Shri Datta Swami

Posted on: 04 Jan 2021


Why is the ignorance of the attributes of Allah a serious sin? Is God's speech imaginable or unimaginable?

[Śrī Anil asked: A muslim preacher said that every Muslim is required to know at least thirteen attributes of Allāh. However, the attributes of Allāh are not limited by a number. These thirteen attributes are (1) existence (2) oneness (3) eternity (4) everlastingness (5) non-resemblance to creation (6) non-neediness of others (7) power (8) life (9) will (10) knowledge (11) sight (12) hearing and (13) Al-Kalām (speech). He further says that being ignorant of these attributes is an enormous sin, while denying any of them is disbelief (kufr).

The following is said regarding the speech of Allāh: The kalām (speech) of Allāh is not like our kalām. Allāh is not like the creations. We, the creations of Allāh, have voices and speak in languages composed of sounds and letters. Our attribute of speech is created. The speech or kalām of Allāh is not created. When we say that Allāh spoke to Moses, one should not understand by this that Allāh had a voice, or created speech. No, this is misguidance. Allāh gave Moses the power to hear His kalām (speech) which is not like our speech composed of letters, sounds, and having a beginning and ending. Prophet Moses told His people the orders of Allāh in the language His people spoke which was Hebrew.

With reference to the above, if the speech of Allāh is not like the speech of human beings, how did Moses and other prophets understand Allāh’s speech (Allāh speaking to them)? God is unimaginable, but can we say that His speech is also unimaginable? When God’s speech was heard by the prophets, did it become imaginable by God’s power?]

Swāmi replied: The ignorance of these attributes of God makes a person misunderstand God to be defective in one way or other way. But all these attributes (even in less potencies) do not have an imaginable and logical basis, as in the case of human beings. The basis of these attributes in God is the unimaginable omnipotence of God. For example, if you take the will of a human being, we know that it is not omnipotent. It is based on the awareness that is generated in the brain and nervous system due to the conversion of the inert energy. The inert energy is released in the body when digested food is oxidized by the inhaled oxygen in the mitochondria of cells in the body. If this basis is absent, no inert energy will be released and no awareness will be produced. But, in the case of God, no awareness needs to be present for Him to have a will. The other qualities are also to be understood in this way.

God is omnipotent and anything is possible for Him. He need not speak in our languages. He can speak in an unimaginable language to a specific devotee like Moses. In that case, He gives the power to the devotee to understand the matter conveyed in that unimaginable language. But you cannot say that God can only speak in that unimaginable language because God being omnipotent, can even speak to us in our languages. Both possibilities exist for the omnipotent unimaginable God. If you confine Him only to one possibility, He is no more omnipotent. The quality of God mentioned by you as ‘power’ means omnipotence which is the capacity to do anything that is possible or even anything that is impossible.