God has multiple attributes

God has multiple attributes

By MAULANA WAHIDUD... | 24 September, 2016

Towards the end of his commentary on the chapter of the Quran entitled “The Night Journey”, IbnKathir has related the following incident: “A person heard the Prophet supplicating God by His names Rahman (the Beneficent) and Rahim (the Merciful). ‘I thought that he called on only one God,’ the man commented. ‘Yet, here he is, calling on two.’”

From this straightforward incident one can see how many doubts and suspicions stem from a mere lack of understanding. God is One in His essence, but He has multiple names or attributes. The Prophet Muhammad used to call upon his Lord by these names. He was supplicating One God, but using several different names to do so. The person who overheard the Prophet’s prayer considered multiplicity of attributes to be an indication of multiplicity of being. 

A human being is a tremendously complex being. His life has innumerable, interrelated aspects. That is why it is extremely difficult to form a correct opinion about someone. There is at least a fifty-fifty chance of coming to the wrong conclusion. For this reason one should be very careful in forming opinions about others. It does not matter if one is hasty in forming a good opinion about someone. One has to be meticulously careful, though, in forming bad opinions. First one must look at every aspect of the situation, and then come to a reasoned and sober conclusion on the basis of all the available information. 

Whenever a person forms an opinion, he does so within the arena of his own knowledge. The bounds of reality, however, are much more extensive than the bounds of any single person’s knowledge. One might easily consider an opinion correct, while, in the context of wider realities, that opinion may prove to be quite wrong.


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If one is truly searching for the ultimate mystical experience - which is roundly dondemned by Sunni and Shia Islam - there is no need to postulate the existence of a concrete, physical, personal God such as was seen from a distance by Muhammad when he flew of his horse Burak during a return trip to heaven in one night! Only the Name would be sufficient. Tulsidas in the XVI-XVII century boldly says that it is not important whether Rama existed or not, it is important that the Name Rama, or the two syllables Ra and Ma exist. The radical difference is that Rama is Immanent, while the monotheistic Allah is transcendent, far beyond the world, though Muslims belief he is as close as the jugular vein. Closeness by a millimetre or by a thousand light years is still a space, which marks out the existence of two entities, as mutually external realities. A duality inaugurated by the civil war which broke out as soon as Muhammad died when 3 of the 4 immediate Caliphs were assassinated. It is not clear what Maulana Wahiduddin is saying. In reality it would have been better if the names attributed to God by Muhammad belonged to different deities. For polytheistic beliefs have not produced any genocide as have all the monotheistic religious societies, of which the worst has been the Islamic which, by (ab)using its hegemony, wiped out so many cultures which had already produced beautiful, civilised cultures (the many Buddhisms, Zoroastrianism, Byzantium, Middle East Christianities, the cleansing of minorities in all the Muslim states in North Africa and the Middle East - gosh, what a clean out! Indeed with such destruction Muslims are indeed right to keep calling Allah is Great! Glory to Monotheism!)

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