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Towheed (Monotheism)

The fundamental philosophical contradictions in theology have to do with the concept of god or gods, the functions and the scopes of this entity; how men see or imagine this entity and since we see a plurality of godly functions, whether we could virtually or conceptually break down this entity into various parts and assign them different functions.

To us, the fundamental argument is not whether there is one god or three gods in one or whether there is an assignable deity for each cosmic function. The prime argument is whether the universe was created or whether it came into being by itself. There can be valid arguments on both sides but whereas there may be no scientifically verifiable evidence to prove that there is a creator, to prove the contrary is logically impossible.
So in Islam we begin with the premise that the universe has been created. Having created things, God gave them their essence and the laws that govern their behavior. These laws are inviolable. All the laws of physics, chemistry and biology are inherent in matter. They are concurrent with creation. As far as Islam is concerned there is no conflict between science and religion. It is this property of matter, which creates harmony in the universe.

 If the creation was shared by more than one entity there would be total chaos in the universe. Hence the One God! Also, there is no need for God to share His functions with others. His own Will is sufficient to make things happen. Hence there are no intermediate gods and junior gods.

God has no shape and form:
We know that the expanse of the universe is unimaginable. Our own sun is a spec in the cosmic dust and our earth is a sub-spec in the solar system. How can you imagine the creator of this infinite continuum of heavenly bodies in any shape and form? How can you make this incomprehensible entity reside on one planet? And above all, how can you assign biological functions such as procreation to this divine entity? God’s shape and form is unimaginable. Any representation with our own familiar symbols may not only be misleading but may lead to the institutionalization of false gods and erroneous concepts. This is the logic of Islamic theology.

Intuitive Cognition:
Our imagination is something we synthesize from images that are stored in our brain cells. Those images are a product of our perception, something we have seen and experienced on this earth in our lifetime. There are two realities: the Creator and the created. There is Allah and everything else that is created. The Creator has to be outside of what He has created. So our contention is that we cannot imagine the Creator in any shape and form. It would be a fallacy to depict Him in terms of our own perceptional experiences. We cannot conceive Him in the form of a human being, any other creature or a material object. We can only be aware of Him through our intuitive cognition. We have to be content with this awareness. It is because of this reason that idolatry, the making of images and pictures of god are strictly forbidden in Islam. It also follows from this that God has no biological functions. He does not procreate and since He is Eternal and Absolute He is in no need of a progeny.

The most prominent propagator of towheed in Islamic chronology is Prophet Ibrahim (A). He also figures as a progenitor of the Faith in the Qur’anic text. He appears in history at the dawn of civilization in a Sumerian city in Mesopotamia. He travelled from Mesopotamia to Canaan, Egypt, Arabia and back to Canaan, where he eventually settled. Throughout this area, the so-called Fertile Crescent, the cradle of civilization at that time, he propagated the message of monotheism. We therefore argue that the concept of monotheism is the default theological concept ingrained from day one in the consciousness of man. When the Qur’an argues the case of One God and the creation, it does so through the medium of Ibrahim (A) with logic that is unique in its simplicity and its universality. The following dialogue between Prophet Ibrahim (A) and the despot of the time King Nimrud beautifully illustrates the point:

Have you not seen the one, who argued with Abraham about his Lord because Allah had granted him his kingdom? When Abraham said: “My Lord is the one who gives life and death. He said: “I give life and death.” (Legend has it that he ordered two prisoners, who had been sentenced to death to be brought in. He pardoned one and executed the other.)  Said Abraham: “but it is Allah who causes the sun to rise from the east; now you cause the sun to rise from the west!” Thus was he confounded, who had rejected Faith. Oh how the people unjust go out of Allah’s guidance!] (Qur’an 2:258).

Waheeduddin Ahmed
March 2014


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