If we want to know who Allah is, His names and His attributes, we can turn to the Quran for answers. From cover to cover the main topic of the Quran is Allah. Not only does the Quran tell us who Allah is, but also informs us of who Allah is not. In other words, the Quran dispels the many misconceptions that people have concerning Allah. This topic is addressed numerous times in the Quran. People forge lies concerning Allah without any reliance or reference to divine revelation. As a result of this, many erroneous ideas concerning Allah are both circulated and embraced as being true. And the Quran effectively debunks these erroneous ideas and points us back to the reality of who Allah is.
I submit that the following Quranic verse tells us something about Allah that we need to ponder over.
Allah says in Surah Ankabut 29:6:
وَمَن جَـٰهَدَ فَإِنَّمَا يُجَـٰهِدُ لِنَفۡسِهِۦۤۚ إِنَّ ٱللَّهَ لَغَنِىٌّ عَنِ ٱلۡعَـٰلَمِينَ — “And if any strive (with might and main), they do so for their own souls: for Allah is free of all needs from all creation.”
In this verse, there is a contrast between the situation of we human beings and Allah. Humans need to strive and make effort in our daily lives, and we do so for our own good. Our efforts are made because we are in need of something. So, we go from a place of need to a place where the need is met, and that is done through our own personal efforts. Our condition — from a place of need to a place of having those needs fulfilled — changes from one moment to the next and never remains certain or fixed. Also, especially when we keep in mind the second part of the verse, the actions that we carry out and the efforts that we make are for our own benefit and in no way is Allah in need of any of this.
The second part of this verse informs us that Allah is not a need of anything. Allah is never in a situation where He has a need that has to be fulfilled and then later that need is met as a result of someone or something providing Him with His need. If Allah had needs then that means He changes in that He goes from a state of need to a state of having those needs fulfilled. If Allah had any needs this means but He would be dependent on someone or something else beyond himself to supply those needs. This would also mean that His power is limited and thus He would have to get what He wanted from someone or something else. If we held the assertion that Allah was in need, then we would have a distorted idea of who He is. How could any being who possesses needs be considered all-powerful at the same time?
But Allah shuts down this line of thinking with one simple statement “Allah is not in need of anything.”
In this statement, we have learned an important attribute of Allah. Since Allah is not in need of anything or anyone, then it stands to reason that He is all-powerful and self-sufficient. There is no other being anywhere that can say with absolute truth that they are not in need of anyone or anything, for that is simply untrue.
The one thing the Quran reminds us of over and over again is that we are in need of Allah. Consider the following verses:
O mankind! It is you who stand in need of Allah, but Allah is Rich (Free of all wants and needs), Worthy of all praise. (Surah Fatir 35:15)
“To Him belongs what is in the heavens and what is on the earth. And indeed, Allah is the Free of need, the Praiseworthy.” (Surah Hajj 22: 64)
“… unto Allah belong all things in the heavens and on earth, and Allah is free of all wants, worthy of all praise.” (Surah Nisa 4:131)
So the reality of our situation is that we are in continual need of Allah for everything, and Allah is not in need of us at all. This truth should keep us in a state of humility and prevent us from becoming arrogant. It should also compel us to make continual supplication to The One who has no needs — Allah.
In our personal lives, we must always be careful not to embrace erroneous misconceptions and ideas regarding who Allah is, for doing so would lead us astray. This is why we must continually turn to the Quran, as well as the authentic narrations from the prophet, in order to know who Allah is. Our understanding of Allah is what sets us apart as Muslims. And our belief in Allah, as revealed in the Quran, is our only source of salvation in the hereafter.
May Allah protect us from error and lead us to that which is true. And may the peace and blessings of Allah be on our prophet Muhammad.