Perhaps a better title might be "Is it possible for Allah to love?"
Let me first respond to criticisms Muslims may raise to the question. In the Qur'an, the word 'love' is associated with Allah a number of times. But in these verses, Allah's love is conditional. It is dependent on the actions of the one seeking Allah's love. In a sense, one must be deemed worthy of Allah's love. One must earn the right to be loved by Allah. And in this sense, the word does not mean 'love' in the way most people understand the word. The word 'respect' could easily replace 'love' and not alter the meaning of the text.
Sura 2:222 Truly, Allâh loves those who turn unto Him in repentance and loves those who purify themselves.
Sura 61:4 Verily, Allâh loves those who fight in His Cause in rows (ranks) as if they were a solid structure .
Sura 3:76 Yes, whoever fulfils his pledge and fears Allâh much; verily, then Allâh loves those who are Al-Muttaqûn [pious].
Sura 2:195 Truly, Allâh loves Al-Muhsinûn (the good-doers).
Sura 60:8 Verily, Allâh loves those who deal with equity.
Sura 9:108 And Allâh loves those who make themselves clean and pure.
Sura 3:146 And Allâh loves As-Sâbirin (the patient ones, etc.).
Sura 5:42 Verily, Allâh loves those who act justly.
Sura 3:159 Then when you have taken a decision, put your trust in Allâh, certainly, Allâh loves those who put their trust (in Him).
Sura 49:9 Verily! Allâh loves those who are equitable.
Clearly Allah does not love unconditionally like the God of the Bible.
Now, why is it impossible for Allah to love?
First, we need to understand the Islamic concept of God. Allah is tawhid, which means Allah is absolutely singular in nature. He has no parters as the Quran clearly states.
Sura 4:48 Verily, Allâh forgives not that partners should be set up with him in worship, but He forgives except that (anything else) to whom He pleases, and whoever sets up partners with Allâh in worship, he has indeed invented a tremendous sin.
Sura 3:64 Say (O Muhammad SAW): "O people of the Scripture (Jews and Christians): Come to a word that is just between us and you, that we worship none but Allâh, and that we associate no partners with Him, and that none of us shall take others as lords besides Allâh. Then, if they turn away, say: "Bear witness that we are Muslims."
Sura 5:72 Surely, they have disbelieved who say: "Allâh is the Messiah ['Iesa (Jesus)], son of Maryam (Mary)." But the Messiah ['Iesa (Jesus)] said: "O Children of Israel! Worship Allâh, my Lord and your Lord." Verily, whosoever sets up partners in worship with Allâh, then Allâh has forbidden Paradise for him, and the Fire will be his abode.
Since Allah has no partners, is absolutely singular in nature. Allah was all alone, by Himself in eternity past before the rest of creation existed. And if Allah was all alone in eternity past, on whom was he loving?
The concept of love requires at least two entities to make sense: a lover and someone or something else on whom that love is bestowed. You have to love someone; you have to love some thing. Love cannot exist in absolute, singular isolation. Thus Allah, as an absolute singular entity was unable to ever develop the attribute of love in eternity past. Allah cannot be said to possess the attribute of love.
Al-Ghazali put it this way: "Love is to sense a need of the beloved and since Allah cannot be said to have a need or an experience of need, it is therefore impossible that Allah should love." Al-Ghazali recognized that for love to make sense, another entity needed to be involved. And since Allah cannot be said to have a need of anyone or anything else to define himself, it is impossible for Allah to be said to be loving, since that requires somebody else.
But this presents a problem for Muslims, because they recognize their ability to love others. But if Allah does not possess the attribute of love and never could have in eternity past, is it logically possible Allah could have given mankind something Allah himself did not possess when he created man? Muslims claim the ability to love, but they can't claim it comes from Allah. They have the wrong God. So where does love come from?
The God of the Bible has ALWAYS existed in a loving, eternal relationship. Three persons in one shared God-head. The Father in eternal loving communion with The Son, in ever loving communion with The Spirit, in ever loving communion with The Father.
We are made in God's image (Genesis 1:26). We are loving creatures because our God has always been loving. The creator God of the Bible was able to give us the ability to love because He himself has always been loving also. He was able to give us the attribute of love because He also possessed that attribute.
Muslim are claiming an attribute they have no right to lay claim to, since they can't get it from Allah. In order for Muslims to understand who they are as loving people, they must reject Allah and come to the God of the Bible.
Many Muslim apologists and their ilk, including the current president, quote this verse as a proof text that Islam is peaceful and condemns the killing of innocent persons. But is this true? Is this what the verse means? Continue reading.
First, it must be noted that the verse is not quoted in its entirety. This is done purposefully. The entire verse reads, "On that account: We ordained for the Children of Israel that if any one slew a person - unless it be for murder or for spreading mischief in the land - it would be as if he slew the whole people: and if any one saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of the whole people. Then although there came to them Our messengers with clear signs, yet, even after that, many of them continued to commit excesses in the land."
Muslims are told and believe that the Quran they possess today is the very same Quran given to Muhammad over a 23 year period as the angel Gabriel revealed it. They believe the Quran to be the very words of Allah and thus perfectly perserved, because Allah would never let his own words fall into question. Not one word or punctuation mark differs from that which was revealed to Muhammad beginning in 610 AD.
This is quite a claim indeed. But is it true?
Before we answer this question, here are some claims made regarding the Quran, taken from Isalmic websites:
"The Quran has not been expressed using any human words. It's wording is letter for letter fixed by no one but Allah." - islamicweb.com
“The Quran is a record of the exact words revealed by God through the Angel Gabriel to the Prophet Muhammad. It was memorized by Muhammad and then dictated to his Companions, and written down by scribes, who cross-checked it during his lifetime. Not one word of its 114 chapters, Suras, has been changed over the centuries, so that the Quran is in every detail the unique and miraculous text which was revealed to Muhammad fourteen centuries ago.” - islamicity.com
“Allah has guaranteed that He will protect the Qur'an from human tampering, and today's readers can find exact copies of it all over the world. The Qur'an of today is the same as the Qur'an revealed to Muhammad (saas).” - University of Southern California Muslim Student Association
" ... not expressed using any human words ... not one word of its 114 chapters has been changed over the centuries ... the Quran of today is the same as the Quran revealed to Muhammad ..." These are quite provacative. But are they true?
A common claim by western Muslim apologists is that Islam has been hijacked by a handful of extremists who do not represent the true (orthodox) teachings of Islam and the prophet Muhammad. I have written extensively on the topic of jihad and developed an historical analysis on the topic. That article can be downloaded here. For the present, we need to examine whether groups like Al-Qaeda, the Islamic State (formerly known as ISIS), Hezbollah, and any other similar groups are really hijacking Islam.
Jihad: What the sources say
Sura 33:21 - Ye have indeed in the Messenger of Allah a beautiful pattern of conduct for any one whose hope is in Allah and the final day, and who engages much in the praise of Allah.
Interpretation: Muhammad set the pattern of conduct for all Muslims, for all time.
With that said, I will examine the biography of Muhammad from his earliest chronicler, Ibn Ishaq. This is the most authoritative biography written about Muhammad and is the one used by all scholars of Islam.
Islamic theology holds that the Qur'an, the uncreated, eternal tablets in heaven, were written by Allah himself. (Side note: If they are uncreated and eternal, how then could Allah have 'written' them?). The Qur'an Muslim hold today represent the literal words of Allah as dictated to Muhammad piecemeal over a period of twenty-three years. Allah wrote the Qur'an.
Muslims further believe Allah to be the all-knowing deity. There is nothing which escapes his notice, and nothing which he does not already know. "The All Knowing" is one of 99 names for Allah found multiple times in the Qur'an.
If Allah indeed is all-knowing, the creator of all, one who knows history, biology, geography, and the beliefs of different religious systems as they have appeared throughout history, we should then expect to be accurate when it addresses these areas of knowledge. However, what we do find is very troubling. For a god who knows everything, we find in the Qur'an some rather embarrassing details. Here is but a small sample.
Who actually wrote the Qur'an?
Mary part of the Trinity?
Sura 5:116 - "And (remember) when Allah will say (on the Day of Resurrection): 'O Isa (Jesus), son of Maryam (Mary)! Did you say unto men: 'Worship me and my mother as two gods beside Allah?"
The Qur'an here suggests that Christians worship Mary as another god, equivalent to Jesus. In fact, this verse suggests Christians include Mary as part of the trinitarian Godhead: God, Jesus, and Mary.
When Muhammad first began receiving revelation he thought to be from Allah, it was the angel Gabriel who brought Allah's message to him. Or so at least that's what Muhamamd thought. But was it actually Gabriel?
Let's see what Muhammad's initial encounter with Gabriel was like, and discover what emotional state this encounter left Muhammad. Two traditions (hadith) provide essentially the same story with slight variances.
Sahih Muslim, Book 1, Hadith 301
There came to him the angel and said: Recite, to which he replied: I am not lettered. He took hold of me [the Apostle said] and pressed me, till I was hard pressed; thereafter he let me off and said: Recite. I said: I am not lettered. He then again took hold of me and pressed me for the second time till I was hard pressed and then let me off and said: Recite, to which I replied: I am not lettered. He took hold of me and pressed me for the third time, till I was hard pressed and then let me go and said: Recite in the name of your Lord Who created, created man from a clot of blood. Recite. And your most bountiful Lord is He Who taught the use of pen, taught man what he knew not (al-Qur'an, xcvi. 1-4). Then the Prophet returned therewith, his heart was trembling, and he went to Khadija and said: Wrap me up, wrap me up! So they wrapped him till the fear had left him. He then said to Khadija: O Khadija! what has happened to me? and he informed her of the happening, saying: I fear for myself.
Bukhari, Book 1, Volume 1, Hadith 3
The angel came to him and asked him to read. The Prophet replied, "I do not know how to read.
The Prophet added, "The angel caught me (forcefully) and pressed me so hard that I could not bear it any more. He then released me and again asked me to read and I replied, 'I do not know how to read.' Thereupon he caught me again and pressed me a second time till I could not bear it any more. He then released me and again asked me to read but again I replied, 'I do not know how to read (or what shall I read)?' Thereupon he caught me for the third time and pressed me, and then released me and said, 'Read in the name of your Lord, who has created (all that exists) has created man from a clot. Read! And your Lord is the Most Generous." (96.1, 96.2, 96.3) Then Allah's Apostle returned with the Inspiration and with his heart beating severely. Then he went to Khadija bint Khuwailid and said, "Cover me! Cover me!" They covered him till his fear was over and after that he told her everything that had happened and said, "I fear that something may happen to me."
Two questions arise from Muhammad's encounter with Gabriel. Why did a visitation with a messenger from God leave Muhammad in a state of panic and complete fear? Why would a messenger from God physically assault Muhammad?
This week (October 13, 2013) Muslims will celebrate Eid Al-Adha, one of two major annual major eid festivals. Otherwise knows as the Festival of the Sacrifice, it is a time when Muslims reflect on prophet Abraham and the sacrifice he was willing to make for Allah, that of sacrificing his only son. Fortunately, God provided a sacrifice at the last moment and spared Abraham's son.
Sadly, Muslims miss the most significant meaning of this festival.
You see, this celebration is not simply about honoring Abraham's submission and obedience to God. It goes much deeper. The symbolism is much more dramatic than Muslims realize or care to acknowledge.
Abraham was asked by God to sacrifice his most prized possession, his first and only son, at least according to Islamic tradition. Isaac had not yet been born; Muslims believe it was Ishmael in view in this story, though he is not named in the Qur'an. At that time, and even so today still, a man's son was his progeny, his offspring through whom the family name and bloodline would continue. God asked Abraham to sacrifice something very dear and valuable to him - his only son!