The Role of Monotheism as a Founding Principle of Islam
Since the beginning of time, the Lord kept revealing to the people that He is One. The term used to describe this concept was coined from the combination of Greek words μονος meaning ‘one’ and θεος meaning ‘God’, One God, mono-theism. In Islam the concept and principle of One God is denoted by the Arabic word tawhid. This principle lies at the very foundation of the whole of the religion of Islam, the mainstay upon which the edifice of true faith is erected.
Throughout their history people kept veering away from God’s truth by finding other objects of worship apart from the True One God. Allah would send them more prophets to put sense into them and the people would yet again depart from tawhid. This is when Allah sent into the world the Last Prophet, Muhammad, so that through him people could receive the main Revelation about Himself unmarred by any distortions. Tawhid, the profession and assertion of monotheism is one of the main tasks of Islam in the eyes of the Lord.
There is not one other religion that safeguards this divine Truth with such purity and lack of corruption. Allah is One and Muhammad is His Prophet! This truth will stay riveted to the hearts of all Muslims. Each Muslim will protect this truth until his last breath. It is for the faithfulness to this truth that Allah made Muslims the Light of all mankind.
Many prophets noted that the truth of oneness of God gets forgotten by many people. “I have followed the religion of my fathers, Ibrahim, Ishaq and Yaqub,” said the Prophet Yusuf. “And it was not for us to associate anything with Allah. That is from the favour of Allah upon us and upon the people, but most of the people are not grateful.” (12:38)
Why is it so important to worship the One God only? It is because all the other objects of worship (such as saints in Christianity, for instance) are false gods, emptiness, the things which prophet Yusuf calls ‘mere names’. “Are separate lords better or Allah, the One, the Prevailing?” asks prophet Yusuf. “You worship not besides Him except mere names you have named them, you and your fathers, for which Allah has sent down no authority. Legislation is not but for Allah. He has commanded that you worship not except Him. That is the correct religion, but most of the people do not know.” (12:39-40)
Allah is the Creator and Lord of all that exists. He possesses wonderful names and perfect qualities. The essence of the doctrine of monotheism is most fully and clearly related in the Meccan surahs of the Quran (the surahs delivered to the Prophet before hijra, the migration to Medina), in particular the surah Al-Ikhlas. In them we see revealed to us the true design of the world: with Allah at the foundation of the Universe and all other worlds. He is eternal and in control of all the processes in the Universe. Everything has need of Him while He has no need of anything or anyone.
Such a picture of the world order refutes the delusions of all other religions such as Christianity and Judaism. God cannot be triple (as in Christianity), He cannot have sons or daughters, He cannot be lenient to one particular people (like the Jews allege). The correct understanding of this foundation of faith leads to the correct worship of God. One must worship the One Allah, without separating from Him His qualities and attributes. Knowing, for example, that one of Allah’s names is Merciful, a true believer shall not start worshipping Mercy as an object. He will revere Allah as the carrier of this quality.
When we know that this or that person is righteous in front of the Lord (like Prophet Muhammad, for example), Muslims shall not pray to this person as a deity, they will turn to him as a teacher of righteousness, the source of knowledge of how to win Allah’s grace.
The worshipping of Allah as One God and Maker of all that exists is the main foundation which makes the religion of Islam stand out as the only true faith pleasing to God among all other religions.