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Transcript
La ilah illa Allah, Muhammad Rasul Allah
(There is no god save Allah and Muhammad is His prophet)
A Comment on the First Article of the Muslim Creed
Rev. Dr. Frederic Ntedika Mvumbi
The Catholic University of Eastern Africa
Introduction
The formula "La ilah illa Allah, Muhammad Rasul Allah" (there is no god save
Allah and Muhammad is His prophet) is the most concentrated profession of
faith of the Islamic belief in one God. It is called the shahada. It is the foundation
of Islamic theology, philosophy and ethical code, social life, political and
economic activities; everything in Islam is geared around it. Thus a comment
on this formula is a study of Islamic monotheism.
The formula has two parts. The first - La ilah illa Allah - talks about the nature
of God, about what he is and what he is not. The second part - Muhammad
Rasul Allah - highlights the place and the importance of Muhammad in the
history of God’s revelation of his nature. We concentrate here on the first part.
Generally speaking, prophets are neither theologians nor philosophers because
the religious conception that they awaken, do not take the form of deliberately
planned system. Theology begins when later generations, especially after a
community has been formed, that some people feel called to interpret the
prophetic revelations and explain what could be seen as gaps. Thus the literal
sense of the prophetic statements is clarified and conclusions are made. Before
this inclination can be acted on, prophetic revelation must take the form of a
holy scripture, a canonically fixed and formally defined text accepted by the
majority. In the case of Islamic thought, the Qur’an is the formal text that
contains the basic statements of Muslim belief.1
Development of the Formula in Early Islam
For Muslims, God (Allah) is the one and only deity. Right from Muhammad's
first preaching, Muslims worship only one Supreme Being who is the Creator
of heaven and earth. In the Qur'an, the unity of God is noted almost in each
sura (chapter) in order to show its importance in Islam. The Qur'an gives
sufficient testimony to Muslim belief in one God.
From the rise of Muhammad till the fall of the Umayyad Empire, the
conception of God's unity was taken without any questioning. But when the
theologians and philosophers were allowed to comment on Islamic dogmas,
the question of the unity of God and, of course, other matters were discussed as
vastly as possible with a new outlook. Inasmuch as several books of the Greek
philosophers, especially those written by Plato, Aristotle and their immediate
1
disciples, were translated and commented by the Muslim philosophers, reason
found a place alongside revelation. Belief in one God reached another level.
Two great schools, Mu`tazilism and Ash`arism, opposed each other because
they wanted to know if the essence of God is identical with or distinct from its
attributes. In fact the issue simply was how to purify the noble belief in one
God and not a matter of doubting this truth. In spite of some differences, which
can be noted between the Islamic and Christian monotheism, Islamic belief in
this matter is that strict monotheism does not permit any form of polytheism or
idolatry. It also rejects any mediation or intermediary between God and man.
At least belief in one God is the common point of all the monotheistic religions
from where they could build or continue the dialogue, which was undertaken
almost five decades ago. In fact, writing this paper, my purpose was to find a
common point that could gather together Muslims and Christians so that they
may solve their problems and live in peace.
Historical Background
History, being a study of the past experience of man and his environment, tells
us that each event is usually influenced either negatively or positively by some
previous phenomena. The advent of Islam which is an event sui generis was
surely influenced by various and important civilizations, thoughts,
philosophies and religions. Furthermore, monotheism, which is the essential
feature of the religion founded by Muhammad,2 was as well influenced by
several previous monotheistic ideas expressed either implicitly or explicitly.
Pre-Islamic Arabian Thought
Muslims refer to Arabian culture before the birth of Muhammad as jahiliyyah.
In fact,
the term Jahiliyyah, usually rendered time of ignorance or barbarism, in reality
means the period in which Arabia had no dispensation, no inspired prophet,
no revealed book; for ignorance and barbarism can hardly be applied to such a
cultured and lettered society as that developed by the south Arabians.3
Thus, it is advisable for us to examine the religious situation of that period for a
better understanding of Islamic monotheism. Before that, let us look at how the
geographical and cultural situation led Arabians to focalise their thinking to a
spiritual life.
Geographical and Cultural Situation
The land of Arabia determines in one way or the other the cultural and
religious situation of the country. In other words the position of Arabia
influences its culture, and culture goes with religion. Arabia is a peninsula,
which is divided into two main parts: the north and the south. Both of them
are covered by the Arabian Desert. Because of the desert, any organization
2
based on fixed dwellings was impossible especially in the north where
Bedouins lived. P.M. Holt observes:
The Bedouins of the desert and the sedentarized nomads of the oases are two
main representatives of the arid area dwellers in the north.4 The south,
different from the north because of its favourite climate, had an advanced
civilization based on agriculture.5
In spite of this distinction, the people of the North and those of the South were
submitted to desert law which influenced them in all their thoughts, needs and
deeds. That is why they were animists. The main towns (Makka, Ta'if and
Madina) followed the same law. The Arabians believed that inanimate objects,
such as trees, stones and springs, housed spirits which could influence the lives
of men.6 In anything they did or thought, Arabians bore in their mind not only
the presence but also the influence of spirits. Taylor says that animism, so
defined, was the core of all religions. According to him, the term "spirits"
applies to gods and divinities.7 Arabia was not exempted from this common
idea. Again, Arabians lived broadly a hard and poor life because of the desert.
We can imagine that a change which might help them to live a better life was
expected. W. Montgomery Watt points this out in a particular way:
Thus there is a belief, put into Muhammad's mouth in different forms, that four
things are decided for a human being while he is still an embryo in the womb.
According to one version, Anas ibn-Mâlik reported of the prophet that he said,
"God has entrusted an angel with the womb... when God will to complete the
forming of it."8
This quotation leads us to believe that the geographical situation of Arabia led
Arabians to trust in spiritual life. Thus "in sha Allah (If God wills)” which is an
old sentence makes us think of monotheism even before Muhammad. H.A.A.
Gibb relates:
The old legend that Islam was born of the desert is taking a long time to die.
Since Renan popularized the view that monotheism is the natural religion of
the desert, it seemed a plausible argument that Muhammad’s insistence on the
unity and unapproachable greatness of God was simply a reflection of the vast
changeless wastes of Arabia.9
Because of the hardship in the desert, it appears to me that desert life provides
more opportunities for man to acknowledge his limitations and so order his
relationship with the infinite. Desert life raises more religious consciousness.
3
Religious Context of Pre-Islamic Period
1. Arabian Traditional Religion
Although Islam is a culture and a civilization, it should be considered first and
foremost as a religion. Thus taking into account what is said above, we realize
that the religion, which stands on the Qur’an, was built on previous Arabian
religions. Arabians were religious people but their religion before Muhammad
was at a primitive stage. Along with their belief in spirits, Arabians
worshipped several deities and built sanctuaries in many places where they
kept their idols. The city of Makka, where Islamic faith was first revealed, was
the most important religious centre. Hitti said:
The name Makkah, the Macoruba of Ptolemy, comes from Sabaen Makumba,
meaning that it owes its foundation to some religious associations and
therefore must have been a religious centre long before Muhammad was
born.10
Tribal deities were very important and well represented by some idols at
Makka in order to sustain the tribal life. For instance, people of the North
Often carried their idols with them when they travelled, presuming that the idols had
permitted its worshippers to travel. All these statues, whether in the Ka'bah, around it
or scattered around the tribes or the provinces, were regarded as intermediaries
between their worshippers and the supreme God. They regarded the worship of them
as a means of rapprochement with God even though in reality, that same worship had
caused them to forget the true worship of God.11
Now it is obvious that Arabians before the rise of Islam bore in mind the idea
of the supreme God, one and great. But they were polytheists because each
tribe had its own gods or divinities; the tribal god became greater than other
gods of other tribes. From polytheism, Arabia moved towards henotheism?12
However these gods or goddesses linked Arabians to the supreme one. In fact,
among the gods worshiped all over the Arabian land, Manat, `Uzza and al-Lat
were predominant. These three were believed to be daughters of Allah, the
supreme God. We will not be surprised that Allah was the principal God of
Arabia though not the only deity of Makka. It is clearly seen that his name is an
ancient one.
It occurs in two south Arabic inscriptions, one a Minaean found at al-`Ula and
the other a Sabeaan, but abounds in the form H L H in the Lihyamite
inscription of the fifth century BC.13
Although monotheism was not as clear as it is in Islam today, Arabians
worshipped one god through many deities. On the eve of Islam, some native
4
Arabians tried to abandon their deities in order to worship only one God. That
is Hannifiya.
2. Hannifiya
As soon as Arabians entered into relationship with other religions, namely
Judaism and Christianity, some of them adopted the Hannifiya, which was a
kind of monotheistic faith but different from either Judaism or Christianity.
Hanif appears repeatedly in the Qur'an as the name of those who possess the
real and true religion; it is used particularly of Abraham as the representative
of the pure worship of God. As a rule it contrasts him with the idolaters... but
in one or two passages, it describes him as one who was neither a Jew nor a
Christian.14
Muhammad himself acknowledged the Hannifiya as a true religion: "And
further (thus): set thy face towards religions with true piety, and never in any
wise be of the Unbelievers" (Qur'an 10:105). Monotheism was the principal
feature of the Hannifiya. A hanif is one who had abandoned idolatry and
polytheism to worship only one God. Before the coming of Islam, Muhammad
was not alone in feeling the need of monotheism.15 Though towards the end of
the fifth and the beginning of the sixth centuries, paganism was more
influential, the coming and the spread of the two great monotheistic religions,
Judaism and Christianity in Arabia, had reinforced monotheism.
Thus, looking at Arabia before Islam, we discover that the unity of God was
known a long time before Muhammad. Islam therefore is considered as a
continuation, revival and purification of the primitive monotheism.
3. Judaism
Judaism is a religion of the Jews whose founder is Abraham. Like Islam,
Judaism is more than a religion because, for the Jews, it is a way of life; it
contains commandments, rites traditions and beliefs. Contrary to other
religions of the Semitic world, Judaism is monotheism with a revealed book.
Since the time of the Patriarchs, but developed after exile, Judaism is
principally contained in the book called Torah.
The Torah was given only as a means of purifying men - so runs a famous
rabbinic dictum. It is no impossible set of demands, meant for angels or a very
few men of superior piety. Its wisdom and ordinances are the way of holiness
for all men, even the most ordinary among them.16
Through the Torah, Jews honoured God, one and Creator of the universe. He is
mighty and powerful; no single creature can represent him. He is also unseen
but he is always with his people. "You will have no gods other than me. You
5
must not make yourselves any image or any likeness of anything in heaven
above or on earth" (Dt. 5, 7-8).
Judaism is also guided by a tradition which carries along with its values and
patterns of behaviour so that the young ones might be enlightened. In time of
crisis, tradition was called to challenge and to ascertain the truth. Torah and
tradition are the major sources of Judaism and priests are guards of both the
Torah and the tradition; they were also ministers of the cult that rendered God
praise and forgiveness of man’s sin. To honour God faithfully, the Jews have
some festivals namely, the Sabbath, the Passover, the Shabuoth, Sukkoth and
Yom Kippur. In short, Judaism is the life of Jews. It helps Jews to live faithfully
with God and their fellowmen, to keep God's commands and to be prepared
against various systems.
Jews were the only monotheistic people in the Semitic world, so that Judaism
suffered from within and without. Because of its monotheistic concept of God
and its consequences, Judaism was always in conflict and at war with its
surroundings. There was also great influence from the outside, which brought
sometimes deviations in the religious practice of the Jews. Jews borrowed from
all the countries surrounding it. In spite of this deviation, Jewish nationalism
made the survival of monotheism possible and so it continues till the present
day.
4. Jewish-Christianity and Christianity in Arabia before Islam
According to Joseph Kenny, Jewish-Christianity was the form of Christianity
best known by Arabs at the time of Muhammad. Its doctrine must have
strongly influenced Islam for we find many parallels between JewishChristianity and the form of Christianity mentioned in the Qur’an. Some of
these similarities are: Jewish-Christians accepted only the Torah and the Gospel
of Matthew as inspired books; Jesus was not divine but an angelic creature;
they prayed facing Jerusalem which was also the first qibla of the Muslims
before they turned towards Makka.17
Jewish-Christianity, in its many forms, may not be considered a new religion
but a practice of people who had not embraced Christianity in toto since it was
regarded as a blend of Judaism and Christianity. Thus, Jewish-Christians were
those Jews who acknowledged Christ as a prophet or even a Messiah but not as
Son of God. Jesus is no more than a man; he is a creature in the order of an
angel.18 This is the type of Christianity the Qur’an refers to.
However, Orthodox Christianity and heresies such as Arianism,
Monophysitism and Nestorianism seemed to have spread among educated
people in cities even into the land of Arabia.19 Whoever understands orthodox
6
Christianity and the teachings of these heresies will surely observe that their
doctrines are more or less the preaching of the Qur’an.
Really, with the fore-going information and analysis, some may say that
Arabian traditional pre-Islamic thought, as well as Judaism and JewishChristianity, gave birth to Islamic monotheism. If they did not give birth to it,
at least all these ideas did influence Islam widely and strongly. Muhammad,
the prophet of Islam, adopted some, corrected a little and rejected what was
totally against the revelation he claimed to have received. The new Muslim
community superseded the old Arabian tribal society, which drew inspiration
from the whole Semitic world.
Monotheism in the Qur’an
We saw in the first part that the Islamic conception of God (Allah) has a rich
and broad background. We can even say that Islamic monotheism was inspired
by those thoughts, but we have not yet brought out its meaning and
development properly within Islam. So we should look at the first source of
Islam, the Qur'an where we find the earliest proclamation and the first
development of Islamic monotheism. Arthur Jeffery says:
The Qur'an is the scripture of Islam. It is called the noble Qur'an, the glorious
Qur'an, the mighty Qur'an, but never the holy Qur’an save by modern,
western-educated Muslims who are imitating the title holy Bible. It contains
the substance of Muhammad's deliverances during the twenty odd years of his
public ministry. It is clear that he had been preparing a book for his community
which would be for them what the Old Testament was for the Jews and the
New Testament for the Christians, but he died before his book was ready, and
what we have in Qur'an is what his followers were able to gather together after
his death and issue as the corpus of his revelations.20
The Qur'an is the first source of Islam and Muslims claim that it is first a
revealed message. In fact, it is a written book with 114 suras in which, claim the
Muslims, Allah himself reveals to man who He is so that man will live
according to His will. In this way the Qur'an purports to be the word of God,
which directs Muslims in their various ways. That is why the importance of
the Qur'an is compared to what is given to the Old Testament for Jews and to
the New Testament for Christians. The Qur'an talks about Allah in different
ways gathered together in three themes. First Allah is God of creation,
judgment and retribution. Secondly, He is God omnipotent and merciful.
Thirdly, He is unique and One in Himself.21 Furthermore, since the Qur'an is
presented as the unchangeable word of God; it gives a permanent significance
to Islamic monotheism that may be interpreted later in one way or the other by
different Islamic schools or groups. The Qur'an gives the essence of the belief in
one God in Islam. According to Kenneth Cragg:
7
The Qur'an, for Muslims, is the ultimate literature. Having it means a human
literacy reading a divine writing. There is first the literacy of Muhammad in
the vocation of prophetic word and action in the name of God: then the
scripture in the active possession of the prophet's hearers, reading and
rehearing his words as the directive of their being and the bond of their
community. Everything in the world, wrote a French poet, exists to come to
climax in a book. In a very different idiom, that is what Muslim finding their
Qur'an, the one great book which is the utmost in language and meaning, the
crux of truth in literary forum - not book about something more intimate than
itself but itself the sum and centre.22
The Qur’anic Preaching
At the beginning of the seventh century of the Christian era, precisely from 610
to 632, Muhammad claimed to receive the revelation from Allah and started to
proclaim the word of Allah as he claimed to be told.
A Muslim tradition tells us that sura 96 was the first to come down to the
prophet Muhammad; so the mission entrusted to him was from the first
preaching of the word of Allah. Allah, as is said to Muhammad in this first
sura, is thy Lord, creator of man, the very generous, who teaches man that
which he knew not.23
Though Allah was known before the rise of Islam, with Muhammad, the
conception of Allah changed. We know that Allah was one of the Makkan
deities, even the supreme deity but the preaching of the Qur'an conceived Him
as universal, one and transcendent. In fact, Muhammad did not try at all to
prove the existence of God.
The existence of God is strongly affirmed in all the suras. Muhammad talked
about God who is and was revealed to him. The first sura (of the present text)
which is called the "the opening" al-Fatiha because of its importance in salat and
in many other forms of prayer, gives the most precious substance of Islamic
doctrine.24 The formula "In the name of Allah, most Gracious, most Merciful"
Bi-smi-llahi r-Ramani r-Rahim, which is placed before all the suras except sura 9,
shows that the God that Muhammad proclaimed not only exists but also is the
most Gracious and the most Merciful. Muhammad believed in the living God;
that is why he praises him "Praise to Allah, the Cherisher and Sustainer of the
worlds" (sura 1:2), and worships him: "Thee do we worship and thine aid we
seek" (sura 1:5). Moreover, Muhammad calls God the "Master of the day of
judgement" (sura 1:4).
Nowadays Montgomery W. Watt tells us that al-Fatiha was considered by some
Muslims as an individual prayer of Muhammad.25 On realizing this, we see
more or less how Mohammad was convinced that his call was real and true
and came from the living God. Sura 3:2 says: "Allah! There is no God but He,
8
the Living, the Self-Subsisting, Eternal". He is unseen; He exists: "This is the
book; in it is guidance, sure, without doubt, to those who fear Allah; who
believe in the unseen, are steadfast in prayer, and spend out of what we have
provided for them” (sura 2:2-3). He is present among us; He gives signs to
those who obey Him. It is what is said in sura 2:251-252: "By Allah's will they
routed them: And David slew Goliath; and Allah gave him power and wisdom
and taught him whatever (else) He willed. And did not Allah check one set of
people by means of another, the earth would indeed be full of mischief: but
Allah is full of bounty to all the worlds". By analysing all these verses
mentioned above, we realize that Muhammad, instead of proving the existence
of God, presented the attributes, the will and the nature of God in whom he
believed. His preaching on which all Islamic doctrines are built was to tell his
contemporaries that Allah is the creator of the universe, that he is one. In other
words, the Qur'anic preaching shed light on the vague knowledge that the preIslamic Arabs had. Louis Gardet asserts:
But the vague notion of supreme (not sole) divinity, which Allah seems to have
connoted in Makkan religion, has to become both universal and
transcendental; it has to be turned by the Qur'anic preaching, into the
affirmation of the living God, the Exalted one.26
In Régis Blachère's periodization of the Qur’an, we find that, among the themes
developed in the three Meccan periods, the preaching of God's oneness is
emphasized implicitly or explicitly everywhere (cf. suras 112, 52, 73, 70). The
oneness of God is also stressed in the Medinan period.27 For instance, in
referring to Judaism and Christianity, the Qur’an denounces their sin against
the belief in one, unique and transcendental God. The Qur’anic preaching
hinges on the oneness of God; so it is very imperative for us to point out its
meaning.
The Meaning of Islamic Monotheism
It is evident that Islam is a monotheistic religion. Some scholars may even say
that Muslims practice a strict monotheism. Indeed Islam is one of the three
great monotheistic religions besides Judaism and Christianity. A Rahman I. Doi
says:
Islam teaches and preaches monotheism, the belief in one God. This belief is
known as the unity of God-head. The belief is the foundation stone of Islam. It
governs the religious faith, designs the social pattern and gives life to the oral
codes.28
We can imagine that monotheism is the central feature of Islam. The statement
quoted above shows how it governs the internal and external expression of
Islam. Robert Caspar expresses this as follows:
9
Belief in the one transcendent God is undoubtedly the specific feature of Islam
in two senses. First, it distinguishes it from the other great monotheistic
religions: If Israel is rooted in hope and Christianity vowed to charity, Islam is
centred on faith... Secondly, belief in the one transcendent God is the axis
around which all Islam's doctrine and practice is organized.29
By emphasizing the importance of the Qur’an and how it expresses
monotheism, Robert Caspar adds:
The whole Koran is nothing other than an urgent and reiterated repetition of
that faith, of its history in humanity and its consequences in personal and
social life. It could be called the one, sufficient dogma.30
One dogma, one God: the Qur’an repeats this in many places. Thus, in the
following sub-sections, we shall point out two main factors that clarify the
meaning of Islamic belief in one God.
The Unity of God (tawhid)
"La ilaha illa llah, there is no god save Allah" is the digest of Islamic unity. This
is the first article of the Islamic creed which describes the God in whom
Muhammad believed. It is called the shahada. As Muhammad was to challenge
the beliefs of his contemporaries, he was to define the God in whom he
believed by differentiating his conception of God from that of his
contemporaries, thus giving the real meaning of his call. Kenneth Graff reports:
As for the question which might be asked, that is which you have asked, as to
"He is God", it is narrated that the Quraish said; "O Muhammad, describe your
Lord to us, the one to whom you call us." It was then that these words were
given in revelation. "One" here is in opposition (to God) or may be taken as a
second predicate. It indicates the manifold attributes of God's majesty and
points to all the elements of (his) perfection. For the truly one is transcendent
in essence above all and multiplicity. For He has no need of these as physical,
partial and participant entities certainly do.31
The revelation that Muhammad claimed to receive was not given at once. It
came progressively according to the problems he faced. Because the Quraish
asked Muhammad to "describe your Lord to us", revelation came down to
enable Muhammad to explain and defend what he had said. The request of the
Quraish shows us that at the beginning Muhammad called people to believe in
one God. Abd-al-Rahman Azzam said:
If we were to analyse the life of Muhammad in Mecca and contemplate the
content of his message, we would discover that Muhammad devoted his heart
and efforts and offered his life and the lives of his followers to the
crystallization of the first fundamental belief in the unity of God. He fought his
enemies and made peace with them; he shunned and then forgave them; and
10
he appealed to people of other religions (Christians and Jews) to join with him
in one common belief: worship of the one God, a worship which would admit
no partners.32
We now know that Muhammad taught his followers belief in one God. Thus it
is certain that Muhammad had a monotheistic conception of God, though some
scholars say that at the beginning, the expression "Allah akbar" meant
henotheism not monotheism. But what kind of monotheism did Muhammad
preach? Was it a simple idea? H.A.R. Gibb and J.H. Framers answer this
question as follows:
But unity is far from being a simple idea; it may be internal or external; it may
mean that there is no other god except Allah, who has no partner, it may mean
that Allah is a oneness in himself; it may mean that he is the only being with
real or absolute existence, all other being having merely a contingent existence;
it may even be developed into a pantheistic assertion that Allah is all.33
The above statement does not clarify the issue but rather gives the opportunity
to raise more questions to develop the unity of God in Islam as it is really
conceived.
Islamic Monotheism versus Polytheism and Idolatry
The conception of God in the Qur’an modified the shahada as soon as the belief
in one God became more intimate to Muhammad and to his followers.34 The
shahada, "There is no god but God", became a confession and later on adoration
as is expressed in sura 21:87: "And remember Dhu-Nun, when he departed in
wrath: He imagined that we had no power over him! But he cried through the
depths of darkness. There is no god but thou: Glory to thee: I was indeed
wrong". Wilfred Contwell Smith commented:
To say that there is one God, and He alone is to be worshipped, means at its
most immediate, as it meant in pagan Arabia when it has first proclaimed, a
rejection of polytheism and idolatry.35
According to many scholars of Islam, such as Watt, Anawati, Blachère, Gardet,
Jomier and now Wilfred Smith, Islamic monotheism contrasts with both
polytheism and idolatry.36 For instance, sura 27:63-64 says:
"Or, who guides you through the depths of darkness on land and sea,
and who sends the winds as heralds of glad tidings, going before his
mercy? (Can there be Another) god besides Allah? High is Allah above
what they associate with him! Or, who originates creation, then repeats
it, and who gives you sustenance from heaven and earth? [Can there be
another] god besides Allah? Say, bring forth your argument, if ye are
telling the truth!"
11
To appreciate then Islamic monotheism, we have to separate from it every idea
of another god. Worship is due only to Allah, not to any idols or god. Even
angels are servants of God; they should not be worshipped. "He doth send
down these angels with inspiration of this command, to such of his servants as
He pleased, (saying): warn (man) that there is no god but I: so do your duty
unto me" (sura 16:2). In addition, Montgomery Watt says:
This is the most extreme criticism of paganism in the Qur’an, denying all
reality to the pagan deities; elsewhere it is allowed that some of them may be
angels, though this still does not make it permissible to worship them.37
With regard to idols, Montgomery Watt comments on sura 53:15-22, at the
same time clarifying our opinion:
The idols mentioned were known as daughters of God, though this does not
imply a family system, as in Greek mythology? But only that these were (in
the eyes of those who used the phrase) divine beings of a sort, subordinate to
God.38
Allah is the only God. With this confession, Muhammad came to liberate his
contemporaries from their ignorance. Muhammad refers to the jahiliyya, the
time during which Arabs did not know the true God who must be worshipped
and not others. Muhammad also came to unify Arabs by worship of the
Creator of the universe so that his glory will shine on them and they may have
salvation. This is what Kenneth Cragg is talking about in these lines:
In that sense, the shahada itself, there is no god but God, is not simply a
proposition that negates but a disqualification that unifies. It does not
proclaim itself as an idea but as a veto and liberation.39
In fact, it is no wonder that Muhammad, who claimed to have receive the
revelation of the unity of Allah, reacted strongly against the pagan idolatry and
polytheism of his time and before. Moreover, shirk (associating other divinities
with God) is the greatest sin which cannot be forgiven. It is obvious that to
worship idols or any god than Allah is to contradict Muhammad's message. It
is also to deny the real nature of God inasmuch as polytheism has no place in
the shahada.
Again, Muhammad's opposition to polytheism and idolatry was the main
reason for his fight against his countrymen. He fought them because they
believed and worshipped many gods or deities. Polytheism is more than a sin;
it is the greatest sin, the unforgivable sin. The God of Muhammad is one.
There is nothing like him on earth and in heaven. "Verify, I am Allah; there is
no god but I: so serve thou one [only] I and establish regular prayer for
celebrating my praise" (sura 20:14). The formula "There is no deity but God"
12
also means that there is nothing from eternity in its essence and attributes but
God and nothing is necessary everlasting but God. It is only God who is Selfsubsistence and has power over everything possible.40 But some scholars report
that Muhammad was still compromising with some deities. This is said in the
passage called "Satanic verses".
The Satanic Verses
The Satanic verses, which are related by at-Tabari and later on reported by
Watt and Robert Caspar, are no longer in the present Qur’an. Looking for ways
to win his people, Muhammad came to pronounce the satanic verses. Joseph
Kenny, quoting at-Tabari, says:
The Messenger of God was looking for way to win a truce and rapprochement
with his people. When he saw that his people had turned away from him and
nothing to do with what he brought them from God, he was pained and
desired a message from God that would reconcile himself with his people.
Because of his love and desire for them he would be glad if the bone of their
contention could be softened a little. He thought much about it and desired it
very much. Then God revealed, "By the star when it goes down, your
companion has not gone astray nor erred; nor does he speak what he feels like
saying" (Q 53:1-3), until the words, "Have you seen al-Lât, al-`Uzza and
Manat?" (Q 53:19-20). At this point Satan put on his lips what he was thinking
in himself and his people wanted to hear from him: "Those are the high flying
ghurnuqs (Numidian cranes) whose intersession can be counted on".41
Originally, the Satanic verses existed after verses 19 and 20 of sura 53. Régis
Blachère keeps it in his translation.42 In them, Muhammad seemed to accept the
mediation of al-Lat, al-`Uzza and Manat. This meant that Muhammad, after
affirming the unity of God, continued to compromise with polytheism.
However, it is accepted in Islam that in some cases God allows Satan to confuse
a prophet. Sura 22:52 puts it in this way: “Never did he send an Apostle or a
prophet before thee, but, when he formed a desire, Satan threw some (vanity)
into his desire: but Allah will cancel anything (vain) that Satan throws in, and
Allah will confirm (and establish) his signs: For Allah is full of knowledge and
wisdom.”
The intention and zeal of Muhammad were to proclaim the pure unity of God.
In sura 109, 1-8, he definitely broke with polytheism: "Say: o ye that reject faith!
I worship not that which ye worship; nor will ye worship that which I worship.
And I will not worship that ye have been wont to worship, nor will ye worship
that which I worship. To you be your way, And to me mine."
13
Islamic Monotheism versus Christian Ideas of Divine Fatherhood and
Sonship
Originally tawhid (the unity of God) was asserted against the Arabs, but later
on Muhammad extended it to Christians who worship Jesus as Son of God.
Sura 6:101 says: "To him is due the primal origin of the heavens and the earth:
How can He have a son when he hath no consort? He created all things, and he
hath full knowledge of all things". So Islamic monotheism does not permit any
equal or partner with Allah. The gods of ancient Arabia certainly had wives
and children. Even in pre-Islamic Arabian thought, Allah, the supreme God
among others, had his own children. We remember that all over the Arabian
land, Manat, al-`Uzza and al-Lat were conceived as daughters of Allah and
were worshipped. Hence, Islamic monotheism does not accept any Fatherhood
or Sonship because Allah has no consort or partner. "He is Lord of the East and
the West: there is no god but He: take Him therefore for (thy) Disposer of
affairs" (sura 73:9). In the same vein, Muhammad Zafulla Khan wrote:
The Qur’an not only excludes all idea of any equal or partner with Allah, it
specifically excludes all idea of his having a son except in the purely
metaphorical sense in which all mankind are his children, and in which the
peacemakers are spoken of in the Bible, as the children of God (Matt 5:9). God
is ever-living, All-knowing, All-hearing, the Creator of all, whose authority
extends over everything. To attribute a son, in any but the purely metaphorical
sense, to God, would amount to a denial of his unity and in effect to a denial of
his Godhead.43
Thus Muslims reject the Christian teaching that Jesus is Son of God, or even a
person in God's unity.
Jacques Jomier mentions:
For the Muslim, monotheism does not signify only the unity of God, because
there can be several persons in the unity. Monotheism in Islam is the absolute
oneness of God which formally does away with the notion of persons
participating in the divinity... All forms or philosophies of an incarnate God
are excluded by the monotheism of Islam, as are blind obedience to dictators,
to clergy or to one's own whims and desires.44
Thus the oneness of God came to mean both an external and internal unity of
God. It is external for it does not accept the existence of another god; it is
internal because it does not admit any person within God. Islamic monotheism
rejects the theology of the Trinity because, say Muslims, it sins against the
oneness of God. The God of Muhammad is one and not three in one.
Thus, in his combat not only with the Makkans, but also with Christians,
Muhammad gave in the whole sura 112 the last formula of monotheism which
14
will never change. He said: "Say: He is Allah, the one and only; Allah, the
Eternal, the Absolute; He begot not, nor is He begotten; and there is none like
unto Him". With these four verses, short but very powerful, significant and
determining, Muhammad affirmed a very strict monotheism. Moreover,
Islamic monotheism implies also the transcendence of God.
Transcendence of God
Before going into the consequences of Islamic monotheism, we would like to
explain a little about the transcendence of God in the Qur’an. Indeed, the
Islamic monotheism also includes the transcendence of God. God is one and
transcendent. Being the creator of all things, God is not only different from all
creatures but He is above all. "And there is none like unto him" (sura 112,4).
Robert Caspar is explicit on that:
This one God is transcendent, in the exact sense of the term. He is the totally
other and nothing is like Him. The idea of creation introduces a radical
division between the creator and creatures, in contrast to religions based on
emanation or mystical experience.45
While we talk about transcendence, we do not mean distance, for God is close
to man and the Qur’an says that God always invites man to come close to him.
But what the transcendence of God rejects is the concept of any intermediary or
mediation other than the Qur’an. Robert Caspar proclaims:
While the Koran seems to accept some cases of intercession (the angels, the
prophet), both ancient and modern Islam make a boast of this rejection: no
meditation, still less if there is question of incarnate God, no church, no
sacraments; an extremely sober liturgy in bare mosques, where the believer is
alone before God, even at the Friday common prayer.46
If God sometimes allows angels (e.g. the angel Gabriel) and prophets (Moses,
Jesus and Muhammad) to bring his word to man, He cannot permit at all the
reality of the incarnate son coming down from Heaven as the mediator
between God and man. We give here some consequences of belief in one and
transcendent God.
Implications of Islamic Monotheism
The belief in one transcendent God has, of course, many implications, since
faith in one God moves and guides all the life (social, physical, spiritual) of a
Muslim. Some of these implications will be considered here.
First, Islamic monotheism leads Muslims to conceive God as all-powerful,
almighty who will never fail because he is not contingent. He knows
everything and his knowledge will never cease. Furthermore Muslims attribute
the organization of the world to the oneness of God. It is because He is one that
15
he orders and organises the universe; otherwise the world would have been in
chaos.47 Second, Islamic monotheism brings together the temporal and the
spiritual life. We remember that Islam is at once religion, politics, culture and
civilization. Robert Caspar testifies:
In relation to social life, the Moslem city, the role sovereignty of God leads to a
rejection of a separation between temporal and spiritual (din and dunya), and so
to state religion (din al-dawla).48
Third, Muslims strongly believe in the Qur’anic message, for it came from God
who is righteous. Therefore his righteousness makes his message true. As we
know the Qur’an claims to be a revealed book and that Muhammad is nothing
more than a prophet. This idea goes with what Abd-al-Rahman Azzam said:
The wisdom of this is clear: From belief in the one God stems all that is
righteous; it makes for righteousness in the message. It is the bond that limits
all the component parts of the message and strengthens them, for its position is
comparable to the relationship of the soul to the body, which falls slack,
deteriorates and vanishes once the soul departs from it.49
If God is not one, how can he be righteous? The oneness of God makes his
message one and righteous. It goes without saying that for Muslims the
Qur’an, which is the message come down from God who is one, must be
righteous. Moreover, Islamic monotheism determines the attitude of each
Muslim. Muslims understand that inasmuch as God is one and transcendent, it
is He who gives existence to anyone he wants.
Thus man should adore him and serve him by keeping his law, because it is in
this way that he can be saved. The Qur’an says: "And the servants of Allah
Most Gracious are those who walk on the earth in Humility, and when the
ignorant address them, they say, peace” (sura 25:63). The Qur’an continues by
saying: "Their messengers said to them: We are only human like yourselves,
but Allah bestows favour upon whomsoever he willed of his servants" (sura
14:13). So if everybody who follows Allah is his servant (`abd), inequality does
not have any place in the Islamic Umma; equality and brotherhood will be the
attitude of all Muslims. In the same way, it implies that nobody received
special gift from God which may make him greater than others. Because of His
oneness, Allah, and no other one, is ruler of the universe. Belief in the unity of
God promotes not only the sense of brotherhood but also equality.
Joseph Kenny has studied the principles and consequences of Islamic
monotheism from the philosophical point of view.50 Allah is one, almighty and
powerful; therefore no creature has power over others, because it is even He
who determines all human acts. He is the principle of life. Indeed the Qur’an
attributes some responsibilities to man but accepts that it is Allah who
16
determines and guides. "Then sees thou such a one as takes as his god his own
vain desire? Allah has, knowing (him as such), led him astray, and sealed his
hearing and his heart [and understanding], and a cover on his sight: who, then,
will guide him after Allah [has withdrawn guidance]? Will ye not then receive
admonition?" (Sura 45:23). Also, in the al-Fatiha, it is said that it is Allah who
shows the straight way to man.
The second consequence Kenny noted is the absence of any philosophical
ethics, for if Allah guides nature, it means nature cannot decide on its behalf.
Can nature say that this is good or bad?51 Beings are not good or bad in
themselves; an action is only good or bad because God declares it to be so.
Nobody, nothing, can challenge him.
Christian Monotheism from the Islamic Perspective
Judaism, Christianity and Islam are known as monotheistic religions because of
their common belief in one, unique and supreme God, creator of heaven and
earth. After studying Islamic doctrine, we notice that only a small number of
Muslims accept Christian monotheism.52 Muslims say Christianity had true
monotheism in the past but with the dogmas of the Trinity and Incarnation, it
has deviated from what was preached by Jesus himself. Jacques Jomier writes:
Christianity as Islam sees it is essentially the form of the unique religion,
eternal and immutable, which God willed to be valid for the children of Israel
at a particular moment in history. It was preached by Jesus, but little by little
his disciples moved away from his message and God sent Muhammad to
remedy the situation.53
In addition, Muslims reject any existent comparable to God. Muhammad
`Abduh puts it in this way:
The necessary Being is one in His essence, His attributes, His existence and His
acts. His essential unity we have established in the foregoing denial of
compositeness in Him, whether in reality or conceptually. That He is unique in
His attributes means that no existent is equal to Him therein.54
So, based on this statement and on what we have already said above, there is
no room for the Trinity and Incarnation of Jesus in Islamic monotheism. These
are simply kinds of polytheism and idolatry. Because of that, according to
some Muslim fundamentalists, conversion to Christianity is nonsense; it is a
regression. Christianity is seen in the light of the Qur’an. What the Qur’an says
about Christianity is true and sufficient. Jomier says:
The first principle is that the only true source which allows a knowledge of
Christianity is the Qur’an. Recent Muslim lives of Jesus, Written in Arabic,
present what they call the Jesus of history. In fact, their account is based
17
exclusively on Qur’anic sources; what is taken from elsewhere is there only a
supplement or for illustration.55
Islamic Monotheism from the Christian Perspective
The majority of Christians, especially those who are well informed, accept
Islam as a monotheistic religion. The Vatican II Council's view is in large
agreement with a wide spectrum of other Christian views, although it does not
find acceptance among some fundamentalists and those who are called today
"born again."
Asked in an interview if he believed in Islam, Massignon replied that he
believed in the God of Abraham, a real, immanent person, and not in the
abstract deity of the philosophers and of Devil. For that reason, Massignon is a
friend to the Muslims.56 Louis Massignon received the Christian faith in his
childhood but lost it a while. In his encounter with Muslims, he experienced
certain realities which helped him later on to find his faith. From his personal
experience, he discovered that Islamic monotheism is true and that it is a
relevant avenue for establishing dialogue between Muslims and Christians. In
other words, Massignon is saying that Allah is true God, the God of the Bible.
In the same vein, Kenneth Cragg writes:
In as much as both Christian and Muslim faiths believe in one supreme
sovereign Creator-God, they are obviously referring, when they speak of God
under whatever terms, to the same Being. To suppose otherwise will be
confusing. It is important to keep in mind that though apprehensions differ,
their theme is the same. The differences, undoubtedly real, between the
Muslim and the Christian understanding of God, are far-reaching and must be
patiently studied. But it would be fatal to all our mutual tasks to doubt that one
and the same God over all was the reality in both. Those who say that Allah is
not the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ are right if they mean that God
is not so described by Muslims. They are wrong if they mean that Allah is
other than the God of the Christian Faith.57
But, in order to show that Massignon’s statement is not shared by all
Christians, G.J.O. Moshay presents a number of questions:
A number of thoughtful people have often asked: Is Allah God? Is Allah the
God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ? Many opinions abound. Some
have said Allah is simply God - the same God of the Bible as He is known in
the Arabic language. Some say he cannot possibly be; they say they do not
know who he is, but that they are sure he is not the same God of the Bible.
Some say he is indeed a mighty god, but not the Almighty God. Yet some are
of the opinion that there are two Allahs. They say that Allah of the Arab and
Hausa Christians is different from the Allah of the Muslims in these same
areas. According to them, while the Allah of the Arab Christians is God, the
Allah of the Muslims is not. But if he is not, who is he?58
18
Moshay's main contention is that Allah is not the God of the Bible. In fact, he
goes so far as to say that Allah is demon:
I thank God for this serious observation and comment. It has served to
reinforce my convictions on the spirit behind Islam. But there is still a question
whether indeed it is one god that is worshipped in Islam... There is no
monotheism in heathenism. Probably the right word should be monolatry.
One cannot serve Satan and not have relationship with demons. In fact, most
operations and interactions in the occult and Christless religions are more with
these demonic spirits than Satan himself. 59
We, however, take the position of Massignon and Cragg that Allah (the Arabic
name of God) is the God of Israel, the God of Jesus. If we look at the themes
that are stressed in the Qur’an in order to identify God, we will realize that
God is presented as the sole divinity in relation to man, one in his nature and
the only One who is worthy to be worshiped; He is eternal. In its document
Vatican II Council, the authority of the Catholic Church, aware of the Islamic
belief in one God, presents its point of view.
Vatican II Council first refers to Jews and Muslims when it says those who have
not yet received the Gospel are related to the people of God in various ways.
Vatican II Council adds that Muslims adore the one, merciful God.60 We proceed
to examine Vatican II Council in some documents.
From its point of view about dialogue between Christians and Muslims, the
Catholic Church presents two documents in which we notice an
acknowledgement of monotheism in Islam. The first is the Dogmatic
Constitution on the Church (Lumen Gentium No. 16). It says:
But the plan of salvation also includes those who acknowledge the creation, in
the first place amongst whom are the Muslims: these profess to hold the faith
of Abraham, and together with us they adore the one, merciful God, mankind's
judge on the last day. It goes without saying that the Catholic Church places
Islam as the first monotheistic religion outside the biblical revelation because it
affirms broadly that Muslims and Christians worship the same living God as
unique and mankind's judge on the last day.61
The second text, longer than the first, stresses the same idea but more strongly.
In its Declaration on the Relation of the Church to non-Christian Religions (Nostra
Aetate No.3), the Catholic Church says:
The Church has also a high regard for the Muslims. They worship God, who is
one, living and subsistent, merciful and almighty, the creator of heaven and
earth, who has spoken to man. They strive to submit themselves without
reserve to the hidden decrees of God, just as Abraham submitted himself to
God's plan, to whose faith Muslims eagerly link their own.
19
In this document, the Catholic Church affirms once more that belief in one God
and his worship are the foundation of Islam. Even Christians believe in one
God in three persons; Christians and Muslims worship the same God in
different ways.
Should I doubt Islamic monotheism? No. Muslims adore the supreme God in
their context, language and practice. There is only one supreme God called
YHWH in Hebrew, Allah in Arabic, God in English, Dieu in French, Olúwa in
Yoruba, Nzambi in Kikongo. After studying a little of the Qur’an, the period of
Muhammad's lifetime and a few centuries after his death, I can say that the
God worshipped by Muslims is one, unique and Creator of the universe,
despite their life of honouring Him. Even if some Christians still doubt Islamic
monotheism, I do not complain much because a time will come when they will
believe that Allah in whom Muslims believe, is one, All-Mighty, Most
Gracious, Most Merciful, Master of the day of Judgement.
Other Aspects of Islamic Monotheism
Islamic monotheism has some negative aspects that drive some people into
doubt. Here, I intend to present one I have found very important and relevant
to the topic under discussion. Despite its meaning and absoluteness, Islamic
monotheism has a very serious deficiency. For instance, many Muslims believe
that this unique God calls them to fight or discriminate against unbelievers in
order to make them believers. E. Tyan has said that jihad in Islam is a duty
which is imposed upon the community considered as a whole and which only
becomes obligatory for each individual according to the purpose envisaged by
the law.62 The Qur’an has many calls for a holy war (2:186; 8:15; 22:40; 9:13-14).
Sura 9:13-14 has this recommendation:
Will ye not fight a people who broke their oaths and aimed at the expulsion of
the Messenger, and they attacked you first? Do you fear them? But Allah has
more right that you should fear Him, if you are believers. Fight them; Allah
will chastise them at your hands and bring them to disgrace, and assist you
against them and relieve the hearts of a believing people.
Besides, in some sects in the Islamic world, jihad is considered the sixth pillar
after shahada, salat, zakat, sawm and hajj. Taking into account these cases, jihad
becomes an end and not a means. But these practices do not basically change
Islamic monotheism. We keep saying that Islam is a monotheistic religion and
Muslims believe in God who is one and unique. Meanwhile, we should know
that there is a big difference between faith and its practice. The negative aspect
of Islamic monotheism lies in the practice of their belief and sometimes in its
development. In fact, the Islamic view of God's unity will be different from that
of Christianity because their practices and development are different.
20
Conclusion
Our discourse in this paper has dealt with the content and the meaning of
Muslim belief in one God. We stated from the outset that the formula la ilah illa
Allah, Muhammad Rasul Allah, is not only the most concise summary of this
belief but the modus operandi of the whole Muslim life. We highlighted the
following points: First, Muslims believe in one God, secondly, although
Muhammad claimed to have received from God, it has a long history that
should not be ignored, thirdly all aspects of Muslim life turns around this
belief, fourthly this belief affirms certain truths and negates some others, fifthly
the belief agrees with some tenets of Christianity and contradicts others(e.g.:
Fatherhood and Trinity.
We, therefore, recommend that Christians should understand it even when it is
said in Arabic because it the key to the entire Muslim faith and life. Muslims
should know its meaning and implications in order to cut down whatever is
not fitting to build the world which is becoming more and more pluralistic, for
religion should make us good, wise and holy.
End notes
1 Cf. Ignaz Goldzher, Introduction to Islamic Theology and Law (Translated by Andras and Ruth
Hamori) (New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1981), 67-68.
2Robert
Caspar, "The Permanent Signification of Islam's Monotheism," in Concilium. Religion in
the Eighties (Edinburgh: T. and T. Clark Ltd, 1985), 67-78.
3Philip
Hitti, History of the Arabs, from the Earliest Times to the Present, 9th ed. (London:
Macmillan, 1968), 87.
4P.M. Holt (ed.), The Cambridge History of Islam, vol. 1, The Central Islamic Lands, (Cambridge:
University Press, 1970), 5.
5Carl
Brockelman, History of the Islamic Peoples (New York: Capricorn Books), 1960), 582.
6Philip
Hitti K., 15.
7Cf. Philip Hitti, "Arabia" in The Encyclopaedia Americana, vol. 1. (New York: Americana
Corporation, 1927).
8Montgomery
Watt, What is Islam (London: Longman, 1968), 23.
9H.A.R.
Gibb, Islam. A Historical Survey (London: University Press, 1975), 1.
10Philip
Hitti, 103.
11Muhammad
Husayn, The life of Muhammad (Lagos: Academy Press, 1982), 20.
12Robert Caspar, Traité de théologie musulmane. Histoire de pensée religieuse musulmane (Rome:
P.I.S.A.I, 1987), 7.
21
13Philip
14.
Hitti, 100.
Cf. A.R. Gibb, Shorter Encyclopaedia of Islam (New York: Cornell University Press, 1961).
15James,
E.O., Comparative Religion (London: Metheun, 1961), 203.
16Arthur
Hertzberg, Judaism (New York: George Braziller, 1962), 256.
20Arthur
Jeffery, Islam, Muhammad and his Religion (New York: The Liberal Arts Press, 1958), 47.
21Cf.
The Encyclopaedia of Islam, vol.1 “On Allah” (London: Luzac and Co., 1960).
22Kenneth
23The
Cragg, The Mind of the Qur'an. Chapters in Reflection (London: George Allen, 1973), 13.
Encyclopaedia of Islam, vol.1 “On Allah” (London: Luzac and Co., 1960).
24Montgomery
25Ibid.,
Watt, Companion to the Qur'an (London: George Allen, 1967), 13-14.
14.
26Cf.
The Encyclopaedia of Islam, vol.1 “On Allah” (London: Luzac and Co, 1960).
27Cf.
Régis Blachère, Le Coran (Paris: P.U.F, 1966), 32-62.
28Rahman
Doi, The Cardinal Principles of Islam (Lagos: Islamic Publication Bureau, 1972), 38.
29Robert
Caspar, "The Permanent Significance of Islam's Monotheism," in Concilium,
(Edinburgh: T and T. Clark Ltd., 1985), 67-68.
30Ibid.,
68.
31Kenneth
Cragg, 63.
32Abd-al-Rahmân
Azzam, The Eternal Message of Muhammad, (New York: America Library,
1965), 53.
33H.A.R.
Gibb and J.H. Kramers, Shorter Encyclopaedia of Islam “On Allah” (New York: Cornell
University Press, 1961).
34Kenneth
35Wilfred
Cragg, 130.
Cantwell Smith, On Understanding Islam. Selected Studies (Paris: Monton Publishers,
1981), 33.
36Cf.
suras 2:225; 27:60-64; 6:101; 90:14.
37Montgomery
Watt, Companion to the Qur’an (London: George Allen, 1967), 245.
22
38Ibid.,
245.
39Kenneth
Cragg, 132.
40Joseph
Kenny, Muslim Theology as Presented by M. b. Yusuf As-Sanusi Especially in his Al-`aqida
Al-Wustâ (PhD thesis, University of Edinburgh, 1970), 109.
41Joseph Kenny, Muhammad and the Rise of Islam. A Critical Presentation of the Background and
Major Muslim Sources (Ibadan: Dominican Publications, 1992), 25.
42Régis
Blachère, Le Coran (Paris: G.P. Maisonneuve, 1966). Sura 53, 19-20: "Avez-vous
considéré al-Lat et al-`Uzza et Manat, cette troisième autre? Ce sont les sublimes déesses et
leur intercession est certes souhaitée”
43Muhammad
Zafrulla Khan, Islam. Its Meaning for Modern.man vol.7 (New York: Harper, 1962),
93.
44Jacques
45Ibid.
Jomier, How to Understand Islam (London: SCM Press Ltd, 1989), 40.
69.
46Ibid.
47Kenneth
48Robert
Cragg, 132.
Caspar, 71.
49`Abd-al-Rahmân
Azzam, 56.
50Joseph
Kenny, La philosophie du monde Arabe. Auteurs et thèmes principaux (Kinshasa: F.C.K.,
1994), 32. Comme une variation de la shahâda, n'importe quel attribut de Dieu ou nom de Dieu
peut être remplacé par "ilâha". Par exemple, "personne n'est fort (qadîr) sauf Dieu". La
théologie ash'arite avait utilisé de tels énoncés pour soutenir son enseignement cardinal selon
lequel il n'y a aucun pouvoir dans la nature; ou pour être exact, la nature, comme principe
d'action, n'existe pas. Seul Dieu agit directement à tout instant à l'occasion de la conjonction de
ce qui apparaît être une cause et un effet.
51Ibid., 35. Le prochain pas dans le processus logique serait de nier la validité d'une éthique
philosophique. Si le monde naturel n'a aucune conduite régulière qui lui est propre, nous ne
pouvons pas considérer la nature humaine et dire que quelque chose est bon ou mauvais pour
elle, parce que tout cela dépend de la libre décision de Dieu.
52Jacques
53Ibid.,
Jomier, 105-108.
103.
54Muhammad
55Jacques
`Abdul, The Theology of Unity (London: George Allen, 1966), 51.
Jomier, 109.
56Giulio
Basselti-Sani, Louis Massignon (1883-1962), Christian Ecumenist, Prophet of Inter-religious
Reconciliation (Chicago: Franciscan Herald Press, 1974), 262.
23
57Kenneth
58G.
Cragg, The Call of the Minaret (New York: Orbis Books, 1985), 30.
Moshay, Who is this Allah? (Ibadan: Fireliners International, 1987), 9.
59Ibid.,
130.
60Vatican
61Robert
62Cf.
II Council, Lumen Gentium, 16.
Caspar, Traité de théologie musulmane, 84.
Robert Caspar, 7.
24