Answered by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani
In the Name of Allah, Most Merciful and Compassionate
God: the one in no need of anyone else, whom all else are in absolute need of. [Bajuri, Hashiyat al-Sanusiyya]
This definition of 'god' is a formal definition of the scholars of the science of `aqida, chosen by authorities like Imam Sanusi and most of the later Ash`ari scholars after him.
As for the linguistic basis, this was discussed by Imam Raghib al-Isfahani in his authoritative explanation of the vocabulary of the Qur'an, Mufradat Alfadh al-Qur'an. He explained that the root verb alaha refers to worship. Thus, ilah ('god') refers to 'the one worshipped.' [Isfahani, Mufradat, 82]
He then mentions that other suggested roots for ilah are:
* aliha, meaning 'bewildered.' This points to the reality that if the human reflects on the attributes of god, they are bewildered.
* wilah, meaning 'madly in love' (walih). This is because all creation is madly in love with god, whether by choice or without choice (at the existential level). This is pointed to in the Qur'an: Surat al-Isra', verse 44.
* laha, meaning 'veiled' (from liyah). This points to the reality that, "Sight does not encompass Him, while He encompasses all sight." [Qur'an, al-Hadid: 3] [ibid]
Given these linguistic considerations, and the primary linguistic sense of ilah ('god') meaning, "the worshipped", [Fayruzabadi, al-Qamus al-Muhit] many of the scholars of the science of beliefs defined god as, "The one rightly worshipped." [Bajuri, Tuhfat al-Murid `ala Jawharat al-Tawhid; Mulla Ali al-Qari, Daw' al-Ma`ali `ala Bad' al-Amali, 35]
However, the Imam Sanusi definition would appear more useful at the level of the science of `aqida.
Thus, the definition of la ilaha illa Allah ('there is no god but Allah') is:
There is no one free of all need, whom all else are in absolute need of, but Allah.
Imam Sanusi reminds us in his Umm al-Barahin ('Sanusiyya') that, "It thus befits the one of intelligence to make much mention of this noble phrase, until it becomes admixed with their very flesh and blood."
The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) said, "The best thing I and the messengers before me came with is la ilaha illa Allah."
And he also said (peace and blessings be upon him), "Whoever's last words are la ilaha illa Allah enters Paradise." [Abu Dawud and Hakim]
The primary meaning of 'last words' is the last words one utters in one's life. However, some scholars have mentioned that it may be understood, by way of indication (ishara), that any moment the last words on one's tongue, heart, mind, and soul are La ilaha illa Allah then one will have entered the paradise of spiritual realization.
And Allah alone gives success.
MMVIII © Faraz Rabbani and Qibla.
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