Tuesday, 24 May 2016

(Islam 101) Lesson 3 : WHO IS GOD & DO WE NEED HIM?

By Sister Mary

Dear family and friends, 

In the previous lessons, we considered the existence of God and how science isn’t only compatible with the idea that God exists, but in fact reinforces it. Whether one believes in God, admits He may exist but isn’t sure that He does, or prefers to disbelieve until otherwise convinced, the following questions will undoubtedly run through one’s mind:-
* So, if God does exist, who is He? 
* Do we need Him? 
* How does His existence affect my life on earth anyway?
* Is there any consequence to believing or not believing in Him or is His existence inconsequential to our life on earth?
These and many other pertinent questions will be explored in our coming lessons. The above questions are crucial to a Muslim’s belief (and I would add, should be part of the journey of any seeker of truth) because it forms the foundation for his beliefs and purpose in life.

3.1) WHO IS GOD?
Muslims call God “Allah”. “Allah” means “the God” in the Arabic language (the language in which the Holy Quran was revealed). “Allah” has cognates in other Semitic languages, including “Elah” in Aramic, “El” in Canaanite and “Elohim” in Hebrew.

But who is Allah? Is He an exclusive God of Muslims and what exactly do they believe about Him? Islam teaches that:

- God is the Creator and Controller of the Universe

- God is One
He has no equal or partner. As with any efficient and effective organisational structure, there is always only ONE person at the top. There’s only one President, one CEO, one Chairman. The reason is simple - empowering more than one with the ultimate authority is a recipe that allows for deadlock, power struggles and chaos. 
“God is the Creator of all things; He is the One, the Supreme, the irresistable.” 
[Quran chapter 13 verse 16]

- Allah is the God and Master of ALL MANKIND, regardless of their race or religion. He is God and Creator of every human being - the ones who recognize this and submit to His will are known as Muslims, whereas those who don’t are not regarded as Muslims, but He remains their God nonetheless. Allah is therefore, not a God exclusively reserved for the Muslims - He is God to all. So, to refer to “My God” versus “Your God” as being distinct entities is fundamentally wrong, because (i) there is only ONE God (ii) both your God and mine is the SAME God.

It may be on the student’s mind to ask, “Ok, let’s say I agree there is God and that He created me and the universe. The thing is, do I need God in my life going forward?” I will only deal with this question partially at this juncture, namely from a morality standpoint, as the meat of it will be discussed under the topic “The Purpose of Life”. 

A Life without Morality:
Do people who do not believe in God have to adhere to a code of morality? Technically, they would not have a need to be concerned with morality at all. They may try to adhere to some form of morality to avoid falling foul of the law, or so as not to displease society or what man-made codes of morality expect of them, but essentially, there is no motivation for them to refrain from committing immoral activities as long as they think they can get away with it. After all, as far as they are concerned, no one is looking. A society such as this where there is no in-built sense of morality will undoubtedly be one prone to chaos and evil. 

Definition of Good:
On the other hand, some people feel that one should still try to practice good morals without the need to believe in a Creator, and that as long as they “do good” in their lives, that’s enough. The question is, who determines what is good and what is not? Human perceptions of what is good differ according to passage of time, cultures, influences, desires, and whims, and can be wrong. 

Adultery, for example, is no longer a crime in many countries, but for some it is. Extra-marital sex is increasingly regarded as acceptable in many cultures, whilst others still shun it. Regardless, these have resulted various social problems. Abortion and same-sex marriage - we are divided on these matters till today. Some say smoking is good because it relieves stress, but others say it’s bad. Wrong or right? Ok or not ok? So in the end, who gets to define what is good? 

Or is the concept of good left to an individual to decide? But then, not all individuals have the same intellectual or emotional capacity, or sense of right and wrong. How then, can there be uniformity, equality and justice in assessing the deeds of a society? Is it alright for one person to be subject to lower moral standards than his neighbour, or for one society to have lower moral standards than another? 

Divine Morality:
How is this different in Islam? Muslims believe that they are accountable to God for every thought and action. The God-fearing Muslim therefore strives to live his life by doing what God has ordained as being good, and avoiding what has been ordained as being evil. Muslims believe that this divine code of morality is universally applicable to every human being and everyone will be individually accountable to God for any failure to abide by this code of morality. 

These divine rules apply notwithstanding any man-made laws. So, while an English Muslim who cheats may be subject to a different punishment under the criminal laws of England than a Malaysian Muslim who commits the same crime, both are equally accountable to God for their actions and will be judged by Him by the same code of morality. Therefore, there is no issue of inconsistency. Additionally, unlike a man-made code of morality which is fallible because humans are fallible, a divine code of morality is perfect because surely the One who created us knows what is good and bad for us. 

This brief discussion on morality and the uniform structure that a divine code of morality provides as opposed to inconsistent human concepts of morality, only skims the surface on the need for God and guidance in our daily lives. How He has sent down His guidance, where this divine code of morality is contained and other more important reasons behind the need for God will be discussed in more detail in the coming lessons. 

Next lesson : What is God Like?

[Islam 101 is specially brought to you by sister Mary, Vice President of MRM]

Resource : Facebook (Multiracial Reverted Muslims)
24 May 2016

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