Ilúvatar = Father of all. Also called Eru (The one - he that is alone). The first chapter of The Silmarillion (Ainulindalë) tells the tale of how Ilúvatar created the Ainur. He taught them and later guided them in creating the world. Ilúvatar later created the firstborn (elves) and the second born (humans) to live in this new world and appointed some of the Ainur to preside over its affairs.
Ilúvatar didn't take any part in the affairs of the world but chose instead to let the Valar (greatest of the Ainur) direct the affairs of the world. The only time Ilúvatar himself intervened was when Sauron deceived the men of Numenor and led them to challenge the power of the Valar. The result of Ilúvatar's intervention was the destruction of Numenor.
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