Is God our 'Father'?
Are we the 'Children' of God'?

(a Quranic perspective)
By: A. Muhammad

We often hear the term 'Children of God' spoken, especially by Christians. They also refer to God as their 'Heavenly Father'. The well known Christian Lord's Prayer opens with the words "Our Father who art in Heaven ....."
This article analyses these terms from a Quranic perspective to determine how appropriate, or even factual they are, and whether there is justification in using these terms in reference to our relationship with our Creator.

FIRST: Are we created in God's image?

According to the words in Genesis, it is written that we were created in the image of God:
So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. (Genesis 1:27)

In contrast, the Quran contains a number of statements that refute this claim, leading to the legitimate inquiry into the authenticity of the words in Genesis 1:27.

The true worth, nature and image of God is far beyond our comprehension

In contrast to the above statement in Genesis, we find a number of Biblical verses that invalidate the Genesis 1:27 statement:
- How great is God--beyond our understanding! (Job 36:26)
- Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; his greatness no one can fathom. (Psalms 145:3)

Naturally, if we were created in God's image, then God would not be completely beyond our understanding, for then we would know at least what God looks like.

The Quranic words affirm the same truth that we can never comprehend anything about God:

They did not value God according to His true worth
. The whole earth is within His grip on the Day of Resurrection and the universes are folded up in His right hand. Glory to Him and exalted is He, far above whatever they associate with Him. 39:67

Does anything in the universe bear resemblance to God?

Once again, we find a number of Biblical verses that contradict the concept in Genesis 1:27:
- Remember the former things long past, For I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is no one like Me. (Isaiah 46:9)
- For this reason You are great, O Lord GOD; for there is none like You, and there is no God besides You, according to all that we have heard with our ears. (2 Samuel 7:22)
- O LORD, there is none like You, nor is there any God besides You, according to all that we have heard with our ears. (1 Chronicles 17:20)

The statement in the above 3 verses is spoken in absolute manner and not restricted to any narrow meaning. Thus, they mean that no one is like God in any way.
If we (humans) had the same image as God, the above words would be invalidated, since we would be like God in image.
Those who attempt to uphold the words in Genesis 1:27 resort to manipulating the above words to imply that they are confined to a narrow meaning and not meant in absolute sense.
The Quran gives the indisputable truth of this matter:

And none is akin to Him.

If there was any resemblance in image between us and God, the words in 112:4 would be untrue, or at least partially untrue. Rather, no one is akin to God in any way.

Why do we look like we do?

Our physical bodies are created in the form they are in order to be able to function in the physical universe we find ourselves in. Our bodies contain various apparatuses and receptors that allow us to detect and interact with our physical surroundings.
Our eyes are apparatuses designed to receive light waves and convert them to particle images in the brain.
Our ears are also apparatuses designed to receive sound waves and convert them to audible messages in the brain.
The same applies with regards to our other senses (touch, taste and smell) which are assigned to the apparatuses of skin, tongue and nose respectively.

He is the One who devised for you the hearing, the sight and the hearts. Rarely do you give thanks.

Or do they have eyes with which they see? Or do they have ears with which they hear?

God created the universe and all that is in it. God also set all the laws that govern the way everything in the universe operates. Since God created the universe, and since God always existed, long before He created the universe, it follows that God is not in any way subject to, or dependent on, the universe that He created.
The apparatuses we are given (eyes, ears, etc) are necessary to offset our limitations. In contrast, God does not have any limitations to need apparatuses (eyes, ears, etc).

The conclusion from the above is that it is presumptuous to perceive God as looking like us, with ears and eyes and other body parts that we have!

SECOND: The terms 'Son of God' and 'Children of God' as used in Biblical times

When we examine the original use of these terms in the Bible, we find that they were used metaphorically to describe any person who strove in the cause of God and who led a righteous life. The following are some examples:

Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called sons of God. (Mathew 5:9)
Those who are led by God's spirit are God's sons. (Romans 8:14)
We are the children of God. (Romans 8:16)
You are the sons of the living God. (Hosea 1:10)

Clearly, in the above verses, the terms 'Sons of God' and 'Children of God' were not used literally.
In the Quran, God sets the record straight that He never had, nor will ever have any children:

And they said, "God has taken a son." Glory to Him, rather, to Him belongs what is in the heavens and the earth. All are obedient to Him.

He begets not, nor was He begotten.

Furthermore, God is displeased with those who call themselves 'Children of God' and God puts the matter in the correct perspective:

The Jews and the Christians said, "We are the children of God and His beloved." Say, "Why then does He punish you for your sins? Rather, you are humans among others He has created." He forgives whom He wills and punishes whom He wills. To God belongs the sovereignty of the heavens and the earth and what is between them, and to Him is the ultimate destination.

The Quranic words in
5:18 ascertain 3 important matters:

God reprimands those who call themselves "Children of God".
2- Those who claim to be "Children of God" are told that they are no more than humans "among others He (God) has created".
3- God created a very large number of species of living creatures and not just the humans. Thus the words "among others He has created" would also have a broader meaning: the entire human race is only one species among millions of other living creatures that God created.
If we add to the above a small reminder regarding the infinitely small space we occupy in the vast universe around us, it becomes quite presumptuous yet again to think of ourselves as 'Children of God'.
Those who like to call themselves "Children of God' should show some humility and be reminded of the following words:

Indeed, there is none in the heavens and the earth who does not come to the Almighty as a servant.

THIRD: Do we have to be 'God's children' to qualify for His love?

Somewhere along the line, a link was assumed between the concept of "Heavenly Father" and God's love for us, as if God is not able to love us immensely unless we are His children!
Perhaps the catalyst for this manufactured connection is the following verse in the New Testament:
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. (John 3:16)
God instilled in us love for our parents, children and family. Strong love such as the mother instinct, father love, love of our family and relatives, are instilled in the human being to ensure the survival and continuation of the human race. In contrast, God is not subject to, nor in need of such emotions as mother instinct, father love or the love of family and relatives, to be able to love us, or for that matter, love any of the other living creatures that He created.

As pretty as the words in John
3:16 may be, the above questions ultimately raise a question regarding their authenticity. To bring down God to our level, by ascribing to Him the same terrestrial emotions which we are subject to, is rather short sighted. Just because we find it natural to give and receive love within our family set-up, does not mean that God needs to be our Father, and we His children, for Him to grant us His love.

FOURTH: Who is more worthy of God's love?

We read in the Quran that everything in the heavens and the earth, including the animals and all living creatures, worship God and glorify Him constantly:

Have you not seen that everything in the heavens and the earth glorifies God, even the birds in their flight formation? Each has known its prayer and its glorification. God is Knowledgeable of what they do.

In contrast, the following is said about the human being:
1- Described as "transgressing" and "ignorant". (33:72).
2- Described as "unappreciative" (14:34)
3- Described with the words, "most of them to be wicked" 7:102
4- Described as "most argumentative" 18:54
5- The majority of people on earth will mislead others away from the path of God:
If you were to obey the majority of those in the earth, they will mislead you away from the path of God. They follow nothing but conjecture; they only guess. 6:116
6- The majority of the human race are disbelievers. This means that only the minority of the human race are believers:
The majority of people, no matter how eager you may be, are not believers. 12:103
7- Out of the minority who believe in God, sadly, the majority of them are committing shirk (associating partners with God):
The majority of those who believe in God do not do so without committing shirk. 12:106
8- The verdicts of verses 12:103 and 12:106 tell us that the disbelievers and mushrikeen put together form the largest majority of the human race.
9- So what becomes of this large majority of the human race (disbelievers + mushrikeen) in the Hereafter? The Quran tells us that they are destined to Hell:
Indeed, those who disbelieved among the People of the Book, as well as the mushrikeen, will be in the fire of Hell; therein they shall permanently remain. They are the worst of creatures. 98:6

What can be derived from the above is that, if we wish to determine who among God's creatures is more worthy of God's love, we find that the human being is definitely not at the head of the list!
Other living creatures who worship God constantly and glorify Him constantly are more deserving to be called God's children, that is, if that term was to be used.
However, none of God's creatures, humans or non humans, are God's children nor should they be called such, not even the honoured messengers of God. Rather, all are no more than servants of the Almighty One God:

They said, "The Almighty has taken a son"! Glory to Him! Rather, they are but honoured servants.

All who are in the heavens and the earth, including all humans, go to God as servants and not as children:

Indeed, there is none in the heavens and the earth who does not come to the Almighty as a servant. 19:93