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The Quranic expressions like ‘the Best of the Creators’, ‘the Most Merciful of the Merciful’ suggest the existence of other creators and merciful ones

Being a book which throughout emphasizes the Divine Unity most strongly, the Qur’an cannot have used those phrases in the meaning you imagine. Rather, ‘the Best of the creators’ means the Creator is of the highest rank of creativity’. This does not by any means suggest the existence of other creators. Like other Attributes, creativity has also ranks of manifestation. Therefore, ‘the Best of the Creators’ means He is a Majestic Creator Who is of the ultimate rank of creativity.

Phrases like ‘the Best of the Creators’ are not to suggest that there is a plurality of creators; rather they relate to the species of beings and are used to mean that He is a Creator Who creates everything in the best and most apt fashion. Verses like He creates everything in the best form (32:7), are of the same meaning.

Phrases like ‘the Best of the Creators’, ‘God is the Greatest’, ‘the Best of the Judges’, and ‘the Best of the Benevolent’, are not meant to compare those acts and Attributes of God which are manifested in the universe, with those acts and attributes of the creatures who manifest only their shadowy reflections. For whatever beings have is a gift of God lent to them. We see because God is the All-Seeing, and we hear because He is the All-Hearing. All the perfections in the universe shared by all men, angels and jinn are only an indistinct shadow in relation to His, which is beyond compare.

However, people, especially the misguided ones, are unable to measure God with due measure and are usually forgetful of Him. For example, a private is respectful to his corporal; in oblivion of the king he thanks him for what he enjoys because he takes it from his hand. A private such as that should be warned: ‘Look, the king is greater than your corporal. So it is the king whom you must thank’. Such a warning is not to compare the actual, magnificent command of the king with that of the corporal, for such a comparison is meaningless. Although there is a comparison in the warning, it is for the sake of the private who prefers his corporal in gratitude and forgets the king.

Similarly, the means, nature and causes make heedless people blind to the True Bestower of Bounties. They attribute to nature and to causes creativity, and tend to consider them as the actual sources of the bounties which they receive passively. This is one of the most important reasons leading to associating partners with God. This is why the Quran warns them: ‘Almighty God is much greater, and a far better Creator and Benefactor. Regard Him and thank Him.’

Just as between actually existent things, comparisons may be made between possible, and even between imagined things. People may imagine infinite grades in the essence of the Divine Names and Attributes. Almighty God is, however, of the highest, most perfect and most beautiful of all the grades which His Names and Attributes are imagined to have. The whole of the universe bears witness to this. His description of all His Names as the best or most beautiful as in the verse, His are the Most Beautiful Names (20:8), points to this fact.

The phrases of apparent comparison such as those mentioned should also be considered from the following viewpoint.

Almighty God has two kinds of Attributes and ways of manifestations.

The first is that, in the form of an all-encompassing law, He manifests all of His Names throughout the universe from behind apparent means and causes.

The second is that He concentrates His manifestations on a single being without any means or veils. His kindness, creation and grandeur manifested in this second way are brighter, more beautiful and more splendid than their manifestations in the first way.

Suppose there is a saintly king who is able to execute his authority directly without the actual mediation of officials, commanders and governors. That king will execute his authority in two ways. Either he will exercise his rule through some general laws he has established and by employing officials and governors in every office, or he will govern the country directly by being present everywhere at the same time in different forms without the means of any officials. It may be said that this second way of his rule will be better and more excellent.

Similarly, although the Creator of the universe, Who is the Eternal King, has made means and causes veils to His rule and chosen this way to demonstrate the majesty of His Lordship in this life, He has installed a ‘private telephone’ in the hearts of His servants so that leaving all the means and causes behind, they could contact Him each as a private servant and declare: ‘You alone do we worship and from You alone do we seek help.’ Phrases like ‘the Best of the Creators’, ‘the Most Merciful of the Merciful’, and ‘God is the Greatest’, are also meant to underline this fact.

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You assert that the Creator of the universe has infinite perfections: He encompasses the highest degrees of all the kinds of perfections. Whereas the perfections are judged by way of contrast. Without pains, the perfection of pleasures cannot be perceived; without darkness, you cannot recognize light, and without separations, union does not give pleasure, etc.

Last Updated on August 01, 2000

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