Discovering Islam (PILLARS OF ISLAM, THE ISLAMIC BELIEFS) Chapter 2

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Monotheism of Allah (Tawheed)
Monotheism is the essence of Islam. It is the affirmation of believing that there is no other divinity other than God. For the most part, the spirit of the Quran revolves around the theme of pure monotheism. Thus, God is the center of a Muslim's belief. Whereas other religions focus on individuals, for example, Christianity's focus on Jesus Christ, Islam focuses solely on God.
Islam is based on the Absolute (God), not His manifestations. The Quran itself speaks about the oneness of God, “Allah has borne witness that there is no god other than Him, and the angels, and those with knowledge also witness this. He is always standing firm on justice. There is no god but Him, the Mighty, the Wise.” (3:18)
The oneness of God is not only a philosophical argument, rather it is also an affirmation which all human beings once declared before their souls entered their body, as God says, ”[Remember] when your Lord brought forth the children of Adam from their loins and made them testify over themselves, saying, “Am I not your Lord?” They said, “Yes! We testify,” lest you should say on the Day of Resurrection, 'Verily, we were unaware of this.'” (7:172)
In this event, every person to be created until the end of time proclaimed God's majesty, sovereignty, power, transcendence, and absolute oneness.
Such was the covenant God made with all people at the time of their creation, whether people presently claim to believe in God or not. Similarly, all people today, regardless of their origin, are naturally inclined towards the idea that God is one and does not have a partner. The Quran informs Prophet Muhammad of the following, “Set your face to the true religion [the Islamic belief of monotheism], the natural inclination [fitra] with which Allah has created mankind. [Let there be] no change in what Allah has made; that is the straight religion, but most people do not understand.” (30:30)
Describing God
One of the shortest chapters in the Quran, “The Oneness of Allah,”[9] summarizes the nature of God in five verses, “In the name of Allah, the Infinitely Compassionate, the Most Merciful: Say, 'He is Allah, the One; Allah, the Eternal Originator; He does not bear children, nor was He born; and He is beyond compare.'”
The most fundamental Islamic teachings about God are contained in the previous verses; there is only one God, He is eternal, unique, and has no kinship, creator, or resemblance to any human being.
Throughout their mission, every prophet stated some of the divine attributes of God. Prophet Abraham said, “My Lord is He who gives life and causes death.” (2:258) When confronting Pharaoh, Moses said, “Our Lord is He Who gave each thing its form and nature then guided it aright” (20:50). These two verses describe God and His relation to human beings; however, God's being extends far beyond His relation to mankind. Imam Ali described God in the following manner:
He who assigns to Him different conditions does not believe in His oneness, nor does he who likens Him, grasp His reality. He who illustrates Him, does not signify Him; he who points at Him and imagines Him, does not mean Him. Everything that is known through itself has been created, and everything that exists by virtue of other things is the effect of a cause. He works but not with the help of instruments; He fixes measures, but not with the activities of thinking; He is rich, but not by acquisition. Time does not keep company with Him, and implements do not help Him. His being precedes time, His existence precedes non-existence, and His eternity precedes beginning. By His creating the senses, it is known that He does not possess such senses. By the contraries in various matters, it is known that He has no contrary, and by the similarity between things it is known that there is nothing similar to Him. He has made light the contrary of darkness, brightness that of gloom, dryness that of moisture, and heat that of cold. He produces affection among inimical things. He is not confined by limits, nor counted by numbers. Material parts can surround things of their own kind, and organs can point out things similar to themselves…Through them, the Creator manifests Himself to the intelligence, and through them He is guarded from the sight of the eyes…He has not begotten anyone lest He be regarded as having been born. He has not been begotten; otherwise, He would be contained within limits. He is too high to have sons…Understanding cannot think of Him so as to give Him shape…”[10]
God expresses His own eternity and perpetuity in the Quran when He states, “Everything on earth shall perish, but the face of Allah will remain, full of majesty and honor.” (55:26-27)
The 99 Names of Allah
The Quran states, “And to Allah belong the most beautiful names, so call on Him by them.” (7:180)
Islamic tradition states that God has many different names representing different aspects of His being; ninety-nine are known commonly among Muslims.
The Beneficent
Ar-Rahm¡n
The Merciful
Ar-Rah¢m
The Sovereign
Al-M¡lik
The Holy
Al-Qudd£s
The Peace
As-Sal¡m
The Protector
Al-Muhaymin
The Mighty
Al-Aziz
The Compeller
Al-Jabb¡r
The Majestic
Al-Mutakabbir
The Creator
Al-Kh¡liq
The Evolver
Al-B¡ri'
The Fashioner
Al-Musawwir
The Forgiver
Al-Ghaff¡r
The Subduer
Al-Qahh¡r
The Bestower
Al-Wahh¡b
The Provider
Ar-Razz¡q
The Opener
Al-Fatt¡h
The Knowing
Al-Alim
The Constrictor
Al-Q¡bid
The Expander
Al-B¡sit
The Abaser
Al-Kh¡fid
The Wise
Al-Hak¢m
The Glorious
Al-Maj¢d
The Exalter
Ar-R¡fi
The Honorer
Al-Mu'izz
The Dishonorer
Al-Mudhill
The Hearing
As-Sam¢
The Seeing
Al-Bas¢r
The Judge
Al-Hakam
The Able
Al-Q¡dir
The Great
Al-Azim
The All-Forgiving
Al-Ghaf£r
The Appreciative
Ash-Shak£rr
The High
Al-Ali
The Immense
Al-Kab¢r
The Preserver
Al-H¡fiz
The Maintainer
Al-Muq¢t
The Reckoner
Al-Has¢b
The Majestic
Al-Jal¢l
The Generous
Al-Kar¢m
The Watchful
Ar-Raq¢b
The Responsive
Al-Muj¢b
The Loving
Al-Wad£d
The Strong
Al-Qaw¢
The Firm
Al-Mat¢n
The Truth
Al-Haqq
The Trustee
Al-Wak¢l
The Guardian
Al-Wal¢
The Praiseworthy
Al-Ham¢d
The Enumerator
Al-Muhs¢
The Originator
Al-Mubd¢
The Restorer
Al-Mu'¢d
The Giver of Life
Al-Muhy¢
The Living
Al-Hayy
The Finder
Al-W¡jid
The Noble
Al-M¡jidjid
The Unique
Al-W¡hid
The One
Al-Ahad
The Eternal
As-Samad
The Guide
Al-H¡di
The Powerful
Al-Muqtadir
The Expediter
Al-Muqaddim
The Delayer
Al-Mu`akhir
The Manifest
Az-Z¡hir
The Equitable
Al-Muqsit
The Exalted
Al-Muta'ali
The Avenger
Al-Muntaqim
The Pardoner
Al-'Afuw
The Compassionate
Ar-Ra'uf
The Patient
As-Sabur
The Gatherer
Al-J¡mi'
The Self-Sufficient
Al-Ghan¢
The Enricher
Al-Mughn¢
The Preventer
Al-M¡ni
The Distresser
Ad-Darr
The Incomparable
Al-Badi
The Everlasting
Al-B¡qi
The Inheritor
Al-W¡rith
The First
Al-AwwalAl-Awwal
The Last
Al-ªkhir
The Hidden
Al-B¡tin
The Governor
Al-W¡li
The Resurrector
Al-B¡'ith
The Witness
Ash-Sh¡hid
The Aware
Al-Khab¢r
The Kind
Al-Hal¢m
The Benefiter
An-N¡fi
The Light
An-N£r
The Just
Al-Adl
The Subtle
Al-Lat¢f
The Lord of Majesty and Bounty
Dhul Jal¡li wal Ikr¡m
The Acceptor of Repentance
Al-Tawwab
The Guide to the Right Path
Ar-Rash¢d
The Owner of Sovereignty
M¡lik al-Mulk
The Source of Goodness
Al-Barr
The Creator of Death
Al-Mum¢t
The All-Surrounding
Al-W¡si
The Source of Goodness
Al-Barr

Viewpoints of Islam and Christianity Concerning God

The emergence of Islam returned the Abrahamic monotheism to its original purity. Islam perceives the doctrine of trinity and incarnation as a veil cast upon the complete reality of Divine unity. Nothing should compromise divine unity. God is the absolute, the One without condition, and above all relations.
The distinguishable feature of the Islamic faith from other monotheistic religions is its insistence on absolute monotheism. Islam entirely opposes any association concerning God and the notion that Jesus, the Messenger of God, was God himself. God states in the Quran, “It is not for a man, that Allah should give him [Jesus] the Book [Gospel], and judgment and apostleship, and yet he [Jesus] should say to people, “Worship me rather than Allah,” but rather [he would say] “Be a godly people, because of your teaching the Book and because of studying it [yourselves].” (3:79)[11]
Muslims believe that Jesus was a human prophet who was divinely inspired by God, and they consider him to be a servant and conveyer of God's message and neither the Old Testament nor the New Testament mentions that Jesus was the son of God.
Barbara Brown, a contemporary American scholar, supports this idea with the following statement:
The doctrine of divinity states that Jesus is the Son of God, the Word of God made flesh. Even though Jesus himself never claimed to be divine, Paul gave him this attribute for one reason - to gain converts among the Gentiles. The Gentiles were pagans who were used to worshipping gods that had wonderful legends and myths behind them. Several of the pagan deities of the time such as Mithras, Adonis, Attis, and Osiris were the offspring of a supreme ruling idol and each had died a violent death at a young age, coming back to life a short time later in order to save their people. Paul took this into account, giving the pagans something similar in Christianity. He attributed divinity to Jesus, saying he was the Son of God, the Supreme, and that he too had died for their sins. In doing so, Paul compromised the teaching of Jesus with pagan beliefs in order to make Christianity more acceptable to the Gentiles.
The term “son of God” was not something new. However, it had been used in the Old Testament to refer to David (Saul 2:7) and his son Solomon (I Chronicles 22:100) and to refer to Adam (Luke 3:38) in the New Testament. In his famous Sermon on the Mount, detailed in Matthew 5, Jesus tells his listeners, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.” In all cases, the term “son of God” was not meant to be applied literally but to signify love and affection from God to the righteous. “Son of God” means a special closeness to God, not to be of God. After all, people are sons [spiritual dependants] of God, and God is the creator of all life.[12]
Christians who lived during the time of Jesus believed that Jesus was divinely inspired by God and not God himself. However, after the ascension of Jesus to heaven, Saint Paul, who was deeply influenced by Roman paganism, wanted his preaching of Christianity to be more appealing to the Gentiles and thus, he compromised the teachings of Jesus by adopting certain pagan ideas and interpolating them into Christianity. Even though it was not part of the original teachings of Jesus, the idea of the trinity has widely spread.

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