On the unity of God

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SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association)- A follower of the Islamic religion must first accept the testimony of faith: “There is no god but God” (la ilaha illa-llah). This profession of God’s Unity is Islam’s first pillar (rukn). All else depends upon it and derives from it.

The Prophet of God-God bless him and his household said in one of his sermons, “Praise belongs to God, who in His firstness (awwaliyyah) was solitary and in His beginninglessness (azaliyyah) was tremendously exalted through divinity and supremely great through His magnificence and power. He originated that which He produced and brought into being that which He created without a model (mithal) preceding anything that He created. Our Lord, the eternal (al-qadim), unstitched (the heavens and the earth) through the subtlety (lutf) of His lordship and the knowledge within His omniscience, created all that He created through the laws of His power (qudrah), and split (the sky) through the light of dawn. So none changes His creation, none alters His handiwork, ‘none repels His law’ (XIII, 45), none rejects His command. There is no place of rest away from His call (dawah), no cessation to His dominion and no interruption of His term. He is the truly existent (al-kaynun) from the first and the truly enduring (al-daymum) forever. He is veiled from His creatures by His light in the high horizon, in the towering might, and in the lofty dominion. He is above all things and below all things. So He manifested Himself (tajalla) to His creation without being seen, and He transcends being gazed upon. He wanted to be distinguished by the profession of Unity (Tawheed) when He withdrew behind the veil of His light, rose high in His exaltation and concealed Himself from His creation.”

“He sent to them messengers so they might be His conclusive argument against His creatures and so His messengers to them might be witnesses against them. He sent among them prophets bearing good tidings and warning, ‘that whosoever perished might perish by a clear sign, and by a clear sign he might live who lived’ (VIII, 42) and that the servants might understand of their Lord that of which they had been ignorant, recognize Him in His Lordship after they had denied (it) and profess His Unity in His divinity after they had stubbornly resisted.”

God’s Attributes

The Shi’a doctrine is the sole school of thought that deems Allah (swt) to be pure, free from creating evil, there from the beginning, he possesses infinite knowledge, He (swt) is free from incarnation, has no Partners is independent and controls everything.

In this connection we will cite the comments of our eminent scholar Shaykkh Saduq who wrote in ‘A Shi’ite Creed’ the English translation of I’teqadat-Al-Imamiah pages 27-28: “Know that our belief concerning Tawheed is that Allah, exalted is He, is one (Wahid) and Absolutely unique (ahad). There is naught like unto Him; He is prior (qadeem, Ancient). He never was, and never will be, but the Hearing and the Seeing One; the Omniscient; the Wise; the Living; the Everlasting; the Mighty; the Holy; the Knowing One; The Powerful (Qadir); the Self Sufficient). He cannot be described by his essence; His body; His Form (Sura), or by his Accidental Qualities (Arad)…

He is a Thing but not like other things. He is unique (Ahad), Eternal Refuge (Samad)”, He begets not, lest He may be inherited; not is He begotten, lest He may be associated (with others). There is no one like unto Him; He has no equal or opponent, compeer or consort . Nothing can be compared with Him; He has no rival, no partner. “Human eyes cannot behold Him”. The thoughts of men cannot compass Him; while He is aware of them. “Slumber overtakes Him not, nor sleep” [2:225]; and He is the Gracious (latif) and the Knowing One (khabir), the Creator of all things. There is no deity other than Him; to Him (alone) belongs (the power) of Creation and authority. Blessed is Allah, the Lord if the Worlds. And he who believes in imminence is a polytheist. And he who attributes to the Imams (beliefs) other than those that have been stated concerning the Unity of Allah (Tawheed) is a liar”.

Ibn Abbas related that a Jew, called Na’thal, stood up before the Prophet of Allah SAWA and said, “O Muhammad, verily I will ask thee about certain things which have been repeating themselves in my breast for some time. If thou answered them for me I will embrace Islam at thy hand.”

The Prophet SAWA said, “Ask, O Abu Ummarah”

Then he said, “O Muhammad, describe for me thy Lord.”He answered, “Surely the Creator cannot be described except by that with which He has described Himself-and how should one describe that Creator whom the senses cannot perceive, imaginations cannot attain, thoughts (khatarat) cannot delimit and sight cannot encompass ? Greater is He than what the depicters describe. He is distant in His nearness and near in His distance. He fashions (kayyaf) ‘howness’ (kayfiyyah), so it is not said of Him, ‘How?’ (kayf); He determines (ayyan) the ‘where’ (ayn), so it is not said of Him, ‘Where ?’ (ayn). He sunders ‘howness’ (kayfufiyyah) and ‘whereness’ (aynuniyyah), so He is “One . . . the Everlasting Refuge” (CXII 1-2), as He has described Himself. But depicters do not attain to His description. ‘He has not begotten, and has not been begotten, and equal to Him is not any one’ (CXII 3-4). Na’thal said, “Thou hast spoken the truth. O Muhammad, tell me about thy saying, ‘Surely He is One, there is none like (shabih) Him.’ Is not God one and man one? And thus His oneness (wahdaniyyah) resembles the oneness of man.”

He answered, “God is one, but single in meaning (ahadi al-mana), while man is one but dual in meaning (thanawi al-ma’na), corporeal substance (jism) and accidents (‘arad), body (badan) and spirit (ruh). Similarity (tashbih) pertains only to the meanings.” Nathal said, “Thou hast spoken the truth, O Muhammad.”

Doctrine of the Attributes of Allah

Shiite believe that Allah’s primary, positive attributes (as-sifat ath thubutiyyah al-haqiqiyyah), which Shiite call the attributes of Beauty and Perfection (al-jamal wa al-kamal), such as Omniscience (‘ilm), Omnipotence (qudrah), Self-Sufficiency (ghina), Divine Will (iradah), Everlasting Life (hay’ah), are identical with His Being and are not in addition to Him, and that His attributes are not apart from His Being.

Thus His Omnipotence is dependent on His Everlasting Life, and His Everlasting Life is dependent on His Omnipotence. He is Powerful because He is Living, and He is Living because He is Powerful. In fact, there is no duality either between Him and His attributes, or between the attributes of perfection themselves; they must be considered as a unity. They differ in their meaning and their sense, but not in their substance and existence. For, if they differed in their substance, and given that they are eternal in the same way as is His Essence, it would become necessary to assume that the Self-Existence of Allah had number, and the very foundation of Tawheed would be destroyed.

However, the positive attributes other than the attributes of perfection (the secondary, positive attributes, as-sifat ath-thubutiyyah al idafyyah), such as those of being the Creator (khaliqiyyah), the Provider (raziqiyyah), being Without Beginning (taqaddum) and being the First Cause (‘illiyyah), are all contained within one attribute which is His Self-Subsistence (qayyumiyyah), and Shiite extract these other attributes from the central attribute when Shiite observe the several effects (at har) of its manifestation (e.g. when we observe His Self-Subsistence in its Creating aspect, we call Him the Creator).

In contrast to this, negative attributes, which are called attributes of Majesty (jalal), are contained in only one negative attribute which is the negation of the possibility (imkan) of these things. This means that He has no body, no appearance, no movement, nor is He motionless; He has no heaviness, nor any lightness, etc.; in reality He has no imperfection. The result of the negation of these possibilities is a return to the Necessity of His Being (wujub al-wujud), which is one of the positive attributes of perfection. So the negative attributes of Majesty ultimately refer back to the positive attributes of perfection, and Allah is One in all respects; there is no number in His Holy Existence, and there is nothing compound in His Essence.

It is not surprising that some persons, accepting that the positive attributes are, as it were, reflected in the negative attributes, but failing to understand that Allah’s attributes are One with His Essence, have imagined, in order to reassure themselves of the Unity of Allah, that the positive attributes depend on the negative ones. However, in this they have committed a great wrong, for they suppose that Allah’s Essence, which is Absolute Being without the possibility of imperfection, is complete negation and therefore non-existence.

Neither is it surprising that some persons say that His positive attributes are in addition to (idafah) His Essence, therefore saying that His attributes are pre-existent like His Essence, the result being that they are partners of His Being. Similarly, others say that Allah is a compound of His attributes, but Allah is far above these things. As the first Imam, Amir al-Mu’minin, ‘Ali (A.S.) said:

The perfection of His purity is to deny Him attributes, because every attribute is a proof that it is different from that to which it is attributed, and everything to which something is attributed is different from the attribute. Thus, whoever attaches attributes to Allah recognises His like, and whoever recognises His like regards Him as two, and whoever regards Him as two recognises parts for Him, and whoever recognises parts for Him has mistaken Him. (Nahj al-Balaghah, Sermon)

 

 

Source: Imamhussain-lib.com

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