Islamic Monotheism

Allah (SWT) - The One

"Allah" is a proper noun in its pristine form meaning "The God". Yet the word "God" alone does not convey the purest concept of unity of the attributes of the Almighty, as it can be converted to both plural, i.e. gods, as well as female forms, i.e. goddesses, as is seen in polytheistic faiths. Hence, the use of the noun with the Arabic name "Allah" cannot be corrupted and no derivation is possible from it and nor can an opposite avail it. Above all it connotes the attributes of Uniqueness, Perfection and Beauty. Ultimately, there is nothing comparable to Allah (SWT) in the whole of His creation. The Qur’an bares testimony to this fact,

"Say He is Allah The One [Unique] Allah The Eternally Besought He begetteth not, nor is He begotten And there is non like unto Him" (Al Quran:112)

Tawhid – The Foundation Of Belief

The belief in the Oneness of Allah (SWT), i.e. Tawhid, is the foundation of the belief of a Muslim. Though a mere verbal attestation to it may be made thereby bringing one under the fold of Islam, until there is firm conviction in ones heart and the will to express this through obedience in action one cannot be considered a true believer. Furthermore, it is imperative that the intention of all of our actions be sincere and solely for the pleasure of Allah (SWT) and that there be no ulterior motive or display for the attention of others. The Prophet (SAW) said that Allah (SWT)said,

"I am so self-sufficient that I am in no need of having an associate. Thus he who does an action for someone else’s sake as well as Mine will have that action renounced by Me to him whom he associated with Me." (narrated by Muslim & Ibn Majah) - Hadith Qudsi

The concept of Tawhid may be simplified into the following three categories:

Unity Of lordship:

The belief that there is only one Lord for the whole of creation and that is Allah (SWT)

Unity Of Worship:

The belief that none has right to be worshipped except Allah (SWT)

Unity of the Names and the Qualities of Allah (SWT)

The belief that we must not attribute to Allah (SWT) except that which He or His Messenger e have attributed to Him.

Shirk – Ascribing Partners To Allah (SWT)

Amongst the greatest sins that can be perpetrated against Allah (SWT) is the association and divination of any part of His creation with His Majestic Being [refer to the three categories above].

Prior to the advent of Islam the pagan tribes of the Arabs held the belief that the idols which they had set up as deities for worship had, along with Allah (SWT) possessed the power and authority to govern all if not parts of creation. In condemnation of such blasphemy on the part of the idolaters and to show the feebleness of their false gods the Qur’an declares,

"O Mankind! A similitude has been coined, so listen to it (carefully): Verily! Those that you call besides Allah, cannot create (even) a fly, even though they combine together for the purpose. And if the fly snatched away a thing from them, they would have no power to release it from the fly. So weak are (both) the seeker and the sought."

Yet to further emphasise the importance of maintaining the purity of belief in Tawhid the Qur’an points towards a much more subtle form of shirk. Allah (SWT) warns man against setting up his desires as his god for if these are not kept in check in the light of Divine guidance havoc is reaped within the individual as well as society at large. Human history as well as the present age bares testimony to this where as a result of the self-worship and the yearning for power, people whether individually or collectively, have paved the way for genocide of whole nations and the rape of resources of other native lands.

A point worth of note is that the message of Tawhid is not a new phenomena introduced by Islam but is the continuation of the Prophetic message that Allah (SWT) initiated with Adam (AS). After a period of time elapsed the progeny of Adam (AS), shifted away from this message. The message was then taken up again by Nuh (AS), and then by Ibrahim (AS), Ismail (AS), Ishaq (AS) and Yaqub (AS) born in Iraq and Syria rose with the same call. Then came Musa (AS), Harun (AS), and other Prophets (AS) who all subscribe to the same principle of Tawhid. It was then after another long period of time that Isa (AS) rose with same call. Finally and conclusively the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) graced the earth with common call of all the Prophets (AS). It was through this chain and the efforts of many Prophets (AS) speaking a number of languages, sent to many different nations that this divine message of Tawhid was concluded by the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) which is an all embracing message for the whole of humanity till the day of judgement. The Qur’an testifies to this,

"Surely, We have revealed to you as We have revealed to Nuh [Noah] and to the Prophets after him; and We have revealed to Ibrahim, Ismail, Ishaq, Yaqub and their children, and to Isa, Ayyub, Yunus, Harun and Sulayman. And We have given Zabur to Dawud." (Al Qur’an 4: 163)

"And, (we have sent down) some Messengers we have already told you about, and some other Messengers that We did not tell you about and Allah has spoken to Musa (AS) verbally." (Q 4: 164)

"Messengers giving good tidings and warning so that people may have no plea against Allah after the Messengers (have come). And Allah (SWT) is Almighty, all Wise." (Q. 4: 165)

"This day have I perfected your religion for you and completed My favor unto you, and have chosen for you as religion Al-Islam."(Q5: 3)

A question may arise at this stage regarding the Judaic and Christian doctrine of monotheism in the light of Islamic Tawhid. Both religions claim and attribute the bestial act of begetting to The Majestic Lord, and hence, the belief of the Jewish faith where Esra is the son of God and in Christianity where Jesus (AS) holds a likewise status but is considered as the lord himself. One will most evidently conclude that in light of the above quoted surah (Al Qur’an: 112) all such belief is dispelled. Furthermore, numerous verses throughout the Noble Qur’an condemn such belief and show the severity of the this claim highlighting the dreaded consequences in this worldly life as well as in the eternal abode of the hereafter for such of the followers. Surely, were the present day monarchs to be challenged in their short lived worldly sovereignty the charge would be that of treason and the punishment a severe one. Yet what justification can be made on the part of a weak servant when he assigns a partner to the One Who alone is the possessor of all Majesty and The Sustainer of all creation. One Who is most certainly in the least need of partners. In an authentic collection of sayings Allah (SWT) declares,

"The son of Adam denied Me and he had no right to do so. And he reviled Me and he had no right to do so. As for his denying Me, it is his saying: He will not remake me as He made me at first – and the initial creation [of him] is no easier for Me than remaking him. As for his reviling Me, it is his saying: Allah has taken to Himself a son, while I am the One, the Everlasting Refuge. I beget nor was I begotten, and there is none comparable to Me."(narrated al-Bukhari / Nasai)

Hence, the Qur’an declares that all sin can be forgiven by Allah (SWT) upon sincere repentance save for the deliberate act of shirk. Yet still, in His all-encompassing mercy, Allah (SWT) forgives the past beliefs and ill deeds of the individual entering into the fold of Islam for the first time. The Messenger of Allah (SWT) reports from his Lord,

"Oh son of Adam, so long as you call upon Me and ask of Me, I shall forgive you for what you have done, and I shall not mind. Oh son of Adam, were your sins to reach the clouds of the sky and were you to then ask forgiveness of Me, I would forgive you. Oh son of Adam, were you to come to Me with sins nearly as great as the earth and were you then to face Me, ascribing no partner to Me, I would bring you forgiveness nearly as great as it." ( related by at-Tirmidhi / Ahmad ibn Hanbal)

Though Christianity and Judaism have claimed to be monotheistic faiths centuries of elaborate theological debate in the attempt to justify the belief of the two in the Oneness of God still prevail till the present day. The reconciliation of God as the father, God as the son, or yet further, the holy ghost, as one entity, remains unexplained in the minds of the followers of both religions. In contrast, the Muslim is in no ambiguity regarding his conception of his lord as his very belief is based on the divine and unaltered words of his Creator and the instruction of His Messenger (SAW).

Islam rids man from his bondage of submission to all created objects and re-establishes his relationship with his Originator and Cherisher - The Living and The Eternal Master through the guidance bestowed upon the final benefactor of mankind – The Prophet Muhammad (SAW).


Other links:
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