The Christian God versus the Muslim God
Dr Khalid Zaheer
Question: I was wondering if Muslims feel like Allah loves them. Christianity is based on love – the love of God for His people and the love of Christ, who died for all, and the love of Christians for their God. Is there any concept of such love in Islam? If so, can you explain it to me? And if not, what is Islam based on?
Answer: Certainly, in Islam, the pre-dominant motive for people to come closer to God is love. There is certitude of His Love, Mercy and Kindness that is always there for humans to experience and benefit from, should they reflect.
The Qur’an itself begins by the expression: Bismillah al-Rahman al-Rahim.” al-Rahman and al-Rahim, being the attributes of God Almighty, convey belief in a God who is Extremely Merciful, whose Mercy is Ever-Lasting. Verse 2:165 of the Qur’an says that “those (who are) of Faith are overflowing in their love for Allah” - that as human beings, despite being equally capable of loving others as much, their strongest love is unquestionably reserved for God. Given the context of the passage, this is because when an intelligent human being looks around him, he finds that every creation is for his benefit, brought at his disposal by none other than the Master, who keeps providing out of Love. An intelligent observer inevitably finds himself over-whelmed by this extreme display of kindness and compassion.
In short, yes, the Islamic spirit is pre-dominantly the spirit of love from God, and for Him. But the love that the Almighty reciprocates is far stronger than all the love that we can all manage to ever put together. The Qur’an says, for instance:
And He is the Oft-Forgiving, Full of Loving-Kindness. (85:14)
These attributes are mentioned all throughout the Qur’an. His Mercy pre-dominates all other virtues that belong to Him. However, one thing needs to be mentioned. The Qur’an gives a complete understanding of God, which is not exaggerated towards any one particular attribute/understanding of His, at the expense of others. God is a complete and perfect Being, and therefore, has attributes that are all complete and good. And what is important is that understanding God through His attributes as mentioned in the Qur’an, one can relate them to our living lives, day in and day out. You do not end up having a utopian understanding of God, which although is very romantic, is far from reality, and brings disappointments as a result. Because when you have an understanding that is primarily and singularly of a Caring and Loving God, you will be at a loss to understand the sufferings and pain one finds in this world. How would you, for instance, comprehend the fact that He allows some people to unleash their evil desires and ambitions of greed and terror upon others?
It is when you understand God in the complete sense that you are able to accept the goings-around in the world today. Although love, mercy, compassion, forgiveness and sympathy are His most significant attributes, yet, He is much more than that. He is simultaneously Loving, Fair, Wise, Strong... All His attributes put together make a complete picture; emphasis on one distorts the image. Love alone may help you when in need of a utopian understanding, but it will cater to a disability in reconciling it with the world around us. It is Islam that will tell us that His Love and His Sympathy results in providence and forgiveness, and at the same time, His Strength, and Wisdom renders forgiveness available to only those who seek it with utmost sincerity. Here lies the difference between the conception of the Christian God and the Muslim God.
In Christianity, belief in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ is enough to enable access to the Love of God; in Islam, God is most certainly Loving and Caring, but His Love is available to only those who seek it - if you don’t, you miss it; if you do, it overwhelms you.