What God Do Muslims Worship?
(Bringing Islam to the World One Concept at a Time!
Taking the Qur’an to Every Home and Heart that Needs It --
And which One Does Not?)
A Timeless Question
What God do Muslims worship?
That was the question – asked a while ago by some people in the Western world.
The media played it up. As is the media’s wont to play such things up.
And yet the question is really a timeless one. And none other than God Almighty himself taught and prepared the Muslims – over centuries and millennia – to be able to answer that question in any age, culture or context.
And I provide that answer here in four parts using as my reference nothing but the pure and preserved word of God Almighty in the text of the Qur’an.
I say millennia because Islam is the timeless system of belief in one God and in the divine messengership of the prophet of the day such as Moses, Abraham, David, Solomon, Noah, and countless others – may God Almighty bless them all.
That means Islam did not begin with Muhammad, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam.
Instead, Muhammad, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, was the last and final link in this great chain of messengers and prophets all of whom were chosen by God to deliver his message to human beings at different times and in different places.
As a result – as the final and last prophet of God – the message and the messengership of Prophet Muhammad, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, transcend the particularities of time and space. They are valid and relevant for all time, for all people and for all places and cultures.
Islam thus is a continuing message from God to human beings, from the earliest days of the human race on earth until the end of time.
It is no wonder then that the identity of the God of Islam should have been a matter of curiosity to those who had their own peculiar ideas about God in centuries and millennia gone by – even as it is today.
Money and Mileage in Islam and Muslims
What God do Muslims worship?
The media played this question up because it is news. In today’s world, Islam and Muslims are news, as the media would say.
In many ways, they always have been. The story of the world for the most part has been the story of the manifold interaction of Islam and non-Islam in the world theater.
It has been a story of the perennial struggle between truth and falsehood, greed and goodness, light and darkness, justice and injustice, right and wrong.
At the same time, in the present world climate, there is a lot of mileage in Islam and Muslims for a lot of people. That means there is a lot of money to be made, and other advantages to be gained, by going after Islam and Muslims. That is partly the reason why Islam-and-Muslim bashing is such a thriving industry in today’s global marketplace.
However, missing in this debate are often the Muslims themselves – those who have reason to know Islam and Muslims up close and personal. They are also the ones, no matter how you look at it, who are at the receiving end of a great deal of the diatribe, propaganda and witch hunt that the terrible events of 9/11 and its aftermath have unleashed.
In the post-September Eleven world everyone appears to be qualified to speak for and about Islam and Muslims except quite often the Muslims themselves. Muslims are often the ones missing from this epochal message exchange – centered on Islam and Muslims – that seems to be sweeping and shaping our world today.
Missing from this great cultural dialogue and reconstruction are those very people – the Muslims – who will be able to provide, if afforded a fair and sufficient opportunity, a semblance of balance to this overwhelmingly one-sided juggernaut that is rolling down our cultural and informational pathways.
Muslims who are thoughtful, knowledgeable, articulate, clear thinking and clear speaking, and who are neither rank apologists for Muslims nor their bitter foes. And who are not, at the same time, Islam-and-Muslim-baiting instant experts, commentators and analysts, many of them with their own political and financial agendas or book deals, paraded on television, or writing in newspapers and magazines.
People of Integrity and Goodwill
What God do Muslims worship? That then is the question.
I do not have access to the airwaves. Or to the public platforms that would give wide exposure to my views and ideas. Nor do I have the resources to go global with anything I might have to say, on this or on any other subject.
Yet, I am writing this answer to that question hoping somehow my answer would get to the attention of men and women of goodwill and integrity everywhere. For, those are the people who have any real value or worth in the eyes of God. And who really matter in this world. And it is for their guidance and benefit that God Almighty sent down his prophets and his divine books and revelations.
By the grace of Almighty God, parts of this answer have been taking shape in my mind ever since I heard that question on the airwaves – nearly a year ago now? And ever since I watched television screens fill with faces of instant experts and veteran politicians stampeding to answer it.
Not too many Muslims among them, I could not help but notice.
In some ways my answer is a broader and more fundamental response to the deluge of words and images that has for some time now filled the media and the books in relation to that question – and to a number of other questions pertaining to Muslims and Islam.
My answer has several parts, all of which are taken directly from the Qur’an.
The fact is, in my view, the question “What God do Muslims worship?” is an important and legitimate one, and people of integrity and goodwill everywhere, and in every age, have a right to know the answer to it. And it is to such people of goodwill and integrity – men and women of all ages, cultures, creeds and backgrounds – that I address and dedicate my answer.
However, what I am trying to do here is, instead of quoting experts and other human sources of all kinds – and their views and opinions – I am letting the text and word of God Almighty himself answer that question directly. For what could be a more authentic voice on this subject than that of God Almighty himself – as we find it preserved in the pure and original text of the Qur’an?
I also suggest that after reading God Almighty’s own answer to that question, we all try to answer, in our own hearts and minds, a question or two of our own:
What God would we all like to worship,
if we had to make a choice?
And what really is the meaning and
significance of life, if we were not free, or
inclined, to exercise the right of choice
in a matter so profound and fundamental?
Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam
But before I go any further, let me explain what the expression Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam means and why I repeat it verbatim here and elsewhere in my writings. And why Muslims all over the world repeat it with such regularity and devotion.
The expression, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, is Arabic for “May God shower his blessings, peace, mercy and grace upon him!” The reference here is to Prophet Muhammad, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam.
These are words that the Prophet, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, himself taught his followers, who then passed them on to the subsequent generations of his followers.
Furthermore, these words are a direct human response to a divine command in the Qur’an to the believers to do precisely that: to invoke the blessings, mercy and grace of God Almighty on the Prophet, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam.
But it is a human response scripted and taught by God Almighty himself using those very words – in the Qur’an.
The Qur’an says:
Innallaha wa Malaa-I-katahoo Yusalloona
Yaa Ayyuhalladheena Amanoo,
Salloo Alaihi wa Sallimoo Tasleema
God and his angels bless the Prophet.
O You Who Believe!
Ask God to shower upon him
His peace and blessings! (33:56).
Thus, the twin expressions “Salaat” and “Salaam” are directly ordained by God Almighty in the Qur’an in this context. Using these two divine expressions, the Prophet, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, was taught by God the invocation of peace and blessings that the Muslims use to this day whenever they mention the name of the Prophet, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, or hear it being mentioned in their presence.
What much of the world does not know is that a great deal of what Muslims say and do today is exactly what the Prophet, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, taught them to say and do 1400 years ago. These were things he himself had been taught by God Almighty through the intermediacy of the Archangel Gabriel, Allah bless him. They are not later extrapolations, additions or inventions by others.
Those blessed by God Almighty with clear eyes, and with open hearts and minds, can see that, religious connotations apart, this is one of the most amazing phenomena that exist in our world today: that Muslims today practice things that go back full fourteen centuries with maximum fidelity, integrity and authenticity.
As someone once put it, there isn’t a more authentic or better preserved social and cultural antique in the world today.
It is a most extraordinary thing. And it is an everyday miracle for everyone to see and to reflect upon. And it is a real, ongoing, easily seen and ever present miracle of every time and place today and not one reported from thousands or hundreds of years ago.
Let me now provide some insight into the kind of God Muslims worship – based directly on what God Almighty himself says in the Qur’an.
Part One of the Answer:
A Dialogue between Pharaoh and Moses
So what God do Muslims worship?
That was also the question that Prophet Moses had to answer during his time – may Almighty God shower his blessings upon him.
When God Almighty sent Prophet Moses, Allah bless him, to Pharaoh, inviting him to Islam and asking him to set free the Jews, Pharaoh appeared puzzled.
He could not comprehend how Moses, Allah bless him, an adopted child turned prince turned murder suspect turned fugitive from Egyptian justice could march up to Pharaoh so boldly and bid him accept Allah Almighty as his lord and master.
Pharaoh must have thought in his mind what kind of a God would give a man like Moses – on the run and totally without armies or any visible support system of any kind that he could see – such amazing power and courage that he would think nothing of preaching to the mighty Pharaoh himself.
So it is fair to assume that Pharaoh was perhaps as intrigued by the fearlessness and audacity of Moses as he was insolent and condescending toward Moses’ God.
So according to the Qur’an he said:
Fa Man Rabbukuma Yaa Musa (Surah Taha).
So who is this God of yours, Moses? (20:49).
What a question indeed!
Timeless and yet fresh in the hearts and minds of those with doubt, curiosity, confusion or conceit! Part of the story is in the Old Testament also.
To which, according to the Qur’an, Moses gave an answer that has also stood the test of time. In fact, it is an answer that gains luster and lucidity with time – even as the world grows more complex, more skeptical and on some counts better informed.
Moses said, says the Qur’an:
Rabbunalladhee A’taa Kulla Shai-in Khlaqahu
Thumma Hadaa (Surah Taha).
Our master is the one who gave everything its
existence and then showed it what to do (20:50).
This is the first part of the answer to the question: What God do Muslims worship? And it comes from the lips of Prophet Moses, may Allah bless him, as quoted in the Qur’an.
For, that indeed was the God that Prophets Moses and his brother Aaron, Allah bless them both, worshipped and invited Pharaoh also to worship.
As it was the very God that Abraham, Noah, David, Solomon and other prophets and messengers of God worshipped – may God Almighty bless them all.
And it is indeed that very God that Muslims today worship – as all Muslims have done from the beginning of time in every culture, time and place.
He is the one, as the Qur’an quotes Moses as saying, who gave everything its existence and then told it and showed it what to do.
Part Two of the Answer:
An Introduction and a Directive from God
So, what God do Muslims worship?
Here now is a second part of the answer to that question. And it comes from God Almighty himself, right at the beginning of his discourse to humans in the Qur’an.
It is actually God’s own introduction of himself to the world – to his creation, in the Qur’an – and a clear and ringing command from him to them as to what God they must all worship.
Here is how God introduces himself to the world in the first Aayah of the opening chapter of the Qur’an:
Al-Hamdu Lillahi Rabbil ‘Aalameen.
All praise is due to the master of the worlds.
The most merciful!
The most beneficent and compassionate! (1:1, 2)
And then later on in Surah Al-Baqarah the Qur’an points out that God Almighty is the only God that there is and, therefore, he is the only one that everyone must serve and worship:
Wa Ilahukum Ilahun Wahindun La Ilaha
Illa Huwar Rahmanur Rahim (Al-Baqarah).
And your God is one God.
There is no God besides him.
The most merciful!
The most beneficent and compassionate (2:163)!
Elsewhere, the Qur’an tells every one of us – tells every human being – what God we must all worship:
Ya Ayyuhannaas U’budoo Rabbakamulladhee
Khlaqakum Walladheena Min Qablikum…
Worship your master –
The one who created you
And created those before you (2:21).
The one who spread the earth under you
And raised the sky above,
And sent down water from the sky
And provided food for you from fruits!
So do not then
Knowingly associate partners with God! (2:22)
Where will we find a better introduction of God?
And where will we find a clearer directive to the members of the human race as a whole as to what God they must all worship?
Part Three of the Answer:
So, what God do Muslims worship then?
Right here – in Surah Al-Ikhlas, chapter 112 of the Qur’an – is the third part of the answer to that question. The entire Surah is dedicated to answering the question: What God do Muslims worship?
Though short in terms of the number of words it uses, this Surah is so profound and so complete in meaning that Prophet Muhammad, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, called it a third of the Qur’an.
Let us read the translation of Surah Al-Ikhlas given below and then let each one of us ask ourselves:
What God would or should any of us worship if not the one
the Qur’an describes so majestically in Surah Al-Ikhlas?
Let us thereafter go ahead and freely choose the God each one of us is most persuaded to worship. For that is the right given to us by God Almighty himself, in the Qur’an: the right to believe in and freely worship the God of our choice.
What more is there to say?
Surah Al-Ikhlas – An English Rendering
So, what God do Muslims worship?
Here is the third part of the answer to that question:
The most sublime, perfect and independent –
The one who is in need of nothing from anyone,
But to whom all must turn for the fulfillment of their needs!
He gave birth to no one.
Nor did anyone give birth to him.
Nor is there anyone in any way equal to him.
Part Four of the Answer:
God of All Beautiful Names
So, what God do the Muslims worship?
The answer could be endless. But here is the fourth and, for the time being, the final part of the answer to that question:
Muslims worship God Almighty to whom
all beautiful names belong!
Once again, this part of the answer, like the other three parts above, also comes directly from the pages of the Qur’an.
And here is how the Qur’an puts it:
Ayyam-Maa Tadu-‘oo Falahul
Asmaa-ul Husnaa (Surah Al-Israa’).
Or call Ar-Rahman,
The most merciful one!
No matter what or whom you call,
To him belong all the beautiful names (17:110).
So that is the God Muslims worship.
And always have for centuries and millennia.
And they do so because there is – and there can be – no other God but him: the maker and master of the worlds.
As the Qur’an puts it:
Fa-Dhaalikumullahu Rabbukumul Haqq.
Fa-Ma-Dha Ba’dal Haqqi Illad-Dalaal (Yunus).
So, that indeed is your true and real master.
And what recourse is there after truth,
but going astray and getting lost (10:32)?
And again, in the earlier part of the same Surah, the Qur’an puts it this way:
Dhaalikumullahu Rabbukum Fa’budoohu
That indeed is your master.
So serve and worship him (10:3).
That then is the God Muslims worship. And always have.
How much more clear or precise can it get?
Isn’t it time we all asked ourselves what God it is that we worship?