Who is Allah?


Who is Allah?

I understand that he is the God of Muslims and the religion of Islam, but can you please give a short introduction, while explaining the meaning of the word ‘Allah’?


Who is Allah?

‘Allah’ is the Arabic term for the One and only Creator of the universe. It is NOT a name for a tribal Arabian God or the God of Muslims. Thus, both Muslim and Christian Arabs refer to God as ‘Allah’ although their concept of God may differ.

Etymology of the word ‘Allah’

Allah ( اللَّه‏ ) is driven from the root ‘Aleha’ (أَلِهَ) to mean ‘worshiped’. Thus, any deity – whether false or true, objects or humans – is called in Arabic ‘Elah’, whereas ‘Allah’ is a distinguished name to refer to the real Creator. The testimony of faith in Islam is expressed in Arabic as  )لا إِلهَ‏ إِلَّا اللَّه‏ ‘La Elaha ellAllah’ (there is no deity worthy of worship but Allah).

It is important to note that as Muslims we do not worship the name of ‘Allah’. Thus, you may refer to the reality of the One and only Creator using any good name: “To Allah belong all the most beautiful names, so call on Him by them.” (The Holy Qur’an 7:180)

However, we believe the term ‘Allah’ expresses the monotheistic concept of the Creator more accurately than the English ‘God’. Literally speaking, unlike ‘god’ there is no plurality for ‘Allah’. Similarly, the term ‘Allah’ is gender free.

Divine Beautiful Names

Although the Divine Names and Attributes are countless, the Almighty God has manifested Himself in the Qur’an with more than 200 divine names, of which 99 Names are known as ‘The Most Beautiful Names’.  According to some traditions there is also a divine name that the Almighty Allah has kept to Himself often known as ‘The Greatest Name’. Each divine name introduces one of the attributes of the nature of God. For example, one of the divine names is ‘the Most Gracious’, which means His Grace is universally inclusive and infinite.

Thus Allah introduces Himself

The Almighty Allah has introduced Himself to His holy Prophet (s) in various revelations. The following are only some examples of divine names and attributes as revealed to the Prophet of Islam (s):

1. “Say (O Muhammad), He is Allah, the Unique, the Self-Sufficient to whom eventually all take their needs. He begets not, nor was He begotten. And there is none co-equal or comparable unto Him.” (the Holy Qur’an, 112)

2. “He is Allah, the Creator, the Inventor of all things, the Bestower of forms. To Him belong the Best Names. All that is in the heavens and the earth glorify Him. And He is the All-Mighty, the All-Wise.” (Ibid, 59:24)

3. “And when My devotees ask you (O Muhammad) concerning Me, then (answer them), I am indeed Near, I respond to the invocations of the supplicants when they call on Me. So let them obey Me and believe in Me, so that they may be led aright.” (Ibid, 2:186)

4.  Allah! (is He  Who) there is no (existing) deity but Him, the Ever Living Ever Protecting (all that exists), (Who) no any slumber and (let alone) any kind of sleep overtakes Him. To Him belongs whatever is in the heavens and whatever is on the earth. Who is he that can intercede with Him except with His Permission? He knows what happens to them (i.e. who intercede, or His creatures) in this world and what will happen to them in the Hereafter. They (who intercede, or His creatures) will never compass anything of His information except that which He wills. His sovereignty and knowledge extends all over the heavens and the earth, and He feels no fatigue in preserving them. He is the Most High, The Most Great.” (Ibid, 2:255)

5. “Proclaim (O Muhammad): O My Slaves who wronged themselves (by committing evil deeds and sins)! Despair not of the Mercy of Allah; verily, Allah forgives all sins. Truly He is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” (Ibid, 39:53)

Answered by: Sheikh Mansour Leghaei

For more Q&As on Allah (swt) please see here

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What is the best proof for the existence of God?


What is the best proof for the existence of God?


Religious Scholars of different fields have suggested various proofs for the existence of God. However, the bottom line is this: to regard an argument as ‘strong or not’, really depends on the way we perceive it, and how we relate to it. Thus, different arguments appeal to different people, even often to one person at different stages of his/her life.

For example, the proof of instinct appeals to the one who has for instance, experienced a deadlock in his life such as an ailment, bankruptcy, etc, and then all the known doors and means are absolutely closed to him. He appeals to God, and miraculously exits from his predicament.

I have heard and witnessed the testimony of many people who are put – at certain times of their lives – into such situations, and how their lifestyle and perception of God drastically changed . However, unless one experiences that, he/she may not really relate to it.  Therefore, the strongest proof is the proof that one has experienced, rather than having heard about.

May God unveil Himself to us in an intuitive way to realize that it was in fact our existence that needed proof, not His, as experienced and expressed by Imam Husain (a.s): “Whence were You hidden to need a proof?!, Blind is a vision who can not see You!”.

Answered by: Sheikh Mansour Leghaei

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What does Islam say about Anthromophic philosophy and Transcendent view of Allah (swt)?


What is the proper view in the school of the Ahlul Bayt when it comes to the concepts of Anthromorphic philosophy regarding Allah (swt), and Transcendent view of Allah?


Anthropomorphism is an ancient Greek philosophy-though not endorsed by some of their famous philosophers such as Plato- that depicts God and other objects in a human image, with human bodily form and emotions. They claim that it is impossible to think of God without attributing to Him some human traits. This philosophy has application in art too by depiction of animals and plants as talking like humans. Remember some animal cartoons like in Ice Age.

The anthropomorphic concept of God is part of Christian theology as they insist that Jesus is God’s incarnation while he is a fully human person. In Islam the anthropomorphic concept of God is fully rejected and equals blasphemy. Many Ayat in the Quran clearly reject this notion, Such as:

لَيْسَ كَمِثْلِهِ شَيْءٌ وَهُوَ السَّمِيعُ الْبَصِيرُ

There is nothing like unto Him, and He is the All-Hearer, the All-Seer (42:11).

لَا تُدْرِكُهُ الْأَبْصَارُ وَهُوَ يُدْرِكُ الْأَبْصَارَ

No vision can grasp Him, but His Grasp is over all vision (6:103).

Also, on the issue of divine attributes we -according to the teachings of Ahlul-Bayt (a.s)- believe that the only similarity between our characteristics of say: hearing, seeing etc. and that of Allah is the words and that is because human language is limited to worldly and material matters.  For example, the meaning of the Wrath of Allah is His punishment and the meaning of being loved by Allah means receiving His rewards. God doesn’t need eyes or ears for seeing and hearing. Imam Ali says:

الْحَمْدُ لله الَّذِي لاَ تُدْرِكُهُ الشَّوَاهِدُ، وَلاَ تَحْوِيهِ الْمَشَاهِدُ، وَلاَ تَرَاهُ النَّوَاظِرُ

“Praise be to Allah. He is such that senses cannot perceive Him, place cannot contain Him, eyes cannot see Him” (Nahjul Balagha: Sermon 185)

He also says in the next sermon:

مَا وَحَّدَهُ مَنْ كَيَّفَهُ، وَلاَ حَقِيقَتَهُ أَصَابَ مَنْ مَثَّلَهُ، وَلاَ إِيَّاهُ عَنَى مَنْ شَبَّهَهُ

“He who assigns to Him (different) conditions does not believe in His oneness, nor does he who likens Him grasp His reality. He who illustrates Him does not signify Him” (Nahjul Balagha: Sermon 186).

There is however a narration in the Sunni books of Hadith such as Sahih Bukhari that quotes from the Prophet (P) to have said:

خلق الله آدم علی صورته

“God created Adam according to his image”.

Based on this they claim that God has created Adam according to His image. In the same book many physical and human traits are attributed to God, glory to Him! The above Hadith has been an issue of debate between Shi’a and Sunni and hence the Imams of Ahlul-Bayt have been often asked about its authenticity and its meaning.

For example, Sh. Sadooq in his books al-Tawhid and al-Oyoun narrated in his Esnad from Hossein IbnKhaled:

I asked Imam Redha (a.s): People (meaning Sunnis) narrate from the Prophet (P) to have said: Allah has created Adam according to His image! The Imam said: May God kill them; they have deleted the beginning of the Hadith. The Messenger of Allah passed by two men who were swearing at each other. He heard one of them saying to the other: May God make your face and whoever looks like you ugly. The Prophet said: O slave of God! Don’t say this to your brother for Allah the Almightyhas created Adam according to his image (meaning Adam looks like the one you are swearing at)  [Behar vol.4 p.11].

In conclusion, according to the teachings of Ahlul-Bayt (a.s) we believe in the transcendental view of God in the sense that He is beyond our imagination and by no means is similar to anything. He is Allah the Unique, although we can all experience Him, and within our limits understand His existence and relate to His attributes.

Answered by: Sheikh Mansour Leghaei

Is God physically visible, either in this world or the next?


Can God be seen, either in this world or the hereafter? Apparently many Sunni scholars believe that He can be seen in the hereafter at least?


Nearly all Sunni theologians believe that God will be seen in the Hereafter and it is also possible to see Him in this world, whether in sleep or when awake. Their main reason for this dogma is some ambiguous Ayaat and numerous Hadiths that they regard as authentic. The Shi’a theologians on the contrary, but unanimously, believe that our vision can only grasp objects that are physical, stand within our sights, have colour, and light reflects on them.

The Almighty Allah is beyond all of these and hence it is impossible for Him to be physically seen, whether in here or in the hereafter. The ambiguous Ayaat also must be interpreted by the established Ayaat, such as: “No vision can grasp Him, but He grasps all vision.” [6:103]. Also see the Holy Quran: 7:143, 4:153, 25:21. The narrations about seeing God as bright as the full moon and similar narrations are all fabricated and are nothing other than Israelite narrations.

The Imams of Ahlul-Bayt (a.s) have explicitly and unambiguously denoted the dogma of seeing God whether in here or in the hereafter. They have however, confirmed that God is visible both in here and in the hereafter by the reality of faith and certainty of heart.

Answered by: Sheikh Mansour Leghaei