Islamic Monotheism (1)

Islamic Monotheism (1)

What is the viewpoint of Islam concerning human perfection? When a school of thought wishes to build up a following, it must provide guidance and strengthen the resolution of its following, it presents its goal to them, and asks them to follow it. The goal of Islam is the same as the true objective of a Muslim, The conceptualization of a perfect human being is in fact a discussion of the fundamental Islamic ideal and its ideology. Various views concerning human perfection and a perfect being have already been discussed, and here a summary of them will be given.

According to the Gnostics, truth is the basis of everything. By truth, they mean the Essence of God, and His manifestation is the shape of created things and beings. Man, too, as a more wholesome creature gains perfection through his return to Him, Thus everything but truth which is God, is His shadow, while in itself it is a reality. God means absolute God, and nothing is equal to and comparable with Him, They believe also that man can attain unity with God, or, as they say, can be annihilated in His essence. Man is a being, separated from his Originator, Man's perfection and happiness consists of his return to his origin in God's Essence. They also offer ways and means to attain this goal, and this lies through the whole of man's essence, that is, his heart and its changes and transformations which remove the obstacles to perfect unity. Their means consist of love, worship and self-purification.

Divine philosophers, however, think differently, they consider man's essence to be his intellect, and other things are secondary matters, the perfection of the intellectual power has two aspects: speculative and practical. The speculative or theoretical aspect is wisdom which means the recognition of things as they are, and its practical aspect is justice, by which they mean that man's whole essence must be ruled over by intellect and not by instinct or other forces, according to Plato, his Theory of Republic points to a Utopia in which philosophers become rulers and rulers philosophers. This theory is also applied to individuals, and it is said that a man is happy when his essence is ruled over by philosophy, For them, attaining truth is not under consideration; they emphasize thought and reflection, not heart and spirit, The way to attain the goal is intellect, logic and reasoning. Another group consider love to be human perfection, and that means forgetting self and loving others, so that there would be no boundary between self and others; and when there is a question of choice, others have priority over self. A being whose noble human sentiments have developed to their limit, may be considered a perfect being.

Yet another school of thought considers beauty to be the essence of human perfection, not only physical beauty, which is not significant, but spiritual beauty and high morality. This is the basic belief of the Socratic school they say truthfulness is good because it is beautiful. The word 'good' is applied to the senses as well as intellect. Knowledge is for them a perfection because it is beautiful, and opposite, i.e. ignorance is ugly. Power and weakness, too, come under the same category. In Socratic ethics everything is based on either intellectual beauty or ugliness. Poetry, art and originality mean creation of beauty, and a creator of beauty must be beautiful himself to be able to create beauty. Only a beautiful spirit can compose a beautiful poem or paint a beautiful picture. There is a story about one of the Qajar kings who composed one line of a couplet, and was unable to compose the second line. He sought the aid of various poets, until one of them supplied the second line, which was found to be the best, the first line was this:

"No one has ever seen beauty like Yusuf's,"

And the second line was the following: "But He who created Yusuf (Joseph) has the true beauty."

And this is very true, for, only the Creator with utmost beauty can create beauty in His creatures. Now let us see what Islam thinks about these views. Does Islam agree with the question of 'truth' as being perfection? We cannot wholly accept the Gnostic view. For Islam God is not a Creator in the sense of a father - like being capable of procreating other beings. If so, what is He after accomplishing the task of creation? Is He like a father who has children, or a mere provider of livelihood to creatures, or according to Aristotle, the first motive power?

Islam's logic about God is much higher than that there is nothing that can be compared with Him. If he is 'Reality', then other things are a "mirage", or a 'shadow'. The Qur'an says: "God is the light of heaven and the earth,"(1) It means, He is what He is, and other things, too, are attributable to Him. Other references to God in the Qur'an show that He is 'absolute truth. ‘Again the Qur'an says: "We will soon show them our signs in the world and in their minds to assure them that the Qur'an is true."(2)

In fact, when someone has faith in God, everything else is reduced to nothing for him, for, he has found something compared with which other things are worthless, Sa'di has expressed this idea beautifully in his poetic work 'Boostan' : "The way of intellect is a maze; but, for the wise there is nothing but God ." And to explain the matter of nothingness, he says: "This can be told to a discerner of truth, but men of conjecture will cavil at it, Saying, what, then, are heaven and earth? Who are human beings, beasts, and demons?"

He, then, answers his questions and says they are not mutually incompatible: "You, my wise friend, have asked well, and I will answer to your intellect's approval; That the sun, sea, mountain and firmaments, human beings, demons, jinn, and angels, Whatever they may be, they are too inferior to speak of existence, before His Essence."

Continue in the next article: ( Islamic Monotheism (2) )



1. (24; 35)

2. (41: 53)