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  • 2/25/2012

How does the Quran present God?

part 1


When we wish to assess the scientific personality and knowledge of a scholar, we examine his works and subject them to close study. Similarly, in order to measure the talent, creativity and ability of an artist to invent original images, we undertake the study of his artistic production.

  In the same way, we can also perceive the attributes and characteristics of the pure essence of the Creator from the qualities and orderliness that pervade all phenomena, together with their subtlety and precision. Thereby, within the limits set by our capacity to know and perceive, we can become acquainted with God's knowledge, wisdom, life and power. 

If it be a question of complete and comprehensive knowledge of God, then, of course, we must accept that man's ability to know does not extent that far. God's characteristics cannot be placed within given limits, and whatever comparison or simile we offer for them is bound to be false, for whatever is observable to science and thought in the natural realm is the work of God and the product of His will and command, whereas His essence is not part of nature and does not belong to the category of created beings. Hence, the essence of the divine being cannot be grasped by man by way of comparison and analogy. 

He is, in short, a being for the knowledge of Whose essence no measure or criterion exists and for the fixing of Whose power, authority and knowledge, we have no figures or statistics. 

Is man, then, too abject and powerless to perceive anything of the essence and attributes of so elevated a reality? To concede the weakness of our powers and our inability to attain complete, profound and comprehensive knowledge of God does not imply that we are deprived of any form of knowledge, however relative. 

The orderly pattern of the universe loudly proclaims His attributes to us, and we can deduce the power and unlimited creativiq of the Lord from the beauq and value of nature. Phenomena are for us an indication of His unique essence. 

Contemplation of the will, consciousness, knowledge and harmony inherent in the order of being and all the various phenomena of life, makes it possible for us to perceive that all these qualitic^v together with all the other elements that speak of aim, direction and purposeùnecessarily derive from the will of a Geator Who Himself possesses these attributes before they are reflected in the mirror of creation. 

That which comes to know God and to touch His being is the remarkable power of thoughtùa flash which deriving from that pre-eternal source shone on matter and bestowed on it the capacity of acquiring knowledge and advancing toward truth. It is within this great divine gift that the knowledge of God is manifested. 


Islam deals with the knowledge of God in a clear and novel way. The Quran, the fundamental source for learning the worldview of Islam, applies the method of negation and affirmation to this question. 

First, it negated, by means of convincing proofs and indications, the existence of false gods, because in approaching the transcendent doctrine of unity, it is necessary first to negate all forms of pseudo-divinity and the worship of other-than-God. This is the first important step on the path to unity. 

The Quran says: "Have the ignorant polytheists abandoned the true God and chosen, instead, the false and powerlessgods? Tell them: 'Bring forth your proof!' This call of mine to unity is my saying and that of all the learned men of the community, as well as the saying of all the Prophets and learned men before me. But these polytheists have no knowledge of the truth and constantly avert themselves from it. (21:24) 

"Say, O Messenger, 'You worship one other than God who has no power to help or to harm you . It is God Who is all-hearing and Who knows the state of all of creation." (5:79) 

The one who has severed his connection with divine unity forgets, too, his own true position with respect to the world and being and becomes estranged from himself. For the ultimate form of self-alienation is the severing of all links with one's essential nature as man. Conversely, once man has become alienated from his own essence, under the influences of internal and external factors, he will also be separated from his God and become enslaved by other-than-God. Subordination to other-than-God, then, takes the place of all logical thought. This represents a reversion to the worship of phenomena, for worshipping an idol and according primacy to matter both are forms of regression that rob man of his innate capacity for growth. 

Monotheism is the only force that makes it possible for man to recapture the creativity of human values. By regaining his true rank, he enters a state of harmony with his own human nature and the ultimate nature of allbeing, thus attaining the mostperfect forrn of existence open to him. 

Throughout history, all divine summons and movements have begun with the proclamation of divine unity and the exclusive lordship of God. No concept has everoccurred to man that is more productive of creative insights and more relevant to the various dimensions of human existence, or a more effective brake on human perversity, than the concept of divine unity. 

Using clear proofs, the Quran shows man the way to attaining knowledge of the divine essence as follows: "Did man emerge from non-being through his own devices? Was he his own creator? Did mankind create the heavens and earth? Certainly they do not know God." (52:35-36)

The Quran leaves it to man's reason and commonsense to realize the falsity of these two hypotheses, that man came into being of himself, or that he was his own creator, by testing and analyzing them in thelaboratory of his thought. By reflecting on the signs and indications of God, he will come to recognize with clear and absolute certainty the true source of all being and to understand that no value can be posited for any model of the universe unless behind it an organizing and capable intellect is at work. 

Source: imamalmahdi.com

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