God is commonly referred to by his Arabic name Allah, most likely derived from al-ilah, literally meaning “The God.” He is also frequently called al-Rabb, Arabic for “The Lord.” He is often also referred to using whatever the generic word for God is in the various languages spoken by Muslims.
Western scholarship on Islam has sometimes represented the Muslim God as being stern and vengeful, and the relationship of human being to Him as one of servitude largely motivated by fear of punishment and, secondarily, by the desire for sensual rewards in heaven. For Muslims, however, the overarching characteristics of God are His nurturing mercy and compassion; the ideal attitude that human beings should have toward Him is not one of fearful obedience but of gratitude.
In the face of Allah’s overwhelming kindness, disobedience to Allah becomes synonyms with denying His generosity, and evil is therefore the same as ingratitude. Like the Quran, many Islamic theological writings see the entire universe as in a state of obedience to Allah’s law; the word Islam literally refers to this state of surrender. Human beings are the only creations that have the capacity to disobey, and they do this by arrogantly thinking that they are self-sufficient, not needing God’s support or guidance.
A commonly repeated Islamic tradition states that Allah is closer to a person than his or her jugular vein, implying that Allah permeates the cosmos. It is Muslim’s belief that there is a wakeful, attentive God who listens to and cares about each and every one of his creations. Throughout the Islamic world, there is a certain newsworthiness to miraculous stories of how the name of God or the Islamic profession of faith appears in the pattern on the sides of a fish, or how the bleat of a particular sheep sounds as if the animal is singing the praises of God.
Islam is the submission to divine law, and anything that has surrendered itself to this law as being called Muslim (f. Muslima). Religious and pious human beings often prefer the words muhsin and mu’min, the former term applying to someone who does good deeds, is righteous and beneficent, and the latter to someone who believes or has faith. The word for faith, iman, is closely related to the words for safety, security, and trust, and for many Muslims having faith implies being in God’s protection, secure within the principles of guidance e has provided. The belief in Allah’s oneness is called tawhib, which not only means “divine unity” but also a person’s act of affirming that unity. The word for piety “taqwa” also carries connotations of strength and empowerment.
Allah is Merciful
Allah has bestowed countless blessings upon us. Allah says in the Quran:
“so, which of the favors of your Lord would you deny?” (55:38).
It is our duty to thank Him for all His blessings by surrendering ourselves to His orders. Anyone who lives his/her life according to the Quran and His teachings is promised Jannah and success in the hereafter. Allah is the most merciful and compassionate. In the Quran, He says:
“Tell them, (O Prophet): My servants who have committed excesses against themselves, do not despair of Allah’s Mercy. Surely Allah forgives all sins. He is Most Forgiving, Most Merciful.” (39:53)
Allah has provided us with everything that we need so that we thank and worship Him. He has summed up His bounties in these verses.
“Allah is He Who has created the heavens and the earth, and He sent down rain water from the sky where with He produced different kinds of fruits to provide you with food. It is He Who subdued the ship for you that it may sail in the seas by His order and likewise He subdued the rivers for you.” (14:32)
“It is He Who subdued the sun and the’ moon so that they should steadfastly pursue their courses and He subdued day and night for you.” (14:33)
“It is He Who fulfilled all your requirements; so much so that you cannot count His bounties, if you tried to number them. The fact is that man is very unjust and ungrateful.” (14:34)
Pious Muslims try to begin every action, from religious ritual to mundane activities such as beginning a journey to the grocery store, with the formula “In the name of Allah, the compassionate, the merciful.” This phrase marks the opening of chapters in the Quran and has been used to start formal correspondence throughout Islamic history.
Muslims see their relationship with Allah as an intimate one in which God’s creation of human beings is a blessing, and His laws and restrictions are not an affliction but an act of grace providing guidance in this life. Muslims hold the belief that our life in this world is actually a test for an eternal afterlife; God has provided us with clear guidance through scripture and prophets, so if we still choose to disobey Him, we deserve whatever forms of unpleasantness await us in the hereafter.