Friday, January 22, 2010

Kassim Ahmad

23 January, 2010

It is strange to find some of us quarreling over God, over His proper name. It should be obvious that God is not like us human beings, with proper names! If He has a proper name, as some of us illogically suppose, then He would be like us! In fact, He is no such entity. God is pure Spirit, genderless and bodiless. In the Quran, He is often referred to as huwa an Arabic word meaning “He”. Such is the inadequacy of language that we cannot find a genderless word to refer to God. Such being the case, why embroil ourselves in such nonsensical debate?

Granted that some of us are so devout, wanting nothing else but to serve God, that being the case, then please do. It is ridiculous to ask whose God it is, yours or mine. Since there cannot be many gods, but only one and the same God, all mankind must ipso facto serve the same God.

Etymologically, an Arabic word meaning “The God”. The Quran, in Surah 17, Verse 110, clarifies this question beautifully in a pithy one-sentence statement. It goes: “Call Him Allah or the Beneficient. Whatever name you use, to Him belong the best names.” In Surah Al-Ikhlas (112) the Quran shows that God (Allah) is not automatically the One God that these over-zealous people claim. The first sentence goes: “Say, ‘He, Allah, is One’”. If Allah automatically refers to the One God, then the verse should not use the word “One”.

Muslims must realize that Islam is a universal religion, open to the embrace of all humanity. Anyone who believes in God, in his accountability to Him and lives righteously, he belongs to the company of those to whom God has promised security and happiness. (See Quran, 2: 62). This fortunate company consists of peoples of all religious denominations, for in all religions, there are people with the characteristics mentioned in that verse.

Muslims must practice the true Islam. They should call others to Islam, as the Quran counsels them, through rational debate and with wisdom. They should do so because Islam is a universal and humane system of life. Any thought that Islam is only for the Muslims exclusively should be banished from their minds.

Kassim Ahmad is a Malaysian writer. His website is