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What is the Value of Tawhid (Monotheism)? Part 1

Questioner

Rick

Reply Date

Sep 04, 2017

Question

I have never understood the need for or value that Islam places on tawhid, or the scriptural basis for it. I believe that Muslims have expended considerable time and energy on defining an undefinable God in very specific ways. It is my opinion that all that time and effort was is wasted because it is not relevant to monotheism and the worship of the personal creator deity. Ultimately there is only one understanding of God - He is the creator of all things. All else that we know is through revelation, through The Word made flesh. Were it not for Jesus we would not know God. IMHO tawhid is meaningless, it teaches us nothing. So what in your view is the value of tawhid?

Consultant

Answer


tawhid

Salam (Peace) Dear Brother,

Thank you so much for sending us your message, and for posing your questions respectfully.

It is strange, nonetheless, you don’t get the value of tawhid while Jesus (peace be upon him) himself was calling people to tawhid!

Tawhid refers to pure monotheism; pure faith in the oneness and uniqueness of God without ascribing anyone or anything unto Him.

This is the same message that all Messengers taught and called people for. From Adam, Noah, and Abraham, to Moses, Jesus and Muhammad (peace be upon them all), they all taught tawhid.

The message is for people to have pure faith and direct communication with their Creator and understand that He has no partners and there is nothing and no one like Him.

He is The Only One we seek, The Only One we ask for help and for all our needs. Asking for something is an act of worship, and thanking is an act of worship.

So asking and thanking must essentially be directed to God Himself, anything else or anyone else is only a tool that He uses. But He remains the One we owe our sincere love, gratitude, worship and dedication.

This is easier said than done.

Prophets Sent to Remind Us

Many people would claim to follow pure monotheism, but in reality, you’ll find them equating certain things or certain people or certain desires with God, while they know little about God and they dedicate little of their time and attention to Him.

So, God sent all messengers to remind people of that: the call to pure monotheism.

Now, the problem is that with time, due to several reasons, people forget and the concept of God got distorted with other beliefs that weren’t part of the original message taught by the Messengers.

For example, in a recent post titled “If Jesus Never Called Himself God, How Did He Become One?” historian Bart Ehrman mentioned:

During his lifetime, Jesus himself didn’t call himself God and didn’t consider himself God, and … none of his disciples had any inkling at all that he was God. …

You do find Jesus calling himself God in the Gospel of John, or the last Gospel. Jesus says things like, “Before Abraham was, I am.” And, “I and the Father are one,” and, “If you’ve seen me, you’ve seen the Father.”

These are all statements you find only in the Gospel of John, and that’s striking because we have earlier gospels and we have the writings of Paul, and in none of them is there any indication that Jesus said such things. …

I think it’s completely implausible that Matthew, Mark and Luke would not mention that Jesus called himself God if that’s what he was declaring about himself. That would be a rather important point to make. This is not an unusual view amongst scholars; it’s simply the view that the Gospel of John is providing a theological understanding of Jesus that is not what was historically accurate.

You have made certain points in your message, but we can’t say that they’re based on adequate knowledge or proper references. Meaning, what is your source, what are you basing your information on?

You mentioned that if it wasn’t for Jesus, we wouldn’t have known God. This type of statements appear to lack understanding of pure monotheism.

Jesus Was Sent By God

Jesus (peace be upon him) didn’t create himself and didn’t act on his own. Allah says in Quran:

And We sent not before you any messenger except that We revealed to him that, “There is no deity except Me, so worship Me.”And they say, “The Most Merciful has taken a son.” Exalted is He! Rather, they are [but] honored servants.They cannot precede Him in word, and they act by His command.He knows what is [presently] before them and what will be after them, and they cannot intercede except on behalf of one whom He approves. And they, from fear of Him, are apprehensive.And whoever of them should say, “Indeed, I am a god besides Him”- that one We would recompense with Hell. Thus do We recompense the wrongdoers. (Quran 21: 25-29)

He was created and sent to people with a message.

In actual fact, all gratitude belongs to God Himself, God alone. If it wasn’t for God, there wouldn’t have been Jesus, or any Messenger for that matter.

Additionally, do you have access to the exact, verbatim, direct words of Jesus that he said and taught in his time… in his own language, not a translation? This is not (likely) available or accessible to you.

Therefore, we need to be careful and examine what claims we’re making and doubl- check their accuracy—especially in a critical and decisive life matter like this one.

This is why the teaching of tawhid that Islam crystallizes is absolutely crucial because if, for any reason, we take Jesus (peace be upon him) as a god alongside God, for example, or make him equal to God, then we’re drifting away from the original message of pure monotheism (tawhid).

Historian Bart Ehrman further mentioned:

Christians had a dilemma as soon as they declared that Christ was God. If Christ is God and God the Father is God, doesn’t that make two gods? And when you throw the Holy Spirit into the mix, doesn’t that make three gods? So aren’t Christians polytheists?

Again, tawhid is unequivocally crucial to purifying our concept of God and achieving a state of absolute pure monotheism with no ifs or buts.

How Can We Communicate With God?

It is critical to our understanding of who God is and how to properly communicate with Him.

We learn that it is the A B C’s of communication to understand and know adequately who you’re communicating with. Failure to know who you’re communicating with leads to a flawed communication.

You call upon God, but who exactly is He? What is He? Is it sufficient to only know that He is the Creator?

Well, we know that He is The Creator, then what? How do we communicate with Him on a daily basis, what is the purpose that He created us for?

In all our relationships as human beings, we look for people who understand us well and understand our nature, right? That’s because it makes our communication easier, deeper, more comfortable and more intimate.

Similarly with God, when we know adequately who He is, this deepens our bond and our relationship with Him, our longing for Him and our proper pursuit of Him in this life, seeking what He pleases and avoiding what displeases Him.

So, again, the value of tawhid is to deeply understand God and communicate with Him the way He wants us to communicate with Him.


(This is from AboutIslam’s archives and was previously published.)

Read more…

Part 2      Part 3        Part 4

The Transcendent and His Names

 

Allah is Infinite: How Can Human Minds Comprehend Him?

 

Quibbling About Monotheism

 

Who Invented the Trinity?

 




About Dina Mohamed Basiony

Dina Mohamed Basiony is a writer based in Cairo, Egypt. She is the Chief Editor of ProductiveMuslim.com. She specializes in Islam and spirituality. Dina holds an MA and BA in Journalism and Mass Communication from the American University in Cairo.

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