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Friday, April 30, 2004

1. On The Nature of God

Who is God? God explains in His Final Book that it is quite simply impossible for us to completely understand Him. We cannot pinpoint a definition of the Creator,

"Glory to the Sustainer of the heavens and the earth - the Sustainer, in almightiness enthroned - from all that they may attribute to Him by way of definition" [43:82]

Our inability to completely understand God does not mean that He is completely remote from us. In spite of our limited understanding, we are all quite capable of turning to God, and He is not unaware of our efforts,

"...and unto thy Sustainer turn with love." [94:8]

"Behold, for those who stand in awe of God although He is beyond the reach of their perception, there is forgiveness in store and a great reward" [67:12]

God has not left mankind entirely in the dark regarding His Nature. He refers to Himself by approximately 100 names in various places throughout the Final Book. Each name is a descriptive attribute of God, and they are all meant to help us understand the Creator. To gain this understanding involves simply thinking about God and reflecting on His names, and this type of awareness is a central pillar of faith (i.e. when one actively remembers God and is conscious of Him). A second benefit of these names is that some of them provide mankind with ideals to try to attain. For example, since God is the Most Forgiving, Most Patient, and Most Knowledgeable, we should each strive to be forgiving, patient, and knowledgeable (educated in our case). Of all His attributes, God emphasizes a single one above all others in His Final Book: that HE IS ONE. God is not two, three, four, or more beings. There is only one deity, and He is God,

"Say: `He is God, Unique God the Eternal, the Independent. He begets not, and neither is He begotten. And there is nothing that could be compared to Him.'" [112:1-4]

In other places of the Final Book, God emphasizes His Greatness and the impossibility of fully grasping Him by using the plural sense of pronouns for Himself - but He is strictly One and Unique with no other partners or deities.

After this aspect of Unity, God chose to emphasize two of His other names more often than the rest in the Final Book: "the Most Merciful, the One who acts Mercifully." In fact, each chapter but one in the whole Book starts with, "In the Name of God, the Most Merciful, the One who Acts Mercifully." These two names cannot be emphasized enough. They are meant to stress we should not let our sins keep us from coming back to God and calling to Him at all times, in joy or sadness. The Creator is more aware of our imperfections than we are, and so when we stumble and feel bad, God is far more likely to be kind than angry.

The Last Messenger and Prophet of God (i.e. the person whom God chose to deliver the Final Book to the rest of mankind) commented on God's mercy by informing us that,

"When God decreed the Creation He pledged Himself by writing in His book which is laid down with Him: `My mercy prevails over my wrath.'" - the Last Messenger

"God says: I am as My servant thinks I am. I am with Him when He makes mention of Me. If he makes mention of Me to himself, I make mention of him to Myself; and if he makes mention of Me in an assembly, I make mention of him in an assembly better than it. And if he draws near to Me a hand's span, I draw near to him an arm's length; and if he draws near to Me an arm's length, I draw near to him a fathom's length. And if he comes to Me walking, I go to him with speed." - the Last Messenger

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