Human Characteristics Ascribed to Allah
Preface and Comparison with the Bible
One of the major criticisms that Muslims have about the Bible is that it ascribes physical features to God. They say that the Bible is flawed in this respect since the Almighty should never be described as having human characteristics. Many Muslims believe that the Bible insults God in this way.
Even though the Qur'an was built on the credibility of the Bible, most Muslims attack the Scriptures by claiming that they have been altered. Some go so far to believe that Christians must have added verses to the Old Testament in order to make God more human. They suggest that the Christians did this to support their “false claim” that Jesus was God incarnate and assert that the Qur'an does not describe Allah in a physical way. This argument has three difficulties.
It is not logical. Why would the Jews include verses invented by the Christians into the writings of their Holy Scriptures? It is a fact that the Jews and Christians have always revered the same “Old Testament” Scriptures.
It is not historical. Any hope that this accusation was true was put to rest by an amazing manuscript discovery. In 1947 Bedouin shepherds in Israel found hand written copies of Jewish Scriptures which were copied before the advent of Christianity. They are referred to as the Dead Sea Scrolls. They had been preserved within jars in caves to protect them from the Romans of the first century. They offer conclusive evidence that the Christians did not alter the Scriptures of the Old Testament.
It is not valid. The argument is built on the assumption that the Qur'an does not ascribe human characteristics to Allah and yet this collection of thirty-three verses demonstrates that it does. Allah is carried on a throne by eight angels. Allah’s face and hands are mentioned as well as the use of his senses. His activities include counting, judging and testing. He has emotions such as his abhorrence of non-Muslims. His activities include holding the sky from falling. Of course, Muslims would hasten to point out that these are metaphors. Christians explain these types of references in the Bible in the same way.
Christians have no problems with similar references in the Bible for several additional reasons. The Good News in the Bible is that people are made in the image of God which means that they experience similar emotions, thoughts and desires as the Almighty, yet His ways are infinitely more exalted (Isaiah 55:8,9). The Bible proclaims that God is not a distant deity. On the contrary, he is completely aware of all of our struggles.
The Bible reveals that God (Yahweh) came as a man in Jesus to be tempted in every way yet remained without sin. Jesus came as the Word of God in the flesh to save all those who believe in his cross and resurrection. Even though the Qur'an ascribes some human characteristics to Allah, the Allah of the Qur'an does not come close to the personal involvement that the God of the Bible has with His creation.
The Qur'an Says ...
ThroneAfter the heavens were finished, the one who built it went up to his throne in heaven and from there continues to keep the heavens and the earth from disappearing (13:2, 57:4, 35:41). On the judgment day the sky will be torn apart and eight angels will be seen carrying the throne of Allah above their heads (69:15-17, 39:75). Those who hold up Allah’s throne and surround it constantly pray that those Muslims who deserve it would be forgiven (40:7-9).
Holds the Sky from FallingAllah holds up the sky. It will not fall unless he wants it to do so (22:65).
FaceEvery living thing on the earth will die, but his face is eternal (55:26-27).
JudgeHe (Allah) is the best of judges (95:8, 10:109).
Taking a VowHe (Allah) vows by the dawn and the ten nights, by the even and odd, and by the night when it departs or comes... this surely is a great oath for a reasonable man (92:1-5). He swears by the sun and the moon, by the day and the night (91:1,2).
Experiencing EmotionsHe (Allah) is pleased (98:8). He (Allah) abhors those who reject Islam (40:10). Allah does not love those who reject Islam (30:45).
Right and Left Hand SidesAt the final judgment Muslims will stand on his right hand side and those who deny the teachings of the Qur'an will stand on his left hand side (90:17-19).
CountsHe (Allah) takes a careful count of all people so that they will appear before him alone for judgment (19:94-95).
TestsAllah will test the believers until he discovers who among them will persevere (47:31).
Appearance on EarthThe voice Moses heard from the burning tree said, “Moses, I am Allah...” (28:30). Allah was in the fire and all around it (27:8).
WatchesAllah stands watching over every soul to know everything that is done (13:33). If three men talk in secret Allah is the fourth. If there are four, he is the fifth. If there are five, he is the sixth (58:7).
HearsAllah heard the conversation between a divorced woman and Mohammed (58:1). He hears and sees everything (4:134).
Hand of AllahPledging loyalty, allegiance and devotion to Mohammed is like pledging it to Allah. When they put their hands together Allah’s hand is on top of theirs (48:10). His hands are outstretched (5:64).