God (isl.)

 
 Citation link: God (isl.)  

(Arab. Allah, Ilah, Turk. Tanrı)

In Islam, the general term of ‘god’, which can be used in plural as well, finds its counterpart in Allah. As a proper name, the logical status of Allah is different from the concept of god which expresses divinity. The general term god can be used as ‘gods’ in plural and therefore can be applied to more than one being, whereas ‘Allah’ can neither be used in plural nor be applied to more than one being. Hence the corresponding term of god in Arabic is ilâh, which has the same use. There is, however, a necessary semantic connection between the concept of ilâh, which expresses the truth-conditions of divinity, and Allah, who is the unique referent of this concept in Islam. The only being that satisfies the conditions for being god (ilâh) is Allah as one can see in the Qur’anic statement that ‘There is no god but Allah (La ilâhe illa Allah)’ (37:35; 47:19), which constitutes the foundation of Islamic faith. Since the ground of the conception of God in Islam is the very Divine revelation, the ultimate source of such a conception is again Allah Himself. In the Qur’an, Allah attributes to Himself the names which He calls the most beautiful names (al-asmâ al-husnâ) such as ‘The Exceedingly Beneficent, The Exceedingly Merciful, The Omniscient, The Almighty, The Loving, The Provider / Sustainer, The Repeatedly Forgiving’. These names, which are more akin to attributes, determine the meaning and therefore the truth-conditions of the word ‘God / Allah’. As a matter of fact, given the semantic overlap among these names, Muslim theologians have reduced them to particular attributes.

There is a strict semantic relation between Divine existence and attributes. In the most general sense, the Qur’an invites men to use their intellect on the existence and attributes of Allah, and most of the Qur’anic arguments in this regard have empirical (a posteriori) premises which draw on the order and purpose manifested in the Universe. Even though the Qur’an emphasizes the fact that Allah is not directly subject to human experience at least in this world, it does not have an agnostic attitude toward His existence and nature. This Qur’anic viewpoint has influenced the theological thought in Islam deeply and caused the development of an evidential stance on these matters. Muslim thinkers, therefore, have put forward various arguments for the existence of God. Likewise, Muslim theologians have formulated negative (salbî) attributes to show what God is not and also positive (subûtî) attributes to express what He is. These are: Life, Knowledge, Power, Hearing, Seeing, Speech, Willing and Creating. Although, in attributing essential and personal properties to God, Islam bears similarities to other theistic religions, it is peculiar in emphasizing His absolute oneness and transcendence. Indeed the principle of Unity (tawhîd), which constitutes the essence of the conception of God in Islam, presupposes the oneness, transcendence and absoluteness of Allah. This principle also necessitates an unassailable ontological distinction between the Absolute Creator and the created beings; that is, it denotes the fact that there can be no god but Allah and nothing equal or similar to Him.

Mehmet Sait Reçber

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