God in Islam

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In Islam, God (Arabic: ٱللَّٰه‎, romanized: Allāh, contraction of ٱلْإِلَٰه al-ʾilāh, lit. "the God")[1] is the absolute one, the all-powerful and all-knowing ruler of the universe, and the creator of everything in existence.[1][2][3] Islam emphasizes that God is strictly singular (tawḥīd); unique (wāḥid); inherently One (aḥad);[1][2][4] and also all-merciful and omnipotent.[5] No human eyes can see God till the Day of Judgement.[6] God doesn't depend on anything.[7] God has no parents and no children.[8]According to Islam, God is neither a material nor a spiritual being.[9] According to Islamic teachings, beyond the Throne (al-ʾArsh)[10] and according to the Quran, "No vision can grasp him, but His grasp is over all vision: He is above all comprehension, yet is acquainted with all things."[11]

In Islam there is only one God and there are 99 names of that one God (al-ʾasmāʾ al-ḥusnā lit. meaning: "The best names"), each of which evokes a distinct attribute of God.[2][12][13] All these names refer to God, the supreme and all-comprehensive.[14] Among the 99 names of God, the most familiar and frequent are "the Entirely Merciful" (Ar-Raḥmān) and "the Especially Merciful" (Ar-Raḥīm).[12][13] Creation and ordering of the universe is seen as an act of prime mercy for which all creatures praise God's attributes and bear witness to God's unity.


Allāh is the Arabic word referring to God in Abrahamic religions.[15][16][17]In the English language, the word generally refers to God in Islam. The Arabic word Allāh is thought to be derived by contraction from al-ʾilāh, which means "the God",[1] and is related to El and Elah, the Hebrew and Aramaic words for God.[18][19] It is distinguished from ʾilāh (Arabic: إِلَٰه‎), the Arabic word meaning deity, which could refer to any of the gods worshipped in pre-Islamic Arabia or to any other deity.[20]

Other names[edit]

God is described and referred to in the Quran and hadith by 99 names that reflect his attributes.[21] The Quran refers to the attributes of God as "most beautiful names".[22][23] According to Gerhard Böwering,

They are traditionally enumerated as 99 in number to which is added as the highest Name (al-ism al-ʾaʿẓam), the Supreme Name of Allāh. The locus classicus for listing the Divine Names in the literature of Qurʾānic commentary is 17:110[24] “Call upon Allah, or call upon The Merciful; whichsoever you call upon, to Allah belong the most beautiful Names,” and also 59:22-24,[25] which includes a cluster of more than a dozen Divine epithets."

— Gerhard Böwering, God and God's Attributes[26]

Some Muslims may use different names as much as Allah, for instance "God" in English. Whether or not Allah can be considered as the personal name of God became disputed in contemporary scholarship.[27]

Phrases and expressions[edit]

There are numerous conventional phrases and expressions invoking God.

(Quran or Sunnah)
allāhu ʾakbaru9:72, 29:45, 40:10
ٱللَّٰهُ أَكْبَرُ
God is greater [than all things]
subḥāna llāhi23:91, 28:68, 37:159, 52:43, 59:23
سُبْحَانَ ٱللَّٰهِ
Glory to God
al-ḥamdu li-llāhi1:2, 6:1, 29:63, 31:25, 34:1, 35:1, 35:34, 39:29, 39:74, 39:75, 40:65
ٱلْحَمْدُ لِلَّٰهِ
Praise be to God
lā ʾilāha ʾillā llāhu37:38, 47:19
لَا إِلَٰهَ إِلَّا ٱللَّٰهُ
[There is] no god but God
muḥammadun rasūlu llāhi48:29
مُحَمَّدٌ رَسُولُ ٱللَّٰهِ
Muhammad is the messenger of God
bi-smi llāhi r-raḥmāni r-raḥīmi1:1
بِسْمِ ٱللَّٰهِ ٱلرَّحْمَٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ[28]
In the name of God, the Beneficent, the Merciful
إِنْ شَاءَ ٱللَّٰهُ
ʾin shāʾa llāhu2:70, 12:99, 18:69, 28:27, 48:27
إِنْ شَاءَ ٱللَّٰهُ
If God wills
مَا شَاءَ ٱللَّٰهُ
mā shāʾa llāhu6:128, 7:188, 10:49, 18:39, 87:7
مَا شَاءَ ٱللَّٰهُ
What God wills
Alayhi as-Salam
عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ
salāmu -llāhi ʿalayhī
سَلَامُ ٱللَّٰهِ عَلَيْهِ[29]
Blessing of God be upon him
ṣallā llāhu ʿalayhi wa-ʾālihī wa-sallama
صَلَّىٰ ٱللَّٰهُ عَلَيْهِ وَآلِهِ وَسَلَّمَ[29]
God bless him and give him salvation
رَحِمَهُ ٱللَّٰهُ
raḥimahu llāhu / raḥimaka llāhu
رَحِمَهُ ٱللَّٰهُ / رَحِمَكَ ٱللَّٰهُ
God have mercy upon him / God have mercy upon you
ʾastaġfiru llāhi12:98, 19:47
أَسْتَغْفِرُ ٱللَّٰهَ
I seek forgiveness from God
ʾlā ḥawla wa-lā quwwata ʾillā bi-llāhiRiyad as-Salihin 16:36
لَا حَوْلَ وَلَا قُوَّةَ إِلَّا بِٱللَّٰهِ
There is no might nor power except in God
ʾinnā li-llāhi wa-ʾinnā ʾilayhi rājiʿūna2:156, 2:46, 2:156
إِنَّا لِلَّٰهِ وَإِنَّا إِلَيْهِ رَاجِعُونَ
Indeed, (we belong) to God and indeed to Him we shall return
جَزَاكَ ٱللَّٰهُ
jazāka llāhu ḫayranRiyad as-Salihin 17:32, Tirmidhi 27:141, Bukhari 7:3
جَزَاكَ ٱللَّٰهُ خَيْرًا
May God reward you well
ʾaʿūḏu bi-llāhi mina š-šayṭāni r-rajīmiRiyad as-Salihin 1:46
أَعُوذُ بِٱللَّٰهِ مِنَ ٱلشَّيْطَانِ ٱلرَّجِيمِ
I seek refuge with God from the pelted Satan
Fi sabilillah
fī sabīli llāhi2:154, 2:190, 2:195, 2:218, 2:244, 2:246, etc.
فِي سَبِيلِ ٱللَّٰهِ
in the cause (way) of God
yarḥamuka llāhuBukhari 78:248, Riyad as-Salihin 6:35
يَرْحَمُكَ ٱللَّٰهُ
May God have mercy on you
Honorifics often said or written alongside Allah
Subhanahu wa-Ta'ala
subḥānahū wa-taʿālā[30]6:100, 10:18, 16:1, 17:43, 30:40, 39:67
سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَىٰ
Praised and exalted[31][32]
Tabaraka wa-Ta'ala
tabāraka wa-taʿālā
تَبَارَكَ وَتَعَالَىٰ
Blessed and exalted
Jalla Jalalah
jalla jalālahu
جَلَّ جَلَالَهُ[33]
May His glory be glorified
Azza wa Jall
ʿazza wa-jalla
عَزَّ وَجَلَّ
Prestigious and Majestic



Islam's most fundamental concept is a strict monotheism called tawhid, affirming that God is one and Tanzih (wāḥid). The basic creed of Islam, the Shahada[34] (recited under oath to enter the religion), involves لَا إِلَٰهَ إِلَّا ٱللَّٰهُ (lā ʾilāha ʾilla llāh), or "I testify there is no deity other than God."

Muslims reject the Christian doctrine of the Trinity and divinity of Jesus, comparing it to polytheism.[35] Jesus is instead believed to be a prophet.

Tawhid constitutes the foremost article of the Muslim profession.[36] The deification or worship of anyone or anything other than God (shirk) is the greatest sin in Islam. The entirety of the Islamic teaching rests on the principle of Tawhid.[37]

According to Vincent J. Cornell,[38] the Quran also provides a monist image of God by describing the reality as a unified whole, with God being a single concept that would describe or ascribe all existing things: "He is the First and the Last, the Evident and the Immanent: and He has full knowledge of all things."[39]


God is the creator of the universe and all the creatures in it.[40]

Praise be to Allah, the Creator of the heavens and the earth, Who appointeth the angels messengers having wings two, three and four. He multiplieth in creation what He will. Lo! Allah is Able to do all things.

— Quran 35:1 (Translated by Pickthall)

We have built the heaven with might, and We it is Who make the vast extent (thereof).

— Quran 51:47 (Translated by Pickthall)

Verily We created man from a product of wet earth; Then placed him as a drop (of seed) in a safe lodging; Then fashioned We the drop a clot, then fashioned We the clot a little lump, then fashioned We the little lump bones, then clothed the bones with flesh, and then produced it as another creation. So blessed be Allah, the Best of creators!

— Quran 23:12-14 (Translated by Pickthall)


The most commonly used names in the primary sources are Al-Rahman, meaning "Most Compassionate" and Al-Rahim, meaning "Most Merciful".[41] The former compasses the whole creation, therefore applying to God's mercy in that it gives every necessary condition to make life possible. The latter applies to God's mercy in that it gives favor for good deeds. Thus Al-Rahman includes both the believers and the unbelievers, but Al-Rahim only the believers.[42][43] God is said to love forgiving, with a hadith stating God would replace a sinless people with one who sinned but still asked repentance.[44]

His mercy takes many forms as he says in the Quran "and My Mercy embraces all things." [7:156] This is shown in Sahih Muslim narrated from Abu Hurairah, who said the Prophet said:

Allah has one hundred parts of mercy, of which He sent down one between the jinn, mankind, the animals and the insects, by means of which they are compassionate and merciful to one another, and by means of which wild animals are kind to their offspring. And Allah has kept back ninety-nine parts of mercy with which to be merciful to His slaves of the Day of Resurrection.[45][46]

God's mercy, according to Islamic theology, is what gets a person into paradise. According to a hadith in Sahih Al Bukhari "No one’s deeds will ever admit him to Paradise." They said, "Not even you, O Messenger of Allah?" He said, "No, not even me unless Allah showers me with His Mercy. So try to be near to perfection. And no one should wish for death; he is either doing good so he will do more of that, or he is doing wrong so he may repent."[46][47]


God is fully aware of everything that can be known.[48] This includes private thoughts and feelings. The Quran asserts that one can not hide anything from God:[original research?]

And, [O Muhammad], you are not [engaged] in any matter or recite any of the Qur'an and you [people] do not do any deed except that We are witness over you when you are involved in it. And not absent from your Lord is any [part] of an atom's weight within the earth or within the heaven or [anything] smaller than that or greater but that it is in a clear register.

— Quran, Surah Yunus (10), Ayah 61[49]

And indeed We have created man, and We know what his ownself whispers to him. And We are nearer to him than his jugular vein.

— Quran, Surah Qaf (50), Ayah 16

Relationship with creation[edit]

Muslims believe that God is the only true reality and sole source of all creation. Everything including its creatures are just a derivative reality created out of love and mercy by God's command,[50] "..."Be," and it is."[5][51] and that the purpose of existence is to worship or to know God.[52][53][54] It is believed that God created everything for a divine purpose; the universe governed by fixed laws that ensure the harmonious working of all things. Everything within the universe, including inanimated objects, praises God, and is in this sense understood as a muslim.[55] An exception are humans, who are endowed with free-will and must live voluntarily in accordance with these laws to live to find peace and reproduce God's benevolence in their own society to live in accordance with the nature of all things, known as surrender to God in the Islamic sense.[55][56]

As in the other Abrahamic religions, God is believed to communicate with his creation via revelations given to prophets to remind people of God. The Quran in particular is believed by Muslims to be the verbatim word of God as revealed to Muhammad. Hadith are the records of Muhammad's sayings and example, and Hadith Qudsi is a sub-category of hadith, which Muslims regard as the words of God repeated by Muhammad. According to Ali ibn Mohammed al-Jurjani, the Hadith Qudsi differ from the Quran in that the former are "expressed in Muhammad's words", whereas the latter are the "direct words of God".[57] There are no intermediaries, such as clergy, to contact God who states in the Quran, "It was We Who created man, and We know what dark suggestions his soul makes to him: for We are nearer to him than (his) jugular vein."[58] People may enter a particular relationship with God any time and in different circumstances through the divine names or attributes. Thus God is also a personal God who responds whenever a person in need or distress calls Him.[5][59] Muhammad al-Bukhari, in his Ṣaḥīḥ Bukhārī, narrates a ḥadīth qudsī that God says, "I am as My servant thinks (expects) I am."[60][61] When Sufis claim union with God, it is not that they become one in essence, rather the will of the Sufi is fully congruent to God.[62]

The Quran rejects dualism of Persian Zoroastrianism and Manichaeism, which regarded good and evil, light and darkness as two distinct and independent powers. The Quran affirms both powers to be equally God's creation (Q:6:1; 113:1–3). Satan is not an independent power, but subordinated to God (Q:7:11–18; 38:78–83).[63]

Concepts in Islamic theology[edit]

Isma'ilism - Shia[edit]

According to Isma'ilism, God is absolutely transcendent and unknowable;[64] beyond matter, energy, space, time, change, imaginings, intellect, positive as well as negative qualities. All attributes of God named in rituals, scriptures or prayers refers not to qualities God possesses, but to qualities emanated from God, thus these are the attributes God gave as the source of all qualities, but God does not consist on one of these qualities.[65] One philosophical definition of the world Allah is " The Being Who concentrates in Himself all the attributes of perfection " [66] or " the Person Who is the Essential Being, and Who encompasses all the attributes of perfection".[66] Since God is beyond all wordings, Isma'ilism also denies the concept of God as the first cause.[67]

In Ismailism, assigning attributes to God as well as negating any attributes from God (via negativa) both qualify as anthropomorphism and are rejected, as God cannot be understood by either assigning attributes to Him or taking attributes away from Him. Therefore, Abu Yaqub Al-Sijistani, a renowned Ismaili thinker, suggested the method of double negation; for example: “God is not existent” followed by “God is not non-existent”. This glorifies God from any understanding or human comprehension.[68]


The Muʿtazilites reject the anthropomorphic attributes of God because an eternal being "must be unique" and attributes would make God comparable. The descriptions of God in the Quran are considered to be allegories.[69] Nevertheless, the Muʿtazilites thought God contains oneness (tawhid) and justice. Other characteristics like knowledge are not attributed to God; rather they describe his essence. Otherwise eternal attributes of God would give rise to a multiplicity entities existing eternal besides God.[70]

Maturidi and Ash'ari[edit]

Ash'ari and Maturidi are in agreement that God's attributes are eternal and are to be held to be metaphorically.[71] References to anthropomorphic attributes can probably not be understood correctly by humans.[72] Although God's existence is considered to be possibly known by reason, human mind can not fully understand God's attributes. For example, when humans in paradise see God, they do not see God in the way humans are able to see on Earth.[72] Ashʿari asserts, since God is the creator of everything that exists and creation does not affect nor alter God, the Throne of God is not a dwelling place for God.[73] Accordingly, expressions such as God is above his Throne means God exists unattached of any place.


Since God in Islam is transcendental and sovereign but also immanent and omnipresent, the Sufi view holds that in reality, only God exists. Thus everything in creation is reflecting an attribute of God's names. Yet these forms are not God themselves.[74] The Sufi Saint Ibn Arabi stated: There is nothing but God. This statement was mistakenly equalized to Pantheism by critics; however, Ibn Arabi always made a clear distinction between the creation and the creator.[75] Since God is the Absolute Reality,[76]the created worlds and their inhabitants are merely illusions. They just exist because of God's command Kun, but everything that would be, was already known by God.[77]

Salafism and Wahhabism[edit]

Salafism and Wahhabism refuse interpretations on Quran to avoid altering of its message, thus taking the descriptions of God literally and oppose widespread theological concepts including the Ash'ari view.[78] Therefore, descriptions such as "God's hands" or "sitting on (above) a throne", should be taken at their linguistic meaning, without asking how, as it is regarded as the only possibility to understand God's attributes.[79]

Wahdat al-wujud[edit]

The image of God during the time of Seljuk Empire and Ottoman Empire was mostly influenced by the concept later known as Wahdat al-wujud. The concept is usually traced back to the Andalusian shaikh and mystic ibn Arabi. But the idea probably originated 200 years earlier as a result of Turkic cosmology in Turkistan[citation needed]. In this place the first taqira, the Yesevi-tariqa derived from, which had great impact on Haji Bektash Veli. He had significant influence on the understanding of Islam among Turks in Anatolia. The expression itself was used only after the disciples of Ibn Arabi.

Central for the Muslim Turks was the search for God in the world, but could only be found with a "pure heart". Usually, this state could only be attained after death. This striving for God and finding God by a transformation through death is also found in Rumi's Masnavi. Accordingly, dying would transform a lifeform into a higher being, until it returns into an eon[clarification needed]. The prophets and angels have been integrated into the universalistic understanding of God. Ibn Arabi interpreted this from the metaphysics of the Quran. According to Heydar Amuli, who was strongly influenced by Ibn Arabis metaphysics, angels (malaika) are representations of God's beautiful names, while the devils (shayatin) are representing the majestic names of God. Another important aspect of belief is the ancestor cult, also in the form of saint veneration. Equality of gender from the Pre-Islamic period of Turks usually remained accepted and women were allowed to participate on religious gatherings without hijab.[80]

The concept of Wahdat al-Wujud permeated the entire Ottoman culture, religion and politics. Both the advisors as well as principals of universities have usually been disciples of Ibn Arabi's philosophy.[81]

Nation of Islam[edit]

The Nation of Islam believes that its founder, Wallace Fard Muhammad, was an incarnation of God. The idea that God could incarnate is, however, rejected by Islam.

Comparative theology[edit]

Islamic theology identifies God as described in the Quran as the same God of Israel who covenanted with Abraham.[82] It rejects the belief once held by pre-Islamic Arabians that God has daughters. Islam and Judaism alike reject the Trinity of Christianity. But the Islamic concept of God is less personal than in the Judeo-Christian tradition,[53] and is known only from natural signs and can only be spoken about in parables.[83] Muslim Turks further assimilated Tengri, the personification of the eternal heaven, with the Islamic concept of God.[84]

See also[edit]

  • Conceptions of God
  • Existence of God
  • God in Abrahamic religions


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  • Al-Bayhaqi (1999), Allah's Names and Attributes, ISCA, ISBN 1-930409-03-6
  • Hulusi, Ahmed (1999), "Allah" as introduced by Mohammed, Kitsan, 10th ed., ISBN 975-7557-41-2
  • Muhaiyaddeen, M. R. Bawa (1976), Asmāʼul-Husnā: the 99 beautiful names of Allah, The Bawa Muhaiyaddeen Fellowship, ISBN 0-914390-13-9
  • Netton, Ian Richard (1994), Allah Transcendent: Studies in the Structure and Semiotics of Islamic Philosophy, Theology and Cosmology, Routledge, ISBN 0-7007-0287-3

External links[edit]

  • Allah, article by Encyclopædia Britannica