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The Sealed Nectar

 The Sealed Nectar by Shaykh Safi ur-Rahman

It is a known fact that every language hasone or more terms that are used in reference to God and sometimes to lesserdeities. This is not the case with Allah. Allah is the personal name of the Onetrue God. Nothing else can be called Allah. The term has no plural or gender.This shows its uniqueness when compared with the word "god," which can be madeplural, as in "gods," or made feminine, as in "goddess." It is interesting tonotice that Allah is the personal name of God in Aramaic, the language of Jesusand a sister language of Arabic.

The One true God is areflection of the unique concept that Islam associates with God. To a Muslim,Allah is the Almighty Creator and Sustainer of the universe, Who is similar tonothing, and nothing is comparable to Him. The Prophet Muhammad was asked by hiscontemporaries about Allah; the answer came directly from God Himself in theform of a short chapter of the Qur'an, which is considered to be the essence ofthe unity or the motto of monotheism. This is chapter 112, which reads:“In the name of Allah, the Merciful, the Compassionate. Say (O Muhammad), He isGod, the One God, the Everlasting Refuge, who has not begotten, nor has beenbegotten, and equal to Him is not anyone”.

Somenon-Muslims allege that God in Islam is a stern and cruel God who demands to beobeyed fully and is not loving and kind. Nothing could be farther from the truththan this allegation. It is enough to know that, with the exception of one, eachof the 114 chapters of the Qur'an begins with the verse " In the name of God,the Merciful, the Compassionate". In one of the sayings of Prophet Muhammad(PBUH), we are told that“ God is more loving and kind than a mother toher dear child”.

On the other hand, God is also Just.Hence, evildoers and sinners must have their share of punishment, and thevirtuous must have God's bounties and favors. Actually, God's attribute of Mercyhas full manifestation in His attribute of Justice. People suffering throughouttheir lives for His sake should not receive similar treatment from their Lord aspeople who oppress and exploit others their whole lives. Expecting similartreatment for them would amount to negating the very belief in theaccountability of man in the Hereafter and thereby negate all the incentives fora moral and virtuous life in this world. The following Qur'anic verses are veryclear and straightforward in this respect.

Verily, for theRighteous are gardens of Delight, in the Presence of their Lord. Shall We thentreat the people of Faith like the people of Sin? What is the matter with you?How judge you?

Islam rejects characterizing God in any humanform or depicting Him as favoring certain individuals or nations on the basis ofwealth, power or race. He created the human-beings as equals. They maydistinguish themselves and get His favor through virtue and piety only.

The concepts that God rested on the seventh day of creation,that God wrestled with one of His soldiers, that God is an envious plotteragainst mankind, and that God is incarnate in any human being are consideredblasphemy from the Islamic point of view.

The unique usageof Allah as a personal name of God is a reflection of Islam's emphasis on thepurity of the belief in God that is the essence of the message of all God'smessengers. Because of this, Islam considers associating any deity orpersonality with God as a deadly sin that God will never forgive, despite thefact that He may forgive all other sins.

The Creator must beof a different nature from the things created because if He is of the samenature as they are, He will be temporal and will therefore need a maker. Itfollows that nothing is like Him. If the maker is not temporal, then he must beeternal. But if he is eternal, he cannot be caused, and if nothing caused Him tocome into existence, nothing outside Him causes Him to continue to exist, whichmeans that he must be self-sufficient. And if He does not depend on anything forthe continuance of His own existence, then this existence can have no end. TheCreator is therefore eternal and everlasting: "He is the First and the Last".

He is Self-sufficient or Self-subsistent, or, to use aQur'anic term, Al-Qayyum The Creator does not create only in the sense ofbringing things into being, He. also preserves them and takes them out ofexistence and is the ultimate cause of whatever happens to them.

“ God is the Creator of everything. He is the guardianover everything. Unto Him belong the keys of the heavens and the earth”(39:62-63).

“ No creature is there crawling on theearth, but its provision rests on God. He knows its lodging place and itsrepository”(11:16).

God's Attributes
If the Creator is Eternal and Everlasting,then His attributes must also be eternal and everlasting. He should not lose anyof His attributes nor acquire new ones. If this is so, then his attributes areabsolute. Can there be more than one Creator with such absolute attributes? Canthere be, for example, two absolutely powerful Creators? A moment's thoughtshows that this is not feasible.

The Qur'an summarizes thisargument in the following verses:“ God has not taken to Himself any son,nor is there any god with Him: for then each god would have taken of that whichhe created and some of them would have risen up over others”(23:91).

“ And why, were there gods in earth and heaven otherthan God, they (heaven and earth) would surely go to ruin”(21:22).

The Oneness of God
The Qur'an reminds us of the falsity of allalleged gods. To the worshippers of man-made objects it asks:“ Do youworship what you have carved yourself”(37:95).“ Or have you takenunto yourself others beside Him to be your protectors, even such as have nopower either for good or for harm to themselves”(13:16).

To the worshippers of heavenly bodies it cites the story ofAbraham:“ When night outspread overhim, he saw a star and said: This ismy Lord. But when it set, he said: I love not the setters. When he saw the moonrising, he said: This is my Lord. But when it set, he said: If my Lord does notguide me, I shall surely be of the people gone astray. When he saw the sunrising, he said: This is my Lord; this is greater. But when it set, he said: Omy people, surely I quit that which you associate, I have turned my face to Himwho originated the heavens and the earth; a man of pure faith, I am not one ofthe idolators”(6:76-79).

The Believer's Attitude
In order to be a Muslim, that is, tosurrender oneself to God, it is necessary to believe in the oneness of God, inthe sense of His being the only Creator, Preserver, Nourisher, etc. But thisbelief, later called Tawhid Ar-Rububiyyah, is not enough. Many of the idolatorsknew and believed that only the Supreme God could do all this. But this was notenough to make them Muslims. To tawhid ar-rububiyyah, one must add tawhidal-'uluhiyyah. That is, one acknowledges the fact that it is God alone whodeserves to be worshipped, and thus abstains from worshipping any other thing orbeing.

Having achieved this knowledge of the one true God,man should constantly have faith in Him, and should allow nothing to induce himto deny truth.

When faith enters a person's heart, it causescertain mental states that result in certain actions. Taken together, thesemental states and actions are the proof for the true faith. The Prophetsaid:“ Faith is that which resides firmly in the heart and which is provedby deeds”.

Foremost among those mental stated is thefeeling of gratitude towards God, which could be said to be the essence of ibada(worship).

The feeling of gratitude is so important that anon-believer is called 'kafir', which means 'one who denies a truth' and also'one who is ungrateful'.

A believer loves, and is gratefulto God for the bounties He bestowed upon him, but being aware of the fact thathis good deeds, whether mental or physical, are far from being commensurate withDivine favors, he is always anxious lest God should punish him, here or in theHereafter. He, therefore, fears Him, surrenders himself to Him and serves Himwith great humility. One cannot be in such a mental state without being almostall the time mindful of God. Remembering God is thus the life force of faith,without which it fades and withers away.

The Qur'an tries topromote this feeling of gratitude by repeating the attributes of God veryfrequently. We find most of these attributes mentioned together in the followingverses of the Qur'an:“ He is God; there is no god but He. He is the Knowerof the unseen and the visible; He is the All-Merciful, the All-Compassionate. Heis God; there is no god but He. He is the King, the All-Holy, the All-Peace, theGuardian of the Faith, the All-Preserver, the All-Mighty, the All-Compeller, theAll-Sublime. Glory be to God, above that they associate! He is God, the Creator,the Maker, the Shaper. To Him belong the Names Most Beautiful. All that is inthe heavens and the earth magnifies Him; He is the Almighty, theAll-Wise”(59:22-24).

“ There is no god but He,the Living, the Everlasting. Slumber seizes Him not, nor sleep. To Him belongsall that is in the heavens and the earth. Who is there that shall intercede withHim save by His leave? He knows what lies before them, and what is after them,and they comprehend not anything of His knowledge save such as He wills. Histhrone comprises the heavens and earth. The preserving of them oppresses Himnot; He is the All-High, the All-Glorious”(2:255).

People of the Book, go not beyond the bounds in your religion, and say not as toGod but the truth.

“ The Messiah, Jesus, son of Mary,was only the Messenger of God, and His Word that He committed to Mary, and aSpirit from Him. So believe in God and His Messengers, and say not "Three".Refrain; better it is for you. God is only one God. Glory be to Him -- (He is)above having a son”(4:171).

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