The Islamic Concept and Its Characteristics
The Oneness of Allah
We sent no Messenger before you without revealing to him, "There is no god but Me, so worship Me (alone)" (Al-Anbiya 21:25).
The Oneness of Allah, known as tawhid, is the first and paramount constituent of the Islamic concept, as it is the fundamental truth of the Islamic faith. It is also one of the chief characteristics of the Islamic concept because, among all the belief systems and philosophies currently prevailing among human beings, only the Islamic faith can be characterized as having a pure form of monotheism. This is why we have included “The Oneness of Allah" as one of the characteristics of the Islamic concept.
From the outset we state that the message of the Oneness of Allah has been the chief constituent and characteristic of all religions brought by the Messengers of Allah Most High, because every religion sent from Allah was nothing but Islam, which is submission to Allah alone by following the way prescribed by Him alone, receiving guidance in matters of faith and moral conduct from Him alone, purifying one's intention and worship for Him alone, and obeying His commandments and implementing His laws in human affairs as well as in worship. Unfortunately, after these Messengers passed away, interpolations and deviations were introduced into the pure din of Islam producing many impurities in these religions, so that no belief has been left in its correct and pure form apart from the concept brought by Prophet Muhammad, may Allah's blessings be upon him. Allah Himself has protected the principles of the Islamic faith so that no deviation has ever touched it nor has any impurity ever entered into its beliefs. This is why “the Oneness of Allah" has become the distinctive characteristic of this faith.
The Oneness of Allah is a characteristic of the Islamic concept because the truth of the Divine Oneness includes all aspects of the Islamic faith and practice. It permeates concepts, morals, manners, and all types of dealings among people in a truly Islamic community.
The certainty of the truth that Allah is One dominates the Muslim's concept of the universe and of everything happening in it and his concept of the real, active power behind events in his own life and in the life of the community in which he lives. This certainty and conceptual conviction extend to all aspects of a Muslim's life, including what is hidden and what is apparent and what is significant and what is insignificant, and it applies to everybody he meets, the great as well as the lowly, to all customs, laws, beliefs, and actions, and to this life and the life-to-come, simply because not a single element of the Islamic system can escape from the all-inclusive belief in the Oneness of Allah. This point was earlier discussed in the chapter entitled “Comprehensiveness."
The Islamic concept rests on the principle that the Divine Being is distinct from His creation. Divinity belongs exclusively to Allah Most High, while creatureliness is common to everyone and everything else. Since Allah Most High is the only Divine Being, it follows that all the Divine attributes belong to Him alone. And since everyone and everything else is His creation, it also follows that they are all devoid of Divine attributes. Thus there are two distinct orders of existence, namely, the independent existence of Allah Most High and the dependent existence of all others as His creatures. The relationship between Allah and everything else is that of the Creator to His creatures and of the Lord to His servants.
This is the first principle of the Islamic concept and all other principles follow from it. Because the Islamic concept rests on this basic principle, the Oneness of God is its most important characteristic.
Earlier we said that all the Messengers of Allah Most High brought the message of the Oneness of Allah, so this was the characteristic of all the Divinely-revealed religions. Our assertion is derived from the Qur'an, which states this fact in relation to the earlier Messengers.
We sent Nuh (Noah) to his people, and he said, "O my people! Serve Allah. You have no god besides Him. I fear for you the retribution of an awful Day (Al-A 'raf 7:59).
And to (the tribe of) 'Ad (We sent) their brother, Hud. He said, "O my people! Worship Allah alone! You have no god besides Him. Will you not then be conscious of Allah?" (Al-A 'raf 7 :65).
And to (the tribe of) Thamud (We sent) their brother Salih. He said, "O my people! Worship Allah alone! You have no god besides Him. A clear evidence has now come to you from your Lord" (Al-A'raf7:73).
And to Midian (We sent) their brother Shu'ayb. He said, "O my people! Worship only Allah! You have no god besides Him. Clear proof has now come to you from your Sustainer" (Al-A'raf 7:85).
And has the story of Moses ever reached you? He saw a fire, and he said to his family, "Wait here! I see a fire (far away). Perhaps I shall bring you a brand from it or may find guidance at the fire." But when he came close to it, a voice called out to him: "O Moses! I am your Lord! Take off your shoes, for you are in the hallowed valley of Tuwa. I have chosen you (to be My apostle), so listen to what is revealed (to you). Verily, I, and I alone, am Allah! There is no god but Me! So serve Me and be constant in prayer in order to keep Me in your remembrance" (Ta Ha 20:9-14).
And when Allah said, "O Jesus son of Mary, did you say to the people, 'Take me and my mother as gods besides Allah?” he said, "Glory be to you! It is not possible for me to say what I have no right to. Had I said this, You would have known it. You know what is in my mind, and I do not know what is in Your mind, for indeed, You are the Knower of the Unseen. I only told them what you commanded me, 'Serve Allah, my Lord and your Lord.' And I was a witness over them as long as I dwelt among them, but when You took me to Yourself, you were yourself Watcher over them, for You are witness to everything. If You punish them, they are Your servants. If You forgive them, You are the All- Mighty, the All-Wise" (Al-Ma'idah 5:116-118).
We sent no Messenger before you without revealing to him, "There is no god but Me, so worship Me (alone)" (Al-Anbiya 21:25).
With the passage of time, however, this message brought by all the Messengers about the Oneness of Allah became distorted by the influence of diverse beliefs and myths. We have already discussed this point in some detail in the chapter entitled, "The Wilderness and Intellectual Rubbish," in relation to the revealed religions as well as polytheism and paganism.
Before we describe why the Oneness of Allah is one of the characteristics of the Islamic concept and how it permeates the entire life of the Muslim community, we should first briefly describe some other concepts dealing with the Divine, with the other-than-the-Divine, and with the Oneness of the Divine Being.
Hinduism, for example, acknowledges one Divine Being called Brahma, who alone is "existent" and who alone has the attributes of perfection, goodness, and perpetuity. Apart from this One Existent and Real Being there is nothing, which is to say, this universe and whatever is in it is non-existent.
On the other hand, Hinduism also says that Brahma, the real Being, who is entirely Good, is incarnated or diffused into the “non-existent," which is entirely evil. Thus Brahma is diffused into every part of this universe, including man, and thus is a compound of being and non-being, good and evil, perfection and defect, and eternity and mortality.
A believing Hindu, therefore, must continually strive to separate the existence, the perfection, the goodness, and the eternity in his makeup from the non-existence, imperfection, evil, and mortality, in order to free “the being" that is incarnate in his body. This is called "Nirvana" or becoming free of mortality and non-being and returning to the status of pure being, Brahma.
We note that Brahma is not the Creator of this world, which is non-existent, evil, and imperfect, but he is diffused in it. Moreover, He does not administer or manage the affairs of this universe, which have become manifest because of the diffusion of Brahma into nonexistence.
Again, beyond this Oneness, and apart from this diffusion, Hinduism also has a "Trinity": Lord "Brahma" the Creator; Lord "Vishnu," the Giver of life; and Lord "Shiva," the Destroyer.
Over and above the universe and the gods rules “Karma" or "Fate." It is karma which determines the cycles of birth and rebirth and which creates and repeats cycles of Universes. Clearly, with the Hindu pantheon and the theory of impersonal karma ruling over gods as well as the world, including human beings, the concept of the Oneness of God is completely lost.
The Egyptian Pharoah, Akhinaton, believed in One God, whom he called, “Aton," and he considered Him to be the Creator of the universe and its Ruler. Apart from the revealed religions, his was the noblest concept of God conceived by man. And it is quite possible that he was influenced by the teachings of some Messenger of Allah. There was in his concept, however, some influence of paganism, because he considered the sun to be the representation of Aton. He thus polluted the purity of his concept of God by this interpolation from paganism.
Aristotle made a distinction between the “Necessary Being" and the "possible being." God is the Necessary Being but He is devoid of will and action, and He did not create the universe, nor is He concerned with it. The universe, and whatever and whoever is in it, was a "possible being." Its desire to be like the Necessary Being brought it into "'existence" from "non- existence."
Belief in the Oneness of Allah was the religion of Abraham, peace be upon him, and he imparted it to his sons, Ishmael and Isaac. Jacob, the son of Isaac, was also a believer in the Oneness of Allah and bequeathed this to his children at the time of his death, as is reported in the Qur'an
And who would turn away from the religion of Abraham, except him who is deluding himself? Assuredly We chose him in this world, and truly in the Hereafter he shall be among the righteous. When his Lord said to him, "Submit!" he said, "I have submitted to the Lord of the worlds." And this Abraham enjoined upon his sons and also upon Jacob, saying, "O my sons! Truly Allah has chosen for you the din therefore, do not die without having submitted yourselves to Him." Or, were you witnesses when death approached Jacob and he said to his sons, "What will you worship after me?" They replied, "We shall worship your God, the God of your fathers, Abraham, and Ishmael, and Isaac, the One God, and to Him we have submitted" (Al-Baqarah 2: 130133).
When Moses, peace be upon him, came as a Messenger to the children of Israel, he came with the message of the Oneness of Allah, but the children of Israel, before and after Moses, corrupted this concept and changed the meanings of the words from their intended meanings. They made Allah into a national deity of the Israelites, the Lord God of Israel, who helped them against the worshippers of other gods. Furthermore, they ascribed to "the Lord God of Israel" many falsehoods, for example, by claiming that they were the sons of God and His beloved, that He would not punish them for their sins, that Ezra was a "son of God," that He had sons who took the daughters of men as their wives and that the children of these unions were giants, and that the Lord God was afraid they might become gods like Him, and consequently He came down and caused them to speak different languages in order to destroy their unity. They also alleged that Jacob once fought with the Lord, hitting Him on His thigh. And they claimed that He walked in the shade of the garden and enjoyed the coolness of the breeze, and so on. All of such tales, singly as well as together, corrupted the pure concept of the Oneness of Allah.
Jesus, peace be Upon him, came with the message of the Oneness of Allah, but Christians ended up with a belief in the Trinity. They still claim that the Godhead is One entity divided among three persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, and they exhibit a variety of beliefs among various denominations concerning the nature of the person called the Son. In spite of their claim about the' 'Unity of the Godhead," the variety of concepts and interpretations prevailing among various denominations prove that their claim is false.
Thus we can safely state that the Islamic concept is the only concept resting on the foundation of a complete and pure belief in the Oneness of Allah, and that, among all the belief systems existing today, Islam and only Islam can be characterized by this distinction.
After elucidating this point, let us now describe briefly the nature and the definition of the Islamic concept of the Oneness of Allah.
As we stated earlier, the Islamic belief is based on the concept that there is Allah and there is His creation. Divinity belongs to Allah alone, whereas anything and anyone other than Him is His creature and servant. Each and every Divine attribute belongs to Allah, whereas no creature of Allah can possess any of these attributes. Human life, then, ought to be based on the implications and consequences of this pure and complete belief in the Oneness of Allah Most High.
Allah Most High is One in His Person and is Unique in His attributes:
Say, "He is Allah, the One; Allah the Self-Sufficient; He begets not, nor is He begotten; and there is nothing that could be compared with Him" (Al-Ikhlas 112).
There is nothing like Him (Al-Shura 42: 11).
So do not make any analogy to Allah (Al-Nahl 16:74).
Allah is the Creator of all things (Al-Zumar 39:62).
Such is Allah, your Sustainer. There is no god but He, the Creator of everything. Worship, then, Him alone, for He has everything in His care (Al-An 'am 6: 102).
And He created everything and determines its nature in exact measure (Al-Furqan 25:2).
Say, "Do you see what it is you invoke besides Allah? Show me what it is they have created on earth. Or do they have a share in (creating) the heavens? (If so) bring me a Scripture before this (Scripture), or any remnant of knowledge, if what you claim is true" (Al-Ahqaf 46:4).
Allah, the Almighty, is the Owner of everything:
Say, "To whom belongs all that is in the heavens and on earth?" Say, "To Allah. He has prescribed for Himself (the rules of) mercy" (Al-An 'am 6: 12).
To Allah belongs the dominion of the heavens and the earth, and all that is between them (Al-Ma'idah 5: 17).
Hallowed is He...the One to whom belongs sovereignty over the heavens and the earth, and Who begets no offspring, and has no partner in His dominion (Al-Furqan 25:2).
Allah Most Great is the Provider for everyone and everything He has created:
O people! Call to mind the favor of Allah upon you! Is there any creator other than Allah that could provide for you sustenance out of heaven and earth? There is no god but Him. So where else can you turn to? (Fatir 35:3).
How many are the creatures that cannot provide their own sustenance! It is Allah who feeds them and you (AI-`Ankabut 29:60).
There is no creature on the earth without its sustenance depending upon Allah. He knows its time-limit (on earth) and its resting place (Hud 11:6).
Allah, the Glorious, is the Administrator of all things and the Guardian of all things:
Allah holds the heavens and the earth so that they do not deviate, and if they were to deviate there is no one to hold them after Him (Fatir 35:41).
And among His signs is that the heavens and the earth stand firm by His command (Al-Rum 30:25).
For We take account of all things in a clear record (Ya Sin 36: 12).
Allah Most High is the All-Powerful Sovereign, Who is omnipotent over everything:
And He is Omnipotent over His servants. He sends forth heavenly forces to guard you. And when death comes to one of you, Our angels take his soul, and they never fail in their duty. Then they are brought before Allah, their Just Protector and Lord of Truth. Surely His is the judgment. And He is most swift in taking account (Al-An 'am 6:61-62).
Say, "He is able to send punishment upon you from above you or from beneath your feet, or to bewilder you with mutual discord and let you taste the fear of one another" (Al-An 'am 6:65).
Say, "Don't you see! If Allah took away your hearing and your sight and sealed up your hearts, what god other than Allah could restore them to you?" (Al-An' am 6: 46).
All the creation of the Most Glorious Allah is obedient to Him and approaches Him in submission and servitude:
Then He turned to the sky when it still consisted of gases, and He said to it and to the earth, "Come, both of you, willingly or unwillingly," and they responded, "We come obediently" (Fussilat 41: 11).
And among His signs is that the heavens and the earth stand by His command. Then, when He calls you by a single call from the earth, you come forth. To Him belongs every being that is in the heavens and on earth, and all are devoutly obedient to Him (Al-Rum 30:25- 26).
And before Allah prostrates whatever is in the heavens and every creature moving on the earth, and the angels. And they are not proud (Al-Nahl 16:49).
And there is not a thing but celebrates His praise (Al-Isra 17:44).
What has been presented here should suffice to give a clear understanding of the Oneness of Allah in the Islamic concept, with emphasis on the unambiguous separation of the Divine from the other-than-theDivine, and on the fact that the relationship between the servants and the Lord is based only upon servanthood and not upon lineage, marriage, partnership, or resemblance, because such relationships do not pertain to Allah Most High.
Our description of the concept of the Oneness of Allah in Islam would remain incomplete if we did not mention, at least briefly, the far-reaching and all-encompassing consequences of this belief in the life of mankind. In fact, these consequences are an embodiment of the belief in the Oneness of Allah and a clear proof that this is the chief characteristic of the Islamic concept.
One consequence of belief in the Oneness of Allah is that Allah Most High is the Lord and Sovereign of men not merely in their beliefs, concepts, consciences, and rituals of worship, but in their practical affairs.
The Muslim believes that there is no deity except Allah, that no one is worthy of worship except Allah, that no one is Creator or Sustainer except Allah, that no one can benefit or harm oneself except Allah, and that no one except Allah is in charge of the universe or even of one's own affairs. Accordingly, the Muslim worships Him alone, and turns to Him alone with hope and fear and with the sincerity of his heart. In the same way, the Muslim believes that there is no true ruler above him except Allah, no legislator for him except Allah, no one except Allah to inform him concerning his relationships and connections with the universe, with other living creatures, and with one's fellow human beings. This is why the Muslim turns to Allah for guidance and legislation in every aspect of life, whether it be political governance, economic justice, personal behavior, or the norms and standards of social intercourse.
Turning toward Allah for guidance in forms of worship, in situations of hope or fear, in developing legal and economic institutions for society, and in establishing norms and standards of behavior, is an inevitable consequence of the Islamic concept of Allah's Oneness and of its all-encompassing impact on the conscience and life of the true Muslim.
In the Qur'an we find that belief in the Oneness of Allah is very closely connected with this impact on every Muslim's conscience and practical life. Belief in the Oneness of Allah and in His sole Sovereignty over the universe and over the life of every person places on the shoulders of the Muslim certain responsibilities of an intellectual, spiritual, psychological, as well as moral and practical nature. The Qur'an sometimes links all such things in one sequence of verses, designed to connect Allah's power and dominion in the universe, in this world, and in the Hereafter logically and systematically with man's obedience to His commandments and Law.
And your God is One God. There is no deity but Him, the Merciful and Dispenser of Grace.
Surely in the creation of the heavens and the earth, and in the alternation of the night and the day and in the ~hips that sail the ocean for the benefit of mankind and in the water that Allah sends down from the sky to revive the earth after its death and cause all manner of living creatures to multiply on it, and in the change of the winds and the clouds that follow their appointed courses between the earth and the sky, are signs for a people of intelligence.
There are people who choose to believe in beings that allegedly rival Allah, loving them as (only) Allah should be loved whereas those who have attained to faith love Allah more than all else. If only those who do wrong could but see, as they indeed will when they are made to suffer (on Judgement Day), that all power belongs to Allah alone and that Allah is severe in punishment! (On the Day) those who are followed will disown those who followed them and the followers will behold the punishment (that awaits them), with all their means cut off. And the followers will say, "If we had one more chance, we would disown them as they have disowned us." Thus will Allah show them their deeds (in a manner that will cause them) bitter regrets, but they will not escape from the Fire.
O people! Partake of what is lawful and good on earth, and do not follow the footsteps of Satan, for he is an open enemy to you. He bids you only to do evil and to commit shameful deeds, and to attribute to Allah something about which you have no knowledge. When it is said to them, "Follow what Allah has revealed," they say, "No! We shall follow what we found our forefathers believing in and doing. What! Even though their forefathers did not use their reason at all and had no guidance? The parable of those who disbelieve is as if one were to shout like a goat-herd, to things that listen to nothing but calls and cries: deaf.. dumb, and blind, they are without understanding.
O you who believe! Eat of the good things We have provided for you and give thanks to Allah, if it is He whom you worship. He has forbidden to you only carrion, and blood, and the flesh of swine, and that which has been consecrated to anyone other than Allah. But if one is in grave need, without coveting it or exceeding one's immediate requirements, then there shall be no sin on him, for, behold, Allah is Forgiving and Merciful (Al- Baqarah 2: 163-173).
When we ponder this passage of the Qur'an, we note that it begins with the Oneness of Allah. Then follows the description of natural phenomena in which Allah's power is manifested, and then the description of the Day of Resurrection in which Allah's sovereignty, judgement, and exclusive authority are manifested. Then come verses describing various lawful and unlawful things, and commanding people to obey Allah's legislation and forbidding them to obey Satan and the customs of the Days of Ignorance, since nothing is to be followed except what Allah has legislated. The believers are then told to eat of the good things that Allah has made lawful, with the reminder that if they worship Allah alone they must follow His instructions about the lawful and the prohibited. Thus Allah alone is God, He alone is the Ruler of the universe, He alone is the Master of the Day of Resurrection, and He alone prescribes acts of worship, the norms of moral behavior, and what is lawful and what is prohibited.
In many other places the Qur'an describes the meaning of the Oneness of Allah with all its implications. We present another such text to throw more light on this subject, as well as to show how the Qur'an presents the characteristics and the constituents of the Islamic concept in a complete and comprehensive manner.
And thus We have made a Revelation to you in the Arabic tongue so that you might warn the Mother of Cities (Makkah) and all around her, and give warning of the Day of Assembly, (the coming) of which is beyond all doubt, when some shall find themselves in Paradise and some in the blazing Fire. If Allah had willed, He could have made them all into a single nation, but He admits whom He wills to His mercy, whereas the wrong-doers shall have no protector or helper. Or (did they think they could) choose protectors other than Him? But Allah alone is the Protector, since He alone gives life to the dead and He alone has power over all things.
And on whatever you may differ, the decision is with Allah. (Say, therefore,) "Such is Allah, my Lord; in Him do I trust and to Him do I turn." (Allah), the Maker of the heavens and the earth, has made for you pairs from among yourselves and pairs among cattle, in order thus to cause you to multiply. There is nothing like Him. He is the All-Hearing and the All-Seeing. To Him belong the keys of the heavens and the earth. He increases provision to whomever He wills or restricts it. Truly He has knowledge of all things.
In matters of faith, He has ordained for you the din enjoined on Noah, knowledge of which We have given to you (Muhammad) through Revelation, and what We enjoined on Abraham, and Moses, and Jesus, namely, that you should be steadfast in upholding the (true) faith and make no division in it. The polytheists consider this unity of the din, to which you call them, an enormity, but Allah draws to Himself everyone who is willing and guides to Himself everyone who turns to Him.
And (the followers of earlier Revelation) broke up their unity, out of mutual jealousy, only after they had come to know the truth. Had it not been for a word that had already gone forth from your Lord (postponing all decision) for a term set (by Him), the matter would have been adjudged between them. And indeed those who inherited the Scripture after them are in hopeless doubt concerning it. Because of this, summon (all mankind), and stand firm as you are commanded, and do not follow their likes and dislikes, but say, "I believe in the Book that Allah has sent down, and I am commanded to dispense justice among you. Allah is my Lord and your Lord. For us are our works and for you your works. Let there be no contention between us and you. Allah will gather us together, for with Him is the end of every journey" (Al-Shura 42:7-15).
When we ponder this passage of the Qur'an, we find that it starts with revelation and messengership. It tells the Messenger to warn people of the Day of Assembly and of the judgment in the Hereafter, and describes the differing ends of the believers and of the wrongdoers in the Hereafter depending on their ways of living in this world. Then follows the exposition of Allah as the only Protector, who alone has power over everything, including the power to revive the dead. Then it emphasizes that Allah is the Ruler, and that true believers turn to Him alone and put all their trust in Him alone. Attention is then drawn to His creation and the phenomena of the physical world, such as the creation and sustenance of people and animals in pairs, followed by a renewed focus on the uniqueness of His Person, "There is nothing like Him," and the uniqueness of His Sovereignty, "To Him belong the keys of the heavens and the earth," and of His Providence, "He increases sustenance to whomever He wills or restricts it."
After these descriptions of the uniqueness of His Person, Sovereignty, and other Divine attributes, the Qur'an emphasizes in this passage that He alone is the Lawgiver, not only through this Messenger but through all previous Messengers, "In matters of faith He has ordained for you the din enjoined on Noah, knowledge of which We have revealed to you, and enjoined on Abraham and Moses and Jesus."
This passage further commands the Prophet, may Allah's peace and blessings be upon him, to call people to this din of Allah and to the legislation inherent in it, and to stand firm on it, ignoring peoples' desires and opinions, and to exercise justice among people by judging in accordance with Allah's legislation. Finally, the text emphasizes that there is a complete separation between the believers who rule and judge according to what Allah has legislated and all others, and that the believers' final goal is Allah Most High.
We hope that these two examples from the text of the Qur'an are sufficient to elucidate the connection between the Islamic concept of the Oneness of Allah and the concept of Allah's sovereignty over people, and to explain the deep influence this belief exerts in the life of mankind, as well as to substantiate our claim that the Islamic concept is unique in being able to claim the Oneness of Allah as its most distinctive characteristic.
Belief in the Oneness of Allah deeply affects one's personal life because it affects both one's intellect and heart more markedly than any other concept possibly can, so much so that it can transform the total life of mankind.
Belief in the Oneness of Allah disciplines the mind and heart so that concepts, values, and morals are not shaken by changing conditions. For the person who believes in Allah in this manner and understands his position as a servant of the Almighty Lord knows his direction and knows his way. He knows clearly the answers to such questions as to who he is, what the purpose of his life is, and what the limitations of his power are. He also comprehends the nature of everything in this universe and the nature of the Active Power operating within it. With his correct understanding of the realities, he can deal with things and events in a correct manner without wavering and without hesitation. The accuracy of his conceptual framework produces in him a disciplined intellect with balanced standards as well as a disciplined heart with firm values. This helps him deal effectively with the "laws of nature" established by Allah Most High, which further increases his intellectual discipline and his firmness of character.
We can grasp this fact very clearly when we consider the Muslim, who deals with One Sovereign Lord and acknowledges Him alone as the Creator, the Provider, the Almighty, and the All-Knowing, and contrast the Muslim with believers in other concepts, such as those who have to contend with two adversarial gods, the god of good and the god of evil, those who have to struggle with an existent god diffused in non-existence, those who have to deal with a god who knows neither them nor the universe in which they live, and those who have to deal with matter as a god that does not hear or see or remain constant. Such myths deprive the intellect of anything firm and the heart of satisfaction.
The Islamic concept produces steadfastness in the heart and mind, because the man who understands his Lord and His sublime attributes and His relationship with the events occurring in the world can never be anxious or beset with worries.
By knowing the attributes of his Lord, the Muslim understands what is pleasing to Him and what is displeasing. He becomes firmly convinced that there is no way of gaining Allah's pleasure except through faith, through knowledge of His attributes, and by standing firm on His commandments and obeying His revealed Law. He understands that his relationship with Allah is not that of sonship nor of kinship, nor are there any intermediaries between himself and his Lord. Rather his relationship is that of a worshipper and an obedient servant who does what his Lord commands him to do, keeps away from what He forbids, and follows the way of life that He has legislated.
This insight gives steadfastness to his heart and intellect, clarity to his thoughts, and firmness to his conduct.
The clarity, simplicity, and straightforwardness of the Islamic concept and conduct can be appreciated most fully when we compare the concept of the Oneness of Allah in Islam with the concept of the Trinity in Christianity. According to "mysteries" in the Christian belief, there is One God but three Persons. Salvation can be attained only through the Person of the Son, and Original Sin, inherited by every human being, cannot be forgiven except through the sacrifice of the Son, who is Jesus Christ, may Allah's blessing and peace be upon him.
Or consider the individual who thinks of himself as the creation of "Nature," which neither hears nor sees, neither commands nor prohibits, neither encourages its creatures to action and noble conduct nor discourages them from meanness and indecency. How can the servants of such a deity be steadfast in any way of life or moral conduct? How can they be firm of heart and intellect when they do not know whether their god possesses anything absolute, or whether they may come across something new by chance or by experimentation.
Similarly, if we study all the concepts discussed above in the first chapter, entitled “The Wilderness and Intellectual Rubbish," and also in other chapters, we can see why, because of their confusion, complexity, and intricacy, they cannot produce firmness of concept and conduct in their followers.
When a sincere person first encounters the Islamic concept, its characteristics of straightness, simplicity, and clarity appeal to his or her heart and mind. This feature of Islam has attracted and still attracts both the less-sophisticated peoples of Asia and Africa as well as the more sophisticated persons in Europe and America, because this appeal to straightforward and simple truth is a part of human nature common to all peoples, both "primitive" and "civilized."
The concept of the Oneness of Allah integrates the personality of an individual just as it integrates the powers of a community, which is not the case with other belief systems. And this concept prevents disintegration of the individual personality and dissipation of community cohesion. In Islam the total personality of man, which has been created as an indivisible whole, is directed toward One Divine Being and deals with Him alone in all respects, in beliefs and concepts, worship and devotions, moral rules and social laws, and in the affairs of this world and of the Hereafter.
The Islamic belief is not refracted among numerous deities nor among numerous persons in the same deity, nor among various forces, some of which are divine while others are independent of divine power, nor among "natural" forces that cannot be defined uniquely or even considered as one entity.
Islamic teachings come from a single source, whether it concerns personal belief and worship or the system of life for an entire community or nation. This source is not divided between matters of faith and conscience and matters of practical life. Furthermore, the Law prescribed for human beings is the same Law that governs the entire universe. Accordingly, when human beings deal with each other and the universe in accordance with this one universal law, they achieve harmony and avoid conflict and division.
This integration of all human power generates such an invincible force that nothing can stand before it. That is why the great accomplishments of earlier generations of Muslims now seem almost supernatural. Indeed, such things were possible because the Islamic concept generates a unified force, which integrates the energies of both people and nature, prepares them to receive the blessing of Allah, and thereby makes them responsive totally to Allah so that both forces mutually reinforce each other in a single force dedicated to His service.
The Islamic concept, and especially the concept of the Oneness of Allah, has an electrifying effect on the life and conscience of the Muslim and on the internal organization and functioning of Islamic communities, whether at the level of the family or at the level of all mankind.
Indeed, the effect is no less than the liberation of man or rather the birth of man. To believe in the Uniqueness and Oneness of Allah and to understand His Divine attributes of divinity means that human beings must take the rules and laws for their lives from no one other than Allah, just as they take the rules for conducting their worship from Allah. Sovereignty is one of the most important attributes of Allah. The person who refuses to attribute sovereignty, either in theory or practice, to anyone besides Allah is a Believer, while the one who does so is an Unbeliever.
The text of the Qur'an is very clear about this, and there cannot be any doubt or controversy concerning this point.
Judgement belongs only to Allah; He has commanded you not to serve anyone or anything but Him. This is the (one) ever-true faith (Yusuf I2:40).
Or have they partners (for Allah) who have made lawful for them in religion that which Allah has not allowed? (Al-Shura 42:21).
Whoever does not judge according to what Allah has revealed is a disbeliever (Al- Ma'idah 5:44).
But no, by your Lord! They will not believe until they make you the judge regarding disagreements between them and find within themselves no dislike of your verdict but surrender in full submission (Al-Nisa 4:65).
The Islamic concept does not differentiate between the rules of conduct for private worship and the laws governing public life, because the source of both is the same. There cannot be any differentiation between these two sets of rules, because the Oneness of Allah and the Divine Sovereignty that belongs to Him alone demand that there be no such differentiation. Anyone who differentiates one from the other is completely estranged from Islam and has no belief in the Oneness and Sovereignty of Allah Most High. This is made clear by the Qur'anic passages cited above, as well as by the following.
They have taken their rabbis and their monks as lords besides Allah, as well as the Messiah son of Mary, whereas they were commanded to worship only One God. There is no god but He! Glory be to Him, Who is far above anything to which they may ascribe a share in His Divinity! (Al-Tawbah 9:31).
The people of the Book, about whom this verse speaks, took Jesus the son of Mary, as their Lord, in the sense that they worshipped him, and took their rabbis and monks as their lords, not in the sense of worshipping them, but in the sense that they took the rules and laws of life from them. This verse combines these two aspects of lordship by considering each aspect as the denial of the worship of One God. It accuses them of ascribing associates or rivals to Allah because they took Jesus as Sovereign Lord in worship and took monks and rabbis as lords in legislation. The Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him, gave such a clear-cut explanation of this verse that its meaning is beyond all argument.
Imam Ahmad, Al-Tirmidhi, and Ibn Jarir have variously reported from `Adi bin Hatim, may Allah be pleased with him, that when the Call of the Messenger of Allah reached him, he fled to Syria. He had been a Christian in the days of pre- Islamic Ignorance, and some people of his tribe, including his sister, fell prisoners of war to the Muslims. The Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him, released `Adi's sister and gave her generous gifts. She returned to her brother, persuaded him to accept Islam, and to visit the Messenger of Allah. 'Adi came to Madinah as chief of the tribe of Tayy, and people talked about his coming. He came into the presence of the Messenger of Allah, wearing a silver cross around his neck, while the Messenger of Allah was reciting the verse quoted above, "They have taken their rabbis and monks as their lords beside Allah..." 'Adi reports that he said, "They do not worship them." The Messenger of Allah replied, "No, but they forbid to people what is permissible and make permissible what is forbidden (by Allah) and people follow them in this. This is their worship and servitude."
In this respect the Islamic concept is very sharp and clear by proclaiming the liberation of man, and indeed, the birth of man. Through this proclamation it brings mankind out of servitude to creatures into the servitude of the Creator. The' 'human being," in its full sense, cannot be found on this earth except when he is totally liberated from enslavement to servants, whatever be the form of this slavery, whether of belief and of conscience, or of rules of behavior and system of life. Only Islam refers back all legislative power and sovereignty to Allah and thereby brings people from servitude to the servants into the service of their Lord. In systems where legislative power and sovereignty belong to human beings, there is a kind of slavery of people to other people, but in Islam, and only in Islam, all people, without exception, are liberated from such slavery and serve their Creator alone. This is true "liberation of man" and this is the "birth of man," because before this man's true "humanity" had never come into existence in its complete and true form. This belief in the Oneness of Allah and in His Sovereignty over people is a Divine gift that guides all people on earth, and is the Divine favor referred to in the following verse:
Today I have perfected your religion for you, and I have completed My blessing upon you, and I have approved Islam for your religion (Al-Ma'idah 5:3).
This gift the believers in the Oneness of Allah offer to all mankind, and this is the blessing they want to share with people, after benefiting from it themselves. They offer nothing less than the pleasure of Allah Most High. This is the new message that the believers in the Oneness of Allah can offer to mankind today, as their forefathers offered it in the past. Men and women receive it eagerly today. The attraction to this message is enormous because it offers mankind something it does not possess, something not contained in other concepts and beliefs, ideologies and philosophies, and systems and constitutions.
Before the battle of Al-Qadisyyah, Raba' i bin `Amer came to Rustum, the commander of the Persian army, as a messenger from the Muslim army. Rustum asked him, "For what purpose have you come?" Raba'I replied, "Allah has sent us to bring whoever wishes from servitude to men into servitude to Allah alone, from the narrowness of this world into the vastness of this world and the Hereafter, and from the tyranny of religions into the justice of Islam."
These few words convey the total message of Islam, namely the nature of this belief and of the movement produced by this belief, as well as the Muslims' understanding of this message and of their role in carrying this message to the entire world.
Indeed, Islam is a migration from the servitude of men toward the servitude of Allah, and a commitment to refer everything, whether it concerns this world or the next, to Him alone, and to ascribe every attribute of divinity to Allah Most High alone. Since sovereignty over people is a major attribute of divinity, the believer cannot divide his loyalty between Allah and something other than Allah. It follows that anyone who divides his loyalty in such a position is a disbeliever.
It is not possible to find liberation for the human being, or indeed, to find the "human being" at all except by purifying one's under standing that the attribute of Sovereignty belongs to Allah alone and by purifying one's loyalty exclusively to Him.
The believers in the Oneness of Allah Most High, by returning to this concept and raising its banner, are able to tell the whole of mankind what Rabi' i bin `Amer told Rustum at a time w hen the state of mankind was similar to that of today. Mankind today is drowned in the servitude of servants, and only belief in the Oneness of Allah in its most comprehensive meaning can bring whoever wishes out of this enslavement into the servitude of Allah alone. Only in this way can any person liberate himself or herself and become a human being in the full sense of the word.
Moreover, believers in the Oneness of God, by returning to the system of life that this belief entails and calling others to it, are in a position to offer the whole world something possessed by no other religion, ideology, system, constitution, or philosophy. This is the grand opportunity for them to playa great and significant role in transforming the entire world. Their essential role will be to lead mankind in all important matters, just as the first generation of Muslims from the Arabian Peninsula led mankind 1400 years ago.
At present they are not in a position to offer mankind great scientific discoveries or dazzling cultural achievements, so that the people of the world would flock to them because of their superiority in science and culture. They can offer something else, however, something greater than all scientific discoveries and all cultural achievements. This is the “liberation of man," or greater still, the “birth of man" as intended by Allah.
In offering mankind this gift, they offer with it a complete way of life, a way of life based on the dignity of man and based on freedom of his person, his mind, his conscience, and his soul from all bondages. Freed from the shackles of human enslavement, he stands as the deputy of Allah on earth, strong and noble, just as Allah intended him to be. As the deputy of Allah, he can make splendid discoveries and
Open up great avenues of culture, remaining at the height of his freedom, noble and dignified, slave neither to any machine nor to any mortal.
If Allah has inspired us to say the right thing, all praise belongs to Him the Lord of all Being.