Islam and the Modern Age

Monotheism as an Outlook of Human Existence Monotheism (Tawhid) as an outlook of human existence, implies the equality and unity of all human beings in their relation with God. He is the Lord of all human beings. No one has any special relationship with Him denied to others. He is not the God of a specific community or a particular tribe which may enjoy special privileges over other com­munities and tribes through His patronage; all are equal before Him. Tawhid also bears the notion of homogeneity, equality and unity of human origin. Humanness is the single basic element ingrained in the nature of all human individuals. Human beings associated with the different social strata are neither the creations of different gods so that there can exist any disparity in their essential nature, giving rise to insuperable barriers amongst them; nor it is that the god of the upper classes of society is more powerful than that of the lower classes. All are the creation of one and the same God, and all are uniform in their fundamental essence.

Tawhid as an outlook of human existence, implies the equality and unity of
all human beings in their relation with God. He is the Lord of all human beings.
No one has any special relationship with Him denied to others. He is not the God
of a specific community or a particular tribe which may enjoy special privileges
over other com­munities and tribes through His patronage; all are equal before
Him. If He makes any distinctions, it is on the basis of struggle and effort for
attainment of piety and pursuance of His path; something which is open to all
human beings, and which alone can promise man’s edification

And they say, `God has taken to Him a son’. Glory be to Him! Nay, to Him belongs
all that is in the heavens and the earth; all obey His will. (2:116)

And:

And whosoever does deeds of righteousness, being a believer, no un-thankful­ness
shall befall his endeavour; We Ourselves write down for him. (21:94)

And also

O mankind, We have created you male and female, and appointed you nations and
tribes, that you may know one another. Surely the noblest among you in the sight
of God is the most God‑fearing of you ….(49:13)

Tawhid also bears the notion of homogeneity, equality and unity of human origin.
Humanness is the single basic element ingrained in the nature of all human
individuals. Human beings associated with the different social strata are
neither the creations of different gods so that there can exist any disparity in
their essential nature, giving rise to insuperable barriers amongst them; nor it
is that the god of the upper classes of society is more powerful than that of
the lower classes. All are the creation of one and the same God, and all are
uniform in their fundamental essence.

O mankind, fear your Lord, who created you of a single soul ….(4:1)

Tawhid also means equality and homogeneity in human potentiali­ties of
development and perfection; since everyone of us is endowed with the same type
of human essence and constitution, no one is incapable of traversing the
straight path of spiritual exaltation and progress. Accordingly, the Divine call
is a general call addressed to all humanity in general, not to any specific
race, class or individual‑although there is the possibility that differences of
social atmospheres and conditions may subject individuals to varying effects.
However, these negative factors by themselves can never determine human
behaviour, or turn men permanently into saints or devils, or deprive them of the
capacity of free choice. Addressing the Prophet (S), the Quran says:

We have sent thee not, except to mankind entire (not to any specific com­munity)
…. (34:28)

….And We have sent thee as a messenger to mankind …. (4:79)

The Quran also says in this context:

O men, proof has come to you from your Lord, We have sent down to you a manifest
light. As for those who believe in God, and hold fast to Him He will surely
admit them to mercy from Him, and bounty, and will guide them to Him on a
straight path. (4:174‑175)

Tawhid also implies the liberation and freedom of mankind from bondage and
servitude of multiple varieties of non‑Gods; in other words, it stands for the
necessity of exclusive servitude to God. The principle of Tawhid negates the
mode of living in subjection (intellectual, cultural, economic or political) to
creatures, the various forms of non-­Gods, whose service takes the place of the
worship of God, or degrades it to secondary significance. The doctrine of Tawhid
considers man as a servant of God, liberating him from the bondage and servility
to any thing, individual, or system which takes the central place of God in the
scheme of life.

Thus the principle of Tawhid implies submission to Divine autho­rity, and
negation of every kind of domination by non‑God in every form and shape:

Sovereignty belongs only to God; He has commanded that you shall not serve any
but Him. That is the right religion …. (12:40)

Thy Lord has decreed that you shall worship none but Him ….(17:23)

On this basis, Tawhid also implies the inherent worth and value of the human
being. The human being is more exalted and worthy than that he should pay
obeisance to anything but God. It is the Absolute Being, the Absolute Beauty and
Perfection alone, which deserves to engage man’s love and adoration. This
emphasis on the exaltation of the object of worship itself implies exaltation of
the station of the wor­shipper, i.e. the human being. Nothing except the Perfect
Being is worthy of man’s praise and adoration. All the idols, animate or
inani­mate, which have imposed themselves on the hearts and minds of human
beings, and have forcefully encroached upon the realm of the Almighty’s
authority over human existence, are nothing but filth and abomination, which
defiles human being’s natural purity and grace, bringing him degradation and
disgrace. In order that man should reclaim his exalted station, it is essential
that he exterminates the un­holy influence of the idols from his life. No
materialistic humanism has ever succeeded in bringing a like profundity and
elegance to the discussion of human worthiness and greatness to the extent of
Tawhid:

….And eschew the abomination of idols, and eschew the speaking of falsehood
being men pure of faith unto God, not associating with Him anything; for
whosoever associates with God anything, is as though he has fallen from heaven
and the birds snatch him away, or the wind sweeps him headlong into a place far
away. (22:30‑31)

And:

Set not up with God another god, or thou wilt sit condemned and forsaken.
(17:22)

And also:

Set not up with God another god, or thou wilt be cast into Gehanna, re­proached
and rejected. (17:39)

The principle of Tawhid also includes the notions of unity and uniformity in the
field of human existence. Human existence is a synthesis of subjective and
objective reality, thought and action. If any one of these two, or even a part
of each, falls under the influence of anti‑God forces, it results in the
formation of a split personality. The faith in God is mixed with idolatrous
tendencies. In such conditions, man, like a compass needle influenced by an
alien magnetic field, loses his true orientation; that is, he deviates from the
straight path of God, the Pole of righteous human orientation‑a deviation which
is alien to the human nature:

….What, do you believe in part of the Book, and disbelieve in part? What shall
be the recompense of those of you who do that, but degradation in the present
life, and on the Day of Resurrection to be returned unto the most terrible
chastisement? ….(2:85)

The principle of Tawhid also implies necessity of man’s harmony with the world
around him. The vast realm of the universe, a scene of innumerable actions and
reactions among various laws which deter­mine completely even the most
insignificant phenomena in it, is a unit governed by coherent and harmonious
laws‑a coherence and harmony of which the human world is also a part. Although
the human world is subject, in addition to the general laws of Nature, to a
particular set of laws special to itself, yet it is always in harmony with other
laws governing the rest of phenomena beyond it. But man, unlike his other fellow
creatures who are bound to tread the path of Nature without any choice
whatsoever, is endowed with the power of free will and free choice. He, unlike
them, carries the burden of freedom together with the obligation to harmonize
his life with the rest of Nature‑a harmony which is also the path of his
exaltation and progress. This means that he always carries within himself the
alternative to deviate from the course of nature:

….so let whosoever will believe, and let whosoever will disbelieve ….(18:29)

The principle of Tawhid calls man to follow the path of nature, which is being
followed by the whole universe. It seeks to unite him in his search with the
vast domain of being, and strives to create an absolute unity and solidarity
between the universe and man, who is its most essential partner in the realm of
existence:

What, do they desire another religion than God’s, and to Him has surrendered
whoso in the heavens and the earth, willingly or unwillingly, and to Him they
shall be returned? (3:83)

Hast thou not seen how to God prostrate all who are in the heavens and all who
are in the earth, the sun and the moon, the stars and the mountains, the trees
and the beasts, and many of mankind? ….(22:18)

Source: Selected Chapter from
Al-Tawhid and Its Social
Implications
by Ayatullah Sayyed Ali Khamenei

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