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WHAT EVERYONE SHOULD KNOW ABOUT ISLAM/Characteristics of Essence and Deed

God’s provable characteristics overall could be classified into the following two categories:

1.4.1. Characteristics of Essence

The characteristics which are always permanent for God’s essence and their proofs do not require a pause upon anything else are called characteristics of His essence; like knowledge, power and life; these characteristics always have been permanent and their proof does not depend upon anything else, and instead are exactly like His essence.

God was knowledgeable and still is, even before he had created any creatures. He was powerful before His creating anything that was possible for him to create. God always had life. His position of essence is not without knowledge and power otherwise it would be limited, defected, and needy and would not be a being or thing Whose existence is necessary (W’ajib al-Wajood).

1.4.2. Characteristics of Deed

The characteristics that are taken from some of God’s acts are called characteristics of acts, like that of the Creator, Provider, Benevolent, and Forgiving. Since He creates the creatures, He is called the Creator, He provides them their sustenance and is called Provider, since He bestows upon His creatures, He is called Benevolent, and since he covers our sins and faults He is called Forgiver of sins. These types of characteristics in reality prove a sort of special communication which exists between God and His creatures.

1.4.3. A Narration

Husain ibn Khalid said: “I heard from Imam Al-Ridha’ (a.s.) who said: ‘God had always been knowledgeable, powerful, alive, ancient, a seer, and listener.’ I said: ‘O son of the Holy Prophet (S) a group says: ‘God had been knowledgeable but had more knowledge than His essence, had been Almighty but had more might than His essence, had been alive but with more life than His essence, had always been ancient but older than His essence, had been a listener but more hearing than His essence, had been a seer but could see more than His essence.’

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Imam Al-Ridha’ (a.s.) replied: ‘Whoever considers God’s characteristics additional to His essence is a polytheist and would not be considered as my follower. God had always been knowledgeable, Almighty, alive, ancient, a listener, and a seer but these characteristics are exactly like his essence.’”