Hi everyone! I would like to talk about the first article of faith in Islam. And that is to believe in one God. To believe in one God is the most important aspect of Islamic tradition. And it is the most important aspect of faith in Islam.
Apparently it is easy. We just say “I believe in God”. And that’s it. But really it is not so easy because there are levels of faith. Do we think that our level of faith is equal to the level of faith of the Prophets of God, the Messengers of God? Of course there is a big difference between these levels. So ideally to increase the level of our faith, maybe on daily basis, there is a hadith of the Prophet. It says “The one whose two days are the same is among the lost”.
So today we have a level of faith, tomorrow we should have some increase in our faith. And after tomorrow we should have more and more, so to increase the level of faith. And we have examples in the Islamic history. Ali, the cousin of the Prophet says “Is the veil of unseen is lifted, my faith in God will have no increase”. That is to say I believe in God so clearly and so confidently that even if I see God with my naked eyes, there will be no increase in my faith. Because I already believe in the same level. I already believe in God in the same level as if I see God with my naked eyes.
In fact there is also a concept in the hadith of the Prophet, which speaks of ihsan. Ihsan, i-h-s-a-n means to worship God as if we see God. Even if you don’t see God, God sees us. Basically the Prophet said when Angel Gabriel asked him about ihsan, the Prophet said “Ihsan is to worship God as if you see God, even if you don’t see God, God sees you”.
So to have that level of faith is significant. Of course not all people are at same level and it doesn’t mean that those are not at the same level, they are not acceptable. All levels of faith are acceptable but ideally one has to increase those levels of faith as much as they can.
And of course sincerity in faith is very important. Sincerity because it is the essence of faith. And there are many qualities that help the increasing of faith such as humbleness as opposed to arrogance, for example. Humbleness is a one important quality that helps with the increase of faith at the same time.
So to believe in God is to have the knowledge of God. This ideal, to have a greater knowledge of God. Basically we don’t know the nature of God. So we’re actually not expected to focus on the nature of God. Because it is beyond our capacity. That’s why a medieval Islamic theologian says “Whatever comes into your mind, God is different than that”. So you may have some imaginations about God. Imagine God according to your own capacity but you have to know that God is different than that. Whatever comes to our mind, God is different than that.
To know that we don’t know exactly the nature of God is also a level of knowledge basically. It is a level of knowledge that we know that we don’t know exactly the nature of it. However we know the art of God. We have capacity to understand the art of God. Because God has given us reason. And therefore we should use our reason in a way to understand through the art. The artist, the one who made the art basically. Or the one who makes the art constantly, it’s going on.
Therefore when we look at these elements of the universe, when we look at our planet, when we look at ourselves, we see basically the Divine Art. And this Divine Art is leading us to the understanding of God. For example, if we look at a painting of a remarkable artist, what do we get from that? We understand that this artist had knowledge, this artist had ability of design and etc. We will at least have several qualities of this artist in our mind.
In the same way, if we look at the art of the Divine in this universe, it is remarkable. Every flower is an art of God. Every tree is an art of God. Every spring is an art of God. The sky is an art of God. The planet that we live on is an art of God. So all of these are actually showing us the Divine Artist, God as the Artist. The Artist with capital “a”.
So God is the One who makes all these things and we know these things and that is to say these creatures are actually reflecting the Divine Names. And that’s why in the Islamic teaching God has, hadith adjust it, God has 99 names. However, these 99 names do not limit the names of God to 99, but help people memorize the 99 names of God.
In fact there are many names of God and many attributes of God. And these are reflected in universe and in the human beings.
And for this reason, there is also a hadith, which is not found in the Quran but in the hadith that God has created human beings on His own image which is also mentioned in the Book of Genesis, in the Hebrew Bible.
Interestingly the Islamic tradition, the hadith says God has created human beings on the image of Al-Rahman, the Most Compassionate. So here we see the image of Al-Rahman as a kind of reference for the creation of human being. So basically human beings are the most important reflection of the Divine Name Al-Rahman, the Divine Name Al-Rahim, the Divine Name Al-Alim etc. So the Most Compassionate, the Most Merciful, the Most Knowledgable. Human beings are reflecting these Divine Names and many other Divine names in the utmost level among the all creatures of God.
And that’s why human being is the most important creature of God on earth. It doesn’t mean that human beings have authority to do what they want because God has put some rules for human beings with regard to themselves, with regard to the all of nature. But human beings are considered the supervisor in the universe and therefore they reflect the Divine names in the most beautiful way.
So ideally to know God, to know the Names of God, and even to remember God through these Divine Names and some mystics will chant the Divine Names and to know the attributes of God.
Islamic scholars have developed on the attributes of God. For example we have attributes of God as the most, as life as an attribute of God. God is the Most Living. God has life. God has knowledge. God has power. God is not like other creatures. And that’s why the Quran says, and I’d like to finish with this Quranic verse, …laisa kamislihee shai’un wa Huwas Samee’ul Baseer (42:10) There are many verses which say “ wa Huwas Samee’ul Aleem”. But in this case I’d like to bring this verse laisa kamislihee shai’unw wa Huwas Samee’ul Baseer”. There is nothing like God.
As I said whatever comes to your mind, God is different than that. At the same time, God is the Most Seeing and the Most Hearing. So God sees everything and God hears everything. And therefore now we have something that can give us a certain level in a limited way. Imagining God as the One who hears everything. Because we have certain level of hearing in a limited way. We have certain level of seeing again in a limited way.
And this leads us to understand the Knowledge of God, the Hearing of God, the Seeing of God as they are unlimited. So the unlimited Hearing of God is now, we can understand to a certain level. We don’t know exactly, still the nature of it. Because Islamic theologians, Muslim theologians say, Yes God hears but not with ears. God doesn’t have organs. God is not physical. So that’s why we are not able to imagine God but we can have certain level of understanding through the attributes of God. Thank you very much.