpless in their hands? Can anyone understand that a person should call himself God and should supplicate a whole night long and his supplication should not be accepted? Can any heart draw comfort from the idea that God should spend nine months in a womb and be nourished on blood and should be born wailing through the usual channel? Can any reasonable person accept that after an eternity of time God should assume a body and one part of Him should take the form of man and another should take the form of a pigeon and that these bodies should confine Him for ever.

—Kitab-ul-Bariyyah, Ruhani Khaza’in, Vol. 13, pp. 86-87

[1] ‘And in heaven is your sustenance, and also that which you are promised.’ – The Holy Qur’an, 51:23.

[2] ‘And He who puts his trust in Allah – He is sufficient for him.’ – The Holy Qur’an, 65:4.

[3] ‘He who fears Allah – He will make for him a way out, and will provide for him from where he expects not.’ – The Holy Qur’an, 65:3-4.

[4] ‘And He protects the righteous.’ – The Holy Qur’an, 7:197.

[5] ‘Make friends with the Supreme One so that you too should become supreme.’