Part 2 : 5: God Is Unlike Anything Else
We generally have a mental picture of things we know, for example: flowers and fruits, hills and dales, sun , moon and stars and human being as well. But what about God? Can we also form an image of Him? Never!
Because our notions are a result of our experiences, or constructions out of our experiences or of analysis carried on by our restless mind, yet having their roots in things we have come to know through our senses.
In this respect Qur'an says:
"The Creator of the heavens and of the earth. He has created pairs of yourselves as well as pairs of the animals-thereby He multiplies you. Nothing is like onto Him and He is the All-hearing, the All -seeing." Sura 42: verse 11.
Yes , God can be represented neither in form of a painting nor a statue. He can also not be conceived.
6: God, The Omniscient, The Mighty
On various occasions, Qur'an mentions different and absolute attributes for God:
"He is the Creator, the Omniscient, the All-hearing , the All-seeing, the All-guiding, the Supporter, the Forbearer, the Amiable, the Always-forgiving, the Self-sufficient..."
A God who knows our most secret thoughts, Listens to the prayers of all His servants, grants each and everyone his due; a God who is nearer and more gracious to us than any other being.
7: Praise of God
Since man's mind has more to do with relative ideas, that is to say his ideas are of relative things, even in the understanding of those of His attributes which the Qur'an mentions, man is liable to go astray and fall into error. It is owing to this shortcoming of the human mind that there are many verses in the Qur'an which attribute to God purity from imperfections which have their seat in the native deficiency of our thoughts.
9: Has God Any Children?
Among these erroneous ideas is the notion that God has children. There are people who believe that Jesus-peace be with him- is the son of God. There have also been people and perhaps there still are, who fancy that angels are God's daughters. In this respect the Holy Qur'an says:
"And they falsely, having no knowledge, attributed to Him sons and daughters. Praise and glory to Him! He is far above whatever they attributed to Him. The Creator of the heavens and the earth, where from could He have a child, when He has no consort?
And He has created everything and knows everything. That is God , your Lord! There is no God but He, the Creator of all things. Then worship Him and He is the Guardian of all things"
Sura 6: verses 100-103.
"And they say: 'Allah begot a son. Praise and glory be to Him! Nay, to Him belongs all that is in the heavens and on the earth, everything renders worship to Him."
Sura 2:verse 116.
The Qur'an warns us against considering angels and apostles as God's offspring. They are His bondsmen, though admittedly eminent among them. But by no means may they be considered as His children. Adam, Noah, Abraham, Lot, Hud, Saleh, Ismael, Isaac, Jacob, Shoaib, Moses Joshua, Enoch, John, Jesus, Mohammed, and the other apostles are like us in so far as they are men and God's servants. He has created them as He has created others. Should those who say that Jesus is God's son mean that God is a father as we are to our children, then their characterisation of Him is improper. God is elevated above such immature fancies. On the other hand, if they mean something different they should use a different notion to express it, rather than the misleading term "Son of God".
10. The Danger of Comparison (Anthropomorphism)
Using such expressions as "Son of God" always involves the danger of the only God, to Whom nothing is alike, appearing to men as a magnified human being living beyond the clouds. This is the danger of anthropomorphism which is a stumbling block on the path of a correct acquaintance with God, deviating the course of men's thinking. The unfounded and fanciful beliefs of many believers and the weak objections made by many agnostics and atheists are nearly entirely the result of these unfitting ideas which are in turn produced by the anthropomorphising imagination of man. Believers create in their fancy something they call God and worship this image, and unbelievers considering this product find it an idea without any foundation and thereupon reject to believe in His existence at all. But truly, both are in error. The only God to Whom Islam invites all men to believe and to worship is neither this nor that but far above such false images.
t is for these considerations that one of the primary teachings of Islam is a total abstinence from comparison (anthropomorphism).
11: Islam and The Relation between God, Man and The Universe
Islam considers a correct acquaintance with God as being related to a proper understanding of man and universe. According to its teachings the better our knowledge of man's nature and being , the more perfect our knowledge of God and the truer.
"Whoever knows himself knows His Lord."
This also holds true of creation in general. A better understanding of the creatures is a real help towards better understanding of God, the Creator. On the other hand, any kind of deep-rooted error or unfounded fancy about man and universe, particularly God's relation to man, universe and to angels leads to an erroneous idea of God, the Maker because the knowledge of cause and effect are intimately related [See Note 1 below].
There are many verses in Qur'an inviting man to reflect upon himself and the universe in order to acquire a better understanding of God. Thus two pertinent verses of Qur'an read as follows:
"In the creation of the heavens and the earth , and in the alternation of night and day, there are indeed signs for men of understanding (definite) proof."
"Who think of Allah, standing, sitting and lying and think about the creation of the heavens and the earth……"
Sura 3: verses 190-191.
It is easy to deduce from these verses the close correlation: Recognition of God/ cognition of man and universe.
The 91st verse of the 6th Sura reads as follows:
"They did not esteem Allah according to His value when they said: 'Allah has not sent anything down to man ', Say, who then has sent the book which Moses brought as a light and guidance for mankind, but you have made of it sheets of paper which you show while you conceal much."
A group of Jews who had dealings with the Meccan's heard that a messenger had arisen from among the Quraish saying: 'God has revealed to me so that I may rise up against those who take partners unto Him, and to rise up against ignorance and oppression. I have been ordained by Him to place within the reach of men the divine truths, so that all may know God and the right way of life, pleasing Him , and to deliver them from error'.
Accepting the truth that Mohammed was the prophet of God was for many reasons unpalatable to those Jews, so that they attempted to sabotage the progress and spread of Islam from many directions and eventually decided to fight Islam. They employed various methods in their struggle. One way was to cast doubt in the humble minds of the Arabs. Among other things, they said that it is impossible that God should reveal His message to a man and it has not been known of God that He has done so. In reply to this the Qur'an says: 'What about the book brought by Moses? From where did it come to him? Is it not true that exactly like the Qur'an it was sent down as a revelation on one who had been chosen for prophecy, so that he may guide men'. Verily, Moses too was a man to whom a Holy Book had been revealed as well, and that illusory claim-'God never sent a revelation to man'- is based on ignorance. The unwise claim by the Jews was directly related to the problem of the revelation, but Qur'an has considered it as a result of their wrong conception of God.