QuranBism.gif (7077 bytes)

Levels and Degrees of Tauhid

 


Tauhid
has levels and degrees, as does its opposite, shirk. Until one has traversed all the levels of tauhid, one is not a true muwahhid.

 

Essence
Tauhid as regards the Essence means to know the Essence of the God in its unity and uniqueness. The first knowledge anyone has of the Essence of God is of His self-sufficiency. This means that He is the Essence that stands in need of no other being in any respect. In the language of the Qur'an, He is the Self-sufficient. All need Him and receive help from Him, but He is free of need: "O people! You are those in need of God, and God is the Self-sufficient, the Praiseworthy" (35:15). In the language of the hukama’ He is the Necessary Being.

 

They also ascribe to Him priority, which refers to His role as Principle, Source, and Creator. He is the Principle and Creator of other beings, which are all from Him, but He is from nothing. In the language of the hukama', He is the Primal Cause. This is the first knowledge and first conception anyone has of God. That is, whoever thinks about God, whether in affirmation or denial, belief or disbelief, has such a conception in mind: He asks himself, "Is there a Reality that is dependent upon no other reality, but upon Whom all realities depend, through Whose will all realities have come into being, and Who has not Himself come into being through any other principle?"

 

Tauhid as regards the Essence implies this Reality does not admit duality or multiplicity, has no likeness: "There is nothing like Him" (42:11). There is no other being at His level of existence: "And there is none comparable to Him" (112:4).

 

That a being should be considered an individual member of a species, as for instance that Hasan should be considered an individual member of the human species, such that the existence of other members of this species may automatically be inferred, is among the characteristics of creatures and contingent beings. The essence of the Necessary Being is above such implications and thus free from them.

 

Because the Necessary Being is single, the universe is necessarily single in respect to its principle and source and in respect to its point of return and end: The universe neither arises from numerous principles nor reverts to numerous principles. It arises from one Principle, one Reality: "Say, God is the Creator of all things" (13:16). It returns to that same Principle, that same Reality: "Behold, all affairs course to God" (42:53).

 

The relation of God and the world is a relation of Creator and created, that is, a relation of creative cause and effect, not a relation such as that of light to the lamp or that of man's consciousness to man. God is not separate from the world. He is with all things, but the things are not with Him: "He is with you wherever you may be" (57:4). But that God is not separate from the world does not imply that He is like light to the lamp or consciousness to the body. If this were so, God would be an effect of the world and not the world the effect of God, as light is an effect of the lamp, not the lamp the effect of the light. Likewise, that God is not separate from the world and man does not imply that God, the world, and man all have one mode of being and that they all live and move with one will and one spirit. All these are attributes of the created, the contingent. God is above the attributes of created beings. "Glory to your Lord! The Lord of Power! [He is freej of what they ascribe to Him" (37:180).

 

Attributes
Tauhid as regards the attributes means to perceive and know the Essence of God in its identity with its attributes and the attributes in their identity with one another. Tauhid as regards the Essence means to deny the existence of a second or a likeness, but tauhid as regards the attributes means to deny the existence of any sort of multiplicity and compoundedness in the Essence itself.

 

Although the Essence of God is described by the attributes of perfection -beauty and majesty-it does not have various objective aspects. A differentiation between the Essence and the attributes or between attributes would imply a limitation in being. For a boundless being, just as a second for it cannot be conceived, neither can multiplicity, Compoundedness, or differentiation between essence and attributes be conceived.

 

Tauhid as regards the attributes, like tauhid as regards the Essence, is among those principles of the Islamic sciences and among those most sublime and elevated of human ideas that have been crystallised most especially in the Shi'i school of thought. 'Ali says in the first sermon of the Nahj al-Balagha: "Praise to God, Whom the praise of the speakers does not attain, and Whose blessings the counters do not reckon, and Whose due the strivers do not fulfil, Whom the far-reaching aspirations do not reach, and Whom the plummeting of the sagacious do not attain, of Whom there is no limit to the description, and of Whom there is no qualification." He mentions the limitless attributes of God.

 

A few sentences later, he says: The perfection of devotion to Him is the rejection of attributes to Him, because any object of attribution bears witness that it is other than the attribute, and any attribute bears witness that it is other than the object of attribution, so whoever ascribes attributes to God (praise Him!) has associated Him, and whoever has associated him...." In this passage Ali has both affirmed attributes of God ("to whom there is no limit to the description") and negated them ("any attribute bears witness"). The attributes by which God is characterised are clearly the boundless attributes to the boundlessness of the Essence, identical to that Essence, and the attributes God is above and free of are the limited attributes distinct from the Essence and from other attributes. Therefore, tauhid as regards the attributes means perceiving and knowing the unity of the Essence and the attributes of God.

 

Acts
Tauhid as regards acts means perceiving and knowing that the universe, with all its systems, norms, and causes and effects is God's act and God's work and arises from His will. Just as the beings of the universe are not independent in essence, all subsisting by Him and dependent on Him, He being in the language of the Qur'an the one Self-subsistent by means of Whom the universe subsists, neither are these beings independent in terms of effecting and causality. In consequence, just as God has no partner in essence, neither has He any partner in agency. Every agent and cause gains its reality, its being, its influence and agency from Him; every agent subsists by Him. All powers and all strength are by Him: "Whatever God intend, and there is no strength except by Him-no power and no strength except by God."

 

Man, like all other beings, has a causal role in and effect on his actions. He is indeed more influential in shaping his own destiny than are the others, but he is by no means a fully empowered being, one left to his own devices.10 "I stand and sit by God's power and strength."

 

Belief in complete empowerment o fa being, human or otherwise, by way of assignation, entails belief that that being is a partner with God in independence of agency, and independence of agency further entails independence in essence, which is inimical to tauhid as regards the Essence, not to speak of tauhid as regards acts. "Praise to God, Who does not take a wife and has no son, and with Whom there is no partner in rule, and Who has no supporter from inability, so magnify Him."

 

Is theoretical tauhid, that is, to know God in His unity of essence, unity of essence and attributes, and unity of agency, possible? If it is possible, does such knowledge contribute to human happiness or is it superfluous? I have discussed the possibility or impossibility of such knowledge in Usul-iFalsafa va Ravish-i Ri'alism (Principles of Philosophy and the Method of Realism), but how we envision it depends on how we understand man and his happiness. The tide of materialistic thought about man and being has led even believers in God to conceive of questions of theology as useless and vain, as a kind of abstractionism and flight from reality.

 

But a Muslim who views the reality of man as not just the corporeal reality, who views the basic reality of man as the reality of his spirit, whose substance is the substance of knowledge, sanctity, and purity, well understands that so called theoretical tauhid (the three levels I have described), in addition to being the foundation of tauhid in practice, is itself in its essence the highest perfection of the soul. It truly elevates man to God and grants him perfection. "To Him ascends the good word, and He exalts the righteous deed" (35:10). Man's humanity is dependent upon his knowledge of God.

 

Man's knowledge is not separate from man; it is the most basic and dearest part of his existence. To whatever extent man attains knowledge of being, the system of being, and the source and principle of being, he has realised half his substance, which is knowledge, science, gnosis.

 

According to Islam, and especially according to Shi'i theology, to perceive theological truths, quite apart from the practical and social effects deriving from these truths, is itself the ultimate end of humanity.

 

Worship
The three levels I have described constitute theoretical tauhid and belong to the class of knowledge, but tauhid in worship is tauhid in practice and belongs to the class of being and becoming. The first three levels of tauhid I discussed constitute right thinking; this level means right being and right becoming. Theoretical tauhid is an insight into perfection; tauhid in practice is a movement aimed at reaching perfection. Theoretical tauhid means perceiving the unity of God, but tauhid in practice means bringing man into unity. Theoretical tauhid is to see. Tauhid in practice is "to go."

 

Tauhid in practice, or tauhid in worship, means worship of the One, to turn to worship of the One God. According to Islam, worship has levels and degrees. The most obvious levels of worship are to carry out the rites of glorification and the affirmation of transcendence in that if they were carried out for something other than God, this act would imply complete departure from the circle of the people of tauhid and the pale of Islam. But according to Islam, worship is not confined to this level: every choice of orientation, of an ideal, of a spiritual qibla, constitutes worship. "Did you see the one who took his passion for his God?" (25:43). Or the one who obeys the orders of another to whom God has not commanded obedience, who submits to him completely, worships him: "They took their priests and their anchorites as lords, in derogation of God" (9:31). "We do not take some from among us as lords" (3:64).

 

Accordingly, tauhid in practice, or tauhid in worship, means to make only God our object of obedience, destination, qibla and ideal, to reject any other object of obedience, destination, qibla, or ideal-that is, to bow and rise for God, to stand for God, to serve God, to live for God, to die for God. It is as Abraham said: "Say: I have set my face to Him Who created the heavens and the earth, in all exclusivity. My prayer, my sacrifice, my life, and my death are for God, the Lord of the worlds. He has no partner; I am commanded of this, and lam of those who surrender" (6:162-163).

 

This tauhid of Abraham's is his tauhid in practice. The "good word" La ilaha illa 'llah most of all has in view tauhid in practice, in meaning that none but God is worthy of worship.

 

Man and the Attainment of Unity
The questions of how the existential reality of man is to attain unity within a single psychical system and a single humane and evolutionary direction, how human society is to attain unity and integration within a single harmonious, evolving social system, and, conversely, how the personality of the human individual has disintegrated into various poles and his existential reality fragmented into disparate segments and how man's society has disintegrated into conflicting egos and inharmonious groupings and classes, in contradiction and inimical to one another, have stimulated much thought. What must be done to bring the character of man from psychical and social standpoints to the state of unity we know as tauhid, within a single humane and evolutionary course? Three theories address this question: the materialistic, the idealistic, and the realistic.

 

Materialistic Theory
The materialistic theory, which takes only manner into consideration and grants the psyche no sort of substantive reality, holds that private possession (ownership) of objects is what divides and disorders the individual psychically and society socially and makes each of them subject to inharmonious poles. In coming under individual possession, objects fragment man individually (psychically) and socially. Man is a "generic" existent (social by nature).

 

At the dawn of history, man lived as a social body, as a we. No I existed; that is, man felt no I. He was aware not of his individual existence but of his collective existence. His feelings were the collective's feelings, his pain, and the collective's pain. He lived for the collective, not for himself; his conscience was a collective conscience, not an individual one. At the dawn of history, man had a communal life. He lived by hunting. Each was able daily to gain enough from sea and forest to satisfy his individual needs; no surplus production existed. This state of affairs persisted until man discovered agriculture and surplus production grew possible, and with it the growth of one class that worked, and another that consumed without working. This process culminated in the principle of ownership.

 

Private ownership, also termed the private possession by a special group of property and wealth (the resources for production, such as water and land, and the tools of production, such as the plow), shattered the collective spirit and bisected the society that had lived as a unity half prosperous and profiting and half deprived, exploited, and toiling. Society, which had lived as a "we," was transformed into a collection of "I"s. Through the appearance of ownership, man grew inwardly alienated from his real self, which was his social self, whereby he had felt his identity with other people. Instead of feeling himself a man, he felt himself an owner; he grew self-alienated and diminished. Only by severing this tie of possession can man return to moral unity and psychical well being and to social unity and well being. History flows inexorably toward these unites.

 

The ownership’s that deform human unity into plurality and collectively into fragmentation are like the battlements that Jalal ad Din Rumi speaks of in his beautiful parable as splitting the single and expansive light of the sun and giving rise to shadows. Of course, Rumi is speaking of a truth of 'irfan, the appearance of multiplicity from unity and the return of multiplicity to unity, but with some distortion and forced interpretation, it can be regarded as an allegory for this Marxist theory:

 

                              We were single, of one substance all,

We lacked head and foot, that one head all, We were one in substance like the sun,

                    We were guileless, pure as water, one.

First that clear light assumed form, and thence, Number came like shadowed battlements.

                    Smash by catapult these battlements, So this party                       shed all differences.'

 

Idealistic Theory
The idealistic theory considers only the soul and inner being of man, man's relation to his own self; it takes this as its basis and principle. This theory concedes that possession and attachment obstruct realisation of unity and lead to multiplicity, work to fragment and disintegrate the collective, and draw the individual into psychical fragmentation and society into dissolution into groups, but it holds that inevitably the thing attached to is the cause of the fragmentation and dissolution of the thing attached, not the thing attached the cause of the fragmentation and dissolution of the thing attached to.

 

The possession of, the attachment to various entities-wealth, wife, position, and so forth-is not the cause of the fragmentation of the psyche and the dissolution of society; rather, the inward attachment of man to such entities causes man's division, decomposition, and alienation. Man's ownership has not separated man from self and society; rather, man's being owned has done this. What fragments me from moral and social standpoints is not my wealth, my wife, or my position, but rather wealth's me, wife's me, and position’s me. It is not necessary to sever the possession of things by man to transform me into us; rather, the possession of man by things must be severed. Deliver man from his attachment to objects so that he may revert to his human reality. Do not free things from their attachment to man. Give man spiritual freedom. What has freeing things ever accomplished? Give deliverance, freedom, communality, and unity to man, not to a thing.

 

Tauhid as an ethical and social factor in man belongs under the heading of educational factors, especially factors in spiritual education, not under that of economic factors. The agent of tauhid in man is his inner evolution, not his outer diminution. If man is to attain unity, one must give him spirit, not take from him matter. Man is first an animal and then human. He is an animal innately and human by acquisition. Man regains his humanity, which is his latently and inherently, in the light of faith and through the effects of the factors of correct education and upbringing. So long as man has not regained his spirituality under the effective influence of spiritual factors and become human, he is this same animal by nature, and there is no chance for unity of spirits and animal souls.

The animal soul has no unity

Seek not from the wind's soul such unity, If this should eat bread, it sates not then that, If this hears a load, it weighs not on that. But rather this loves to see that one die, It dies of sheer spite to see that one thrive. 'The souls of the wolves and dogs are at odds, But joined are the souls of the lions of God's. Believers are numbered, but belief one, 'Their bodies are numbered, but the soul one, Apart from the mind and soul of the cow, And ass, we've another mind and a soul.

Ten lamps, if you bring them all to one place, Have each their own form distinct from the rest, One can't make the light out of any one, Then turn to its light and with doubt be done. So seek from the Qur'an the meaning of, "Say, We make no distinction among the prophets." Of apples and peaches each if you count, One hundred, when pressed they all become one. In spirit there are no numbers or parts, Are no separate beings, to analyse.

 

To consider matter the agent of the fragmentation and coalescence of man (such that when it is fragmented, man is fragmented, when it coalesces, man coalesces, and when it is one, man is one) and to regard man's ethical character and social character as dependent and parasitically upon the economic situation and the state of production arise from an ignorance of man and a lack of faith in the substantive reality of man and the powers of his reason and will. It is an antihumanistic theory.

 

To sever the bond of possession of objects by private persons is impossible. Suppose this were done in the case of property and wealth. What could be done in the case of family, wife and children? Could one propose this area be communalized and advocate a sexual communism? If this were possible, why have those nations that years ago abolished private ownership of wealth stuck with the private family system? Suppose this inherently private system of the family were also communalized. "What could one do about posts, positions, reputations, and honours? Could one parcel these out evenly as well? Then what would one do with the individuals' distinct physical, psychical, and mental capacities? These qualities are inseparably attached to each individual's being; they could not be detached and equalised.

 

Realistic Theory
The realistic theory holds that what divides and disintegrates man individually and socially, the central factor in human fragmentation and multiplicity, is man's attachments to objects, not the objects' attachment to man. Man's captivity arises from his being owned, not from his ownership. Thus, this theory accords the greatest importance to education, to a revolution in thought, to faith, ideology, and spiritual freedom. But it holds that, just as man is not pure manner, neither is he pure spirit. Today's livelihood and the future life are inseparably paired. Body and soul have a reciprocal influence. "

 

While on the light of tauhid in worship, worship of God, one struggles with the spiritual and psychical agents of fragmentation, one must simultaneously war vehemently against the agents of discrimination, injustice, deprivation, oppression, strangulation, taghutism, and subservience to other-than-God.' This is the logic of Islam.

 

When Islam appeared, it simultaneously launched two transformations or revolutions, two movements. Islam did not say "Eliminate discrimination, injustice, or property, and everything will be straightened out." Nor did it say "Reform the heart and leave the outer world alone. Construct a morality, and a society will be constructed automatically." "When Islam proclaimed tauhid as an inner psychological truth, in the light of faith in God Most High and worship of His single Essence, it simultaneously proclaimed tauhid as a social truth, to be realised by means of jihad and struggle against social inequalities.

 

The following noble verse of the Qur'an shines like a star in the firmament of tauhid as we know it. This is the verse that the Most Noble Prophet included in his letters summoning the heads of nations to faith. It presents Islamic realism and the comprehensive outlook of Islam: "Say, '0 people of the book! Come to an agreement between us and you: that we worship none but God, that we associate nothing as a partner with Him...'" (3:64). Come to one parlance, one thesis, one truth that is the same for you and for us, that bears the same relation to everyon6, under which neither you nor we have any special privilege: We are to worship the One God and nothing else. To this point, the noble verse has covered how unity is granted people through a single faith, a single orientation and qibla, and a single ideal, and how spiritual freedom is attained. It continues: "'and that we not take some from among ourselves as lords other than God Let not some of us people take others as our lords, despite the fact that God is Lord of all. Let us not be disintegrated into lord and serf. Come, let us sever the wrong social ties that lead to such discrimination.

 

After the disruption of the Islamic caliphate in the time of 'Uthman, the reestablishment of a class structure out of the days of ignorance, the popular uprising, and the killing of 'Uthman, the people flocked to Ali (upon whom be peace) to swear allegiance to him. Ali had no choice but to accept, although he personally was loath to accept. Ali explains his personal loathing and his legal responsibility in this way: "If the people had not gathered, if their support had not made it incumbent upon me, and if God had not extracted a pledge from the 'ulama to reduce the engorgement of the oppressors and the hunger of the oppressed, I would have laid the bridle [of the caliphate] on its shoulders and left it alone."'

 

After Ali undertook the office, he placed two responsibilities at the head of his agenda: one was to advise and counsel the people, to reform their mentalities and morals, and to expound divine knowledge in a way that we see exemplified in the Nahj al-Balagha. The other was to struggle against social discrimination. Ali did not content himself with inward reform and spiritual liberation, just as he did not consider social reforms enough. He worked for reform in both directions. This is the program of Islam.

 

Thus, Islam bore in one hand a logic, a summons, and a program for the individual and collective unity of people, dire and at worship of God, and in the other hand a sword to sever unjust human relations, to overthrow social classes, and to destroy the taghuts.

 

The Islamic classless society is the society without discriminations, without deprived persons, without taghuts, without oppression, the just society. It is not the society without differences; such homogeneity is itself a kind of oppression and injustice. There is a distinction to be made between discrimination and difference. Differences exist in the created system of the universe. And these differences have imparted beauty, diversity, progress, and evolution to the universe, but they do not constitute discrimination.

 

The "virtuous city" of Islam is the city opposed to discrimination, not to differences. Islamic society is the society of equality and fraternity, not of negative equality, but rather of positive equality. Negative equality means to take no account of natural distinctions among individuals and to deny their acquired distinctions in order to establish equality. Positive equality means creation of Opportunities for all, possession by each of his acquisitions, and denial of imaginary and unjust distinctions.

 

Negative equality is the sort of equality spoken of in the myth [of Procrustesj, who lived in the mountains and offered his hospitality to wayfarers. The guest was obliged to sleep on a certain bed. As the host's servants laid him on that bed, if he was neither shorter nor longer than that bed, he was allowed to sleep. But alas for the unfortunate guest if his stature was not equal to the length of the bed! If he was taller, he would be evened with the bed with a saw, at his head or feet. If he were shorter, he would be stretched until he drew even. In either case, it is clear how he wound up.

 

Positive equality, however, resembles the disinterestedness of a compassionate and sympathetic teacher who regards all students alike. When they give equivalent answers, he gives equal grades; when they give different answers, he gives to each the grade that he deserves. Islamic society is the natural society. It is neither the discriminatory society nor the society of negative equality. The thesis of Islam is "Work according to ability, merit according to work."

 

The discriminatory society is the society in which people's relations are based on subjugation and exploitation, that is, on individual living by exploiting others' toils, by force. The natural society, however, is the society in which any way one person lives by exploiting another is condemned. The relationship among persons is one of mutual taming. Strive freely and according to their abilities and opportunities, and all are tamed by one another. That is, bilateral employment is the rule. Insofar as natural differences and discrepancies among individuals are the rule, whoever has the greater power and ability will attract the greater number of forces to himself. For instance, an individual who has the greater ability in science will attract the greater number of prospective students of science to himself and tame them to the greater extent. Whoever has the greater ability in technology will necessarily draw the more others, propel them the further in the direction of his own thought and innovation, and tame them the more.

 

While the Glorious Qur'an negates lordship and servanthood in society, it admits the reality of natural differences and various degrees of abilities from the standpoint of how we are created and affirms the relationship of mutual taming. It is said in the Sura Zukhruf:

 

Do they apportion the mercy of the Lord? [Is it theirs to bestow the mantle of prophecy upon whomever they please? It is We who portion out among them their livelihood in the life of this world, and we raise them above each other in degree, so they might obtain labour [yattakhidha . . . Sukhriyan] of each other. But the mercy of your Lord is better than what they amass. (43:32)

 

The discrepancy in merits is thus not one-sided; that is, people do not fall under one of two classes, one endowed with nominal superiority and the other not. In such an event, one class would be the tamers and the other, the tamed. If this were the case, it would have had to be thus expressed: "We raise some of them above others in degree, so that they [the former] might obtain labour of them [the latter]." But the actual wording is "we raise them above each other in degree, so they might obtain labour of each other." That is, all enjoy some superiority and all tame each other. In other words, both merit and the act of taming are bilateral.

 

The second point relates to the word "taming" (SIkhriyan). Here the initial letter sin bears the short vowel u; thus, the word bears the aforementioned sense. In two other verses of the Qur'an, this word occurs with the short vowel i. One instance is MuAlinun: 110, addressed to the people of hell, in which their inadmissible behaviour toward the people of the faith is attacked: "And there were a party among My servants. But you treated them with derision [sikhriyan] to the point that it made you forget to remember Me, while you were laughing at them" (23:109-110). The other is verse 63 of the blessed Sura Sad, in which the people of hell themselves say, "What has happened to us such that we do not see men whom we used to number among the evil? Did we treat them with derision, or have our eyes failed to perceive them?" (38:62-63).

 

Indications are (and in all the works of exegesis I have consulted-Majma' al-Bayan, Kashshaf, Tafsir-I-imam; Bayzawi, Ruh al-Bayan, Safi, Tafsir al-Mizan (exegetes concur in this interpretation) that sikhriyan as it appears in these two verses means as the object of derision. Only the Majma ‘al-Bayan has transmitted (while describing it as unreliable) an assertion by some that it means having been enslaved. Some assert categorically that sikhriyan always means as the object of derision and that Sukhriyan always means tamed (musakhkhar).

 

The verbal noun taskhir and its passive participle musakhkhar appear repeatedly in the Noble Qur'an with the previously given meanings of to tame and tamed, respectively. The Qur'an speaks of the taming of the moon, sun, night, day, sea, rivers, mountains (for the prophet David), wind (for Solomon), and all that is in the heavens and on earth (for man). The meaning in all these instances is that these phenomena have been so created as to render them tame to man and available for man's use and benefit. These verses speak only of things being tamed for man, not of man being tamed for things. In the verse under consideration, man is spoken of as being tamed for man in a bilateral manner.

 

The senses of unwillingness and coercion do not enter into the meaning of the word taskhir. For instance, the lover is tamed by the beloved, the disciple by the master, the student by the teacher, and the common people, generally, by heroes; but these are under no coercion. Accordingly, the hukama' of Islam have perceptively distinguished the expression "agency under 'taming"' (fa ‘iliyya bi’t tashkir) from the expression "agency under coercion" (fa’iliyya bi’l-jabr). An act of taming inheres in every act of coercion, but the converse does not hold.

 

These are the terms in which the Qur'an defines this word. But I do not know whether this terminology is peculiar to the Qur'an such that the Qur'an has given a new crystallization to the original meaning of the word in order to communicate an extraordinarily novel truth regarding the course of creation, that the activity of natural forces has the character of an activity governed by the action of taming and is neither a predestined activity nor an assigned one- or this terminology was in use prior to the Qur'anic revelations.

 

Here it grows clear how wide of the mark are the definitions of offered by some dictionaries, such as Al-Munjid, which define it as a task performed for another without compensation. First, these lexicographers have applied the word only to the elective social relationships of people. Second, they have had to import the idea of coercion and unwillingness into its meaning, whereas the Qur'an has applied it to a relationship made inherent by creation, without bringing in this idea of coercion and unwillingness.

 

The verse under consideration expounds this relationship of people in their social life, the relationship of taming of all for all. It is one of the most important verses of the Qur'an from the standpoint of expressing the social philosophy of Islam.

 

How well, how sublimely have Bayzawi in his well-known Tafsir and, after him, ‘Allama Fayz expounded this verse, saying that the meaning of the phrase "so that they might obtain labour of each other" is that "they make use of each other in their needs," by this means familiarity and mutual solidarity appear, and thus the order of the world is assured.

 

It is likewise said in a Tradition that the meaning of the verse is "We have created all in need of one another." The relationship of taming is so composed that, just as it interrelates people's natural needs, it does not lead society out of the arena of free competition, by contrast with determinate relationships. The life of social animals is based on determinate relationships; thus, man's sociality differs from that of honeybees or ants. Determinate laws govern their life. Their life is not an arena for competition. They have no possibility to rise or to fall. Although man is social, he also enjoys a kind of freedom. Human society is the arena for a competition in progress and evolution. Fetters that limit an individual's freedom on the course of evolution block the unfolding of human capacities.

 

Man as envisioned by materialist theory, in not having attained to freedom within, in finding only his outward fetters broken, is like a wingless bird that has been unfettered but still cannot fly. Man as envisioned by idealist theory is free inwardly but in fetters outwardly, is a bird with wings but with its feet tied to a massive form. Man as presented by the realistic theory, however, is a bird with wings that is fully prepared for flight, from whose feet these heavy fetters have been removed.

 

Tauhid in practice, individual and social, consists in the individual's growing unified through worship of God alone by means of rejection of all kinds of counterfeit worship (such as worship of carnal desires, money, or prestige) and in society's growing unified through worship of God alone by means of rejection of taghuts, of discrimination, and of injustice. So long as individual and society do not attain unity, they will not attain happiness. And except by worship of the Truth, they will not attain unity. In the blessed Sura Zumar, verse 29, the Noble Qur'an addresses the waywardness and directionlessness of man and the fragmentation and dispersion of his personality in the system of shirk and, conversely, his unity, his attainment of a single character and direction, and his evolutionary alignment in the system of tauhid, in these words: "God coins a parable: a man in whom partners share ownership, and a man belonging wholly to one man: are these two equal in comparison?" (39:29). Imagine a man with several masters, each of whom angrily and ill-naturedly orders him in a different direction. Man under the system of shirk is drawn every moment in a different direction, toward a different pole. He is a piece of straw. floating on the sea; the waves wash him in a new direction every instant. But in the system of tauhid, he is like a ship equipped with navigational systems, making an orderly, harmonious journey under a benevolent captain.

 

 

This site has been designed to work on systems running Microsoft Internet Explorer versions 3 or 4 at a resolution of 800x600 in 16-bit Colour.
It has been tested with Netscape Navigator versions 3, 4 and 4.5 and all other  HTML browsers complying with WC3 guidelines.
Please address any technical queries to the webmaster. Copyright Crescent Technology Ltd 1998 (C)

>