By Haya Muhammad Eid
God’s Attributes and Names are those qualities that give correct understanding of what God truly is. The Quran, Islam’s holy book, believed to be God’s final word, tells humanity what God is like and what He is not like.
The Noble Quran warns against ascribing additional qualities to God that He did not describe Himself as having, or qualities that are incompatible with His Majesty and Perfection (by attributing to Him human qualities such as getting tired after creating the universe or needing a son).
Without the authority of the Quran or Sunnah (teachings of Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him), any attempt to explain God’s Attributes would be no better than an assumption. The Quran emphasizes this point, saying: “Exalted is your Lord, the Lord of might, above what they describe. And peace be on the Messengers.” (Quran 37:180-181)
What God Is Like
To explain what God is like, the Glorious Quran says in the Chapter of Al-Hashr 59:22-24:
- He is God; there is no god but He, the Knower of the unseen and the seen. He is the Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful.
- He is God; there is no god but He, the Sovereign, the Holy, the One Free from all defects, the Giver of security, the Watcher over His creatures, the Mighty, the Compeller (of tyrants), the Supreme. Exalted is God above whatever they associate as partners with Him.
- He is God; the Creator, the Originator, the Fashioner. To Him belong the Most Beautiful Names. Everything in the heavens and the earth glorifies Him. He is the Exalted in Might, the Wise.
- He is God (the only God) in the heavens and on the earth. He knows what you conceal and what you reveal, and He knows what you earn (good or bad). (Quran 6:3)
- Say: “Who provides for you from the heaven and the earth? Or who owns hearing and sight? And who brings out the living from the dead and brings out the dead from the living? And who disposes the affairs?” They will say: “God.” Say: “Then will you not fear Him?” (Quran 10:31)
To explain what God is not like, the Glorious Quran negates any attribute that is contradictory to or incompatible with God’s Glory and Perfection, for example:
- Neither slumber nor sleep overtake Him. (Quran 2:225)
- It is He Who feeds but is not fed. (Quran 6:14)
- Nothing in the heavens or the earth is hidden from God. (Quran 3:5)
- Never think that God is unaware of what the wrongdoers do. (Quran 14:42)
- God does not commit an atom’s weight of injustice; and if there is a good deed, He multiplies it. (Quran 4:40)
- “Did you think that We* (God) created you aimlessly and that you shall not be brought back to Us?” (Quran 23:115)
- He (God) created seven heavens in layers. You see no flaw in the creation of the Most Beneficent. Look again! Do you see any rifts? (Quran 67:3)
- They say, “God has taken a son.” Exalted is He! Rather, to Him belongs whatever is in the heavens and the earth. (Quran 2:116)
Impossibility of God’s Attributes
The belief in a supreme, unfathomable, invisible, or infinite being who is beyond man’s grasp constitutes atheism’s main argument against God’s existence.
Having faith in the unseen and the unknown is what faith is all about. God is an entity absolutely distinct from and sovereign over all of creation, both living and non-living.
He is essentially above and beyond nature and its laws of physics. He is the One Who created them from nothing. He is the cause behind their functioning and continuation, and He is the One Who controls and manages them alone, without a partner or a helper.
He is above and beyond any comparison that the human mind can make. It would be impossible for the human mind, which is limited by the constraints of time, space, and ability, to attain any knowledge of God’s Being and Essence (and basically this is something not required of humans at all).
Therefore, God, His Essence, and His Attributes are, in principle, inaccessible to direct human observation and scientific investigation.
A Question of Logic
A simple Bedouin was asked: How do you know your Lord exists?
He replied: Footprints indicate the existence of walkers. Camel’s dung indicates the existence of camels. A sky filled with constellations (patterns of stars); an earth provided with wide paths; and seas filled with waves – do they not all point to the existence of the One Who is Hearer and Seer of all?
One Quranic verse gives a powerful argument to convince humans that they must have a Creator Who created them:
“Were they (humans) created by nothing or were they themselves the creators? (Quran 52:35)
And brought this entire universe into existence:
“Or did they create the heavens and the earth? Rather, they have no certain knowledge.” (Quran 52:36)
It is a fact that something does not come from nothing. Since something exists, and since nothing can create itself, a creator is necessary to explain it.
Logically, humans exist, and the heavens and earth also exist. Humans neither created themselves, nor did they create the heavens and earth or the laws and phenomena of nature. They all must have a Creator – a Creator Who is Himself Self-Subsistent and not Himself a created being.
Source: The article is based on the author’s book, God Or No God: Islamic Viewpoint vs. Atheist Viewpoint