Looking Deeper at Tawheed

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Tawheed, the bedrock of Islam, is the immutable truth that Allah is ineffably One. It is not enough to say it is “monotheism” because Christians call themselves monotheists, but insofar as they worship Jesus the son of Mary as a god or “incarnation” or God the Almighty, All-Merciful, no, this is not monotheism and it is a violation of tawheed, sometimes translated “oneness.” The Quran is unequivocal and emphatic about this, quintessentially made clear in Surat Al-Ikhlass. In particular one needs to examine the word Al-Samad.

Surat Al-Ikhlas Is Essence of Tawheed (Oneness)

قُلْ هُوَ اللَّهُ أَحَدٌ
Say, “He is Allah, [who is] One, (1)
اللَّهُ الصَّمَدُ
Allah, Al-Samad. (2)
لَمْ يَلِدْ وَلَمْ يُولَدْ
He neither begets nor is begotten, (3)
وَلَمْ يَكُن لَّهُ كُفُوًا أَحَدٌ
And is there like Him absolutely not a single one.” (4)

Al-Ikhlas 112:1-4

This Surah, containing four ayat (verses/ signs), is the heart of the Quran. It shows us the essence of Tawheed or “oneness.” The word Al-Samad which I have put in bold above has been translated “Eternal Refuge,” “Indivisible,” “Eternal,” “He on Whom all depend,” “Who is in need of none and of Whom all are in need,” and “The Un-Wanting – (Perfect, does not require anything)”. All these meanings may indeed describe an aspect of the meaning of the name Al-Samad. There is also the sense of that which alone supports and is at the root/center of all that exists. It has therefore a sense of being like the ultimate solid ground, center of all gravity, that which when all else fails one can rely on with no limits. Allah (glory to Him in the highest) is far above and beyond anything in creation. With all these descriptors, which together yet fail to get to the totality of this meaning, we with our intuition can make that connection to understand the power of this name and its meaning…with all this, to associate anything with Him as a “partner” or to share power or His throne is beyond inconceivable and deeply offensive.

Monotheism Cannot Include a “Trinity”

Some Christians say about the Trinity that it is really a metaphor, while others use the word “begotten” to mean literally conceived and born, although this is beyond absurd to anyone with any sense at all. Often in such cases believers in such descriptions of the Deity, a “leap of faith” is prescribed. Especially now when people have a greater understanding about the majesty and immensity of the universe, or multiverse (which term could apply to “seven heavens,” some of which we cannot see), where there is no possibility of a Creator to be like creation under any terminology or description, this is particularly egregious. For Christians who believe in the divinity of Jesus yet consider themselves monotheists:

‎يَا أَهْلَ الْكِتَابِ لَا تَغْلُوا فِي دِينِكُمْ وَلَا تَقُولُوا عَلَى اللَّهِ إِلَّا الْحَقَّ ۚ إِنَّمَا الْمَسِيحُ عِيسَى ابْنُ مَرْيَمَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ وَكَلِمَتُهُ أَلْقَاهَا إِلَىٰ مَرْيَمَ وَرُوحٌ مِّنْهُ ۖ فَآمِنُوا بِاللَّهِ وَرُسُلِهِ ۖ وَلَا تَقُولُوا ثَلَاثَةٌ ۚ انتَهُوا خَيْرًا لَّكُمْ ۚ إِنَّمَا اللَّهُ إِلَٰهٌ وَاحِدٌ ۖ سُبْحَانَهُ أَن يَكُونَ لَهُ وَلَدٌ ۘ لَّهُ مَا فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَمَا فِي الْأَرْضِ ۗ وَكَفَىٰ بِاللَّهِ وَكِيلًا

O People of the Scripture, do not commit excess in your religion or say about Allah except the truth. The Messiah, Jesus, the son of Mary, was but a messenger of Allah, and His Word which He directed to Mary, and a soul [created at a command] from Him. So believe in Allah and His messengers. And do not say, “Three”; desist – it is better for you. Indeed, Allah is but one God. Exalted is He above having a son. To Him belongs whatever is in the heavens and whatever is on the earth. And sufficient is Allah as Disposer of affairs.

Al-Nisa’ 4:171

The word “three” of course refers to the Trinity. Worship of Jesus also means quite literally worshipping a man, which one might say is the ultimate coup of the patriarchy, to make everyone worship a man, thus implying God is somehow male, or prefers males among humankind to females. Whereas Allah has no gender and the male gender in Arabic can refer to both male and female in a case where gender is unknown, and to this sense Allah also uses the pronoun “We,” which could also connote a sense of comprising, beyond gender, a genderless-ness both comprehensively yang/yin or creative/responsive everpresence that is a powerful dynamic, even the power source of all creation. The anthropological sense of God is anathema in Islam, and this removes a major beef scientists and philosophers have with religions.

‎لَّقَدْ كَفَرَ الَّذِينَ قَالُوا إِنَّ اللَّهَ ثَالِثُ ثَلَاثَةٍ ۘ وَمَا مِنْ إِلَٰهٍ إِلَّا إِلَٰهٌ وَاحِدٌ ۚ وَإِن لَّمْ يَنتَهُوا عَمَّا يَقُولُونَ لَيَمَسَّنَّ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا مِنْهُمْ عَذَابٌ أَلِيمٌ

They have certainly disbelieved who say, “Allah is the third of three.” And there is no god except one God. And if they do not desist from what they are saying, there will surely afflict the disbelievers among them a painful punishment.

Al-Ma’ida 5:73

Here again is Quranic condemnation of the “Trinity” belief, an idea which itself has undergone metamorphosis, from being God, Mary, and Jesus, to God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit, an association based on the Spirit or Archangel Jibreel (anglicized as Gabriel), who is also a Messenger is Allah but also His servant given prestige and great tasks. Eissa (Jesus) did not ever say “worship me” but only “follow me” as he was a great but entirely human Prophet.

Worship of Jesus (or any prophet/human) Breaks First Commandment, the Greatest Prohibition

Confusion over the distinction between Creator and creation leads to misguidance and faith in Falsehood. It is the whole of the First Commandment, the commandment of monotheism. One cannot succeed by adulterating creation (human, Jesus) with Creator because the difference between the two is incalculable and categorical. Any less than Al-Samad on whom all depend and who only creates but does not procreate cannot be worshipped. We cannot create; the word applied loosely to artists and writers, for example, cannot apply to religion, where Allah creates a living creature, a new soul or being, by a single word Kun! or Be! And it is. We cannot do that. We only reshape, reconstitute, recycle, destroy, bury, and procreate, the latter according to a system originated and created by Allah to which we are entirely subject. Even if we can “make” test-tube babies, they are not actually created but already-existing proto-elements are combined in a controlled environment to recreate “natural” procreation.

It is extremely disturbing when I hear some Muslims practically worshipping Prophet Mohammad, ascribing to him powers such as saving people on Judgment Day from what God had already ordained as a judgment, which is absolutely shirk or idolatry, associating others with Allah’s exclusive domain as Malik Yom Al-Deen or Sovereign over the Day of Judgment. Stories from various hadeeths claim that Prophet Mohammad was told to climb to and ascend on Allah’s throne!! This is worse idolatry than that of Christians, many of whom have not read the Quran or had tawheed explained with such clarity. Worse also because they would by this adulterate the Truth of the Quran with their glorification of His Messenger and prophet in direct violation of the prophet himself by ascribing to him words he could never have said.

Knowing that, Muslims must also be extremely careful not to slip into idolatry and associating others with Allah, through a thinly disguised “back door” narrative that people believe as they trust the sheikhs who disseminate it unthinkingly.

All people are responsible for using their minds, especially in matters of religion. This is one reason the Quran so frequently uses the term “a people who understand/ reason/ use their minds.” Or questions us “Afa la t’aqiloon?” Or “Will you not use your minds/ reason/ intelligence?” We will be asked on Judgment day as to how we used the faculty of reason and thinking. Tawheed is a serious matter, the first commandment, and the first requirement in Islam. Allah will forgive all sins except associating others with him (“shirk” in Arabic).

إِنَّ اللَّهَ لَا يَغْفِرُ أَن يُشْرَكَ بِهِ وَيَغْفِرُ مَا دُونَ ذَٰلِكَ لِمَن يَشَاءُ ۚ وَمَن يُشْرِكْ بِاللَّهِ فَقَدِ افْتَرَىٰ إِثْمًا عَظِيمًا

Indeed, Allah does not forgive association with Him, but He forgives what is less than that for whom He wills. And he who associates others with Allah has certainly fabricated a tremendous sin.

Al-Nisa’ 4:48

This is what we need to focus on first this and every Ramadan. To have Tawheed so firmly in one’s heart you can sense any violations of this principle. Only then can one’s love for Allah be pure and genuine. And indeed reciprocal.

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