A true believer who is rightly guided to Allah repeats “Allah is the Greatest”, which means for him that whenever a part of Allah’s Greatness, Power, Mercy, and Generosity is unveiled to him, Allah is Greater than what he has been made to see. A believer’s knowledge of his Lord might be, Allah, the All-Mighty, is far greater and more Sublime. What is important is not repeating the word “Allah is the Greatest”, but realizing its denotation that is affirmed and determined by the believer’s behaviour. Allah says:
الْحَمْدُ لِلَّهِ فَاطِرِ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ جَاعِلِ الْمَلَائِكَةِ رُسُلًا أُولِي أَجْنِحَةٍ مَّثْنَىٰ وَثُلَاثَ وَرُبَاعَ يَزِيدُ فِي الْخَلْقِ مَا يَشَاءُ إِنَّ اللَّهَ عَلَىٰ كُلِّ شَيْءٍ قَدِيرٌ
“All praises (be) to Allah, Originator (of) the heavens and the earth, (Who) makes the Angels messengers having wings two or three or four. He increases the creation of what He wills. Indeed, Allah (is) on everything All-Powerful.” (Surah Fatir 35:1)
Sometimes, our sins weigh heavily on us. We recognize our mistakes but instead of turning back to Allah, we turn away. We feel that we must be so bad that even the All-Merciful will reject us. Other times, we do not see the fruits of our perseverance and believe that we will not be given what we have worked so hard for. Perhaps we do not even begin an endeavour, thinking there is no use. Allah says:
اتْلُ مَا أُوحِيَ إِلَيْكَ مِنَ الْكِتَابِ وَأَقِمِ الصَّلَاةَ إِنَّ الصَّلَاةَ تَنْهَىٰ عَنِ الْفَحْشَاءِ وَالْمُنكَرِ وَلَذِكْرُ اللَّهِ أَكْبَرُ
“Recite what has been revealed to you of the Book and establish prayer. Verily, prayer prohibits immorality and wrongdoing, but the remembrance of Allah is greater.” (Surah Al-Ankabut 29:45)
Unfortunately, when we do this, we attribute human qualities to Allah. We act as if Allah has some grudge against us that will heal as soon as He punishes us or rejects one of our requests. We act as though Allah is just waiting for us to slip up and say “Ha! Caught you!” We assume that we have to “deserve” the mercy of Allah by being almost perfect. This sounds absurd when articulated, but our actions, unfortunately, indicate that we believe otherwise. Allah says:
وَلَوْ أَنَّمَا فِي الْأَرْضِ مِن شَجَرَةٍ أَقْلَامٌ وَالْبَحْرُ يَمُدُّهُ مِن بَعْدِهِ سَبْعَةُ أَبْحُرٍ مَّا نَفِدَتْ كَلِمَاتُ اللَّهِ إِنَّ اللَّهَ عَزِيزٌ حَكِيمٌ
“If all the trees on Earth were pens and all the sea, with seven more seas besides, was ink Allah’s words still would not run dry. Allah is Almighty, All-Wise.” (Surah Luqman 31:27)
Allah created the order of the universe in superb detail to allow a man to grasp His greatness. Faced with the sublimity of the details of this order, man becomes in awe, recognizing that Allah’s wisdom, knowledge, and might is infinite. So expansive is Allah’s knowledge that what for us is “infinite” is in His Sight already ended. Every event that has taken place since the creation of time, until deep into eternity, was predetermined and ended in Allah’s Sight. A verse referring to this order reads, Allah says:
اللَّهُ الَّذِي خَلَقَ سَبْعَ سَمَاوَاتٍ وَمِنَ الْأَرْضِ مِثْلَهُنَّ يَتَنَزَّلُ الْأَمْرُ بَيْنَهُنَّ لِتَعْلَمُوا أَنَّ اللَّهَ عَلَىٰ كُلِّ شَيْءٍ قَدِيرٌ وَأَنَّ اللَّهَ قَدْ أَحَاطَ بِكُلِّ شَيْءٍ عِلْمًا
”Allah (is) He Who created seven heavens and of the earth, (the) like of them. Descends the command between them that you may know that Allah (is) on everything All-Powerful. And that, Allah indeed, encompasses all things (in) knowledge.” (Surah At-Talaq 65:12)
Man must seek to appreciate the extent of Allah’s knowledge, and reflect to comprehend His greatness. Allah also possesses the power to create many other things beyond our limited imagination. The entire extent of the treasures Allah has bestowed in this world for His servants is all within His Sight. He sends down to us only that which He wills, all within a measure predetermined.
Here are some facts about Allah (God) in Islam:
- Allah is the Creator, not created, nor a part of His creation
- Allah knows what we conceal and what we reveal
- Allah warned who disobey Him against the Hell
- Allah is capable of granting life to anything
- Allah is the All-Knowing, and All-Merciful
- Allah is the one, Who has no partner
- Allah is All-Powerful, absolutely Just
- Allah is First, Last, and Everlasting
- Allah knows what is in our hearts
- Allah’s book is the Holy Qur’an
- Allah is the Oft-Forgiving
- Allah the Most-Merciful
- Allah is very Gracious
- Allah is kind to His slaves
- Allah is also Severe in punishment
- Allah is the Supreme, the Sovereign
- Allah sent Messenger for all mankind
- Allah sent Muhammad (PBUH) as the last Prophet
- Allah sent His Messengers to guide all of mankind
- Allah not only warned us against Satan but also his footsteps
- Allah promises who obey Him to enter Paradise in the hereafter
- Allah does not forgive setting up partners (in worship) with Him
- Allah is near and he responds to the invocations of the supplicants
- Allah has sent all of His messengers to invite people to worship Him Alone
- There is no other entity in the entire universe worthy of worship besides him
- Allah is with those who fear Him (keep their duty unto Him) and the good-doers
- Allah’s book only authentic revealed in the world that has been kept without change
- Allah says in the Quran, “Why should Allah punish you if you have thanked (Him) and have believed in Him.”
Allah, Our Lord
Thus everything needs a maker or a creator; nothing can come into existence without there being an originator: the creator. Therefore it must be a Creator behind our existence. If so I must know Him. And because He is merciful. He sends messengers to us to inform us about Him. Those are called prophets Messengers are the same and chosen by him to guide us to understand the purpose of our existence and what will happen to us after death.
- If we see a beautiful picture painted on a good canvas, do we not think that an artist produced it?
- If we see the automatic machine, regularly manufacturing articles, are we not led to think that there is an engineer who made, designed and invented its system?
- If we see a book written in any scientific field, surely we are aware that an author wrote it?
- It is He Who created and provided us with the amenities for life on earth including the necessities for the time we were in our mother’s womb.
- Do you need an answer!
- Do you need peace of mind and heart!
- Did you ask yourself where I came and where I will go?
- Do you need something very special, scientific and not blind
- Surely the picture could not have been created without an artist!
- Surely the machine could not work without an engineer!
- Surely the book could not be written without an author!
- Look at the sky and do you not wonder how the bright and beautiful sun sends down its light and heat to the people on earth?
- Look at the land upon which we live and ask how do plants grow on it?
- Look at the water we drink, the air we breathe; the sun when it sets and the night when it comes
- Look at the beautiful stars which are impossible to count, and the light of the moon.
- Look, and then think how were these wonders created and who then created them? Are they created by themselves or do they have a creator who made them?
- Let’s go to the beginning by asking if our existence is just a product of chance! Everything in the universe will say NO
هُوَ اللَّهُ الْخَالِقُ الْبَارِئُ الْمُصَوِّرُ لَهُ الْأَسْمَاءُ الْحُسْنَىٰ يُسَبِّحُ لَهُ مَا فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ وَهُوَ الْعَزِيزُ الْحَكِيمُ
“He (is) Allah, the Creator, the Inventor, the Fashioner. For Him (are) the names the beautiful. Glorifies Him whatever (is) in the heavens and the earth. And He (is) the All-Mighty, the All-Wise.” (Surah Al-Hashr 59:24)
They are as in need of a maker or a creator, as a house which needs a builder to be built; or a chair, on which we sit, needs a carpenter to be made; or a picture needs an artist to be painted, or a book needs an author to be written. And certainly, Allah is their Creator and Maker Who created everything.
Let us ponder about ourselves and our bodies, and ask:
- Who gave us two eyes with which to see?
- Who created us in this unique way?
- And the tongue with which we talk?
- And two legs with which we walk?
- And two ears with which we hear?
- And two hands with which we work?
- Who created the food we eat and the water we drink?
Not the farmer who cultivated the crops nor the plumber who connected the pipes.
- Without food and water, one will surely die
- Who gave us the air which we breathe?
- Without air, surely we will suffocate and die
Indeed, our Creator is He Who created the heavens, the earth, water, air, and the stars. And He is All-Great and All-Powerful. It is He Who created and provided us with all these amenities of life. Allah says:
ٱللَّهُ خَلِقُ كُلِّ شَىْءٍۢ ۖ وَهُوَ عَلَىٰ كُلِّ شَىْءٍۢ وَكِيلٌۭ
“Allah is the Creator of all things, and He is the Maintainer of everything.” (Surah Az-Zumar39:62)
Allah has created many worlds and beings which we cannot see. To better understand the possibility of the existence of other worlds, we should consider the following: A picture is two dimensional-width and length. In brief, no matter how hard we strive to do so, we cannot possibly come to grasp the extent of Allah’s knowledge, because it is unlimited.
Allah Almighty’s infinite power and greatness
Who can intercede with Him except by His permission? He knows what is before them and what is behind them but they cannot grasp any of His knowledge save what He wills. If a man obeys a creature, whoever it might be, and disobeys his Creator, this means that he has never said: “Allah is the Greatest” even if he keeps repeating it with his tongue a thousand times because his action belies his words when he obeys the one whom he wrongly thinks is more powerful than Allah. Allah says:
يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ اذْكُرُوا نِعْمَتَ اللَّهِ عَلَيْكُمْ هَلْ مِنْ خَالِقٍ غَيْرُ اللَّهِ يَرْزُقُكُم مِّنَ السَّمَاءِ وَالْأَرْضِ لَا إِلَٰهَ إِلَّا هُوَ فَأَنَّىٰ تُؤْفَكُونَ
“O mankind! Remember (the) Favor (of), Allah, upon you. Is (there) any creator other (than) Allah who provides for you from the sky and the earth? (There is) no god but He. Then, how (are) you deluded?” (Surah Fatir 35:3)
We can comprehend it only as far as Allah permits us to do so: “Allah, there is no god but Him, the Living, the Self-Sustaining. He is not subject to drowsiness or sleep. Everything in the heavens and the Earth belongs to Him. If a man cheats to gain more money, this means that he has never said: “Allah is the Greatest” even if he keeps repeating it with his tongue one thousand times because he wrongly thinks that this money is greater than obeying Allah and His Messenger. Allah says:
وَاذْكُر رَّبَّكَ فِي نَفْسِكَ تَضَرُّعًا وَخِيفَةً وَدُونَ الْجَهْرِ مِنَ الْقَوْلِ بِالْغُدُوِّ وَالْآصَالِ وَلَا تَكُن مِّنَ الْغَافِلِينَ
“Remember your Lord in yourselves with humility and in private without announcing it in the mornings and evenings, and do not be among the heedless.” (Surat Al-A’raf 7:205)
If a man fails to practice the teachings of Islam in his family to please them, this means that he has never said: “Allah is the Greatest” even if he keeps repeating it with his tongue one thousand times because he thinks that pleasing his family is greater than pleasing his Lord. Allah says:
فَاذْكُرُونِي أَذْكُرْكُمْ وَاشْكُرُوا لِي وَلَا تَكْفُرُونِ
“Remember Me and I will remember you, be grateful to Me and do not be ungrateful.” (Surat Al-Baqarah 2:152)
The concept that God rested on the seventh day of creation, that God wrestled with one of His soldiers, that God is an envious plotter against mankind, or that God is incarnate in any human being are considered blasphemy from the Islamic point of view.
The Quran mentions this point in half a dozen verses, and our Prophet (peace be upon him) explicitly stated it.
- “And Allah loves the steadfast.” (Al Imran: 146)
- “… and He is the Highest, the Greatest.” (Quran 2:255)
- “Indeed, Allah loves those who act justly.” (Al-Maida: 42)
- “Glorify the Name of your Lord, the Highest.” (Quran 87:1)
- “and whatever you have of favour – it is from Allah.” (An-Nahl: 53)
- “Do you worship what you have carved yourself?” (Quran 37:95)
- “Indeed, Allah loves those who rely [upon Him] on.” (Al-Imran: 159)
- “The angels and the Rooh (Jibreel) ascend to Him …” (Quran 70:4)
- “Verily We: it is We Who have sent down the Dhikr …” (Quran 15:9)
- “Remember Allah often that you may succeed.” (Al-Jumuah 62:10)
- “and do good; indeed, Allah loves the doers of good.” (Al-Baqara: 195)
- “Allah does not intend to make difficulty for you…” (Surat Al-Maidah5:6)
- “He arranges (every) affair from the heavens to the earth … “ (Quran 32:5)
- “And Allah wants to lighten for you [your difficulties]… (Surat Al-Nisaa 4:28)
- “but those who (truly) believe, they love Allah more than all else.” (Al Baqarah: 165)
- “…Allah intends for you ease and does not intend for you hardship…” (Quran 2:185)
- “Allah does not charge a soul except [with that within] its capacity… (Surat Al-Baqarah 2:286)
- “He has chosen you and has not placed upon you in the religion any difficulty…” (Surat Al-Hajj22:78)
- “And Why, were their gods in earth and heaven other than God, they (heaven and earth) would surely go to ruin.” (Quran 21:22)
- “Do you feel secure that He, Who is over the heaven, will not cause the earth to sink with you …?” (Quran 67:16)
It is a known fact that every language has one or more terms that are used about God and sometimes to lesser deities. This is not the case with Allah. Allah is the personal name of the One true God. Nothing else can be called Allah. The term has no plural or gender. Allah says:
أَوَلَيْسَ الَّذِي خَلَقَ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضَ بِقَادِرٍ عَلَىٰ أَن يَخْلُقَ مِثْلَهُم بَلَىٰ وَهُوَ الْخَلَّاقُ الْعَلِيمُ
“Is it not (He) Who created the heavens and the earth Able to [that] create (the) like of them. Yes, indeed! and He (is) the Supreme Creator, the All-Knower.” (SurahYa-Sin 36:81)
If you thank Allah, He gives you more. It is not because we deserve more, it is because Allah is that Great. He is that Generous. We do not have a cruel God; our God is the Most Merciful of those who show Mercy. When we approach our tests with that frame of mind, we cannot but gain from our experience, insha’Allah. Allah says:
وَاللَّهُ يُرِيدُ أَن يَتُوبَ عَلَيْكُمْ وَيُرِيدُ الَّذِينَ يَتَّبِعُونَ الشَّهَوَاتِ أَن تَمِيلُوا مَيْلًا عَظِيمًا
“And Allah wishes to accept repentance from you, but with those who follow the passions that you deviate – (into) a deviation great.” (Surah An-Nisa` 4:27)
It means to take that step. When we mess up, even if we messed up in a major way, we return to Him. We return to Him recognizing that what we did was truly horrible, but we ask for His forgiveness because we know He is that forgiving, and that His Mercy encompasses everything. When we mess up again and again and feel sick of ourselves, we return to Him with a sincere dua (supplication) to help us stop, knowing that He will respond. It means having grand hopes and aspirations and working towards them knowing that Allah. Allah says:
إِنَّ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَعَمِلُوا الصَّالِحَاتِ إِنَّا لَا نُضِيعُ أَجْرَ مَنْ أَحْسَنَ عَمَلًا
“Indeed, those who believed and did the good deeds, indeed, We will not let go waste (the) reward (of one) who does good deeds.“ (Surah Al-Kahf 18:30)
If Muslims knew the real meaning of “Allah is the Greatest”, and, hence, repeated it with their tongue, their hearts were filled with it, and their deeds affirmed it, they would be in a far better position with Allah and other fellow humans. Let us repeat “Allah is the Greatest” with our tongues and understand its meanings; and let our deeds affirm it, to deserve Allah’s Mercy and Victory over our enemies. Allah says:
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا اذْكُرُوا اللَّهَ ذِكْرًا كَثِيرًا وَسَبِّحُوهُ بُكْرَةً وَأَصِيلًا
“O you who believe, remember Allah with much remembrance and exalt Him in the morning and evening.” (Surat Al-Ahzab 33:41)
Thanking the Creator
If one of your parents or relatives gives you a present, surely you will be happy and thank them for it. Anyone who does good to us deserves our gratitude and should be thanked for his goodness and favour. We are given many favours from our parents who bring us up and who spend nights awake for our sake; from our teachers, who educate us and impart good manners, from our friends who give us their help. We thank these people and accept their favours and kindness. We consider it a virtue to do good, and in return, we praise them for their goodness. Allah says:
إِنَّا أَنزَلْنَا إِلَيْكَ الْكِتَابَ بِالْحَقِّ لِتَحْكُمَ بَيْنَ النَّاسِ بِمَا أَرَاكَ اللَّهُ وَلَا تَكُن لِّلْخَائِنِينَ خَصِيمًا
“Indeed, We to you the Book with the truth so that you may judge between the people with what Allah has shown you. And (do) not be for the deceitful a pleader.” (Surah An-Nisa` 4:105)
Then do we not think our Creator, Who created us and provided us with our parents and gave us so many blessings, deserves many thanks and worship from us? It is Allah and He Who alone created us, Who provides for us and blesses us and it is to Him and Him alone for Whom should be reserved the ultimate praise. Anyone who fails in his duty and neither worships Allah nor thanks Him can only be arrogant and evil. Allah says:
أَمْ يَحْسُدُونَ النَّاسَ عَلَىٰ مَا آتَاهُمُ اللَّهُ مِن فَضْلِهِ فَقَدْ آتَيْنَا آلَ إِبْرَاهِيمَ الْكِتَابَ وَالْحِكْمَةَ وَآتَيْنَاهُم مُّلْكًا عَظِيمًا
“Or are they jealous (of) the people for what Allah gave them from His bounty? But surely We gave (the) family (of) Ibrahim the Book and [the] wisdom and [We] gave them a kingdom great.” (Surah An-Nisa` 4:54)
A believer loves and is grateful to God for the bounties He bestowed upon him, but being aware of the fact that his good deeds, whether mental or physical, are far from being commensurate with Divine favours. One cannot be in such a mental state without being almost all the time mindful of God. Remembering God is thus the life force of faith, without which it fades and withers away. The Quran tries to promote this feeling of gratitude by repeating the attributes of God very frequently. Allah says:
ذَٰلِكُمُ اللَّهُ رَبُّكُمْ خَالِقُ كُلِّ شَيْءٍ لَّا إِلَٰهَ إِلَّا هُوَ فَأَنَّىٰ تُؤْفَكُونَ
“That (is) Allah your Lord, (the) Creator (of) all things, (there is) no god except Him. So how are you deluded?” (Surah Ghafir 40:62)
Surely He is the Most Compassionate, the Most Merciful; constantly demonstrating His love and His sympathy for His creatures. In return, we should love our Creator by thanking and worshipping Him. He Who has such love and mercy for us deserves great praise and gratitude.