Religious Studies

Islam: beliefs about God

Muslims believe that there is one God, Allah, and that this oneness is central to their spirituality.

Oneness

The most important belief about Allah (God) in Islam is the concept of Tawhid, which means ‘oneness’. Tawhid begins with the idea that there is one God (monotheism), and teaches that oneness is central to the nature of Allah. So according to Muslims, Allah:

  • has no partners
  • is omniscient (knows all things)
  • is omnipotent (can do anything, is all-powerful)
  • is the one God of all time and all humankind

The most famous ayah (part of a Suarh, like a verse) of the Qur’an (the Divine Book revealed to the Prophet Muhammad) to express this idea is in Surah 112:

Say: He is Allah, the One and Only; Allah, the Eternal, Absolute; None is born of Him, nor is He born; And there is none like Him.

The belief in Tawhid forms the central part the Shahadah; the declaration of faith which is the first of the five pillars of Islam (the duties that all Muslims have to perform as their religious practice):

I bear witness that there is no god but God and that Muhammad is the Messenger of God.

The 99 names of Allah; the ‘Most Beautiful Names’

Many different names are used to describe Allah [Allah: The Islamic name for God in the Arabic language ] in the Qur’an [Qur'an: That which is read or recited. The Divine Book revealed to the Prophet Muhammad. Allah's final revelation to humankind. ] and the Hadith (a collection of authenticated reports of what Prophet Muhammad [Muhammad: The name of the final Prophet. ] said, did or approved). These are sometimes referred to as ‘the 99 names of Allah’, although more than this number of names can be found.

Abu Huraira reported the Prophet Muhammad as saying:

There are 99 names of Allah; he who commits them to memory would get into paradise.

Muslim Hadith, Book 035, Number 6475

Prayer carpet with the 99 names of Allah

Prayer carpet with the 99 names of Allah

Allah cannot be described by any or all of these names but they help Muslims to think about Allah’s unknowable nature.

Many Muslims recite the names as one of the forms of dhikr (remembrance) to develop their awareness of Allah. Some Muslims use prayer beads (subha) to help them remember as they recite.

Some examples of the 99 names:

  • Al-Rahman, the All-beneficent (the Compassionate)
  • Al-Rahim, the Most Merciful
  • Al-Aziz, the Almighty (the Victorious)
  • Al-Hakam, the Judge

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