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Translation: "In the name of Allah the Merciful, the Com- 
passionate. Truly Thou wilt preserve the one who carries 
this writing of mine from the evil of all that might harm him 
and Thou wilt appoint over him its angels and servants and 
assistants who are entrusted with its service and guard him 
by day and by night. Mohammed is the Apostle of Allah 
and those with him are stronger than the unbelievers. Among 
them are merciful ones whom we see bowing and kneeling 
seeking kindness from Allah and favor. Their marks are on 
their faces, the effect of prostration, and that is their likeness 
in the Pentateuch and the Gospel." 


An Essay on the Character 
and Attributes of Allah 
according to the koran 
and Orthodox Tradition 


Author op "Arabia, the Cradle op Islam," 
"Raymund Lull," etc. 


150 Nassau Street 

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Copyright, 1905 
By American Tract Society 


gfortan Htoemer* 

"Yet most I thank thee, not for any deed, 
But for the sense thy living self did breed 
That Fatherhood is at the great world's core." 

4 ''* Your God and our God are the same/' — The Koran. 

44 Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well, the 

^devils also believe and tremble."— James 2 : 19, 
44 Neither knovjeth any man the Father save the Son and he 

to whomsoever the Son vjill reveal Him."— Matt. II: 27* 


JEWS, Christians and Mohammedans believe in 
one God and yet differ widely in their inter- 
pretation of this idea. Unless we know the Moslem's 
idea of God we cannot understand his creed nor 
judge his philosophy, nor intelligently communicate 
our idea of God to him. The strength of Islam is 
not in its ritual nor in its ethics, but in its tre- 
mendous and fanatical grasp on the one great truth 
— Monotheism. 

Our purpose in these pages is to learn the extent 
and content of this idea; an idea which holds the 
Moslem world even more than they hold it. I have 
found no book in English, among the wealth of lit- 
erature on Islam, that treats of this subject. In Ger- 
man there are two books on the theology of the 
Koran, 1 but both are rare and limited, as appears 
from their titles, to a consideration of what the 
Koran teaches. 

For a fair interpretation, however, of Islam's idea 
of God we must go not only to the Koran, but also 
to orthodox tradition. The Hadith are the records 
of the authoritative sayings and doings of Moham- 

^aller's Lehre von Gott aus dem Koran gezogen. Alten- 
burg, 1779. Dettinger's Beitrage zu einer Theologie des 
Korans. Tubingen Zeitschrift fur Theologie, 1831, 3's Heft. 


med and have exercised tremendous power on Moslem 
thought since the early days of Islam; not only by 
supplementing but by interpreting the Koran. The 
Hadith are accepted by every Moslem sect, in some 
form or other, and are indispensable to Islam. For 
proof of these statements we refer to Sprenger and 
Muir. The Koran-text quoted is from Palmer's 
translation, together with references to the three 
standard commentaries of Beidhawi, Zamakhshari 
and Jellalain. For orthodox tradition I have used 
the collection known as Mishhat-ul-Misdbih, because 
it is short, authoritative, and because an English 
translation of this collection exists. (Captain Mat- 
thew's Mishcat-ul-Masabih, or a collection of the 
most authentic traditions regarding the actions and 
sayings of Mohammed; exhibiting the origin of the 
manners and customs, the civil, religious and mili- 
tary policy of the Musselmans. Translated from the 
original Arabic. Calcutta, 1809; 2 folio volumes.) 
This collection, originally the work of Bagdwi 
(516 A.H.) and based on the classical works of 
Biichari and Muslim, was edited and issued in its 
present form by Abdullah-al-Khatib (737 A.H.) ; 
and Brockelmann in his history of Arabic literature 
calls it "the most correct and practical book of Mos- 
lem traditions." I had no access to the translation 
and all references are to the Arabic edition printed 
in Delhi. 

The frontispiece is from the celebrated Shems-ul- 


Maarif of Muhyee-ed-Din-al-Buni, This book treats 
of the names of God and their use in amulets, heal- 
ing, recovering lost property, etc. I am aware that 
in some parts of the Mohammedan world disintegra- 
tion of religious ideas is in progress and t^at the 
theology as well as the ethics of Islam is being modi- 
fied by contact with Western civilization, Protestant 
missions, and Christian morals. My idea, however, 
was not to sketch the theological views of Moslems 
in Liverpool nor of the reformers of Islam in India, 
but of the vast orthodox majority of the people both 
learned and illiterate. 

In the comparative study of any religion the idea 
of God is fundamental, and if these pages give a 
clearer idea of what Mohammed taught and what 
his followers believe concerning Allah, the Christian 
missionary will the more earnestly preach to Mos- 
lems the Gospel of our Saviour, who said, "He that 
hath seen Me hath seen the Father." 

S. M. Zwemer. 

"Bahreitst, Arabia, 

February, 1905. 


I. Thebe is no god but Allah 15 

Importance of these words — Gibbon's verdict — 
Value of this creed to the Moslem — Sources for 
the idea of Deity — The ethical value of such Mon- 
otheism — Various views. 

II. Allah, the Divine Essence 23 

Significance of the word Allah — Allah among the 
pagan Arabs — The Beit Allah — The Hanifs — Tes- 
timony of the monuments — Monotheism in the 
Koran — The idea of God's essence — Silence 
of tradition — Ghazzali's definition — Mohammed's 
idea of the Unbegotten — The Commentaries. 

III. The Ninety-nine Beautiful Names of Allah . 34 

These really attributes — The Moslem's rosary — 
List of these names — The Holy — The All- Com- 
pelling — Moslem idea of Divine Justice — Of 
Truth— "The mothers of the attributes"— The 
word Rabb — The two hundred and one names 
of Mohammed. 

IV. Allah's Attributes Analyzed and Examined . 47 

Their effect on the Moslem mind — Division and 
classification — Those that describe His Unity — 
Mercy — Power — The Avenger — The moral at- 
tributes — Holiness of God ignored — The Koran 
doctrine of Sin — Kinds of sins — Terms used — No 
distinction between the ceremonial and the moral 
law — Proof from tradition — Sin not a serious 
matter — The punishment of sin — Allah not bound 


by a standard of justice — Is Allah unchangeable? 
— Justice of Allah — The chief attribute — God's 
omniscience purely physical — His power — He 
does not sleep — Eeal Unity of God absent — The 
Koran idea of holiness — The Pantheism of force 
— The idea of the mystics — Views of other sects — 
Allah the light of the world. 

V. The Kelation of Allah to His World .... 64 

The fundamental idea in Moslem theology — Pal- 
grave as a critic of Islam — His famous charac- 
terization of Allah — The Absolute and Omnipo- 
tent Monad — He is jealous of His creatures — 
Wahabi teaching orthodox — Moslem idea of 
C r e a t i o n — Koran texts — Contradictions — the 
days of creation — God the author of evil — The 
universe not infinite — Creation of the pen — The 
throne of God — How God sits — Speculation and 
orthodoxy — Kenan's opinion — Allah leads men 
astray — No hope in Islam — One-sided idea of God 
— God above us, with us, in us. 

VI. Mohammedan Ideas of the Trinity .... 77 

The negative side of the Moslem idea of God — 
Clark's remark on this aspect of false religions — 
The two foci of Moslem controversy — The idea of 
the Trinity fundamental and essential — Koran 
references to the doctrine — Misapprehension of 
true Trinity — The testimony of the commentaries 
— How they differ and why — Indirect references 
in the Koran — Shirk — Are Christians polytheists? 
— The Christology of the Koran — The person of 
Christ — His birth — The denial of Christ's divinity 
— And the Atonement — Hatred of the Cross — 
Christ's place in heaven — The Holy Spirit is the 
Angel Gabriel — Was Mohammed ignorant of true 
Christian teaching concerning the Trinity? — The 


Collyridians — Intercourse with Christians — 
Yemen Christianity — Abyssinian — Koelle's con- 
clusion — Could Mohammed read and write? 

VII. Predestination vs. Fatalism 93 

The importance of this doctrine in Islam's idea of 

God — Distinguished from Christian teaching — 
Terms used — Koran passages — El Berkevi's sum- 
mary — Tradition on this topic — Pre-existence of 
souls — Adam and Moses — The salvation of 
infants — Fatalism of the Greeks — Of Islam — 
"Allah katib" — "Inshallah" — " El-hamdu-lillali" — 
Moslem idea of prayer — The fundamental differ- 
ence between Calvinistic and Moslem doctrine of 
the decress — Allah not love — No Fatherhood — The 
Moslem hell — Source of these ideas — The Talmud 
— Story of the angel of death — Other views of 
Predestination — The orthodox view widespread — 
Barren of ideas. 

VIII. The Completed Idea and its Insufficiency . 107 
The Moslem idea of God compared with that of 
Christianity — The true standard — Mohammed's 
ascent to heaven — Four elements wanting — No 
Fatherhood — The lack of love in the Moslem re- 
ligion — Mysticism a revolt — The distorted idea of 
justice — The law in Islam — Lack of harmony in 
Allah's attributes — The results of such Monothe- 
ism — Islam's ideal of ethics — The Moslem idea of 

God is sterile — The Christian Trinity — No com- 
promise is possible — The only True God and Jesus 

"Historically, a pure theism is all but impo- 
tent. There is only one example of it on a large 
scale in the world, and that is a kind of bastard 
Christianity — Mohammedanism; and we all know 
what good that is as a religion. There are plenty 
of people who call themselves Theists and not 
Christians. Well, I venture to say that is a phase 
that will not last. There is little substance in it. 
The God whom men know outside of Jesus Christ 
is a poor nebulous thing; an idea and not a 
reality. You will have to get something more 
substantial than the far-off god of an unchristian 
Theism if you mean to sway the world and to 
satisfy men's hearts." — Alexander Maclaren (in 
sermon on John 14:1). 


"One God the Arabian prophet preached to man; 
One God the Orient still 
Adores through many a realm of mighty span — 
A God of power and will. 

"A power that at his pleasure doth create 
To save or to destroy, 
And to eternal pain predestinate 
As to eternal joy." 

— Lord Houghton. 

AMONG all the religions of the world there is 
none that has a shorter creed than Islam; 
none whose creed is so well known and so often re- 
peated. The whole system of Mohammedan theology 
and philosophy and religious life is summed up in 
seven words: La ilaha ilia Allah,, Mohammed rasul 
Allah. "There is no god but Allah and Mohammed 
is Allah's apostle" — on these two phrases hang all 
the laws and teaching and morals of Islam. The 
logical development of Islam took place after the 
death of Mohammed in two ways : by the interpreta- 
tion of the Koran and by the collection (or inven- 


tion) of a mass of so-called tradition. The former 
is what Allah revealed by means of a book ; the latter 
is what Allah revealed by means of a man, Moham- 
med. Both revelations have well-nigh equal authority 
and both rest their authority on the kalimet or creed 
of seven words. The accompanying analysis shows 
this relation. 1 

Gibbon characterizes the first part of the Moslem's 
creed as "an eternal truth" and the second part as a 
"necessary fiction." 2 Concerning the latter statement 
there is no dispute, but whether we can admit the 
former depends altogether on the character of the 
Being of whom it is affirmed that He displaces 
all other gods. If Allah's nature and attributes are 
in any way distorted or are unworthy of Deity, then 
even the first clause of the briefest of all creeds is 
false. "Because Mohammed taught the unity of 
God it has been too hastily concluded that he was 
a great social and moral reformer as well. But there 
is no charm in the abstract doctrine of the unity of 
God to elevate humanity. The essential point is the 
character attributed to this one God." 3 It is, there- 
fore, not superfluous to inquire both from the Koran 
and from orthodox Tradition what Moslems mean 
by asserting God's unity and what character they 
ascribe to their only, true God. For there is no doubt 

Revised and reprinted from Arabia, the Cradle of Islam. 
2 Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Vol. III., pp. 488. 
8 Osborne's Islam under the Khalifs of Bagdad, p. vii. 


that they themselves emphasize nothing so much as 
this part of their system. It is the motto-text of the 
Moslem's home-life, the baptismal formula to wel- 
come the infant as a believer, the final message to 
whisper in the ears of the dying, La ilaha ilia Allah, 
These words they chant when carrying a burden or 
a bier; these words they inscribe on their banners 
and their door-posts; they appear on all the early 
coins of the caliphs and have been the great battle- 
cry of Islam for thirteen centuries. By repeating 
these words, the infidel turns Moslem and the rene- 
gade is welcomed back to a spiritual brotherhood. 
By this creed the faithful are called to prayer five 
times daily, from Morocco to the Philippines, and 
this is the platform on which all the warring sects 
of Islam can unite, for it is the foundation and crite- 
rion of their religion. According to a traditional 
saying of Mohammed, "God said to Moses, if you 
were to put the whole universe on one side of the 
scale-pans and the words La ilaha ilia Allah on the 
other this would outweigh that." 1 Orthodox tradi- 
tion also relates that the prophet one day was passing 
by a dry and withered tree and as soon as he struck 
it with his staff the leaves fell off ; then the prophet 
said, Verily, the words La ilaha ilia Allah shake off 
the believer's sins as my staff shook off the leaves 
from this tree. 2 

^ishkat el Misabih, Delhi edition, Book X., p. 201. 
2 Ibid., p. 202. 


The Koran is never weary of reiterating the 
formula which expresses God's unity, and the one 
hundred and twelfth Surah, specially devoted to this 
subject, is, so Moslems say, equal in value to one- 
third of the whole book. It is related by Zamakh- 
shari in his commentary that Mohammed said, "The 
seven heavens and the seven earths are built on this 
Surah and whoever reads it enters paradise." 

Now in spite of the emphasis thus put on the doc- 
trine of God's unity by Moslems, and in spite of the 
fact that it is this part of their creed which is their 
glory and boast, there has been a strange neglect on 
the part of most writers who have described the re- 
ligion of Mohammed to study Mohammed's idea of 
God. It is so easy to be misled by a name or by ety- 
mologies. Nearly all writers take for granted that 
the God of the Koran is the same being and has like 
attributes as Jehovah or as the Godhead of the New 
Testament. Especially is this true of the rational- 
istic students of Islam in Germany and England. 
Is this view correct ? The answer, whether affirma- 
tive or negative, has important bearing not only on 
missions to Moslems but on a true philosophical atti- 
tude toward this greatest of all false faiths. If we 
have to deal with "an eternal truth" linked to "a 
necessary fiction" our simple task is to sever the link 
and let the eternal truth stand to make men free. 
On the other hand, if the necessary fiction is put 
as the foundation of a distorted truth, there can 


be no compromise; both clauses of the creed fall 

To the etymologist, Zeus-Pater, Jupiter and Heav- 
enly Father mean the same thing; but these words 
express widely different ideas to the student of com- 
parative religions. Many people have a better 
knowledge of Jupiter, Brahma or Thor as deities 
than of Allah; and it is so because in the former case 
they go to mythology and in the latter case to ety- 
mology for the sum of their ideas. The word Allah 
is used for God not only by all Moslems, but by all 
Arabic-speaking Jews and Christians in the Orient. 
But this does not necessarily mean that the idea ex- 
pressed by the word is the same in each case. The 
ideas of Mohammed regarding God's existence, char- 
acter and attributes came to him from three sources. 
First he undoubtedly had a knowledge of God from 
nature, and the passages of the Koran which set 
forth this natural theology are some of them the 
most beautiful and poetic in the whole book. Then, 
by his heredity and environment he could not free 
himself from the pagan ideas of Deity current among 
the Arabs. Lastly, he learned something of the God 
of Abraham and of the teachings of the New Testa- 
ment from the Jews and Christians of Arabia and 
Abyssinia. From these three sources Mohammed 
obtained his theology, and to each source we can trace 
some of the ideas he sets forth in the Koran and in 
his table-talk concerning Allah. What was the re- 


suit? This question we will try to answer in what 
follows. It remains to quote a few authoritative 
testimonies to show at the outset that the verdict 
is not unanimous regarding the ethical value 
and the philosophic truth of Mohammedan Mono- 

Frederick Perry Noble, an authority on Islam in 
Africa, writes: 1 "The crowning benefit bestowed 
upon the benighted negro by Islam, its advocate ex- 
claims, is the belief in the one true God. Is not this 
an advance, an immense advance, upon fetichism 
and idolatry ? This depends on the content and effect 
of the idea of God in Islam and in African paganism. 
If the two members of the religious equation prove 
of equal value, the answer must be : x = y and the 
gain is zero." This is very strong language. In the 
following paragraphs of that chapter of his book the 
author puts Allah in the balances against an African 
fetich and the scales hang nearly even ! How differ- 
ent is this testimony from that of Canon Taylor, and 
Dr. Blyden and Bosworth Smith regarding Islam's 
blessing to dark Africa. 2 Major Osborne, in sketch- 
ing the history of religion under the Khalif s of Bag- 
dad, concludes: "The God of the Moslem is not a 
righteous God, but an arbitrary sovereign. I know 
that passages in the Koran can be produced wherein 

x The Redemption of Africa, Vol. I., p. 73. 
2 See, for example, Blyden's Christianity, Islam and the 
IXegro Race, pp. 7, 28, 199-215, 277-299. London, 1888. 


the righteousness of God is strongly insisted upon. 
But such passages have failed to mould to any great 
extent the practical religion of Islam, because (as I 
have already observed) the Koran is a book without 
moral gradations. Every institution and every pre- 
cept stands upon the same ground — the will of God. 
A chain is no stronger than its weakest link; and it 
is the veneration paid to a black stone, not to the One 
God, which denotes the high-water mark of the moral 
and intellectual life of the Moslem world." 1 Jo- 
hannes Hauri, in his classical study of Islam, voices 
a similar sentiment and gives the clue to the favor- 
able judgment of so many other writers. He 
says: 2 a What Mohammed tells us of God's omnipo- 
tence, omniscience, justice, goodness and mercy 
sounds, for the most part, very well indeed, and 
might easily awaken the idea that there is no real 
difference between his God and the God of Chris- 
tianity. But Mohammed's monotheism was just as 
much a departure from true monotheism as the 
polytheistic ideas prevalent in the corrupt Oriental 
churches. Mohammed's idea of God is out and out 
deistic. God and the world are in exclusive, external 
and eternal opposition. Of an entrance of God into 
the world or of any sort of human fellowship with 
God he knows nothing. This is the reason Islam 

Hslam under the Khalifs, pp. viii. and 138. 
2 Der Islam in seinem Einfluss auf das Leben seiner Bekenner. 
Leiden, 1882, pp. 44, 45. 


received the warm sympathies of English deists and 
German rationalists; they found in its idea of God 
flesh of their flesh and bone of their bone." The fol- 
lowing chapters willshow whether this statement is 
overdrawn and whether Noble's indictment of Allah 
will stand. 



"The interpretation of God consists of two dis- 
tinct yet complementary parts — a doctrine of God 
and of the Godhead. God is deity conceived in 
relation, over against the universe, its cause or 
ground, its law and end; but the Godhead is 
deity conceived according to His own nature as 
He is from within and for Himself." — Principal 

CONGESTING the real significance of the 
Arabic word Allah there has been much specu- 
lation and endless discussion among Moslem exegetes 
and lexicographers. The author of the Muheet-el- 
Muheet dictionary, a Christian, says: "Allah is the 
name of necessary Being. There are twenty differ- 
ent views as to the derivation of this name of the 
Supreme; the most probable is that its root is il'ah, 
the past participle form, on the measure fial, from 
the verb ilaho = to worship, to which the article was 
prefixed to indicate the supreme object of worship." 
When we open the pages of Ferozabadi, Beidhawi or 
Zamakhshari and read some of these twenty other 
derivations we find ourselves at the outset before an 


unknown God. The intellectual difficulty was a real 
one to the Moslem exegete, as he must discover some 
root and some theory of derivation that is not in con- 
flict with his accepted idea of God. Beidhawi, for 
example, suggests that Allah is derived "from an 
[invented] root ilaha = to be in perplexity, because 
the mind is perplexed when it tries to form the idea 
of the Infinite !" Yet more fanciful are the other 
derivations given and the Arabic student can satisfy 
his curiosity in Beidhawi, Vol. L, pp. 5 and 6. 

According to the opinion of some Moslem theo- 
logians, it is infidelity (Jcufr) to hold that the word 
has any derivation whatever ! This is the opinion 
of the learned in Eastern Arabia. They say "God 
is not begotten/' and so His name cannot be derived. 
He is the first, and had an Arabic name before the 
creation of the worlds. Allah is an eternal combina- 
tion of letters written on the throne in Arabic and 
each stroke and curve has mystical meaning. Mo- 
hammed, they teach, received the revelation of this 
name and was the first to preach the divine unity 
among the Arabs by declaring it. This kind of ar- 
gument is of one piece with all that Moslems tell of 
"the days of ignorance" before the prophet. But his- 
tory establishes beyond the shadow of a doubt that 
even the pagan Arabs, before Mohammed's time, 
knew their chief god by the name of Allah and even, 
in a sense, proclaimed His unity. In pre-Islamic lit- 
erature, Christian or pagan, ilah is used for any god 


and Al-ilah (contracted to Allah), i.e., 6 Oeog, the 
god, was the name of the Supreme. Among the 
pagan Arabs this term denoted the chief god of their 
pantheon, the Kaaba, with its three hundred and 
sixty idols. Herodotus informs us (Lib. III., cap. 
viii.) that in his day the Arabs had two principal 
deities, Orotal and Alilat. The former is doubtless 
a corruption of Allah Taal, God most high, a term 
very common in the Moslem vocabulary ; the latter is 
Al Lat, mentioned as a pagan goddess in the Koran. 
Two of the pagan poets of Arabia, Nabiga and 
Labid, 1 use the word Allah repeatedly in the sense of 
a supreme deity. ISTabiga says (Diwan, poem I., 
verses 23, 24) : "Allah has given them a kindness and 
grace which others have not. Their abode is the God 
(AHlah) Himself and their religion is strong," etc. 

Labid says : "Neither those who divine by striking 
stones or watching birds, know what Allah has just 
created." 2 

Ash-Shahristani says of the pagan Arabs that some 

1 Brockelman in his Geschichte der Arab. Literatur re- 
marks, Vol. L, p. 30, "Auch bei an-Nabiga und Lebid finden 
sich manche specifisch christliche Gedanken die uns beweisen 
dass das Christentum an der durch die Poesie reprasentierten 
geistigen Bildung seinen stillen Anteil hatte." Cheikho claims 
that Lebid was a Christian poet. Nabiga died before the 

2 Quoted by Dr. St. Clair Tisdall, in the Journal of the Vic- 
toria Institute, Vol. XXV., p. 149. He gives the Arabic text 
of both Nabiga and Lebid's stanzas. 


of them "believed in a Creator and a creation, but 
denied Allah's prophets and worshipped false gods, 
concerning whom they believed that in the next world 
they would become mediators between themselves and 
Allah." And Ibn Hisham, the earliest biographer of 
Mohammed whose work is extant, admits that the 
tribes of Kinanah and Koreish used the following 
words when performing the pre-Islamic ceremony of 
ihlal: 1 "We are present in thy service, O God. Thou 
hast no partner except the partner of thy dread. 
Thou ownest him and whatsoever he owneth." 

As final proof, we have the fact that centuries be- 
fore Mohammed the Arabian Kaaba, or temple at 
Mecca, was called Beit- Allah, the house of God, and 
not Beit-el- Alihet, the house of idols or gods. Now 
if even the pagan Arabs acknowledged Allah as su- 
preme, surely the Hanifs (that band of religious re- 
formers at Mecca which rejected all polytheism and 
sought freedom from sin by resignation to God's 
will) were not far from the idea of the Unity of God. 
It was henotheism 2 in the days of paganism ; and the 
Hanifs led the way for Mohammed to preach abso- 
lute monotheism. The Koran often calls Abraham 
a Hanif and stoutly affirms that he was not a Jew 
or a Christian (Surahs 2:129; 3:60, 89; 6:162; 
16:121, etc.). Among the Hanifs of Mohammed's 

x Sirat, Part II., p. 27. 

2 "The adoration of one god above others as the specific tribal 
god."— -C. P. Tiele. 


time were Waraka, the prophet's cousin, and Zaid 
bin 'Amr, surnamed the Inquirer. Both exerted de- 
cided influence on Islam and its teaching. 

"Noldeke thinks Mohammed was in doubt as to 
which name he would select for the supreme being 
and that he thought of adopting Er-Rdhman, the 
merciful, as the proper name of God in place of 
Allah, because that was already used by the heathen. 
Rahmana was a favorite Hebrew name for God in 
the Talmudic period and in use among the Jews of 
Arabia. 1 On the Christian monuments found by Dr. 
Edward Glaser in Yemen, Allah is also mentioned. 
The Sirwah inscription (A.D. 542) opens with the 
words: "In the power of the All-merciful and His 
Messiah and the Holy Ghost," 2 which shows that, at 
least in Yemen, Arabian Christians were not in error 
regarding the persons of the Trinity. One other 
term often used for Allah we will have occasion to 
study later. It is the word Es-Samad [the Eternal], 
and seems to come from the same root as Samood, 
the name of an idol of the tribe of ? Ad and mentioned 
in the poem of Yezid bin Sa'ad. 3 Hobal, the chief 
god of the Kaaba (and whom Dozy identifies with 

r Encyclop. Brit., Ninth edition, Vol. XVI., p. 549 
2 Recent Research in Bible Lands, by Hilprecht, p. 149. 
Does not this Christian introductory formula show whence 
Mohammed borrowed his Bismillahi-er Rahman-er-Rahimf 

*Taj-el-Aroos Dictionary, Vol. II., p. 402. See note at the 
end of the chapter. 


Baal), 1 is, strange to say, not mentioned in the 
Koran. Perhaps he was at this period already iden- 
tified by the Meccans with Allah. This would ex- 
plain Mohammed's silence on the subject. 

We thus are led back to the sources from which 
the Arabian prophet drew his ideas of Allah ; namely 
(as for all his other teaching), from Arabian pagan- 
ism, Talmudic Judaism and Oriental Christianity. 
Islam is not original, not a ripe fruit, but rather a 
wild offshoot of foreign soil grafted on Judaism. It 
will not surprise us, therefore, if its ideas of God 
are immature and incomplete. 

The passages of the Koran that teach the existence 
and unity of God (Allah) are either those that refer 
for proof of His unity to creation (Surahs 6 : 96-100 ; 
16:3-22; 21:31-36; 27:60-65, etc.), or state that 
polytheism and atheism are contrary to reason 
(Surah 23:119), or that dualism is self-destructive 
(Surah 21:22), or bring in the witness of former 
prophets (Surahs 30 : 29 ; 21 : 25 ; 39 : 65 ; 51 : 50-52). 
The dogma of absolute monotheism is held forth first 
against the pagan Arabs as, e.g., in Surah 71:23, 
where Noah and Mohammed agree in condemning 
the idols of antediluvian polytheists. "Said Noah, 
My Lord, verily they have rebelled against me and 
followed him whose wealth and children have but 

1 See his book, De Israelites te Mekka van David's tijd tot op 
de vijfde eeuw, etc., Haarlem, 1864, pp. 83-85, and also Pocock'a 
Spec. Hist. Arab., p. 98, ed. White. 


added to his loss and they have plotted a great plot 
and said, Ye shall surely not leave your gods; ye 
shall surely neither leave Wadd nor Suwah nor 
Yaghuth nor Yaook nor Nasr, 1 and they led them 
astray/' etc. But this dogma is no less aimed at the 
Jews whom the Koran accuses of deifying Ezra 
(Surah 9:30) and Christians who believe in the 
Trinity. This Trinity Mohammed misunderstood or 
misrepresented as consisting of Allah, Jesus and the 
Virgin Mary. 2 The deity of Christ is utterly re- 
jected (Surahs 19:35, 36; 3:51, 52; 43:57-65; 
5:19, etc.), and His incarnation and crucifixion de- 
nied, although not His miraculous birth (Surahs 
19:22-24; 3:37-43, 47-50; 4:155, 156). 

The word Allah is called by Moslem theologians 
Ism-ul-That, the name of the essence, or of the Being 
of God. All other titles, even that of Rabb (Lord) 
being considered Isma-ul-Sifat, i.e., names of the at- 
tributes. In this first name, therefore, we have (bar- 
ren though it be) the Moslem idea of the nature of 
God apart from His attributes and creation (in ac- 
cordance with the motto at the head of this chapter), 
although at the same time in sharp contrast with 
Christian ideas of the Godhead. 

As is evident from the very form of the Moslem 
creed their fundamental conception of Allah is nega- 

2 Of course these were Arabian idols, but the Koran is full of 
such strange anachronisms. 
2 See Chapter VI. 


tive. God is unique, as well as a unit, and has no 
relations to any creature that partake of resemblance. 
The statement in Genesis that man was created in 
the divine image is to the Moslem blasphemy. Allah 
is defined by a series of negations. As popular song 
has it — 

"Whatsoever your mind can conceive, 
That Allah is not you may well believe." 

Mohammed, outside of the Koran, was silent re- 
garding the nature of God's being. "For while tra- 
ditions have been handed down in abundance which 
give the responses of the Prophet to inquiries con- 
cerning prayer, almsgiving, fasting and pilgrimage 
there is not one having reference to the being [and 
attributes] of God. This is a fact acknowledged by 
all those most profoundly versed in Traditional 
lore." 1 The great Imams are agreed regarding the 
danger and impiety of studying or discussing the 
nature of the being of God. They, therefore, when 
speaking of Allah's being, fall back on negations. 

The idea of absolute sovereignty and ruthless om- 
nipotence (borrowed, as we shall see, from the nature 
of Allah's attributes) are at the basis. For the rest 
his character is impersonal — that of an infinite, eter- 
nal, vast nomad. God is not a body. God is not a 

1 The Khalifs of Bagdad, p. 136. I have put his words "and 
attributes" in brackets. Osborne's statement is too strong. 
There are traditions, although not many, on Allah's attributes. 


spirit. Neither has God a body nor has he a spirit. 
The Imam El-Ghazzali says: "Allah is not a body 
endued with form nor a substance circumscribed with 
limits or determined by measure. Neither does He 
resemble bodies, as they are capable of being meas- 
ured or divided. Neither is He a substance, nor do 
substances exist in Him; neither is He an accident, 
nor do accidents exist in Him. Neither is He like to 
anything that exists; neither is anything like Him. 
His nearness is not like the nearness of bodies nor is 
His essence like the essence of bodies. Neither does 
He exist in anything nor does anything exist in 
Him." 1 

The words "There is no God but Allah" occur in 
Surah Mohammed, verse 21, but the Surah which 
Moslems call the Surah of the Unity of God is the 
112th. According to Tradition, this chapter is Mo- 
hammed's definition of Allah. Beidhawi says : "Mo- 
hammed (on him be prayers and peace) was asked 
concerning his Lord and then this Surah came 
down." Zamakhshari says: "Ibn Abbas related that 
the Koreish said, O Mohammed, describe to us your 
Lord whom you invite us to worship; then this 
Surah was revealed." As a specimen of Moslem 
exegesis, here is the Surah with the comments first 
of Beidhawi and then of Zamakhshari ; the words of 

J See El Maksadu-l-asna by this famous Moslem scholastic. 
An extract is found in Ockley's History of the Saracens and 
quoted in Hughes' Diet, of Islam. 


the Koran are put in italics and the translation is 
literal i 1 

"Say, He is God, One. God is the predicate of He 
is, and One is in apposition to it or is a second predi- 
cate. God is 'eternal' (Samad), that is, God is He 
to whom men betake themselves for their needs. He 
does not beget, because of the impossibility of His 
homogeneousness. And is not begotten, because of 
the impossibility of anything happening concerning 
Him. And there is not to Him a single equal, i.e., 
equivalent or similar one. The expression 'to Him' 
is joined to the word 'equal' and precedes it because 
the chief purpose of the pronouns is to express the 
denial. And the reason for putting the word 'single' 
last, although it is the subject of the verb, is that it 
may stand separate from 'to Him.' " The idea of 
Beidhawi seems to be that even in the grammatical 
order of the words there must be entire and absolute 
separation between Allah and creation ! 

Zamakhshari interprets likewise as follows: "God 
is one, unified (unique?) in His divinity, in which 
no one shares, and He is the one whom all seek since 
they need Him and He needs nobody. He does not 
beget, because He has none of His own genus, and so 
possesses no female companion of His own kind, and 

beidhawi, the most celebrated of all Sunni exegetes, died at 
Tabriz in 685 A.H. Zamakhshari died 538 A.H., and spent 
most of his life at Mecca. He was for a time a free-thinker, 
but his commentary is held equal to that of Beidhawi. 


consequently the two of them propagate. This is 
indicated by God's saying, How can there be off- 
spring to Him and He has no female companion. 1 
And He is not begotten. Because everything born is 
an occurrence and a (material) body. God, however, 
is ancient, there is no beginning to His existence and 
He is not a body. And He has no equal, i.e., no like- 
ness or resemblance. It is allowed to explain this of 
companionship in marriage and to deny a female con- 
sort." 2 

This, then, is the definition of the Essence of God, 
according to the Koran and the best commentaries. 
How far such negations come short of the sublime 
statements of revelation: God is a Spirit; God is 
light ; God is love. 

*I have purposely used the word God for Allah in my trans- 
lation and capitalized He to show how shocking such ideas 
seem to the Christian consciousness. 

2 On the word Samad (Eternal) there is a curious note in 
the biography of Mohammed known as Insan-el Ayoon (Vol. 
I., p. 372), margin: "Samad means that which has no insides 
or inside organs and was the name given by Mohammed to God 
in reply to the Nejran Christians who affirmed that Jesus ate 
food; for God needs no food and has no organs of digestion!" 
The same explanation of the word is given by Ibn Abbas, 
Mujahid, and Ibn Zobeir. According to Al Sh6bi, it means one 
who neither eats nor drinks. Others say it means one who 
has no successor. Al Suddi explains it to be one who is sought 
after for favors and presents. (See further Dr. Hartwig 
Hirschfeld's New Researches into the Composition and Exe- 
gesis of the Quran, p. 42, note. London, 1902; Royal Asiatic 



"I make but little of Mohammed's praises of 
Allah, which many praise; they are borrowed, I 
suppose, mainly from the Hebrew, at least they 
are far surpassed there. But the eye that flashes 
direct into the heart of things and sees the truth 
of them; this to me is a deeply interesting object. 
Great Nature's own gift." — Carlyle, in "Hero 

THE attributes of God are called by Moslems 
Isma-ul-Sifat and are also called in the Koran 
Isma-ul-Husna, the excellent names. We read in 
Surah 7:179: "But God's are the excellent names; 
call on Him then thereby and leave those who pervert 
His names." The number of these names or attributes 
of Allah is given by Tradition as ninety-nine. Abu 
Huraira relates that Mohammed said, "Verily, there 
are ninety-nine names of God and whoever recites 
them shall enter Paradise." In the same tradition 
these names are mentioned, but the number is arbi- 
trary and the lists of the names differ in various Mos- 


lem books. 1 It is the custom of many pious Moslems 
to employ in their devotions a rosary of ninety-nine 
beads to represent these names, and the repetition of 
them is called Thihr, or remembrance. The latter 
is the chief religious exercise among the various 
schools of dervishes. 

We will now give these names in order with the 
place where they occur in the Koran and brief com- 
ment where necessary. Edwin Arnold has made so 
much of these Pearls of the Faith in his poem that 
we need to get back to the Moslem idea of these at- 
tributes. His Pearls of the Faith is as one-sided 
a presentation of Islam as his Light of Asia is of 

1. Er-Bahman — The Merciful. (Surah 1:1, 

2. Er-Bahim — The Compassionate. Both of these 
names are from the same root and are very fre- 
quently used in the Koran. They occur as the open- 
ing formula, "In the name of Allah, the Merciful, 
the Compassionate," before every Surah of the 
Koran except the ninth. Beidhawi says that Er- 
Bahman is a more exalted attribute than Er-Bcdiim, 
because it not only contains five letters in Arabic, 

Compare the lists as given in Mishkat-el Misabih, Al Mus- 
tatraf, Hughes' Diet, of Islam, Nofel's Sinajet el Tarb., Arnold's 
Pearls of the Faith, etc.; Ahmed bin Ali el Buni's Shems-itl 
Muarif is one of many books on the ninety-nine names of God. 
In this book these names are written in talismanic form, and 
one of these talismans is given in our frontispiece. 


while Rahim only has four, but it expresses that uni- 
versal attribute of mercy which the Almighty extends 
to all men, the wicked and the good, believers and 
unbelievers. This is a noble thought. 

3. El Malik — The King, or the Possessor, used 
often in the Koran as in the first Surah, "King of 
the day of judgment." In Surah 43:77, however, 
the same word is used for the angel who presides over 
hell. Is this latter use of the word allied to Molech, 
the fire-god of Syria ? 

4. El Kuddus — The Holy. Only once used of 
Allah in the Koran (Surah 59:23), "He is God be- 
side whom there is no deity, the King, the Holy." 
The Taj-el-Aroos dictionary instead of defining this 
important attribute discusses the various readings of 
its vowel-points ! (See the next chapter.) The Holy 
Spirit is a term frequently used in the Koran, but is 
in no case applied to Deity. 1 

5. Es-Salam — The Peace, or the Peace-maker. 
The latter significance is given by Zamakhshari. 
Beidhawi again explains it by a negation, "He who is 
free from all loss and harm." Used only in Surah 

6. El-Mu'min— The Faithful. (Surah 59:28.) 

x Nine times the word Spirit or Holy Spirit is said to refer 
to the Angel Gabriel (Surahs 2 : 81; 2 : 254; 5 : 109; 16 : 2; 
16:104; 26:193; 70:4; 97:4; 19:17); three times to Jesus 
Christ (4:169; 21:91; 66:12), in this case without the epi- 
thet holy; the other cases are left in doubt by the commenta- 
tors. In none of them does even "Spirit" apply to deity. 


7. El-Muhaimin — The Protector. (Surah 

8. El- Aziz — The Mighty One. Very frequently 
used ; e.g., Surahs 42 : 2, 3, 18 ; 46 : 1, etc. It is one 
of the dozen or more names that express Allah's 

9. El-Jabbar— The All-Compelling. (Surah 
59:23.) The word is also translated, The Giant or 
the Absolute ruler. What Moslems think the word 
means is evident from the teachings of the sect, which 
denies all free agency to man, and who call them- 
selves after this name, Jabariyah. (See Hughes' 
Diet, of Islam in loco.) 

10. El-Mutakahhir— The Proud. This word 
when used of a human being always implies haughti- 
ness, and Zamakhshari defines it (Surah 59:23), 
"Supreme in pride and greatness or the One who is 
haughty above the wickedness of His slaves." 

11. El-Khdlik— The Creator. 

12. El-Bari— -The Maker. 

13. El-Musawwir — The Fashioner. These three 
are used in succession for Allah as creator in Surah 
59:23. The commentators take pains to explain 
away any nearness of the Creator to the creature in 
the last term used. 

14. El-Ghdfer — The Forgiver, sometimes given 
as Al Ghaffar. Both have the same significance, but 
the latter, as well as Al Ghafur, are intensive. (Surah 
2:225.) All are frequently used. 


15. El-Kahar— The Dominant. (Surah 13: 17.) 

16. El-Wahab— The Bestower. (Surah 3 :6, etc.) 
This name is commonly used with Abd as a surname 
among the Arabs, "Slave of the Bountiful." 

17. Er-Razzak — The Provider. Once used in 
Surah 51:58. 

18. El-Fattdh— The Opener. (Surah 34:25.) 
This name is inscribed over gates and doors, on the 
title-pages of books and is used as the first copy-book 
lesson for boys at school. 

19. El-Alim — The Knowing One. (Surah 
35:43.) Frequently used in nearly every long 
Surah of the Koran. 

20. El-Kabidh — The Grasper, the Restrainer. 

21. El-Basit — The Spreader or Uncloser of the 
hand. These two names are complementary. The 
former occurs not in the Koran as a noun, but was 
put in the list in reference to a passage in the Surah 
of the Cow. The latter is found in Surah 13:15, 
and there means He who dispenses riches. 

22. El-Khafidh— The Abaser. (Surah ? ) 

23. Er-Rafia — The Exalter. (Surah 3:48.) 
In reference to the translation of Jesus Christ. 

24. El-Muizz — The Strengthened The word 
does not occur in the Koran, but the idea is referred 
to in Surah 3:25: "Thou strengthenest whom Thou 

25. El-Muthill — The One-who-1 e a d s-a s t r a y. 
(Surahs 4:90; 4:142; 17:99; 18:6, and fre- 


quently elsewhere.) "God misleadeth whom He 
pleaseth," is a common phrase in the Koran. 

26. Es Samia— The Hearer. (Surah 40:21, 

27. El-Basir— The Seer. (SuraK '40:21 and 
frequently elsewhere.) According to Surah 31, 
Allah has present vision of five secret things: the 
day of judgment, and the times of rain, the child hid 
in the womb, what happens to-morrow, and where 
every mortal dies. 

28. El Hakim— The Wise, the Only Wise. Very 
often used, as in Surah 2:123, e.g., "Thou art the 
mighty and the wise." It is used in every-day Arabic 
for a philosopher or a physician. 

29. El 'Adl — The Just. It is remarkable and 
very significant that this title does not occur in the 
Koran, but is put in the list by Tradition. The word 
'Adl, Justice, occurs twelve times only, and is never 
used of the righteous acts of God and only once 
(Surah 5 : 115) of His words. In every other case it 
refers to human equity or faithfulness (as in 4: 128) 
toward one's wives in their marriage rights, etc. 

30. El-Latif— The Subtle. (Surah 6:103.) 
Edwin Arnold translates this word "Gracious One" 
and hangs to this invention a verse or two of Chris- 
tian thought on God's grace to sinners. Zamakhshari 
gives the Moslem idea of this word when he says: 
"He is too subtle (too ethereal) for eyes to see Him." 
(El Kishaf in loco.) 


31. El-Khabir— The Cognizant. (Surah 6 : 103.) 

32. El-Halim— The Clement. (Surah 2:225.) 
"He will not catch you up for a casual word in your 
oaths, but He will catch you up for what your hearts 
have earned; but God is forgiving and clement." 
Mohammed's idea of clemency! 

33. El- Adhim— The Grand. (Surah 2:257.) 

34. El-Ghafur — The Forgiving. (Surah 

35. Esh-Shakur — "The Acknowledger of 
Thanksgiving." This is more correct than to trans- 
late The Grateful. (Surah 35 :27.) "That He may 
pay them their hire. . . . Verily He is Forgiv- 
ing and Grateful." 

36. EVAli— The Exalted. (Surah 2:257.) 

37. El-Kabir—The Great. (Surah 34:22.) 
This is never used by Arabic-speaking Christians as 
a title for the Godhead, since it really means big in 
size or station. Zamakhshari says (Vol. II. , p. 231) : 
"Al-Kabir means the possessor of pride." 

38. El-Hafidh— The Guardian. (Surah 86:3.) 
This name is often put over house-doors. 

39. El-MuhU — The Feeder, the Maintainer. 
(Surah 4:88.) 

40. El-Hasib — The Reckoner. Occurs three 
times. (Surahs 4:7, 88; 33:39.) Arnold's com- 
ment here is thoroughly Mohammedan: 

"Laud Him as Reckoner easting up th' account 
And making little merits largely mount." 


41. El-Jalil— The Majestic. (Surah 55:25.) 

42. El-Karim— The Generous. (Surah 96:3. 
"He is the most generous.") 

43. Er-RaMb— The Watchful. (Surah 4:1.) 

44. El-Mujib — The Answerer (of prayer). 
(Surah 11:64.) Compare comment of Zamakh- 
shari in loco. 

45. El-Wasia— The Capacious. (Surah 2 :248.) 

46. El-Hakim— The Judge. "The most just of 
judges (or rulers)." (Surahs 95: 8 and 7: 85.) 

47. El-Wadud — The Affectionate. Occurs only 
twice in the Koran. (Surahs 11:92 and 85:14.) 

48. El-Majid— The Glorious. (Surah 11:76 
and elsewhere.) 

49. El-Baith — The Awakener or Eaiser; used 
frequently in the verbal form in regard to the 
resurrection of the body. (Surah 22:7 by infer- 
ence. ) 

50. Esh-ShaMd — The Witness. Frequently used. 
(Surah 3: 93.) 

51. El-Hah— The Truth. (Surah 22:62.) Ac- 
cording to orthodox Tradition, a lie is justifiable in 
three cases: "To reconcile those who quarrel, to sat- 
isfy one's wife and in case of war." {El Hidayali, 
Vol. IV., p. 81.) And Abu Hanifah alleges that if a 
man should swear "by the truth of God" this does not 
constitute an oath. Imam Mohammed agrees with 
him. (Oaths, Hughes' Diet, p. 438.) Of absolute 
truth in Deity or in ethics the Moslem mind has very 


distorted ideas and Tradition affords a thousand ex- 
amples of Moslem teaching in this regard. 

52. El-Wakil— The Agent. (Surah 4:83.) 

53. El-Kawi— The Strong. (Surah 11:69.) 
Used of physical strength. 

54. El-Mutin — The Firm; in the sense of a 
fortress. Used in Surah 51:58: "God is the pro- 
vider. ... The Firm." 

55. El-WaK— The Helper. (Surah 22: last 
verse.) By implication. I cannot find it elsewhere. 

56. El-Hamid — The Laudable. Frequent. 
(Surah 11:76.) 

57. El-Muhsi — The Counter. Only by reference 
to Surah 36:11, which speaks of God "reckoning 

58. El-Mubdi — The Beginner. Eeference to 
Surah 85:13. 

59. El-Mueed — The Bestorer. Eeference to 
Surah 85:13. 

60. El-Muhyi — The Quickener or Life-giver. 

61. El-Mumit — The Slayer. These two names 
are in a pair and occur together in Surah 2:26 in a 
verbal form. The former also occurs, Surahs 30 : 49 
and 41:39, in both cases referring to quickening the 
soil after rain as proof of the resurrection. 

62. El-Kai— The Living. (Surah 3:1.) Very 

63. El-Kayum — The Self-Subsisting. (Surah 
3:1.) Beidhawi and Zamakhshari both speak of the 


latter term in a purely 'physical way. "He who al- 
ways stands up," i.e., does not need rest or sleep. 
Compare the same words as used in the verse of the 
Throne, Surah 2d, and the commentaries. 

64. El-Wdjid — The Inventor or Maker. The 
word does not occur in the Koran. 

65. El-Mugheeth — The Refuge or the Helper. 
The word does not occur in the Koran. 

66. El-Wahid— The One. (Frequently, as in 

67. Es-Samad— The Eternal. (Surah 112.) Ac- 
cording to the dictionaries and some commentaries, 
the word means "One to whom one repairs in exi- 
gencies," and hence the Lord, the Eternal One. 

68. El-Kadir— The Powerful. (Surah 2:19, 
and in many other places.) The word is from the 
same root as Kadr, fate, predestination ; and Zamakh- 
shari, in commenting on/Surah 2 :19, leaves no doubt 
that the term used means to him "The One-who-pre- 

69. El-MuMadir — The Prevailer or Overcomer. 
Used three times in the Koran. (Surahs 18:43; 
54:42; 5:55.) 

70. El-Mukaddim — The Approacher or Bringer 

71. El-Muakhir — The Deferrer. This pair of 
titles does not occur in the Koran. 

72. El-Awwal— The First. 

73. El-Ahhir— The Last. 


74. El-Dhahir — The Substance. 

75. El-Bdtin — The Essence. These four divine 
titles are known by the technical appellation of "The 
mothers of the attributes/' being regarded as funda- 
mental and all-comprehensive. All four occur to- 
gether in Surah 57:3. This verse is a great favorite 
among the Mystics of Islam. 

76. El-Wali— The Governor. (Surah 13:12.) 

77. El-Mutaali— The Lofty One; better, Be- 
who-tr ies-to-be-the-Highest. ( Surah 13:10.) 

78. El-Barr—The Beneficent. (Surah 52:27.) 
The word used for Righteous is El Bar and does not 
occur in the Koran. Once only is this name used. 

79. Et-Tawwab — The Relenting — one who turns 
frequently. Used four times in Surah 2d and twice 
in the 9th Surah. Also, beautifully, in Surah 4 :119 : 
"He has also turned in mercy unto the three who 
were left behind, so that the earth, spacious as it is, 
became too strait for them; and their souls became 
so straitened within them that there was no refuge 
from God, but unto Himself. Then was He turned 
to them that they might turn to Him. Verily, God 
is He that turneth (At-Tawwab) the merciful." 

80. El-Muntakim — The Avenger. (Surah 
32 : 22.) Also Surahs 43 : 40 and 44 : 15. 

81. El-Afuw — The Pardoner. Literally, the 
Eraser or Oancellor. (Surah 4:51.) 

82. Er-Baoof—The Kind or Indulgent. Fre- 
quently used. (Surah 2:138.) 


83. Malik-ul-Mulk — Ruler of the Kingdom. 
(Surah 3:25.) 

84. Dhu-al-Jilal — Possessor of Majesty. (Surah 

85. El-Muksit — The Equitable. It does not oc- 
cur in the Koran, but in Tradition. 

86. El-Jamia — The Gatherer. (Surah 4:139.) 

87. El-Ghani— The Rich. (Surah 60:6.) 

88. El-Mughni— The Enricher. (Surah 4:129.) 

89. El-Muti— The Giver. (Referred to Surah 

90. El-Mania'— The Withholder. Not in the 

91. Edh-Dhur— The Harmful. Not in the 

92. En-Nafia— The Profiter. Not in the Koran. 
Although these names, and others, are not found in 
the Koran they belong to Allah's attributes on 
authority of the Prophet and are used especially in 
invocations and incantations. 

93. En-Nur — The Light. Used only in the re- 
markable 35th verse of the 24th Surah. Quoted else- 
where with comment. The idea seems borrowed from 
the Old Testament and the golden candlestick. 

94. El-Hadi— The Guide. (From Surah 1:5, 

95. El-Azili — The Eternal-in-the-Past. Arabic 
speech has another word, Abadi, for eternal future, 
and a third, Sarmadi, to include both. 


96. El-Baki—The Enduring. (Surah 28: last 
verse by inference.) 

97. El-Warith— The Inheritor of all things. Not 
in the Koran, but implied in various passages. 

98. Er-Rashid — The Director. It occurs only 
once in the Koran, and is not there applied to God. 
(Surah 11:80.) "Is there not among you one who 
can rightly direct ?" The word is still in common use 
as a proper name among the Arabs. 

99. Es-Sabur—The Patient. (Surah 3:15?) 
The word Rabb, Lord (although it is also an at- 
tribute, according to the Moslem ideas of the Unity), 
is not mentioned among the ninety-nine names. It 
is, however, used most frequently of all the divine 
titles and is combined with other words in Moslem 
theology, such as: Lord of Glory, Lord of the Uni- 
verse, Lord of Lords, Lord of Slaves (i.e., His ser- 
vants). It is not without significance to note that 
later many of these divine titles were applied to Mo- 
hammed himself by the pious, and in the list of his 
two hundred and one titles there are a score of the 
ninety-nine beautiful names I 1 

J See MishJcat-el-Misabih and any book of Moslem prayers or 
devotions for proof. (Isma-en-Nebi.) 



"And the thunder proclaimeth His perfection, 
with His praise; the angels likewise fear Him. 
And He sendeth the thunderbolts and striketh 
with them whom He pleaseth whilst they dispute 
concerning God; for He is mighty in power." — 
The Koran (Surah 13: 13). 

"There is none of all that are in the heavens 
and the earth but he shall come unto the Com- 
passionate as a slave." — The Koran (Surah 

THESE verses from the Koran are a fit introduc- 
tion to the study of Allah's attributes; they 
express the effect those attributes are intended to 
have and do have on His worshippers and explain 
in a measure the reason for the usual Moslem classi- 
fication of God's ninety-nine names. Through fear 
of death and terror of Allah's mighty power the 
pious Moslem is all his life subject to bondage. 

By some the attributes are divided into three 
classes (as their rosary is into three sections), i.e., 
the attributes of wisdom, of power and of goodness. 


But the more eommon division is into two : Isma-ul- 
Jalaliyah and Isma-ul-J emaliydh, terrible attributes 
and glorious attributes. The former are more numer- 
ous and more emphasized than the latter, not only in 
the Koran but in Tradition and in daily life. If we 
try to classify the names given in the last chapter we 
find the following result: Seven of the names (viz., 
66, 67, 72, 73, 74, 75 and 86) describe Allah's unity 
and Absolute being. Five speak of Him as Creator or 
Originator of all nature (viz., 11, 12, 13, 62 and 63). 
There are twenty-four titles which characterize 
Allah as merciful and gracious (to believers) (viz., 
1, 2, 5, 6, 14, 16, 17, 32, 34, 35, 38, 42, 47, 56, 60, 
78, 79, 81, 82, 89, 92, 94, 98, 99) and we are glad to 
acknowledge that these are indeed beautiful names 
and that they are used often and beautifully in the 
Koran. On the other hand, there are thirty-six 
names to describe Mohammed's idea of Allah's power 
and pride and absolute sovereignty (viz., 3, 7, 8, 9, 
10, 15, 20, 21, 23, 24, 28, 33, 36, 37, 39, 41, 45, 48, 
49, 53, 54, 58, 59, 61, 65, 68, 69, 76, 77, 83, 84, 87, 
88, 95, 96 and 97). And in addition to these "ter- 
rible attributes" there are five which describe Allah 
as hurting and avenging (viz., 22, 25, 80, 90, 91). 
He is a God who abases, leads astray, avenges, with- 
holds His mercies, and works harm. In all these 
doings He is independent and all-powerful. 

Finally, there are four terms used, which may be 
said in a special sense to refer to the moral or forensic 


in deity (viz., 4, 29, 51 and 85) ; although we admit 
that the merciful attributes are in a sense moral at- 
tributes. Of these only two occur in the Koran, and 
both are of doubtful significance in Moslem theology ! 
While we find that the "terrible" attributes of God's 
power occur again and again in the Koran, the net 
total of the moral attributes is found in two verses, 
which mention that Allah is Holy and Truthful, i.e., 
in the Moslem sense of those words. What a contrast 
to the Bible ! The Koran shows and Tradition illus- 
trates that Mohammed had in a measure a correct 
idea of the physical attributes (I use the word in the 
theological sense) of Deity; but he had a false con- 
ception of His moral attributes or no conception at 
all. He saw God's power in nature, but never had a 
glimpse of His holiness and justice. The reason is 
plain. Mohammed had no true idea of the nature of 
sin and its consequences. There is perfect unity in 
this respect between the prophet's book and his life. 
Arnold says (Der Islam, p. 70) : "Das Attribut der 
Heiligkeit wird im Koran durchaus ignorirt; alles 
was iiber die unnahbare Eeinheit und Heiligkeit des- 
sen der in der Bibel als der Dreimal Heilige darge- 
stellt wird, gesagt ist laszt sich von jedem ehrenhaften 
menschen sagen." The attribute of holiness is ig- 
nored in the Koran ; everything put forward concern- 
ing the unapproachable purity and holiness of Him 
who is represented as Thrice Holy in the Bible can 
be applied to any respectable man. The Koran is 


silent on the nature of sin not only, but tells next to 
nothing about its origin, result and remedy. In this 
respect the latest Sacred Book of the East stands in 
marked contrast with all the other sacred books of 
the heathen and the Word of God in the Old and 
New Testaments. This was noticed as early as the 
days of the Reformation; for Melancthon says in 
an introduction to a Latin Koran that he thinks Mo- 
hammed "was inspired by Satan, because he does not 
explain what sin is and sheweth not the reason of 
human misery." 1 

The passages of the Koran that treat of sin are the 
few following: Surahs 4:30; 2:80; 4:46; 14:39; 
also Surahs 2:284-286; 9:116; 69:35; 86:9; 
70:19-25, and 47:2, 3. 

The nearest approach to a definition that can be 
gathered from these passages is that sin is a wilful 
violation of known law or, as Wherry puts it : "Sin, 
according to most Moslem authorities, is a conscious 
act committed against known law; wherefore sins of 
ignorance are not numbered in the catalogue of 
crimes." This idea of sin gives rise to the later Ju- 
daic distinction of sins great and small (Matt. 
22:36, cf. Surah 4:30, etc.) on which are based end- 
less speculations of Moslem commentators. Some 
say there are seven great sins: idolatry, murder, 
false charge of adultery, wasting the substance of 

1 Quoted in Literary Remains of Emanuel Deutsch, London, 
1874, p. 62. 


orphans, usury, desertion from Jihad, and disobedi- 
ence to parents. Others say there are seventeen, still 
others catalogue seven hundred! Without entering 
into the fruitless discussion of what constitutes a 
sin, great or small, it is to be noted that to the Mos- 
lem all sins except the Kebira, "great sins/' are re- 
garded with utter carelessness and no qualm of con- 
science. Lying, deception, anger, lust and such like 
are all smaller and lighter offences ; all these will be 
"forgiven easily" if only men keep clear from great 

Another important distinction between the scrip- 
tural doctrine of sin and Moslem teaching and which 
has direct bearing on our interpretation of Allah's 
attributes is the terms used. The most common word 
used in the Koran for sin is thanib, 1 although other 
terms are used, especially haram (forbidden). 

The words "permitted" and "forbidden" have 
superseded the use of "guilt" and "transgression;" 
the reason for this is found in the Koran itself. 
Nothing is right or wrong by nature, but becomes 
such by the fiat of the Almighty. What Allah forbids 
is sin, even should he forbid what seems to the human 
conscience right and lawful. What Allah allows is 
not sin and cannot be sin at the time he allows it, 
though it may have been before or after. One has 

ir This word is used for Mohammed's sins and those of other 
"prophets," and yet nearly all Moslems hold that all of the 
prophets, including Mohammed, are sinless! 


only to argue the matter of polygamy with any Mos- 
lem mullah to have the above statements confirmed. 
To the common mind there is, indeed, no distinction 
whatever between the ceremonial law and the moral ; 
nor is it easy to find such a distinction even implied 
in the Koran. It is as great an offence to pray with 
unwashen hands as to tell a lie, and "pious" Moslems 
who nightly break the seventh commandment (ac- 
cording to their own lax interpretation of it) will 
shrink from a tin of English meat for fear they be de- 
filed with swine's flesh. As regards the moral code 
Islam is phariseeism translated into Arabic. 

The lack of all distinction between the ceremonial 
and moral law comes out most of all in the traditional 
sayings of the prophet. These sayings, we must re- 
member, have nearly equal authority with the Koran 
itself. Take two examples: "The prophet, upon 
whom be prayers and peace, said, One dirhem of 
usury which a man eats, knowing it to be so, is more 
grievous than thirty-six fornications; and whosoever 
has been so nourished is worthy of hell-fire." "The 
taking of interest has seventy parts of guilt, the least 
of which is as if a man commits incest with his 
mother." "The trousers of a man must be to the 
middle of his leg . . . but whatever is below 
that is in hell-fire." 1 

To understand the great lack of the moral element 

1 Mishkat-el-Misabih in loco, and Osborn's Islam under the 
Khalifs of Bagdad, p. 63. 


in the attributes of Allah we must go still further. 
In the Moslem system and according to the Koran, 
fortified by Tradition, all sin is, after all, a matter of 
minor importance. It is the repetition of the creed 
that counts, and not the reformation of character. 
To repeat the hilimah, "There is no god but Allah 
and Mohammed is Allah's prophet/' ipso facto con- 
stitutes one a true believer. All other considerations 
are of less import. So confidently is this asserted 
by Moslem teachers that they say, even if one should 
repeat the hilimah accidentally or by compulsion, it 
would make him a Moslem. In a fanatic company, 
I was told, it would be decidedly dangerous for a non- 
Moslem to say "the creed" even casually in conversa- 
tion because, so they said, they would "then take the 
JSTasrani by force and circumcise him." Repeat- 
ing the creed is the door into the religion of 

The Koran teaches that the first sinner was Adam 
(Surah 2 :35), and yet the general belief of Moslems 
to-day is that all the prophets, including Adam, were 
without sin. Especially is the latter asserted in re- 
gard to Mohammed, the seal of the prophets ; Koran, 
Tradition, and history to the contrary notwithstand- 
ing. The portion of unrepentant sinners is hell-fire 
(Surahs 18 : 51 ; 19 : 89 and 20 : 76) ; the punishment 
is eternal (43 : 74-78) and there is then no repentance 
possible (26:91-105). All the wealth of Arabic vo- 
cabulary is exhausted in Mohammed's fearful and 


particularized descriptions of the awful torments of 
the doomed. 

And for deeper tints in the horrible picture one has 
only to read the commentators, who also delight in 
describing the situation of the unbelievers. Hell has 
seven divisions, each with special terrors and purpose 
and name. Jahannum is the Moslem's purgatory; 
Laza blazes for Christians ; El Hatumah is hot 
for the Jews ; Saeer for the Sabeans ; Sakar scorches 
the Magi ; El Jahim is the huge, hot fire for idol- 
aters, and Hawiyah the bottomless pit for hypo- 
crites. So say the commentaries, but the Koran 
only gives the names and says that "each portal 
has his party." 

It is remarkable that nearly all the references to 
hell-punishment are in the Medinah Surahs, and 
therefore belong to the latter period of the prophet's 
life. The allusions to hell in the Mecca Surahs are 
very brief and "are in every case directed against 
unbelievers in the prophet's mission and not against 
sin." (Hughes' Dictionary of Islam, p. 171.) 

The conclusion we come to, both from the study of 
the Koran and of Tradition, is that Allah does not ap- 
pear bound by any standard of justice. For example, 
the worship of the creature is heinous to the Moslem 
mind and yet Allah punished Satan for not being 
willing to worship Adam. (Surah 2:28-31.) Allah 
is merciful in winking at the sins of His favorites, 
such as the prophets and those who fight in His bat- 


ties, but is the quick avenger of all infidels and idol- 
aters. He reveals truth to His prophets, but also 
abrogates it, changes the message, or makes them 
forget it. (Surah 2:105.) The whole teaching of 
Moslem exegetes on the subject of Nasikh and Man- 
sookh, or the Abrogated verses of the Koran, is 
utterly opposed to the idea of God's immutability 
and truth. There are twenty cases given in which 
one revelation superseded, contradicted or abrogated 
a previous revelation to Mohammed. 1 Allah's moral 
law changes, like His ceremonial law, according to 
times and circumstances. He is the Clement. Mos- 
lem teachers have in my presence utterly denied that 
Allah is subject to an absolute standard of moral 
rectitude. He can do what He pleases. The Koran 
often asserts this. Not only physically, but morally, 
He is almighty, in the Moslem sense of the word. 
Allah, the Koran says, is the best plotter. Allah 
mocks and deceives. Allah "makes it easy" for those 
who accept the prophet's message. (Surahs 8:29; 
3:53; 27:51; 86:15; 16:4; 14:15; 9:51.) 

Al-Ghazzali says: "Allah's justice is not to be 
compared with the justice of men. For a man may 
be supposed to act unjustly by invading the pos- 
session of another, but no injustice can be conceived 
on the part of God. It is in His power to pour down 
upon men torments, and if He were to do it, His jus- 

1 See Hughes' Diet, of Islam, p. 520. Jalalu-Din in his Itkan 
gives the list of passages. 


tice could not be arraigned. Yet He rewards those 
that worship Him for their obedience on account of 
His promise and beneficence, not of their merit or of 
necessity, since there is nothing which He can be tied 
to perform; nor can any injustice be supposed in 
Him nor can He be under any obligation to any per- 
son whatsoever." 1 According to one tradition, the 
seven chief attributes of Deity are : Life, knowledge, 
purpose, power, hearing, sight and speech. 2 Even 
granted that these are used in a superlative sense 
they would still describe only an Intelligent Giant. 
Muhammed-al-Burkawi in his book on these seven 
chief attributes uses language that leaves no doubt 
of his idea of what the Koran teaches. He says: 
"Allah can annihilate the universe if it seems good 
to Him and recreate it in an instant. He receives 
neither profit nor loss from whatever happens. If 
all the infidels became believers and all the wicked 
pious He would gain nothing. And if all believers 
became infidels it would not cause Him loss. He can 
annihilate even heaven itself. He sees all things, 
even the steps of a black ant on a black rock in a dark 
night!' This last expression shows how the idea of 
God's omniscience remains purely physical, even in 
its highest aspect. How much loftier is the thought 
of God's omniscience in the 139th Psalm than in any 

*A1 Maksad-ul-Asna, quoted in Ockley's Hist, of the Sara- 

2 Hughes ? Diet, of Islam, p. 27. 


verse of the Koran or any passage of the Traditions. 
In the Koran, God's eye is a big microscope by which 
He examines His creatures. In the Bible, His eye is 
a flame of fire laying bare the deepest thoughts and 
intents of the heart. The Koran has no word for 
conscience. It is the same when we go to the Koran, 
or to Tradition, for a description of God's power. 
The wonderful "Verse of the Throne," which is often 
quoted as proof of Mohammed's noble ideas, is an 
instance in point. The verse reads : "God there is no 
god but He, the living, the self-subsistent. Slumber 
takes Him not nor sleep. His is what is in the 
heavens and what is in the earth. Who is it that in- 
tercedes with Him save by His permission? He 
knows what is before them and what behind them, 
and they comprehend not aught of His knowledge 
but of what He pleases. His throne extends over 
the heavens and the earth and it tires Him not to 
guard them both, for He is the high and the grand." 
Zamakhshari, after explaining on this passage why 
Allah does not need physical sleep, tells the following 
Tradition : "The children of Israel asked Moses why 
God did not slumber or sleep or take rest? 1 In re- 
ply to their question God told Moses to remain awake 
for three days and nights and at the end of that time 

Moslems are often offended at the verses in Genesis and in 
Exodus which speak of God "resting" the seventh day and tell 
our Bible colporteurs that such statements are "kufr," i.e., 
infidelity. God never rests, never needs rest. 


to hold two glass bottles in his hands. He did so, 
and, overcome with drowsiness, smashed the one 
against the other. Tell your people, said Allah, that 
I hold in one hand the seven heavens and in the 
other the seven worlds; if my eyes should slum- 
ber, verily the universe would smash as did Moses' 

What must have been Mohammed's idea of the 
character of God when he named Him The Proud, 
The All-compelling, The Slayer, The Deferrer, The 
Indulgent and The Harmful ? 

Nor can the mind reconcile such attributes with 
those of goodness and compassion without doing vio- 
lence to the text of the Koran itself. Some Moslem 
theologians, therefore, teach that all the good at- 
tributes are exercised toward believers and the ter- 
rible ones toward unbelievers, making of Allah a sort 
of two-faced Janus. In the Moslem doctrine of the 
Unity all real unity is absent. The attributes of 
Allah can no more be made to agree than the Surahs 
which he sent down to Mohammed; but in neither 
case does this lack of agreement, according to Mos- 
lems, reflect on Allah's character. 

When God is once called The Holy in the Koran 
(Surah 59), the term does not signify moral purity 
or perfection, as is evident from the exegetes and 
from any Mohammedan Arabic lexicon. 

Beidhawi's comment on the word is : "Holy means 
the complete absence of anything that would make 


Him less than He is." 1 All the commentaries I have 
seen leave out the idea of moral purity and use at the 
most the word tahir as a synonym; this means cere- 
monially clean, circumcised, etc. In the dictionaries, 
too, the idea of holiness, for kuddus, in the Old Tes- 
tament sense, is absent. The Taj-el-Aroos and the 
Muheet-el-Muheet dictionaries tell us huddus is pure 
{tahir) ; but when our hopes were awakened to find 
a spiritual idea, the next definition reads: 
"kaddiis, a vessel used to wash the parts of the body 
in the bath ; this is the special name for such a vessel 
in Hejaz." El Hejaz was Mohammed's native 

It is no better if we study the Koran use of the 
word tahir. That, too, has only reference to outward 
purity of the body. As, for example, in the Koran 
text which states "None shall touch it but the puri- 
fied." This is generally applied to circumcision or 
to lustrations as incumbent on all who handle the 
a holy-boo.k" of Mohammed. 

One who was for many years an English mission- 
ary in Egypt writes : "Some years ago I was anxious 
to see what the Koran teaches with regard to the 
necessity of man's being holy inwardly. I closely 
examined all the verses having any reference to this 
subject and did not find a single passage pointing 

ir The Arabic expression is "Al baligh fi'l nazahei dm ma 
yujib naksdnahu" which means anything or nothing! Again 
a definition by negation. 


out the necessity of man's being holy or becoming 
sanctified in his heart, mind or thoughts. I remem- 
ber finding one passage which seemed likely to point 
somewhat more to inward purity, but when I read 
the commentary showing under what circumstances 
the verse was revealed, I found a long story explain- 
ing that Mohammed having addressed a series of 
questions to certain people in order to find out 
whether they were true believers ultimately declared 
them to be mutahiroon, "purified" (sanctified?) be- 
cause he had ascertained that they performed their 
purifications in the proper manner, with three clean 
stones ! It is a hopeless case to look for the doctrine 
of the holiness of God and the necessity of purity of 
heart in the Koran." The whole idea of moral 
purity and utter separation from sin is unknown to 
the Koran vocabulary. 

One further thought we get by study of the Moslem 
idea of God's attributes; it is the key to what Pal- 
grave calls "the Pantheism of Force." 

The seventy-second, seventy-third, seventy-fourth 
and seventy-fifth names on the list of attributes are 
called "mothers of the attributes," i.e., they are the 
fundamental ideas in the conception of God. "Es- 
sence and Substance, the First and the Last/' This 
is to Moslems — 

"The verse which all the names of Allah holdeth 
As in one sky the silver stars all sit." 

Whether Mohammed himself intended to teach the 


ideas of pantheism or had any idea of the import of 
these terms does not alter the fact that they spell 
pantheism to many of his followers. If pantheism 
is the doctrine of one substance, it is taught here. 
God is the inside and the outside of everything. He 
is the phenomena (Dhahir) and the power behind the 
phenomena (Batin). It is this verse that is the de- 
light of the Sufis and the mystics. On this revela- 
tion of God they built their philosophy after the 
Vedanta school of the Hindus. How far this teach- 
ing was carried is best seen in the celebrated Masnavi 
of Jalal-u-din-ar-Rumi, translated into English by 
E. H. Whinfield. 1 He puts these words as emanating 
from Deity: — 

"I am the Gospel, the Psalter, the Koran; 

I am Uzza and Lat — Bel and the Dragon. 

Into three and seventy sects is the world divided, 

Yet only One God; the faithful who believed in Him am I. 

Lies and truth, good, bad, hard and soft 

Knowledge, solitude, virtue, faith, 

The deepest ground of hell, the highest torment of the flames, 

The highest paradise, 

The earth and what is therein, 

The angels and the devils, Spirit and man, Am I. 

What is the goal of speech, O tell it, Shems Tabrizi? 

The goal of sense? This— The World Soul Am I." 

Not only are there thousands of Moslems who are 

^^Masnavi-i-Mdnavi, the Spiritual Couplets of Jalalu-din Moh. 
Rumi, translated by E. H. Whinfield, M.A., London, 1898, 
Trubner & Co. 


pantheists of the Sufi-school, but there is not a Mos- 
lem sect which does not go to extremes in its errone- 
ous conception and misconstruction of the doctrine 
of God. The Wahabis are accused, and not without 
reason, of being gross anthropomorphists. As a revolt 
from the rationalism of the Mutazilite school many, in 
the days of the Abbasids, held anthropomorphic views 
of Deity and materialistic ideas in regard to the soul. 
"The soul, for example, was conceived of by them as 
corporeal or as an accident of the body and the Divine 
Essence was imagined as a human body. The re- 
ligious teaching and art of the Moslems were greatly 
averse to the symbolical God-Father of the Chris- 
tians, but there was an abundance of absurd specula- 
tions about the form of Allah. Some went so far as 
to ascribe to Him all the bodily members together, 
with the exception of the beard and other privileges 
of Oriental manhood." 1 

The Salabiyah hold that "God is indifferent to the 
actions of men, just as though He were in a state of 
sleep." The Muztariyah hold that good and evil are 
both directly from God and that man is entirely ir- 
responsible. The Nazamiah hold that it is lawful to 
speak of the Almighty as "The Thing." 

Some schools hold that the attributes are eternal 
and others deny it to save their idea of pure and ab- 
solute monism in Deity. For, they argue, if any of 

x The History of Philosophy in Islam, by Dr. T. J. de Boer, 
London, 1903, p. 44. 


the attributes are eternal, or all of them, there is 
more than one Eternal; and two Eternals is infi- 
delity ! 

One sect, the Mutarabisiyah, chose an impossible, 
although golden, mean by teaching that Allah with 
all His attributes, save three, is eternal; but His 
power, knowledge and purpose were created. What 
Allah could have been before He had power, knowl- 
edge or purpose they do not say. 

In only one passage of the Koran, Allah is de- 
scribed as seemingly dependent on or indebted to 
something outside of Himself; the verse represents 
Allah as the Light of the World, but the commen- 
taries cast no light on its peculiar and evidently mys- 
tical teaching; "God is the light of the heavens and 
the earth ; His light is as a niche in which is a lamp, 
and the lamp is in a glass, the glass is as though it were 
a glittering star ; it is lit from a blessed tree, an olive, 
neither of the east nor of the west, the oil of which 
would well-nigh give light though no fire touched it. 
Light upon Light/' (Surah 24:35.) 

Is this one of the many distorted reflections of 
ideas which Mohammed borrowed from the Jews and 
does he refer to the Golden Candlestick? 


"We may well believe that heathen religions so 
far from having arisen, as some have vainly im- 
agined, out of the soil of lofty aspiration after a 
God unknown, are devices more or less elaborate 
for shutting out the thought of God as He is from 
the minds and hearts of men. The Gospel meets its 
greatest triumphs not among those who have the 
most finished, but among those who have the crud- 
est systems of religion. Elaborateness, complete- 
ness, finish, here seem to be elaborateness, com- 
pleteness, finish of escape from the consciousness 
of God." — Rev. E. N. Harris (of Burma). 

"Whoever desires an introduction to Allah — 
Islam's absentee landlord, who, jealous of man, 
wound the clock of the universe and went away 
forever — is referred to Palgrave." — Frederick 
Perry Noble, 

MOHAMMED'S doctrine of the Unity of God 
is at the same time his doctrine of Provi- 
dence and his philosophy of life. The existence and 
character of God, not only, but His relation past, 
present, and future to the universe are latent in the 
words La ilaha ilia Allah, There is no god but God. 


It was not a theologian nor a philosopher who first 
called attention to this fundamental idea in Islam 
as the key to a proper understanding of the Moslem 
mind, but the Arabian traveller, William Gifford Pal- 
grave, who knew Islam not from books as much as 
from long and close contact with the Arabs them- 
selves. Whatever may be the opinion concerning 
Palgrave's accuracy as a geographer, there is no 
doubt that he was a capital observer of the people, 
their manners and religion. It is, therefore, without 
apology for the length of the quotation that we give 
here Palgrave's famous characterization of Allah. 1 

"There is no god but God — are words simply 
tantamount in English to the negation of any deity 
save one alone; and thus much they certainly mean 
in Arabic, but they imply much more also. Their 
full sense is not only to deny absolutely and unre- 
servedly all plurality whether of nature or of person 
in the Supreme Being, not only to establish the unity 
of the Unbegetting and the Unbegot, in all its simple 
and uncommunicable Oneness, but besides this the 
words in Arabic and among Arabs imply that this 
one Supreme Being is also the only Agent, the only 
Force, the only Act existing throughout the universe 
and leaves us to all beings else, matter or spirit, in- 
stinct or intelligence, physical or moral, nothing but 
pure unconditional passiveness, alike in movement 

Narrative of a Year's Journey through Central and Eastern 
Arabia, 1862-63, by W. S. Palgrave, Vol. I., pp. 365-367. 


or in quiescence, in action or in capacity. The sole 
power, the sole motor, movement, energy and deed is 
God; the rest is downright inertia and mere instru- 
mentality, from the highest archangel down to the 
simplest atom of creation. Hence in this one sen- 
tence, 'La ilaha ilia Allah/ is summed up a system 
which, for want of a better name, I may be permitted 
to call the Pantheism of Force, or of Act, thus exclu- 
sively assigned to God, who absorbs it all, exercises 
it all, and to Whom alone it can be ascribed, whether 
for preserving or for destroying, for relative evil or 
for equally relative good. I say relative because it 
is clear that in such a theology no place is left for 
absolute good or evil, reason or extravagance; all is 
abridged in the autocratical will of the one great 
Agent : 'sic volo, sic jubeo, stet pro ratione voluntas / 
or more significantly still, in Arabic, 'Kama yesha/ 
'as He wills it/ to quote the constantly recurring ex- 
pression of the Koran. 

"Thus immeasurably and eternally exalted above, 
and dissimilar from, all creatures which lie levelled 
before Him on one common plane of instrumentality 
and inertness, God is One in the totality of omnipo- 
tent and omnipresent action, which acknowledges no 
rule, standard or limit, save His own sole and abso- 
lute will. He communicates nothing to His 
creatures; for their seeming power and act ever re- 
main 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. 1 And secondly, 
no superiority, no distinction, no preeminence can 
be lawfully claimed by one creature over another in 
the utter equalization of their unexceptional servi- 
tude 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 in- 
dividual fitness, deserts or advantage and simply be- 
cause He will it and as He wills it. 

"One might at first sight think that this tre- 
mendous Autocrat, this uncontrolled and unsympa- 
thizing Power would be far above anything like pas- 
sions, 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 them- 
selves something of what is His alone, and thus en- 
croach on His all-engrossing kingdom. Hence He is 
ever more ready to punish than to reward, to inflict 
pain than to bestow pleasure, to ruin than to build. 
It is His singular satisfaction to make created beings 
continually feel that they are nothing else than His 

^ote the distinction between this and the New Testament 
phrase: "Of Elm, and through Him and to Him are all things" 
The fact that a Moslem never thanks the giver, but only God, 
for alms or kindness is a capital illustration of what Palgrave 
asserts. There is much thanksgiving to God, but no gratitude 
to man, in Moslem lands. 


slaves, His tools, and contemptible tools also, that 
thus they may the better acknowledge His superior- 
ity, 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 
His own. But He Himself, sterile in His inaccessi- 
ble height, neither loving nor enjoying aught save 
His own and self -measured decree, without son, com- 
panion or counsellor, is no less barren for 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 hey of the whole tune, and the primal 
idea of God runs through and modifies the whole 
system and creed that centres in Him. 

"That the notion here given of the Deity, mon- 
strous and blasphemous as it may appear, is exactly 
and literally that which the Koran conveys or intends 
to convey, I at present take for granted. But that it 
indeed is so, no one who has attentively perused and 
thought over the Arabic text (for mere cursory read- 
ing, especially in a translation, will not suffice) can 
hesitate to allow. In fact, every phrase of the pre- 
ceding sentences, every touch in this odious portrait 
has been taken to the best of my ability, word for 
word, or at least meaning for meaning, from 'the 
Book/ the truest mirror of the mind and scope of its 
writer. And that such was in reality Mahomet's 


mind and idea is fully confirmed by the witness- 
tongue of contemporary tradition. Of this we have 
many authentic samples: the Saheeh, the commen- 
taries of Beidhawi, the Mishkat-el-Misabih and fifty 
similar works afford ample testimony on this point." 
The only.criticism which the student of Islam can 
offer on this masterpiece of word-painting on the 
Moslem idea of God is that it applies more particu- 
larly to the Wahabi sect than to other sects of Islam. 
But this criticism only adds force to Palgrave's argu- 
ment, for the Wahabi revival was nothing else than 
an attempt to return to primitive Islam and to go 
back to Mohammed's own teaching. After living 
in Arabia for over thirteen years, I have no hesitation 
in saying that, to my mind, the Wahabi sect is more 
orthodox (i.e.,, closer to the Koran and earliest tra- 
dition) than any other sect of Islam both in their 
creed and their practice. 1 What Palgrave states re- 
garding Allah's relation to His creatures can be best 
proved and illustrated by treating first the Moslem 
doctrine of Creation and then that of Providence. 
We will find in this study that orthodox Islam is at 
once deistic and pantheistic. Theologians and philos- 
ophers have pantheistic views of Allah, making Him 
the sole force in the universe; but the popular 
thought of Him (owing to the iron-weight of the doc- 
trine of fatalism) is deistic. God stands aloof from 

*See a paper on the Wahabis in the Journal of the Victoria 
Institute, Vol. XXXIII., pp. 311-333. London, 1901. 


creation; only His power is felt; men are like the 
pieces on a chess-board and He is the only player. 

Creation itself was not intended so much for the 
manifestation of God's glory or the outburst of His 
love, as for a sample of His power. The following 
are the Koran texts that speak of creation (Surah 
50:37): "Of old we created the heavens and the 
earth and all that is between them in six days, and 
no weariness touched us." (Surah 41:8.) "Do ye 
indeed disbelieve in Him who in two days created 
the earth ? Do ye assign Him equals ? The Lord of 
the world is He. And He hath placed on the earth 
the firm mountains which tower above it, and He 
hath blessed it and distributed its nourishments 
throughout it (for the cravings of all alike) in four 
days. Then He applied Himself [went] to the 
heaven which was but smoke; and to it and to the 
earth He said, 'Come ye in obedience or against your 
will V And they both said, 'We come obedient.' And 
He completed them as seven heavens in two days and 
in each heaven made known its office; and He fur- 
nished the lower heavens with lights and guardian 
angels. This is the disposition of the Almighty, the 
all-knowing One." Again in Surah 16:3: "He cre- 
ated the heavens and the earth to set forth His truth. 
High let Him be exalted above the gods they join 
with Him. Man hath He created out of a moist 
germ, etc." Surah 13 :2 : "It is God who hath reamd 
the heavens without pillars, thou canst behold; then 


seated Himself upon His throne and ('compelled to 
service') imposed laws on the sun and moon; each 
travelleth to its appointed goal. He ordereth all 
things." Surah 35:12: "God created you out of 
dust, then of the germs of life, then made you two 

The first thing that strikes one is the evident con- 
tradiction in these texts regarding the number of the 
days of creation. (Of. Surahs 50:37 and 41:8.) 
But such disagreement of statement is common in the 
Koran. Beidhawi's commentary tries hard to recon- 
cile the discrepancy, but finally gives it up. On 
/Surah 41st he remarks: "Allah did not command 
the heavens and the earth to come in order to prove 
their obedience, but only to manifest His power." 
He explains the huo days of creation thus : "He cre- 
ated the heavens on Thursday and the sun, moon and 
stars on Friday." According to the table-talk of the 
prophet (Mishkat-el-Misabih 24:1, part 3) God 
created the earth on Saturday, the hills on Sunday, 
the trees on Monday, all unpleasant things on 
Tuesday, the light on Wednesday, the beasts on 
Thursday, and Adam, who was the last creation, 
was created after the time of afternoon prayers on 

In this orthodox tradition, Mohammed's idea that 
Allah is the author of evil crops out. This idea oc- 
curs also in Surah 113 :2 : "I seek refuge in the Lord 
of the daybreak from the evil he did make." Zamakh- 


shari comments thus : "The evil of His creation and 
of His creatures, both those who are responsible and 
those who are not responsible/' etc. The common 
Moslem idea, undoubtedly taken from the Koran and 
Tradition, is that Allah created hell and created 
Satan such as they are. He is the creator of evil 
Jinn as well as of the good Jinn; and He made them 
evil in the same sense as He made the scorpion poi- 
sonous and arsenic deadly. Why did Allah create 
hell? To fill it with infidels. In describing crea- 
tion Moslem theologians take pains to establish the 
fact that the universe is not infinite; God alone is 
that and to believe two infinites possible, is shirk, 
polytheism. A Persian Mullah, in recent years, 
offered to give an English traveller logical proof of 
the fact as follows : "Let us suppose that the Universe 
is infinite. Then from the centre of the earth draw 
two straight lines diverging at an angle of 60° and 
produce them to infinity. Join the terminal points 
by another straight line to form the base of a triangle. 
Since one of the angles is 60° and the two sides are 
equal, the remaining angles are 60° each and the tri- 
angle is equilateral. Therefore, since the sides are 
infinite, the base is also of infinite length. But the 
base is a straight line joining two points (viz., the 
terminal points of the sides), that is to say, it is lim- 
ited in both directions. Therefore, it is not infinite, 
neither are the sides infinite, and a straight line can- 
not be drawn to infinity. Theref ore, the Universe is 


finite." 1 Such argument needs no comment; but it 
is a sample of Mohammedan logic. 

El Buchari gives the following tradition of the 
prophet regarding the order of creation: 2 "The first 
thing which God created was a pen, and He said to 
it, Write. It said, What shall I write? And God 
said, Write down the quantity of every individual 
thing to be created. And it wrote all that was and 
that will be to eternity." In Surah 13:2, seq. 
(quoted above), there occurs an expression which has 
given rise to much discussion among Moslems : "It is 
God who hath reared the heavens without pillars, 
then seated Himself upon His throne." The word 
used for seated (istawa) 8 has given rise to endless 
disputations. Even the last Mohammedan reform, 
under Mohammed bin Abd-ul-Wahab, made this 
word the shibboleth of their theology. Most com- 
mentaries interpret the word deistically, "Then He 
made for the throne," i.e., left the world entirely and 
absolutely. Zamakhshari escapes the dilemma by 
silence and Beidhawi says, "He betook Himself to 
the throne, i.e., to preserve and to direct." Husaini, 
the commentator, remarks on Surah 9:131: "The 
throne of God has 8,000 pillars and the distance be- 

*E. G. Browne's A Tear among the Persians, p. 144. 

^Hughes' Diet, of Islam, p. 472. 

3 From the root sawa, to intend, to be equal; VIII. conju- 
gation istawa, to be equal, to ascend, intend, to sit firm and 
square upon. See Penrice's Dictionary of the Koran. 


tween each pillar is 3,000,000 miles." Others make 
the throne more spiritual, but all are agreed that 
Allah is now on the throne and that He rules the 
world by means of angels and jinn and men, all sub- 
ject to His will and decrees. One Moslem author 
settled the matter of Allah's sitting in the famous 
dogmatic phrase, often quoted, "That He sits is cer- 
tain ; how He sits only He knows ; and why He sits 
it is infidelity to ask." 

Why He sits it is infidelity to ask — that is the or- 
thodox Moslem reply to the questions that arise in 
the human heart concerning the Divine government 
of the world and the problem of evil. When the 
Mu'tazilite sect (the only school of Moslem thought 
that ever dared to give human reason a place of 
authority) in Bagdad attempted to answer questions 
they were gagged by the orthodox party. Renan 

"Science and philosophy flourished on Musalman soil dur- 
ing the first half of the middle ages; but it was not by reason 
of Islam, it was in spite of Islam. Not a Musalman philoso- 
pher or scholar escaped persecution. During the period just 
specified persecution is less powerful than the instinct of free 
enquiry, and the rationalistic tradition is kept alive; then in- 
tolerance and fanaticism win the day. It is true that the 
Christian Church also cast great difficulties in the way of sci- 
ence in the middle ages; but she did not strangle it outright, 
as did the Musalman theology. To give Islam the credit of 
Averroes and of so many other illustrious thinkers, who passed 
half their life in prison, in forced hiding, in disgrace, whose 
books were burned and whose writings almost suppressed by 


theological authority, is as if one were to ascribe to the In- 
quisition the discoveries of Galileo, and a whole scientific devel- 
opment which it was not able to prevent/' 1 

The relation of Allah to the world is such that all 
free-will not only but all freedom in the exercise of 
the intellect is preposterous. God is so great and the 
character of His greatness is so pantheistically abso- 
lute that there is no room for the human. All good 
and all evil come directly from Allah. In twenty 
passages of the Koran, Allah is said "to lead men 
astray." (See Sir William Muir's Selections from 
the Goran, p. 52.) Still worse, God is said to have 
created a multitude of spirits and of men expressly 
for torture in such a hell as only the Koran and Tra- 
dition can paint. (Surahs 16:180 and 32:13.) 
"The word must be fulfilled. Verily, I will most 
surely fill up hell with jinns and men together." 
Even for the true believer there is no sure hope. One 
celebrated verse in the Koran (Surah Miriam, vs. 72) 
says that every one of the believers must enter hell, 
too! Hope perishes under the weight of this iron- 
bondage and pessimism becomes the popular philos- 
ophy. Islam saw only one side of a many-sided 
truth. As Clarke puts it, "Islam saw God, but not 
man ; saw the claims of Deity, but not the rights of 
humanity ; saw authority, but failed to see freedom — 
therefore, hardened into despotism, stiffened into 

*In Report of Asiatic Society of Paris. 


formalism, and sank into death." 1 Elsewhere the 
same author calls Mohammedanism "the worst form 
of monotheism in that it makes of God pure will — 
will divorced from reason and love." Islam, instead 
of being a progressive and completed idea, goes to a 
lower level than the religions it claims to supplant. 
"Mohammed teaches a God above us ; Moses teaches 
a God above us and yet with us; Jesus Christ teaches 
God above us, God with us and God in us." God 
above us, not as an Oriental despot, but as a Heav- 
enly Father. God with us, Emmanuel, in the mys- 
tery of His Incarnation, which is the stumbling 
block to the Moslem. God in us through His Spirit 
renewing the heart and controlling the will into a 
true Islam, or obedient subjection by a living faith. 

Mames Freeman Clarke's Ten Great Religions, Vol. II., p. 68. 
Although he is a Unitarian, he has no praise for Mohammedan 



"They say the Merciful has taken to Himself a 
son — ye have brought a monstrous thing! The 
heavens well-nigh burst asunder thereat, and the 
earth is riven and the mountains fall down 
broken, that they attribute to the Merciful a 
son! But it becomes not the Merciful to take to 
Himself a son." — Surah Miriam, vs. 91-93. 

"Praise belongs to God who has not taken to 
Himself a son and has not had a partner in His 
kingdom, nor had a patron against such abase- 
ment." — The Night Journey, vs. 112. 

THE Moslem idea of God consists not only in 
what is asserted of Deity, but also, and more 
emphatically, in what is denied. James Freeman 
Clarke, in his study of the Ten Great Religions, calls 
attention to this fact in regard to all false faiths in 
these pregnant words: "Of all the systems of belief 
which have had a widespread hold on mankind this 
may be posited, that they are commonly true in what 
they affirm, false in what they deny. The error in 
every theory is usually found in its denials, that is, 


its limitations. What it sees is substantial and real ; 
what it does not see is a mark only of its limited 
vision." 1 

The Mohammedan controversy with Christians 
has ever had two great centres; and although the 
form of the ellipse has changed since the days of Ray- 
mund Lull, or even since the time of Henry Martyn, 
the foci remain the same. The integrity of Scrip- 
ture and the reasonableness of the doctrine of the 
Trinity are the two points in Christianity against 
which Islam emphatically testifies. At the same 
time these two ideas are fundamental in the Chris- 
tian system. The doctrine of the Trinity is not only 
fundamental but essential to the very existence of 
Christianity. Dr. Baur of the Tubingen school ac- 
knowledges this when he says that "in the battle be- 
tween Arius and Athanasius the existence of Chris- 
tianity w r as at stake." In some form the doctrine of 
the Trinity has always been confessed by the Church 
and all who opposed it were thrown off from its fel- 
lowship. "When this doctrine was abandoned, other 
articles of faith, such as the atonement, regeneration, 
etc., have almost always followed, by logical neces- 
sity, as when one draws the wire from a necklace of 
gems, the gems all fall asunder." (Henry B. Smith.) 
The doctrine of the Trinity, in its widest sense, in- 
cludes that of the Incarnation and of the Holy Spirit. 
In studying what the Koran teaches on this subject, 
x Ten Great Religions, Vol. II., p. 62. 


therefore, we must examine not only what it tells 
of the Trinity, but also those passages that speak 
of the nature of Jesus Christ and of the Holy 

The following order will be observed in our study : 
(a) the Koran passages that speak directly of the 
Trinity; (6) those that refer to the subject in- 
directly; (c) the Christology of the Koran as it bears 
on this doctrine; (d) the passages that speak of the 
Holy Spirit. 

(a) The direct references to the Trinity are not 
many in the Koran and all occur in two Surahs, 
composed by Mohammed toward the close of his 
career at Medina. Surah 4:167-170 reads: "O ye 
people of the Book do not exceed in your religion nor 
say against God aught save the truth. The Messiah, 
Jesus, the son of Mary, is but the apostle of God and 
His Word which He cast into Mary and a spirit from 
Him ; believe, then, in God and His apostles, and say 
not, Three. Have done! It were better for you. 
God is only one God, celebrated be His praise from 
that He should beget a son!" Again Surah 5:77: 
"They misbelieve who say, Verily, God is the third 
of three ; for there is no God but one, and if they do 
not desist from what they say there shall touch those 
who misbelieve among them grievous woe. Will 
they not turn again towards God and ask pardon of 
Him ? for God is forgiving and merciful." The third 
passage, and that most often used as a proof -text by 


Moslems against Christians, is in the same Surah 
(5:116): a And when God said, O Jesus, son of 
Mary ! Is it thou who didst say to men, take me and 
my mother for two gods beside God? He said, 
I celebrate Thy praise, what ails me that I should 
say what I have no right to? If I had said 
it Thou wouldst have known it; Thou knowest 
what is in my soul, but I know not what is in 
Thy soul; verily, Thou art one who knoweth the 

These passages leave no doubt that Mohammed 
denied the doctrine of the Trinity and that he con- 
ceived it to be, or affirmed it to be, sl species of 
tritheism, consisting of God, Mary and Jesus Christ. 
[Whether Mohammed had a correct idea of the Trin- 
ity and deliberately put forth this travesty of the 
Christian idea, we will consider later.] The commen- 
taries interpret the Koran as follows : Zamakhshari on 
4:169 remarks, "The story received among Chris- 
tians is that God is one in essence and three persons, 
(akanim) the person of the Father, the person of the 
Son and the person of the Holy Spirit. And they 
verily mean by the person of the Father, the Being, 
and by the person of the Son, knowledge, and by the 
person of the Holy Spirit, life. And this supposes 
that God is the third of three, or, if not, that there 
are three gods. And that which the Koran here re- 
fers to is the clear statement of theirs, that God and 
Christ and Mary are three gods and that the Christ 


is a child (walad) of God from Mary." For proof 
he then quotes Surah 5:116, and adds: "And it is 
universally known concerning Christians that they 
hold the deity and humanity of Christ as regards his 
father and mother." From this it is evident that 
Zamakhshari had a more correct idea of the doctrine 
of the Trinity than did Mohammed and that after 
offering a modal trinity as the creed of Christians 
he covers up the Koran mistake by asserting, with- 
out proof, that the trinity was a triad of Father, Son 
and Mother. (Vol. I. of the Kishaf, p. 241.) 
Beidhawi (on 4:169) remarks: "Jesus is called the 
Spirit of God because He makes the dead to live or 
quickens hearts." On the following verse he is doubt- 
ful; "Either God is the third of three gods or is a 
triad of Father, Son and Holy Spirit." (Vol. I., 
p. 319.) He, too, avoids a real explanation of the 
gross misstatement in the Koran that Mary is one 
of the persons of the Trinity. The Jilalain (Vol. I., 
p. 278) prove that Jesus cannot be God, "because 
He has a spirit and everything possessed of a spirit 
is compounded (murakkib), and God is absolutely 
without compounding, arrangement (tarkib), i.e., 
simple." He says the Trinity consists of "Allah and 
Jesus and His mother." 

It is interesting to note here that the earliest of 
these three exegetes is most correct in his ideas and 
the latest one entirely ignores the apparently well- 
known facts as given by Zamakhshari and admitted 


by Beidhawi. The dates of their commentaries were : 
Zamakhshari, 604 A.H. ; Beidhawi, 685 A.H., and 
Jilalain, 864-911 A.H. On the other passages of the 
Koran quoted above these commentaries offer no new 
explanations or ideas. 

(&) Let us turn to other Koran texts that have a 
bearing on this false trinity, or the tritheism of which 
Christians are accused. By shirk the Koran and 
Moslems mean ascribing companions or plurality to 
Deity ; and according to the Wahabi writers, it is of 
four kinds: 1. Shirk-ul-Ilm is to ascribe knowledge 
to others than God. Jesus knows no secret thing 
and does not share in what God knows. 2. Shirk-ut- 
Tassaruf is to ascribe power-to-act-independently, to 
any one else than to God. All are His slaves. 'No 
one can intercede except by God's permission. 1 To 
say that Christ intercedes by His own power or merit 
is shirk, polytheism. 3. Shirk-ul-Abada is to ascribe 
a partner to God who can be worshipped, or worship- 
ping the created instead of the Creator, as Christians 
are said to do when they worship Christ or adore 
Mary. 4. Shirk-uV Adat is to perform ceremonies 
or follow superstitions which indicate reliance or 
trust on anything or any one save God. There is no 
doubt that this fourfold classification by the Wahabi 
sect has its ground in the Koran, and it is on these 
four items that Christians are called mushrikun, or 
polytheists, by Moslems to-day, although that word is 

Surahs 2:256; 19:90; 20:108; 34:22; 39:45; 78:38. 


specially used for the Meccan idolaters in the Koran. 1 
Logically the use of this term for Christians is per- 
fectly natural and correct from a Moslem point of 
view, for we certainly hold that the Son of God is 
omniscient, independent of the creature, has power 
as an intercessor and is worthy of worship. Practi- 
cally, therefore, all the passages in the Koran that 
speak against idolatry and assert God's unity are 
used by Moslems as testimony against the doctrine of 
the Trinity. These texts have already been con- 
sidered in Chapter II. and are too numerous to 

(c) The Christology of the Koran includes the 
apocryphal account of Jesus' birth and life among 
men, His translation into heaven and the ideas re- 
garding His second advent ; but what more especially 
concerns us is to know what Islam teaches regarding 
the person of Christ. For a full and generally fair 
treatment of this subject the reader is referred to 
Gerock's Christologie des Koran ; 2 much of what the 
Koran teaches concerning Christ is not germane to 
our topic, although of curious interest. 

Regarding the birth of Jesus Christ, the Koran 

*A1 Bagawi says (on 98:1) that the term Ahl-ul-Kitab, 
people of the book, is always used for the Jews and Christians 
and Hushrikun for those who worship idols. Cf. Hughes' 
Diet, of Islam, pp. 579, 580. 

2 Versuch einer Darstellung der Christologie des Koran, von 
C. F. Gerock, Professor der Geschichte am Gymnasium zu 
Buchsweiler im Elfasz. Hamburg, 1839. 


and Tradition agree that it was miraculous, but they 
equally deny an incarnation of Deity in the Chris- 
tian sense. Surah 3:37-43: "And when the angels 
said, O Mary, verily God has chosen thee and has 
purified thee and has chosen thee above the women 
of the world. O Mary ! be devout unto thy Lord and 
adore and bow down with those who bow. . . O 

Mary, verily God gives thee the glad tidings of a 
Word from Him his name shall be Messiah Jesus, 
the son of Mary, regarded in this world and the next, 
and of those whose place is nigh to God. And He 
shall speak to people in his cradle and when grown 
up, and shall be among the righteous. She said, Lord, 
how can I have a son when man has not yet touched 
me ? He said, Thus God creates what He pleaseth. 
When He decrees a matter He only says, Be and it 
is. . . ." Surah 19 : 16-21 : "And mention in the 
book, Mary; when she retired from her family into 
an eastern place ; and she took a veil to screen herself 
from them; and we sent unto her our spirit, and he 
took for her the semblance of a well-made man. Said 
she, Verily, I take refuge in the Merciful One from 
thee, if thou art pious. Said he, I am only a mes- 
senger of thy Lord to bestow on thee a pure 
boy." . . . Zamakhshari comments on this 
verse in the usual coarse, materialistic way by saying 
that the virgin conceived "when the angel Gabriel 
blew up her garment." (Vol. II., p. 4.) It is im- 
possible to translate the gross and utterly sensual 


ideas of Moslem commentators on the miraculous 
birth of Jesus Christ. The above verses from the 
Koran, however, will indicate to the thoughtful 
reader how far off even Mohammed was from a spir- 
itual conception of God's power as creator, though he 
believed Christ to be merely human. The Moslem 
mind to-day is too carnal to understand what the 
Christian Church means by its doctrine of the In- 
carnation. Husain, the commentator, e.g., says: 
"When she went eastward, i.e., out of her house in an 
eastward direction to perform her ablutions, Gabriel 
appeared to her." And Zamakhshari suggests that 
this accounts for the eastward position in prayer on 
the part of Christians! 

The Koran denies the Divinity and the eternal 
Sonship of Christ. He is a creature like Adam. 
God could destroy Jesus and His mother without 
loss to Himself. Surah 19:35, 36: "God could not 
take to Himself any son. . . . When He de- 
crees a matter He only says to it 'Be/ and it is." 
Surah 3 :51 : "Verily, the likeness of Jesus with God 
is as the likeness of Adam. He created him from 
the earth, then He said to him Be, and he was." 
Surah 9 :30 : "The Jews say Ezra is the son of God ; x 
and the Christians say that the Messiah is the son of 
God; that is what they say with their mouths imi- 

ir rhere is no Jewish tradition whatever in support of this 
accusation of Mohammed and it was probably a malicious in- 
vention. Cf. Palmer's note and the Commentaries. 


tating the sayings of those who misbelieved before. 
God fight them ! How they lie." Surah 5 :19 : "In- 
fidels are they who say, Verily, God is the Messiah, 
the son of Mary. Say, who has any hold on God 
if He wished to destroy the Messiah, the son of Mary, 
and his mother and those who are on the earth to- 
gether ?" 

Although the Koran and Tradition give Jesus 
Christ a high place among the prophets, and affirm 
His sinlessness 1 and power to work miracles, 2 all this 
does not distinguish His person in any way as to its 
nature from other prophets who came before Him. 
The pre-existence of the Word of God is denied. 
While Tradition is full of stories about the Nur-Mo- 
hammed or "Light of Mohammed which was created 
before all things made by God." Specially is it to 
be noted that the Koran denies the atonement and 
the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. (Surahs 3:47-50; 
4: 155, 156.) Wakidi relates that Mohammed had 
such repugnance to the sign of the cross that he de- 
stroyed everything brought to his house with that 
figure upon it. Even in Moslem Tradition regarding 
the second coming of Jesus this hatred of the cross 
comes out. Abu Huraira relates that the prophet 

1 See MishJcat-ul-Misabih, Book XXIII., ch. xii. In the same 
book the sinlessness of Mary, as well as of Jesus, is asserted 
(Bk. I., ch. iii., pt. 1). Hughes' Diet, of Islam, p. 205. 

2 Surahs 3 : 43-46; 5 : 112-115. Cf. Beidhawi's Commentary 
on the latter passage. 


said : "I swear by God it is near when Jesus, son of 
Mary, will descend from heaven upon your people 
a just king, and he will break the crucifix and will 
kill the swine and will remove the poll-tax from the 
unenfranchised." (Mishkat 23:6.) The hatred 
toward the sign of the cross as emblem of the atone- 
ment is widespread among Moslems; Doughty, the 
Arabian traveller, tells how in the heart of Nejd, 
away from all Christian influences or offences, the 
children draw a cross on the desert sand and defile 
it to show that they are true Moslems. 1 On the other 
hand, the sign of the cross is used in amulets and 
on property because of its sinister power ; the frontis- 
piece gives an illustration of such use. All Mos- 
lems are agreed that Jesus is now alive and in 
heaven, but they disagree as to the degree of his ex- 
altation. According to Tradition, Mohammed said 
that "he saw Jesus and John in the second heaven 
on the night of his Mi' raj, or celestial journey." 2 In 
the commentary known as Jamia-l-Bayyan it is said 
that Christ is in the third region of bliss ; while some 
say He is in the fourth heaven. 3 In the tradition of 
this Mi raj, Mohammed ascends to the seventh 
heaven, where he finds Abraham; Moses is in the 
sixth. These statements indicate that Christ occu- 
pies no supreme place in heaven according to the 

^Arabia Deserta, Vol. I., p. 156. 

2 Mishkat-ul-Misabih, Book XXIV., ch. vii. 

z Dict. of Islam, articles on the Mi'raj and on Jesus Christ. 


Prophet. In considering the character and content 
of Moslem monotheism, a Christian can never forget 
that Jesus Christ has no place in the Moslem idea 
of God, and that the portrait of our Saviour as 
given in the Koran and in Tradition is a sad cari- 

(d) The third person of the Trinity, the Holy 
Spirit, is mentioned by that name three times in the 
Koran. Surah 16:104 speaks of Him as the inspir- 
ing agent of the Koran: "Say the Holy Spirit 
brought it down from thy Lord in truth ;" and twice 
in the 2d Surah, vs. 81 and 254, we read: "We 
strengthened him (i.e., Jesus) with the Holy 
Spirit." But all Moslem commentators are agreed 
that the Holy Spirit in these passages means the 
angel Gabriel. Why Mohammed confounded Gabriel 
with the Holy Spirit is far from clear. The only 
distinct assertion that Gabriel was the channel of 
Mohammed's revelation occurs in a Medina Surah 
(2:91), and Gabriel is mentioned only once besides 
(66:4). Was this a misapprehension or a misrepre- 
sentation on the part of the Koran and the com- 
mentators ? We have already seen that the commen- 
tators at least were not in ignorance of the fact that 
the Holy Spirit is the third person of the Trinity 
among Christians. Was Mohammed ignorant of the 
true doctrine of the Trinity as held by Christians? 
The common idea is that he was ; and this idea finds 
its support in the old story of the Collyridian sect in 


Arabia. 1 The assertion is that Mohammed got his 
idea of the Trinity from this heretical sect, "who in- 
vested the Virgin Mary with the name and honours 
of a goddess/' and offered to her cylindrical cakes 
{noWvpides), hence their name. Let us see what 
basis there is for this view. The only authority we 
have to prove even the existence of this female sect 
is the history of heresies by Epiphanius ; 2 what others 
tell is quoted from his chapter. Gerock says: 
"Epiphanius does not relate anything definite con- 
cerning the sect, and the long chapter devoted to this 
heresy contains next to nothing save controversy, in 
which the author seems to delight. Even had such a 
sect existed at the time of Epiphanius in Arabia, it 
is far from probable that, consisting only of women, 
it would have continued for three centuries until the 
time of Mohammed and become so extended and 
strong that Mohammed could mistake it for the 
Christian religion." 3 Mohammed came in contact 

Gibbon, Vol. III., p. 488. Hottinger, Hist. Orient, p. 225, 
and copied in most of the later accounts of the history of 
Moslem teaching, e.g., Sale's Prelim. Discourse to the Koran. 

2 "Epiphanius," says Dr. Schaff (Hist, of Christian Church, 
Vol. III., p. 169), "was lacking in knowledge of the world and 
of men, in sound judgment and critical discernment. He was 
possessed of boundless credulity, now almost proverbial, caus- 
ing innumerable errors and contradictions in his writings." 
Scaliger calls him "an ignorant man who committed the great- 
est blunders, told the greatest falsehoods, and knew next to 
nothing about either Hebrew or Greek." 

8 Gerock's Christologie, p. 75. 


with Oriental Christianity from three quarters: the 
Christians of Yemen visited Mecca, and Abraha 
was turned back in defeat with his army, in the year 
in which Mohammed was born; Mohammed had as 
concubine a Christian Coptic woman, Miriam, the 
mother of his son Ibrahim; Mohammed went once 
and again to Syria with Khadijah's caravan of mer- 
chandise. Early Christianity in Arabia was much 
more extended and influential than is generally sup- 
posed. 1 Nearly all of Yeman and Nejran was per- 
meated with the doctrines of Christianity and there 
had been many martyrs. Concerning the view held 
by all Yemen Christians regarding the Trinity, we 
have unimpeachable evidence in the monuments 
found by Glaser. (See remark in Chapter II.) 
The Abyssinian Church of the fifth century was un- 
doubtedly corrupt and paid high honors to the Virgin 
Mary and the saints ; but it is certain also that this 
Church alwavs held, as it does now, that the three 
persons of the Trinity are the Father, the Son and 
the Holy Spirit. The same is true as regards the 
Nestorians, the Jacobites, the Armenians and the 
Maronites ; because the Monophysite controversy con- 
cerned itself not with the doctrine of the Trinity, 
but with the Person of Christ. 2 Both Nestorians 
and Monophysites accepted the Nicene Creed with- 
out the Filioque. Now how is it possible to imagine 

1 Wright's Early Christianity in Arabia, London, 1855; and 
Arabia, the Cradle of Islam, pp. 300-314. 

2 See Schaff's Creeds of Christendom, Vol. L, pp. 79-82. 


that Mohammed, who knew of Arabian Christianity, 
visited Syria and married a Coptic woman, who be- 
came his special favorite, and whose earliest converts 
took refuge in Abyssinia — how is it possible to imag- 
ine that he was ignorant of the persons of the 

In addition to the reasons given above we read in 
Ibn Hisham (quoted from Ibn Ishak) that the Chris- 
tians of Nejran sent a large and learned deputation 
to Mohammed headed by a Bishop of the Emperor's 
faith, i.e., of the orthodox Catholic Church. Now is 
it possible that a Bishop could have represented the 
Holy Trinity to consist of God, Christ and Mary (as 
Tradition says he did) after the whole Eastern world 
had been resounding for ages with the profound and 
sharply defined controversies concerning this funda- 
mental doctrine? 

In concluding our investigation of this subject, 
can we resist the conclusion of Koelle as given in his 
critical and classical book on Mohammed and Mo- 
hammedanism ? x "Not want of opportunity, hut 
want of sympathy and compatibility kept him aloof 
from the religion of Christ. His first wife intro- 
duced him to her Christian cousin; one of his later 
wives had embraced Christianity in Abyssinia; and 
the most favored of his concubines was a Christian 
damsel from the Copts of Egypt. He was acquainted 
with ascetic monks and had dealings with learned 

^oelle's Mohammed and Mohammedanism, p. 471. This i9 
the best recent book on Islam and the life of Mohammed. 


Bishops of the Orthodox Church. In those days the 
reading of the Holy Scriptures in the public services 
of the Catholic Church was already authoritatively 
enjoined and universally practised; if he had wished 
thoroughly to acquaint himself with them he could 
easily have done so. But having no adequate concep- 
tion of the nature of sin and mans fallen state, he 
also lacked the faculty of truly appreciating the 
remedy for it which was offered in the Gospel!' And 
if Koelle is correct, as I believe he is, then Moham- 
med's idea of God includes a deliberate rejection of 
the Christian idea of the Godhead — the Eather, the 
Son and the Holy Spirit. 1 

x The question whether Mohammed could read and write is 
important in this connection. On this point Moslems them- 
selves are not agreed. Some Shiahs affirm he could, while the 
Sunnis deny it. Western scholars are also divided in their 
opinion on this question. The following hold that Mohammed 
could read and write and give good reasons for their opinion: 
M. Turpin in Hist, de la Vie de Mahomet, Vol. I., pp. 285-88; 
Wahl, Intro, to the Koran, p. 78 ; Sprenger, Life of Moh., Vol. 
II., pp. 398-402; Weil, Intro, to the Koran, p. 39; H. Hirsch- 
feld, Jildische Elemente im Koran, p. 22. Others deny it, 
among them: Marraci, p. 535; Prideaux, p. 43; Ockley, Hist. 
of the Saracens, p. 11; Gerock's Christologie d. Koran, p. 9; 
Caussin de Perceval, Vol. I., p. 353; J. M. Arnold, p. 230; 
Palmer's Quran, p. 47, etc. Granted that Mohammed was 
unable to read or write, it is still plain from a thoughtful 
perusal of any biography of the prophet that he had abundant 
opportunity to learn from Christians by word of mouth first 
at Mecca and specially afterwards at Medina. We must re- 
member that all the Koran teaching on the Trinity occurs in 
the later Surahs. 


"'Tis all a chequer-board of nights and days 
Where destiny with men for pieces plays; 
Hither and thither moves and mates and slays, 
And one by one back in the closet lays." 

— Omar Khayyam, 

"It is this dark fatalism which, whatever the 
Koran may teach on the subject, is the ruling 
principle in all Moslem countries. It is this 
which makes all Mohammedan nations decay." — 
Sell's "Faith of Islam." 

THE sixth great point of faith in Islam 1 is Pre- 
destination, and it has important bearing on 
the Moslem idea of God. It expresses God's relation 
to the creature and to man as a moral agent. Al- 
though the terms used in describing predestination 
by Moslems and Christians (especially Calvinists) 
have much similarity the result of their reasoning is 
far apart as the East from the West. It has often 
been asserted that the Mohammedan belief in God's 
eternal decrees and foreknowledge of good and evil 
is a sort of Oriental Calvinism. This, as we hope to 

1 See the analysis of Islam in table, between pages 16 
and 17. 


show, is not the case. The word used by the Koran 
and in the Hadith for predestination is Jcadar; in 
theological works by Moslems the more technical 
word is takdir. Both come from the same root, which 
means "to measure out/' a to order beforehand." The 
Koran passages on this subject are many; the follow- 
ing are representative : 

Surah 54:59: "All things have been created after 
fixed decree." 

Surah 3:139: "No one can die except by God's 
permission according to the book that fixes the term 
of life." 

Surah 8:17: "God slew them, and those shafts 
were God's, not thine." 

Surah 9:51: "By no means can aught befall us 
save what God has destined for us." 

Surah 14:4: "God misleadeth whom He will and 
whom He will He guideth." This occurs frequently. 

Surah 37:94: "When God created you and what 
ye make." 

And finally, the great proof-text, the Gibraltar in 
many a hot controversy, Surah 76:29, 30: "This 
truly is a warning ; and whoso willeth taketh the way 
of his Lord ; hut will it ye shall not unless God will 
it, for God is knowing, wise." 

Not to weary the reader with the commentaries, 
we give the orthodox interpretation of the above text 
in the words of Al Berkevi : "It is necessary to con- 
fess that good and evil take place by the predestina- 


tion and predetermination of God; that all that has 
been and all that will be was decreed in eternity and 
written on the preserved tablet; that the faith of the 
believer, the piety of the pious and their good actions 
are foreseen, willed and predestined, decreed by the 
writing on the preserved tablet produced and ap- 
proved by God; that the unbelief of the unbeliever, 
the impiety of the impious, and bad actions come to 
pass with the foreknowledge, will, predestination and 
decree of God, but not with His satisfaction or ap- 
proval. Should any ask why God willeth and pro- 
duceth evil, we can only reply that He may have wise 
ends in view which we cannot comprehend." Prac- 
tically, all Sunnite orthodox Moslems believe this 
doctrine in such a way that "by the force of God's 
eternal decree man is constrained to act thus or thus." 
This view is undoubtedly in accordance with the tra- 
ditional sayings of Mohammed. Some of these tra- 
ditions have been given in Chapter V; those that 
follow are literally translated from the section on 
Kadar in Mishkat-ul-Misabih : 

"God created Adam and touched his back with 
His right hand and brought forth from it a family. 
And God said to Adam, I have created this family 
for Paradise and their actions will be like unto those 
of the people of Paradise. Then God touched the 
back of Adam and brought forth another family and 
said, I have created this for hell and their actions 
will be like unto those of the people of hell. Then 


said a man to the prophet. Of what use will deeds 
of any kind be? He said, When God creates His 
slave for Paradise his actions will be deserving of it 
until he die, when he will enter therein; and when 
God creates one for the fire his actions will be like 
those of the people of hell till he die, when he will 
enter therein.' 7 

"Adam and Moses were once disputing before 
their Lord, and Moses said, "Thou art Adam whom 
God created with His hand and breathed into thee 
of His spirit and angels worshipped thee and He 
made thee dwell in Paradise and then thou didst 
make men to fall down by thy sin to the earth.' 
Adam replied, 'Thou art Moses whom God distin- 
guished by sending with thee His message and His 
book and He gave thee the tables on which all things 
are recorded. Now tell me how many years before I 
was created did God write the Tor at (the Penta- 
teuch) V Moses replied, 'Forty years.' Said Adam, 
'And did you find written there, Adam transgressed 
against his Lord V 'Yes,' said Moses. Said Adam, 
'Then, why do you blame me for doing something 
which God decreed before He created me by forty 
years ?' " 

Another tradition relates that Mohammed one day 
took up two handfuls of earth and scattered them. 
So he said God "empties His hand of His slaves, a 
portion for Paradise and a portion for the blaze" 
(Mishkat, p. 21, bottom. Delhi edition). Another 


form of the same tradition puts it still more coarsely : 
"These are for Paradise and I care not ; and these for 
hell-fire and I care not." 1 

It is related that 'Aisha said: "The prophet was 
invited to the funeral of a little child. And I said, 
'O Apostle of God, Blessed be this little bird of the 
birds of Paradise, it has not yet done evil nor been 
overtaken by evil.' 'Not so, 'Aisha,' said the apostle, 
Verily, God created a people for Paradise and they 
were still in their father's loins, and a people for the 
fire and they were yet in their father's loins.' " 

According to these traditions, and the interpreta- 
tion of them for more than ten centuries in the life of 
Moslems, this kind of predestination should be called 
fatalism and nothing else. For fatalism is the doc- 
trine of an inevitable necessity and implies an om- 
nipotent and arbitrary sovereign power. It is de- 
rived from the Latin fatum, what is spoken or de- 
creed, and comes close to the Moslem phrase so often 
on their lips, "Allah katib/' God wrote it. Among 
the Greeks, as in Homer, Fate had a twofold force; 
it is sometimes considered as superior and again as 
inferior in power to Zeus. Nor does the Greek idea 
of fate exclude guilt on the part of man. 2 In both 
respects this idea of destiny is less fatalistic in its 
results than the teaching of Mohammed. "The God 

1 Kisas-ul-Anbiya } Persian edition, p. 21. 
2 See article on Homer's Idea of Fate in McClintock and 
Strong's Encyclopedia, Vol. III., p. 494. 


of Islam is more terrible even than the iEschylean 
Zeus, inasmuch as of Him it cannot be asserted that 
He fears Fate or dreads the coming of one who shall 
drive Him from power. Nay, further, instead of 
being subject to Fate or Necessity, Allah's will is 
Fate." 1 With such attributes as Mohammed ascribed 
to Allah, these ideas of predestination, or, better, 
fatalism, are in perfect accord. Islam exalts the 
Divine in its doctrine of the eternal decrees, not to 
combine it with, but to oppose it to, the human. This 
not only leads to neglect of the ethical idea in God, 
but puts fatalism in place of responsibility, makes 
God the author of evil, and sears the conscience as 
with a hot iron. God not only decreed the fall of 
Adam, but created Adam weak and with sensuous ap- 
petites so that it was natural he should fall. (Com- 
pare the commentaries on the passage, Surah 4:32, 
"God wants to make it easy for you and man w T as 
created weak.") "Allah katib," God decreed it, is 
the easy covering for many crimes. Moslem crim- 
inals often use it before their judge in a trial; and 
the judge, remembering Surah 4:32, sometimes gives 
his verdict on the same basis. 

We can see also what Moslems understand by pre- 
destination from their use of certain other religious 
expressions which are so very common in all Moslem 
communities. Inshallah, "if God wills," that daily 
cloak of comfort to Moslems, from Calcutta to Cairo, 

*W. St. Clair TisdalPs The Religion of the Crescent, p. 65. 


is an example. 1 This phrase is equivalent grammati- 
cally, not logically, to the Biblical "if God wills." 
(James 4:15; Acts 18 : 21.) To the Moslem, God's 
will is certain, arbitrary, irresistible and inevitable 
before any event transpires. To the Christian God's 
will is secret until He reveals it; when He does re- 
veal it we feel the imperative of duty. The Chris- 
tian prays, "Thy will be done." This prayer is little 
less than blasphemy to a strict Mohammedan. Allah 
only reveals His will in accomplishing it; man sub- 
mits. Therefore, were a Moslem to pray to Allah, 
"Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven," he 
would at the least be guilty of folly. An archangel 
and a murderer, a devil and a gnat equally execute 
the will and purpose of Allah every moment of their 
existence. As He wills, and because He wills, they 
are what they are and continue what they are. 

The same difference appears when we study the 
phrase, El-Hamdu-lillah y "the Praise is to God." 
The Biblical phrase, "Praise ye the Lord," implies 
personal responsibility, gratitude, activity; the Mos- 
lem phrase expresses submission, inevitableness, pas- 
sivity, fatalism. Therefore, it is so often used in 
circumstances that to the Christian seem incongru- 
ous. 2 The one phrase is the exponent of Islam, sub- 

^urah 18 : 23 and Tradition. 

2 It is true that the common people sometimes use the words 
to express joyful satisfaction and gratitude to the Almighty. 
But they use them continually in a fatalistic sense. 



mission ; the other of Christianity, joy and gratitude. 
The first never occurs in Scripture; the latter is ab- 
sent from the Koran. 

The Moslem theory of prayer, also, is in accordance 
with this doctrine of the decrees. Prayer is reduced 
to a gymnastic exercise and a mechanical act; any 
one who has lived with Moslems needs no proof for 
this statement. According to the Koran and Tra- 
dition, prayer is always regarded as a duty and 
never as a privilege. It is a task imposed on Mos- 
lems by Allah. Allah first imposed fifty prayers 
a day, but Mohammed begged off from this num- 
ber, on Moses's advice, ten after ten, until he returned 
triumphant with only five daily prayers on his list. 1 
Moslem daily prayer consists in worship rather than 
in petition; very few Moslems admit that prayer 
has objective power as well as subjective. 

Mohammedan Fatalism is distinguished, still more 
radically, from even ultra-Calvinistic views of predes- 
tination, when we consider in each case the source of 
the decrees and their ultimate object. In Islam 


1. The attribute of love is absent from Allah. 
We have already indicated this in our discussion of 
the attributes. The Love of God in a Christian sense 

1 Mishkat-ul-Misabih and other books of Tradition in the 
section on prayer give this story in detail. 


means either God's love to us or our love to Him. 
Both ideas are strange to Islam. An inter-com- 
munion of such tender regard between God and the 
creature is seldom or never spoken of in the Koran. 
In Surah 2 : 160 we read: "Yet there are some among 
men who take to themselves idols other than God; 
they love them as God's love/' But orthodox exe- 
gesis explains the last words by saying, i.e., "as His 
greatness and the impulse to obedience which He 
causes." (Beidhawi, Vol. L, p. 95.) In Surah 
5:59 there is another reference to the love of God 
on the part of men similarly explained. How strong 
is the contrast between these two or three exceptional 
passages and the abundant and plain teaching of the 
Old and New Testament regarding the love which 
God requires of man and which flows out from God 
to man ! 

In like manner God's love to man when it is re- 
ferred to in the Koran is rather a love for his good 
qualities than for the man himself. Dr. Otto Pautz, 
who has collected all the passages that in any way 
bear on this subject, comes to the conclusion that "in 
no case is there any reference to an inner personal re- 
lation' when the Koran even hints at this subject of 
which the Bible is so full. 1 Umbreit says : "The God 
of Mohammed is in the wind, and in the earthquake, 
and in the fire, but not in the still small voice of 

1 Otto Pautz's Muhammed's Lehre von der Offenbarung quel- 
lenmassig untersucht, Leipzig, 1898, pp. 142, 143. 


love." 1 The mystic love of the Sufis (widespread and 
weighty though it he in its influence) is not a char- 
acteristic of orthodox Islam, but arose in rebellion to 

The Fatherhood of God and the repeated declara- 
tions of Scripture that God loves the world, loves the 
sinner, loves mankind — that God is love — all this 
has had its influence on Christian speculation re- 
garding the problem of God's decrees. In like man- 
ner the character of Allah has been the hey to the 
same problem among Moslems. Islam, as we have 
seen, reduces God to the category of the will. He is 
at heart a despot, an Oriental despot. He stands at 
abysmal heights above humanity. He cares nothing 
for character, but only for submission. The only 
affair of men is to obey His decrees. 

2. The Moslem doctrine of hell is in accordance 
with their coarse beliefs regarding Predestination 
and Mohammed's utter want of conception of the 
spiritual. According to the Koran and Tradition, 
Hell must be filled, and so God creates infidels. 2 Of 
all religions in the world, Islam is the most severe 
in its conception of the capacity and the torments of 
hell. "On that day We will say to hell, Art thou 
full? and it will say, Are there any more?" (Surah 
50:29.) The conception of hell is brutal, cruel and 
to the last degree barbarous. The whole picture, as 

^Tlaeol. Studien, 14 Jahrgang, p. 240. 

2 Surahs 32 : 13; 97:5; 4:11; 9:69. Cf. Commentaries. 


given in the Koran and commented on by Tradi- 
tion, is horribly revolting. "Hell shall be a place of 
snares, the home of transgressors, to abide therein 
for ages. No coolness shall they taste nor any drink, 
save boiling water and liquid pus. Meet recom- 
pense!" (Surahs 88:1-7; 2:38; 3:197; 14:20; 
43:74-78, etc., etc.) The word Jehannum occurs 
thirty times ; fire (nar) is still more frequently used ; 
there are six other words used for the place of tor- 
ment. One cannot read the traditions which give 
what Mohammed said on this subject without feeling 
how heartless and loveless is the creed of Islam. 1 Yet 
it is in connection with such ideas of God that the 
Moslems believe in Predestination. 

It is not difficult to surmise whence Mohammed 
got his ideas of a Predestination after the pattern 
of fatalism. Like so much of his other teaching, it 
seems that the doctrine of kadar comes from the Tal- 
mud. Rabbi Geiger has shown how Mohammed 
borrowed from Judaism not only words, conceptions, 
legal rules and stories, but also doctrinal views. 2 The 
Scribes and Pharisees differed even at the time of 
Christ in their view of Predestination. The latter 
more and more followed a fatalistic idea of God's 

*Read Chapter X. on the Hell of Islam in Stanley Lane- 
Poole's Studies in a Mosque, pp. 311-326. 

2 See Judaism and Islam, a Prize Essay by Rabbi Geiger, 
translated from the German. Madras, 1898. Also the origi- 
nal work. Wiesbaden, 1833. 


decrees. Josephus writes as if, according to the 
Pharisees, the chief part in every good action de- 
pended on fate. (Jewish Wars 2:8.) And Eder- 
sheim grants that the Pharisees carried their ac- 
centuation of the Divine to the verge of fatalism. 
Their ideas, he shows, were in every respect similar 
to the present Moslem ideas. "Adam had been 
shown all the generations that were to spring from 
him. Every incident m the history of Israel had been 
foreordained and the actors in it, for good or for evil, 
were only instruments for carrying out the Divine 
Will. ... It was because man was predes- 
tined to die that the serpent came to seduce our 
first parents." 1 The stories told in the Talmud 
about predestination of a man's bride, and his posi- 
tion and the place and time of his death, find their 
duplicates almost verbatim in the Moslem traditions. 2 
Wheresoever a man was destined to die thither would 
his feet carry him, says the Talmud. "On one occa- 
sion, King Solomon when attended by his two scribes 
suddenly perceived the Angel of Death. As he looked 
so sad, Solomon ascertained as its reason that the 
two scribes had been demanded at his hands. On this 
Solomon transported them by magic into the land of 
Luz, where, according to legend, no man ever died. 
Next morning Solomon again perceived the Angel of 
Death, but this time laughing, because, as he said, 

^dersheim's Life of Jesus the Messiah, Vol. I., p. 317. 
2 See the References in Edersheim to the Talmudic tractates. 


Solomon had sent these men to the very place whence 
he had been ordered to fetch them." (Talmudic 
Tractate. SuJchah, 53 a.) This same story is told 
by Moslems, according to traditions of the Prophet. 1 

There have been heterodox views on the subject 
of predestination. But no one who has read the his- 
tory of Moslem sects can doubt that the account given 
in this chapter is the orthodox side of the question. 
The three views to which the multitude of sects can 
be reduced on this knotty problem are: The Jabari- 
yun, or extreme fatalists ; the Kadariyun, who affirm 
that man has free-agency (Moslem free-thinkers be- 
long to this school) ; and the 'Asharians, who are a 
little more moderate than the first school. 2 "The 
orthodox or Sunni belief is theoretically 'Asharian, 
but practically the Sunnis are confirmed Jabariyun." 
Other doctrines are considered quite heretical. 

When we consider the deadening influence of this 
doctrine of fatalism we must remember that gener- 
ally speaking there have been two schools of Moslem 
philosophy — the orthodox and the heretical. It is 
only the latter school that added to the knowledge of 
philosophy one iota. The attainments of the Arabs 
in philosophy have been greatly overrated. They 
were translators and transmitters of the Greek philos- 
ophy, and whatever was added to Plato and Aristotle 

1 See Commentaries on Surah 32 : 11 and margin of Daka'ik 
ul-AJchbar and Shammoos-ul-Anwar. 
2 E. Sell's Faith of Islam, p. 173. 


came not from the side of orthodoxy, but was entirely 
the work of heretics, such as Averroes, Alf arabi and 
Avicenna. 1 

The orthodox philosopher of Islam was Al-Ghaz- 
zali, and the result of his work was the complete tri- 
umph of unphilosophical orthodoxy. 2 

So utterly barren of ideas and opposed to all rea- 
son did this orthodoxy become that Sprenger sarcas- 
tically remarks concerning it: "The Moslem student 
marvelled neither at the acuteness nor yet at the 
audacity of his master; he marvelled rather at the 
wisdom of God which could draw forth such mysteri- 
ous interpretations. Theology, in fact, had now 
made such happy progress that men looked on com- 
mon sense as a mere human attribute — the reverse 
being that which they expected from Deity!' And 
this was one of the results of Moslem speculation on 
the Koran doctrine of predestination. 3 

*See Ueberweg's Hist, of Philosophy and Kenan's Hist. Lang. 

2 Ibid. 

3 A special study on the Moslem Idea of Predestination has 
just appeared from the press by Rev. A. de Vlieger of the 
Calioub Mission. It is entitled, Kitab al Quadr, Materiaux 
pour servir a l'§tude de la doct. de la predestination dans la 
theologie musulmane. Leiden, 1902. 



"If we regard God merely as the Absolute 
Being and nothing more, we know Him only as 
the general irresistible force, or, in other words, 
as the Lord. Now it is true that the fear of the 
Lord is the beginning of wisdom, but it is like- 
wise true that it is only its beginning. In the 
Mohammedan religion God is conceived only as 
the Lord. Now although this conception of God 
is an important and necessary step in the devel- 
opment of religious consciousness, it yet by no 
means exhausts the depths of the Christian idea 
of God."— Hegel's Werke, Vol. VI., p. 226. 

WHAT is the result of our investigation of the 
Moslem idea of God ? Is the statement of 
the Koran true, "Your God and our God is the 
same?" In as far as Moslems are monotheists and 
in as far as Allah has many of the attributes of 
Jehovah we cannot put Him with the false gods. 
But neither can there be any doubt that Mohammed's 
conception of God is inadequate, incomplete, barren 
and grievously distorted. It is vastly inferior to the 


Christian idea of the Godhead and also inferior to 
the Old Testament idea of God. In the Book of Job 
alone there are more glorious descriptions of God's 
personality, unity, power and holiness than in all 
the chapters of the Koran. Carlyle in his praise of 
the Hero-prophet acknowledges this and says "he 
makes but little of Mohammed's praises of Allah, bor- 
rowed from the Hebrew and far surpassed there." 
Even the Fatherhood of God is clearly taught in the 
Old Testament, but it is wholly absent from the 

In the comparative study of religious ideas there 
must be a standard of judgment, and a Christian 
can only judge other religions by the standard of the 
Gospel. Islam itself, through its prophet (who 
came, so he says, as the seal of all prophecy), and 
in its Book challenges comparison by this standard. 
We are not dealing with the monotheism of Greek 
philosophy, which arose in the Court of the Gentiles 
under Plato and Aristotle; but with a monotheism 
which arose six centuries after Christ and professes 
to be an improvement or at least a restatement of the 
Christian idea. (See Surahs 42 : 1 ; 10 : 37, 93 ; 5 : 77, 
etc.) We accept, therefore, Islam's challenge. Jesus 
Christ proclaimed that no man knows the Father 
save through the Son. He is the brightness of the 
Father's glory. The impress of His essence. Who- 
ever has seen Jesus has seen the Father. Mohammed 
by denying Christ's Deity also denied that He came 


on a unique and transcendent mission from the 
court of heaven — to show us the Father. Instead of 
Arriving at his theology through the mind of Christ, 
as revealed in the gospels and developed through the 
Holy Spirit's teaching in the epistles, Mohammed 
went back to natural theology. He did not use, or 
would not use, the channel of knowledge opened by 
the Incarnation. Instead of learning from Him who 
descended from heaven, Mohammed asserted that he 
himself ascended to heaven and there had intercourse 
with God, (Surah 17:2 and the Commentaries.) 
Whether this "night journey" of the prophet be con- 
sidered a dream, a vision, or, as most Moslems hold, 
a physical reality, is of minor importance. The 
Koran and orthodox Tradition leave no doubt that 
Mohammed gave out this idea himself, and often 
stated that he had conversation with the angels and 
the prophets, as well as with God Himself in Para- 
dise. 1 

The account of this "night journey," as given in 
the Tradition and widely believed, is both puerile 
and blasphemous. Nor does the story add anything 
to the sum total of theological ideas as given in the 
Koran. Mohammed's account of heaven is borrowed 
from the Talmud. We conclude, therefore, that Mo- 
hammedan monotheism, granting all that can be said 
in its favor, lacks four elements which are present 

^ee Muir's Mahomet, Vol. II., p. 221. Sprenger calls the 
story "an unblushing forgery" on the part of Mohammed. 


not only in the Christian idea of the Godhead, but in 
the Old Testament as well: (1) There is no Father- 
hood of God. We have seen how their initial concep- 
tion of theology is a bar to any possible filial relation 
on man's part toward Deity. The Moslem's fear of 
God is not the beginning of wisdom. Allah produces 
on them a servile, not a filial, fear. No one ap- 
proaches God except as a slave. Hegel's criticism, 
at the head of this chapter, shows the opinion of a 
philosopher on the elementary character of such 
monotheism. Where there is no Fatherhood toward 
man there can be no Brotherhood of Man. Islam 
is an exclusive brotherhood of believers, not an in- 
clusive brotherhood of humanity. Assuredly, this 
characteristic of Islam is responsible for much of its 
fanatic spirit and its gigantic pride. The denial of 
God's Fatherhood changes Him into a desolate ab- 
straction. Who can love Ghazzali's definition of 
Allah or feel drawn to such a negative conception? 
The very contemplation of so barren a Deity "pours 
an ice-floe over the tide of human trusts and causes 
us to feel that we are orphaned children in a home- 
less world." 

(2) The Moslem idea of God is conspicuously 
lacking in the attribute of love. We have seen this 
in our study of Allah's names. But in gathering up 
the few precious fragments of this idea from the 
Koran another thing is evident. Whatever Moham- 
med taught concerning God's mercy, loving kindness 


or goodness has reference only and wholly to what 
God is external to Himself. In the Bible, love is not 
a mere attribute of Deity. God is love. God's love 
not only shines forth from Genesis to the Book of the 
Revelation, but it is often declared to have existed 
from all eternity. ( Jer. 31 :3 ; John 3:16; 17 :24 ; 
Eph. 1:4; Rev. 13:8.) Fairbairn remarks: "The 
love which the Godhead makes immanent and essen- 
tial to God gives God an altogether new meaning and 
actuality for religion ; while thought is not forced to 
conceive monotheism as the apotheosis of an 
Almighty will or an impersonal idea of the pure 

Moslem mysticism was a revolt against the ortho- 
dox doctrine of Allah. The human heart craves a 
God who loves; a personal God who has close rela- 
tions with humanity ; a living God who can be touched 
with the feeling of our infirmities and who hears and 
answers prayer. Such a God the Koran does not re- 
veal. A being who is incapable of loving is also in- 
capable of being loved. And the most remarkable 
testimony to this lack in the orthodox Moslem con- 
ception of Deity is the fact that the passionate devo- 
tional poetry of the Sufis is put down as rank heresy. 
Allah is too rich and too proud and too independent 
to need or desire the tribute of human love. In con- 
sequence Islam is a loveless creed. The Bible teach- 
ing that "God is love" is to the learned blasphemy 
and to the ignorant an enigma. Orthodox Islam is 


a religion without song. Where are there any psalms 
of devotion or hymns of spiritual aspiration in the 
Koran or the volumes of Tradition ? 

There is no precept nor example in Islam enjoin- 
ing love to one's enemies. It .knows nothing of uni- 
versal benevolence or of a humane tolerance. (Surah 
9 :29.) That the element of love is lacking in their 
idea of God is perhaps the reason also why the Koran, 
in contrast with the Bible, has so little for and about 
children. Of such is not the kingdom of Mohammed. 

(3) Allah is not absolutely, unchangeably and 
eternally just. It is possible, as some allege, that the 
Western Church may have emphasized the forensic 
aspect of God's holiness and righteousness unduly 
and to excess. But the Bible and the human con- 
science in all ages also emphasize this truth. It is 
found in the Greek theism. The Bible is not alone 
in stating that the Judge of all the earth must do 
right. Justice and judgment are the habitation of 
His throne. It is impossible for God to lie. He will 
in nowise clear the guilty. The soul that sinneth it 
shall die. The awful spectacle of Calvary can only 
be explained in the terms of Divine justice and 
Divine love. It was, in the words of Paul, "to de- 
clare His righteousness; that He might be just and 
the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus." 

Now since Islam, as we have seen, denies the doc- 
trine of the atonement and minimizes the heinous- 
ness of sin, it is not surprising that the justice of God 


is not strongly insisted on and often presented in a 
weak or distorted way. As Hauri says: "Neither 
in His holiness nor in His love is Allah righteous. 
As regards the wicked, His love does not receive its 
due; he is quick to punish, to lead astray and to 
harden ; His wrath is not free from passion. As re- 
gards believers, His holiness comes short of its right. 
Allah allows His prophets things otherwise forbidden 
and wrong. Even ordinary believers are allowed to 
do what is really not right because they are believers. 
For example, the prophet said: 'It is better not to 
have slave-concubines, but Allah is merciful and 
clement.' m 

In Islam, God's law is not the expression of His 
moral nature, but of His arbitrary will. His word 
can be abrogated. His commandments are subject to 
change and improvement. A testimony to this on the 
part of Moslems themselves is found in their eager 
attempts to prove that all the prophets were sinless; 
i.e., that their transgressions of the moral law as re- 
corded in the Koran were not really sinful, but that 
they were permitted these slight faults or committed 
them in f orgetfulness. The greatest feats of exegesis 
in this line are found in Ar-Razi's Commentary on 
the verses that tell of Adam's sin, David's Adultery 
and Mohammed's prayers for pardon. (Surahs 7: 10- 
17 ; 38 :20-24 and 47 :20, 21.) All the laws of logic 

x Der Islam, p. 45. The Koran offers other examples of such 
clemency! Cf. Surahs 2 : 225; 5 : 91, etc. 


and etymology are broken to avoid the natural infer- 
ence that these "prophets" were guilty sinners. Those 
who desire to know how far even Indian Moslems 
can go in defence of this untenable position must read 
the pamphlet of James Munro, Esq., on the recent 
Zanb Controversy in Bengal and the Punjaub. 1 It is 
evident that this desire to justify "the prophets" is 
nothing else than a practical lowering of the standard 
of ethics. What Adam or David or Mohammed did 
may appear to be sinful, but it really was not. God 
is merciful and clement. 

(4) There is a lack of harmony in Allah's attri- 
butes. Eaymund Lull (1315), the first missionary to 
Moslems, pointed out this weakness in the monothe- 
ism of Islam. He puts forward this proposition: 
"Every wise man must acknowledge that to be the 
true religion which ascribes the greatest perfection 
to the Supreme Being, and not only conveys the 
worthiest conception of all His attributes, but demon- 
strates the harmony and equality existing between 
them. ISTow their religion [i.e., Islam] was defective 
in acknowledging only two active principles in the 
Deity, His will and His wisdom, while it left His 
goodness and greatness inoperative, as though they 
were indolent qualities and not called forth into ac- 
tive exercise. But the Christian religion could not 
be charged with this defect. In its doctrine of the 
Trinity, it conveys the highest conception of the 
baptist Mission Press, Calcutta. 


Deity as the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit 
in one simple essence. In the Incarnation of the 
Son it evinces the harmony that exists between God's 
goodness and His greatness; and in the person of 
Christ displays the true union of the Creator and the 
creature ; while in His Passion it sets forth the divine 
harmony of infinite goodness and condescension." 1 

These words are as true to-day as they were when 
addressed to the Moslems of North Africa in the 
Middle Ages. In Islam's theology, mercy and truth 
do not meet together; righteousness and peace have 
never kissed each other. The only way in which 
Allah pardons a sinner is by abrogating His law or 
passing over guilt without a penalty. There is no 
Substitute, no Mediator, no Atonement. And, there- 
fore, the law-of-the-letter, with all its terror, and the 
physical hell, ever yawning for its victims, subject 
Moslems to the bondage of fear unless formalism has 
petrified their consciences. 

"The distinguishing characteristic of Christian- 
ity," says Schiller, "by which it is differentiated 
from all other monotheistic systems, lies in the fact 
that it does away with the law — the Kantian impera- 
tive — and in place of it gives a free and spontaneous 
inclination of the heart." 2 The law is not abolished, 
but fulfilled in Christ. He blotted out "the hand- 
writing of ordinances that was against us, which was 

^aymund Lull's Liber Contemplationis in Deo, liv., 25-28. 
'Quoted in Shedd's Hist, of Doctrine, Vol. I., p. 221. 


contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it 
to His cross." That cross of Christ is the missing 
link in the Moslem's creed. Without the doctrine of 
the Cross there is no possible unity in the doctrine of 
the divine attributes ; for the mystery of redemption 
is the key to all other mysteries of theology. 

We must go a step further. ]STot only is the Mos- 
lem idea of God lacking in these four important 
and essential ideas of Christian theology, but its in- 
sufficiency is most of all evident from its results. 
The influence of such teaching regarding God and 
His relation to the world is apparent everywhere in 
Moslem lands, but especially in Arabia. The present 
intellectual, social and moral condition of Arabia 
must be due to the power (or the impotence) of 
Islam, for no other intellectual or religious force has 
touched the peninsula for centuries. Islam has had 
undisputed possession of Arabia almost since its 
birth. Here, too, the reformation of Islam under 
the Wahabis exercised its full power. In other lands, 
such as Syria and Egypt, it remained in contact with 
a corrupt form of Christianity, or, as in India and 
China, in conflict with cultured paganism ; and there 
is no doubt that in both cases there were (and are to- 
day) mutual concessions and influences. But on its 
native Arabian soil the tree planted by the prophet 
has grown with wild freedom and brought forth fruit 
after its kind. 

As regards morality, Arabia is on a low plane. 


Slavery and concubinage exist everywhere. Polyg- 
amy and divorce are common. The conscience is 
petrified ; legality is the highest form of worship ; vir- 
tue is to be like the prophet. The Arabic language 
has no every-day word for conscience and the present 
book-term does not even occur in the Koran. Intel- 
lectually, there has been little progress. The 
Bedouins are nearly all illiterate and book-learning 
in the towns is compressed into the mould of Koran 
philosophy. Arabia has no unity except the unity of 
intolerance and suspicion. Fatalism has paralyzed 
progress. Injustice is stoically accepted and the bulk 
of the people are passive. No man bears another 
man's burden and there is no public spirit. Treachery 
and murder are the steps to petty thrones in free 
Arabia, and in the Turkish provinces justice is sold 
to the highest bidder. Cruelty is common. Lying is 
a fine art and robbery a science. Islam has made the 
hospitable Arab hostile to Christians and wary of 
strangers. If Mohammedan monotheism had in it 
the elements of salvation and progress for its dev- 
otees, surely Arabia would have witnessed the re- 
sult. For thirteen hundred years the experiment 
has been tried — and, by the witness of all travellers, 
it has piteously failed. 

A stream can rise no higher than its source. Islam 
has no lofty conception of ethics and of holiness like 
that of the Christian religion. Mohammed's life soon 
became the standard of morality for all Moslems. In 


the Koran he is human ; in tradition he becomes sin- 
less and almost divine. To he as good as Mohammed 
is the ideal of the Moslem. Christ rises higher : "Be 
ye therefore perfect even as your Father which is in 
heaven is perfect." Paul's command "to be imitators 
of God as dear children/' is to the orthodox Moslem a 
double blasphemy. Allah can neither be imitated 
nor have children. He is unique and nothing can be 
like Him. 

Martensen points out the importance which faith 
in the Triune God has for ethics (Christian Ethics, 
Vol. L, pp. 65-75), and concludes: "If, therefore, 
Christian dogmatics had not asserted and developed 
the doctrine of the Trinity, ethics must postulate it in 
its own interests." All church history shows that a 
genuine and even a scientific knowledge of God has 
been better maintained with the doctrine of the Trin- 
ity than without it. A knowledge of God as full 
as we need, as full as He Himself intended we should 
have, is impossible without the doctrine of the Holy 
Trinity. So-called pure monotheism has always de- 
generated into some form of pantheism, whether 
among Jews, Mohammedans or in Christendom. 

Finally, it is evident from our study that the Mos- 
lem doctrine of God is sterile. It has neither grown 
nor been fruitful of new ideas in all the history of 
Islam. The sheikhs of Al Azhar in Cairo, in the 
twentieth century, are still content with the defini- 
tion of Al Ghazzali. On the contrary, the Christian 


doctrine of the Godhead beginning with the Old Tes- 
tament revelation of Jehovah, interpreted in the 
fulness of time by the Incarnation, developed by the 
Holy Spirit's teaching through the apostles and sys- 
tematized in the conflict with heresies and philos- 
ophies, is even to-day a growing concept and a fruit- 
ful idea. "Let any one trace the course of think- 
ing by the theological mind upon the doctrine of tHe 
Trinity, and perceive how link follows link by neces- 
sary consequence; how the objections of the heretic 
or the latitudinarian only elicit a more exhaustive, 
and at the same time more guarded statement, which 
carries the Church still nearer to the substance of 
revelation and the heart of the mystery; how, in 
short, the trinitarian dogma, like the Christian life 
itself, as described by the apostle, 'being fitly joined 
together and compacted by that which every joint 
supplieth, maketh increase unto the edifying of it- 
self into a grand architectural structure — let this 
process from beginning to end pass before a thinking 
and logical mind, and it will be difficult for it to re- 
sist the conviction that here is science, here is self- 
consistent and absolute truth." 1 

Islam is proud to write on its banner, the Unity of 
God; but it is, after all, a banner to the Unknown 
God. Christianity enters every land under the 
standard of the Holy Trinity — the Godhead of Rev- 
elation. These two banners represent two armies, 
^hedd's Hist, of Doctrine, Vol. I., p. 4. 


There is no peace between them. No parliament of 
religions can reconcile such fundamental and deep- 
rooted differences. We must conquer or be van- 
quished. In its origin, history, present attitude and 
by the very first article of its brief creed, Islam is 
anti-Christian. But that does not mean that the 
battle is hopeless. Christian monotheism is as supe- 
rior to Mohammedan monotheism as Christ is supe- 
rior to Mohammed. There is no god but the God- 
head. Islam itself is beginning to realize the strength 
of the Christian idea of God, and our chief prayer for 
the Moslem world should be that they may know the 
Only True God and Jesus Christ whom He hath sent. 
When the great Mohammedan world acknowledges 
the Fatherhood of God they will also understand the 
brotherhood of men and the mystery of Calvary. 


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