Allah, Creation and Muslim Beliefs About God

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20120509-Allah 12.jpg
Arabic calligraphy for the word Allah
Muslim believe first and foremost there is only one God Allah. Second they believe it is the purpose of their life on earth to serve him. Allah created the world, living creatures and humans. He sends messages to humans in the form of angels and prophets, who guided humans in an existence that is known only to Allah.

Muslims believe that Islam is the religion of God, possessing his final and complete word, the Koran, and his final prophet, Muhammad. Thus, while God's revelation had been revealed previously and covenants had been made with other communities, such as Jews and Christians, Muslims believe that Islam possesses the fullness of truth. [Source: John L. Esposito “Worldmark Encyclopedia of Religious Practices”, 2000s,]

Muslims believe that God, or Allah, is the same God that revealed himself to Jews and Christians. (Arab Christians use the name Allah when referring to God.) This belief in the same God is expressed in the Qurʾan, where Muslims are told to tell Christians and Jews, "We believe in the Revelation which has come down to us and in that which came down to you; Our God and your God is one; and it's to Him we surrender." [Source: =]

Muslims believe Allah is the only true reality and that he is eternal and everything that exists exists because of Allah's will. They also believe that God has 99 key attributes such as generosity and wisdom and 30 that are uniquely divine. If they all come together in one place they become the unity of God. Only God possesses them all. According to Muslims even regard the physical universe as "Muslim," for in following natural law as created by Allah, everything in the universe submits to Allah's will. Allah has no form or substance and can be known only by his characteristics, expressed by the "Ninety-nine Names of God," such as the Strong, the Loving, the Everlasting, the Caring, the Merciful, and so on. Allah is an abstract concept rather than a "person." [Source:]

Websites and Resources: Islam IslamOnline ; Institute for Social Policy and Understanding; ; Islamic City ; BBC article ; University of Southern California Compendium of Muslim Texts ; Encyclopædia Britannica article on Islam ; Islam at Project Gutenberg ; Muslims: PBS Frontline documentary frontline

Islam and Monotheism

Islam is a monotheistic religion, This means that its followers believe in one supreme God — and this God only. The God of Islam is called Allah, a name that comes from the Arabic phrase al-ilah, meaning "the One True God."

Muslims believe that Islam is the religion of God, possessing his final and complete word, the Koran, and his final prophet, Muhammad. Thus, while God's revelation had been revealed previously and covenants had been made with other communities, such as Jews and Christians, Muslims believe that Islam possesses the fullness of truth. [Source: John L. Esposito “Worldmark Encyclopedia of Religious Practices”, 2000s,]

Judaism and Christianity are also monotheistic religions. The foundation of the Islamic faith is the belief that: "There is no God but Allah, and Muhammad is his prophet." Tied to this belief are the themes which are repeated again and again, the Oneness of God, One in his nature, the only Real and Eternal. One reason Islam frowns upon idols and rival religions is that these are challenges to the belief that there is one only God, Allah.

Muslims and God

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A Muslim stands in a personal relationship to God; there is neither intermediary nor clergy in orthodox Islam. Those who lead prayers, preach sermons, and interpret the law do so by virtue of their superior knowledge and scholarship rather than any special powers or prerogatives conferred by ordination.

The shahadah, or testimony, succinctly states the central belief of Islam: "There is no god but God [Allah], and Muhammad is his Prophet." This simple profession of faith is repeated on many occasions; recital in full and unquestioning sincerity makes one a Muslim. Islam means "submission to God," and he who submits is a Muslim. The God whom Muhammad preached was not unknown to his countrymen, for Allah is the Arabic word for God rather than a particular name. Instead of introducing a new deity, Muhammad denied the existence of the minor gods and spirits worshiped before his ministry. [Source: James Heitzman and Robert Worden, Library of Congress, 1989]

Islam stresses the sole divinity in the relationship between man and God, God’s unlimited sovereignty over all his creation, especially mankind, his omniscience and omnipotence, his mercy, forgiveness and beneficence. Some scholars have suggested the relationship between mankind and God is based fear, love and respect, sort of like the relationship between a child and a parent.

Submission to God in Islam

The message of Islam is simple and powerful: "submission" (Islam) to the mercy of a single, all-powerful God (Allah). God exists for eternity, but out of love he created the world and mankind, endowing both men and women with immortal souls. Human beings have only one life, and when it ends their souls go to either heaven or hell according to their behavior on earth. Correct behavior is known through the revelation of prophets inspired by God, and Muhammad is the last of these prophets. [Source: Russell R. Ross and Andrea Matles Savada, Library of Congress, 1988]

To believe in Islam, to become "one who submits" (a Muslim), one must accept the will of the one true God and the message of Muhammad, which is encapsulated in the shahada: "There is no God but God, and Muhammad is His Prophet." His message is immortalized in the Quran, a series of revelations conveyed by the angel Gabriel, and in the hadith, the sayings and example of the prophet Muhammad.

Muhammad described some of the most important actions necessary for a believer who wished to submit to God's love and will. In addition to commandments against lying, stealing, killing and other crimes, the moral code includes prayer five times daily, fasting, giving alms to the poor, pilgrimage to Mecca if financially possible, abstention from gambling and wine, and dietary restrictions similar to those of Judaism. The Prophet linked behavior to salvation so closely that bodies of Islamic law (sharia) grew up in order to interpret all human activity according to the spirit of the Quran.

In practice, to be a Muslim requires not simply a belief in God and in Muhammad's status as the final prophet, but acceptance of the rules of Islamic law and following them in one's own life. Islam thus encompasses a rich theology and moral system, and it also includes a distinctive body of laws and customs that distinguish Muslims from followers of other faiths. Islam is theoretically a democratic union of all believers without priests, but in practice scholars (ulama) learned in Islamic law interpret the Quran according to local conditions, legal officials (qazi) regulate Muslim life according to Islamic law, and local prayer leaders coordinate group recitation of prayers in mosques (masjid, or palli).


Allah is the Arabic word for “the God” (“al” means “the” and “ilah” means “God”). Some translate Allah as meaning "the One True God." In the Qur’an, he is omnipotent, all-knowing, all-powerful, and just. It is said that Muslims have 99 different beautiful names for God, and they include “The Compassionate” and “The Merciful.” Allah is much more similar to the Old Testament God and the God of the Jews than the one willing to his sacrifice his son in the New Testament. Muslims regard the Muslim, Christian and Jewish god as one and the same.

Sura 2:255 reads: “Allah! There is no God save Him, the Living, the Eternal. Neither slumber nor sleep overtake Him; to Him belongs what is in the heavens and earth. Who will not intercede with Him by His leave? He knows what is before them and what is behind them, while they grasp nothing of His knowledge except what he wills. His throne encompasses the heavens and the earth, and he never wearies of keeping them. He is the Supreme, the Tremendous.”

Muslims worship only Allah...because only Allah is worthy of worship. They can approach Allah by praying, and by reciting the Qur'an. Muslims view Allah as both a pervasive presence and a somewhat distant figure. The Prophet Muhammad is not deified but rather is regarded as a human who was selected by God to spread the word to others through the Quran, The word "Allah" appears in the Qur’an more than 2,500 times.

Muslim Beliefs About Allah

Allah in stone in Rohtas

Muslims believe Allah is a supreme and unique God, who created and rules everything. According to the BBC: “1) Allah is eternal, omniscient, and omnipotent...Allah has always existed and will always exist. 2) Allah knows everything that can be known. 3) Allah can do anything that can be done. 4) Allah has no shape or form... Allah can't be seen. Allah can't be heard. Allah is neither male nor female. 5) Allah is just... Allah rewards and punishes fairly. But Allah is also merciful. [Source: BBC, July 19, 2011 |::|]

“All Muslims believe that God is one alone: 1) There is only one God. 2) God has no children, no parents, and no partners. 3) God was not created by a being. 4) There are no equal, superior, or lesser Gods. The Qur’an reads: “It is he who created you from a single person, and made his mate of like nature, in order that he might dwell with her in love. When they are united, she bears a light burden and carries it about unnoticed. When she grows heavy, they both pray to Allah their Lord, saying: "If you give us a goodly child, we vow we shall ever be grateful." |::|

The Qur’an reads: “Say: "We believe in Allah, and in what has been revealed to us and what was revealed to Ibrahim, Isma'il, Isaac, Jacob, and the Tribes, and in the books given to Musa, Isa, and the prophets, from their Lord: We make no distinction between one and another among them, and to Allah do we bow our will in Islam. “If anyone desires a religion other than Islam, never will it be accepted of him; and in the hereafter he will be in the ranks of those who have lost all spiritual good. |The Qur’an reads: “And when they listen to the revelation received by the messenger, you will see their eyes overflowing with tears, for they recognise the truth. They pray: "Our Lord! We believe; write us down among the witnesses." |::|

There are many attributes of God, one being “AsSalam” meaning “the Bestower of peace and love.” Man has been created to fashion himself to the attributes of God and Muslims must try to adopt this attribute of God. God says in the Quran: “This day have I perfected your religion for you and completed my favour upon you and have chosen for you Islam as religion.” [Source: Imam Shamshad A. Nasir]

Nature of Allah and God's Will

Allah is believed to be everywhere and people are said to be in his presence at all times, and are especially close during prayer times. Sura 50:16 reads: “He is closer than the vein in your neck.” He is “the First and the Last, the Manifest and the Hidden” and is “the light of the heavens and of the Earth.”

Although God speaks through prophets and uses human language and gestures that does not mean God is accessible to humans. His nature is inaccessible to men and his acts are inscrutable. He created by the command “Be!” and “turns astray who he will and guided aright whom he will” and given authority to Satan and demons to seduce human who reject him. When Muslims utter the names of the Muhammad or Allah they usually follow it with a reverential term, such as “peace be upon him.” They would never think of uttering these words as expression of exclamation or anger as Christians do with Jesus Christ or god.

John L. Esposito wrote in the “Worldmark Encyclopedia of Religious Practices”: The Qur’an does not reveal God per se but, rather, God's will, or law, for all of creation. Although God is transcendent and thus unknowable, his nature is revealed in creation and his will in revelation, and his acts in history. God in the Qur’an is all-powerful and is the ultimate judge of humankind, but he is also merciful and compassionate.[Source: John L. Esposito “Worldmark Encyclopedia of Religious Practices”, 2000s,]

The proclamation of God's mercy and compassion is made in the opening verse of the Qur’an, which begins, "In the Name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate." In the Muslim world this phrase is used by pious believers at the beginning of letters, speeches, books, and articles. Many people recite the phrase as they begin to drive a car, eat a meal, or begin any task. God's mercy exists in dialectical tension with his role as the ultimate judge. Although it can be tempered by mercy for the repentant, justice requires punishment for those who disobey God's will. On Judgment Day all human beings are to be judged according to their deeds and either punished or rewarded on the basis of their obedience or disobedience.

Allah in the Qur’an

One of the most memorized passages of the Qurʾan — the Verse of the Throne (“Ayatul Kursi”) , expresses the Islamic concept of God: Allah! There is not god but He, the Living, Who needs no other but Whom all others need. He is never drowsy [sleepy] nor does He rest. Space and the Earth belong to Him; who can intercede [intervene] without His consent? He knows everything people have done and will do, and no one can grasp the least of His knowledge, without His review. His throne extends over the heavens and the Earth and He doesn't tire in their safekeeping. He alone is the Most High, the Lord Sovereign Supreme.” [Source:]

Another frequently memorized passage in the Qurʾan is a chapter called "Sincerity" that states: "Tell people that He is One God; Allah, the Eternal Absolute. He neither gives birth nor was He ever begotten, and there is nothing equal to Him."

Qur’an 59:22-24 goes: ALLAH is He, other than Whom there is no other god;
Who knows both what is hidden and what can be witnessed;
He is the Most Compassionate and Merciful.
Allah is He, other than Whom there is not other god;
the Sovereign, the Holy One, the Source of Peace,
the Guardian of Faith, the Preserver of Security, the Exalted,
the Compelling, the Supreme.
Glory be to God, beyond any associations.
He is Allah, the Creator, the Evolver, the Bestower of Form.
To Him belong the Most Beautiful Names:
whatever exists in heaven and earth declares His Praise and Glory.
And He is Exalted in Power, the Wise.
[Source: The Threshold Society]

According to “The word "he" is used to refer to Allah because Arabic does not have a word for "it." In Arabic, the -ah ending in Allah is a feminine form. But when "Allah" is paired with the word hoowa, meaning "he is," the masculine "he" and the feminine ending "-ah" cancel one another out, suggesting to the Arabic ear that Allah has no gender.

Islamic Creation and Creationism

According to The Qurʾan Allah created the heaven and the earth in six periods: Sura 32 ("The Adoration") states in part: "Allah is He Who created the heavens and the earth and what is between them in six periods, and He mounted the throne (of authority)."

"In the Qur’an," historian Daniel Boorstin wrote in "The Creators. "God never rests, for he can never be tired." He created the world in six days like the Biblical God, but on the seventh day, when the Christian God took a day of rest, Allah said no "sense of weariness" touched Him. Creation was not the "beginning of a story but 'signs' of God's omnipotence" Boorstin says. It wasn't even really a creation it was a command: "He saith to it: 'Be," the Qur’an reads, "And it is." The Christian God made man is his own image but Allah told Muhammad "I created...humankind only that they might worship Me." [Source: Daniel Boorstin "The Creators", 1992]]

Many Muslims have the same regard for Darwin's theory of evolution as Christians who believe in "creation theory." They believe that the Qur’an is the word of God and it states that Allah made the world is seven days – -and that’s that. Muslims scholars also argue that evolution can not be proven scientifically and the theory of man’s evolution from apes is flawed because "the missing link" has never been found.

Increasingly Muslim scholars are rejecting Darwinism and telling believers that belief in God and evolution are incompatible. Nidhal Guessoum, a professor of physics at the American International School at Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates told a conference hosted by the British Council in November 2009 that in countries such as Tunisia, Egypt, Turkey, Pakistan and Malaysia only 15 percent of those surveyed said that Darwin’s theory was “true” or “probably true.” A survey at his own university found that 62 percent of Muslim professors and students believed that evolution was an “unproven theory.” Guessoum told the conference that some Muslims were being influenced by Creationist Christians.

Sunnah on Creation

Islamic Cosmology

The Sunnahs are the practices and examples drawn from the Prophet Muhammad's life. Along with the Hadiths they are the most important texts in Islam after the Qur’an. They must adhere to a strict chain of narration that ensures their authenticity, taking into account factors such as the character of people in the chain and continuity in narration. Reports that fail to meet such criteria are disregarded.

The Sunnah reads: “When God created the creation he wrote a book, which is near him upon the sovereign throne; and what is written in it is this: "Verily my compassion overcometh my wrath." “Say not, if people do good to us, we will do good to them, and if people oppress us, we will oppress them: but resolve that if people do good to you, you will do good to them, and if they oppress you, oppress them not again. [Source: Charles F. Horne, ed., The Sacred Books and Early Literature of the East, (New York: Parke, Austin, & Lipscomb, 1917), Vol. VI: Medieval Arabia, pp. 11-32]

“God saith: Whoso does one good act, for him are ten rewards, and I also give more to whomsoever I will; and whoso does ill, its retaliation is equal to it, or else I forgive him; and he who seeketh to approach me one cubit, I will seek to approach him two fathoms; and he who walketh toward me, I will run toward him; and he who cometh before me with the earth full of sins, but joins no partner to me, I will come before him with an equal front of forgiveness.

“There are seven people whom God will draw under his own shadow, on that day when there will be no other shadow: one a just king; another, who hath employed himself in devotion from his youth; the third, who fixes his heart on the mosque 'till he return to it; the fourth, two men whose friendship is to please God, whether together or separate; the fifth, a man who remembereth God when he is alone, and weeps; the sixth, a man who is tempted by a rich and beautiful woman, and saith, Verily I fear God; the seventh, a man who hath given alms and concealed it, so that his left hand knoweth not what his right hand doeth.

“The most excellent of all actions is to befriend anyone on God's account, and to be at enmity with whosoever is the enemy of God. Verily ye are in an age in which if ye abandon one-tenth of what is ordered, ye will be ruined. After this a time will come when he who shall observe one-tenth of what is now ordered will be redeemed.

Al Biruni on Creation

Al Biruni (973-1048 CE) was one of the earlist Arabic historians. The scholar Charles F. Horne (1897-1942) wrote: “The earliest Arab writer, who may perhaps be regarded as a genuine historian, in contrast to the previous romancers, was Al Biruni. Al Biruni was far more than an historian; he was a leading scientist of his day and also a geographer. [Source: Al Biruni (973-1048): “The Existing Monuments or Chronology” (c. 1030),Charles F. Horne, ed., The Sacred Books and Early Literature of the East, (New York: Parke, Austin, & Lipscomb, 1917), Vol. VI: Medieval Arabia, pp. 92-96., Internet Islamic History Sourcebook,]

Islamic celestial globe

Al Biruni wrote in “The Existing Monuments or Chronology” (c. 1030): “Praise be to God who is high above all things, and blessings be on Muhammed, the elected, the best of all created beings, and on his family, the guides of righteousness and truth. One of the exquisite plans in God's management of the affairs of his creation, one of the glorious benefits which he has bestowed upon the entirety of his creatures, is that categorical decree of his, not to leave in his world any period without a just guide, whom he constitutes as a protector for his creatures, with whom to take refuge in unfortunate and sorrowful cases and accidents, and upon whom to devolve their affairs, when they seem indissolubly perplexed, so that the order of the world should rest upon—and its existence be supported by—his genius. And this decree (that the affairs of mankind should be governed by a prophet) has been settled upon them as a religious duty, and has been linked together with the obedience toward God, and the obedience toward his prophet, through which alone a reward in future life may be obtained—in accordance with the word of him, who is truth and justice—and his word is judgment and decree, "O ye believers, obey God, and obey the prophets, and those among yourselves who are invested with the command."

“The first and most famous of the beginnings of antiquity is the fact of the creation of mankind. But among those who have a book of divine revelation, such as the Jews, Christians, Magians, and their various sects, there exists such a difference of opinion as to the nature of this fact, and as to the question how to date from it, the like of which is not allowable for eras. Everything, the knowledge of which is connected with creation and with the history of bygone generations, is mixed up with falsifications and myths, because it belongs to a far remote age; because a long interval separates us therefrom, and because the student is incapable of keeping it in memory, and of fixing it (so as to preserve it from confusion). God says: "Have they not got the stories about those who were before them? None but God knows them." (Surahix, 71.) Therefore it is becoming not to admit any account of a similar subject, if it is not attested by a book, the correctness of which is relied upon, or by a tradition, for which the conditions of authenticity, according to the prevalent opinion, furnish grounds of proof. [Source: Al Biruni (973-1048): “The Existing Monuments or Chronology” (c. 1030),Charles F. Horne, ed., The Sacred Books and Early Literature of the East, (New York: Parke, Austin, & Lipscomb, 1917), Vol. VI: Medieval Arabia, pp. 92-96., Internet Islamic History Sourcebook,]

Averroes on the Creation of the Universe

On “Problem First: the Creation of the Universe”,Averroes 1126-1198) wrote in “On the Harmony of Religions and Philosophy” (1190): “The Law teaches that the universe was invented and created by God, and that it did not come into being by chance or by itself. The method adopted by the Law for proving this is not the one upon which the Asharites have depended. For we have already shown that those methods are not specially certain for the learned, nor common enough to satisfy all the classes of men. The methods which are really serviceable are those which have a very few premises, and the results of which fall very near to the commonly known ideas. But in instructing the common people the Law does not favor statements composed of long and complete reasoning, based upon different problems. So everyone who, in teaching them, adopts a different course, and interprets the Law according to it, has lost sight of its purpose and gone astray from the true path. And so also, the Law in giving illustrations for its reasoning uses only those which are present before us.


“Whatever has been thought necessary for the common people to know, has been explained to them by the nearest available examples, as in the case of the day of Judgment. But whatever was unnecessary for them to know, they have been told that it was beyond their knowledge, as the words of God about the Soul [Qur'an 22.85]. Now that we have established this, it is necessary that the method adopted by the Law for teaching the creation of the universe to the common people be such as would be acknowledged by all. It is also necessary that since there cannot be found anything present to illustrate the creation of the universe the Law must have used the examples of the creation of things in the visible world. [Source: “Ibn Rushd: On the Harmony of Religions and Philosophy, in Arabic Kitab fasl al-maqal, with its appendix (Damina). Appended is an extract from Kitab al-kashfan manahij al-adilla, published and translated as: “Averröes, The Philosophy and Theology of Averroes, trans. Muhammad Jamil-al-Rahman (Baroda: A. G. Widgery, 1921), pp. 14-19, 122-131, 204-229, 242-249, 260-283, 300-308. A more recent edition is edited by George Hourani, (Leiden, E. J. Brill, 1959).]

“So the method adopted by Law is that the universe was made by God. If we look intently into the verse pertaining to this subject we shall see that the method adopted is that of divine solicitude, which we know to be one of those which prove the existence of God. When a man sees a thing made in a certain shape, proportion and fashion, for a particular advantage is derived from it, and purpose which is to be attained, so that it becomes clear to him, that had it not been found in that shape, and proportion, then that advantage would have been wanting in it, he comes to know for certain that there is a maker of that thing, and that he had made it in that shape and proportion, for a set purpose. For it is not possible that all those qualities serving that purpose be collected in that thing by chance alone. For instance, if a man sees a stone on the ground in a shape fit for sitting, and finds its proportions and fashion of the same kind, then he would come to know that it was made by a maker, and that he had made it and placed it there. But when he sees nothing in it which may have made it fit for sitting then he becomes certain that its existence in the place was by chance only, without its being fashioned by any maker.

“Such is also the case with the whole of the universe. For when a man sees the sun, the moon, and all the stars, which are the cause of the four seasons; of days and nights, of rain, water and winds, of the inhabitation of the parts of the earth, of the existence of man, and of the being of all the animals and the plants and of the earth being fit for the habitation of a man, and other animals living in it; and the water fit for the animals living in it; and the air fit for birds, and if there be anything amiss in this creation and edifice, the whole world would come to confusion and disorder, then he would come to know with certainty that it is not possible that this harmony in it for the different members of the universe — man, animals, and plants — be found by chance only.

“He will know that there is one who determined it, and so one who made it by intention, and that is God, exalted and magnified may He be. He would know with certainty that the universe is a created thing, for he would necessarily think that it is not possible that in it should be found all this harmony, if it be not made by someone, and had come into existence by chance alone. This kind of argument, is quite definite and at the same time clear, and some have mentioned it here. It is based upon two principles which are acknowledged by all. One of them being, that the universe, with all its component parts, is found fit for the existence of man and things; secondly, that which is found suitable in all its parts, for a single purpose, leading to a single goal, is necessarily a created thing. So those two principles lead us naturally to admit that the universe is a created thing, and that there is a maker of it. Hence "the argument of analogy" leads to two things at one and the same time, and that is why it is the best argument for proving the existence of God. This kind of reasoning is also found in the Qur'an in many verses in which the creation of the universe is mentioned.

Image Sources: Wikimedia Commons

Text Sources: Internet Islamic History Sourcebook: ; Arab News, Jeddah; “Islam, a Short History” by Karen Armstrong; “A History of the Arab Peoples” by Albert Hourani (Faber and Faber, 1991); “World Religions” edited by Geoffrey Parrinder (Facts on File Publications, New York); “Encyclopedia of the World’s Religions” edited by R.C. Zaehner (Barnes & Noble Books, 1959); Metropolitan Museum of Art,, National Geographic, BBC, New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Smithsonian magazine, The Guardian, Al Jazeera, The New Yorker, Time, Newsweek, Reuters, Associated Press, AFP, Library of Congress and various books and other publications.

Last updated April 2024

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