These are certain attributes, which Allah the Almighty has proved in relation to His being through the Quran and the sayings of the Prophet (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam). Some of them are as follows:
Competence (qudrah): a Muslim believes that Allah is competent, to do whatever He likes and that nothing can prevent Him, from doing so. The whole universe is an example of this. He can do or undo anything; He owns and controls all the properties; He reigns over the heavens and earth; He is the maker of all destinies. Thus He says:
وَلَقَدْ خَلَقْنَا السَّمَوَاتِ وَالأَرْضَ وَمَا بَيْنَهُمَا فِي سِتَّةِ أَيَّامٍ وَمَا مَسَّنَا مِنْ لُغُوبٍ (38) ق:38
(Translation of meaning) [“And certainly we created the heavens and earth and what lies between them in six days and We were not touched by tiredness” (Qaaf: 38)]. In another place He says:
وَقَالُوا مَنْ أَشَدُّ مِنَّا قُوَّةً (15) فصلت:15
(Translation of meaning) “…..and they said: Who is mightier than us in power?” (Fussilat: 15)].
Knowledge (Ilm): A Muslim also believes, that, Allah is all-knowing and He has an equal knowledge of the past, present and future. He knows of parts, as of, the wholes. He never errs and never forgets. In the Quran Allah the Almighty makes Prophet Musa (Alaihis Salam) to utter these words:
لا يَضِلُّ رَبِّي وَلا يَنسَى (52) طـه:52
(Translation of meaning) “My Creator neither deviates nor forgets” Taha: 52)]. Further: (101) (الأنعام:101) وَهُوَ بِكُلِّ شَيْءٍ عَلِيمٌ “He is knowledgeable of all things” (An’am:101)]. He knows everything, whether apparent or hidden. Likewise Allah says:
وَعِنْدَهُ مَفَاتِحُ الْغَيْبِ لا يَعْلَمُهَا إِلاَّ هُوَ وَيَعْلَمُ مَا فِي الْبَرِّ وَالْبَحْرِ وَمَا تَسْقُطُ مِنْ وَرَقَةٍ إِلاَّ يَعْلَمُهَا وَلا حَبَّةٍ فِي ظُلُمَاتِ الأَرْضِ وَلا رَطْبٍ وَلا يَابِسٍ إِلاَّ فِي كِتَابٍ مُبِينٍ (59) (الأنعام:59)
(Translation of meaning) [“and He is in possession of the keys of the occult; He alone knows them; He knows what is on land and sea; and if a leaf falls he knows as well as the grains hidden in the darkness of earth; and there is no wet or dry except that it is provided for in a clear book” (Al-An’am: 59)].
The knowledge of Allah is not transitory or finite. It is eternal and timeless. It is of their shere ignorance what some ignorant say, that, Allah comes to know a matter after its occurrence.
Sovereign Will: Allah the Almighty possesses sovereign will and discretion. He carries out freely what he wills. And whatever, He will does happen and whatever, He does not will does not happen. Thus He proclaims:
فَإِذَا قَضَى أَمْراً فَإِنَّمَا يَقُولُ لَهُ كُنْ فَيَكُونُ (68) غافر:68
(Translation of meaning) [“He is the one who gives life and death and if he determines some matter he merely says for it to be and it comes into being” (Gha’fir: 68)].
All-hearing and All-seeing: One of the attributes of Allah is that, He hears everything and observes everything. Not even the lightest voice is beyond His surveillance. Allah says:
قَدْ سَمِعَ اللَّهُ قَوْلَ الَّتِي تُجَادِلُكَ فِي زَوْجِهَا وَتَشْتَكِي إِلَى اللَّهِ وَاللَّهُ يَسْمَعُ تَحَاوُرَكُمَا إِنَّ اللَّهَ سَمِيعٌ بَصِيرٌ (1) المجادلة:1
(Translation of meaning) [“Verily, Allah has listened to the talk of the lady who was arguing with you in respect of her spouse and complaining to Allah and Allah is listening to your conversation. Verily, Allah is all-hearing and all-seeing” (Al-Mujadalah: 1)].
Once, the Messenger of Allah (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) was travelling along with his Companions. The Companions were saying their prayers loudly. The Prophet (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said to them:
« يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ ارْبَعُوا عَلَى أَنْفُسِكُمْ، فَإِنَّكُمْ لاَ تَدْعُونَ أَصَمَّ وَلاَ غَائِبًا، إِنَّهُ مَعَكُمْ إِنَّهُ سَمِيعٌ قَرِيبٌ، تَبَارَكَ اسْمُهُ وَتَعَالَى جَدُّهُ »
O my people rest yourselves; the One you are calling is neither dumb nor absent; you are calling One Who is all-hearing from the near and He is with you” (Muslim). He has an eye on the minutest phenomena and nearness and distance are irrelevant for Him. He has an eye over the whole of the universe all the time. Allah proclaims:
لا تُدْرِكُهُ الأَبْصَارُ وَهُوَ يُدْرِكُ الأَبْصَارَ وَهُوَ اللَّطِيفُ الْخَبِيرُ(103) الأنعام:103
(Translation of meaning) [“the sights cannot comprehend Him; and He comprehends the sights; and He is gentle and aware” (Al-An’am: 103)]. It is in the Quran that Allah told Prophet Musa (Alahis Salam) and Prophet Harun (Alahis Salam)
قَالَ لا تَخَافَا إِنَّنِي مَعَكُمَا أَسْمَعُ وَأَرَى (46) طه:46
(Translation of meaning) “you two do not be afraid; verily, I am with you both; I am hearing and seeing everything” (Taha:46)].
Laughter as a quality of Allah: A Muslim also believes, that, Allah laughs, too. But we cannot mean by this that He laughs like human beings. We do not know the deeper details. We attribute this to Allah just for the sake of understanding. But we need not delve into its reality. When we attribute a quality to Allah it must be in consonance with His standing. To illustrate: Once a hungry man came to the Messenger of Allah (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam). But that day he had nothing in his home to feed him. So he asked his Companions: Is there anybody who could host him? Abu Talha (RadhiAllahu Anhu) volunteered himself. He took him to his home. But the wife told him that there was nothing except a little food for the children. He told her to make the children go to sleep and feed the guest of the Prophet (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam). Thus the guest ate while the parents and the children slept hungry. Next morning when the companion came to the Prophet the Prophet (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) told him: « ضَحِكَ اللَّهُ اللَّيْلَةَ أَوْ عَجِبَ مِنْ فِعَالِكُمَا ». Last night Allah laughed, or was surprised, at the doing of you two. He meant, that, Allah was pleased with this charitable act and expressed this with a smile. It was on this occasion that this Ayat was revealed:
وَيُؤْثِرُونَ عَلَى أَنْفُسِهِمْ وَلَوْ كَانَ بِهِمْ خَصَاصَةٌ الحشر:9
(Translation of meaning) [“And they prefer others over themselves even if they were in hardship” (Al-Hashr: 9)].
Modesty: Whenever, somebody commits an act, which, has been prohibited by Allah the Almighty the latter feels ashamed. That is why, Allah has forbidden the obscene and reprehensible acts. Sa’d Bin Ibadah (RadhiAllahu Anhu) said that if I see my wife indulging in obscene act with somebody I shall kill her. When the Messenger of Allah (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) came to know of it he said:
« أَلَا تَعْجَبُونَ مِنْ غَيْرَةِ سَعْدٍ؟! فَوَاللَّهِ لَأَنَا أَغْيَرُ مِنْهُ , وَاللَّهُ أَغْيَرُ مِنِّي , وَمِنْ أَجْلِ غَيْرَةِ اللَّهِ؛ حَرَّمَ الْفَوَاحِشَ – مَا ظَهَرَ مِنْهَا وَمَا بَطَنَ ».
Are you surprised at the modesty of Sa’d? I am more modest than Sa’d and Allah is more modest than me. It is for his modesty that Allah has forbidden the committing of obscene acts and harbouring of obscene thoughts (Bukhari).
Sight of Allah on the Day of Judgment: A Muslim also believes that on the Day of Judgment the believers will see their Creator face to face. Quran says:
وُجُوهٌ يَوْمَئِذٍ نَاضِرَةٌ (22) إِلَى رَبِّهَا نَاظِرَةٌ (23) القيامة :22،23
(Translation of meaning) “That day the faces of the people will be radiant; they will be looking at their Creator” (Al-Qiyamah: 22-23)]. The Messenger of Allah (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said: « إِنَّكُم سَتَرَوْنَ ربكُم كَمَا ترَوْنَ الْقَمَر لَيْلَة الْبَدْر لَا تضَامون فِي رُؤْيَته» “You will see your Creator just as you see this moon without any hindrance” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim). There is another saying of the Prophet (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam): « إِنَّكُمْ سَتَرَوْنَ رَبَّكُمْ عِيَانًا» “Verily, you shall see your Creator with your eyes” (Bukhari).
Divine Conversation: Allah also talks. Thus Quran enlightens:
وَكَلَّمَ اللَّهُ مُوسَى تَكْلِيماً (164) النساء :164
(Translation of meaning) “And Allah talked to Musa clearly” (Al-Nisa: 164). We don’ know anything about it for certain. A Muslim, however, knows that Allah addresses the human beings, in a variety of ways, for instance, by means of revelation or from behind the curtain. Quran says:
وَمَا كَانَ لِبَشَرٍ أَنْ يُكَلِّمَهُ اللَّهُ إِلاَّ وَحْياً أَوْ مِنْ وَرَاءِ حِجَابٍ أَوْ يُرْسِلَ رَسُولاً فَيُوحِيَ بِإِذْنِهِ مَا يَشَاءُ إِنَّهُ عَلِيٌّ حَكِيمٌ الشورى:51
(Translation of meaning) “It was not for a human that Allah converse with him except by means of revelation or from behind a curtain or depute a messenger who conveys with his permission, what he wills. Verily, He is lofty and all-wise” (Al-Shura: 51).
Nevertheless, it is also believed that on the Day of Judgment, Allah, will address the Muslims and the mankind without any mediator.
In sum, as a matter of belief all these attributes, belong to the Divine Being and we should remember him with them, as He has taught us. We should not enter into a debate about their nature and reality. Because their comprehension is beyond our limited understanding. We believe in all figurative expressions like Allah’s ascension over a throne; His having hands, feet, and mouth; His descent to the lowest heaven etc. But do not delve into unnecessary probing. The memorization of the sacred names and the attributes of the divine Being, is the food of the inner self of a believer and a medium of devotion to Allah.
« أَنَّ النَّبِيَّ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ بَعَثَ رَجُلًا عَلَى سَريَّة، وَكَانَ يَقْرَأُ لِأَصْحَابِهِ فِي صَلَاتِهِمْ، فَيَخْتِمُ بِقُلْ هُوَ اللَّهُ أَحَدٌ ” فَلَمَّا رَجَعُوا ذَكَرُوا ذَلِكَ لِلنَّبِيِّ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ، فَقَالَ: “سَلُوهُ: لِأَيِّ شَيْءٍ يَصْنَعُ ذَلِكَ؟ “. فَسَأَلُوهُ، فَقَالَ: لِأَنَّهَا صِفَةُ الرَّحْمَنِ، وَأَنَا أُحِبُّ أَنْ أَقْرَأَ بِهَا. فَقَالَ النَّبِيُّ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ: “أَخْبِرُوهُ أَنَّ اللَّهَ يُحِبُّهُ »
Once the Messenger of Allah (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) sent a group of fighters for jihad. Whenever the leader of the groups led the prayer on the way he necessarily recited the Surah Ikhlas in the end. On their return, some people reported this, to the Messenger of Allah (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam). The Prophet (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) asked them to query that man about why he does so. He replied that I do this because Surah Ikhlas contains the attributes of Allah. This Surah is my most favourite. The Messenger of Allah (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said: Go and convey the good news to that person that Allah too loves him (unanimous).