LAA ILAHA ILLAL-LAAH,
By Dr. M. H. Durrani
This is the Islamic prescribed form of faith and the whole teachings of Islam rest on this central pivot. We have a duty to realization, so that we may understand the attributes of a Muslim which we claim.
This is possible through bearing witness that there is no deity but Allaah and that Muhammad is His Prophet.
This profession of faith is possible only when Allaah is recognized as the sole possessor of divinity, and the One Who alone is entitled to lay down a path for human life. To begin with it means that we must act on that path which has been conveyed to us by Allaah through His last prophet Muhammad (Salallaahu alaihi wasallam) - the sole LIVING PATTERN for all ages.
There was a time when people argued about gods and tried to prove that there were two gods or three or many hundred gods, while the Muslims contended that there was but One God and no more. That time has passed and such discussions have become absolutely unnecessary because the whole world has accepted the claim of Islam and has come to agree with the Muslims that there is no god, but One.
Time itself has compelled the world to acknowledge the truth of Islam. This is a glorious triumph for it and a most eloquent proof of its truth and of the fact that it is the only religion that is likely to survive the free and unrestrained criticism of the modern age, and to live for ever.
It is thus clear that if this One true God forbids a thing, it is unlawful, if he permits it, it is lawful, if He legislates concerning a matter, He should be obeyed, if He commands, His command should be carried out.
Islam's is the only path that is free of the results of human desires, human weakness and human self-interest. It is free from any attempt to gain self-interest by means of legislating for the benefit of that individual, the family, class, people or race. The ordainer of the path of Islam is God Almighty, the Lord of all mankind. He does not legislate for His own sake, or for that of one class of mankind in preference to another, one people in preference to another, or one race in preference to another. Says the Holy Qur'aan:-
"Whoever submits his whole self to God and is a doer of good, has grasped
indeed the most trustworthy hand hold. And with God rest the End and Decision of all affairs." (2: 112).
How could a single man, Prophet Muhammad (Salallaahu alaihi wasallam) stand alone against all these beliefs, ideas, values, criteria, systems, institutions, interests and loyalties, then triumph over them all? And change them all, erect a new system, on the basis of the new concept of One true God:
"Truth has come and falsehood vanished." (17:81).
It is important for us to know why it is not right to worship God in visible forms, in the form of images and idols? It is contended sometimes that a visible image helps to concentrate attention. Upon a visible image you can fix the gaze of your external, physical eye only. As soon as you try to turn the light of your inward, mental eye upon any subject, the external eye ceases to gaze upon external objects. It refuses to focus itself on them, and if you insist on fixing your gaze, the inward eye will refuse to function, and your mind will refuse to think and meditate. Far from being a help, therefore, an external object, an image or an idol, is a hindrance to concentration of the mind and purity worship. The Holy Qur'aan, therefore, forbids image worship and says that God is Al-Ghaib, the Unseen. He is not something upon which the physical eye could be made to rest. God is 'Unseen' and can be worshipped only in sprit, with the mind and soul only.
God being Al-Ghaib, the 'Unseen,' He cannot incorporate Himself in any visible form. He cannot take upon Himself the form of a man and descend into our midst, because the moment He does so, He ceases to be unseen, and when He ceases to be unseen and becomes visible, man cannot worship Him in spirit, because a visible thing can be worshipped only with the body and by those only who see it.
We all believe that God is Omnipresent and Omniscient. He is every where, sees all and knows all. But by becoming incorporate He surrenders Himself to the limitations of time and space. He cannot be everywhere at the same time and cannot know and see all. He knows and sees those only in whose midst He happens to be. In short, by becoming incorporate in human form God destroys His own divinity. For these reasons, there is no such thing as an Incarnation in Islam.
Thus, there is no god but Allaah, and God alone, the Creator, Sustainer and Sole Monarch of the Universe, is the Being who deserves our worship. In Islam, the worship of another god (called 'Shirk' or polytheism) is the greatest crime, for worship of another, than God; amounts in reality to the denial of God. The Holy Qur'aan says:-
"Surely Allaah does not forgive that anything should be associated with Him." (4: 48).
Just as in an earthly kingdom the worst crime is that of treason, as it cuts at the very existence of the State, so in the spiritual kingdom, the unforgiveable sin is that of contumacious treason against God by putting up God's creatures in rivalry against Him. This is rebellion against the essence and source of spiritual life. It is what Plato would call the 'Lie in the soul.' But even here, if the rebellion is "through ignorance, and is followed by sincere repentance. God's Mercy is always open." (4: 17).
God said concerning the Christians and Jews:
"They have taken their rabbis and priests as lords other than God, also the Christ, son of Mary. Yet they were ordered to worship One God only. There is no God other than He. He is glorified above that which they ascribe to Him."
They were not in reality worshipping the rabbis and priests; they were only according to them the right to legislate in addition to God, to lay down a path for human life. God said concerning them:
"They have taken them as Lords."
They have flouted God's command concerning monotheism, and attribute partners to Him.
The traditionists Imam Ahmad, At-Tirmidhi and Ibn-Jarir relate concerning Ud'yya-ibn-Hatim that when he heard the call of the Prophet (Salallaahu alaihi wasallam) he fled to Syria. Before the proclamation of Islam he had accepted Christianity. His sister and a group of his relatives fell into captivity but his sister was released by the Prophet (Salallaahu alaihi wasallam). She sought out her brother and aroused his interest in Islam, encouraging him to go before the Prophet (Salallaahu alaihi wasallam). Ud'yya came to Medina. He was one of the Chiefs of the Tayy Tribe, his father being the Hatim renowned for his generosity, so attention was aroused by his arrival in Medina. As he entered the presence of the Prophet (Salallaahu alaihi wasallam) wearing a golden cross around his neck, the Prophet (Salallaahu alaihi wasallam) was reciting the verse:
" They have taken their rabbis and priests as lords besides God."
"They do not worship them."
The Prophet ( Salallaahu alaihi wasallam) replied:
"Indeed they do! The rabbis and priests have made the lawful to them unlawful, and the unlawful, lawful. They have followed them, and this is their worship of them!"
The Prophet remarked:
"Ask advice of men, but compare it with the Book of God!"
God Almighty said:
"They were ordered to worship one God only."
And if this one God forbids a thing, it is unlawful; if He permits it, it is lawful, if He legislates concerning a matter, He should be obeyed, if He commands, His command should be carried out. Only Islam restricts its worship to God, since it regards Him Alone as possessing sovereignty and the right to ordain a path for the life of mankind. Hence, it is only Islam that liberates man from servitude to other than God, and therefore we are obliged to attempt its implementation, and that of no other way of life. Thus Islam rejects all kind of 'Shirk' that is
(1) a belief in the trinity of God (father, son and spirit),
(2) a belief that other things possess the perfect attributes of the Divine Being, and
(3) a belief that others can do that which is ascribable only to God.
Therefore, Islam came to inform the people of their One True God, His attributes and properties, which were already known to human nature beneath the debris of false beliefs.
"God does not love the wrong doer."
A man's wrong belief does not in any way detract from the glory of God, but belief in false deities lowers the dignity of man. Man is made to rule nature itself and all creatures, but when he lowers himself in respect to or nature's phenomenon creatures lower than himself by worshipping them whom he was really made to rule, he sets at naught the very purpose of his creation. It should be noted that 'Shirk' or setting up gods with God, does not only mean idol-worship or worship of the forces of nature or a belief in the divinity of mortals, but also includes the blind obedience which is rendered to great men.
"Man is the noblest of God's creation.,"
Says the Holy Qur'aan (95: 4);
"He is the Vicegerent of God on earth." (2: 30).
But by making him His vicegerent, God exalted him in a position higher than angels. If he uses his office wrongly he falls even lower than what will be abased to the lowest possible position. Why should he then bow to an earthly thing and who or what else it may be, except God, before whom he should bow? Man was thus able to know God and love Him with all his mind and heart. When man understands his office, it becomes impossible for him to worship other than Allaah. You will have noticed in your daily life how very stiff-necked the average Muslim is. He may be ever so poor and may not be quite sure of one square meal a day, but he will hate to bend his neck before another, he will hate to sit lower than others, he will look at you straight in the face and shake the hands with you as your equal, however high and mighty you may be, and if you deny him this equality, he will be deeply hurt and will take it for a grievous insult. This sense of dignity and self-respect has been created and nourished in him by his faith, and so long as the Muslim retains this stiff-neckedness, we can look at the future with hope, and I might say here in parenthesis that any Muslim, who is a religious or political leader or employer or ruler who hurts this dignity of the Muslim, who tries to make him bend his neck, not only injures that Muslim individually but also does the greatest injury to the sect, and the Holy Qur'aan denounces such tyrants in unsparing terms.
No one can confer equality upon you. This will come to you only by your own inner rebirth, not by changing one superstition for another, but the inspiration of a high ideal, by the acceptance of such a faith that shall inspire you with a higher sense of self-respect. This inspiration can come to you only from Islam, because Islam has no other end in view.
We have already said that God Almighty helps the one who struggles for the sake of right guidance:
"And those who struggle for our sake, we guide them to our paths."
"God does not change the state of a people until they change that which is within them."
This represented a new birth for man, a birth greater than his first, material one. For what is man without the dignity and rights of man? What is man if those rights do not depend upon his very existence and true nature, which never vary? These two quotations from Holy Qur'aan indicate to us the relation between human exertions, and the aid dispensed by God to humanity; by means of this aid, men will attain the good, the right guidance and virtue for which they strive.
It is ultimately God's will which is decisive, and without which man by himself will attain nothing. However, this will aid those who know its method of operation, request its help and seek to attain the pleasure of God. Thus, Islam has no other end in view, than to liberate man from the shackles and disabilities which tradition and tyranny may have placed upon him and to awaken him to a sense of that exalted station of life which God assigned to him, namely, the station of being God's vicegerent on earth. When man returned to One God, it became impossible for people to worship other than God. All stood erect in dignity before each other, on the day when all heads were bowed before one Omnipotent God. The legend of superior stock and race, of all inherited nobility, rule, and kingship, all this came to an end.
However, when Islam came to associate people on the basis of belief, and made of it the principle for unity or separation, it did not make of reluctance to believe a reason for hostility. It did not allow intolerance to determine its relations with those who did not embrace its belief or associate on its basis.
Abu Bakr (may God be pleased with him) addressed the people saying:
"I have been made ruler over you, but am not the best of you. If I act well, then help me. If I act badly, then correct me. Obey me as long as I obey God and the Prophet ( Sallallaahu alaihi wasallam). If I disobey them, I may not claim your obedience."
Hence Islam demands that the absolute control of human society belong to God and path laid down by God; it denies this control to any of God's creation, and to any path laid down by other than God. Thus it would consider complete infidelity and a clear ascription of partners to God, for, as we have already pointed out, Islam insists on attribution of Divinity to God Almighty alone, and control of human bearing witness that there is none to be worshipped other than God.
We should then realize the profundity of the liberation effected by Islam. It was not simply a question of Abu Bakr being just; for his justice can not be invoked at all ages, but rather than the justice of Abu Bakr, which was derived from the path and system of Islam, had released a raging of liberation in the world which re-established the dignity of man.
God distinguished between people on the basis of belief, irrespective of the tie of ancestry, race or homeland between them. He said:
"Thou shall not find any people who believe in God and the Last Day who are loving in anyone who opposes God and His Messenger, not though they were their fathers, or their sons, or their brothers, or their clan. Those, He has written faith upon their hearts, and He has confirmed them with a spirit from Himself, and He shall admit them into gardens underneath which rivers flow, therein to dwell for ever, God being well-pleased with them, and they well-pleased with Him. Those are God's party, why, surely God's party, they are the prosperers." (58: 22).
It remains now for humanity to rise towards something nobler and loftier, to proceed on the ascent towards the sublime summit, under the guidance of Islam in its coming wave. It will have at its disposal old and new resources; those of human nature, and the experience passed through to mankind since the first wave of Islam.
What is required is that believing groups place their hands in the hands of God and then march forth, the promise of God to them being the ever ridding reality for them and the pleasure of God being their first and last aim.
(Courtesy: Yaqeen International)