The attributes of a true God

The attributes of a true God

The story of Ibrahim (peace be on him) which appears in 17 chapters (juz) of the Quran is the most frequently mentioned story after the story of Musa (peace be on him).

In Surat Shuara, we see the discussion between Ibrahim (peace be on him) and his father and community. Ibrahim (peace be on him) asks his community why they worship idols. In their reply, they say they are following the tradition of their previous generations. While Ibrahim’s question is logical, their answer is not based on rationality. They cannot explain the reason for repeating this practice.

Ibrahim (peace be on him) probes them further, asking if the idols benefit them or even possess any powers – however is apparent to all that the idols have no faculties and can do no harm to anyone.

وَاتْلُ عَلَيْهِمْ نَبَأَ إِبْرَاهِيمَ

And relate to them the story of Abraham.

إِذْ قَالَ لِأَبِيهِ وَقَوْمِهِ مَا تَعْبُدُونَ

When he said to his father and his people, “What are you worshiping?”

قَالُوا نَعْبُدُ أَصْنَامًا فَنَظَلُّ لَهَا عَاكِفِينَ

They said, “We worship idols, and we remain devoted to them.”

قَالَ هَلْ يَسْمَعُونَكُمْ إِذْ تَدْعُونَ

He said, “Do they hear you when you pray?

أَوْ يَنْفَعُونَكُمْ أَوْ يَضُرُّونَ

Or do they benefit you, or harm you?”

قَالُوا بَلْ وَجَدْنَا آبَاءَنَا كَذَٰلِكَ يَفْعَلُونَ

They said, “But we found our ancestors doing so.”

قَالَ أَفَرَأَيْتُمْ مَا كُنْتُمْ تَعْبُدُونَ

He said, “Have you considered what you worship.

أَنْتُمْ وَآبَاؤُكُمُ الْأَقْدَمُونَ

You and your ancient ancestors? (26:69-76)

Indeed, the idols were created by the people in the first place. Ibrahim’s father was a sculptor and selling idols was his business.

Similarly, we create false leaders. They stand on our shoulders. If we were to move, they would fall down.

When Ibrahim (peace be on him) sees his conversation with his people is going nowhere, he explains to them why he worships Allah Almighty. Unlike the 360 idols that were placed around the Kaaba, Allah is not created. Allah guides us and nourishes us and heals us when we are sick. The idols cannot do this. They are powerless. It is Allah who gives life and death, and will ultimately resurrect each one of us.

فَإِنَّهُمْ عَدُوٌّ لِي إِلَّا رَبَّ الْعَالَمِينَ

They are enemies to me, except the Lord of the Worlds.

الَّذِي خَلَقَنِي فَهُوَ يَهْدِينِ

He who created me, and guides me.

وَالَّذِي هُوَ يُطْعِمُنِي وَيَسْقِينِ

He who feeds me, and gives me drink.

وَإِذَا مَرِضْتُ فَهُوَ يَشْفِينِ

And when I get sick, He heals me.

وَالَّذِي يُمِيتُنِي ثُمَّ يُحْيِينِ

He who makes me die, and then revives me.

وَالَّذِي أَطْمَعُ أَنْ يَغْفِرَ لِي خَطِيئَتِي يَوْمَ الدِّينِ

And Who I hope will forgive me my sins on the Day of Judgment.

رَبِّ هَبْ لِي حُكْمًا وَأَلْحِقْنِي بِالصَّالِحِينَ

“My Lord! Grant me wisdom, and join me with the righteous.” (26:77-83)

Therefore we see that attributes of the true God who should be worshiped are that He is:

  1. The Creator
  2. The Guide
  3. The Provider
  4. The Healer
  5. The One who gives death
  6. The One who Resurrects
  7. The One who Forgives

Ibrahim (peace be on him) was challenging the status quo of his community – if everyone is doing something wrong, it does not make it right. However correcting the long established ways of a community is never easy. It requires patience and persistence.

Subsequently, Ibrahim (peace be on him) destroys the idols and debates with his people. They oppose his attempts to guide, resorting to violence. They try to throw him into a huge fire and burn him alive, but Allah saves him and he manages to flee from Iraq. He moves to Palestine, then Egypt and then to Makkah.

It is a fascinating story. Allah Almighty gave him very special qualities, which were so comprehensive that He called him an entire ‘Ummah’ in himself.

It’s good to read his story and learn from the lessons and the proofs and evidences (hujjah/burhaan) Allah gave him to show that Islam is the truth. Allah gave him insight and will give us insight, when we are connected to Him.

Let’s follow the example of Ibrahim (peace be on him) and encourage our community to think, in a kind and wise way, and help them overcome erroneous and burdensome cultural practices which go against Islam and common sense.

Ibrahim (peace be on him) makes the beautiful dua:

رَبِّ هَبْ لِى حُكْمًا وَأَلْحِقْنِى بِٱلصَّـٰلِحِينَ

“My Lord! Grant me wisdom, and join me with the righteous.

وَاجْعَلْ لِي لِسَانَ صِدْقٍ فِي الْآخِرِينَ

And give me a reputation of truth among the others.

وَاجْعَلْنِي مِنْ وَرَثَةِ جَنَّةِ النَّعِيمِ

And make me of those awarded the Garden of Bliss.

وَاغْفِرْ لِأَبِي إِنَّهُ كَانَ مِنَ الضَّالِّينَ

And forgive my father—he was one of the misguided.

وَلَا تُخْزِنِي يَوْمَ يُبْعَثُونَ

And do not disgrace me on the Day they are resurrected.

يَوْمَ لَا يَنْفَعُ مَالٌ وَلَا بَنُونَ

The Day when neither wealth nor children can help.

إِلَّا مَنْ أَتَى اللَّهَ بِقَلْبٍ سَلِيمٍ

Except for him who comes to Allah with a sound heart.” (26:84-89)

Shaykh Haytham Tamim Tarawih 14

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Shaykh Haytham Tamim is the founder and main teacher of the Utrujj Foundation. He has provided a leading vision for Islamic learning in the UK, which has influenced the way Islamic knowledge is disseminated. He has orchestrated the design and delivery of over 200 unique courses since Utrujj started in 2001. His extensive expertise spans over 30 years across the main Islamic jurisprudence schools of thought. He has studied with some of the foremost scholars in their expertise; he holds some of the highest Ijazahs (certificates) in Quran, Hadith (the Prophetic traditions) and Fiqh (Islamic rulings). His own gift for teaching was evident when he gave his first sermon to a large audience at the age of 17 and went on to serve as a senior lecturer of Islamic transactions and comparative jurisprudence at the Islamic University of Beirut (Shariah College). He has continued to teach; travelling around the UK, Europe and wider afield, and won the 2015 BISCA award (British Imams & Scholars Contributions & Achievements Awards) for Outstanding Contribution to Education and Teaching.