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What Is The Description of God in Islam? (Part 1)

18 January, 2017
Q Is Allah considered to be a spirit an immaterial or incorporeal spirit? What is the description of God in Islam?


Salam (Peace) Zamir,

Thank you for contacting About Islam with your question. 

Please find part one of the answer to your question below. Find the second and final part at the link here.

From the Islamic point of view, there is no way of knowing about the nature of God, except for what we can know from the revelations of Allah Almighty to Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him-PBUH).

What Allah wants us to know about Him is in, what Muslims believe to be the word of God, the Quran. Therefore, in order to answer your question, we need to go to the Quran.

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Allah is spoken of in the Quran as seeing, hearing, loving, being displeased, and so on. But we should not misunderstand the use of these words as indicative of a human-like being.

It would indeed be foolish on our part to suppose that Allah has a body like one of us. He hears, but not with ears like our ears, He sees but not with eyes like our eyes. The Quranic expression signifies His unlimited power, favor, and protection.

{Nay, both His hands are widely outstretched} (Al-Ma’idah 5:64)

Similarly, God’s throne need not be taken to mean a glorious chair like one occupied by an earthly monarch. Rather, it is a symbol of Allah’s Sovereignty and Overriding control of all things.

The Quran is categorical in its teachings that Allah does not resemble any of His creation in any way, nor does His creation resemble Him. Allah is Transcendent, beyond all comparison. He is high above all material limitations; and, as such, no simile or metaphor can represent Him properly.

Allah Almighty affirms:

{No vision can grasp Him, but His grasp is over all vision. He is above all comprehension, yet is acquainted with all things.} (Al-An`am 6:103)

The nature of Allah Almighty is incommensurable to our limited capabilities. Our minds are quite incapable of grasping the Infinite; and by relying on the evidence of our senses, we can know nothing at all about the Infinite.

Allah is not a person in the same sense in which we are persons; for such a consideration would not be compatible with the Infinite and Ineffable nature of Allah. At the most we can say, He is One:

{Say: He is Allah, the One and Only; Allah, the Eternal, Absolute; He begets not, nor is He begotten. And there is none like unto Him.} (Al-Ikhlas 112:1-4)

He is not in any way bound by needs or the force of necessity:

{Allah! There is no god but He,-the Living, the Self-subsisting, Eternal. No slumber can seize Him nor sleep. His are all things in the heavens and on earth. Who is there can intercede in His presence except as He permits? He knows what (appears to His creatures as) before or after or behind them. Nor shall they compass aught of His knowledge except as He wills. His Throne does extend over the heavens and the earth, and He feels no fatigue in guarding and preserving them for He is the Most High, the Supreme (in glory)} (Al-Baqarah 2:255)

Allah is a spiritual Being without a physical body:

{Allah is the Light of the heavens and the earth. The parable of His Light is as if there were a niche and within it a lamp: the lamp enclosed in glass: the glass as it were a brilliant star: lit from a blessed tree, an olive, neither of the east nor of the west, whose oil is well-nigh luminous, though fire scarce touched it: Light upon Light! Allah does guide whom He will to His Light: Allah does set forth parables for men: and Allah does know all things.} (An-Nur 24:35)

He transcends bounds of time and space. In order to indicate His love, power, knowledge, and other attributes; we are constrained to use the same words we use with regard to human beings.

But it should be underscored that the conception of His reality is not the same. In short, it is not within the power of a human being to comprehend all the attributes and activity of the Divine Being. They are far beyond our intellect and imagination.

The light of God encompasses everything and nothing is deprived of His light. Allah is the source of all light and is the ultimate fountainhead of all mercies and laws.

{The most beautiful names belong to Allah: so call on Him by them; but shun such men as use profanity in His names: for what they do, they will soon be requited.} (Al-A`raf  7:180)

Please continue reading part two at the link here. Salam.

Please continue feeding your curiosity, and find more info in the following links:

Why Can’t We See God?

How Is God’s Life And What Is His Purpose to Exist?

Allah Almighty… Ephemeral or Eternal?

How Can God Be Eternal?

Relation Between God, Nature, and Humanity

Reaching God Without Mediation