In Part 1 of this article, we will examine how different people hold different subjective concepts of God, which, in turn, lead to conflict and contradiction not only in our lives as individuals but as peoples and nations as well. In Part 2, we will strive to show how the objective concept of "One" God can remove the conflict from our minds and hearts, can transform our characters to become harmonious with the most beautiful colors (2:138) represented by the most beautiful attributes of Allah Almighty (7:180). These attributes, based on the Quranic concept of God, serve as a complete and perfect model for attaining peace and harmony within our selves and with our outside world.
In examining the prevailing concepts of God with a series of questions, the intent is enquiry rather than criticism. God commands us to examine and analyze, even the Quran, with knowledge (12:108, 34:46, 16:44). God also commands us to respect other faiths (6:108), other prophets (3:84, 4:164, 16:36), and other places of worship (22:40).
Questions about the nature of God, the creation of the Universe, the creation of mankind, the purpose of creation and the relationship of humans to God and the universe have fired human curiosity and imagination from times immemorial.
What is meant by " sibgha-tullah, " or "the color of Allah" in the Quranic verse quoted above? And how does it relate to us? This article will explore the meaning of this verse, but first, we summarize the important points from Part 1 of this article. We saw that the true and objective concept of God must come from God Himself, as humans have no ability to comprehend God ( 6:103 ). All the concepts of God designed by human minds are, therefore, subjective. Also, the true and objective concept of God can only be found in God's final revelation, the Quran. This is because both Muslim and non-Muslim scholars agree that the Quran has been preserved in its Arabic text exactly as it was revealed by God around 1400 years ago. (See Maurice Bucaille's The Bible, The Quran and Science ). This cannot be said of any other religious book present today including the books of ahadith (both Sunni and Shi'ia) and translations or interpretations (tafseers) of the Quran like Tabari or Ibn Kathir . The Quran's challenge for any group or individual to produce a book, or even a chapter, or even ten verses like the Quran is still outstanding ( 17:88, 2:23, 8:31, 10:38, 11:13 ). Holding the Quran hostage to any book of hadith or tafseer or asbab-annuzool (cause of revelation) is, therefore, against these Quranic verses.
We also saw in the first part of this article that a proper concept of God requires a proper understanding of the human "self." The Quran says that every human being is endowed by God with a "self" or soul ( 'rooh in the words of the Quran ( 32:9 ) or " khudi " in the words of Iqbal). However, this is given in latent form and the purpose of human life is to develop, nourish, and strengthen it. Just as there are laws governing the nourishment of the human body, there are laws governing the nourishment of the human "self." Since the human "self" is not a material thing it does not die with the death of the human body. A developed "self" marches onward in its journey in the hereafter ( 7:8, 23:102, 101:6 ). The Quran calls this developed state of the "self" Jannah (Heaven), which will continue forever ( 7:42 ). On the other hand, an undeveloped "self" gets stuck and is not able to move forward in its journey in the hereafter ( 7:9 ). The Quran calls this stagnant state of the "self" Jahannam or Ja'heem (Hell). Ja'heem means static or stationary. Contrary to the popular belief of many Muslims, the Prophet ( PBUH ) will not help us avoid Hell ( 6:51 ), because the Quran says that one will remain stuck in Hell forever ( 7:36, 32:12, 43:74 ) and no one will be able to help ( 35:36-37, 40:49 ). According to the Quran, a state of Hell can only be avoided by developing the "self" in this life, through righteous work, beyond a certain threshold that is required to enter the state of Heaven ( 7:42, 29:58, 89:27-30 ). The development of the "self" is the purpose of human life on earth.
We had seen that the development of the "self" can occur only through society. Being different in nature, the "self" develops on a different dimension and with a different set of values than the material body. The body develops by taking, but the "self" develops by giving. Giving up a lesser value, e.g. wealth and material things, including the body, for the sake of a higher, permanent value, e.g. universal freedom and justice, universal welfare and respect for all humanity leads to the development of the "self"; when such permanent values are neglected in society, the "self' is weakened. Thus the development and nourishment (or purification) of the "self" cannot occur by leading a solitary life and meditating about God. Unlike other religions, the Quran states that the nourishment and development of the "self" requires inter-actions among human beings. The Quranic concept of God differs from all other concepts of God in that the Quran requires power to establish a political, economic and social structure based on Quranic universal, permanent values which will allow and encourage the development of the "self" of individuals ( 8:26, 22:41, 24:55 ). The "self" is affected by social and economic dealings especially when conflicts of interest arise between individuals, groups, or nations. That is why Islam emphasizes Jama'ah or togetherness. "There is no Islam without Jama'ah," said Khalifa 'Umar ( R ) [Jame'e Ibn 'Abd-al'Aziz]. Jama'ah does not mean just praying together but working together in unity in all aspects of life. The Prophet (PBUH) is reported to have said: "Anyone who gets even one feet away from the Jama'ah has taken out the Islamic yoke from his neck, even if he prays and fasts." [Riwayah 'Ahmad Wal-'Hakim].