What is Faith?
The Arabic word Iman, which we have rendered in English as faith, literally means ‘to know’, ‘to believe’ and ‘to be convinced beyond the least shadow of doubt’.
Faith, thus, is firm belief arising out of knowledge and conviction. And the man who knows and reposes unshakable belief in the Unity of God, in His Attributes, in His Law and the Revealed Guidance, and in the Divine Code of Reward and Punishment is called Mu’min (faithful).
This faith invariably leads man to a life of obedience and submission to the Will of God. And one who lives this life of submission is known as Muslim.
It is therefore clear that without faith (Iman) no man can be a true Muslim. It is the indispensable essential; rather, the very starting point, without which no beginning can be made.
Table of Contents
Tawhid: Faith in the Unity of God
Introduction and Meaning:
Literally Tawheed means “Oneness”.
Tauheed in Shariah means Believing that Allaah is One with no partner or associate in His Lordship (ruboobiyyah), divinity (uloohiyyah) or names and attributes (al-asma’ wa’l-sifaat).
Types of Tawheed:
His Oneness in his person means that there is neither plurality of Gods, nor plurality of persons in the Godhead.
His Oneness in attributes implies that no-other being possesses one or more of the Divine attributes in perfection.
His oneness in work implies that none can do the work which God has done or which God can do.
The doctrine of unity has very beautifully been summed up in the following small verses of the Holy Quran:
Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“Say (O Muhammad): He is Allaah, (the) One [Ahad]. Allaah‑us‑Samad [Allaah — the Self‑Sufficient Master, Whom all creatures need, (He neither eats nor drinks)]. He begets not, nor was He begotten. And there is none co‑equal or comparable unto Him” [Al-Ikhlaas 112:1-3]
“And your Ilaah (God) is One Ilaah [ilaahun waahidun] (God — Allaah), Laa Ilaaha illa Huwa (there is none who has the right to be worshipped but He), the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful” [al-Baqarah 2:163]
This is expressed in the primary Kalimah of Islam as “There is no deity but Allah” (La- ilaha illallah).
La ilaha illallah literally means “There is no ilah other than the One Great Being known by the name Allah.” It means that in the whole of the universe, there is absolutely no being worthy to be worshipped other than Allah, that it is only to Him that heads should bow in submission and adoration, that He is the only Being possessing all powers, that we are all in need of His favour, and that we are all obliged to seek His help.
Philosophy of Tawheed and Rational Justification:
If the real meanings of Tawhid are fully grasped, we avoid, in belief as well as in action, every form of disbelief, atheism and polytheism. This is the natural consequence of belief in the Unity of God.
Who can create and control this majestic universe? Only He can do so Who is 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 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.
The sun, the moon, the stars, animals, birds or fishes, matter, money, any man or a group of men – does any of them possess these attributes? Most certainly not! For everything in the universe is created, controlled and regulated, is dependent on others, is mortal and transitory; its slightest movements are controlled by an inexorable law from which there can be no deviation. 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. It is a travesty of truth and a folly of the highest magnitude to attribute divine status to them.
It is impossible for two or more personalities having equal powers and attributes to co-exist. They are bound to collide. Therefore, there must be one and only one Supreme Being having control over all others.
This leads us to the conclusion that there is a Supreme Being, over and above all that our eyes see in the universe, Who possesses 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 workings: He is Allah, the Lord of the Universe and no one and nothing is associated in His Divinity. This is what illallah (but Allah) means.
Significance of Tawheed:
The first and foremost principle (Pillar) in Islam is the belief in the Unity of God.
Effects of Tawhid on Human Life:
This belief produces in man the highest degree of self-respect and self-esteem. The believer knows that Allah alone is the Possessor of all power, and that none besides Him can benefit or harm a person, or provide for his needs, or give and take away life or wield authority or influence. This conviction makes him indifferent to, and independent and fearless of, all powers other than those of God. He never bows his head in homage to any of God’s creatures, nor does he stretch out his hand before anyone else. He is not overawed by anybody’s greatness.
Along with self-respect this belief also generates in man a sense of modesty and humbleness. It makes him unostentatious and unpretending. A believer never becomes proud, haughty or arrogant. The boisterous pride of power, wealth and worth can have no room in his heart, because he knows that whatever he possesses has been given to him by God, and that God can take away just as He can give.
This belief makes man virtuous and upright. He has the conviction that there is no other means of success and salvation for him except purity of soul and righteousness of behaviour. He has perfect faith in God Who is above all need, is related to none and is absolutely just. This belief creates in him the consciousness that, unless he lives rightly and acts justly, he cannot succeed. No influence or underhand activity can save him from ruin.
The believer never becomes despondent. He has a firm faith in God Who is Master of all the treasures of the earth and the heavens, Whose grace and bounty have no limit and Whose powers are infinite. This faith imparts to his heart extraordinary consolation, fills it with satisfaction and keeps it filled with hope. Although he may meet with rejection from all sides in this world, faith in and dependence on God never leave him, and on their strength he goes on struggling. Such profound confidence can result from no other belief than belief in one God.
This declaration inspires bravery in man. There are two things which make a man cowardly: (i) fear of death and love of safety, and (ii) the idea that there is someone else besides God who can take away life and that man, by adopting certain devices, can ward off death. Belief in La ilaha illallah purges the mind of both these ideas. The first idea goes out of his mind because he knows that his life and his property and everything else really belong to God, and he becomes ready to sacrifice his all for His pleasure. He gets rid of the second idea because he knows that no weapon, no man or animal has the power of taking away his life; God alone as the power to do so. A time has been ordained for him, and all the forces of the world combined cannot take away anyone’s life before that time.
The belief in La ilaha illallah creates an attitude of peace and contentment, purges the mind of jealousy, envy and greed and keeps away the temptations of resorting to base and unfair means for achieving success. The believer understands that wealth is in God’s hands, and He apportions it out as He likes; that honour, power, reputation and authority – everything – is subjected to His will, and He bestows them as He will; and that man’s duty is only to endeavor and to struggle fairly.
The most important effect of La ilaha illallah is that it makes man obey and observe God’s Law. One who has belief in it is sure that God knows everything hidden or open and is nearer to him than his own jugular vein. If he commits a sin in a secluded corner and in the darkness of the night, He knows it; He even knows our thoughts and intentions, bad or good. We can hide from everyone, but we cannot hide anything from God; we can evade everyone, but it is impossible to evade God’s grip. The firmer a man’s belief is in this respect, the more observant will he be of God’s commands; he will shun what God has forbidden and he will carry out His behest even in solitude and in darkness, because he knows that God’s ‘police’ never leaves him alone, and he dreads the Court whose warrant he can never avoid. It is for this reason that the first and the most important conditions for being a Muslim is to have faith in La ilaha illallah. ‘Muslim’, as you have already been told, means one ‘obedient to God’ and obedience to God is impossible unless one firmly believes in la ilaha illallah.