Attributes of God

I want to cross myself during the basmalla. Bismillah ir-Rahman ir-Raheem. In the name of God, most Gracious, most Merciful.  It is not an attempt to discredit Islam.  But no, no – I think I discovered the trinity there, during the basmalla.  Bismillah ir-Rahman ir-Raheem.

The greatest sin in Islam is shirk, which is attributing partners to God.  Shirk can be anything that puts something on the same level as God.  Shirk can be anything from money to the trinity to Jesus Christ as the Only Begotten Son of God.  How can the basmalla be Trinitarian….o.k. it’s not Trinitarian in the traditional Christian sense of God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit.  So put that out of your minds now!  I mean that the Trinity is only One God, too — in the way that Islam is — despite the tricky way that Christianity puts it into pieces.  And I discover the God I grew up with, One God, in the basmalla.

A lot I know about Islam boils down to acting on intention.  It is important to take time to make the intention and not rush through the prayer.  The sign of the cross, in the Name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, is about intention.

How can you do Islam when Islam and Christianity have differing views on Jesus? And what about the trinity?

My idea of the trinity was instilled in me by priests.  I remember priests telling me that Jesus is close to God like all of us are close to God.  Jesus is God like all of you are God.  In a sense, it means that all humans are divine.  That’s a tricky thing to say, especially in the context of Islam.  The priests didn’t mean that all humans are God, just that all humans have the Divine spark within us.

I didn’t grow up praying directly to Jesus and seeing Jesus as a savior.  If anything, I grew up on Mary.  The priests I knew didn’t talk about Jesus as God’s Only Son, as if it’s like the Rabbi’s son in Fiddler on the Roof – there is only one Rabbi and he has only one son. I didn’t grow up with the trinity being three different Gods.  God doesn’t beget, nor is God begotten.  There isn’t a Mrs. God that God had sex with to make Jesus.  Jesus isn’t God’s only son.  We’re all creatures of God.

Bismillah ir-Rahman ir-Raheem.

Many Christians see the trinity they way I heard it summed up by an Eastern Orthodox theologian; Jesus and the Holy Spirit are the left hand and the right hand of God.

To put it in line with Islamic theology, the Trinity are the attributes of God that fold into the Essence.  I don’t mean that Jesus himself is an attribute, but that Jesus’ divinity is like al-wajid (The Finder).  Jesus’ attributes are like something existing before time, something transplanted into Jesus.  Something transplanted into all of us, which we can all aspire to. Jesus’ attributes are kind of like fana (death before death); the kind of closeness to the Essence of God many of us try to procure.  This metaphysical closeness of Jesus to God, the bida (innovation) involved in Jesus’ fana. This energy is involved in that kind of swooning to God; the closeness of the Divine Proximity to Jesus; and the closeness of the Essence of God to us if we open ourselves up.

This idea of trinity was not instilled in me by Muslims, but at Church – by the priest telling us to look around and see God within the hearts of the believers.  “Jesus isn’t in Church, Jesus is in everyone you meet,” he would say.  Jesus is not God any more than any of us are God.  I want to cross myself at the basmalla because Most Gracious, Most Merciful are attributes of God, much like the Christian trinity.  It all blends into one God.  Jesus’ fana and the Holy Spirit are just attributes of God.  Bismillah ir-Rahman ir-Raheem.