When thinking about Tawhid, it cannot be taken lightly. Firstly, it is the foundation of faith. Secondly, it is an important principle from individual and communal point of view. Thirdly, monotheist and Muslim nation knows very little about it; as a matter of fact, knows hardly anything. Even though it is taught in schools that God is one and not two; yet, majority of monotheists do not grasp different facets of Tawhid until the last day of their lives. Therefore, it is appropriate that an issue that is so important, yet people know so little about, ought to be discussed a great deal.
Incidentally, due to its importance, Qur’anic verses also speak on Tawhid on several occasions in different tones. In the next few days if I wish to talk about this important faith related and practical principle, several examples, markers and evidences can be brought from the gracious verses of Qur’an. The verses to be discussed today also shed light on Tawhid from a different angle as mentioned yesterday as well; today we will go deeper into it.
بِسْمِ اللَّـهِ الرَّحْمَـٰنِ الرَّحِيمِ
أَفَغَيْرَ اللَّـهِ أَبْتَغِي حَكَمًا وَهُوَ الَّذِي أَنزَلَ إِلَيْكُمُ الْكِتَابَ مُفَصَّلًا ۚ وَالَّذِينَ آتَيْنَاهُمُ الْكِتَابَ يَعْلَمُونَ أَنَّهُ مُنَزَّلٌ مِّن رَّبِّكَ بِالْحَقِّ ۖ فَلَا تَكُونَنَّ مِنَ الْمُمْتَرِينَ وَتَمَّتْ كَلِمَتُ رَبِّكَ صِدْقًا وَعَدْلًا ۚ لَّا مُبَدِّلَ لِكَلِمَاتِهِ ۚ وَهُوَ السَّمِيعُ الْعَلِيمُ وَإِن تُطِعْ أَكْثَرَ مَن فِي الْأَرْضِ يُضِلُّوكَ عَن سَبِيلِ اللَّـهِ ۚ إِن يَتَّبِعُونَ إِلَّا الظَّنَّ وَإِنْ هُمْ إِلَّا يَخْرُصُونَ
[Say], "Then is it other than Allah I should seek as judge while it is He who has revealed to you the Book explained in detail?" And those to whom We [previously] gave the Scripture know that it is sent down from your Lord in truth, so never be among the doubters. And the word of your Lord has been fulfilled in truth and in justice. None can alter His words, and He is the Hearing, the Knowing. And if you obey most of those upon the earth, they will mislead you from the way of Allah. They follow not except assumption, and they are not but falsifying. (Qur’an, 6:114 – 116)
وَلَا تَأْكُلُوا مِمَّا لَمْ يُذْكَرِ اسْمُ اللَّـهِ عَلَيْهِ وَإِنَّهُ لَفِسْقٌ ۗ وَإِنَّ الشَّيَاطِينَ لَيُوحُونَ إِلَىٰ أَوْلِيَائِهِمْ لِيُجَادِلُوكُمْ ۖ وَإِنْ أَطَعْتُمُوهُمْ إِنَّكُمْ لَمُشْرِكُونَ
And do not eat of that upon which the name of Allah has not been mentioned, for indeed, it is grave disobedience. And indeed do the devils inspire their allies [among men] to dispute with you. And if you were to obey them, indeed, you would be guilty of associating others with Him. (Qur’an, 6:121)
Typically, people worship a being by considering it as the owner of sacred and metaphysical powers, such as in the past, people used to worship idols or sacred and pious personalities. When we say, worshipping God is obligatory, it is because we find sanctity, spiritual respect and reverence in God just like, the Christians believe in certain holiness for Prophet Jesus and his virtuous mother, Mary. They kneel in front of an imagined statue of Jesus or Mary, cry and worship it. This is the prevalent meaning of worship.
There is another meaning or aspect of worship that would apply to a different action of someone performing for another person. The crux of our conversation is that worship is not limited to respectfully standing in front of someone, kneeling, prostrating and supplicating with raised hands. There are some other actions that can also be called worship. And it is not just us saying it; Qur’an says it.
Therefore, in the Qur’anic culture worship takes on broader meaning and we should look for it. We want to worship God and no one else other than God; that is if we want to be monotheist and follow the true Tawhid, we should be careful and not perform the other type of worship for someone other than God. There are many monotheists who apparently did not consider someone other than God sacred and did not prostrate in front of him; yet in their actions, in their hearts and in their souls they were worshipping them according to the second meanings.
What are the second meanings of worship? The second meanings are quite simple. Dictionary defines it as submission. Submitting to someone consistently and unconditionally is worship. If a person or a society follows someone categorically; considers his orders worthy of obeying in his life, in his body and soul and in his actions, then he has submitted to him. Where are we coming from? We are saying it based on Qur’anic verses. It is Qur’an that relates worship to submission. When Adi Bin Hatam Tai1 (son of famous Hatam Tai; Adi’s station was much higher than his father) arrived in Medina a few days before converting to Islam, the gracious Messenger (S) saw a cross hanging from his neck and recited the following verse:
اتَّخَذُوا أَحْبَارَهُمْ وَرُهْبَانَهُمْ أَرْبَابًا مِّن دُونِ اللَّـهِ وَالْمَسِيحَ ابْنَ مَرْيَمَ وَمَا أُمِرُوا إِلَّا لِيَعْبُدُوا إِلَـٰهًا وَاحِدًا
They have taken their scholars, monks and the Messiah, the son of Mary, as lords besides Allah. And they were not commanded except to worship one God; there is no deity except Him. Exalted is He above whatever they associate with Him. (Qur’an, 9:31)
The verse says that the Christians and Jews have made their scholars, worshippers and Prophet Jesus son of Mary their lord and god even though the Exalted God commanded them not to worship anyone other than Him. When the verse reached Addi Bin Hatam he said, “O’ Prophet of God! It is not true. Since when were our scholars and religious guides considered our Lord? When did we worship them?” He objected to the gracious Messenger (S) and Qur’anic verse. Why? Because he had the same concept of worship as you have now. In his mind worship was like Islamic prayer.
The gracious Messenger (S) in response to Addi’s concept said, “yes, you did not prostrate to them but you accepted unconditionally whatever they said.” وَلکِنَّھُم احَلُّواحراما وحَرَّمُواحلالا۔2. They presented what God forbade as permitted in front of you and what God permitted as forbidden and you accepted without questioning. Whatever they said, you submitted. Worshipping is making something the Lord. There is another tradition by Imam Al-Sadiq (‘a) in Tafseer Nur Al-Thaqalayn related to the same verse.3
In Islamic civilization worship of anyone other than God, be it a political power; religious power; internal player such as self and carnal desires; external but not an organized political or religious power such as a woman or someone to whom undue respect is accorded or a friend. Obeying them is worshipping them.
Let me recite a tradition so we know that this Qur’anic civilization is everywhere in the Islamic sources, especially, Shia sources be it Qur’an or Hadith. This narration is from Imam Taqi Jawad (‘a). He says: مَن اَصغیٰ اِلیٰ نَاطِق فَقَد عَبَدَہُ4. If someone is totally absorbed in what someone is saying then he is worshipping the speaker. The circle of worship is rather large; it covers not only obeying but also submitting all senses to someone. OK. Now you might say that we should not listen to even good conversation. The tradition later says: فَاِن کَانَ النّاطِقُ عَنِ اللہِ عَزَّوَجَلَّ فَقَد عَبَدَ اللہَ. When someone is talking and he has all your attention and senses towards him, if he is speaking the language of God, then you are worshipping God even though you have handed over your heart, mind, soul and intellect to him. وَاِن کَانَ النَّاطِقُ یَنطِقُ عَن لِسَانِ اِبلِیسَ فَقَد عَبَدَ اِبلِیسَ. However, if the speaker is speaking the language of Satan; the language of Iblis; speaking opposite to the logic and philosophy of Godly intellect and you are listening to him with full submission, then you are busy obeying and worshipping Satan. In other words, the speaker is Satan himself; it is not necessary to call him Satan’s representative; he himself is Satan according to Qur’anic definition.
Unconditional submission of someone who may neither be a political power nor religious is worshipping him. If someone wants to worship only God and does not want to worship anyone other than God; in other words, is a monotheist; he must earmark his total obedience to the Lord of the world, God the Great. A few things, if obeyed are like you worshipped them, include the law. Similarly, communal discipline is another, if obeyed, is like you worshipped it. Same goes for cultural rituals. So, should we not obey the law? Should we discard cultural rituals? Should we give up on discipline? No, try to make sure that all these things are Godly; so, while obeying or worshipping them you are being God’s servant and His worshipper.
Man’s horizon expands as he learns from history. All prophets came with monotheistic ideology. We will discuss this subject later in more detail using Qur’an when we discuss prophet-hood. All prophets came to make people monotheist. What does making people monotheist imply? It means taking off the chain of submission to beings other than God from their hands and necks. Qur’an explains it at one place:
وَيَضَعُ عَنْهُمْ إِصْرَهُمْ وَالْأَغْلَالَ الَّتِي كَانَتْ عَلَيْهِمْ.
So, they remove the heavy load from their shoulders and unshackle their chains. (Qur’an, 7:157)
This is the aim of the prophets. When you look at Tawhid from this perspective, you will find that it is a mind set and a principle for lifestyle; for managing the society; related to the man’s position; and concerned with living in the society. Notice, how this Tawhid is different from the other dry, senseless and non-serious Tawhid that is limited to Allah is one, not two.
I have found so many references in Qur’an that if I wanted to discuss all the relevant verses, I would have to provide five to six pages. I have brought two. These two examples help us understand that submitting to someone other than God is like worshipping him. Pure Tawhid is the soul and foundation of religion. It requires that man should limit obedience to God and only obey the Godly program and the Godly system.
Establish bond with Qur’an. Try to become familiar with Qur’an. Try not to be dependent on me to translate a few verses. Get closer to this never depleting treasure and boundless ocean. I have reminded many times and when I don’t give this reminder, I feel a burden on my shoulders. I consider it my responsibility to tell you that it is imperative for you to turn to Qur’an. It is such a great sea, an ocean with no boundary: ھُوَالبَعرُمِن اَیّ النَّواحِی اتَیتَہُ،5. It is one line of a couplet. Whatever direction you take, you will benefit.
Whoever spends time with Qur’an, will benefit from it. If you are able to understand it, you will benefit from it; the more you spend time with it, you will gain more knowledge and explanation. The Master of believers (‘a) says in Nahjul Balagha:
مَاجَالَسَ اَحَدُھٰذاالقران اِلَّاقامَ بِزیادَۃ اونقصان زیادہ فی ھُدی اونُقصان مِن عَمی۔
No one sat with Qur’an but did not get up with a gain and a loss. The gain was guidance and the loss was ignorance.6
It became easier for him to find the right path. It lessened blindness in his heart. It reduced darkness in his soul. The sentence of the Master of believers starts with “whoever sat with Qur’an” – anyone. I wanted to draw the attention of all brothers and sisters to this fact.
Why did I emphasize this fact to you? So, all of you brothers and sisters know that there have been many conspiracies in history to lay traps and provide unlimited resources for keeping people away from Qur’an. One of the ruses has been and even today some ignorant people or people with special interests repeat is that no one other than the fourteen infallibles can understand Qur’an. In this regard, I have only one thing to say, the same uttered by the Master of believers about the rebels of Nahrvan.7 کَلِمَۃُ حق یُرادُ بھا البَاطِلُ. It is a true statement but the speaker’s purpose is vile. Yes. The Imams (‘a) understand Qur’an; more than we can imagine. They are such great and lofty souls and thinkers that Qur’an is in their grasp; they themselves are Qur’an. No doubt, every one of them is a Qur’an. However, when we say that Imam Al-Baqir (‘a) understands Qur’an very well, does not imply that you and I cannot understand a word; we cannot understand even the superficial meanings. The speaker does not intend to raise the station of the Imam; rather his intention is to keep you away from Qur’an. It is just like this man who was told to pray and he said, “Sir, if prayer is what was performed by my lord, Ali, then how can I pray?”
گرنمازآن بودکان مظلوم کرد
دیگررازین عمل محروم کرد
If prayer is something performed by this oppressed person (Ali), then everyone else should be deprived of it.
It is the same logic. If they understand Qur’an, then why should you and I open it? O poor man! O impoverished person! O one, who is deprived of understanding Qur’an! Pity on you. Pity on your state. Pity, that you do not understand Qur’an. Most of all, pity on you for not only not understanding it yourself but also not letting others understand it. Shame on you for not letting thirsty people benefit from this vibrant running spring. Shame on you. Shame on those who push people away from Qur’an. They make all sorts of excuses for not letting people open Qur’an to understand it. Brothers and sisters! Understand, that today Qur’an is our concern. The Messenger of God (S) stated: فَاِذَالتَبَسَت عَلَیکُم الفِتَنُ کَقِطَعِ اللَّیلِ المظُلِمِ فَعَلَیکُمُ باِلقُراَنِ،. When treachery befalls on you like dark parts of the night, you must go to Qur’an.8
What day is that? Aren’t we seeing treacheries like dark nights? Are we not seeing misleading paths with our limited eyesight? Have our eyes become blind to thieves, robbers and monsters? When will we turn to Qur’an? When the Imam of the time is here? He himself is a walking Qur’an. Today is the day when we go to Qur’an. The first condition is that we understand Qur’an.
I have searched for verses related to two parts of our discussion today. You should go and look for ten other parts. I impress upon the brothers – those who can understand Qur’an; in other words, they can attend to the translation in Arabic, Farsi or any other language of their choice; they must study it. Those who do not, need to develop their skills – study Arabic; learn Qur’anic lessons; become comfortable with Qur’an; develop companionship with Qur’an. Every day and moment that passes without Qur’an’s company is a source of regret.
The first part is from Surah Ina’am. Please pay attention to the tone of Qur’an. Qur’an is unlike regular books. Its subject, its presentation and its Speaker are much above the ordinary level. The whole universe and every existence are at the same plane for the Lord of the world. This is the reason a verse would be revealed in the context of the prevailing situation. You need to get to the message by looking at the underlying meanings in the verse as well as the context of the revelation.
أَفَغَيْرَ اللَّـهِ أَبْتَغِي حَكَمًا. Should I accept someone other than God as the ruler (hakam)? Hakam has been defined as the judge or the ruler in Qur’anic commentaries; someone from whom a man expects a ruling; or desires to get the command; or wants to get a decision. Of course, the Exalted God is the best Judge and the best Ruler; and He will give the command.
أَلَا لَهُ الْخَلْقُ وَالْأَمْرُ. Creation and command are Allah’s prerogative. He is the Creator and He will give the directive.9 وَهُوَ الَّذِي أَنزَلَ إِلَيْكُمُ الْكِتَابَ مُفَصَّلًا. He is the One Who sent this collection – the Qur’an – with detail, explanation and without any mix-up. مُفَصَّلًا. There is no confusion or adulteration from any other sources. It is absolutely lucid.
وَالَّذِينَ آتَيْنَاهُمُ الْكِتَابَ. Those who We have given the book. يَعْلَمُونَ أَنَّهُ مُنَزَّلٌ مِّن رَّبِّكَ بِالْحَقِّ. They know that this Qur’an has been revealed by your Lord with truth. For sure, it has come from God. فَلَا تَكُونَنَّ مِنَ الْمُمْتَرِينَ. So, don’t be among the doubters. (The Prophet (S) is being addressed.) In case you are indecisive; or become unhinged and become a victim of doubts; you know very well that this book has come from your Lord. God gave you this book and you know it; don’t wobble; be resolute.
وَتَمَّتْ كَلِمَتُ رَبِّكَ صِدْقًا وَعَدْلًا. Your Lord completed the commandment with truth and justice. The Lord’s command was to have a succession of prophets who would elevate mankind to increasingly higher levels until the last prophet came who would bring human race to the edge of a vast horizon – an infinite plane. Then the Lord provided the means to walk, run and achieve the highest possible station. إِنَّا لِلَّـهِ وَإِنَّا إِلَيْهِ رَاجِعُونَ. And indeed to Him we shall return.10 This was the Lord’s command. This was the destiny determined by the Lord. This was His statement that came to fruition. لَّا مُبَدِّلَ لِكَلِمَاتِهِ. None can alter His words. وَهُوَ السَّمِيعُ الْعَلِيمُ. And He can hear and knows. He can hear the voices of your internal needs and knows the appropriate lifestyle and relationships for you. He can develop a plan of action for you.
وَإِن تُطِعْ أَكْثَرَ مَن فِي الْأَرْضِ. And if you obey most of those upon the earth. See, how the Qur’an persuades a listener’s mind. In the first sentence (the first verse) God’s kingdom and His decision are addressed that He is the most deserving to be the Ruler and the deciding Authority. The second verse deals with anyone denying the religion and the Lord’s commandment; the enemy, the rebel and the opponent may do whatever they want, God’s command is absolute. The third verse tells us that we should only obey God and not our desires. يُضِلُّوكَ عَن سَبِيلِ اللَّـهِ. They will mislead you from the way of Allah. إِن يَتَّبِعُونَ إِلَّا الظَّنَّ. They only follow conjecture.
وَإِنْ هُمْ إِلَّا يَخْرُصُونَ. They are not but falsifying. Are those who counsel people on how to lead their lives, certain about those ways? If due to simplicity of their minds they are convinced, then they should pray to live for forty or fifty years, so they can see how useless their robust plans were. They don’t even have that conviction. It is all theory. However, God does not run this universe on theory; He guides people to the straight path with true genuineness, true knowledge and wisdom. إِنَّ رَبَّكَ هُوَ أَعْلَمُ مَن يَضِلُّ عَن سَبِيلِهِ ۖ . Indeed, your Lord is most knowing of who strays from His way. وَهُوَ أَعْلَمُ بِالْمُهْتَدِينَ. And He is most knowing of the [rightly] guide.
فَكُلُوا مِمَّا ذُكِرَ اسْمُ اللَّـهِ عَلَيْهِ إِن كُنتُم بِآيَاتِهِ مُؤْمِنِينَ. Eat of that [meat] upon which Allah’s name has been recited, if you are believers in His verses.11 Here one is amazed that just after talking about the principles – should not obey majority of people; don’t act on conjecture; God’s order about the last prophet and the religion is final – suddenly Qur’an commands to eat something only if God’s name was narrated over it; eat a sheep that was slaughtered in God’s name. It is a practical issue and how is it related to what was being stated earlier? If I comment regarding the connection between the two, I would be speculating without a definite proof. There is opportunity to ponder and understand. You should study and look for a connection. However, there are a few things that we can see.
First of all, the Lord of the universe is above the universe and beyond the horizon of man’s imagination. For Him all issues are at the same level; there is no difference between the principles related issues and ancillary issues. Whatever brings goodness to man is an order from God. There is no difference between an order related to principle and that concerned with ancillary issue; one concerning an individual or a community. This is one point.
Secondly, let us analyze the issue of slaughter and cleansing of soul. What does it mean to call God’s name when slaughtering an animal for eating? As you know the pagans, other tribes and communities unaware of unity of God used to call out names of their idols on every occasion. As an example, it has been reported that Christians used to say بِسمِ المَسِیح12. And we also know that the idols of this world and the powers of this world try to put their names at the inauguration of any event, or in the beginning or the preface of anything. Any task that was started in the name of someone other than God will undeniably have its direction away from God. Whenever, you start something in the name of money, desires or something similar, unquestionably, the aim will be towards that whose name was beckoned at the beginning either on the tongue or in the mind. If you start something with money in mind and for money, the direction will be towards earning money; and it will go all the way. The way forward will be focused on nothing but money. However, any task started in God’s name and with God in mind will have a Godly direction. The target will be governed by God’s commands.
We have been told to slaughter an animal while citing God’s name. In other words, your basic and essential need – food – should start with God’s name and for God. When you fill your stomach, fill it for God. The result is that the real objective is not filling the stomach but God. If ever you feel that filling the gut takes you away from God, then leave it; don’t eat. Let it starve; die because of hunger but don’t do anything against the Godly way. Why? Because even though filling the stomach is your basic need but it is not the foundation of your life. The base of your life is God and turning towards Him. We get reminded when we cite Bismillah while slaughtering a sheep or when eating.
Always start with Bismillah. Begin eating with Bismillah. Read Bismillah even before engaging in legal sex. Start any activity with Bismillah – walking around; getting out of the house; in the shop; at your work. What does it mean? It means that every facet of your life – satisfying every need, even though it might be the most important need – should be per God’s directive and in God’s way.
قُلْ إِنَّ صَلَاتِي وَنُسُكِي وَمَحْيَايَ وَمَمَاتِي لِلَّـهِ رَبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ.
My prayer, my worship, my life and my death – yes even death – are all for the Lord of the universe. (Qur’an, 6:162-163)
Abraham (‘a) says, “it is all for the Lord of the universe.” He is the Planner and Overseer of the affairs of the world inhabitants and Who has no partner. I do not believe in a God’s partner in not just my prayers but in any of my activities such as eating, my movements, my efforts and my struggles. The domain of my existence is totally under God’s control and His commandments. When you slaughter the sheep, slaughter it in the prescribed way. A non-believer slaughters in a different way. He eats and opens his shop without taking God’s name; instead he remembers someone other than God.
Take the slaughtering as a sign. Consider citing God’s name on slaughtering the sheep a sign. Even though, it is an order – a theological command. God’s name must be recited; yet take it as a sign of the basic needs of man. Slaughtering an animal should be with God’s name. What does it mean? It means that even the most basic needs should be linked with God. Fulfill it for God’s sake. The morsel of food you take to satisfy your hunger should be for God. Pacify your hunger for God and develop strength in your body. Obviously, strength gained for God should be exercised for God. It is a logical conclusion just like 2 plus 2 is 4. This logic carries a lot of depth in it.
فَكُلُوا مِمَّا ذُكِرَ اسْمُ اللَّـهِ عَلَيْهِ . Eat of that upon which the name of Allah has been mentioned.
إِن كُنتُم بِآيَاتِهِ مُؤْمِنِينَ. If you believe in His verses. وَمَا لَكُمْ أَلَّا تَأْكُلُوا مِمَّا ذُكِرَ اسْمُ اللَّـهِ عَلَيْهِ. And why should you not eat of that upon which the name of Allah has been mentioned?13 What is the matter with you? وَقَدْ فَصَّلَ لَكُم مَّا حَرَّمَ عَلَيْكُمْ إِلَّا مَا اضْطُرِرْتُمْ إِلَيْهِ. While He has explained in detail to you what He has forbidden for you, excepting that to which you are compelled. Everything else is allowed for you. وَإِنَّ كَثِيرًا لَّيُضِلُّونَ بِأَهْوَائِهِم بِغَيْرِ عِلْمٍ. And indeed do many lead [others] astray through their [own] inclinations without knowledge. إِنَّ رَبَّكَ هُوَ أَعْلَمُ بِالْمُعْتَدِينَ Indeed, your Lord - He is most knowing of the transgressors. According to this verse, those who misguide others without having any knowledge are wrongdoers.
وَذَرُوا ظَاهِرَ الْإِثْمِ وَبَاطِنَهُ. Leave anything whose sin is obvious and that whose sin is veiled. There are certain deeds with obvious undesirable outcomes such as killing someone unjustifiably. It is clearly a wicked act and its being sin is evident. However, there are some actions that are not so obvious as sinful. There are many things that man does not fathom as big deals such as talking without knowledge; following someone uninformed; taking God’s name and His remembrance lightly; obeying someone other than God; listening to the commandments of someone other than God. These are a few things that one does not consider harmful or source of damaging results. Therefore, we should give up on both kinds of sins – the obvious ones and the not so obvious ones. إِنَّ الَّذِينَ يَكْسِبُونَ الْإِثْمَ سَيُجْزَوْنَ بِمَا كَانُوا يَقْتَرِفُونَ. Those who commit sins will be punished for what they used to do. وَلَا تَأْكُلُوا مِمَّا لَمْ يُذْكَرِ اسْمُ اللَّـهِ عَلَيْهِ وَإِنَّهُ لَفِسْقٌ. Do not eat that on which God’s name has not been mentioned. It implies leaving the religion. Here the emphasis is on God’s name and His remembrance.
وَإِنَّ الشَّيَاطِينَ لَيُوحُونَ إِلَىٰ أَوْلِيَائِهِمْ لِيُجَادِلُوكُمْ. And the satans send secret signals to each other so they quarrel with you. The satans and the centers of Satanism brainwash their friends, followers, dependents and allies so they argue and clash with you. What is your responsibility in opposing them?
وَإِنْ أَطَعْتُمُوهُمْ إِنَّكُمْ لَمُشْرِكُونَ. If you obeyed them, you will be among the polytheists. Polytheist. You see, it is absolutely clear. Satan opposes the kindest Lord. Following Satan, centers of Satanism or his disciples makes you his agent, his tool, his friend, his ally and his servant; that makes you a polytheist. This is one part.
The second part is related to Surah Al-Shu’ara. Today there is not enough time to go into detailed translation; I will mention it briefly so it is complete. In Qur’an and Hadith from learning and comprehension point of view, the most interesting and effective narrations for people have been the visualization of the Day of Judgement. When the intent is to make it totally vivid for the audience so it gets into the heart, Qur’an presents a scene from the Day of Judgement. As an example, وَأُزْلِفَتِ الْجَنَّةُ لِلْمُتَّقِينَ. The paradise was brought closer to the God-conscious people.14
The Day of Judgment is being described, albeit in the past tense. If an incident is bound to happen, it is described in the past tense in the Arabic language; such as:
اقْتَرَبَتِ السَّاعَةُ وَانشَقَّ الْقَمَرُ. The Day of Judgment came closer and the moon split into two.15
وَأُزْلِفَتِ الْجَنَّةُ لِلْمُتَّقِينَ. And the paradise was brought closer, within reach to the God-conscious.
وَبُرِّزَتِ الْجَحِيمُ لِلْغَاوِينَ. And the hell appeared for the ignorant and deceived. أَغْوَيْنَاهُمْ. We (the leaders) led them astray.16 The deceived ones were ignorant.
وَقِيلَ لَهُمْ أَيْنَ مَا كُنتُمْ تَعْبُدُونَ مِن دُونِ اللَّـهِ. And the deceived will be asked where their idols were who they used to worship instead of God? Where are the centers that you worshipped and were associated with during your lifetime? Now let us see who they worshipped so we can understand the meaning of worship.
هَلْ يَنصُرُونَكُمْ أَوْ يَنتَصِرُونَ. Do your deities help you or are they helped themselves? It appears that deities themselves need help. It implies that the deities are human and not stone, wood or lifeless idols. فَكُبْكِبُوا فِيهَا هُمْ وَالْغَاوُونَ وَجُنُودُ إِبْلِيسَ أَجْمَعُونَ. The false gods and their followers – the ignorant and deceived ones -- will be thrown on their faces into the hellfire. All gangs of Iblis (Satan) and every person who served Satan in his activity of misguiding Allah’s creation, in whatever form, have a place in hell as promised by Allah. قَالُوا وَهُمْ فِيهَا يَخْتَصِمُونَ. They will grab each other’s neck. The followers will call their leaders criminals and the leaders will put the burden on the followers. The followers will say, “you were the crooks who tied ropes around our necks and dragged us behind you”. The leaders will say, “it was you who followed us”. Each one will use a ploy and a maneuver against the other. They will be brawling in hell.
تَاللَّـهِ إِن كُنَّا لَفِي ضَلَالٍ مُّبِينٍ. By God, we were in totally apparent ignorance. Even though it was glaringly obvious, yet we did not grasp that we were ignorant. If we had only used a small part of our senses, we would have understood how wrong our path was and how fatal our end; however, we stayed drowned in our ignorance.
تَاللَّـهِ إِن كُنَّا لَفِي ضَلَالٍ مُّبِينٍ. By God, we were in totally apparent ignorance. What wrong did we do? إِذْ نُسَوِّيكُم بِرَبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ. We made you equal to the Lord of the universe. We should have been afraid of God instead of you. We should have obeyed God instead of you. We should have tried to get closer to God instead of you. We should have asked for livelihood from God instead of you. وَمَا أَضَلَّنَا إِلَّا الْمُجْرِمُونَ. We were led astray by criminals and sinners. فَمَا لَنَا مِن شَافِعِينَ. Today there is no one to intercede for us. وَلَا صَدِيقٍ حَمِيمٍ. And no compassionate friend.
فَلَوْ أَنَّ لَنَا كَرَّةً فَنَكُونَ مِنَ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ. We wish we could go back to our old life so we could become believers. إِنَّ فِي ذَٰلِكَ لَآيَةً There is a lesson in this story. Learn from it. وَمَا كَانَ أَكْثَرُهُم مُّؤْمِنِينَ. Most of them are not believers.
When we analyze the people mentioned in these verses, we find that their worship was in the form of blindly following their leaders; they put them at the same station as God. The things they should have asked God for, they asked their false gods. What they should have avoided for God’s sake, they did for their false gods.
The sphere of Tawhid and the monotheistic (Tawhidi) approach to life and society become clearer as we ponder over the verses related to polytheism and Tawhid.
The magnificent Qur’an does not consider it sufficient not to worship someone other than God to be a monotheistic; it lays down other conditions as well. It demands not obeying an enemy of God. Obeying a being other than God is called a polytheist. Please ponder over the following verses.
Surah Ash-Shu’ara (26), Verses 90-103:
أَفَغَيْرَ اللَّـهِ أَبْتَغِي حَكَمًا. Should I look for a ruler other than God.
وَهُوَ الَّذِي أَنزَلَ إِلَيْكُمُ الْكِتَابَ مُفَصَّلً. Whereas, He is the One Who revealed the detailed book to you.
يَعْلَمُونَ أَنَّهُ مُنَزَّلٌ مِّن رَّبِّكَ بِالْحَقِّ وَالَّذِينَ آتَيْنَاهُمُ الْكِتَابَ. And those who were given this book know that this Qur’an has been revealed with truth by the Lord.
فَلَا تَكُونَنَّ مِنَ الْمُمْتَرِينَ. Therefore, you must not be among the doubters.
وَتَمَّتْ كَلِمَتُ رَبِّكَ صِدْقًا وَعَدْلًا. And your Lord’s word (Qur’an) is absolutely complete from truth and justice point of view.
لَّا مُبَدِّلَ لِكَلِمَاتِهِ. There is no one who can change it.
وَهُوَ السَّمِيعُ الْعَلِيمُ. And He listens and knows.
وَإِن تُطِعْ أَكْثَرَ مَن فِي الْأَرْض يُضِلُّوكَ عَن سَبِيلِ اللَّـهِ. And if you follow the majority on earth, they will lead you astray from the Lord’s path.
وَإِنْ هُمْ إِلَّا يَخْرُصُونَ إِن يَتَّبِعُونَ إِلَّا الظَّنَّ. They only follow conjecture and act on speculation.
إِنَّ رَبَّكَ هُوَ أَعْلَمُ مَن يَضِلُّ عَن سَبِيلِهِ وَهُوَ أَعْلَمُ بِالْمُهْتَدِينَ. Your Lord knows very well who will go astray and who will seek guidance.
فَكُلُوا مِمَّا ذُكِرَ اسْمُ اللَّـهِ عَلَيْهِ. Eat only that animal that has been slaughtered in God’s name.
إِن كُنتُم بِآيَاتِهِ مُؤْمِنِينَ. If you believe in the verses.
وَقَدْ فَصَّلَ لَكُم مَّا حَرَّمَ عَلَيْكُمْ إِلَّا مَا اضْطُرِرْتُمْ إِلَيْه وَمَا لَكُمْ أَلَّا تَأْكُلُوا مِمَّا ذُكِرَ اسْمُ اللَّـهِ عَلَيْهِ. And what is the matter with you that you do not eat that over which God’s name has been recited; He has clearly stated the forbidden things; except when you have no choice.
وَإِنَّ كَثِيرًا لَّيُضِلُّونَ بِأَهْوَائِهِم بِغَيْرِ عِلْمٍ. And many people misguide others for their own desires.
إِنَّ رَبَّكَ هُوَ أَعْلَمُ مَن يَضِلُّ عَن سَبِيلِهِ. And your Lord knows these transgressors well.
وَذَرُوا ظَاهِرَ الْإِثْمِ وَبَاطِنَه. And you should give up all open and hidden sins.
إِنَّ الَّذِينَ يَكْسِبُونَ الْإِثْمَ سَيُجْزَوْنَ بِمَا كَانُوا يَقْتَرِفُونَ. And those who commit sins will soon pay a price for their actions.
وَلَا تَأْكُلُوا مِمَّا لَمْ يُذْكَرِ اسْمُ اللَّـهِ عَلَيْهِ وَإِنَّهُ لَفِسْقٌ. And do not eat that over which God’s name has not been recited as it is impiety.
وَإِنَّ الشَّيَاطِينَ لَيُوحُونَ إِلَىٰ أَوْلِيَائِهِمْ لِيُجَادِلُوكُم. And the satans give hidden signals to their people so they quarrel with you.
وَإِنْ أَطَعْتُمُوهُمْ إِنَّكُمْ لَمُشْرِكُونَ. And if you obey them, you will be counted among the polytheists.
وَأُزْلِفَتِ الْجَنَّةُ لِلْمُتَّقِينَ. And that day heaven will be brought nearer to the pious.
وَبُرِّزَتِ الْجَحِيمُ لِلْغَاوِينَ. And hell will be put in front of the ignorant.
وَقِيلَ لَهُمْ أَيْنَ مَا كُنتُمْ تَعْبُدُونَ . And the hell-dwellers will be asked whereabouts of those they worshipped.
مِن دُونِ اللَّـهِ هَلْ يَنصُرُونَكُمْ أَوْ يَنتَصِرُونَ.Will they leave God and help themselves or you.
فَكُبْكِبُوا فِيهَا هُمْ وَالْغَاوُونَ . They will all be thrown into hell on their faces.
وَجُنُودُ إِبْلِيسَ أَجْمَعُونَ. And the army of Iblis (the Satan)
قَالُوا وَهُمْ فِيهَا يَخْتَصِمُونَ. And they will quarrel in hell and say.
تَاللَّـهِ إِن كُنَّا لَفِي ضَلَالٍ مُّبِينٍ. By God we were all in clear ignorance.
إِذْ نُسَوِّيكُم بِرَبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ. When we put you at par with the Lord of the universe.
وَمَا أَضَلَّنَا إِلَّا الْمُجْرِمُونَ. And we were misguided only by the criminals.
فَمَا لَنَا مِن شَافِعِينَ. And no one is there to intercede on our behalf.
وَلَا صَدِيقٍ حَمِيمٍ. And there is no good friend.
فَلَوْ أَنَّ لَنَا كَرَّةً فَنَكُونَ مِنَ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ. If only we could go back and become believers.
إِنَّ فِي ذَٰلِكَ لَآيَةً وَمَا كَانَ أَكْثَرُهُم مُّؤْمِنِينَ. And Our sign is there; and their majority were non-believers.
- 1. Adi, son of Hatam Tai, became the leader of the tribe after his father. Impressed by the character and manners of the gracious Prophet he converted to Islam in 9AH. He was among the lovers and companions of the Master of believers and fought in the battles of Camel, Siffin and Naharvan; he sacrificed three of his sons in the battle of Siffin. He left this world in 67AH.
- 2. Tafseer Nuru Al-Thaqalayn, Tradition number 39 for Surah Tawba, Verse 31
- 3. Tafseer Ravai Nuru Al-Thaqalayn,; author Sheikh Abd Ali J’atul Uroosi; a scholar from 11th Hijri Century
- 4. Tohful Uqool, narrator Muhammd Bin Ali, Tradition number 44
- 5. It is such a sea that whatever direction you come from, you will find goodness as its waves and goodwill as its shore.
- 6. Nahjul Balagha, Sermon 174
- 7. Nahjul Balagha, Sermon 40
- 8. Usul Al-Kafi, Book Fazlul Qur’an, Ch 2, Hadith 3
- 9. Qur’an, 7:54
- 10. Qur’an, 2:156
- 11. Qur’an, 6:117, 118
- 12. Usul Al-Kafi, Book Zibah, Ch Zibah, Hadith 15
- 13. Qur’an, 6:118 - 120
- 14. Qur’an, 26:90 – 103
- 15. Qur’an, 54:1
- 16. Qur’an, 28:63