Understanding Islam – Abul Al\’a Maududi
Tawheed is the highest conception of godhead, the knowledge of which God has sent to mankind in all ages through His prophets. It was this knowledge with which, in the beginning, Adam had been revealed to Noah, Abraham, Moses and Jesus (God’s blessings be upon them all). It was this very knowledge which Muhammad (God’s blessings be upon him) brought to mankind. It is The Knowledge, pure and absolute, without the least shade of ignorance. Man, because he guilty of shirk, idol-worship and kufr, only because he turned away from the teachings of the prophets and depended upon his own faulty reasoning, false perceptions, or biased interpretations. Tawheed dispels all the clouds of ignorance and illumines the horizon with the light of reality. Let us see what significant realities this concept of Tawheed-this little phrase: ‘la ilaha illallah’-points out: what truth it conveys and what beliefs it fosters. This we can grasp if we ponder over the following points.
First of all, we are faced with the question of divinity. We are face to face with a grand, limitless universe. Man’s mind fails to discern its beginning and visualize its end. It is moving on in its chartered course from time immemorial and is continuing its journey in the vast vista of the future. Creatures beyond number have appeared in it-and go on appearing every day. The phenomena are so bewildering that a thinking mind finds itself aghast and wonderstruck. Man is unable to understand and grasp the reality by his unaided vision. He cannot believe that all this has appeared just by chance or accident. The universe is not a fortuitous mass of matter. It is not a jumble of uncoordinated objects. It is not a conglomeration of thing chaotic and meaningless. All this cannot be without a Creator, a Designer, a Controller, a Governor. But who con create and control this majestic universe? Only He can do so master of all; who is infinite and eternal; who is all-powerful, all wise, omnipotent, and omniscient; who is all-knowing and all-seeing. He must have supreme authority over all that exists in the universe. He must possess limitless powers, must be the lord of the universe and all that it contains, must be free from every flaw and weakness and none may have the power to interfere with His work. Only such a being can be the Creator, the Controller, and the Governor of the universe.
Secondly, it is essential that all these divine attributes and powers must vest in one being it is virtually impossible for two or more personalities having all the powers and attributes equally to co-exist. They are bound to collide. Therefore, there must be one and only one Supreme Being having control over all others. You cannot think of two governors for the same province or two supreme commanders of the same army! Similarly, the distribution of these powers among different deities, for instance, that one of them is all knowledge, the other all providence and still another life-giver-and each having independent domain in his own field-is unthinkable. The universe is an indivisible whole and each one of such deities will be dependent upon others in bound to occur. And if this happens, the world is destined to go to pieces. These attributes are also untransferable. It is not possible that a certain attribute might be present in a certain deity at one time and at another time it be found in another deity. A divine being who is incapable of remaining alive himself cannot give life to others. The one who cannot protect his own divine power is definitely unsuited to govern the vast limitless universe. Thus, the greater you reflect upon the problem, the firmer would be your conviction that all these divine powers and attributes must exist in one end the same Being alone. Thus, polytheism is a form of ignorance and cannot stand rational scrutiny. It is a practical impossibility. The facts of life and nature do not fit into that explanation. They automatically bring man to Reality, i.e., Tawheed (the Unity of God).
Now keeping in view this correct and perfect conception of God, cast a searching glance at this vast universe. Exert yourself to the utmost and say if you find among all the objects that your see, among all the things that you perceive, among all that you can think, feel, or imagine-all that your knowledge can comprehend-anyone possessing these attributes. The sum, the moon, the stars, animals, birds or fishes, matter, any man, or a group of men-does any of them possess these attributes? Certainly, none! For everything in the universe is created, is controlled, and regulated, is dependent on others, is mortal and transitory, is not elf-acting and self-propelling-its slightest movements are controlled by an inexorable law and it cannot deviate from that law. Their helpless condition proves that the attire of divinity cannot fit their body. They do not possess the slightest trace of divinity and have absolutely nothing to do with it. They are simply without the godly powers and it is a travesty of truth and a folly of the highest magnitude to attribute to them the divine status. This is the meaning of ‘La ilaha,’ i.e., there is no god; no human and material object possesses the divine power and authority deserving worship and obedience.
But this not the end of our quest. We have found that divinity does not vest in any material or human element of the universe, and that none of them possesses even the slightest trace of it. This very inquiry leads us to the conclusion that there is a Supreme Being, over and above all that our unwary eyes see in the universe, who possesses the Divine attributes who is the Will behind all phenomena, the Creator of this grand universe, the Controller of its superb Law, the Governor of its serene rhythm, the Administrator of all its working: He is Allah, the Lord of Universe and has none as associate in His Divinity. This is what \”illallah\” (but Allah) means.
This knowledge is superior to all other kinds of knowledge and the greater you exert; the deeper will be your conviction that this is the starting point of all knowledge. In every filed of inquiry-may it be that of physics chemistry, astronomy, geology, biology, zoology, economics, politics, sociology, or humanities, you will find that the deeper you probe, the clearer become the indications of the truth of La ilaha illallah, in every field of knowledge and inquiry. It is this concept which opens up the doors of knowledge with the light of reality. And if you deny or disregard this reality, you will find that at every step you meet disillusionment, for the denial of this primary truth robs everything in the universe of its real meaning and true significance. The universe becomes meaningless, and the vistas of progress get blurred and confused.