Channel: Jamal Badawi
Series: Jamal Badawi - Monotheism
Peace be upon you all. And welcome to another episode of Islamic focus. This is going to be our fifth episode on Islamic teachings and Islamic dictates. And more specifically, it's going to be our fourth episode on the concept of monotheism and God, God capital G Allah in Islam. Our guest today is Dr. Jamal whether we and Salaam Alaikum doctors and man was
I was wondering if you could give us a very close as usual capsule capsule summary.
Okay, last time we were continuing with the explanation of the Muslim creed, which says basically there is no deity but Allah, God, capital G. And Muhammad is His Messenger. We explained also that Allah is the Arabic term for God capital G as the sole creator and Sustainer of the universe. We discussed briefly or continued the discussion as to why the static period starts with negation, rather than affirmation. And we try to indicate that there have been lots of human errors throughout history and trying to have this proper knowledge about God. And as such, it's very important to point out to this shortcoming so that we don't fall or lapse into them again.
And so far, we have discussed the six specific types of negations. First was idolatry, or worship of items.
worship of forces of nature, like stars, the moon, the sun, three polytheism, or several Gods believe in several gods. Firstly, was the dualism or belief in one God for good and one for, for evil.
Firstly, we discuss the worship of other beings like spirits, Satan, worship, or worship even of
magicians and people who practice sorcery, and sixthly. The last negation we discussed was the worship of other human beings, whether because they are ancestors or worship of other people who are pious people,
great holy men, or even and sometimes in some cases, great prophets and messengers. And we try to indicate that all the great messengers of Allah are to be proud to be servants of Allah, that includes all the great prophets, especially Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus and Mohammed that all of them should really feel proud rather than being demoted when they are two servants of Allah. And which I finally to clarify that all these forms of worship or interceding gods, if you will, our forms which are not quite consistent with the Islamic pure monotheism right out.
The word worship as we've used so far, was worship in the sense of dedication. Is there another sense that worship may be taken
to me and sort of another meaning to the word worship in an Islamic context? This is an interesting question, because in fact, you could have a whole series on the concept of worship and ascend what does it really mean but to limit myself to specifically your question as it relates to worship of other human beings.
According to Islam, blind obedience to other human beings. The refraining from using our Allah given intellect and human faculties in searching for the truth, is some kind of form of worship of those individuals. Perhaps I could illustrate this by a little story that happened 1400 years ago, during the lifetime of Prophet Muhammad.
At that time, one passage was revealed in the Quran, namely 931 chapter nine, verse 31. And that
passage reads, talking about people who followed their religious leaders prior to Islam, they have taken as loads besides Allah, their clergy, that's priest and anchorites.
So one of the companions of the Prophet
by the name of adding Abraham who had some knowledge or background about Christianity came to the Prophet. Yeah. And he came to him and he said, O Messenger of Allah. It is not true that those people really worship their, their priests or anchorites. Or
so the Prophet asked him, he said, didn't some of those religious leaders make unlawful things that God made lawful? said yes. Right. Didn't they take authority by also making lawful things which God made unlawful? He said, Yes. He said, Well, that's their worship, which really conveyed the message, that you don't have to bow down before a human being to be called that you're worshiping, or they find him. But this blind obedience, this
like I said, limiting one's use of God given capability of intelligence, of thinking of searching, is one form actually of of worshipping of those individuals. And interesting that you might say that this story is only 1400 years old, it's too remote back in history. But I consider it very relevant to our today's
generation and problems, doesn't stop the needle.
Now, how about obedience to a dictator, let's say, Would this still come under the concept of worship?
Well, it would still fall under the worship of other human beings.
Indeed, some people misunderstand or misinterpret the various liberation movements that take place for themselves, the history of Islam. And many times, they try to separate between what might be considered as social reform or political uprising, on one hand, versus just purely religiously motivated type of uprisings.
And the fact of the matter as far as Islam is concerned, is that
obedience again to dictators, just like obedience to clergy, or anybody else, without thinking, constitute a form of human worship. And that the
the this type of obedience is a kind of acceptance of the authority of dictators above the authority of God. Like I might have indicated before, in Islam, there is nothing called one compartment, that you should render unto Caesar another compartment that you should render unto God, everything should be under unto God unto Allah, the creator.
This kind of struggle that you find in the history of the Muslim people against dictatorship, past and present,
is a continuous, ongoing process, which actually is based on Quranic injunctions even more specifically, in the Quran, we read chapter five verses for 47 through 50, that those who do not do,
in accordance with what Allah has revealed are regarded as unbelievers in one passage, as oppressors and another passage as ribbons and the third passage, and it is interesting to notice that this passage in the Quran, it simply says, Whoever does not rule in accordance with what Allah has revealed, it does not exempt even a Muslim. In other words, a person may pay lip service to faith, a person may claim to be even a Muslim, as a ruler, whereas his acts, his behaviors are contrary to Islam are contrary to the revelation of Allah. So even that person, even though he might nominally be called a Muslim, would definitely be going against that. And that's the case quite frankly, with
the majority of rulers in Muslim countries today, whether they have the titles of kings or chefs, our president or just titles to mislead people. And indeed, in many cases, it's totalitarian regime. It's dictatorship contrary to the terms and conjunctions and systems of government.
Okay, so far we have been limiting the concept of worship, to worship, worshiping extra personal beings or phenomena. How about worshiping oneself and self worship, vanity and pride?
How does Islam at least know that even that was not left out? In the comprehensive coverage of this aspect of monotheism and in the Quran?
It is regarded actually like you said as worship of other merchants,
it might take a variety of forms. Let me focus on two.
In some cases, it may even take the form of self deification. The Quran for example, narrates the story of
The Pharaohs during the time of Prophet Moses May peace be with him.
When as the Quran says in
chapter 79, verses 23 and 24, that the pharaoh collected his men or his people and made a proclamation saying, I am your Lord, Most High. This is perhaps the ultimate of human arrogance, that a human being claimed to be the the final and the ultimate authority to say what is to be done or what is not to be done.
But self worship also takes another subtle form, a hidden form that most of us would fall into in some form or the other, but that's to a different degrees. And that is when we take our own desires in our own opinions, and place that as the ultimate source of guidance, the ultimate source of values to guide us in our lives, even though it may contradict with clear and decisive divine injunctions. In fact, there is a specific, more than one verse But it just caught one verse or passage in the Quran that deals with that particular issue. And 2543 it says, Have you seen him who takes his or her law desires or whims for his or her God? Will you be a guardian over him or her? In
other words, it's just regarded the term used in the Quran, Allah, how his God or his Lord, so instead of saying, Allah, or God is my Lord, I say, my desires, what I want, what I think, is that I is my ultimate source. I put aside whatever Revelation says, I, in my humble opinion, I consider this form of aberration or self worship as one of the most serious aberrations in our age. Many times we are tempted to say, well, material is everything.
Let's put aside spiritual moral teachings, divine revelation that's just on the side as far as your service, my objective, I can use it. If not, I just put it aside. And we normally hear that statement made quite frequently. I know what's good for me, I know what's best for me. Sometimes even we go again, is the clear and decisive injunction of Allah. Even when we destroy ourselves, drinking drugs and all other aberrations and still destroy ourselves, they I know what's good for me. What's best for me? Again, like I said, placing what we think is right, what we think is good for the Supreme Court, and the supreme and above what got himself tell us what
should be okay, in the negation part of our creed, I think there is one
concept still left be a little bit esoteric, but I think it should be included here. And we should mention something about it. And that is the concept of pencils, and what God exists in everything and everywhere. How does Islam view that idea? I think this kind of arguments, and mixes as a philosophy between two different things.
On one hand,
to say that we can see the power of God, we can see in a metaphoric sense allegorically the hands of God, and his compassion, and by looking into the creation, which he has created, is one aspect.
And to argue that, because God created everything, and his power is manifest and everything, then God must be inside, or in or incarnated in everything, I think this too, should not be mixed. From the Muslim standpoint, and this relates to one of the earlier series that we said that the Quran implores us encourages us indeed, to look into ourselves to look into our environment to look into the universe of flowers.
And by finding the functioning and operation, all of these things, we are bound to find out that there must be a designer must be a compassionate, all powerful creator, behind all that. But this doesn't mean that he is in the sun or he is in the moon. For another hearing this to this kind of
aberration is simply carrying
the powers of God or cutting the arguments too far extremes in some kind of extreme, which is not acceptable.
Great. So I think that takes care of the negative parts of our creed. And it's time now to start looking at the affirmative attitudes of a lot on my seventh standpoint. And I was wondering if one could possibly define a law so to speak, if the term applies? Well,
there's a problem when you use the term
anything that is definable
by definition, must be limited must be finite.
Allah or God is infinite, then he could not be subject to any definition, because definition is limiting the difference something is to establish limitation and God is beyond limitation. This is one, one thing, but the problem perhaps could be addressed by making a distinction between two things again,
on one hand, the essence or nature
of Allah or God, and secondly, the attributes, divine attributes of Allah. Now, let me explain what I mean by that, when we talk about the essence of Allah, the nature of Allah, we can say that his nature or his essence is so sublime,
so transcendent that our human minds, no matter how intelligent, maybe, isn't capable of totally grasping his essence, or his nature, however, as far as attributes of Allah, or attributes of God this are or could be, within reasonable reach within at least reasonable understanding as far as our human comprehension goes.
And I say relatively because, again, when you talk about attributes of the infinite, the Henson discipline attributes totally from the essence, but at least the conceptual distinction could be quite useful. Sometimes people would wonder how could we see it to understand the essence of God and only know about his attributes are manifestations of art. But what we forget when we make this argument is that even in physical, tangible things, sometimes you are not really able to define the essence, electricity,
many of us, you can explain a great deal about electricity, how it works, or atomic energy, but can you really describe the essence of electricity, the essence of atomic energy?
So we can't even reach that a human being, you can't describe a human being say, Hey, is that all that big, he weighs that much his face looks nice. So that's fine. But can you even with the best knowledge of psychology and psychiatry understand the essence of a human being? Can you understand your own essence, as a human being? So what I'm saying here is that even in physical and tangible things in this universe, we are not capable to penetrate our understanding, to understand fully their essence, how about understanding the essence of discipline, being outside the infinite becomes a metaphysical problem becomes a very difficult problem.
Material a matter of fact, even when we limit ourselves to using attributes rather than the essence, we found ourselves faced with another problem. And I was wondering if you could comment on that. And the problem is, if we talk about Allah being finite ourselves and being limited ourselves and being relative ourselves, we have to use relative terms, terms that are understandable within our own
vocabulary, so to speak. So we start using terms that have human connotations. How do we reconcile those two when we say that God sees God hears? These are all terms that we understand very much in our own human context of perception? How do we bridge that gap? When we start writing those terms in the front so long? I think you're quite right when you pointed to the fact that no word no in any human language, Arabic, English, whatever, can really be totally accurate in conveying something even about the attributes of deity of Allah.
However, in his infinite mercy, Allah has communicated with us in a way that we could understand. So like you said, again, using terms which might not have exactly the same human or material meaning, but it would be useful though the distance are used to give us some understanding or some perception
about God, not all God about God Himself. However, we find that the Quran also warn us, that God Himself, in his own words in the Quran warns us against
taking these words in a very literal or very
physical meaning that you understand as human beings, perhaps, to make the point less abstract. Let me give a few citations from the Quran, the history, the point, the first one, later chemistry that is, there is nothing whatever, like unto him, God and He is the one that hears and sees all things that's in chapter 42.
In another moving passage, six, one or three, no vision, can grasp him. But he grasps or his grasp is over all vision. He is above all comprehension, yet is acquainted with all things. And maybe I can repeat one citation that was made in a previous program because it's very crucial, the very famous chapter 112 of the Quran towards the end,
say it says, say that is say, or Mohammed to people, He is Allah, the One and Only Allah, the eternal, the absolute, he gets not, nor is he begat him. And notice the last verse, and there is none like unto him, nothing comparable, no peers. So whenever we use the term, for example, like
God, or Allah hears and see us, it doesn't mean that he needs eyes to see with, it doesn't need ears to hear with, even we as human beings, sometimes you'll see all the time with your eyes. If I asked you to close your eyes for a second, and just imagine the shape of your TV sets or your couch, you can see it even when you're closing your eyes, you see it in your own imagination. So even as humans, we don't see everything with AI. But of course, when you talk about
Allah or God, we're not really making competitive is simply saying that he does not need the physical or biological organs in order to be able to see or hear.
Now, it's clear that we are trying to put a or emphasize the dissimilarity between gods and his creatures.
Which brings us to a touchy question very relevant and important one, however, and that is, how does the Muslim
reconcile himself or view the biblical statements referring to God, having created man in his own image? How do we view that statement? How do we actually understand that accepted or lack of acceptance? Whatever you're referring to the the first chapter in Genesis, why is that? God says let's create man in our image after our likeness. But that's what's your favorite. What a Muslim see is to problem with, with this type of statements or any similar statements like that. First of all, that as we indicated before, Allah or God, capital G does not have any image because he's not physical. And as was cited before Lysa, Camus, Leisha, there is nothing whatsoever that you can
think of, or you know, or experiences which is comparable to Allah because it is comparable to anything that's physical or material, then he's limited, he's finite. This is one, one thing to keep in mind.
So from the Muslim standpoint, it is erroneous to reduce the infinite to any finite form, including even finite type of image as a result of this, or the way people interpreted this kind of biblical statement, has been throughout history to imagine or make a drawing nikka texture of God, if you will, in a human form. In a recent issue of the Time Magazine,
dealing again with the new theological arguments about God,
the magazine reproduced for paintings for pictures
that people imagined as belongs to God, mostly Christian artists, including Michelangelo, the Sistine Chapel. Right, exactly. And in all of them, invariably, it's a figure of choruses of a man, relatively older men, with beards, and the tip would vary, but it's basically an image of a man because again, apparently, this people would go back and read the Genesis and say, all right, God created man in his own likeness, or in His own image. So God must look like a physical This is not acceptable to them. In fact, this kind of configuration of deity of Allah raises a number of questions. When you look at this picture in the time, for example, you you're entitled to ask a
number of questions. Number one, why a picture of a man not a woman? All of them have been knowing that you could say it's a woman. Why a picture of why it's not a black for example, or yellow?
Why that picture shows a feature of a face which is mostly Greco Roman, rather than Chinese Japanese, African or some someone else see you up in a whole can of worms once you reduce got two sets an image which is quite limited in by by its very nature. Fortunately for the Muslim, this problem never is really of my Christian friends. For example, asked me what
When you think about about Allah or God, capital G, do you have any mental picture of him something similar to this painting? I said, No, I need not. The spiritual image is much more valuable, more important and more befitting. Again, I'm using image again in a very allegoric, at Cisco, Cisco has any picture in mind, because he's unlimited. How could you have an image? Exactly. Sometimes it seems tempting to say why you think about something abstract. Maybe when you reduce it to physical, you can identify with it. But that, again, is a very serious error also, because you're limiting, you're destroying the whole notion of the transcendence and this similarity of God to his, his
Now, keeping these precautions in mind, can you explain to us some of the more specific divine attributes of a law that are used by Muslims in the Quran? Well, obviously, of course, when you talk about attributes of Allah, he's talking about the Creator. So creation, perhaps would come as one of the foremost attributes
of Allah or God.
This can be explained best by referring even directly to the Quran.
For example, in six, one or two, it says, that is Allah, your Lord, there is no god but He is the Creator of all things. All things, no partner, no helpers.
In the Quran, we also find that creation and sovereignty
go hand in hand. So not just create and leave like some philosophers believe that God created the universe and then forgot about forgot about it, or we do not at all and Islam. In the Quran we did Allah Allah will sulk while I'm that's in 753. Is it not his to create and to govern, or Command also in 4212, to him, that is to Allah belonged the keys of the heavens and the s.
This is one aspect of one fundamental attributes, if you will,
was, I think at this point, I'd have to
stop because we have about only one minute left. And I'll ask a doctor to join us again next week. And we'll continue with the attributes, the positive attributes, the affirmative attributes of Allah in Islam. And we hope ladies and gentlemen that we'll see you next week. Until then, please if you have any questions whatsoever, whether on the episodes or their contents, or even on Islam in general, don't hesitate to write us on Assam infocus Post Office Box 116 darkness in Nova Scotia. Until we meet you next time. God bless you saramonic loss