Islamic Monotheism (2)

Islamic Monotheism (2)

If He is, other things are nothing. It is impossible to turn to another pole once a man knows God, or to assume anything as a goal. Thus, faith in Islam is higher than any possibility of comparison with any other maker but God, a truth and reality before which nothing may be considered true and real. But is wisdom, which is claimed by a sage, of importance in Islam? The principle of wisdom, that is, recognition of facts as they are, is acceptable in Islam. The Qur'an says: "He will grant the blessing of wisdom to anyone He wishes, and he who found it, received much goodness."(1) How can we interpret this verse? Wisdom is called a human blessing, and is almost the equivalent of perfection, and not only something useful.

Justice, too, is similar, that is, social justice, Of course social justice is related to the perfection of individuals concerning moral justice. Islam believes in moderation with respect to powers and instincts, and rejects extravagance. It does not consider the rule of intellect alone adequate, should also be faith, Islam regards human power to philosophize as too weak to be a ruler of man, philosophy combined with faith can act as a governor.

But concerning 'love' in Islam, what more can be said than the following In a chapter of traditions entitled "Kindnesses and Mutual Affections", the Prophet (s) asks his companions: "What handle of faith is stronger?" Each of them gives a different answer, One says 'prayer', another says 'fasting' or 'pilgrimage', etc. He says: "What you said is true, but none of them is the strongest," They ask: "What is it then?" He answers: "Loving others for the sake of God."

Which of the above beliefs are of first importance, and which are secondary? There is also the question of 'worship The Qur'an says: "I did not create angels and human beings except to worship me,"(2) So, worship is presented as an objective There may, of course, be some who do not believe in this. We have already discussed the view that upholds material benefits, involving the negation of human perfection and existence of perfect beings. They consider everything, including knowledge, useful to the extent of benefiting mankind.

This has been the course of human thought since Bacon. Today that the claim is made that society has advanced and evolved which society is more perfect? Is it the one which is nearer reality or faith? Or the one which has attained more wisdom and justice or love? They say: "No, it is a society that can secure more benefits, more techniques, and more science, all of which have provided mankind with better living and greater material benefits."

This greater benefit, as they see it, is no more than what is enjoyed by animals and plants to the extent of safeguarding bodily health and growth, and catering to lusts and appetites. Thus according to them, there is no human perfection beyond animal and vegetable perfection. Science, too, is for man like a horn for an animal, that is, a weapon for survival. Now let us consider worship. What is worship for? There are two ways of looking at it. For ordinary people worship is for obtaining a better reward from God in the next world. The rewards of this world are limited, so, worship gives the hope for deeper and greater compensation in after life, including houris, heavenly palaces, honey, delicious fruits and drinks! But this is no more than animal perfection, even though it implies a lasting life hereafter.

However, worship may have another meaning, It is not the worship of a slave, but of the free and noble. In the latter kind of worship securing benefits is never the objective, nor is it deliverance from physical and material sufferings. It is far above animal appetites, It is worship for the sake of love, affection and gratitude. It is then that worship finds a meaning equivalent to the love of truth, and God is then not considered as a means of life in this or the next world. God will, then, be truth itself and the true objective. This type of worship assumes a lofty position, since it is not a means, but an end in itself.

Thus, there are different stages of worship: worship for satisfying animal desires in the next world is a kind of perfection in comparison with absence of worship and a positive attachment to material things. For, it means seeking from God something permanent, as against the transient selfishness and sensuality in this world. But this worship is much inferior to the exalted and pure worship which is done for its own sake. So worship depends on faith and faith depends on truth. Islam has invited people to wisdom, justice, love and beauty.

But which of them is the main goal? Are they equally significant? Or is one of them the principal objective and the others subordinate to it? We think that the goal is truth, that is, God. Islamic monotheism can only have this meaning. If Islam offers other goals such as heaven, or escape from hell, they are of secondary importance. Wisdom by itself is not a goal, but as a means of attaining truth. Justice, too, is good in checking the animality of human spirit and removing artificial barriers in the way of truth. Love, too, in its effect helps to attain truth. There remains faith, which may be claimed as a goal in Islam. But is faith important because of its effects in removing anxiety, checking aggression, and creating mutual trust? Faith in God is by itself a goal. The effects of faith which are so numerous make it the link of man with God, and such a link is perfection from the viewpoint of Islam.

NOTES:

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1. (2: 269)

2. (51: 56)