In Classical Arabic, there is a distinction between “god” with a little “g” and God with a capital “G.” These two words are illah ( إِلَٰه ) for god and Allah ( اللَّه ) for God. This is prominently depicted in the testimony (shahadah) of the believers:
gods besides God
The entire function of this world is for individuals to reach a firm conviction on their own volition that God alone is their only Lord and Master. The individuals who choose God will reside in God’s kingdom during their stay in this world and for eternity in the Hereafter, but those who choose any other entity will be exiled from God’s kingdom and will reside with the god of their choosing in the Hereafter. It is only then that they will realize that the gods they were worshiping beside God had no authority, power, or provisions aside from what God granted them in this world.
[21:43] Do they have gods who can protect them from us? They cannot even help themselves. Nor can they accompany one another when they are summoned to face us.
(٤٣) أَمْ لَهُمْ آلِهَةٌ تَمْنَعُهُمْ مِنْ دُونِنَا لَا يَسْتَطِيعُونَ نَصْرَ أَنْفُسِهِمْ وَلَا هُمْ مِنَّا يُصْحَبُونَ
[46:28] Why then did the idols they set up to bring them closer to GOD fail to help them? Instead, they abandoned them. Such were the false gods they idolized; such were the innovations they fabricated.
(٢٨) فَلَوْلَا نَصَرَهُمُ الَّذِينَ اتَّخَذُوا مِنْ دُونِ اللَّهِ قُرْبَانًا آلِهَةً بَلْ ضَلُّوا عَنْهُمْ وَذَٰلِكَ إِفْكُهُمْ وَمَا كَانُوا يَفْتَرُونَ
To help the human being make the right decision in this most critical matter, God had all human beings bear witness to Him before our arrival to this world.
[7:172] Recall that your Lord summoned all the descendants of Adam, and had them bear witness for themselves: “Am I not your Lord?” They all said, “Yes. We bear witness.” Thus, you cannot say on the Day of Resurrection, “We were not aware of this.”
وَإِذْ أَخَذَ رَبُّكَ مِنْ بَنِي آدَمَ مِنْ ظُهُورِهِمْ ذُرِّيَّتَهُمْ وَأَشْهَدَهُمْ عَلَىٰ أَنْفُسِهِمْ أَلَسْتُ بِرَبِّكُمْ قَالُوا بَلَىٰ شَهِدْنَا أَنْ تَقُولُوا يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ إِنَّا كُنَّا عَنْ هَٰذَا غَافِلِينَ
Additionally, God placed inside every human being the natural inclination to worship God alone.
[30:30] Therefore, you shall devote yourself to the religion of strict monotheism. Such is the natural instinct placed into the people by GOD. Such creation of GOD will never change. This is the perfect religion, but most people do not know.
فَأَقِمْ وَجْهَكَ لِلدِّينِ حَنِيفًا فِطْرَتَ اللَّهِ الَّتِي فَطَرَ النَّاسَ عَلَيْهَا لَا تَبْدِيلَ لِخَلْقِ اللَّهِ ذَٰلِكَ الدِّينُ الْقَيِّمُ وَلَٰكِنَّ أَكْثَرَ النَّاسِ لَا يَعْلَمُونَ
To carry out this experiment and not impact a person’s decision in this process, God’s physical presence in this world would have to be kept hidden. This is like a parent who wants to determine how their child behaves when they are not physically there to influence their actions.
[2:55] Recall that you said, “O Moses, we will not believe unless we see GOD, physically.” Consequently, the lightning struck you, as you looked.
(٥٥) وَإِذْ قُلْتُمْ يَامُوسَىٰ لَنْ نُؤْمِنَ لَكَ حَتَّىٰ نَرَى اللَّهَ جَهْرَةً فَأَخَذَتْكُمُ الصَّاعِقَةُ وَأَنْتُمْ تَنْظُرُونَ
Additionally, individuals would have to be presented with an alternative choice. In the case of this experiment, God permitted Satan to present the human being with an alternative.
[7:14] He said, “Grant me a respite, until the Day of Resurrection.”
[7:15] He said, “You are granted a respite.”
[7:16] He said, “Since You have willed that I go astray,* I will skulk for them on Your straight path.
[7:17] “I will come to them from before them, and from behind them, and from their right, and from their left, and You will find that most of them are unappreciative.”
[7:18] He said, “Get out therefrom, despised and defeated. Those among them who follow you, I will fill Hell with you all.
(٧:١٤) قَالَ أَنْظِرْنِي إِلَىٰ يَوْمِ يُبْعَثُونَ
(٧:١٥) قَالَ إِنَّكَ مِنَ الْمُنْظَرِينَ
(٧:١٦) قَالَ فَبِمَا أَغْوَيْتَنِي لَأَقْعُدَنَّ لَهُمْ صِرَاطَكَ الْمُسْتَقِيمَ
(٧:١٧) ثُمَّ لَآتِيَنَّهُمْ مِنْ بَيْنِ أَيْدِيهِمْ وَمِنْ خَلْفِهِمْ وَعَنْ أَيْمَانِهِمْ وَعَنْ شَمَائِلِهِمْ وَلَا تَجِدُ أَكْثَرَهُمْ شَاكِرِينَ
(٧:١٨) قَالَ اخْرُجْ مِنْهَا مَذْءُومًا مَدْحُورًا لَمَنْ تَبِعَكَ مِنْهُمْ لَأَمْلَأَنَّ جَهَنَّمَ مِنْكُمْ أَجْمَعِينَ
Satan’s entire prerogative is to convince the human being to accept any other “god” besides God. Ultimately irrespective of which “god” one chooses, if it is not God alone as their only god, then they are following Satan, and thus making Satan their god. This is why the choice in this world is either God or Satan. Anyone who chooses other than God alone is ultimately aligning with Satan’s point of view and thus making Satan their god.
[36:60] Did I not covenant with you, O Children of Adam, that you shall not worship the devil? That he is your most ardent enemy?
(٦٠) أَلَمْ أَعْهَدْ إِلَيْكُمْ يَابَنِي آدَمَ أَنْ لَا تَعْبُدُوا الشَّيْطَانَ إِنَّهُ لَكُمْ عَدُوٌّ مُبِينٌ
As part of this experiment for the human being to make a free choice, God authorized Satan to be able to make his case to sway people away from God as agents of the devil.
[15:41] He said, “This is a law that is inviolable.
[15:42] “You have no power over My servants. You only have power over the strayers who follow you.
(١٥:٤١) قَالَ هَٰذَا صِرَاطٌ عَلَيَّ مُسْتَقِيمٌ
(١٥:٤٢) إِنَّ عِبَادِي لَيْسَ لَكَ عَلَيْهِمْ سُلْطَانٌ إِلَّا مَنِ اتَّبَعَكَ مِنَ الْغَاوِينَ
If an individual chooses any other entity as a partner next to God, they will see that these entities have no power except what God authorized them. And that their power was limited to what God granted them in this life, which will be taken away in the Hereafter.
[16:99] He has no power over those who believe and trust in their Lord. [16:100] His power is limited to those who choose him as their master; those who choose him as their god.
(١٠٠) إِنَّمَا سُلْطَانُهُ عَلَى الَّذِينَ يَتَوَلَّوْنَهُ وَالَّذِينَ هُمْ بِهِ مُشْرِكُونَ
(٩٩) إِنَّهُ لَيْسَ لَهُ سُلْطَانٌ عَلَى الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَعَلَىٰ رَبِّهِمْ يَتَوَكَّلُونَ
Lord vs. Master
This is why in the opening Sura of the Quran, The Key (Al-Fãtehah / الفاتحة), God describes Himself as Lord of the universe, but Master of the Day of Judgment. This is because, in this world, people are free to choose who they want as their lord, idol, or god. People during their time in this world are free to believe or disbelieve, to do righteous works or evil works, to speak or stay quiet, to worship God alone, or to choose to set up partners next to God, or to make their case for any path other than the path of God. These choices will not be permissible in the Hereafter.
[16:84] The day will come when we raise from every community a witness, then those who disbelieved will not be permitted (to speak), nor will they be excused.
(٨٤) وَيَوْمَ نَبْعَثُ مِنْ كُلِّ أُمَّةٍ شَهِيدًا ثُمَّ لَا يُؤْذَنُ لِلَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا وَلَا هُمْ يُسْتَعْتَبُونَ
[37:40] Only GOD’s servants who are absolutely devoted to Him alone (will be saved).
(٤٠) إِلَّا عِبَادَ اللَّهِ الْمُخْلَصِينَ
The gods of this world
God acknowledges that in this world, there are many idols or gods that people will partner and associate with God (4:117, 6:74, 7:127, 7:138, 11:53, 18:102, 36:74, 38:6, 46:22, 72:23), but it is the imperative decision for every believer in God alone to actively denounce all these other gods and to devote themselves absolutely to God alone.
[6:46] Say, “What if GOD took away your hearing and your eyesight, and sealed your minds; which god, other than GOD, can restore these for you?” Note how we explain the revelations, and note how they still deviate!
قُلْ أَرَأَيْتُمْ إِنْ أَخَذَ اللَّهُ سَمْعَكُمْ وَأَبْصَارَكُمْ وَخَتَمَ عَلَىٰ قُلُوبِكُمْ مَنْ إِلَٰهٌ غَيْرُ اللَّهِ يَأْتِيكُمْ بِهِ انْظُرْ كَيْفَ نُصَرِّفُ الْآيَاتِ ثُمَّ هُمْ يَصْدِفُونَ
[28:71] Say, “What if GOD made the night perpetual, until the Day of Resurrection? Which god, other than GOD, can provide you with light? Do you not hear?”
قُلْ أَرَأَيْتُمْ إِنْ جَعَلَ اللَّهُ عَلَيْكُمُ الَّيْلَ سَرْمَدًا إِلَىٰ يَوْمِ الْقِيَامَةِ مَنْ إِلَٰهٌ غَيْرُ اللَّهِ يَأْتِيكُمْ بِضِيَاءٍ أَفَلَا تَسْمَعُونَ
[28:72] Say, “What if GOD made the daylight perpetual, until the Day of Resurrection? Which god, other than GOD, can provide you with a night for your rest? Do you not see?”
قُلْ أَرَأَيْتُمْ إِنْ جَعَلَ اللَّهُ عَلَيْكُمُ النَّهَارَ سَرْمَدًا إِلَىٰ يَوْمِ الْقِيَامَةِ مَنْ إِلَٰهٌ غَيْرُ اللَّهِ يَأْتِيكُمْ بِلَيْلٍ تَسْكُنُونَ فِيهِ أَفَلَا تُبْصِرُونَ
[2:163] Your god is one god; there is no god but He, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.
(١٦٣) وَإِلَٰهُكُمْ إِلَٰهٌ وَاحِدٌ لَا إِلَٰهَ إِلَّا هُوَ الرَّحْمَٰنُ الرَّحِيمُ
Did God make gods?
Since God made all creation (39:62), and the gods that people worship beside God are ultimately the creation of God, then does this mean that God created gods besides Himself? God has a system and has offered his servants who opted for the responsibility the freedom of choice.
[33:72] We have offered the responsibility (freedom of choice) to the heavens and the earth, and the mountains, but they refused to bear it, and were afraid of it. But the human being accepted it; he was transgressing, ignorant.
إِنَّا عَرَضْنَا الْأَمَانَةَ عَلَى السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ وَالْجِبَالِ فَأَبَيْنَ أَنْ يَحْمِلْنَهَا وَأَشْفَقْنَ مِنْهَا وَحَمَلَهَا الْإِنْسَانُ إِنَّهُ كَانَ ظَلُومًا جَهُولًا
This freedom of choice allows entities to misuse God’s creation against its intended purpose. For instance, the Quran provides the following example of grapes that can be used for a good provision or as an intoxicant, which is prohibited for consumption (5:90-91).
[16:67] And from the fruits of date palms and grapes you produce intoxicants, as well as good provisions. This should be (sufficient) proof for people who understand.
وَمِنْ ثَمَرَاتِ النَّخِيلِ وَالْأَعْنَابِ تَتَّخِذُونَ مِنْهُ سَكَرًا وَرِزْقًا حَسَنًا إِنَّ فِي ذَٰلِكَ لَآيَةً لِقَوْمٍ يَعْقِلُونَ
Similarly, Satan was created by God to serve the human being, yet he refused. When he refused, he blamed God for sending Him astray.
[15:39] He said, “My Lord, since You have willed that I go astray, I will surely entice them on earth; I will send them all astray.
(٣٩) قَالَ رَبِّ بِمَا أَغْوَيْتَنِي لَأُزَيِّنَنَّ لَهُمْ فِي الْأَرْضِ وَلَأُغْوِيَنَّهُمْ أَجْمَعِينَ
But God did not send him astray, God merely provided him a mechanism to expose his true convictions. If, alternatively, Satan killed his ego and submitted to the command of God, then this ordeal would have purified him, but since he used the circumstances nefariously, he only sent himself astray without him perceiving. Ironically, despite his refusal, he still ended up serving the human being, but as a mechanism to either expose or purify the human being.
The outcome, if Satan’s malfeasance will benefit or harm the human being, is upon the human being himself. If they set up Satan as a god beside God and accept Satan’s perspective, then they are the followers of the devil, yet if they seek refuge in God alone from the whispers of the devil, then they belong to God alone. This is Satan’s objective, to take the creation of God and to turn it into something sinful, most notably to turn something into a god ( illah / إِلَٰه ) besides God (Allah / اللَّه ).
[4:119] “I will mislead them, I will entice them, I will command them to (forbid the eating of certain meats by) marking the ears of livestock, and I will command them to distort the creation of GOD.” Anyone who accepts the devil as a lord, instead of GOD, has incurred a profound loss.
وَلَأُضِلَّنَّهُمْ وَلَأُمَنِّيَنَّهُمْ وَلَآمُرَنَّهُمْ فَلَيُبَتِّكُنَّ آذَانَ الْأَنْعَامِ وَلَآمُرَنَّهُمْ فَلَيُغَيِّرُنَّ خَلْقَ اللَّهِ وَمَنْ يَتَّخِذِ الشَّيْطَانَ وَلِيًّا مِنْ دُونِ اللَّهِ فَقَدْ خَسِرَ خُسْرَانًا مُبِينًا
[14:22] And the devil will say, after the judgment had been issued, “GOD has promised you the truthful promise, and I promised you, but I broke my promise. I had no power over you; I simply invited you, and you accepted my invitation. Therefore, do not blame me, and blame only yourselves. My complaining cannot help you, nor can your complaining help me. I have disbelieved in your idolizing me. The transgressors have incurred a painful retribution.”
وَقَالَ الشَّيْطَانُ لَمَّا قُضِيَ الْأَمْرُ إِنَّ اللَّهَ وَعَدَكُمْ وَعْدَ الْحَقِّ وَوَعَدْتُكُمْ فَأَخْلَفْتُكُمْ وَمَا كَانَ لِيَ عَلَيْكُمْ مِنْ سُلْطَانٍ إِلَّا أَنْ دَعَوْتُكُمْ فَاسْتَجَبْتُمْ لِي فَلَا تَلُومُونِي وَلُومُوا أَنْفُسَكُمْ مَا أَنَا بِمُصْرِخِكُمْ وَمَا أَنْتُمْ بِمُصْرِخِيَّ إِنِّي كَفَرْتُ بِمَا أَشْرَكْتُمُونِ مِنْ قَبْلُ إِنَّ الظَّالِمِينَ لَهُمْ عَذَابٌ أَلِيمٌ