Letter 6: What is God like?

Any person with a darker complexion believing that would certainly be terrified at this prospect.


Al-Baqawi explains the principle that led to such doctrine:

“Not only can He (Allah) do anything, He actually is the only one who does anything. When a man writes, it is Allah who has created in his mind the will to write. Allah at the same time gives the power to write, then brings about the motion of the hand and the pen and the appearance upon paper. All other things are passive, Allah alone is active.”


The overruling question that arises is: where does the love of God fit in here – and His mercy and grace, on which we all depend? I reflect again on our imperfection and lack of purity. If you take the trouble to analyse this in the Qur’an, you will find that Allah only loves the righteous and good. And what about us, who did wrong, who trespassed God’s commands? What al-Ghazzali once wrote is frightening and I don’t need to introduce him to you:


“Love is to sense a need of the beloved, and since Allah cannot be said to have a need or an experience of a need, it is therefore impossible that Allah should love.”


Such a view of God is absolutely contrary to the Bible. As a core statement about God in Islam is Allahu-akbar, so the Bible states that “God is Love”. Yes, He is holy and righteous in His judgements. We do realise that this knowledge by itself is severely threatening to us, because we are unrighteous. But God’s righteousness is bonded with His mercy and love. Have a look what the Bible teaches:


About His majesty:


“This is what the Lord spoke, saying: ‘By those who come near Me I must be regarded as holy; and before all the people I must be glorified” (Leviticus 10:3).


“Exalt the Lord our God, and worship at His footstool – He is holy” (Psalm 99:5).

“I dwell in the high and holy place” (Isaiah 57:15).