Posts

Loving Allah: A Reader

Love and longing of the Divine, although active in the Islamic  tradition, is a concept that is fading in modern society. Here are some resources on how to understand the concept of Divine love.

loving Allah

Understanding Allah and His Attributes

I Am Near: Understanding and Living the Reality of Allah’s Closeness

A Reader on Understanding the Attributes of Allah

Understanding Allah’s Attributes: Love & Mercy

 

How to Grow Love of Allah

The Key to Loving Allah – Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

How to Fall in Love With Allah – Habib Umar bin Hafiz

Why Should I Be Grateful to Allah for Being Created in This Painful World?

Understanding Allah’s Attributes: Love & Mercy

Poem in Praise and Magnification of Allah by Imam Abdullah bin Ja`far Mad-har al-Alawi

Advice for those Feeling Down: Remembrance of Allah is the Key to Contentment

Fighting Depression Through The Remembrance Of Allah

The Best of Spiritual Actions – Imam Shadhili relates from his teacher, Ibn Mashish

 

Becoming of Those Whom Allah Loves

The People Whom Allah’s Love is Incumbent For | Avidness for Benefit | The Best of Actions

 The Most Beloved of Actions to Allah | The Company You Keep | High Aspirations for the Afterlife

How To Be Free of All But Allah

 Seeking the Pleasure of Allah and His Messenger – Habib Umar

Spiritual Routines & Night Worship

Fasting for Love: Habib Kadhim’s Ramadan Message #Fast4Love

Loving the Books of Imam Ghazali is a Sign that Allah Loves you

The Hamlet in Ruins: Similitudes and Parables in the Qur’an II

Shaykh Jamir Meah discusses the parable of the Hamlet in Ruins – a profound, existential parable in the Qur’an on death and resurrection.

One of the most striking parables in the Qur’an is what is sometimes referred to as the Hamlet in Ruins. This simple yet profound parable touches upon the essential theological and existential questions that man, in every place and time, necessarily reflects upon.

The parable is found in Sura al Baqara 2:259:

Or (take) the similitude of one who passed by a hamlet, all in ruins. He wondered, ‘How could Allah bring this back to life after its destruction?’ So Allah caused him to die for a hundred years then brought him back to life. Allah asked, ‘How long have you remained [in this state]?’ He replied, ‘Perhaps a day or part of a day.’ Allah said, ‘No! You have remained here for a hundred years! Just look at your food and drink — they have not spoiled. [But now] look at [the remains of] your donkey! And [so] We will make you a sign for the people. And look at the bones [of the donkey], how We bring them together then clothe them with flesh!’ When this was made clear to him, he declared, ‘[Now] I know that Allah is Able to do all things.’

Commentary

Believer or skeptic, man is never more certain of anything more than the fact that he will one day die, and for man, earthly life and demise are only understood within the framework of time.

Time is a created concept only understood by change, such as change in motion. Because all creation is subject to change, the passing of time reveals the true limited nature of all temporal creation, whose state is in constant fluctuation, waxing and waning, blossoming and withering, living and dying.

Just as the cycles of all things in the created universe are constrained by time and change, all created things are limited in nature and ability.

This is in complete contrast to the Eternal Being, who is free from the notion of time and space, change and limitations. He is the Possessor of absolute perfection, whose Knowledge and Omnipotence are boundless, incomparable, and inconceivable.

Such was the firm belief of the pre-Islamic monotheist (Hanif), Quss bin Sa’idah, when he addressed the people at the fair at Ukadh,

Whoever lives dies,
Whoever dies perishes,
And whatever is bound to happen, will happen …
Everything is mortal,
Immortality lies only with the Almighty,
Who is One, without partners, without a like …
There is many a passage to enter the river of death,
But alas, no way out!

– Al Bayhaqi, Dala’il al Nubuwwa

The Parable

The hamlet in the parable is said to be Jerusalem, which was laid siege to in 589 BC and raised to the ground by the Babylonian King, Nebuchadnezzar. The passerby on his donkey, is said by some exegesis, to be Uzayr, one of the righteous slaves of Allah, associated with the biblical Ezra.

Looking at the absolute destruction of what was once a populated and thriving town, Uzayr ponders, “How will Allah bring this town back to life after such utter ruin and annihilation?”

Little did the passerby expect that the answer to his innocent question would come in extraordinary fashion, that would become a parable for all mankind (“We will make you a sign for the people”), for God caused the man to die for a hundred years!

God then spoke to Uzayr through the intermediary of an angel, who asks him, “How long did you stay in that [death] state?” Uzayr replied, “A day,” and then he looked around and noticed that the sun was still out and had not set, so he added assumingly, “Or part of a day.” It was then made known to him that, “No, rather you remained in such a state for a hundred years!”

Now, if you and I woke up from what we thought was a short nap at noon, and our spouse, husband, or child, walked in and we asked them “What time is it?,” and they told us that it was Maghrib time, we’d get a shock! Assuming we don’t have a clock in the room, what would be the first thing we would do to ascertain if what they are saying is really true, or whether an impish trick was being played on us? We would look around.

The reason why our first reaction would be to look around is to observe any changes that may have taken place since we were last awake (or in Uzayr’s case, since he was last alive).

If we find that the things around us are roughly the same, or slightly changed as we would have expected them to be in a short passage of time, then we confidently assume that not much time has passed. So if we were to see the sun still high in the sky and the sky bright blue, and hear the normal sounds of movement in the street etc. we would assume that very little time had passed and we were only asleep for a short time. This is what Uzayr presumed when he looked at the sun.

The angel then turns his attention to his food, “Look at your food and your drink — they have not spoiled.” Uzayr turns to his food, which he had had with him on his prior travel, which is said to have been grapes, figs, and juice, and he notices they too are unchanged and fresh, confirming his initial assumption that only a short amount of time must have passed.

But then he is told, “Look at your donkey.” Uzayr turns to where his donkey once stood, but unlike his food and his own self, the donkey was nothing but old bones. The 100 earthly years had passed on the donkey as normal.

At this juncture, a most wondrous miracle takes place; “And look at the bones” says the angel, “How We raise them and then We cover them with flesh.” Before Uzayr’s very eyes, the decayed bones of the beast are gathered together and assembled in perfect order, then the skeletal frame is connected and covered with cartilage, tendons, and flesh, organs developed, nerve pathways formed, the raw body clothed with skin, and then hair is grown, the heart pumps, the blood flows, the eyes move, and thus life is bought back to it, just as it was before death!

The closest you and I would get to observing such a miracle is through CGI animation on a computer screen. One can only imagine the sight of this taking place in real life, before one’s very own eyes.

Lessons

1. To Give Life and Cause Death Belongs to Allah Alone

The first lesson to take away from the parable is that the power to give and take life, in its true sense, is in Allah’s hands alone.

This is made clearer by the related verses preceding the parable, which relates the dispute between Sayyidna Ibrahim, peace be upon him, and, according to most Qur’anic exegesis, Nimrod, the Babylonian King.

Contesting the rightful claim to Lordship, Sayyidna Ibrahim says to Nimrod, “My Lord is the One Who has power to give life and cause death.”

According to some commentators, it is said that Nimrod’s response to this was to order two men be bought forth. He then ordered the execution of one of the men and spared the life of the other, and then fallaciously asserted, “I too have the power to give life and cause death,” knowing full well the meaning that Sayyidna Ibrahim had meant by giving life and causing death.

Seeing Nimrod’s folly and rebelliousness, Sayyidna Ibrahim throws down the gauntlet, with a marvelous challenge to silence the king once and for all, “Allah causes the sun to rise from the east. So make it rise from the west.”

There was no response this time from the king, for the Quran tells us, “The disbeliever was dumbstruck.” One can only imagine the embarrassing predicament Nimrod was in at this point, especially in front of his entire court.

Whether it is faith in deities besides Allah, belief in our own intellect and power, faith in science, in nature; none of these possess the power to give life and cause death in its true meaning, in the same way that none of these things have any power over the government of the universe.

2. Believe in the Resurrection

The narrative of Sayyidna Ibrahim and Nimrod establishes that only Allah Most High has the power to give life and cause death. This is then followed by our parable, which takes this understanding and builds up on it, introducing the concept of the Resurrection; giving life again after death.

The resurrection is a central tenant of Islam, as it is in all Abrahamic religions. The idea of a resurrection is a mighty “leap of faith” for those who claim to be atheists, given that they have trouble believing God gives life once, let alone twice!

Naturalists, who believe that only natural laws govern the universe, and the majority of philosophers of both East and West, who maintain that everything in existence is built on a cause and effect relationship, necessarily deny the concept of a Resurrection.

Such theories hold that time is infinite and forever moves on, never to be interrupted. Since resurrection is bringing to life that which is dead and decomposed, this is impossible, for what natural force or law of nature brings rotten remains to life? Or what cause would bring the effect of decaying bones gathering, assembling, bodies forming, and breathing back into existence?

These theories are in direct contradiction to the creed of the believer, who believes not in the power of nature, nor cause and effect, but in the Omnipotent Power of the Sovereign Creator, who wills whatever He wishes, and does whatever He wills.

He is the Architect of the laws of nature and the causal relationships in His creation. Should He so wish, He could turn these laws and relationships on their heads, or do away with them all together, a fact which will be made terrifyingly clear to those who live to see it, by one of the greatest apocalyptic signs; the rising of the sun from the West (which if we recall, is the very challenge Sayyidna Ibrahim presented to Nimrod).

Uzayr was of course not a disbeliever or skeptic, far from it, he was among the most righteous. However, the utter obliteration of the town he saw caused him to wonder how revivification was possible. Through the event, God made Uzayr “a sign for the people” – a reminder of the coming Resurrection and that Allah Most High is capable of all things.

On a subtler note, one may view the Resurrection as a symbol of hope. Terrifying as the Resurrection will be, it is also the Day when true justice will be served. For those who suffered, for those who were oppressed, for those whose earthly life was full of sadness and forbearance, the Resurrection marks the beginning of one’s real life which after the initial upheaval of the Day, admits no grievance nor sorrow, only sheer comfort and happiness for those who were faithful and patient.

3. Time

Time and space began with the beginning of the universe, as is also attested to by modern physics and cosmology. Time does not apply to Allah Most High, the Creator of the cosmos.

We mentioned that time is a created concept only understood through change. The passing of time affects things only according to God’s Will and He is able to do as He pleases.

Change does not occur due to nature, habit, nor cause and effect. This is pointed out in the parable, for God showed Uzayr that while he, and his food, were preserved after 100 years passed, his donkey had perished with the passing of time. For that which never changes, time cannot be understood, while time is only understood through that which changes.

Ibn Kathir mentions that one of the ways that Allah made Uzayr a sign, was that when Uzayr returned to his people, he was younger than his children!

Just as Uzayr reckoned he was dead for a day or part of a day, on the Day of Judgement, mankind will have only a vague recollection of time or space. People will be asked on the Day of Rising, ‘How many years did you remain on earth?’ They will reply, “We remained [only] a day or part of a day.” (Sura al Mulk 23:114-115)

4. Power and Ability

Despite modern scientific and technological advances, we should not forget that ancient civilizations, particularly Babylonian, were very advanced in the sciences and arts, and the mysteries of life baffled scientists then, as it is does scientists now. However, religion has always provided definitive answers to these mysteries and is always accessible for those who sincerely seek the truth.

Man holds powers, rank, and ability and these are relative only among creation. While he may have advanced a great deal when compared to his basic roots, man must necessarily acknowledge that his intellect, power, abilities, and resources, are nothing compared to the limitless Power and Ability of his Creator. In fact, our powers and abilities are only through Allah, so, therefore, to take pride in them is folly, and to use them to transgress the limits of Allah is both ingratitude and rebelliousness.

But for those who have faith, who seek to rise beyond the limits of the finite, who ponder upon the wonderful and magnificent signs of God in themselves and all around them, surely they will respond with exactly the same conclusion of Uzayr, “[Now] I know that Allah is Able to do all things.”


How Can Allah Be All-Forgiving and All-Just at the Same Time?

Answered by Shaykh Mohammed Tayssir Safi

Question: Assalamu alaykum

How can Allah be All-Forgiving and All-Just at the same time?

An example will be of a Man who rapes a women and later becomes truly religious. And does not repeat any of his sins.

Answer: Assalamu alaykum

Allah, Exalted is He, is indeed الغفور, the Forgiving, and العدل, the Just. As Allah says in His Generous and Exquisite Book, “The Most Excellent Names belong to God: use them to call on Him,” [Koran 7:180]. The answer to your question lies in understanding certain elements pertaining to Allah’s names and attributes as well as understanding what Allah has told us concerning how we will be judged and held accountable in the next life.

As for Allah being, the Forgiving, that does not mean He forgives all things completely without condition. This is clear and evident in revelation. For example, Allah tells us about the fate of Abu Lahab and his wife, “he will burn in the Flaming Fire–– and so will his wife, the firewood-carrier,” [Koran 111:3-4]. Had Allah intended for us to understand from revelation that He will in actuality forgive everything without condition then these verses would contradict that meaning. But there is no contradiction for Allah’s forgiveness is based upon His Will. He forgives whomever He Wills. He forgives things we are aware of and things we are not. He is indeed the Forgiving.

As for judgement and being held accountable, Allah has informed us through reports from our beloved and noble Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) that His forgiveness for those who repent does not remove the obligation to right the wrongs committed against others. In other words, while Allah does indeed forgive those who repent He has informed us that those who harm others must first right the wrong they have committed until the one harmed has forgiven them before they can be forgiven for that sin before God. This is what Allah has informed us about His Forgiveness and His Justice.

Given all the above if in the theoretical scenario you posed the woman has not forgiven the man in this life then he will not be forgiven for his crime in this life. However, in the next life, should Allah Will to do so, He will give the woman compensation for the crime committed against her until she is pleased and accepts to forgive the man in question. The man will not be forgiven for the crime until the woman is compensated and agrees to what Allah has given her in compensation and is pleased with the outcome.Of course we do not know what will occur and the reality of such things is left up to Allah. We are merely attempting to answer the question based upon revelation and how the ulema have understood revelation in our tradition.

Finally, the case of our master the Prophet Musa (peace be upon him) is different. The killing of the man was a mistake and not intentional. The noble Prophet was trying to stop the aggression and in the process accidentally killed the man in question. In the Sacred Law one is not held accountable for such mistakes.

And Allah knows best,

Wassalam,

[Shaykh] Mohammed Tayssir Safi

Is It Absurd to Believe That God’s Attributes Are Not Identical to God’s Essence?

Answered by Ustadh Salman Younas

Question: Is this belief: “the attributes of Allah are not the essence of Allah, but they are not other than Allah” illogical?

Answer: assalamu alaykum

This formulation is not illogical.

At the outset, you should note that a number of discussions concerning the attributes of God are not from the fundamentals of faith. For this reason, scholars have had extensive and heated debate on the issue without this effecting the Islam of any of them.

The classical position of Sunni scholars is that the attributes of God, such as power, will, and knowledge, are not identical to God’s essence nor are they separate from it. Their being non-identical returns to the manner in which each is rationally conceptualized in the mind: the reality of an essence is not the same as the reality of an attribute. The attribute of power that subsists through the essence of X is not identical to the essence of X. Rather, the mind conceives of a particular meaning for an attribute that is distinct to that which it conceives for an essence. It is from this perspective of how the meaning of an attribute and essence is conceptualized in the mind that scholars formulated the statement that an attribute is not the same as an essence.

At the same time, an attribute is not other than the essence in the sense of being separate from it, which refers to:

(a) an attribute not subsisting on its own i.e. it always requires an essence through which it subsists.

(b) an attribute being innate to the essence i.e. in the external realm of existence an essence cannot exist without attributes.

In conclusion, the phrase “the attributes of God are distinct to His essence” relates back to the manner in which the mind conceives of an ‘attribute’ and an ‘essence’, while the phrase “the attributes of God are not other than His essence” refers to attributes always requiring an essence to subsist through and the fact that attributes/essence are inseparable in the external realm of existence as opposed to purely rational conceptualization.

(Note: Technically, it is not accurate to state that the attributes of God are “not other than God”. Rather, the correct expression is that the attributes of God are “not other than the essence.” This is because the expression God does not refer merely to an essence but to an essence ascribed with specific attributes as Shaykh Saeed Fawda clarifies.)

[al-Dardir, Kharida al-Bahiyya (90); al-Bajuri, Jawhara al-Tawhid (91-2)]

قال الشيخ سعيد فودة في تعليقاته على الدرة الفاخرة: وكثير من الناس يطلقون اسم [الله] على مجرد الذات العارية عن الصفات، فيقولون: الله وصفاته كما يقولون الذات والصفات، فيقيمون [الله] مقام الذات المجرد فقط، ولكن هذا الاستعمال عندي غير صحيح وعارٍ عن الدقة، بل الله هو الذات الموصوفة، وليس مجرد الذات المرادة من المفهوم من الذات عند إطلاقها عقلا. وقد سبق توضيح ذلك

Wassalam,
[Ustadh] Salman Younas

Checked and approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Ustadh Salman Younas graduated from Stony Brook University with a degree in Political Science and Religious Studies. After studying the Islamic sciences online and with local scholars in New York, Ustadh Salman moved to Amman. There he studies Islamic law, legal methodology, belief, hadith methodology, logic, Arabic, and tafsir.

How Do We Understand Allah’s Knowledge and Power?

Answered by Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil

Question: How do we understand Allah’s Knowledge and Power?

Answer: Assalamualaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,

I pray this finds you well. Please forgive me for the delay.

Allah’s Attributes

Please refer to this answer: Allah’s Relationship with Time and Space.

I encourage you to study Islamic belief with a qualified teacher. When registration reopens, please enrol in the Essentials of Islamic Belief: Dardir’s Kharida Explained.

Please refer to the following link:

Reader on Understanding the Attributes of Allah.

Wassalam,
Raidah

Checked & Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Allah is Shy, and Loves Shyness – Why?

Shyness is an attribute much loved in a Muslim. As Shaykh Faid Mohammed Said explains, it is valued not merely in our public conduct but in the way we approach our relationship with Allah.
Want to learn more? Take an online course with reliable scholars at the SeekersHub Academy, where dozens of topics are covered each term.

On Shyness and the Beauty of Modesty

Resources on Shyness and Modesty:

Shaykh Faid SaidShaykh Faid Mohammed Said is a jewel in the crown of traditional Islamic scholarship in the United Kingdom and we at SeekersHub are ever grateful for his friendship, guidance and support. He was born in Asmara, Eritrea, where he studied the holy Qur’an and its sciences, Arabic grammar and fiqh under the guidance of the Grand Judge of the Islamic Court in Asmara, Shaykh Abdul Kader Hamid and also under the Grand Mufti of Eritrea. He later went to study at Madinah University, from which he graduated with a first class honours degree. In Madinah, his teachers included Shaykh Atia Salem, Shaykh Mohamed Ayub (ex-imam of the Prophet’s Mosque, peace be upon him), Professor AbdulRaheem, Professor Yaqub Turkestani, Shaykh Dr Awad Sahli, Dr Aa’edh Al Harthy and many other great scholars. Shaykh Faid has ijaza in a number of disciplines including hadith, and a British higher education teaching qualification. He is currently the scholar in residence and head of education at Harrow Central Mosque, United Kingdom.
Read his articles and watch his lectures on the SeekersHub blog.

Does Affirming Eternal Attributes for Allah Entail Believing in Multiple Eternal Beings?

Answered by Ustadh Salman Younas

Question: In a lecture Shaykh Faraz Rabbani has said: “the attributes of Allah are not the essence of Allah, but they are not other than Allah.”

How to answer Christians who say that Muslims were influenced by the Trinity in affirming a multiplicity of eternal beings and the Mu’tazila?

Answer: assalamu `alaykum

Thank you for your questions.

Islamic Understanding of God’s Attributes

The Qur’an is decisively against the Christian doctrine of the Trinity. The difference that Muslim theologians identified between the affirmation of eternal attributes for God and the Trinity was that the latter was viewed as affirming a multitude of entities, namely the persons of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, while the former implied no such thing..

According to orthodox Islamic belief, God is a single being/entity who possesses attributes that subsist through His essence. These attributes are not the same as God’s essence since they indicate something additional to the essence itself. At the same time, these attributes are not rationally conceivable as being separate from God in the sense of being distinct entities. In other words, God is a self that is capable of knowledge, will, power, and so forth, while attributes are not, and.a multitude of such attributes does not negate the oneness of God that forms the central tenet of Islam. [Taftazani, Sharh al-Maqasid; Bajuri, Sharh al-Jawhara]

The Trinity

The trinitarian conception of God has an admittedly complex history and there have been numerous interpretations forwarded in an attempt to explain it. The doctrine of the trinity that was standardized under the influence of Cappadocian Fathers in the 4th century affirmed three “persons” of the godhead, namely the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. These three persons were said to share one universal nature (i.e. deity) and did so equally but they were still understood as being somehow distinct from each other.

The distinction that orthodox trinitarian doctrine proposed between the persons of the godhead is not similar to what has been described previously regarding the manner in which attributes are distinct from the essence through which they subsist. Thus, in many articulations of the trinity, we find affirmations of three ‘persons’ who seem to differ causally, statements about persons of the godhead being “begotten” or “generated” [Father –> Son] or there being ‘productions’ within God, explanations that seem to fall into modalism, and so forth. Clearly, these are not manners of expression one finds in the theological works of Muslims when discussing the nature of Gods attributes.

In fairness, it must be noted that the pro-Nicene consensus that many leading Christian scholars affirmed is essentially mysterian: it does not admit of clarification given the doctrine of divine incomprehensibility and ineffability. Pro-Nicene trinitarianism affirms a metaphysics of God as unique, lacking parts or compositions, and transcendent, but the arguments that Christian theologians have forwarded to defend orthodox conceptions of the trinity have long been seen as inconsistent and unintelligible in a way that negates the aforementioned metaphysics of God.

Conclusion

In conclusion, there is in substance not much in parallel between the manner in which Muslim theologians have explained the divine attributes of God and between Christian conceptions of the trinity. Rather, the monotheism affirmed in our religion is simple and straightforward, our understanding of the nature of God is clear in terms of His essence, attributes, and actions. While there are certainly complicated debates within the Muslim theological tradition, it is a stretch to view the Muslim affirmation of eternal divine attributes as being akin to the Trinity.

Salman

Checked & Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Allah’s Relationship with Time and Space

Answered by Shaykh Faraz A. Khan

Question: If Allah’s power enters time and space, such as in our lives, and Allah’s power is a part of him, then why could Allah not incarnate himself in the form of a human on this earth?

Answer: Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullah,

I pray this finds you in the best of health and states.

Allah Most High is transcendent above any quality of His creation, including existing within time or space, as that would entail being limited.

Imam Tahawi states in his well-known creed, “Contrary to all created things, He is well exalted above limits, end points, pillars, or limbs; and the six directions do not encompass Him.”

Allah Himself states, “There is nothing whatsoever like unto Him, and He is all-hearing, all-seeing” (42:11), as well as “No one at all is equivalent or similar to Him” (112:4).

Divine Attributes

As for divine power (qudra), it is a timeless attribute ascribed to Allah’s entity. It is one of Allah’s seven affirmative attributes (sifat al-ma`ani), which are: power, will, knowledge, life, speech, hearing and sight.

All of these attributes are ascribed to the divine entity and are hence timeless, having no beginning or end. Therefore, they do not ‘enter’ creation or our lives. Rather, in the language of our theologians, they have what are termed ‘associations’ (ta`alluqat).

Divine power, for example, is ‘associated’ with everything conceivable: He brings into existence, or takes out of existence, whatever He wills of things conceivable. The created things are in time and space. The divine attribute is eternal, without beginning, end, or change.

How Exactly It Works

As for the nature of these associations, that is a realm the mind cannot penetrate. The exact relationship between the timeless attribute of divine power and its temporal effects in creation is one of the mysteries of the cosmos. And despite the amazing nuance of our theology, it remains a theology of humility and embracing our own limits. Trying to enter such realms causes only problems and misgivings.

As the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) is reported to have said, “Reflect on creation, but do not reflect on the Creator, for verily you cannot give Him due estimation.” [Abu Shaykh]

We cannot ‘encompass’ the Divine, but the Divine fully encompasses us. As Imam Tahawi states, “Thoughts cannot reach Him, and minds cannot grasp Him.”

Or in the words of Allah Himself, “Sight cannot reach Him, but He reaches all sight. And He is ever-subtle, fully aware” (6:103).

And Allah knows best.
wassalam
Faraz

Checked & Approved by Faraz Rabbani

Related Answers and Courses:

A Reader on Understanding the Attributes of Allah

Islamic Beliefs for Seekers: Dardir’s Kharidah Explained

A Reader on Understanding the Attributes of Allah

Allah Breathing His Spirit Into Jesus? The Possible Meanings of this Verse & The Approach of Sunni Islam Towards Ambiguous Texts

What Is Our Stance Regarding the Statement of Some That Allah “Sits” on the Throne?

The Meaning of the Angels “Ascent” to Allah

The Ash`aris & Maturidis: Standards of Mainstream Sunni Beliefs

The Necessary Attributes of God and the Logical Absurdity of Infinite Regression

What Does The Narration “Allah created Adam In His/his Image” Mean?

Can Allah Feel Emotions Like Happiness and Sadness? Emotions Influences Choices and Decisions – Would That Not be Wrong

Is There a Way to Physically Describe Allah?

The Beatific Vision

Understanding Allah’s Attributes: Love & Mercy

Allah’s Oneness (Tawhid)

Alhamdulillah: A Statement of the Oneness of God

The Virtues of Declaring Allah’s Oneness in the Marketplace (audio)

Is the Claim That There is “Blatant Shirk” in the Qasida Burda of Imam Busiri True?

Calling People of Other Beliefs to Islam

The Power of Monotheism – Abdal Hakim Murad (lecture)

Did Jesus Claim to Be God?

Tawassul: Supplicating Allah through an Intermediary

Is It Permissible to Make Tawassul Through Awliya (Saints)?

Can Allah Feel Emotions Like Happiness and Sadness? Emotions Influences Choices and Decisions – Would That Not be Wrong?

Answered by Sidi Salman Younas

Question: Can Allah Feel Emotions Like Happiness and Sadness?

Answer: assalamu `alaykum

I pray you are well.

There is an established principle within Sunni Islam that Allah Most High is completely dissimilar to created things. This is affirmed clearly within the Qur’an itself when it says, “there is nothing whatsoever like Him.” [42:11]

As such, Allah Most High is not characterized by emotions as emotions involve physiological changes and alterations in one’s state of consciousness. Since “change”, or moving from one state to another, is an attribute characteristic of created things, as it indicates their ephemeral nature, it is impossible to characterize Allah Most High with it.

However, at the same time, the primary texts have attributed Allah with love, mercy, anger, joy, and so forth. Thus, we affirm these meanings for Allah but we do so in a way that [a] befits Him and [b] is in accordance with the transcendence He affirms for Himself in the primary texts.

Understanding These Attributes in Light of Allah’s Absolute Transcendence

The basic principle when it comes to understanding these attributes is that, “whatever is impossible to attribute to Allah in terms of its beginning is permitted to apply to Allah in terms of its end result.”

For example, the word “mercy” (rahma) is defined as, “the softening of the heart that elicits favor and beneficience.” The beginning here is the softening of the heart. The end is the eliciting of favor and beneficience. It is impossible to attribute Allah with “mercy” in terms of “softening of the heart” but permissible to apply the meaning of “mercy” in terms of what it ultimately results in, namely “eliciting favor and beneficience.”

As such, when it is said that Allah is merficul (rahim/rahman), what is meant is that both favor and beneficience are established for Allah in terms of Him being favorful or beneficent towards creation or intending to do so.

The same methodology of understanding is employed to understand other similar attributes, such as love, joy, and anger.

Such a methodological approach continues to affirm that which Allah affirms for Himself in the primary texts while maintaining Allah’s absolute transcendence, something that a literalist approach fails to achieve. This is the balanced approach that Sunni scholars throughout centuries followed.

Related Answers

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Allah Breathing His Spirit Into Jesus? The Possible Meanings of this Verse & The Approach of Sunni Islam Towards Ambiguous Texts

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What Does The Narration “Allah created Adam In His/his Image” Mean?

And Allah knows best

Wassalam
Salman

Checked & Approved by Faraz Rabbani