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What Is the Definition of God?

Answered by Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil

Question: Assalam alaykum,

What is the definition of God?

Answer: Assalam alaykum wa rahmat Allah wa barakatuh,

I pray this finds you well. May Allah reward you for reaching out to us.

God

You have asked an incredibly important question. Please read and reflect on this brilliant paper by Dr. Umar Faruq Abd-Allah: Nawawi Foundation Paper: One God, Many Names.

I urge you to begin formal studies on Islamic belief. When registration reopens, please enroll in Essentials of Islamic Belief: Dardir’s Kharida Explained.

I pray that Allah grants you the understanding which you seek, and draws you ever closer to Him.

Please see:

A Reader on Understanding the Attributes of Allah

Do We Worship Allah Due to His Essence Alone, or Due to His Command?

Who is Allah? Ustadha Shehnaz Karim and Shaykh Hamdi Ben Aiss

Wassalam,

[Ustadha] Raidah Shah Idil

Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil has spent almost two years in Amman, Jordan, where she learned Shafi’i’ fiqh, Arabic, Seerah, Aqeedah, Tasawwuf, Tafsir and Tajweed. She continues to study with her Teachers in Malaysia and online through SeekersHub Global. She graduated with a Psychology and English degree from University of New South Wales, was a volunteer hospital chaplain for 5 years and has completed a Diploma of Counselling from the Australian Institute of Professional Counsellors. She lives in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, with her husband, daughter, and mother-in-law.

Does Saying “O My God” Entail Disbelief?

Answered by Ustadh Salman Younas

Question: Does using the following english phrases entail disbelief?

– O my goodness
– For goodness’ sake (it is to be said that this is used instead of “for God’s sake”)
– Goodness me
– O my god

Answer: assalamu alaykum

Generally speaking, uttering these expressions is not a sin nor shirk although some of them are best avoided.

Saying “O my God”

The expression “O my God” is equivalent to saying “Ya Allah”. Thus, there is no intrinsic problem in using it unless the context dictates otherwise, such as doing so in vain or where it may be seen as disrespectful to God’s name.

Saying “O my goodness”

“O my goodness” is merely a euphemism where the word God is replaced by the word goodness. The reference to God through the word goodness is an established usage particularly in exclamatory phrases. One reason why this switch is made is in order to not use the word God in vain and to avoid causing offense. Today, it is used primarily as a colloquial phrase to express shock or amazement without a dominant conscious recognition of its being a reference to God.

Saying “Goodness me”

“Goodness me” is similar to the above. This phrase is likely a shortened form of “goodness gracious me”, which is from “God grace me”. Again, while it originally related to a request for the good or grace of God, it is no longer colloquially used in that manner but merely as an exclamation of surprise and dismay.

Saying “for goodness’ sake”

Finally, “for goodness’ sake” is a euphemism for the phrase “for God’s sake.” This is perhaps the only phrase among those mentioned that may pose a problem since doing someone for one’s sake may be understood as doing something for someone’s good or advantage. However, it also has a valid meaning of doing something out of regard and consideration for someone. Because there is the potential for an incorrect understanding, the phrase “for God’s sake” is probably best avoided. However, “for goodness’ sake” in its dominant usage has lost a conscious connection to the word God (like some of the previous phrases) and is simply a colloquial expression of surprise, impatience, or some other emotion. As such, there is no harm in using it.

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.

Day 14 in a Nutshell – Liberate Yourself From All But God, #YourRamadanHub Xtra

If you missed the livestream of the extraordinary short talks Shaykh Walead Mosaad gave plus the two from Ustadh Amjad and Shaykh Yahya Rhodus (via video), you can listen to them in full on the SeekersHub podcast on iTunes in due course. Please subscribe for automatic updates. If you could take a moment to rate the podcast and leave a review, we’d really appreciate it! In the meantime, we present you with #YourRamadanHub Xtra – the best of the day’s events in a nutshell, with Abdul-Rehman Malik and his guest, Taras Hollyer.

 

Let’s #GiveLight to Millions More

We envision a world in which no one is cut off from the beauty, mercy and light of the Prophetic ﷺ example. A world where the dark ideology of a few is dwarfed by radiant example of the many who follow the way of the Prophet ﷺ. But we can’t do it alone. We need your support. This Ramadan, we need you to help us #GiveLight to millions more. Here’s how.

Confronting Atheism and Our Own Doubts

In Islam, faith is an active rather than passive concept. From the sinner to the saint, everyone’s faith will waver from time to time.

What do we do about it?

Regardless of which faith group we belong to, we will waver in of our faith in the existence of God, our confidence in the applicability of faith in modern times, as well as in the strength of our spiritual connections.  As Shaykh Walead Mosaad explains, a decrease in faith is a test just like pain, fear, or financial difficulty. Watch him discuss this difficult topic and advise us how to keep our religious equilibrium.

Clarify your inderstanding of the Islamic beliefs and creed by taking a FREE SeekersHub course: Ghazali’s Foundations of Islamic Belief Explained

Cover photo by Ryan Melaugh.

Resources for Seekers

What Should I Answer When Asked About God’s Creator?

Answered by Ustadh Salman Younas

Question: If an atheist asks me who created God, how should I answer?

Answer: assalamu alaykum

The question is deemed to be rationally absurd, This is because God is a rationally necessary being, meaning His being is pre-eternal, not consigned to time and space, and unchanging. Consequently, the question, “who created God” is considered irrational and absurd as it is inapplicable to God.

Rather, such a question applies only to existent entities that are contingent and possible, such as the universe. The universe could have been or could not have been and had a beginning. Therefore, the question of how it came to be is applicable i.e. “what/who created the universe?”. God, however, always was without beginning and so the question of how He came to be makes no sense as it contradicts the concept of beginninglessness.

For more details on this, please see: The Necessary Attributes of God and the Logical Absurdity of Infinite Regression

Salman

Checked & Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Photo: Erik

If God Is Good, Why Is There So Much Evil In The World?

Why would Allah, who is the Source of all that is pure and good, allow evil and injustice to thrive in this world? Why does He test us with trials and tribulations?

Shaykh Faraz Rabbani goes back to the drawing board on this perennial question.

Finding true, eternal love beyond mere shades of grey

Seekers Hub’s Global Programs Director, Abdul-Rehman Malik, reflects on finding true, eternal love on BBC Radio 2.

Marvelling at the Heart – Reflections by Sidi Suhayb

“Verily, in the body is a small piece of flesh that if it is healthy, the whole body is healthy and if it is sick, the whole body is sick. This small piece of flesh is the heart.” [Bukhari and Muslim]

[Marvels of the heart course]
Knowledge of the heart is considered to be fard al-ayn (an individual obligation), and after completing the Marvels of the Heart course with Shaykh Yahya Rhodus, I understand why.
This is my first time doing a course with Shaykh Yahya Rhodus. I found him to be a person who reminds you of All Mighty Allah when you look at him. He exudes gentleness and mercy and I was left wanting whatever it is that he has. His character alone would guide people to Islam.
[Transforming and life changing]
The course is nothing short of amazing and to this day remains my favourite Seekers Guidance course, and if acted upon, the most transformative and life-changing. From the beginning of the course to the very end it is full of insight and deep meaning.
I have only done this course once but intend to do it again God Willing. With this course in particular, I bought a translation of the text. I would read the relevant chapter in English before listening to the lesson and then read along again during the lesson, ultimately reading the book twice throughout the course. This really helped me to grasp the concepts.
I converted to Islam around thirteen years ago Praise be to be God, and really just thought that after taking my shahadah that somehow I would be miraculously cured of all the problems I had in life. Somehow without making any effort except saying I believe that All Mighty Allah would grant me a huge spiritual experience and all would be well. Thirteen years later I realise this is not going to be the case for me and that I am going to have to struggle against my ego and my desires, that I need to really strive to seek Allah’s pleasure, All Mighty Allah owes me nothing but I owe Him (God Almighty) everything.
The thing that really hit me throughout the course was the realisation of the state I am in. I am a person who has suffered from addictions in life to one thing and another and doing this course made me realise that even though I am in recovery alhamdulillah, I am still what you might call a suffering addict in my behaviour. I am impulsive by nature and often act on a whim to please myself. This course brought these things to my attention and made me realise that there is a better way to live my life.
[Closeness to God]sh.-yahya-and-cam.png
“The special characteristics of the heart are that by which we draw near to All Mighty Allah. These special characteristics are based on knowledge and will, ‘ilm and irada. The will follows the guidance of the intellect. If the intellect sees something as beneficial it will drive the will to do it. It is different to the animals as the will of the human being can go against your desires based on the judgement of the intellect”.
After hearing this I realised that I have an intellect and that I need to use this to keep my ego and desires in check.  Amazingly, even though the book was written so long ago, the lessons from it are so relevant today, especially in dealing with addiction. When overcoming an urge to use, the addict is encouraged to listen to the rational part of his or her brain to control that urge. Very much like the battle that takes place for the heart with the intellect acting as the advisor to the kingdom (heart) and directing the foot soldiers (our ego and desires) to stay in line. There is a battle underway for this kingdom and we must be ever vigilant.
Perhaps the scariest part is that I have now learned that the heart is ever-changing, and the science of the heart (tasawwuf) is required in every single moment because of this. There is no miraculous overnight cure heading my way, only a lifetime of struggle. But perhaps my miraculous cure is the realisation and acceptance of that.
I recommend this course to everyone and feel that it is perhaps one of the most important things we should learn. From the way it is taught to the teachings it conveys, it will change your outlook on life and how you practise your deen. If more of us are aware of the state of our hearts, its disease and how to treat them then the world will be a better place.
“If you know your heart you will know yourself, and if you know yourself you will know your Lord”
———
Purchase the book, Click here 

SeekersGuidance Course:
The Marvels of the Heart with Shaykh Yahya Rhodus
Relevant Resources:
Habib Umar’s Morning Lessons on Imam Ghazali’s Marvels of the Heart – Day 1 – Select Quotes
The Importance of Study in One’s Spiritual Development – Imam al-Ghazzali
On Knowing Yourself to Know God – A SeekersCircle Reflection

Mercy, The Stamp of Creation by Dr Umar Faruq Abd’Allah

This paper examines the role of mercy in the Islamic tradition and eternal salvation, and its imprint on all affairs of the universe. Although Islam is often proclaimed as the ‘religion of peace,’ theologically, it is more accurate to refer to it as the ‘religion of mercy.’
God has designated mercy as his primary relation to the universe and sent his greatest prophet, Muhammad, as its emissary.
Following this, Muslims are commanded to be vanguards of mercy to the world in fostering benefit and averting harm. Islam enjoins a healthy and spiritually alive heart and teaches a law of universal reciprocity by which God shows mercy to the merciful and withholds it from the unmerciful.
The Prophet Muhammad said:
“People who show mercy to others will be shown mercy from the All-Merciful. Be merciful to those on earth and He who is in the heaven will be merciful to you.”
Click here to read the article
http://www.nawawi.org/?p=113

Reflections of MicroMolvi: My First Interfaith Dialogue

By Yousaf Seyal
Today is a big day for me. I have left my home to fly out for the journey of a lifetime; headed towards America’s first Muslim Liberal Arts School, Zaytuna College. When flying, I usually try to sit beside an elderly person to enjoy a conversation to entertain me throughout my trip. This time I found myself sitting next to Timothy and Dorothy, a Christian couple, who are travelling to visit their granddaughter in Texas for her fourth birthday. They are a couple who both take religion very seriously and try to integrate it in every aspect of their lives. In fact, both of them teach religion at their local Church’s Sunday School. My conversation with Timothy began when he asked me if I was Sikh. I informed him that I was Muslim and we began to speak about Islam.
Sometimes we (Muslims) tend to believe that Islam is the ‘only’ scriptural based religion and often forget, if not neglect, very two important religions: Judaism and Christianity, who both received a complete revelation from God. In fact, God addresses these two religions in the Quran as “ahlul-kitab”or “the people of the book”. More so, God commands His Prophet Muhammad ﷺ‎ to bond with the people of the book and says

“Say: O People of the Book! Come to common terms as between us and you…” (3:64).

Therefore, before engaging in conversation, we both agreed to disagree, and made it clear to one another that we would respect each other firstly as brothers; brothers in humanity. Timothy began this conversation with introducing himself, and emphasized on the fact that he puts his full trust in the Christ alone. I told him that Muslims shared a similar concept of trust, but instead trusting in the One God (Allah) alone. I shared our perspective with him as Muslims; explaining to him that Jesus was a Prophet of God and how the Quran itself has a full chapter dedicated to Mary and the birth of Jesus. We also touched upon some very essential concepts of religion and spirituality such as sincerity and intention. Timothy personally does not like using the term ‘religion’ because he feels religion itself can become a mechanism or a habitual practice deploying the worshipper from the greater realities of prayer. In Timothy’s words, ‘Good works is out of a heart for God’.
Shared Ideas
I shared our understanding of worshipping God with him; to worship Him because God deserves to be worshipped. We continued to talk for nearly two and a half hours and shared stories of the Prophets such as the story of Prophet Yusuf and Abraham. Topics such as trust in God, pre-eternal destiny, and individual choice were also discussed thoroughly. Interestingly enough, we also had a brief conversation on culture and arranged marriages in the Muslim world! At this point, I am flying over Lovington, New Mexico. The very obvious term that sticks out here is love. Love as we all know is very subtle but it does not need to be limited to one specific community, gender, race, color, or religion. It is a universal which should be shared by all of its particulars. It is both a superior and inferior; sent from God Himself and revolving around all of creation. Love was never meant to be some accident, but a necessary property existing in every genus of the worlds. We are all the creation of God. God is our King and we live together under His rule. Therefore, let us learn to share this kingdom of His, spread peace throughout it, and spread joy within it. Show this world that love still exists. For most people a smile can express love. Otherwise when the sun rises to its peak, we will all drown in the selfish materialistic chocolate palaces created by our own fantasies and fallacies.

Let us strive to establish, build, and polish our palaces together with perfection in every aspect of our dealings, starting with a solid foundation of love for God and His creation. This is what it means to be God’s vicegerent on earth.

Specifically addressing the Muslim community: It is our duty to spread the lights of Islam here in the West. This is no part-time job or something left for the Turks, Arabs or Pakistanis. The bare minimum upon us is to be exemplifiers of good character. The uniqueness of our Prophet Muhammad ﷺ‎ was that he was just not a prophet to those who believed in him, but a universal Prophet sent as a mercy to all of the worlds. He was a manifestation of the attribute ’rahmah’ mercy from the ‘ar-Rahman’ the all-Merciful and manifested it in his interactions with everyone. So let be among those who continue to spread this mercy; offering it to even those who reject it. As Timothy himself put it, “God didn’t say that I did not see that coming!”. He was referring to our ‘coincidental’ meeting. I also do truly feel that our meeting was no coincidence. This was the first conversation I had embarking on this new path of mine. It made me realize that the task of conveying God’s word and exemplifying good character was not to wait till I started studying formally at school, but it had already started from the moment I had stepped out of my door, to travel on this path of knowledge, earlier this morning. I felt as if God was indicating a responsibility that lays ahead of me in my upcoming journey of knowledge, action, and service.

The MicroMolvi,
Yousaf Seyal