Concept of God in the Qur'an by Dr. Muhammad Sharif Chaudhry Chapter 4



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Concept of God in the Qur’an

By Dr. Muhammad Sharif Chaudhry



  1. Sovereign – Lord

  2. Real Owner

  3. The Supreme Law Giver

  4. The Supreme Judge

  5. None Can Benefit or Harm Except God

  6. God’s Will

1 – Sovereign - Lord

According to the Qur’an, God is the Sovereign Lord of the Universe and Absolute Ruler of the cosmos. He is the Creator of everything. He is the Sustainer, the Cherisher, and the Nourisher. He is the Regulator and the Perfector. He is the Supreme Law-Giver and the Supreme-Judge. He is the Supreme Lord and the Most Powerful. Sovereignty in all its dimensions over the heavens and the earth and everything else is for Allah only. Power of command and rule in the Universe and in the heavens and the earth belongs to God and God alone. The totality of power and authority in all aspects is prerogative of Allah and there is none who can share in this prerogative. He is able to do all things.

God is the source and fountain head of all power and honour. It is He who bestowes honour and power on man. So whosoever desires power and honour should know that all power and honour comes from God.

The Qur’an, in its following Verses, highlights the concept of God’s Sovereignty and command:

1.      Knowest thou not that it is Allah unto Whom belongeth the sovereignty of the heavens and earth; and ye have not, beside Allah, any friend or helper?––2: AL–Baqarah: 107

2.      Say: O Allah! Owner of Sovereignty! Thou givest sovereignty unto whom Thou wilt, and Thou withdrawest sovereignty from whom Thou wilt. Thou exaltest whom Thou wilt and Thou abasest whom Thou wilt. In Thy hand is the good. Lo! Thou art to do all things.––3: Al–Imran: 26

3.      Knowest thou not that unto Allah belongeth the Sovereignty of the heavens and the earth? He punisheth whom He will, and forgiveth whom He will: Allah is Able to do all thigns.
––5: AL–Ma’idah: 40

4.      Lo! Allah! Unto Him belongeth the sovereignty of the heavens and the earth. He quickeneth and He giveth death. And ye have instead of Allah no protecting friend nor helper.
––9: At–Taubah: 116

5.      And let not their speech grieve thee (O Muhammad). Lo! power belongeth wholly to Allah. He is the Hearer, the Knower.––10: Yunus: 66

6.       Now Allah be exalted, the true King! There is no God save Him, the Lord of the Throne of Grace.
––23: Al–Mu’minun: 116

7.      He unto Whom belongeth the sovereignty of the heavens and the earth, He hath chosen no son nor hath He any partner in the sovereignty. He hath created everything and hath meted out for it a measure.––25: Al–Furqan: 2

8.      And He is Allah; there is no God save Him. His is all praise in the former and the latter (state), and His is the command, and unto Him ye will be brought back.––28: Al–Qasas: 70

9.      Whoso desireth power (should know that) all power belongeth to Allah.––35: Al–Fatir: 10

10.   Unto Allah belongeth the sovereignty of the heavens and the earth. He createth what He will. He bestoweth female (off-spring) upon whom He will, and bestoweth male (offspring) upon whom He will;––42: Ash–Shura: 49

11.   And He it is Who in the heaven is God, and in the earth God, He is the Wise, the Knower. And blessed be He unto Whom belongeth the Sovereignty of the heavens and the earth and all that is between them, and with Whom is knowledge of the Hour, and unto Whom ye will be returned.
––43: Az–Zukhruf: 84-85

12.   He is Allah, than Whom there is no other God, the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One, Peace, the Keeper of Faith, the Guardian, the Majestic, the Compeller, the Superb. Glorified be Allah from all that they ascribe as partner (unto Him)!
––59: Al–Hashr: 23

13.   Say: I seek refuge in the Lord of mankind,
The King of mankind,
The God of mankind,
From the evil of the sneaking whisperer,––114: An–Nas: 1-4

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2 – Real Owner

God’s dominion or ownership is on everything as the heavens and the earth and everything in the universe belongs to God. This is the theme which has been emphasized throughout in the Holy Qur’an. God is the real owner and possessor of everything and none else can claim this right. Wherever God has given possession of things belonging to Him to any of His creatures that is in fact a trust and is only for the use of the latter. For example, God has given some rights to men (who is the best of Allah’s creations) for use of things required by the latter for his existence on earth. However, rights given to man are very limited and do not make man the real owner of such things like land, water, air, fire, minerals, metals, cattle, plants, natural sources of energy, etc. The real owner remains the God, position of man being purely and merely that of a trustee or a beneficiary.

The Qur’an stresses the fact of God’s ownership of everything in the following of its verses:

1.       Unto Allah belongeth whatsoever is in the heaven and whatsoever is in the earth; and unto Allah all things are returned.––3: Al–Imran: 109

2.       Unto Allah belongeth whatsoever is in the heavens and whatsoever is in the earth. He forgiveth whom He will, and punisheth whom He will. Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.
––3: Al–Imran: 129

3.       Unto Allah belongeth whatsoever is in the heavens and whatsoever is in the earth. Allah ever surroundeth all things.
––4: An–Nisa: 126

4.       Unto Him belongeth whatsoever resteth in the night and the day. He is the Hearer, the Knower.––6: Al–An’am: 13

5.       Unto Him belongeth whatsoever is in the heavens and whatsoever is in the earth, and whatsoever is between them, and whatsoever is beneath the sod.––20: Ta Ha: 6

6.       Unto Him belongeth whosoever is in the heavens and in the earth. All are obedient unto Him.––30: Ar–Rum: 26

7.       And unto Allah belongeth whatsoever is in the heavens and whatsoever is in the earth, that he may reward those who do evil with that which they have done, and reward those who do good with goodness.––53: An–Najm: 31

8.       Believe in Allah and His Messenger, and spend of that whereof He hath made you trustees; and such of you as believe and spend (aright), theirs will be a great reward.
––57: Al–Hadid: 7

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3 – The Supreme Law Giver

According to Islam, sovereignty in the heavens and the earth and over everything belongs to God Who is the sovereign-Lord and supreme Law-Giver. He is creator and sustainer of the universe and is Omnipotent and Omniscient.

God is Perfect and Eternal Who, unlike man, does not change His opinions. Therefore, law revealed by Him through His messengers and contained in His revealed books, which is called Divine Law, is perfect, permanent and supreme. Divine law cannot be changed, modified, altered, amended, superseded or abrogated by a human agency – may it be a powerful emperor or a sovereign parliament – or by whole of mankind put together. Since law promulgated by an authority can only be abrogated by that authority or by any superior authority, so a Divine revelation cannot be abrogated by anyone except by God Himself. No human agency or legislature has any authority to change or abrogate God-made law. Moreover, in the legislative field, the latest law abrogates all the former ones; the same is true in connection with Shariah law. Therefore, Shariah law of Islam, being last and final, abrogates all the previous Shariahs.

Where God has made law, human beings have no authority to make law. They can only interpret and apply God – made law. But where God has not framed law, people can make law but man-made law should not be inconsistent or repugnant to Divine Law. For a Muslim, the Qur’an is the supreme law and he has no authority to over rule it.

About the sanctity of God – Made Law, the Qur’an says:

1.       ……These are limits (imposed by) Allah. Transgress them not. For whoso transgresseth Allah’s limits: such are wrongdoers.
––2: Al–Baqarah: 229

2.       ………Whoso judgeth not by that which Allah hath revealed: such are disbelievers.––5: Al–Maidah: 44

3.       And this Qur’an is not such as could ever be invented in despite of Allah; but it is a confirmation of that which was before it and an exposition of that which is decreed for mankind – Therein is no doubt – from the Lord of the worlds.
––10: Yunus: 38

4.       Lo! He Who hath given thee the Qur’an for a law will surely bring thee home again……––28: Al–Qasas: 85

The Prophet of Islam said about the authority of the Qur’an (which is Divine Law) as under:

1.       Jabir reported that the Messenger of Allah said: As for what follows next, the best discourse is the book of Allah and the best guidance is the guidance of Muhammad …… (Muslim)

2.       Jabir reported that the Messenger of Allah said in the Farewel Pilgrimage: And I have left among you a thing which if you adhere to, you will never be misguided after his – the Book of Allah and what you get from me by questions (Hadith).

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4 – The Supreme Judge

God is the Supreme Judge. None is better in judgment than Him. In His judgment He does not wrong not even of the weight of an ant. The Qur’an advises the believers to obey Allah and if they have a dispute concerning any matter they should refer it to Allah for decision and judgment; they should not go for judgment in their disputes to false deities. God is the Best of the Deciders and decision ultimately lies with Him. God is the most conclusive of all Judges and His Judgment is final and binding. When Allah and His messenger have decided an affair for the believers, none can claim any jurisdiction in that affair neither the believers should claim any say in that. In this world God exercises His powers as supreme judge and supreme law giver through His word the Qur’an. So the followers of Islam are enjoined to refer to the Qur’an for finding out the required law and the judgement in a dispute.

On the Day of Judgment God would decide between men about which they used to differ in this world. He would also set up a just balance so that no soul is wronged in aught. The deeds of everyone would be brought, one whose deeds are good would be rewarded and the one whose deeds are bad would be punished.

The Holy Qur’an, in its following Verses, brings in focus the role of God as supreme judge:

1.       Lo! Allah wrongeth not even of the weight of an ant; and if there is a good deed, He will double it and will give (the doer) from His presence an immense reward.––4: An–Nisa: 40

2.       O ye who believe! Obey Allah, and obey the messenger and those of you who are in authority; and if ye have a dispute concerning any matter, refer it to Allah and the messenger if ye are (in truth) believers in Allah and the Last Day. That is better and more seemly in the end.
Hast thou not seen those who pretend that they believe in that which is revealed unto thee and that which was revealed before thee, how they would go for judgment (in their disputes) to false deities when they have been ordered to abjure them? Satan would mislead them far astray.
––4: An–Nisa: 59-60

3.       Is it a judgment of the time of (pagan) ignorance that they are seeking? Who is better than Allah for judgment to a people who have certainty (in their belief)?––5: Al–Maidah: 50

4.       Say: I am (relying) on clear proof from my Lord, while ye deny Him, I have not that for which ye are impatient. The decision is for Allah only. He telleth the truth and He is the Best of Deciders.––6: Al–An’am: 57

5.       Then are they restored unto Allah, their Lord, the Just. Surely His is the judgment. And He is the most swift of reckoners.
––6: Al–An’am: 62

6.       And We set a just balance for the Day of Resurrection so that no soul is wronged in aught. Though it be of the weight of a grain of mustered seed, We bring it. And We suffice for reckoners.––21: Al–Anbiya: 47

7.       And it becometh not a believing man or a believing woman, when Allah and His messenger have decided an affair (for them), that they should (after that) claim any say: in their affair…….––33: Al–Ahzab: 36

8.       And in whatsoever ye differ, the verdict therein belongeth to Allah. Such is my Lord, in Whom I put my trust and unto Whom I turn.––42: Ash–Shura: 10

9.       Is not Allah the most conclusive of all Judges?
––95: At–Tin: 8

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5 – None Can Benefit or Harm Except God

Benefit or harm, good or ill, ease or hardship, good fortune or misfortune, all come from God. None can benefit or harm except Him. If God intends to give you benefit, none can withhold it, if He intends you harm, none can protect you. The Qur’an says:

1.       Whatever of good befalleth thee (O man) it is from Allah, and whatever of ill befalleth thee it is from thyself. We have sent thee (Muhammad) as a messenger unto mankind and Allah is sufficient as witness.—4: An–Nisa: 79

2.       If Allah touch thee with affliction, there is none that can relieve therefrom save Him, and if He touch thee with good fortune (there is none that can impair it); for He is Able to do all things.—6: Al–An'am: 17

3.       Say: Naught befalleth us save that which Allah hath decreed for us. He is our Protecting Friend. In Allah let believers put their trust!—9: At–Taubah: 51

4.       If Allah afflicteth thee with some hurt, there is none who can remove it save Him; and if He desireth good for thee, there is none who can repel His bounty. He striketh with it whom He will of his bondmen. He is the Forgiving, the Merciful.
—10: Yunus: 107

5.       And whatever of comfort ye enjoy, it is from Allah. Then, when misfortune reacheth you, unto Him ye cry for help. And afterward, when He hath rid you of the misfortune, behold! a set of you attribute partners to their Lord.—16: An–Nahl: 53-54

6.       Yet they choose beside Him other gods who create naught but are themselves created, and possess not hurt nor profit for themselves, and possess not death nor life, nor power to raise the dead.—25: Al–Furqan: 3

7.       Say: Who is he who can preserve you from Allah if He intendeth harm for you, or intendeth mercy for you. They will not find that they have any friend or helper other than Allah.
—33: Al–Ahzab: 17

8.       And verily, if thou shouldst ask them: Who created the heavens and the earth? They will say: Allah. Say: Be-think you then of those ye worship beside Allah, if Allah willed some hurt for me, could they remove from me His hurt; or if He willed some mercy for me, could they restrain His mercy? Say: Allah is my all. In Him do (all) the trusting put their trust.
—39: Az–Zumar: 38

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6 – God’s Will

Allah guides whom He will unto a straight path and He sends astray whom He will. Allah bestows His sovereignty on whom He will and He withdraws sovereignty from whom He will. He gives honour to whom He will and He withdraws honour from whom He will. Allah makes the provision wide for whom He will, and straitens it for whom He will. He gives wisdom unto whom He will. He selects for His mercy whom He will. Whomsoever it is Allah’s will to guide, He expands his bosom for Islam and whomsoever it is His will to send astray, He makes his bosom close. God is Doer of what He will, He is able to do what He will. He effaces what He will and establish what He will. Had Allah willed, He could have made you one nation, but He sends astray whom He will. He bestows daughters upon whom He will and bestows sons upon whom He will or makes barren whom He will.

Now the questions arise if God does everything in man’s life then why a man should act? If God provides sustenance and if He expands and straitens the sustenance of a man then why a man should work hard for earning livelihood? If God guides a man or leads him astray then why a man should be held responsible for his actions? These are the questions which in the ultimate analysis lead to one major issue and that is pre-destination versus freedom of action or God’s will versus man’s choice. Is man free to act and achieve his objectives or his fate has already been decreed? This is the issue which is being debated since time immemorial but has not been satisfactorily resolved till date. This issue has always been hotly discussed through ages in all the religions and divided the scholars of every religion into different groups. In the middle ages, among the Muslim scholars there emerged two extreme schools of thought on this issue the Jabariyas (The pre-destinarians) and the Qadriyas (advocates of freedom of action). The former school holds that God is the creator of man’s deeds whether good or bad and that man is entirely powerless who cannot go beyond his destiny. The latter, on the other hand, hold that man has got absolute freedom of will and is consequently responsible for all of his actions. However, both these schools represent extreme views which are contrary to the facts in life. The solution of the issue under consideration in fact lies in the middle way or in between these two extremes.

The fact of the matter is that man enjoys limited freedom of action or limited choice. Some of man’s affairs like birth, life and death, his gift of intelligence, his gift of male or female children are pre-determined upon which he has got neither any choice nor any control. But in some of his affairs man has freedom of action and freedom of choice, e.g; good or bad actions, earning of wealth through lawful or unlawful means, keeping of good health by exercising restraint and avoiding injurious things, etc. Ali, the fourth righteous caliph of Islam, has explained the question of pre-determinism versus freedom of action by an interesting example. When Ali was asked this question by a companion, Ali asked him to standup. The man stood up. Ali asked him to lift his right leg, the man lifted up his right leg. Then Ali asked him to lift his left leg also. The man expressed his inability and refused to do so saying that he would fall down on the ground. At this Ali aptly remarked: “This is the limit of your freedom of action”.

In the following Verses, the Holy Qur’an highlights the question of God’s will:

1.       ……Allah giveth without stint to whom He will.
—2: Al–Baqarah: 212

2.       ……And Allah by His will guided those who believe unto the truth of that concerning which they differed. Allah guideth whom He will unto a straight path.—2: Al–Baqarah: 213

3.       …… He said: Lo! Allah hath chosen him above you, and hath increased him abundantly in wisdom and stature. Allah bestoweth His sovereignty on whom He will. Allah is All-Embracing, All-Knowing.—2: Al–Baqarah: 247

4.       He giveth wisdom unto whom He will, and he unto whom wisdom is given, he truly hath received abundant good. But none remember except men of understanding.
—2: Al–Baqarah: 269

5.       He selecteth for His mercy whom He will. Allah is of infinite bounty.—3: Al–Imran: 74

6.       Whatever of good befalleth thee (o man) it is from Allah, and whatever of ill befalleth thee it is from thyself.—4: An–Nisa: 79

7.       And whomsoever it is Allah’s will to guide, He expandeth his bosom unto the Surrender, and whomsoever it is His will to send astray, He maketh his bosom close and narrow as if he were engaged in sheer ascent. Thus Allah layeth ignominy upon those who believe not.—6: Al–An’am: 125

8.       Allah effaceth what He will, and establisheth (what He will), and with Him is the source of ordinance.—13: Ar–Ra’d: 39

9.       Had Allah willed He could have made you (all) one nation, but He sendeth whom He will astray and guideth whom He will, and ye will indeed be asked of what ye used to do.
—16: An–Nahl: 93

10.   Allah maketh the provision wide for whom He will of His bondmen, and straiteneth it for whom (He will) Lo! Allah is aware of all things.—29: Al–Ankabut: 62

11.   ………He whom Allah sendeth astray, for him there is no guide.—39: Az–Zumar: 36

12.   Unto Allah belongeth the sovereignty of the heavens and the earth. He createth what He will. He bestoweth female (offspring) upon whom He will, and bestoweth male (offspring) upon whom He will; Or He mingleth them, males and females, and He maketh barren whom He will. Lo! He is Knower, Powerful.—42: Ash–Shura: 49 - 50

Ahadith (traditions) of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) on God’s will and predestination are:

1.       Ibn Omar reported that the Messenger of Allah said: Everything is according to a measure, even weakness and intelligence. (Muslim)

2.       Abdullah-b-Amr reported that the Messenger of Allah said: Allah had written down the measures of creations 50,000 years before He created the heavens and earths. He said that His Throne was (then) upon water. (Muslim)

3.       Abu Musa reported: the Apostle of Allah stood among us with five sermons. He said: Allah does not sleep, nor it is becoming of Him to sleep; He makes provision short and raises it up; the actions of night are raised up to Him before the actions of the day, and the actions of the day before the actions of the night, and light is His screen. Had He disclosed it, the brilliances of His face would have burnt everything of His creation as far as His sight would have gone. (Muslim)

4.       Abu Hurairah reported that the Messenger of Allah said: The hand of Allah is full. No expense can reduce it. (He is) a great Bestower both day and night. Have you considered what He spent since He created the heaven and the earth? What was in His hand has never diminished, and His Throne was upon water, and in His hand there is the Balance which He lowers and raises up. Agreed upon it. And in a narration of Muslim: The right hand of Allah is full.

5.       Oba’dah-b-Swa’met reported that the Apostle of Allah said: Verily the first thing which Allah created was pen. He addressed it: Write. It replied: What shall I write? He said: Write the decree. So it wrote what was created and what will be created up to eternity. (Tirmizi (Rare))

6.       Abu Khezamah reported from his father who said: I asked: O Messenger of Allah! Inform me about charms which we practise, and about medicines with which we medically treat, and about amulets which we guard over. Do all these nullify anything of the decrees of Allah? He said: It is of the decree of Allah. (Ahmed, Tirmizi, Ibn Majah)

7.       Abu Hurairah reported: The Messenger of Allah came out to us while we were quarrelling about pre-decree. He became angry till his face turned red. As if the seeds of pomegranates were spread on his two cheeks. He asked: Have you been ordered for this or have I been sent to you for this? Those who were before you were ruined when they contended about this affair. I took oath for you that you would not quarrel with one another about it. (Tirmizi)

8.       Abu Musa reported: I heard the Messenger of Allah say: Allah created Adam from a handful (of earth) which He took from all earths. So the children of Adam came into existence according to the condition of earth. Among them are the red and the white and the black; and in that there were soft, hard, impure and pure (earths). (Abu Daud, Ahmad, Tirmizi)

9.       Abdullah-b-Amr reported: I heard the Messenger of Allah say: Allah created His creations in darkness, and then cast His light upon them. So whoso got anything from that light found guidance, and whoso missed it became misguided. For this reason I say: Pen has become dried up over the knowledge of Allah. (Ahmad, Tirmizi)

10.   Matar-b-Oksm’es reported that the Messenger of Allah said: When Allah decrees for a servant that he should die in a land, He creates a necessity thereto for him. (Ahmad, Tirmizi)

11.   Abu Darda’a reported that the Messenger of Allah said: Verily the Almighty and Glorious Allah finished five things for every man of His creation: his fixed term, his action, his resting place, his movement and his provision. (Ahmad)

12.   Abu Darda’a reported: While we were seated near the Apostle of Allah talking about what will come to pass, the Holy Prophet said: When you hear about a mountain that it has shifted itself from its place, believe it, but when you hear about a man that he has changed his nature, don’t believe it as it will return to what it was created upon. (Ahmad)

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