"The Singular Satisfaction" of Allah of Islam

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Undoubtedly you have heard the adage, "Show me your God [god] and I will tell you why you act the way you do." Thus we would expect the person who has secular humanism as his/her god, to act consistently like a secular humanist, that is to say, there would be an absence of any "fear of God" in their thinking and actions, and all thinking and actions would have humankind as the measure of all things. For a Muslim, who by definition has Allah of Islam as his/her God, then that very person's actions would flow out of the character of this Deity. If we want to understand our Muslim neighbors, far and near, this might be of some use.

In 1862, William Gifford  Palgrave took a one year trip through Arabic speaking lands and around the time that he was with the Wahabi sect in present Saudi Arabia, he composed his composite sketch of Allah of Islam. The Wahabis were a reformist group in Islam, and one could say that they were attempting to return back to a "pure Islam." As well Palgrave, who was said to be very well versed in Arabic, was very knowledgeable about Islamic doctrinal and sacred texts, not to mention his first-hand observations.

From his trip account we read this description:

Thus immeasurably and eternally exalted above, and dissimilar from, all creatures, which lie leveled before him on one common plane of instrumentality and inertness. God is One in the totality of omnipotent and omnipresent action, which acknowledges no rule, standard, or limit, save His own sole and absolute will. He communicates nothing to His creatures, for their seeming power and act ever remain his alone, and in return he receives nothing from them; for whatever they may be, that they are in him, by him and from him only. And secondly, no superiority, no distinction, no pre-eminence, can be lawfully claimed by one creature over its fellow, in the utter equalization of their unexceptional servitude and abasement; all are alike tools of the one solitary Force which employs them to crush or to benefit, to truth or to error, to honor or shame, to happiness or misery, quite independently of their individual fitness, deserts, or advantage, and simply because "He wills it," and "as He wills it."

"One might at first think that this tremendous Autocrat, this uncontrolled and unsympathizing Power would be far above anything like passions, desires, or inclinations. Yet such is not the case, for he has, with respect to his creatures, one main feeling and source of action, namely, jealousy of them, lest they should perchance attribute to themselves something of what is his alone, and thus encroach on his all-engrossing kingdom. Hence he is ever more prone to punish than to reward, to inflict pain than to bestow pleasure, to ruin than to build. It is his singular satisfaction to let created beings continually feel that they are nothing else than his slaves. His tools—and contemptible tools too—that they may thus the better acknowledge his superiority, and know his power to be above their power, his cunning above their cunning, his will above their will, his pride above their pride; or rather, that there is no power, cunning, will, or pride save that which is his own.

“But he himself, sterile in his inaccessible height, neither loving nor enjoying aught save his own and self-measured decree, without son, companion, or counselor, is no less barren of himself than for His creatures, and his own barrenness and lone egoism in himself is the cause and rule of his indifferent and unregarding despotism around. The first note is the key of the whole tune, and the primal idea of God runs through and modifies the whole system and creed that centres in him.

As we let Palgrave's dense and somewhat difficult composite sketch sink in, think of the ramifications for your Muslim neighbor:

  1. A continual fear of Allah who constantly reminds them that they can be crushed at any of his whims.
  2. A continual paranoia of doing or thinking or saying anything that might provoke his jealousy.
  3. A continual anxiety due to the unknowableness of Allah.

Think now of the immensity of the Good News of salvation in Jesus Christ

  1. A continual reminder by the indwelling Holy Spirit that those in Christ are given the status of chosen, precious and valuable children of God the Father.
  2. A continual desire to please their Heavenly Father who desires to give them "good gifts".
  3. A deep and continual assurance due to the fact that the covenant-keeping Triune God has revealed his unchanging attributes in the unchanging Scriptures and that these are made real by the Holy Spirit.

Source:   William Gifford Palgrave. Narrative of a Year's Journey Through Central and Eastern Arabia (1862-1863). London: Macmillan and Co, 1866, pp. 365-366.

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