This page deals with the nature of Allah as it is presented to us in the Koran.
We shall start with the observation that nobody has actually ever seen Allah and that His nature is only known to us via Muhammed, who tells us that he communicated with Him through the intervention of the Angel Gabriel.
1. Allah has 99 names, which can be found here
Some of these names raise questions.
2. Allah is the Inspirer of Faith – the Believer - Al-Mu’min
What does Allah believe in?
3. Allah is All-Knowing - Al-Alim
Yet, there are things unknown to Allah; see here.
4. Allah is the Supreme Inheritor - Al-Waris
15.23. And verily, it is We Who give life, and Who give death: it is We Who remain inheritors [after all else passes away].
Inheritor of what?
5. Allah is the Independent, the Self-Sufficient - Al-Samad
2.263 Allah is free of all wants, (has no need of anybody or anything)
Nonetheless, he has need of being worshipped.
51.56. And I have only created Jinns and men, that they may serve Me.
6. Allah leads people astray – So does Satan
Satan leads people astray:
4.60. Hast thou not turned Thy vision to those who declare that they believe in the revelations that have come to thee and to those before thee? Their [real] wish is to resort together for judgment [in their disputes] to the Evil One, though they were ordered to reject him. But Satan's wish is to lead them a stray far away [from the right].
Allah leaves people straying:
2.7. Allah hath set a seal on their hearts and on their hearing, and on their eyes is a veil; great is the penalty they [incur].
2.10. In their hearts is a disease; and Allah has increased their disease: And grievous is the penalty they [incur], because they are false [to themselves].
2.20. The lightning all but snatches away their sight; every time the light [Helps] them, they walk therein, and when the darkness grows on them, they stand still. And if Allah willed, He could take away their faculty of hearing and seeing; for Allah hath power over all things.
4.88. Why should ye be divided into two parties about the Hypocrites? Allah hath upset them for their [evil] deeds. Would ye guide those whom Allah hath thrown out of the Way? For those whom Allah hath thrown out of the Way, never shalt thou find the Way.
4.143. [They are] distracted in mind even in the midst of it,- being [sincerely]for neither one group nor for another whom Allah leaves straying,- never wilt thou find for him the way.
6.39. Those who reject our signs are deaf and dumb,- in the midst of darkness profound: whom Allah willeth, He leaveth to wander: whom He willeth, He placeth on the way that is straight.
6.125. Those whom Allah [in His plan] willeth to guide,- He openeth their breast to Islam; those whom He willeth to leave straying,- He maketh their breast close and constricted, as if they had to climb up to the skies: thus doth Allah [heap] the penalty on those who refuse to believe.
7.178. Whom Allah doth guide,- he is on the right path: whom He rejects from His guidance,- such are the persons who perish.
7.186. To such as Allah rejects from His guidance, there can be no guide: He will leave them in their trespasses, wandering in distraction.
... And condemns the unbelievers to Hell
7.36. But those who reject Our Signs and treat them with arrogance - they are companions of the Fire, to dwell therein [for ever].
7. Allah engages in plots
The Koran states in various places that Allah is involved in plots to mislead people. The unbelievers are plotting their evil deeds and Allah in turn makes plans to counter their evil designs. A very human reaction. But is this what we should call the behaviour of a Supreme Divine Being? Ought He not to have everything under His complete control?
3.54. And [the unbelievers] plotted and planned (against Jesus), and Allah too planned (against them), and the best of planners is Allah.
7.99. Did they then feel secure against the plan of Allah?- but no one can feel secure from the Plan of Allah, except those [doomed] to ruin!
8.30. Remember how the Unbelievers plotted against thee, to keep thee in bonds, or slay thee, or get thee out [of thy home]. They plot and plan, and Allah too plans; but the best of planners is Allah.
10.21. When We make mankind taste of some mercy after adversity hath touched them, behold! they take to plotting against Our Signs! Say: "Swifter to plan is Allah!" Verily, Our messengers record all the plots that ye make!
13.42. Those before them did [also] devise plots; but in all things the master planning is Allah's He knoweth the doings of every soul: and soon will the Unbelievers know who gets home in the end.
27.50. They plotted and planned, but We too planned, even while they perceived it not.
8. Allah and human logic.
Pope Benedict XVI managed during an address in Regensburg on 12 September 2006 to upset the entire Muslim world by stating, amongst other things, that Allah is not bound to, or by, human logic.
Interesting in this is that Muslims are of the same opinion as the Pope but, as is customary amongst them, the Muslims feel horribly insulted when someone criticizes their faith, even though the criticism be wholly justified.
We shall quote here a passage from the introduction to the Shariah (a canon of Islamic jurisprudence) handbook “Reliance of the Traveller” of the Shafi’i School (with stamp of approval from the Al-Azhar University in Cairo). On pp. 2-3 in §a1.4 we read the following:
The good is not what reason considers good, nor the bad what reason considers bad. The measure of good and bad, according to this school of thought, is the Sacred Law, not reason.
Islam means submission to the will of Allah as stated in the Koran. It is not required to comprehend the reasons behind the guidelines and instructions, even though they be contradictory. One needs to concentrate on the “How?”, which is the tenor of most of the theological discussions. It is necessary that the will of Allah be done even though the instructions contradict one another. We proffer three examples:
Is it required to submit to Allah alone, and serve only Allah?
YES, says the Koran.
39.66. No, serve only Allah and be one of those that give thanks.
NO, says the Koran, when Allah says “submit to Adam” you must obey, otherwise you are one who rejects Faith.
2.34. And behold, We said to the angels: "Bow down to Adam" and they bowed down. Not so Iblis: he refused and was haughty: He was of those who reject Faith.
Allah takes back his words
The Koran is the perfect word of Allah; nonetheless, Allah does find it necessary to take back his words. This is best illustrated by the following Koran verse:
2.106. None of Our revelations [in Arabic ayah Koran verse]do We abrogate or cause to be forgotten, but We substitute something better or similar: Knowest thou not that Allah Hath power over all things?
Hence, Allah hands down segments of the Koran to Muhammad, only to abrogate them later on or ensure that Muhammad forgets them. He thus reconsiders. Since Allah is assumed to be omniscient, that kind of “manipulation” or vacillation, makes one suspect that the Koran has been composed by a human person, this being Muhammad. In general, the Koran is not confined to spiritual instructions for the faithful, which they are expected to flesh out to the best of their ability, such as “love your neighbour as yourself”. On the contrary, a great many instructions are very detailed and run parallel with happenings in Muhammad’s life. Since Muhammad’s circumstances of life, his power base and, consequently, the status of his authority, kept changing continuously at the same time, the message needed to change with them. Hence the devious artifice of “lifting” verses out of the Koran.
Don’t ask too many questions
If a religion were based on reason, one would expect the faithful, for example, to ask questions about the doctrines and dogmas. Muhammad experienced in a number of instances difficulties in answering such questions. Allah once again comes to Muhammad’s defence and accuses those pesky questioners of lack of faith.
2.108. Would ye question your Messenger as Moses was questioned of old? But whoever changeth from Faith to Unbelief, Hath strayed without doubt from the even way.
Muhammad reiterated this in confirmation. The following tradition recorded by Bukhari, 3.41.591 illustrates this :
Al-Mughira bin Shu’ba has recounted: The Prophet said, “Allah has forbidden you (1) to disobey your mothers, (2) to bury your daughters alive, (3) not to pay what others are entitled to and (4) to beg for alms. And Allah hates your talking (1) vacuous and needlessly, or that you should talk too much about others, (2) ask too many questions, (about contentious religious points) and (3) waste your wealth (through extravagant behaviour).
And what about waging war against Allah?
5.33. The punishment of those who wage war against Allah and His Apostle, and strive with might and main for mischief through the land is: Execution, or crucifixion, or the cutting off of hands and feet from opposite sides, or exile from the land: That is their disgrace in this world, and a heavy punishment is theirs in the Hereafter;
And when Allah emerges victorious from the war, he shall reap the spoils of war!
8.1. They ask thee concerning [things taken as] spoils of war. Say: "[such] spoils are at the disposal of Allah and the Messenger: So fear Allah, and keep straight the relations between yourselves: Obey Allah and His Messenger, if ye do believe."