What Do Muslims Mean by “God is The Greatest”
All Muslims have favorite verses from the Quran. They could be verses they learned when they were young or they could be verses that have a particular significance in their lives.
Muslims believe that the Quran is Almighty God’s final message to His Creation. Unlike all previous scriptures, it is intended for all people and for all time. That is why the Quran has been preserved completely in the original state in which it was first revealed.
Done through the centuries, our scholars have made commentaries on its verses and Muslims look to these commentaries, known as “Tafsir” or Quranic exegesis, to better understand the context in which verses were revealed and how they relate to the rest of God’s revelation.
Tafsir, then, is important for Muslims to get an informed teaching what the majority of scholars have said about the Quran. By doing so they avoid the mistakes that can come from different translations and different opinions.
In addition to this, Muslims or readers of Quran can look at verses of the Quran and imagine that God Himself is speaking just to them, helping them to live their lives today. In this sense, every verse of the Quran can help individuals to be better Muslims or better people as they go about the business of life.
God is the Greatest and beyond any measure:
“…There is nothing like unto Him, and He is the Hearing, the Seeing.” (42:11), and “He who created the heavens and the earth and what is between them in six days and then established Himself above the Throne – the Most Merciful, so ask about Him one well informed.” (25:59).
He is transcendent, beyond the understanding of His creatures, yet He is also closer to them than the jugular vein in their neck. Indeed, “…Not a leaf falls but that He knows it…” (6:59)
Despite all our striving to know what God is like and all our attempts to describe Him in our words, the simple truth is that He is so beyond our comprehension that when we find a way of describing Him, all we really know is that He is not like that.
This is why the most beautiful image of Islam is an individual man or woman bowing on the ground, with their foreheads touching the earth, admitting that there is nothing worthy of worship but Him. In submitting to God, Muslims accept that they are nothing without Him, yet with His help there is nothing they cannot achieve or be.
One of the most beautiful verses of the Quran, known to us as “the verse of the Throne”:
“Allah – there is no deity except Him, the Ever-Living, the Sustainer of [all] existence. Neither drowsiness overtakes Him nor sleep. To Him belongs whatever is in the heavens and whatever is on the earth. Who is it that can intercede with Him except by His permission? He knows what is [presently] before them and what will be after them, and they encompass not a thing of His knowledge except for what He wills. His Throne extends over the heavens and the earth, and their preservation tires Him not. And He is the Most High, the Most Great.” (2: 255)
This verse captures perfectly God’s Greatness and His Majesty. This is why Muslims cry out God is the Greatest several times a day.
The words of Ayat Al-Kursi (the verse of the Throne) help us to better understand our Creator.
“And your Allah is One Allah: There is no god but He, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.” (2:163)
Almighty God is alive and has existed always and He was not created by anyone. More than that, there is nothing like Him. That is why Muslims say that: “there is nothing worthy of worship but Allah.” There is nothing in this world or in any other world deserving of our worship. And what is more is that nothing will bring us happiness and fulfillment in the same way that Allah will.
“…No slumber can seize Him nor sleep…” (2:255)
Not only is God not in need, but He is always there for us and always guarding and protecting His Creation. We may tire and become sleepy, but God is eternally awake and waiting for us to approach Him and call upon Him with our prayers and our needs.
“…His are all things in the heavens and on earth…” (2:255)
He not only created everything that exists, but also everything that exists belongs to Him. This is a salutary lesson for those who would hoard their wealth in this world, imagining that somehow that wealth is theirs alone. In fact, all wealth is distributed to this or that person by God, and He can take it away whenever He wishes. No one will take their riches to the grave. Even the act of praying and supplicating to Him is His gift.
“…Who is there who can intercede in His presence except as He permitteth?…” (2:255)
The very words and gestures we use would not exist without His act of creating us. The very breath in our bodies is breathed into us each day by Allah.
This verse of the Throne goes on to remind us that when we do pray, Allah knows our prayers even before we utter them and every thought that comes into our heads is known to Him before we think it. And despite all our discussions and deliberations, we can only gain any knowledge, either of Him or of anything else, by His leave.
“…He knoweth what (appeared to His creatures as) before or after or behind them. Nor shall they encompass aught of His knowledge except as He willeth…” (2:255)
“…His throne doth extend over the heavens and on earth, and He feeleth no fatigue in guarding and preserving them, for He is the Most High. The Supreme (in glory)” (2:255)
Unlike an earthly ruler, God does not tire of watching over His Creation or of watching over us. Even though we turn away from Him and fail to give Him a thought except when we want something, He is always there guarding and protecting.
Of all the beautiful verses in the Quran, this is one of the most beautiful because it speaks of what God is like: He is beyond our knowledge and our understanding, yet knows and cares about us with an infinite care.
Our only response in the presence of such greatness is to bow down, to submit as one who is a Muslim, and to thank Him for his uncountable blessings.
…And Allah is the Greatest.