Channel: Jamal Badawi
Series: Jamal Badawi - Monotheism
Salam Alaikum, peace be upon you ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to another of our episodes of Islam in focus. This is going to be program number eight on Islamic beliefs. And more specifically, it's going to be the seventh episode on the concept of monotheism and Islam. Our guest on today's program is Dr. Jamal By the way, Salaam Alaikum.
Let us start as usual, by quickly recapping what we covered last time. Okay, what we did last time was to more or less concludes our discussion of the positive or affirmative divine attributes, attributes of Allah God, capital G. And last time, there were two basic issues that we spent most of the time on. The first is to correct one of the common errors and misconceptions that when Islam insists on the absolute perfection, and transcendence of God, that this necessarily means that he is a remote unapproachable, God. And he said that this is not true. We have given plenty of evidence from the Quran,
the Word of God Himself, in which we have shown the complete consistency between the perfection, transcendence of God on one hand, alongside or hand in hand with the attributes of mercy, forgiveness and personal relationship or closeness to mankind. This was one issue. The second major issue we discussed was the attribute of forgiveness,
with especially reference for competitive purposes, with the concept of origin and sin. And we said that in Islam, this concept does not exist, there is no original sin in Islam. It's no parallel at all. And we said that the sin is not to be inherited by other human beings. That
as the prophet of Islam, Prophet Mohammed said, that every child is born innocent and pure.
And that, in case we err, or sin, the only way to atone or remit that sin is to pray directly to God and seek His forgiveness, so long as we are sincere in this earnest prayers in our intention also to avoid falling into this sense of errors. And we concluded the session last time by indicating that we are not here on Earth, by way of punishment for a sin committed hundreds or 1000s of years ago by Adam and Eve. We are here because we have a certain mission that we are destined to perform and are created specifically for others.
Before we move to the implications of those attributes in our daily life, let's first
clarify something that is sometimes bothering when we read the literature, the western literature about Islam by orientalist slamming
researchers if you will, and that is the idea of simplicity in the Islamic rate. Sometimes they relegate the Islamic creed or sort of shrug their shoulders to it, and moderate and label it as being too simplistic for simple minded nomadic people. And it does not aspire to compete, so to speak, or come up to the level of other esoteric leads that we see in other faiths or religions. What do you say about that?
You see, when, when the even when the term simplistic is not used, it is clearly insinuated low? Yeah, I've seen so many writings written by non Muslims, so many films, for example, or TV programs produced that starts with a statement like that. Oh, Islam is very simple. There's only one God, simple and then talk about the five pillars of Islam. So just in one quick sentence,
you're really insinuating very obviously
That's somehow Islam is simple in the sense of being simplistic. So equating simple with simplistic, professional, and superficial. By the same token, people also sometimes tend to get the impression that complicated, is sophisticated, or more profound. Whereas we know that the simplest facts, you could make it very complex unduly, you can include all kinds of philosophical and theological riddles into something that's very straightforward and very simple and make it complex, but not necessarily sophisticated or true. So this is the difficulty with the terminology that's being used. I would say that
the most profound truths
are ones that combines both simplicity and depth, but not simplistic. simplicity. And
the the most manifest example indeed of this is our discussion in the last few sessions, on this aspect of monotheism or the absolute oneness of the creator of God.
We have seen that, on one level,
a very simple person, perhaps even an educated, unsophisticated, if you explain to him that there is only one creators, that the whole universe is created by one god one authority, it is palatable, it's accepted by the person who can understand that, all right. But on the other hand, we have seen also that we have spent six complete programs. This is the seventh, perhaps the last one that deals specifically with that single concept of monotheism. And we haven't even delved into greater depth, we simply tried to give some examples of the Quran of what the real dimensions and meaning of this monotheism really mean. We have seen in our discussion that
on one level,
the discussion is appealing even to the most scientific minds, especially when we discuss the various science of God's oneness in our creation in the ecological balance and the total Cosmos or the creation of the total universe. So in that sense, I'm saying that the very profound truth could be simply on one level, and very deep also for those who care to delve more into into the dimensions and understanding of what it really means. And in fact,
I would say that
the the kind of insinuation that is made normally from these writings, is not only by words, but also by the, the way these programs are produced are those films for example, are produced or pictures in books. You get typical an educated person and flowing robes riding on a camel, it looks like almost the savages and say our and tie it somehow with this understanding of monotheism is one God. What is even more tricky, that you should be really careful about that some scholars, non Muslim scholars fall into an error of saying, Yes, monotheism Islam is good. It says it's better and very profound idea, but only relative to its time, that is compared to the idol worship that was
rampant at the time. When Mohammed can it's better it's an improvement somehow insinuating again, but not as compared with absolute and not absolutely whereas as we have seen, even in this very scanty coverage in seven sessions, that the concept of monotheism Islam, definitely
in a category by itself as you compare it with any explanation given by any face, or even by any philosophy for that, for that matter.
But I'm glad you clarified that before we move to the last topic about monotheism, because I think it does disturb you when you read about it and sort of be faced with the thing
about Islam. Well, now we come to the last
subtitle on the monotheism, if you will, and that is the implication. Now some people would say that talking about the Islamic creed, in depth or even
shortly, is a sort of a futile exercise or
an exercise an intellectual exercise that doesn't have any implication in our daily lives.
Is it practical? Does it have direct implications in our daily life? And yes, on a superficial Look, I'm using a simplistic, we'll have a simplistic look at it. It may sound like just like a theological or philosophical type of items. But when you really delve into some more depth into this, you'll find that even not only the concept of monotheism, but each of the basic divine attributes that we have
discus does have
practical relevance, practical implication, in the day to day life of various individuals, it is manifest in our life and the life of a believer, both on the individual as well as the collective levels. Great, maybe maybe we should be a little bit more specific on that. And let's take some of them some of the attributes that we talked about and, and discuss the implications of each one of them individually. Let's start with the most important, namely, oneness. What implications does it have? Okay? Again, it sounds like I said, as just a theoretical type of item that when you really think about oneness of Allah, first of all, when you talk about one, or the one creator and Master
of the whole universe, This in itself provides a base for humanity to unite. That is you're talking about one common Lord of the universe. So the the whole issue of religious prejudice, or racial prejudice or any other thing that stems or is typically expressed in terms of your God, my God, and all that would have no place because you're not talking about your God, oh, my God is talking about the God and the Lord have the entire universe, the whole of humanity. It follows from this also that says you have one Lord, one Creator
of the universe, that you also have one humanity.
the oneness of Allah also leads to the oneness of humanity. And this understanding of oneness of humanity is also a very profound basis, to remove all the artificial barriers of racial superiority, tribal superiority, color separation, all other forms, and methods that people have devised to distinguish between one group of the creatures of Allah and others.
It follows also from both of them, that is when you have oneness of Allah oneness of humanity that you have also oneness of divine revelation. By that we mean that all the messages divine revelation that were received by all prophets throughout history is like links in a constant and continuous chain of revelation that the prophets should be viewed by their followers, not as competitors who are just snatching the souls of people competing for them, but rather those who are carrying basically the same message of goodness of submission to the will of God, while at the same time completing and complementing what each prophet before them has done. As we said before, culminating
Finally, in the message of Prophet Muhammad, as the last of those promises, all of them are brothers, their followers, if they are true followers should also try to be brothers. So if you take this even as one concept within the oneness, we find that in the very practical, realistic sense, it provides a very strong foundation to unify the entire humanity. Sometimes As humans, we fail to harness that potential, we don't benefit from that potential because of the various biases prejudices that we have brainwashing that you have, because of various individual, social or institutional pressures on us, but the potential is there in this single concept of oneness.
Okay, if we move from oneness to the second attribute, which is the uniqueness of the Creator items, a lot being the sole creator, that does this have an implication, it shows us by believing that Allah or God, capital G is the sole creator of everything that is in this universe, animate and inanimate objects. It told us also that a true believer does not feel that anything in this universe is totally strange to him. There are things that we may not understand. But the universe does not sound like something that you should hear. A Muslim should never use the term conquer or conquest of nature, subduing nature, because it's it appears from this terminology very common in the West as if
you're instructed with an enemy that is, for the Muslim he doesn't look at it this way. signature is the creation of Allah, there is nothing called Mother Nature, God created that nature. And he created it specifically for our benefit, in order to harness its resources for the purpose of achieving our mission on this earth. So nothing really looks very strange to the to the believer. And not only this, we find also that once we realize that Allah or God is the Creator, then we conclude also that there must be a specific purpose and wisdom behind creating us on this earth. We're not just created here to be to live and die. That's that's not the purpose there must be a
more noble mission. And that is the basic distinction between human beings on one hand and other living organisms or animals or birds or other types of creation. This has been beautifully depicted in one passage in the Quran. When Latina cafaro Sanatana Luna can attack
while those who reject God will
Enjoy this word and eat as cattle eat, and the fire will be there about that's in 47. So that's the crux of the matter by knowing and realizing the attribute of creation of Allah, then we try to ask ourselves, why are we created and what mission are we supposed to fulfill on the shelf?
Okay, maybe we can move now to a concept that sounds on. If we look at it superficially as being a passive attribute, and its implication may not be readily obvious, and that is the attribute of knowledge and wisdom when we say that Allah is all knowledgeable and and all wise, omniscient and omnipotent.
Does this have an implication, this also has implication, you look at it from the point of view of knowledge or wisdom, that both have very practical implications. First of all, when a believer realizes and believes that all his deeds, all his action on this earth are watched, that God is watching over what you're doing. And as you said last time, even your inner thoughts are known to the Creator. It follows from that that this would help the believers to inculcate in himself or herself, the quality of taqwa piety, or, more correctly, Allah consciousness to be God conscious.
In your activities, it leads you to have
automatic self policing, you don't have to have someone to watch over you, or to tell you what to do, because you're after all, in direct contact under direct observation of the Creator. And this quality is not a theoretical quality, it's a very essential quality, to build any healthy community or society. The other aspect that follows from that is that the believer his view of morality, or moral standards, would be much more lofty than what most people look at morality. That is to say, many people would accept moral values, but they accepted only in a utilitarian sense. That is, I have to comply with this moral standard, because good for me, it's good for my business, it's good
to get social approval, or something of that sort. Well, that that could be useful. But that's not all. Because a more lofty level of looking at morality, is to tie it directly to the knowledge of God to saying, I follow those standards, because God knows me if I cheat people, if I use this pretense of morality, just to acquire the admiration or applause of other people, then if I can cheat all those people, I cannot cheat God Himself, so that that inculcate the quality also of sincerity, in deeds, thoughts and words. If you take the question of wisdom, also as one absolute attributes of the Creator, we find that it also relates to the acceptance of God's commands and
directions and guidance, as the ultimate source because a believer believes that God is the ultimate infallible, sovereign and source of knowledge, the ultimate law giver, if you will, once we inculcate in ourselves this, then we take God and His commands as the arbiter to judge in anything that we as human beings differ on. So it gives a kind of stability to the law, just in the same sense, with deference, of course, that the constitution provides stability within which various flexible laws can be devised. So in that sense, you get also stability and ligat system, taking the absolute commands of God as ultimate arbiter.
Okay, let's move to another attribute. And that is the attribute of forgiveness when we say that God is forgiving or forgiving.
What kind of implications should we see in that attribute? And I think it's very essential because even though the concept of sin might sound like a theological argument, it's not really because it's related to the whole psychology of the individual and how he or she understands the world around them. But I would say, first of all, this concept of God as the ultimate source of forgiveness, liberate the human mind, from the stigma from the shackles resulting from concepts like Original Sin, for example, whereby the sin is inherited, and as we said before, that this is contrary to the justice of God to have that stigma or curse for the whole leg, descendants of Adam and Eve because
two of them made some mistakes.
By accepting that the authority of forgiveness lies exclusively in the hands of God of Allah. The human mind is also liberated from any superstition or a strange ideas about how to remit for those cents. And as we indicated, again, the Islamic way of remission is to sincerity stopping what you're doing, that you feel is wrong, and
moral and turning back to God independence and sincerity. It could also avoid in the tendency in human beings to deify human beings in the hope that those human beings might take care of their sins. And as we mentioned before, this tendency was not limited in one case or the other. There have been so many cases in history where people were believed to be deity or manifestation or incarnation of deity, even though those individuals themselves have emphatically denied that God never claimed that they are anything more than sincere human beings.
It also the removes or discourage the exploitation of people in the name of religion, because once you start on a path of intermediary or intercession between man and God, even if you talk about great prophets as intercessors, then somebody else would claim that I am the intercessors, to the intercessors. Everybody, you get the whole chain. And that would give rise as it happened in history to exploitation of people in the name of religion. As you know, in history, there were cases where people even took the power unto themselves to grant forgiveness to people, you pay so much money and you get a document saying that your sins have been forgiven, it's not insist forgiveness only lies
in the hands of a lion. That's why, in a way, Islam does not accept the concept of priesthood. As it's understood in the West, it could be religious scholars, but not priests in the terminological sense. And finally, I could add one more point that the belief in the forgiveness of Allah as the final authority
leads the person to have a sense of responsibility and accountability. He does not depend on so yeah, somebody else will take care of my sins. No, you are accountable individually, before God. And as such, you have this sense of trying your best to follow His commands. I could perhaps give one example of this from the Quran in 8219. It says, it will be the day that's the Day of Judgment, when no soul shall have power to do anything for another, for the command that day will be holy with God. So all of these are very relevant issues, like I said, in practice, and they all tie back to this whole concept of God as the forgiveness alone, with no intercession or no intermediary.
Can we move now to mercy and see what kind of implications does the attribute of mercy have? Well, in a sense, you could say that mercy relate to forgiveness that you have just discussed, or maybe you can just add a few more points, for it also relate to the inculcating the attitude of gratefulness to God, to the Creator.
That is, we don't take all the blessings or the bounties that God has given us for granted. We know that this is manifestation of His mercy, even the glass of water that we drink, even the smell of fresh air that we have, we should always remember and think that this is a manifestation of the mercy of Allah. It also gives the person a feeling of assurance that there is one who cares for me, I could be sinful, I could be bad, but still, there's one who cares and loves me and have mercy on me. And it's not anyone is the one the final authority in this universe. So that gives a warm feeling of identification with God with the Creator, in case the person faces any problem or
difficulty in his life. He should never feel brokenhearted he should not despair. Because as the Quran says, one should never despair from the mercy of Allah. In fact, in 3953, it says despair, not of the mercy of Allah. In another citation in 1287 says no one despairs of God's soothing mercy, except those who have no faith. As the Prophet, Prophet of Islam, Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him said at once, he said, I wonder about that first of a true believer, whatever happens to him is good. If something good happened to him, he thanks God or Allah, he gets a word for that. If something difficult befalls him, or adversity, he again thanks Allah or it has perseverance and
patience and he gets also reward for it.
Okay, now let's move to the omnipotence of Allah the absolute will and power of Allah. In what sense should this attribute affect us personally,
by realizing that all power belongs only in the hands of God. This would remove any servitude to any other human being, servitude that we have for other people like ourselves simply because we have some hopes that they will benefit us in some form. The Quran says no the benefit comes only from Allah not from any other human being These are only tools.
It also removes this servitude to other human beings in a sense of fear for them. And that is why we find prophets and others
deeply religious individuals throughout history have been standing in the face of of tyranny with great
did have courage and staying there were the threats not to satisfy anyone. But because this is the truth that should be said. It removes also the excessive or undue anxiety that people might have about what is happening to them or will happen to them. As the Quran says, nothing will happen to us except what God has distanced us to go through, nobody would live for one moment more or less than what has been
decided for him. It also caused us to be more humble, realizing that all the power is in the hands of God. So whatever we have, by way of wealth, position, or whatever, we should be humbled because we know that God can take it at any time, so that we don't exploit other people. We don't use this power or wealth or influence, for our own benefit to realize that we have a purpose also to serve by having this. And even in the area of political
life and government, we realize again, that the ultimate authority lies in the hands of God and that such all other human should be really equal in His sight, and that assess should be by mutual consultation.
Great, we have made it a point last time to eliminate the misconception rampant in western literature again, as to the remoteness of Allah, to the Muslims, and we said that closeness to mankind is a very important attribute of Allah, could we terminate this discussion by giving the implications of the closeness to Allah Okay, of course, aside from the various passages from the Quran, which I quoted before, that shows that God is closer to man than his jugular vein that God is close to anyone who pray to him that in Islam, there is no intermediary. And in the daily, the five daily prayers you pray and communicate directly, this is the most novel, direct and close and warm,
personal relationship that you could have with the Creator. In addition to this, this kind of experience or concept gives the person a chance to have a spiritual experience of direct contact with God, which would lead inevitably, to the feeling of peace, of mind and peace of heart, which is the most valuable thing that anyone can attain in this life. Don't tell me about big cars and big houses and lots of money in the bank or God with whatever 500,000 house or more, this are all superficial, the vlps the real value in life is to have this inner peace in the heart and mind.
Just to conclude, perhaps by quoting a few passages on the Quran,
woman named Bella had a callback who also believes in God or Allah, God will guide his heart, right? That's in 6411. In a second condition also in to 257. God or Allah is the Protector of those who have faith, he will lead them from the depths of darkness into light. And those who reject faith are the bare patterns or the evil ones, they will lead them
force from light into the depths of darkness. And finally, to more perhaps, to make the point more clear, that's the term used in the Quran, Sakina or tranquility of the heart and the soul equanimity and equanimity. In 48, four, it says about God, it is he was sent down tranquility into the hearts of the believers, that they may add faith to their face. Finally, those who believe and whose hearts find satisfaction in the remembrance of God, low in the remembrance of God, do hearts find satisfaction visible, I don't think we can find more befitting words to close our discussion on monotheism. Well, thank you very much, Dr. Jamal. And thank you ladies and gentlemen for joining us
today. We hope that you will join us next time when we will start a new series of presentations on the concept of profit within Islam. until we see you next time. May God bless you Salaam Alaikum wa rahmatullah. Peace be upon you