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Thursday, October 16, 2008

Only one God: forgotten aspects of Tauheed and its application



It is well known that the most important declaration is the essential truth that nothing deserves worship except Allah, Laa e-laa ha ill Allah. This sentence, known as Tahleel, is recited during prayers, on occasions of happiness and sadness {ft.1}, and even during the process of dying when possible.{ft.2} Certainly there is much that can be said [and has been said] about the Tahleel, Islam's unique creedal statement{ft.3}, however, it seems that there are some aspects of Islam's creed that need to be made publically known, for the benefit of Muslims and Non-Muslims alike.


Justice

It is obvious that the Quranic account of the mission of the Prophets have more social implications, and is not limited to theological arguments. Although many examples can be cited, the account of Moses and Aaron should be sufficient. For further details, we recommend reading the Qur'an [20:42-50].

Returning to the Tahleel, we are informed by the Qur'an:

The 'Shahaadah' of Allah is 'there is no deity except him' {Laa e laa ha illa Huwa}. As well as [being the declaration of] angels, and people of knowledge who stand for justice..[Q 3:19]


Here, Tauheed, or the oneness of God, is given as the basis or the foundation for God's dominion of the universe. There is no injustice from God, nor are there any random occurrences. It also shows us that those who uphold Tauheed have an interest in the preservation and cultivation of knowledge, technical ability, sciences and so forth. These people also have an interest in seeing the application of fair-play, preservationof the rights of others, in short, justice universally applied.

This aspect of Tauheed can also be discerned from the Hadeeth literature:

Whosoever of you sees an evil action, let him change it with his hand, and if he is not able to do so, then with his tongue, and if he is unable to do so, then with his heart, and this is the weakest of faith. [Reported by Muslim, Al-Nawawi's Forty Hadith, Ezzedinne Ibrahim, Denys Johnson Davies, page 110. Holy Koran publishing house, Beirut, 1979].



For those who uphold a conviction that God is one, fairness for all is a pillar of faith that will not be abandoned, one that must be translated into action when needed. Otherwise, our declarations of faith will be empty words, revealing only our hypocrisy.

Standing for justice [Qaa'iman Bil Qist] does not equate making rash, emotional decisions, nonetheless it should be in the minds of the Muwahhidoon [Those who believe in God's oneness].

Hast thou ever considered [the kind of man] who gives the lie to all moral law? Behold, it is this [kind of man] that thrusts the orphan away, and feels no urge to feed the needy. Woe the, unto those praying. Whose hearts are remote, those who want only to be seen and praised. And, withal, deny all assistance [to their fellow-man]. {Q 107:1-7, Muhammad Asad translation, The message of the Qur'an, 1980, Dar al andalus, Gibraltar.



Idolatry: Injustice to God and man

Some Muslim writers correctly assert that God has rights, just as humans do, and those rights should not be violated. Yet, even in that, it is also true that we cannot hurt God. The Qur'an presents a concept of the Divine that is strong, showing God as wise, independent, and powerful. In other words, our neglect of prayers does not harm him, it only harms ourselves. Allah says

I do not want from them any provision, nor do I want them to feed me. [Q 51:57]

We don't sustain Allah, he sustains us. We recite this fact daily in prayer with the line "Praise be to Allah, Nourisher of the universe" [Q 1:2].

To worship something other than God, an action known to Muslims as Shirk, is given in the Qur'an as the greatest crime imaginable [Q 31:13]. It is not because God needs our worship, nor is he hurt by our misplaced devotion{ft.4]. Shirk is in fact the foundation or basis by which other crimes are committed!

A policy of ethnic or religious genocide, in which one group of people see themselves as better or more deserving than the other wipe out the latter, or deny them rights, is a classic example of Shirk! Worship of one's prejudice and arrogance-shirk- led to the crime of genocide, such as in Rwanda, Bosnia and other places.

Theologically, seeing an individual as God-incarnate is also considered Shirk, mainly for two reasons;

[1] God is something greater than a human, actually a reality that can not be fully conceptualized [Q 42:11].

[2] The one viewed as "God in person' invariably commits crimes and abuse of both his followers and others.

Portraits of Jesus Christ [viewed by Christians as God incarnate and God's son] that display in homes, Churches and Bible printings worldwide as a Caucasian has the subtle effect of portraying Europeans as sharing Divinity. As a result of this, another trend has arisen in which Jesus is portrayed in Bible printings and films as Black!

Colonialism, Slavery, and many other forms of injustice can be traced back to Shirk!


Intercession

Many of us believe that at some point, personalities, be they alive or dead, will intercede with God on our behalf. Traditions have beec created to support this view, and the situation is now that almost every religious group worldwide accepts this doctrine in one form or another.

In the outset, it should be said that there is no harm in asking someone to pray for you. That, however, vastly differs from invoking a dead or absent personality. In any case, the Qur'an informs us that God's decisions are in his hands alone, therefore it makes more sense to invoke him alone.

Say: Intercession [Shafa'ah] is in the domain of Allah entirely {Jamee'an}. To him belongs the kingdom of the heavens and the earth, then to him you will return. [Q 39:44].


Acknowledgment of God's messengers constitute Shirk?



It has been asserted by many in recent years that the statement "Muhammad is the messenger of Allah" [Muhammad ar Rasool Allah] is idolatry. Insincere people make this statement, we are sometimes told. The supporters of this view quote the following verse as evidence;

When the hypocrites come to you [O Muhammad] they say: We testify that you are indeed Allah's messenger...[Q 63:1]

However, the verse goes on to say that "And Allah knows that you are truly his messenger." If Muhammad, upon whom be peace and blessings, was a false messenger, then the theory would hold some merit. However, the Qur'an shows us that he was a true prophet and messenger, so why would acknowledging a true fact be idolatry?

Moreover, the Qur'an tells us that God himself acknowledges that he sent Muhammad as his messenger, with the Qur'an.

However, Allah makes Shahaadah [Allahu Yash-hadu] as to what he has to you [O Muhammad], sent to you from his knowledge ['ilmihi]. And the angels [also declare this] [Yash-hadoon]. And Allah is sufficient as a witness. {Q 4:166}


Conclusion

Tauheed is very important, not just as some abstract notion, but in terms of seeing life correctly, our place in it right, and in terms of our own consciousness as humans. For God to assist us and accept our prayers, we should conceptualize him in the manner as given throughout the Qur'an, and also use our hands, our tongues, our money, our very selves, to give justice, both for us and others, regardless of their label, class or ethicity!

God does not die, is all kind and merciful. He hears the calls of those who call on him, so he should be invoked, rather than other figures. Nothing should divert us from Allah!

Shirk is not limited to theological error. It is the root of all evil. Racism, arrogance, murder, all can be traced back to Shirk!

Footnotes

[1] One will notice when living in various parts of the Muslim world that Laa elaha ill Allah is said at different times, depending on the particular culture.

[2] Abu Dawud 3/190.

[3] See http://shamsuddinwaheed.blogspot.com/2008/01/tauheed-understanding-divine-monotheism.html

[4] Some religions, such as Hinduism, have rituals which involve a devotee leaving rice as an offering to the deity.

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