He Is Allah; There is no God but HE


Kornelius Kuku Palete Masiku challenged Muslims to address some statements without starting by asking counter-questions or going off topic at the end. I am not sure I can stick closely to his desires, however, as his Christian belief conflicts with the true monotheism Muslims aver. His first challenge was to produce a verse from the Quran which proves Allah is the same as YHWH Elohim. He could not leave the challenge as simply as that, and declared the assumption that Jesus claims he is YHWH in the Gospel of John, the New Testament version of the “EHYeH Asher EHYeH” declaration of Elohim.

First, it must be made clear that Allah does not name Himself YHWH or EHYH in the Quran. However, Allah is the same Elohim or Eloh as is written in Hebrew and Chaldean. Is there an equivalent term to YHWH in the Quran, though?

One could say there is, and perhaps suggest that HuW or AlHaYY and Rabb il-‘alamiyn may all connote the meaning of the Tetragrammaton, which is the third person singular imperfect of the verb “to be”.  According to the Logos Apostolic Website, the verb has three levels of meaning in three forms. The Qal form describes existence in the past present and future – spanning time, as it were. It could mean He Is, He Was or He Will Be. In the Hophal and Hiphel forms it means to cause “to come into being” – that is He Creates, Created or Will Create, either in a continuing sense or as a discrete event repeated. The closest one can come in meaning, then is the Ever-Living Existence or Ever Causing Life, which, in Arabic, is Al-HaYY.  HuW is often associated with Al-HaYY and Allah in the Quranic text.

Let us look first at what the Quran reports God as saying at the burning bush or tree. The story, rather like the stories in the Bible of Exodus and Deuteronomy, is recounted in two Surat: Surat 20 and 28. The shorter version is in Surah 28. Verse 30 records God’s declaration to Moses.

“إِنِّي أَنَا اللَّهُ رَبُّ الْعَالَمِينَ.”

Inniy, ANNAA Allahu Rabb ul-‘aalamiyn

Verily, I AM Allah, Lord of the worlds.

The Quran starts with virtually the same words in verses 1:1-2

“اَلۡحَمۡدُ لِلّٰهِ رَبِّ الۡعٰلَمِيۡنَۙ بِسۡمِ اللهِ الرَّحۡمٰنِ الرَّحِيۡم.”ِ

Bism Illah ir-Rahmaan ir-Rahiym, Al-hamdu liLlahi Rabb il-‘aalamiyn

In the name of Allah, the Merciful, the Beneficent; the Praise be to Allah Lord of the Worlds.

I AM, or ANNAA, is not a name of God but a referent. A verbal pronoun.

Like the Elohists, for whom the names ELOH and ELOHIM are forms of the preeminent name of God in the Torah, Allah is the preeminent and full name of God in the Quran. The epithet, LORD, is WHAT He Does or Is whereas Allah is WHO He Is.

In Surah 20 there are two verses of interest concerning the same story.

“إِنَّي أَنَا اللَّهُ لَا إِلَهَ إِلَّا أَنَا فَاعْبُدْنِي وَأَقِمِ الصَّلَاةَ لِذِكْرِي.”

Inniy, Annaa Allahu, laa ilaha illaa Annaa faa’budniy wa aqimi assalaata lidhikriy.

Verily, I AM Allah; there is no god except I. So, worship Us and establish the prayer to remember Me.

“So, worship Us!” One of the challenges pointed out that Allah uses “I, He, We, Me, Him, Us, My, His, Our,” pronouns and adjectives, and first and third person endings plural and singular when referring to Himself: God. If there are not unity in plurality (e.g. Trinity), why does He do that? The Bible, too, uses I AM (EHYEH) and HE IS (YAHWEH) and Eloh and Elohim, and mixes pronouns. Does this mean the Jews, for the Torah and Tanakh are their books, are Trinitarians? By no means! Many a scholar points out that even Kings and Queens use honorific endings and pronouns the same way to denote nobility, rule, majesty. Allah does the same. It is a function of language, after all.

Once again, the story of Moses denotes Allah declaring I AM Allah. The Second verse of note in Surah 20 is verse 98. It says,

“إِنَّمَا إِلَهُكُمُ اللَّهُ الَّذِي لَا إِلَهَ إِلَّا هُوَ وَسِعَ كُلَّ شَيْءٍ عِلْمًا.”

Innamaa Ilahukum Allah ulladhiy laa ilaha illa HuWa  wasi’a kulla shay-in ‘ilmaan

Verily your only God is Allah Who (declares) no god except HE; He comprehends (everything); everything is in (His) knowledge.

Allah changes His first person being (I AM) to the third person (HE IS) with the verbal pronoun HUWA in this verse, declaring His uniqueness and encompassing knowledge.

The next verse I will mention from the same story of Moses is from this surah verse 111. It includes another name Allah uses to declare His everlasting attribute.

“وَعَنَتِ الْوُجُوهُ لِلْحَيِّ الْقَيُّومِ ۖ وَقَدْ خَابَ مَنْ حَمَلَ ظُلْمًا.”

Wa ‘anat alwujouhu l-ILHAYY IL-QAYYOUM waqad khaaba man hamala zhulman.

And shall be humbled the faces to THE (ever) LIVING, THE SELF SUBSISTING LORD. And, indeed he will be disappointed who burdened (himself with) wrongdoing.

THE SELF SUBSISTING LORD is an attempt to translate the concept of AL-QAYYOUM. The word is derived from qiyaam, which literally means to erect or establish or stand alert, like soldiers at attention. The form of the word makes it reflexive and intense, thus He established Himself, and needs no assistance in order to do so, ever ready to assist and decree. He is the perfect Lord in that everything depends upon Him and He is Ever ready and there, fully established and ever directing the affairs of the heavens and the earth. AL-QAYYOUM is not, however, an automaton, a natural set of laws automatically keeping everything in balance. He is LIVING and gives both heavenly and worldly life, being alive, decreeing life, creating life and recreating life, and directing life. That is why AL-QAYYOUM is always paired with AL-HAYY. They are two sides of the same attribute which describes Allah’s Lordship over the Worlds.

This quality is succinctly summarized in a verse in Al-Baqarah, number 255:

“اللَّهُ لَا إِلَـٰهَ إِلَّا هُوَ الْحَيُّ الْقَيُّومُ ۚ لَا تَأْخُذُهُ سِنَةٌ وَلَا نَوْمٌ ۚ لَّهُ مَا فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَمَا فِي الْأَرْضِ ۗ مَن ذَا الَّذِي يَشْفَعُ عِندَهُ إِلَّا بِإِذْنِهِ ۚ يَعْلَمُ مَا بَيْنَ أَيْدِيهِمْ وَمَا خَلْفَهُمْ ۖ وَلَا يُحِيطُونَ بِشَيْءٍ مِّنْ عِلْمِهِ إِلَّا بِمَا شَاءَ ۚ وَسِعَ كُرْسِيُّهُ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضَ ۖ وَلَا يَئُودُهُ حِفْظُهُمَا ۚ وَهُوَ الْعَلِيُّ الْعَظِيمُ.”

Allahu laa ilaaha illa HuW AL-HAYY UL-QAYYOUM. Laa ta-khudhuhu sinatun walaa nawm. Lahu maa fiy is-samaawaati wamaa fiy il’ardh. Man dha aladhiy yashfa’u ‘indahu illaa bi-idhnih? Ya’lamu maa bayna aydiyhim wamaa khalfahum. Walaa yuhiytouna bi shay-in man ’ilmihi illaa bimaa shaa’a. wasi’a kursiyyuh us-samaawaati waal-ardh. Walaa ya-ouduhu hifzhahummaa. Wa HuW AL-’ALIYY UL-AZHIYM.

Allah (there is) no God except HE, The EVERLIVING The SELF SUBSISTING LORD. Neither tiredness or sleep overtakes Him. To Him is (belongs) what is in the heavens and what is in the earth. Who is that which can intercede with Him except by His permission? He knows what is between their hands and what is after them. And they do not encompass anything of His knowledge except what He willed. His chair bestrides the heavens and the earth and upholding them does not weary Him. And HE IS The MOST HIGH, THE SUPREME (in Rank and Rule).

We can see that HuW is now linked to four qualities, LIFE and source of life that has no beginning or end, ESTABLISHMENT that is independent of anything yet everything is dependent on it, RANK that knows no superior limit, and RULE that has no limitations. However, although AL-QAYYOUM is always linked to AL-HAYY in the Quran, but AL-HAYY is not always paired with AL-QAYYOUM, leading us to assume that the divine attribute AL-QAYYOUM is an extension to AL-HAYY, and not the other way round. In Quran 40, verse 65 proclaims:

“هُوَ الْحَيُّ لَا إِلَـٰهَ إِلَّا هُوَ فَادْعُوهُ مُخْلِصِينَ لَهُ الدِّينَ ۗ الْحَمْدُ لِلَّهِ رَبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ.”

HuW AL-HaYY. Laa ilaaha illa HuW. Faad’ouhu mukhlisiyna lah uddiyn. Alhamdu l-Illahi Rabb il’aalamiyn.

HE IS The EVERLIVING. There is no god except HE. So invoke Him making pure for Him the religion. The praise is to Allah, Lord of the Worlds.

HUW and ALHAYY are now linked together with “Lord of the Worlds” and His initial statement to Moses of I AM Allah, as well as the prayer that begins the recital of the Quran and the start of every established prayer.

There is one other use of AL-HAYY in the Quran which underlies its importance in worship. Quran 25, verse 58, follows up an appeal to disbelievers to shun the route to hell and encouraging the believer to seek the path to heaven.

“وَتَوَكَّلْ عَلَى الْحَيِّ الَّذِي لَا يَمُوتُ وَسَبِّحْ بِحَمْدِهِ ۚ وَكَفَىٰ بِهِ بِذُنُوبِ عِبَادِهِ.”

Wa tawakkal ala AL-HAYY illadhiy laa yamoutu wa sabih bihamdih.  Wa kafaa bihi bidhunoubi ‘ibaadah.

And trust The EVERLIVING Who does not die and glorify Him by praise. And sufficient (in expiation) is He for the sins of His worshippers.

AL-HAYY is here linked to AL-RAHMAAN (Quran, 25: 59-60), one of the two aspects of Allah invoked before reading a surah of the Quran or the Quran itself (The second and third name of Allah mentioned in the Quran, which starts “In the name of Allah, Al-Rahmaan Al-Rahiym”).

الَّذِي خَلَقَ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضَ وَمَا بَيْنَهُمَا فِي سِتَّةِ أَيَّامٍ ثُمَّ اسْتَوَىٰ عَلَى الْعَرْشِ ۚ الرَّحْمَٰنُ فَاسْأَلْ بِهِ خَبِيرًا. وَإِذَا قِيلَ لَهُمُ اسْجُدُوا لِلرَّحْمَٰنِ قَالُوا     ۩ وَمَا الرَّحْمَٰنُ أَنَسْجُدُ لِمَا تَأْمُرُنَا وَزَادَهُمْ نُفُورًا

Alladhiy khalaqa as-samawati wa al-arda wama baynahuma fiy sittati ayyamin, thumma istawaa ‘aala al-‘arsh. Al-Rahmaanu; fas-aal bihi khabeera. Wa-ithaa qiyla lahumu usjudou lil-Rahmaan. Qalou wamaa Al-Rahmanu? Anasjudu limaa ta’murunaa? Waza adahum nufouraa.

He who created the heavens and the earth and what is between them in six days and then established Himself above the Throne – the Most Merciful: so, ask about Him (Who is) Well Aware (of everything). And when it is said to them, “Prostrate to the Most Merciful!” they say, “And what is the Most Merciful? Should we prostrate to that which you order us?” And it increases them in aversion.

HUW is also mentioned in the three verses that denote fifteen other attributes by which Allah names himself at the end of surah 59 in Quran. Verses 22-24 read

“هُوَ اللَّهُ الَّذِي لَا إِلَهَ إِلَّا هُوَ عَالِمُ الْغَيْبِ وَالشَّهَادَةِ هُوَ الرَّحْمَنُ الرَّحِيمُ. هُوَ اللَّهُ الَّذِي لَا إِلَهَ إِلَّا هُوَ الْمَلِكُ الْقُدُّوسُ السَّلَامُ الْمُؤْمِنُ الْمُهَيْمِنُ الْعَزِيزُ الْجَبَّارُ الْمُتَكَبِّرُ سُبْحَانَ اللَّهِ عَمَّا يُشْرِكُونَ. هُوَ اللَّهُ الْخَالِقُ الْبَارِئُ الْمُصَوِّرُ لَهُ الْأَسْمَاء الْحُسْنَى يُسَبِّحُ لَهُ مَا فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ وَهُوَ الْعَزِيزُ الْحَكِيمُ.”

HuW Allah iladhiy laa ilaaha illa HuW. ‘Aalim ulgaybi wa ashshahaadah. HuW Al-Rahmaan, Al-Rahiym.  HuW Allah iladhiy laa ilaaha illa HuW. Al-Malik, Ul-Qaddous, Us-Salaam, Ul-Mu’min, Ul-Muhaymin, Ul-’Aziyz, Ul-Mutakabbir. Subhaan Allah ‘ammaa tushrikoun! HuW Allah. Ul-Khaaliq, Ul-Bariy, Ul-Musawwir. Lahu ul-ismaa’ ul-husnaa. Yusabbihu lahu maa fiy is-samaawaati waal’ardh. Wa HuW Al-’Aziyz Ul-Hakiym.

HE IS Allah Who (has) no god except HE. Knower of the unseen and the seen. HE IS The Merciful, The Beneficent. HE IS Allah Who (has) no god except HE. The King, The Holy, The Faultless, The Securer, The Watcher, The Almighty, The Compeller, the Magnificent. Glorified be Allah above that they associate (as) partners (to Him). HE IS Allah. The Creator. The Inventor. The Former (Shaper). To Him (belong) the Best Names. Glorify Him (all) that is in the Heavens and the Earth. And HE IS The Almighty, The Wise.

When you appreciate Who HuW is, one can almost see why the Jews took YaHWeH to be the secret name of Allah, and perhaps they are right. Muslims know only what has been confirmed by revelation to our Prophet, and if YaHWeH or HuW is Allah’s secret name, it remains a secret to us.

The Final place where HuW is declared to be Allah is in a key surah concerning monotheism. Surah 112.

“قُلْ هُوَ اللَّهُ أَحَدٌ اللَّهُ الصَّمَدُ لَمْ يَلِدْ وَلَمْ يُولَدْ وَلَمْ يَكُن لَّهُ كُفُوًا أَحَدٌ.”

Qul HuWa ALLAHu ahad; Allah UsSaMaD. Lam yalid walam youlad. Walam yakun Lahu HuW kufwan ahad.

Say HE IS Allah, alone. Allah, The Relied on. He does not beget nor was begotten. Nor is anyone comparable to Him.

ِThe Relied On (As-Samad): The reliable foundation, underlying and supporting everything. This attribute is described by the scholars as The Self-Sufficient Master Whom all creatures need for their sufficiency. From my understanding, the attribute is similar to Al-QaYYoUM, except AsSaMaD emphasizes His creatures (creations’) eternal reliance upon Him whilst Al-QaYYoUM emphasizes His eternal established alert self-sufficiency. But Allah knows best.





2 thoughts on “He Is Allah; There is no God but HE

  1. Pingback: He Is Allah; There is no God but HE | benroyston

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