( Note: The following is an edited version of the Friday Khutbah delivered 1/13/17 at Toledo Masjid Al-Islam. The opening Hamd has been omitted here.)
Pondering upon Allah's solitary nature
We begin by referencing two reports from the Prophet, upon whom be peace.
"The most virtuous (type of ) dhikr is: 'Nothing deserves worship except Allah'". افضل الذكر لا اله الا اللهHe is also reported to have said "Whosoever proclaims Laa elaaha ill Allah, has entered Paradise." من قال لا اله إلا الله دخل الجنةThere are many other ahadeeth that carry a similar message, explaining to us the benefit of له اله الا الله as a statement. However, it is as a concept that we have to deeply ponder and remember that is important.
In our Khutbahs here we typically say therein "None deserves worship except Allah, He is alone, has no partners" لا اله الا الله وحده لا شريك له . Practically, we can recite this statement and similar statements, but what does it all mean?
In our recent spirituality session (1) we shared a powerful observation from Imam Al-Ghazzali(2). While he is admittedly speaking on the statement Allahu Akbar [recited at every movement during prayers], it is just as applicable to 'Laa elaaha ill-Allah'. Indeed, we even have it in the Sunnah that the Prophet joined these phrases [by reciting Subhaan Allah, walhamdulillaah, wa Laa elaaha ill Allah WaLLaahu Akbar].
Imam Al-Ghazali said "For example, the meaning of Allahu Akbar [God is greater]-if one does not know this meaning, he is ignorant."
This is understandable, after all, we all are ignorant of something.
The Imam continues ;" If he knows it, but there is something greater than God in his soul, he is not truthful. It will be said to him: Those words are true, but you are speaking lies! Whenever something else is more obeyed than Allah The Most High, that thing is greater to him, his object of worship, his 'god' which he serves."
Therefore, these expressions that we habitually recite: Laa elaaha ill Allah, Allahu Akbar and the like, these words must carry real meaning for us. To be Muslims, we have to truly conceptualize Allah as the only God, the only deserving of worship. This is more than simply not bowing to an idol,
After all, it can be said that Muslims bow to things. We do make our Salaah facing the Qiblah, the Ka'bah in Makkah! At Hajj, we circle the Ka'bah, we make Rukoo' and Sujood [bowing and prostrating ] in our prayers there facing that building, and because of that some critics say we take that as an idol,
We know that idea is a mistake, we don't worship the Ka'bah, and bowing does not imply worship. We seek to address that by pointing out that in many cultures there exists a custom of bowing, to teachers, to parents, elders and the like. That bowing does not imply worship!
Tauheed [perceiving God as one and alone] is more than simply not bowing to idols, and, as we should have realized, even the bowing to things is not a big deal in the long run! To uphold Tauheed, one is to take as priorities what Allah says are priorities. The worship of Allah alone translates into proper thinking and proper action.
The Qur'an says "Allah's own declaration is 'none deserves worship except him: this is the declaration of angels, the people of knowledge, standing in/for justice." [Q 3:18] ;">شَهِدَ اللّهُ أَنَّهُ لاَ إِلَـهَ إِلاَّ هُوَ وَالْمَلاَئِكَةُ وَأُوْلُواْ الْعِلْمِ قَآئِمَاً بِالْقِسْطِ
So Imaan [faith] in God alone as God is connected to angels, to angelic behavior, knowledge and science, to justice and fair play. We see here CORRECT THINKING and CORRECT ACTION.
So do take heed of Laa elaha ill Allah, because when it becomes a conscious reality, you will deserve paradise, which begins here and is fully manifested in the next life. We seek Allah's guidance, forgiveness and mercy.
Keeping our minds clear of Shirk
Often in the Qur'an, we find that Shirk is connected with injustice and even hypocrisy(3). Soorah Al-Munafiqoon [Chapter 63] and Soorat at Taubah [Chapter 9] are good places to research this. So we want to be true servants of Allah alone, we want to be people oriented upon Tauheed!
وَمَن يُطِعْ اللَّهَ وَرَسُولَهُ فَقَدْ فَازَ فَوْزًا عَظِيمًا
Whosoever obeys Allah and his messenger have achieved a mighty achievement. [Q 33:71].
How do we obey Allah? We obey by seeing him correctly as the only one deserving worship. How do we obey the Prophet, the Messenger? We obey him by emulating how the Prophet connected to his Lord.
"Indeed, you have in Allah's Messenger a goodly model for any who has hope in God, the final day, and contemplate upon God much." [Q 33:21]
لَقَدْ كَانَ لَكُمْ فِي رَسُولِ اللَّهِ أُسْوَةٌ حَسَنَةٌ لِّمَن كَانَ يَرْجُو اللَّهَ وَالْيَوْمَ الْآخِرَ وَذَكَرَ اللَّهَ كَثِيرًا
Notice the verse is speaking on those who have hope in Allah, who recall Allah and long for his presence and blessings. That teaches us that we should not take Islam for granted, that we do like the Prophet [Sall Allahu 'alayhi wa sallam] would do, continuously seek out and strengthen our ties with Allah. We work to internalize the teaching that Allah alone deserves worship, not our whims, egos or delusions.
 This session can be found on Youtube.com under the title How to develop and maintain a Healthy Islam by Imam Shamsuddin Waheed.
 Imam Abu Haamid Muhammad Al-Ghazali [ 1058-1111] was a great scholar and spiritualist. His writings are profound and cover so many aspects of Islam that he has been given the title Hujjat Al-Islam [the evidence of Islam], a rare honorific among Sunni Muslims. Many academics have proven that Imam Al-Ghazali's works have influenced such Christian theologians such as Thomas Aquinas!
 This is addressed in some detail at[url] http://shamsuddinwaheed.blogspot.com/2008/10/only-one-god-forgotten-aspects-of.html[/url]