The Essence of Islam: Allah the Exalted – Part 4

19The Review of Religions – September 2004 Two Types of Divine Attributes – Immanent and Transcendental (cont’d) … As Allah is not subject to death so also He is not subject to even temporary cessation of His senses like sleep or slumber; but others are subject to death, sleep and slumber. All that you see in the heavens or in the earth belongs to Him and manifests itself and exists through Him. There is no one who can intercede with Him without His permission. He knows all that is before or behind people, that is, His knowledge comprises that which is manifest and that which is hidden. No one can This is the fourth of a series to be printed over the next few months in The Review of Religions. It sets out, in the words of the Promised Messiah(as) Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, a summary of his exposition of four outstanding topics: ISLAM; ALLAH, THE EXALTED; THE HOLY PROPHET(sa); and THE HOLY QUR’AN. The original compilation, in Urdu, from which these extracts have been translated into English, was collated with great care and diligence by Syed Daud Ahmad, Allah have mercy on him and reward him graciously for his great labour of love. Amin. The English rendering is by the late Muhammad Zafrulla Khan, Allah be pleased with him, and quoted from The Essence of Islam, Volume 1. All references throughout, unless otherwise specifically mentioned, are from the Holy Qur’an. The Essence of Islam: Allah the Exalted – Part 4 The founder of the Ahmadiyya Muslim community was Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad(as). In 1891, he claimed, on the basis of Divine revelation, that he was the Promised Messiah and Mahdi whose advent had been foretold by Muhammad, the Holy Prophet of Islam (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) and by the scriptures of other faiths. His claim constitutes the basis of the beliefs of the Ahmadiyya Muslim community. Sept 04.qxd 04-09-04 21:02 Page 19 20 The Review of Religions – September 2004 The Essence of Islam: Allah the Exalted – Part 4 encompass any part of His knowledge except that much which He permits. His power and His knowledge encompass the heavens and the earth. He supports all and nothing supports Him. He is not wearied by supporting the heavens and the earth. He is above all weakness and feebleness and lack of power. Throne of Allah – His Station of Singleness and Transcendence At another place it is said: Your Lord is Allah, Who created the heavens and the earth in six periods and then settled Himself on the Throne. (Ch.7: v.55) This means that having created the heavens and the earth and all that is in them and having manifested His attributes of resemblance, He then addressed Himself to His station of transcendence and aloneness, in order to demonstrate His attributes of transcendence which station is beyond of beyond and is farthest away from creation. That station which is the highest is called the Throne. The explanation of this is that in the beginning all creation was nonexistent and God Almighty manifested Himself at a station which was beyond of beyond and is named the Throne, that is a station which is higher than and above all the worlds. There was nothing except His Being. Then He created the heavens and the earth and all that is in them. When creation came into being, He “hid” Himself and desired that He should be known through His creation. It must be remembered that Divine attributes never fall into permanent disuse. Except God, no one enjoys eternal personal existence, but the permanence of species too is requisite. No Divine attribute falls into Sept 04.qxd 04-09-04 21:02 Page 20 21The Review of Religions – September 2004 The Essence of Islam: Allah the Exalted – Part 4 permanent disuse, but there is temporary disuse. As the attribute of creation and the attribute of destruction are inconsistent with each other, therefore, when the attribute of destruction comes into full operation, the attribute of creation falls into disuse for a period. In short, in the beginning it was the time of the operation of the Divine attribute of Singleness and we cannot say how often this period repeated itself, except that it is eternal and without limit. In any case, the attribute of Singleness has priority in time over other attributes. That is why it is said that to begin with, God was alone and that there was no one with Him. Then God created the heavens and earth and all that is in them and in that context He manifested His attributes that He is Noble, Merciful, Forgiving, and Acceptor of repentance. But he who persists in sin and does not desist is not left without chastisement. He also manifested His attribute that He loves those who repent, and His wrath overtakes only those who do not desist from wrongdoing and disobedience. Nothing approximates to the Attributes of Allah All His attributes are appropriate to Him. They are not like human qualities. His eyes etc. are not physical and none of His attributes resemble human attributes. For instance, when a man is angry he suffers from anger himself and his heart loses its comfort and perceives a burning sensation and his brain is oppressed and he undergoes a change; but God is free from all such changes. His wrath means that He removes His support from one who does not desist from mischief and, according to His eternal law, He metes out to him such treatment as a human being metes out to another when he is angry. Sept 04.qxd 04-09-04 21:02 Page 21 22 The Review of Religions – September 2004 The Essence of Islam: Allah the Exalted – Part 4 Metaphorically, it is called God’s wrath. In the same way, His love is not like the love of a human being, for a human being suffers in love also when he is separated from his beloved. But God is not subject to suffering. His nearness also is not like the nearness of a human being, for when a human being approaches near someone he vacates the space which he had occupied before. But God, despite being near is far, and despite being far is near. In short, every Divine attribute is distinct from human qualities. There is only a verbal resemblance and no more. That is why in the Holy Qur’an, Allah the Exalted says: There is nothing whatever like unto Him. (Ch.42: v.12) That is: Nothing approximates to God Almighty in its being or its qualities. (Chashma-e-Ma’rifat, Ruhani Khaza’in, Vol. 23, pp. 272-276) Permanence of Allah’s Attributes God will never cease to operate. He is always the Creator, the Providence, the Sustainer, the Gracious, the Compassionate and always will be. In my opinion, it is sinful to debate about the One of such Majesty. God has not imposed belief in anything which He has not demonstrated. [Malfoozat, Vol. IV, p.347] As the stars appear stage by stage God’s attributes also appear stage by stage. Man is sometimes under the shadow of the Divine attributes of Glory and Self-Sufficiency and sometimes he is under the shadow of His attributes of Beauty. That is indicated in His saying: Every day He reveals Himself in a new state. (Ch.55: v.30) It is a foolish notion that after sinful people have been Sept 04.qxd 04-09-04 21:02 Page 22 23The Review of Religions – September 2004 The Essence of Islam: Allah the Exalted – Part 4 condemned to hell the Divine attributes of Mercy and Compassion will cease to operate and will not be manifested, inasmuch as the permanent cessation of the operation of Divine attributes is not permissible. The basic attribute of God Almighty is Love and Mercy and that is the mother of all attributes. It is the same attribute which sometimes comes into operation in the shape of the attributes of Glory and Wrath for the purpose of human reform, and when the reform has been effected then Love appears in its true form and remains in operation forever as a bounty. God is not like a short-tempered person who loves to torment. He wrongs no one, but people wrong themselves. All salvation lies in His Love and all torment is to draw away from Him. [Chashma-e-Masihi, Ruhani Khaza’in, Vol. 20, pp. 369-370] 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: He is Allah, and there is no god beside Him, the Knower of the unseen and the seen. He is the Gracious, the Merciful. (Ch.59: v.23) Master of the Day of Judgement. (Ch.1: v.4) THE BASIC ATTRIBUTE OF GOD ALMIGHTY IS LOVE AND MERCY AND THAT IS THE MOTHER OF ALL ATTRIBUTES. IT IS THE SAME ATTRIBUTE WHICH SOMETIMES COMES INTO OPERATION IN THE SHAPE OF THE ATTRIBUTES OF GLORY AND WRATH FOR THE PURPOSE OF HUMAN REFORM, AND WHEN THE REFORM HAS BEEN EFFECTED THEN LOVE APPEARS IN ITS TRUE FORM AND REMAINS IN OPERATION FOREVER AS A BOUNTY. Sept 04.qxd 04-09-04 21:02 Page 23 24 The Review of Religions – September 2004 The Essence of Islam: Allah the Exalted – Part 4 The Sovereign, the Holy One, the Source of peace, the Bestower of security, the Protector, the Mighty, the Subduer, the Exalted. (Ch.59: v.24) Allah has the power to do all that He wills. (Ch.2: v.21) Lord of all the worlds, the Gracious, the Merciful, Master of the Day of Judement. (Ch.1: Vs.2-4) I answer the prayer of the supplicant when he prays to Me. (Ch.2: v.187) the Living, the Self- Subsisting and All- Sustaining. (Ch.2: v.256) Say, He is Allah, the One! Allah, the Independent and Besought by all. He begets not, nor is He begotten, and there is none like unto Him. (Ch.112: Vs.2-5) 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. He is the Knower of the unseen, means that He alone has full knowledge of Himself and no one can encompass His Being. Sept 04.qxd 04-09-04 21:02 Page 24 25The Review of Religions – September 2004 The Essence of Islam: Allah the Exalted – Part 4 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. He is Most Gracious; that is 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. He rewards good actions with gracious rewards and does not let go waste anyone’s efforts. On account of this attribute, He is called Rahim and this attribute is called Rahimiyyat. 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. He is the Sovereign, Most Holy, that is His 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 Sept 04.qxd 04-09-04 21:02 Page 25 26 The Review of Religions – September 2004 The Essence of Islam: Allah the Exalted – Part 4 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 qual- ification 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 tyran- nically? 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 is the Source of Security, that is to say, 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 Sept 04.qxd 04-09-04 21:02 Page 26 27The Review of Religions – September 2004 The Essence of Islam: Allah the Exalted – Part 4 secure that God would save him from misfortunes? The false gods are described in the Holy Qur’an as follows: 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. (Ch.22: Vs.74) Can gods be like this? God has all power above every other powerful one and He over- comes 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 argu- ments. 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: The Protector, the Mighty, the Subduer, the Exalted. (Ch.59: v.24) God is Guardian over all and Supreme over all. He sets everything right and is exalted above everything. Then He says: He is Allah, the Creator, the Maker, the Fashioner. His are the most beautiful names. (Ch.59: v.25) He is the Creator of body and soul. He gives shape to the Sept 04.qxd 04-09-04 21:02 Page 27 28 The Review of Religions – September 2004 The Essence of Islam: Allah the Exalted – Part 4 bodies in the womb. All beautiful names that can be conceived of belong to Him. Then He says: All that is in the heavens and the earth glorifies Him, and He is the Mighty, the Wise. (Ch.59: v.25) 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: Allah has the power to do all that He wills. (Ch.2: v.21) That is, He has power to do all that He wills, which is a great reassurance for His wor- shippers, for if God were not powerful and were helpless, nothing could be expected of Him. Then He says: Lord of all the worlds, the Gracious, the Merciful, Master of the Day of Judgement. (Ch.1: Vs. 2-4) I answer the prayer of the supplicant when he prays to Me. (Ch.2: v.187) He is the Sustainer of all the worlds. He is Gracious, Merci- ful 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. 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 (Ch.112: Vs.2-5). [Islami Usul ki Philosophy, Ruhani Khaza’in, Vol. 10, pp.372-376] … to be continued Sept 04.qxd 04-09-04 21:02 Page 28