We cannot see, hear, smell or touch God; we cannot really understand God through our physical senses, He is far too great for that. But we can see the signs of God in His creation, in the beauty of flowers and in nature, in the sun setting and rising, in the vast oceans and what it conceals, from the largest of animals to the tiniest ant, from the tiny foetus in the womb to a fully formed human being. With our intellect and contemplation over these signs, we see the reflections of God. There is something within us much deeper than the physical - the spiritual inner being. When the spiritual eye is open through purification of vices and constant remembrance of God, it sees, hears and feels God. Through fasting, these spiritual senses are awakened and strengthened. By starving the physical senses, the spiritual senses or the soul is nourished and this is the ultimate goal of Ramadan – to become God Conscious.
‘Allah (God) the Most High said, ‘I am as My servant thinks (expects) I am. I am with him when he mentions Me. If he mentions Me to himself, I mention him to Myself; and if he mentions Me in an assembly, I mention him in an assembly greater than it. If he draws near to Me a hand’s length, I draw near to him an arm’s length. And if he comes to Me walking, I go to him at speed.
’ Ibn Hajar commenting on this said: “meaning, I am able to do whatever he expects I will do.”
Remembering God is a prerequisite to God remembering us, ‘So remember Me; I will remember you’. Not only is it a prerequisite, but once we achieve this, God (in His own way) exceeds us by far in response. If we mention Him in a gathering, he remembers us, in a greater gathering (a gathering greater in size and/or spiritual excellence). If we draw near him by any means (remembering Him, worshipping Him, through Charity, fasting, good deeds etc) then He draws near us an arm’s length (a length greater than we had reached) and if we walk towards Him, He (in His own way) approaches us in great speed.
God is, as we think of Him. If we think of Him as a Loving, Merciful, Compassionate God – then that is what He is like. But what does this mean, when we are faced with calamities or difficulties in life? Is God still then as we think of Him? "Say, Nothing shall befall us save that which Allah has ordained for us"
However, if we are not firm in this belief of God then we might become of the people mentioned in the Quran as: “And among mankind is he who worships Allah as it were upon the edge (i.e. in doubt): if good befalls him, he is content therewith; but if a trial befalls him he turns back on his face. He loses both this world and the Hereafter. That is the evident loss”
“The believer is not harmed by a thorn or anything greater, but Allah will raise him in status thereby, or erase a sin thereby.” ‘O you who have believed, seek help through patience and prayer. Indeed, Allah is with the patient.’
God tests us through difficulties, if we remain steadfast in faith, prayer and trust in Him, we are assured with His Closeness – Allah is with the patient. We have to trust that God Knows what is better for us and have faith in it. A child, looking at his elder siblings wants to do all the same things, but is not able to yet, as he is not ready physically, mentally or emotionally and may cause him some harm. In the same way, we see others, appearing to live happily, have nice cars, big houses, etc and compare with ourselves to them and even compete over these materialistic things. These are the man made ‘expectations’ placed upon us and we might not have those things and desire them. However, maybe we are not ready for them, maybe they would cause us some harm (physically or spiritually) –only God knows and this is why it is important to be content with what we have and not compare ourselves to others.
God consoles us by reminding us: "He is with you, wherever you are" "And We are nearer to him than his jugular vein"
To truly understand what God is like, we must be aware of all these things but also study and reflect on his attributes
To mention a few:
Ar-Rahman (The Beneficent), Ar-Raheem (The Merciful), Al Malik (The Eternal Lord), Al-Mughni (The Bestower of Sufficiency) and As-Salaam (The Embodiment of Peace)
Each one of these attributes have deeper spiritual meaning; through reflection of these, we can get a better understanding of the nature of God.
So, what is God like? God is as we expect or think of him.
Kawther Akhtar, member of the Muslim faith
Date: Monday 24th August 2020