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God, the creator of universe and the most perfect being is a central concept of most religions especially in Abrahamic religions.
In Shi'a view, God is One, the origin of all perfections, the creative cause of all beings, who has a Pre-existence eternal and Everlasting existence. Nothing is like Him. His essence is the same as His attributes. He has a simple reality without quiddity. He is not visible either in this world or the hereafter, has Absolute knowledge and power. He is Omnipresent and has total connection with His creation. God's existence and some of His attributes are provable by sense, intellect and instinct, but His unlimited essence is not perceivable with sense and intellect.
There is no direct connection between believing in God and having a religion, and there are people who believe in God while they have no religion, like the polytheists of the time of the Prophet (s) who believed in Allah as god while they also worshiped idols and they followed no specific religion (polytheism in Lordship).
History of Believing in God
God is one of the most important concepts in humans' mind, history of philosophy and philosophical thoughts since the creation of human beings and emergence of philosophy and even philosophers before Socrates until now have discussed it and have proposed new approaches with this regard.
Believing in God is the foundation stone of the teachings of all divine religions. It has sometimes changed or other goddesses have been supposed as partners to Him (polytheism) or His attributes have been distorted such as that He was manifested as human-like god.
In mysticism, especially some forms of mysticism which have been developed inside Abrahamic religions, God is a fundamental concept and it can be said that in these religions, mysticism is nothing except an effort towards knowing God and approaching Him.
Theological teachings of religions, especially Abrahamic religions have been responsible for discussing God, His attributes and the relation of human beings with Him and have made so much theological discussions in these religions. Today, theological discussions are followed seriously and they have led to emergence of new theology and new discussions. Also, analyzing manifestations of the presence of God in the art and culture of different nations have brought interesting discussions in the history of art and analysis of divine art among different people.
God in Islam
- Main article: Allah
The essence of all Islamic concepts is God. Muslim is one who does not recognize any god but Allah (and says "Ashhad an la ilah illa Allah": I bear witness that there is no god but Allah) and considers Muhammad (s) His messenger and that in fact mission of the Prophet (s) has been an invitation to know the One God and admitting it. However in Islam, since historically it was emerged in an atmosphere of polytheism and idol-worshiping, there has been a focus on some attributes of God and especially His Oneness rather than proving His existence (which has been discussed more in philosophy and later became a topic in discussion of Islamic philosophers as well.)
The special name of God which has frequently mentioned in the Qur'an is "Allah". This word has become the most famous name for referring to God in Arabic language since Jews and Christians use it for God in translation of the Bible. God has different beautiful names as mentioned in the Qur'an. Allah is not a god special to Islam but it is the same God mentioned by previous prophets (s), God of all the prophets from Adam to Muhammad (s).
According to the Qur'an, creation of human being has been together with knowing God and polytheism was emerged after monotheism and it is the result of human's ignorance during history.
Names of God in the Qur'an
Except for "Allah" which is famously known as the special name of God, there are 143 other names mentioned in the Qur'an for God which have attributive meaning and every one of them refer to infinite perfection of God from one aspect.
Besides Allah, there are 133 names explicitly mentioned for God in the Qur'an which are as below:
|الأَکرَِم||al-Akram||the Most Genorous||96:3||1|
|الأَعلَم||al-Aʿlam||the Most Knowledgeable||4:25||1|
|أَرحَم الرَّاحِمين||Arḥam al-Rāḥimīn||the Most Compassionate of all of the compassionates||12:64||4|
|أحکم الحاکمين||Aḥkam al-Ḥākimīn||the Fairest of all judges||11:45||2|
|أحسن الخالقين||Aḥsan al-Khāliqīn||the Best of all creators||23:14||2|
|أسرع الحاسبين||Asraʿ al-Ḥasibīn||the Swiftest of all reckoners||6:62||1|
|أهل التقوي||Ahl al-Taqwā||the Worthy of [your] being wary [of Him]||74:56||1|
|أهل المغفرة||Ahl al-Maghfira||the Worthy to forgive||74:56||1|
|الأبقي||al-Abqā||the More Lasting||20:73||1|
|الحيّ||al-Ḥayy||the Living One||25:58||5|
|خير الحاکمين||Khayr al-Ḥākimīn||the Best of judges||12:80||3|
|خير الراحمين||Khayr al-Rāḥimīn||the Best of the merciful||23:118||2|
|خير الرازقين||Khayr al-Rāziqīn||the Best of providers||5:114||5|
|خير الفاتحين||Khayr al-Fātiḥīn||the Best of judges||70:81||1|
|خير الفاصلين||Khayr al-Fāṣilīn||the Best of judges||6:57||1|
|خیرالغافرین||Khayr al-Ghāfirīn||the Best of those who forgive||7:155||1|
|خير الماکرين||Khayr al-Mākirīn||the Best of devisers||8:31||2|
|خير المنزلين||Khayr al-Munzilīn||the Best of those who bring ashore||23:29||1|
|خير الناصرين||Khayr al-Nāṣirīn||the Best of helpers||3:150||1|
|خير الوارثين||Khayr al-Wārithīn||the Best of inheritors||21:89||1|
|ذوالعرش||Dhū al-ʿArsh||Lord of the Throne||85:15||3|
|ذوالطول||Dhū al-Ṭawl||the All-Bountiful||40:3||1|
|ذوالانتقام||Dhū al-Intiqām||the Avenger||3:4||4|
|ذوالفضل العظيم||Dhū al-Faḍl al-ʿAzīm||the Dispenser of the great grace||62:4||6|
|ذوالرحمة||Dhū al-Raḥma||the Dispenser of mercy||18:58||2|
|ذوالقوة المتين||Dhū al-Quwwat al-Matīn||the Powerful, All-strong||51:58||1|
|ذوالجلال و الإکرام||Dhū al-Jalāl wa al-Ikrām||majestic and munificent||55:27||1|
|ذوالمعارج||Dhū al-Maʿārij||Lord of the lofty stations||70:3||1|
|الرئوف||al-Raʾūf||the Most kind||16:7||11|
|رب العرش||Rabb al-ʿArsh||the Lord of the Throne||21:22||6|
|رفيع الدرجات||Rafīʿ al-Darajāt||the Raiser of ranks||40:15||1|
|سريع الحساب||Sarīʿ al-Ḥisāb||the Swift One at reckoning||40:17||8|
|سريع العقاب||Sarīʿ al-ʿIqāb||the Swift One in retribution||6:165||2|
|شديد العذاب||Shadīd al-ʿAdhāb||the Severe in punishment||2:165||1|
|شديد العقاب||Shadīd al-ʿIqāb||the Severe in retribution||40:3||14|
|شديد المحال||Shadīd al-Miḥāl||the Great in might||13:13||1|
|علام الغيوب||ʿAllām al-Ghuyūb||the Knower of all that is Unseen||9:78||4|
|عالم الغيب و الشهادة||ʿĀlim al-Ghayb wa al-Shahāda||the Knower of the sensible and the Unseen||13:9||10|
|غافر الذنب||Ghāfir al-Dhanb||the Forgiver of sins||40:3||1|
|فالق الإصباح||Fāliq al-Iṣbāḥ||the Splitter of the dawn||6:96||1|
|فالق الحبّ و النّوي||Fāliq al-Ḥabb wa al-Nawā||splitter of the grain and the pit||6:95||1|
|قابل التَوب||Qābil al-Tawb||the Acceptor of repentance||40:3||1|
|قائم علي کل نفس بما کسبت||Qāʾim ʿalā kull nafs bi-mā kasabat||the One who sustains every soul1 in spite of what it earns||13:33||1|
|المحيط||al-Muḥīṭ||the One who comprehends||5|
|مالک الملک||Mālik al-Mulk||the Master of all sovereignty||3:26||1|
- "Hafiz" and "Warith" in verses "…and indeed We will preserve it." (15:9) and "…and We are the inheritors" (15:23)
- "Fa'al li-ma yurid" in the verse "…indeed your Lord does whatever He desires." (11:107)
- "Katib" and "Fa'il" in verses "…and We will indeed write it for him." (21:94) and "…indeed We will do." (21:104)
- "Mumit" in the verse "And He it is Who gives life and causes death…" (23:80)
- "Kashif al-durr" and "Shafi'" in verses "Should Allah visit you with some distress there is no one to remove it except Him;…" (6:17) and "…It shall not have any guardian besides Allah, nor any intercessor,…" (6:70)
- "Qa'im bi-al-qist" in the verse "…maintainer of justice" (3:18)
- "Muntaqim" in the verse "…We will indeed take vengeance" (44:16)
Different Methods in Theology
Muslim scholars' thoughts about God can be classified in three kinds:
- Theological thoughts or theologians' thoughts,
- Philosophical thought or philosophers' thoughts,
- Mystical thoughts or mystics and Sufis' thoughts.
However, these classes are not distinct or absolute and they are sometimes difficult to be separated since for example, some thoughts of Mu'tazilites and peripatetic philosophers or mystics and transcendental philosophers are closely similar.
God in Theology
In a general look, discussions in theology regarding God are classified in three classes:
- Discussion about God's existence and proving it (arguments for proving God),
- Discussion about God's oneness, proving it, rejecting polytheism in general and rejecting duality and Trinity,
- Discussion about God's attributes (names and attributes).
God in Philosophy
Emergence of philosophical discussions about God was probably following above discussions and an effort in finding new answers. Discussing about God certainly has a long history and in the ancient culture of Iran and India, deep thoughts about God can be found; but philosophical discussion about that in its common meaning can be traced back in the ancient Greece. The peak of such philosophical discussions are Pluto and Aristotle's thoughts. The philosophical god of Greeks was indifferent about the world.
According to philosophical works, god became an issue beyond the world who is the origin of grace and the origin for other beings after the First Intellect. He would only be described in a transcendental ways such as the unmoving mover, the First Cause, Self-existent, Absolute existence and a being without opposite or similar and as such. It is based on this view that philosophers forget concepts such as Huduth and Qidam (incidence and precedence) and turn to Wujub and Imkan (necessity and possibility) which eventually lead to emergence of an argument such as Burhan al-Siddiqin (the argument of the Truthful).
God in Mysticism
From the viewpoint of 'Irfan (Islamic mysticism), God is seen differently from the way others see Him and it can be said that it is seen opposite to the God of philosophers. This viewpoint has been common since the early Islam and gradually richer and more beautiful definitions of it have been presented. In mystical discussions, firstly and essentially rational discussions about God have never been a focus; rather, the reciprocal relationship of human being and God has been highlighted; a relation which more than any other concept is based on love.
True knowledge of God in the viewpoint of the followers of mysticism is not a theoretical knowledge but a knowledge the prerequisite of which is practical conduct and its goal is intuition, illumination, disclosure, self-denial and going beyond the partial intellect and reaching beyond intellect and gaining immediate knowledge of God, meeting with God and being annihilated in His existence.
According to this viewpoint, even though all human beings are theist in some aspects and have a nature mixed with divine love, they need to revive this aspect of themselves and from a superficial knowledge of God (which might be a theological or philosophical knowledge in the view of mystics) reach a higher level.
However, this mystical view sometimes adopt a rational aspect as well, like for instance, they also discuss incident or precedent love, or unity of intuition or unity of existence. Peak of such viewpoint can be seen in the mysticism of Ibn 'Arabi in which the above discussions are joined with neoplatonic presentation and the theory of emanation (Fayd), divine knowledge, process of creation, concepts of A'yan Thabita [immutable essences], most holy emanation, holy emanation and unity of existence are discussed.
God in Judaism and Christianity
In the Old Testament, explicitly mentions the belief in One, Eternal God among essential beliefs of Judaism, "Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one!" (Deuteronomy 6:4) However, in some part of the Old Testament there are some anthropomorphic attributes for God which are justified by Jewish scholars in a way that there is no contradictory with monotheism.
In the New Testament (including the Four Gospels) we found God as One, Eternal and without partner the way Jesus called God as "the only true God" (John 17:3). However, this knowledge in unity has been mixed with the polytheistic Trinity which is made due to wrong and exaggerative implication of some phrases in the Bible and has led to a paradox; phrases such as "baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost" (Matthew 28:16–20).
Accordingly, the current Christianity has believed in the unity of God together with Trinity (The Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit).
God in Different Languages
Different languages refer to god with different words:
- The material for this article is mainly taken from خدا in Farsi Wikishia.