There are three ways one may study attributes of Allah:
- The attribute by itself,
- With other attributes, and
- Its manifestation in human beings.
In this article, we shall present Allah’s attribute ‘al-Khaliq’ in each of these ways. The word Khaliq is translated as ‘Creator’; however, it is mostly understood as ’Maker’ – probably because these words are synonyms. According to the Oxford dictionary, the word ‘create’ is used for bringing something into existence from nothing. We use the word ‘make’ for bringing something into existence from other things. For example, we make bread and not create bread.
Al-Khaliq has its roots in the word ‘khalq’, which is used for creating, designing and planning, i.e., Allah brings into existence something from nothing, hence He is the designer and planner (1). Hazrat Khalifatul-Masih V (aba) has explained thisas follows:
“According to the lexicons, the root word khalq has the following meanings: To take proper measure before creating something; to create something from nothing without copying any prior design, and to make something from another or to invent something. To create from nothing is a quality that exclusively belongs to Allah” (2).
This is to say that Allah is al-Khaliq (The Creator) and al-Bari (The Maker).
The Creator and The Designer
The Holy Qur’an calls Allah the Creator of the heavens and earth and of everything in between (3,4). He conceived everything and put forward a plan for everything. Clearly, what we create is per His design and His Divine plan.
We rely on our senses to experience and understand the world, and these senses are limited in understanding Allah and His attributes. However, Allah does provide us with examples in this world that we may use to understand Him, in our limited way. One such example is water; the element of life. All life depends on water: we cannot survive for long without it. Allah has created the earth’s ecosystem to ensure distribution of water. This intricate system is too vast to discuss in a short article; therefore, my focus will be on rain.
Most of the water on earth is seawater which contains salts and minerals, and cannot be used without purification. The sun’s heat causes water to evaporate and starts a purification process. The water vapors defy gravity and rise to the heavens, where they condense and make clouds. The changes in the atmosphere move the clouds throughout the world. Precipitation occurs when clouds reach an area of a certain temperature (5).
The Holy Qur’an says, “And He it is Who sends the winds as glad tidings before His mercy, till, when they bear a heavy cloud, We drive it to a dead land, then We send down water therefrom, and We bring forth therewith fruits of every kind. In like manner do We bring forth the dead that you may remember” (6).
Allah also says in the Holy Qur’an: “We sent down water from the sky according to measure, and We caused it to stay in the earth — and surely it is We Who determine its taking away” (7).
The process of water purification and distribution is designed to ensure that the Earth is self-sufficient in water, i.e., this is the second part of Allah’s plan. As Allah says: “We caused it to stay in the earth” all of which points to His design.
The Creator and The Planner
The above mentioned verse of the Holy Qur’an also illustrates another aspect of al-Khaliq – the Planner. The words ‘plan’ and ‘design’ are synonyms; however, according to the Oxford dictionary, the word ‘plan’ is used for making arrangements to achieve an objective. One of Allah’s objectives was to create life on Earth – as is evident by our existence. This verse shows us many steps of this plan; however, I shall only discuss the first step of bringing water to Earth.
There are competing theories about the origin of water on Earth; however, these theories start from the Big Bang. In the early moments of the Big Bang, copious amounts of hydrogen was created, which is one of the elements for water molecules, and is the primary element of the stars. Complex elements, such as oxygen are created when a star dies in a spectacular explosion called a Supernova (8). A bond between two hydrogen and one oxygen atoms creates a water molecule. This implies that the plan for creating water was in place and in play before there was any sign of the planet earth.
One of the theories about the origin of water suggests that the Earth’s water has extra-planetary sources, i.e., the water on our planet came from outside of the planet. It suggests that heavenly objects such as meteorites or comets may have been the source of water as evident by an isotope, present both on earth and in water-bearing meteorites and comets (9).
This research is in line with explaining Allah’s plan that He has brought water for us from the sky, i.e., through meteorites and comets. The above mentioned verse (7) shows that the al-Khaliq is not only the Creator, but the Designer and the Planner as well.
The Creator and The Originator
Hazrat Khalifatul-Masih V (aba) said in his Friday sermon that in Arabic, ‘khalq’ means to create something from nothing or using no prior design (2). This means that there was nothing but Allah before He created something – because if there was something, then the design would have existed. This means that Allah originated creation as well.
The Qur’an also expresses this in the following way: “He is the Originator of the heavens and the earth. When He decrees a thing, He does only say to it, ‘Be!’ and it is” (10).
This verse also points to His attribute al-Khaliq, as The Designer and as One who has all knowledge; He has only to say: ‘Be’ and He knows that it will be. The Qur’an mentions this attribute of Allah along with other attributes.. In these instances, we learn that Allah abides by the responsibilities of The Creator. He provides for all His creation. As He says in the Holy Qur’an, “And We placed thereon high mountains, and gave you sweet water to drink” (11), and “So eat of the lawful and good things which Allah has provided for you; and be grateful for the bounty of Allah, if it is Him you worship” (12).
He bestows mercy upon His creation, which is mentioned at the beginning of every chapter in the Qur’an, in Al-Fatiha (13), and in many other places in the Qur’an.
‘The Creator’ in Other Religious Texts
All attributes of Allah are important; however, without al-Khaliq, there would be nothing. This is expressed in other religious texts as well. For example, this is explicitly mentioned in the first verse of the Bible states: “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth” (14). Some translations of the Bible use Elohim instead of God as it is a common Hebrew name for Allah and it is usually translated in English as Father, God, or God the Creator (15).
In Gita, Allah tells Arjuna that the best way to understand Him is by understanding His creation. He says, “Know Me to be the creator of all creation, O Arjuna. The true understanding of both the creator and the creation is considered by Me to be the transcendental or metaphysical knowledge” (16).
Humans are Creative
In the Holy Qur’an, Allah says, “So when I have fashioned him in perfection and have breathed into him of My Spirit, fall ye down in submission to him” (17).
This means that He gifted us a share of His attributes. al-Khaliq is one of the easiest to identify in human beings as He has made us creative. Since the beginning of time, we have invented, used our curiosity to discover elements, plants, and other living creatures. We have created tools to investigate the depths of the seas and the heights of the skies. We have devised methods to cultivate lands, breed and kill beasts much larger in size.
Some people may say that they are not the particularly creative. This self-assessment is not correct, and a small experiment can be used to show that all humans are creative. Grab a couple of pens and blank sheets of paper and sit down with a friend. Give one of the pens and paper to your friend. Start a two-minute timer and draw each other before the timer expires. The rule is that you and your friend cannot talk to each other, nor may you giggle.
When the timer expires, share your drawings with each other and do not worry about the quality of your art. The point is not to see who drew the best picture; rather, the participants of this experiment created something new out of nothing. The paper you used for drawing each other was blank and now has a likeness of the participants drawn on it. This experiment shows us that Allah has blessed all humans to create.
Oh, and you may start talking to each other now.
This article appears in the Fall 2019 issue.
1. Malik Ghulam Farid, Dictionary of the Holy Qur’an, Tilford: Islam International Publications Limited, 2006.
2. Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad (aba), “Divine attribute of al Khaliq (The Creator),” 07 May 2010. [Online]. Available: https://www.alislam.org/friday-sermon/2010-05-07.html [Accessed 18 July 2019].
3. The Holy Qur’an (21:17)
4. The Holy Qur’an (38:28)
5. “Water Cycle,” Wikipedia, [Online]. Available: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Water_cycle . [Accessed 18 July 2019].
6. The Holy Qur’an (7:58)
7. The Holy Qur’an (23:19)
8. “How did water come to Earth?”, Smithsonian.com [Online]. Available: https://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/how-did-water-come-to-earth-72037248/ [Accessed 31 July 2019].
9. “Early accretion of water in the inner solar system from a carbonaceous chondrite–like source”, Adam R. Sara_an, Sune G. Nielsen, Horst R. Marschall, Francis M. McCubbin, Brian D. Monteleone. Science 31 Oct 2014: Vol. 346, Issue 6209, pp. 623-626.
10. The Holy Qur’an (2:118)
11. The Holy Qur’an (77:28)
12. The Holy Qur’an (16:115)
13. The Holy Qur’an (1:2)
14. Genesis, 1:1
15. “Elohim,” Wikipedia, [Online]. Available: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elohim [Accessed 20 July 2019].
16. Bhagavad Gita, 13.02
17. The Holy Qur’an (15:30)
Last modified: April 2020