When Muhammad (saw) was asked: ‘What is Allah?’, Allah answered this question directly in the Quran, in the chapter al-Ikhlas:
“Say: ‘Allah is Ahad (One) (Allah is the infinite, limitless and indivisible, non-dual ONENESS). Allah is Samad (Absolute Self-Sufficient One beyond any need or defect, free from the concept of multiplicity, and far from conceptualization and limitation. The one into whom nothing can enter, and the One from whom no other form of existence can come out!). He begets not (No other form of existence has ever originated from Him, thus, there is no other). Nor was He begotten (There is no other god or form of existence from which He could have originated). And there is none like unto Him (Nothing – no conception – in the micro or macro planes of existence is equivalent to or in resemblance of Him).’”
Let us first explore the general meaning of this chapter, which reveals the Allah disclosed by Muhammad (saw), and then have a deeper look at the implications it presents to us with its meanings.
Allah is Ahad… That is, Allah is ONENESS such that it cannot be broken down into parts or fragments.
Let us explore this notion a little further:
Every person on earth living under normal conditions evaluates existence via their five senses. Hence, the tool of measurement among human beings is the five-sense perception. Based on this, we assume to be living in a universe with a height, length and width. Consequently, no matter how much we may say God is everywhere, in actuality we still think of a God with spatial dimensions and locality.
The Allah of which we have been notified is an illimitable, infinite existence that cannot be broken down into bits and parts; it is bi kulli shay’in muheet, i.e. the very thing that encompasses thingness!
I would like to take this opportunity to make an important note…
Though I had explained this in depth in my book What Did Muhammad Read?, I also want to briefly touch upon it here:
It is widely accepted that the most accurate and comprehensive interpretation of the Quran in Turkey is by the late Elmali Hamdi Yazir, which consists of nine volumes in total. In Volume 1, pages 42-43, the following information about the letter B can be found:
“Renowned interpreters claim that the letter B here denotes either ‘specificity’ or the preposition ‘with’ or else ‘to seek help’… Based on this construal, the translation of the Basmalah (which begins with the letter B) should be: ‘For, or on behalf of Allah, who is Rahman and Rahim’ which implies contingency. This is an admission of ‘vicegerency’. To begin an activity with the words ‘ON behalf of Him’ means ‘I am engaging in this activity in relation to, as a vicegerent to, as the representative of, and as the agent of Him, therefore this activity is not mine or someone else’s but only His.’ This is the state of annihilation in Allah (fana fi-Allah) pertaining to the concept of Unity of Existence.”
Ahmed Avni Konuk, an important Mawlawi leader, also mentions the letter B in his construal of the Bezels of Wisdom by Ibn Arabi. The following is from page 191, volume 2, Marmara University Faculty of Theology Publications:
“The letter ‘B’ in ‘Bi ibadihi’ connotes ‘contingency’. That is, Allah becomes manifest on the ‘robe of existence’ of his servants.”
If we have been able to grasp this secret regarding the letter B in the Quran, then let us contemplate a little…
Ahad, who cannot be broken down into parts or fragments, is either a limited One, in which case He must be sitting somewhere in space (!), or He is an infinite, unlimited, whole One, in which case, I repeat, there is nothing in existence other than Him!
To associate or assign another existence outside of, or alongside, that which is denoted by the name Allah, the Ahad, goes against not only the intellect and logic, but also reason and conscience!
Let us have a think…
If indeed, other than Allah, there is another existence, then where is the limit between Allah and this other existence? How and where can we draw the line?
Either, existence is infinite, limitless and ONE, other than which there is none!
Or, God has limits and parameters and is bound by location, residing somewhere in the universe…
The most crucial concept one must grasp here, is that of limitlessness and endlessness.
Let us now try and understand these terms not by length, height and width but rather, as a state of existence.