Islamic Faith & Practice

By Maulana Manzoor Naumani

Existence Of GOD

At the very outset, is should be understood clearly that the entire structure of the Islamic faith and Shariat ( Holy Law ) is built upon the teachings of the sacred Prophet ( Peace be upon him ) . These teachings are, in their turn, comprised exclusively of the knowledge and commands revealed to the Prophet by God, and are preserved to this day in their pristine purity in the Quran and the Tradition.

Broadly, the tenets of Islam can be divided into two parts, belief and practice. The first part consists of truths we are incapable of knowing independently and on our own. To believe in them is an essential condition of the faith. Constituting as they do, the doctrinal part of Islam, their importance is fundamental. In the second part are included practical instructions regarding human life and behaviour the dos and don'ts of individual and social existence-and it is further split up into a number of sub-divisions like worship, morality, social conduct, rights and duties, culture and civilization, support and propagation of religion, and politicsand Government. Islam, by virtue of its being a complete code of life, takes a due note of all the different aspects of our existence.

Belief, in the special terminology of Islam, means to believe in the Prophets of God as such, that is, to acknowledge that for our guidance God had vouchsafed to them knowledge that was beyond the range of our intelligence and nderstanding, and, on the basis of it, to affirm what was communicated to us by them as from God, and to accept religion brought by them as Divine religion. Thus, it is indispensable for the faithful that he holds as true all the things the Prophets have taught to mankind in their capacity as Divine messengers. By rejecting even one of them hewill cease to be a believer. For instance, if a person says that he believes in Prophet Muhammad ( Peace be upon him ) and the oneness of God and in his glorious Attributes as revealed in the Quran and the Traditions, but does not agree with what the Prophet has taught about the last day and Heaven and Hell because his reason revolts against it, he cannot be a Muslim.

In fine, to believe, in the religious sense, means to affirm in its entirety what the Prophets have brought from God, to accept and repose one's complete faith in all that they have taught, preached or revealed in obedience to the Divine call and inspiration.

Among the basic requisites of faith there are some which appertain to truths like the nature of God and his Attributes, and others that are related to matters like the Prophet, the angels and the last day. We will take the former first because of the greater importance they command.

Belief in the existence of God as the creator, protector and preserver of the universe is the pivot on which the entire world of Faith revolves. History as well as the scriptures and other religious documents all over the world denote that faith in God has existed everywhere from the earliest days. This much has been accepted in common by all peoples and at all times that the world was brought into being by some power which was above all else. Perhaps it is for this reason that while in the Quran concepts like Divine unity are elaborated upon in the context of the teachings of the Prophets that were raised up from time to time in various communities, there is no indication that these Holy messengers took any particular pains to convince their people of the existence of God in itself. The Quran, too, has adopted, more or less, the same attitudein this respect. It is full of teachings regarding the Oneness of God and his other Attributes, but it makes no special effort to prove his existence or to persuade mankind to believe that there is a God and unless human nature undergoes a complete metamorphosis it should be as easy and natural for man to believe in the Existence of God as, let us say, in his own existence. In fact, even in these materialistic times, in the western contries themselves which are the citadels of materialism, the number of people who do not believe. In Russia, too, where atheism is being pushed forward so Zealously by the ruling party as a matter of official policy the atheists are in a minority. It should, however, not be inferred from the above that the question of God-existence has been left severely alone by the Quran.Our object in drawing attention to it was only to show that since the existence of God was so manifestly self-evident and belief in it so deeply ingrained in the human nature, the Quran had not bestowed upon it as much attention as on other matters connected with Divinity, but had largely confined it who could think and understand. For example, take this verse:

"It is God who causeth the seed-grain and the date-stone to split and sprout. He causeth the living to issue from the dead, and he is the one to cause the dead to issue from the living. That is God : then how are ye deluded away from the truth." (Quran : Inam,12 )

Here, the Quran makes use of a familiar, everyday, phenomenon of nature-the germination and sprouting of the seed-to bring home the reality of the existence of God. It says that people constantly see that the seed-grain or date-stone is first buried under the earth, then it bursts and sends forth a tiny, slender shoot which pierces the earth and coms out on the surface to develop gradually into a full-grown plant or tree, as the case may be. The point for them to ponder over is whether all this the splitting of the seed under the earth according to a set design, its sprouting and the forcing of its way by the sprout, which is more delicate than a silken thread, through the hard layer of the earth_happens by itself or in response to a Master will. TheQuran tells that it is God who does it all_ " It is God who caused the seed-grain and the date-stone to split and sprout " and goes on to add that, in the same way, it is a common sight that the living things produce dead eggs instead of living young ones and from the eggs the young ones are hatched out. All these happenings bear witness to the glory of God. If, in spite of such clear evidences of his infinite power, any one does still not believe in God, he must, indeed, be blind.Or,take this verse:

"On the earth are signs for those of assured faith, as also in your own selves; will ye then not see? "(Quran:Zariyat,1)

The signs of God are scattered all over the earth and the skies for those who care to see. In fact, man himself is a vast wonder house of Divine workmanship. Let him think who chiselled his features in the mother's womb? Who gave him the eyes with which he sees, the ears with which he hears, the tongue with which he tastes and the nose with which he smells? Who gave him the faculty of speech? Who released the streams of milk from his mother's breast? Who controls his life and his death in the palm of his hand? Let him address these questions to himself and the answers will be that it all is the work of a Hidden, All powerful, Omniscient Agency, which is God. At another place, the Quran speaks in this wonderful, challenging manner:

"Is there a doubt about God, the Creator of the Heavens and the earth? " (Quran : Ibrahim, 2 )

That is, can anyone who lives on the earth and observes all that takes place on it and also sees the skies and the strange things they contain really be skeptical about the existence of the Creator of them all? Once I chanced to meet a person who had his doubts about the existence of God and wanted to have a discussion on them. I took out a piece of paper from my pocket and asked him would be believe if I said that the words appearing on it had not been written by anyone but had spring up by themselves. He replied that he would not. Again, I asked him what would his reaction be if I were to say that my watch or fountain pen had never known a manufacturer, having come up simply from nowhere or fallen into my lap straight from the blue, or that the motor car that was running on the road was without a driver and was avoiding collision, negotiating bends and moving along the right direction on its own judgment? He said that he would consider it all to be downright nonsense. I then said to him, " My friend, you are unwilling to believe that the words could get written of their own accord or the watch, the fountain pen and the motor car could came into being without a manufacture; then, how can you suppose that the sun and the moon which are functioning according to a set plan, and, what is still more amazing, the man himself with his mind and heart and eyes and ears and tongue came into existence, independently of a creator? Just as you cannot imagine otherwise than that what is written on the piece of paper has taken someone to write it or that the watch and the fountain pen are the handiwork of a manufacturer or that the motor car has been produced in a factory and it is running on the road, it is being driven by somebody, it is also plain and beyond dispute that this universe with all its sights and wonders, treasures and inhabitants, has not grown of itself but has been called into creation by an All-Wise, All-Knowing, Omnipotent Being. To entertain a doubt about it or to make it a subject of controversy is to give proof of a diseased soul and a perverted mentality ".

In brief, the existence of God is not a matter of opinion. There can be no two views on it. It is both foolish and dangerous to make it an issue of theoretical disputations. It will simply complicate what actually is a very simple matter and lead to confusion and error. That is why, I believe, the Quran has in the main, taken it for granted and avoided a detailed discussion on it. Belief in God is grounded in the nature of man. It is rooted deep in his soul. Hence, the fact that atheism could never make much headway in the world; it could never engulf a substantial portion of humanity; and even those who profess to be atheists, the case often is that when a probe is made the spark of faith is found concealed in some corner of their hearts. But, with the concept of Divine unity it is different. It has been the undoing of many a people. In view of the extreme delicacy of the doctrine, all the Prophets have attached the greatest importance to it and made it the chief theme of their teachings.

In the Holy Quran and the Traditions of the Prophet ( Peace be upon him ) specially, it has received the greatest attention. To appreciate fully the approach of the Quran and the traditions to Monotheism and the manner of their elucidation of it, it is advisable to bear in mind that only those fall a victim to the folly of ascribing plurality to God, who do not possess a full awareness of his attributes. People with a clear understanding of the Divine Attributes seldom succumb to the ignorance of polytheism. For instance, the preserver and the Sustained, He alone grants children and deals out life and death, health and sickness, poverty and richesing short, whatever happens in the world is at his bidding and of his doing : all are dependent on Him, he is dependent on no one-will naturally neither worship anyone besides the one God nor turn to him in the hour of one's need, nor will he ever seek to propitiate his good or avert his displeasure. Thus, one of the methods followed in the Quran and the traditions for explaining the creed of Monotheism and impressing it on the mind and the heart is to make known emphatically and in detail the characteristics of Divinity so that people may realise for themselves that when such is the majesty of God and so absolutely boundless His authority, no one but he can be worthy of worship and veneration. A striking instance of it is provided by Sura-i-Fatiha, First, the humble slaves are made to say:

"Praise be to God, the Cherisher and Sustainer of the World, Most Gracious, Most Merciful, Ruler of the Day of Judgement."

Then, after having affirmed these Attributes of the Divine, they are called upon to declare:

"Thee do we worship and thine aid we seek." ( That is, when God alone is the Cherisher and the Sustainer, and the Dispenser of our needs, and he is most Gracious, Most Merciful too, and togather with these beautiful, elegant qualities, he is also the Omnipotent, Almighty ruler who will deal out reward and punishment in the after-life, surely, He is the one we shall worship and to him exclusively shall we supplicate for our needs ).

At another place, as in Ayat-el-Kursi a more direct method has been made use of. The oneness of God is proclaimed as a positive, incontrovertible truth in the very beginning and it is declared that he alone is the supreme being, the Adored and the worshipped One, and then His Attributes are cited by way of proof and argument, the section of the Quran we have just indicated opens with these words, " God; There is no God except He"; it then, Proceeds to extol the Divine Attributes and to applaud the Divine Glory in the Following manner : "The Living. The Self-Subsisting, Eternal". ( His life alone is his, the others are alive by his grace: their lives are transient : His eternal self is sustaining and preserving the universe); "No slumber can seize Him, nor sleep", (He is wide awake always, and there is not a moment when someone may beseech him for a thing and He may be in slumber or fast asleep); " His are all things in the Heavens and on earth" (He is the sole, absolute monarch of all that exists); " Who is there can intercede in His presence except as He permiteth? " (No one can dare interpose with him for anyone except whome He allows); "He knoweth what (appeareth to His creatures as) Before or after or behind; nor shall they compass aught of his knowledge except as He willeth, : ( His knowledge is infinite : He knows what is apparent of His creatures as well as what is hidden: they, in fact, can know of nothing besides what he wills); and, finally, "His throne doth extend over the Heavens and the earth, and He feeleth no fatigue in guarding and preserving them for he is most high, the Supreme (in Glory).

In the same way, in Sura-i-Akhlas, the oneness of God is proclaimed at the outset: " Say : He is God, the One and only God:, and then such of his Attributes are set forth on knowing which a person himself arrives at the same conclusion : " The Eternal Absolute " ( he is without want nor does He stand in need of anyone while everyone is in need of him); " He begeteth not, nor is he begotten and is none like him". This brief discussion was intended to open the way for an understanding of Monotheism and of the Quranic approach to it. A further point of vital importance in this context is that there is a degree of belief in Divine unity which is shared by a large number of polytheists as well, but in the eyes of Quran it is not enough. Many a Polytheist is found to admit that the creator of the Heavens and the earth and all that exists between them is but a single being; it is not that some things have been created by one power and the others by another. The Quran tells that this belief was cherished by the polytheists of pre-Islamic Arabia as well.With a slight variation of words it occurs repeatedly in it that if they ( the Polytheists of pre-Islamic Arabia ) were asked who was the creator of the universe they would say that it was God. If, indeed, thou ask them who has created the Heavens and the earth, and subjected the sun and the moon (to His Law), they will soon reply, "God".And not only that. They would even go further and admit that He was also the Dispenser of the World's workshop, the Cherisher and Sustainer, and the Owner of Life and Death. Thus, in Sura-i-Yunus we read:

Say: "Who is it that sustains you (in life) from the sky and the earth: Or who is it that has power over hearing and sight? And who is it that brings out the living from the dead and dead from the living: And who is it that rules and regulates all affairs? " They will soon say, "God".Where, then, did their fault lie? The Quran says that with all their faith in Divine unity and Omnipotence, they supposed that whom they adored as deities had acquired a hand in the management of the world by virtu of the closeness of their association with the Almighty. They could, for instance, confer, if they liked, anything upon anyone or take it away from him, they could bestow riches on the poor and decree poverty for the rich, they could heal the sick, grant childless, and, so on. Consequently, They worshipped them, made their vows and oblations to they did all sorts of things for their appeasement to them, supplicated to them for their needs and circumambulated round their images. Therein lay their infidelity of the limits of true Monotheism. Such, indeed, has been the case with the majority of Polytheists everywhere. There have been very few among them who might have gone to the extent of attributing a colleague or partner to God in the creation and control of the universe. As far as we are aware, no polytheistic community has ever regarded its deities as co-equals of the Divine. About the polytheists of ancient Arabia, there is, as we have already seen, a clear evidence in the Quran to support our view. It says of them for instance on more than one occasion that when their boats were caught in a storm at the sea, and they were in danger of their lives, they at once forgot their deities and cried out only to God for help.

When distress seizes you at sea, you forget those that ye call upon-besides himself. (Quran : Bani Israel, 7 ) When a wave covers them like the canopy (of clouds), they call to God, offering him sincere devotion. (Quran : Luqman, 4 ) The prayer these Polytheists used to recite at the time of their paganish Haj also tells the same story. Its closing lines, as reproduced in the books of Traditions,read : " O God, here we are ; Thou hast no partner except those that are subservient to Thee. Thou art their Master ; they are the masters of none". ! In whatever way, the transgression of the Arab Polytheists was not that they venerated their deities as creators or sustainers or raised them, in any other sense, to a status of equality with the Almighty, but that, side by side with believing in him as the Omn-ipotent Being, they imagined that the deities also had a share in the exercise of Divine Power on account of their nearness to God, as a result of it, they idolized them and paid them religious homage. Since most of the polytheistic communities have been prone to err, more or less, similarly, the Quran has taken care to draw repeated attention to it.

"Yet have they taken, besides him, gods that can create nothing but are themselves created; that have no control of hurt or good to themselves ; nor can they control life nor death nor Resurrection."

(O Prophet) say ( to the Polytheists ); "Call upon other (gods) whom ye fancy besides God; they have no power, _not even the weight of an atom,-in the Heavens or on earth; no (sort of) share have they therein, nor is any of them a helper of God. (Quran : Saba, 3 )

And, again:

(O Prophet) say ( to the Polytheists ); "Call on those_besides him_ whom ye fancy : they have neither the power to remove your troubles from you nor to change them". (Quran : Bani Israel, 6)

In the last section of Sura-i-Yunus there appears, further, this energetic oration:

(O Prophet) say: "Oh ye men! If you are in doubt as to my religion, (behold!) I worship not what ye worship, other then God, but I worship God_who will take your souls (at death) ; I am commanded to be (in the ranks) of the Believers"; and further (thus) : "Set thy face towards Religion with true piety and never in any wise be of non-believers; nor call on any other than God;_such will neither profit thee nor hurt thee: If thou dost, behold! thou shall certainly be of those who do wrong. If God to touch thee with hurt there is none can remove it but he : if He do design some benefit for thee there is none can keep back his favour: He causeth it to reach whomsoever of his servants He causeth it to reach whomsoever of his servants He pleaseth. And He is the Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful". (Quran : Yunus, II)

Besides these, there are numerous other verses in the Quran to the effect that one can be a polytheist without actually imputingplurality to God. Monotheism implies that God is unique and has no like or equal or parallel not only in His nature and existence but also in his authority and attributes. It is, as such, absolutely imperative that both in the rendering of religious homage and in the imploring of help and assistance, no one should be associated with Him in any measure or manner.

We shall now see what objects were which the polytheists venerated as Divine, believing in them as the suppliers of their wants and the dispensers of their difficulties. The common belief is that they were mere images of stone. But the images were not the real deities : the real deities were the elevated souls and the Holy men whom the images symbolised. The Quran has given the names of some of the idols and the history books confirm that there did live in the past saints and spiritual leaders who bore those names. When these sacred men died, people carved imags of them and began to offer them their devotion. The later generations, in course of time, were misled by the Devil into taking them them up for regular worship. Likewise, the idols of the Polytheistic Arabs were regraded by them as typifying or representing certain spiritual personalities and the homage they paid to them was, in fact, paid to those whom they represented, just as when the Hindus-worship the images of Ram or Krishna, they worship the personalities of Ram and Krishna and not their images.

The images serve as aids to concentration and are held in reverence because of it. Nearer home, some ignorant and erring Muslims offer up oblations to the Tazias and even hang petitions on them and carry out so many other practices which are common to the polytheists without presuming any divinity in those helpless structures of bamboo and paper. All that is done In the name of Imam Hussain whose martyrdom the Tazias are supposed to recall. Some extremists, however, do go to the extent of believing them to be the whole thing. In the way, some among the Arab polytheists were so very foolish as to regard the idols carve by their own hands as the arbiters of their destinies and offered reverent homage to them in that spirit. To such people the Quran said : " Worship ye that which ye have (Yourselves) carved? " (Quran : Saffat, 3 )And to those who did not to that extreme extent and worshipped certain real or imaginary spirits or spiritually exalted men as having control over gain and loss, and venerated the idols only as their symbols and the seats of their splendour, it addressed the following admonition:

"Verily those whom ye call upon besides God are servants like unto you." (Quran: A'raf, 24 )In, Sura-i-Bani Israel they were assured confidently, once again, that the spirits, saints and mystics whom they idolized and worshipped were themselves the humble seekers of charity at the doorstep of their Lord, desirous of means of access to Him.And living all the time in the hope of his Mercy and the fear of His Wrath:

Those whom they call upon do desire (for themselves) means of access to their Lord, _even those who are nearest, they hope for His Mercy and fear His Wrath. (Quran : Bani Israel, 6 )Viewed against the background of these teachings, is it not an extremely lamentable truth that many of the Muslims, too, have degenerated into entertaining an identical belief in respect of their Sufi-saints and bow to their graves and perpetrate other polytheistic sins in relation to them?

It may will be asked here that if the polytheists honestly believed in the Almighty, and had not doubts His being the true Creator, Protector and preserver of the universe and the Great Provider of the daily bread, why at all did they bother to venerate the false deities, whom they accredited with no more than subordinate and subsidiary powers, and to place their needs, before them? This question can be raised in connection with the polytheists of old as well as the present-day idolaters and the Tazia-and-tomb-worshipping Muslims, and we have given our earnest consideration to it. In our opinion the chief reason for this was (and still is) the feeling that to please God and get one's petitions granted by him was a very testing task; it requuired one conscientiously to carry out his commands, to abstain from deceit, falsehood and the usurpation of the rights of others, to shun all unclean and wicked things and to lead a life of piety. As a sub-conscious reaction to this feeling the polytheists deceived themselves into putting their faith, apart from God, in certain real or fictitious personalities, the winning of whose good graces was only a mattre of prostrating oneself before their graves or images or the offering up of a few pieces worth of sweets and flowers. This, to our mind, represents the psychology of polytheism in a nutshell. To rescue people from this highly ruinous state of mind and belief what needs be done to instil into them, sedulously and unflaggingly, the great truth, besides God, nothing is in the hand of anyone, neither life, nor death, nor disease, nor health, nor poverty, nor riches; He has the power over all things, He alone can confer, the whole world is His servant.

Say : "Oh God! Lord of power (and Rule). Thou givest Power to whom Thou pleasest, and Thou strippest off Power from whom Thou pleases: Thou enduest with honour whom Thou pleases, and Thou bringest low whom Thou Pleases : In Thy hand is all Good. Over all things Thou hast Power . Thou causest the night to gain on the Day, and Thou causest the day to gain on the night ; Thou bringest the Living out of the Dead, and Thou bringest the Dead, out of the Living, and givest sustenance to whom Thou pleases with out measure." (Quran : A'le-Imran.3)Or, take this one:

"In whose hands is the dominion of all things. " (Quran : Yasin, 5 )Or, this :" To Him belong the Keys of the Heavens and the Earth. " (Quran : Shura, 6)

Or, this:

" What God out of his Mercy doth bestow on mankind there is none can withhold : What He doth withhold, there is none can grant, apart from Him. "(Quran:Fatir,1)Such is the method of the Quran. Over and Over again it seeks to hammer into the minds of the polytheists that it is sheer nonsense and a folly of the first order to believe that there exists anyone other then God who can make or mar their fortunes or exercise control over their lives in any other way. It is a mere Satanic deception. God alone is the Ruler of the Heavens and the Earth, and in full command of hurt and good. So, it is solely to Him that they should supplicate and offer reverent devotion.

At this stage, there are two things that call for attention. Firstly, what worship is, to render which to anyone besides God constitutes an act of Polytheism? And, secondly, in this world of cause and effect there are many things we take recourse to in order to satisfy our needs, e.g., we drink water to quench our thirst, derive heat and light from the sun and take medicine to overcome illness; further, we go to various persons on various occassions to seek their help_we go to the doctor when we are ill and to the Lawyer when we are involved in a law-suit_and we take service from our servants; so also do the weak look to the strong and the poor to rich for succour; is this all also polytheistic? To take the second question first, as everyone knows, the things in which God has vested certain properties_the property of slaking thirst, in water, of giving forth light and warmth in fire and the sun, of curing diseases in medicines_have no choice, opinion, power, will or authority in the matter of their action. God has subjected them to our use. No question of polytheism arises, therefore, in availing ourselves of them.

Their position is equivalent to that of our servants and errandboys and when we put them to our use it is in no other way. Similarly, no harm attaches to our taking advantage of the services of men, like doctors and lawyers, whom God has endowed with any particular ability to be useful to their fellow-beings. We all know that there is no Divine or Heavenly power in them, they command nothing on their own and are as helpless before God as ourselves. All that there is to it is that they have been blessed with a certain type of knowledge or skill which can be of benefit to us in certain circumstances in this world of ours where all things have an apparent cause. Polytheism occurs when it is believed about someone that he operates outside the normal functioning of the forces of nature, in his own right and of his own will, and supplications are made and worship is offered to him on the basis of that belief. Worship in Islam denotes acts of reverence like bowing, kneeling, touching the ground with the forehead, circumambulations, vows, oblations and sacrifice one carries out to propitiate the good and avert the anger of someone about whom one believers that he is supernaturally in command of the power to do harm or good and to grant petitions.

Such reverences is due only to God. If it is offered in respect of anyone it is emphatically polytheistic. We have so far confined ourselves to and examination of true Polytheism about which it has been candidly stated in the Quran that it is a mortal sin and as highly fatal to salvation as the very denial of God and the Apostles. But, in the shariat, certain other things, such as, the swearing of an oath to anyone besides God, the putting of faith in the superstitious hocus-pocus, and vanity, that are exectly not polytheistic, but bear a close resemblance to polytheism, or pave the way for it, are also often denounced as such. These, however, constitute Polytheism of a lesser degree. That is why, there is a term among the Ulema (Muslim theologians)_'polytheism without being a polytheist'_meaning that one can be guilty of polytheism without actually being a polytheist. Some Holy men who have attained perfection of faith in Divine unity even go to the extent of regarding attachment to worldly things as a manifestation of polytheism.

With them, love for money, love for power, love for one's family_if it in any way interferes with man's devotion to God_are all basically polytheistic. But it does not mean that they bracket them with polytheism of the same class as idolatry. It only shows that these things run contrary to Monotheism in its highest sense. In modern time the cultural and intellectual influence of the West has, to a greater or lesser degree, succeeded in breaking the hold of ancient polytheism_thriving as it was wholly on superstition and ignorance_on the minds of the people.Now no educated person, with a capacity for independent thinking, finds any sense in the worship of idols, stars, rivers, trees and animals. He may still be carrying it on, but it is only by force of convention or as a part of his cultural heritage. In his heart, he has lost faith in it. At the same time, however, the West has sculptured a number of new idols and circulated them all over the world as substitutes for the older deities.

These new idols, which are now the objects of universal veneration, are the state, the national prestige, wealth, political power, and so forth. There is nothing objectionable, of course, in being loyal to one's country. It is a natural sentiment, and, within certain limits, Islam, too, has enjoined it. It is also perfectly legitimate to desire a decent and comfortable living for oneself provided that it is earned in a clean, honourable manner and witout encroaching upon the rights of others. The same applies to aspiring for political ascendancy. If the aims be pure, and the ideals high, like the promotion of peace and justice and the advancement of public welfare, there is no harm whatever in it. The Prophets never forbade such pursuits and activities. On the contrary, they have sanctioned them and laid down definite rules for our guidance with regard to them. But, now-a-days, these things have assumed an importance which is far in excess of what they deserve. They have been elevated into gods. The enhancement of national power and prestigehas become an article of faith with the modren world and nothing is permitted to stand in its way.

Truth, justice and morality are being sacrificed ruthlessly at the altars of the state and the nation. So also have the stomach and the pocket become the most popular objects of veneration. They are being worshipped as deities and are a law unto themselves. Religious and ethical obligations have lost all their meaning in the context of them. Worship of the state, nation, government and pocket and stomach is the new polytheism of the new age for which, too, there is no place in the Islamic pattern of things. To all the Polytheists, old or new, our answer is : " We are clear of you and of whatever ye worship besides God." (Quran:Mumtahana, 1 )At the root of all false and misconceived worship lies the worship of the self. To care nothing for the commands of God before our own selfish interests and sensual desires is the source of all evil. The biggest idols are own inordinate appetites.

I have observed about many present-day spiritual leaders of exceptional excellence that they lay a special stress on this aspect of the question while explaining the meaning of the Kalima. In their view, what La Ilah-a-Il-Allah basically demands of us is to conduct ourselves not according to the dictates of our will but according to dictates of God. In the Quran, also sensual desires and impulses have on an occasion been referred to as Ilah (meaning'God'). Seest thou such a person as taketh for his God his own passion (or impulse)? (Quran : Furqan, 4)It will, thus be seen that a person who obeys his wishes and inclinations to the disregrad of the Divine injunctions deifies his own 'self' and worships it instead of God. A tradition of the Prophet ( Peace be upon him ) reads. " Your deadliest enemy is your own 'self' which lies between your sides."

Let La Ilah-a-Il-Allah, then, be our instrument for the repudiation of all the things which may contain the remotest possibility of assuming to themselves the status of divinity, and for, guarding ourselves agains the least encroachment by polytheism in any from or manner ; let it be the means to the attainment of perfection by us in our belief in Monotheism because just as nothing is more repugnant to God than the ascribing of plurality to Him, faith in his unity, Oneness and uniqueness is the very life-breath of religion. Since Prophet Muhammad ( Peace be upon him ) is the last of the Prophets and no other Divine Apostle is going to be raised up after him, God has brought the concept of Monotheism to its highest degree of evolution and completion through him so that now it has become totally fortified even against a suspicion of contamination by polytheistic untruths. All the paths through which the devil could possibly bring them in have been firmly blocked. The greates danger in this connection was that like the Christians who had slipped into the folly of attributing Divinity to jesus, the Muslims might also be misguided into entertaining Polythesistic notions about the pesonality of the Prophet ( Peace be upon him ) . The Prophet, accordingly missed no opportunity to eliminate the possibility of it. He never tried of warning his followers against the evil and the imprudence of associating exaggerated feelings of respect and veneration with him.

He said : "Do not utter such exaggerated words of praise for me as the Christians do for the Prophet jesus, the sun of Mary. I am nothing more than a servant of God and His Apostle. So, call me only that." And : " Some communities before you had converted the graves of their Prophets into objects of worship. you must not do so Beware, I have warned you." In the same vein was the following prayer of the Prophet ( Peace be upon him ) . " O God ; Do not let my grave be made into an idol to which worship may be offered. " It is reported in the Traditions that some Companions of the Prophet happened to go to a foreign land where they saw that when the citizens went to their chief they prostrated themselves before them. On returning home they related their experience to the the Prophet ( Peace be upon him ) and begged his permission to do the same by him.

The Prophet ( Peace be upon him ) asked them, " Would you postrate yourselves before my grave after my death? " The Companions knowing full well that prostration before a grave could never be permissible in Islam promptly replied that they would not. The Prophet ( Peace be upon him ) then said, " When you know that I am a mere man and one day I will die and be buried in the grave after which even you will not consider me worthy of that reverence, why should you show it to me in my lifetime? " To a similar request by Salman of Persia, the Prophet ( Peace be upon him ) said, " (Then) don't prostrate yourself before me. Keep it for Him who can be touched neither by decay nor death " But Polytheism is a far cry. The Prophet ( Peace be upon him ) did never allow the Companions to stand up in his presence as a mark of respect to him. All these precautions were aimed solely to keep polytheism at arm's length from the Muslims. Typical, also, of the Prophet's prudent foresight and his earnest concern to make Islam safe for all time against polytheistic infiltrations is the following incident. It so happened that on the day the Prophet's infant son, Ibrahim, died their occured a total eclipse of the sun and it grew quite dark.

The Prophet feared that, under the influence of the former superstitious beliefs, people might be persuaded to think that the event was the outcome of the bereavement he had suffered. He, thereupon, summoned the Muslims immediately offering the Prayer prescribed for such an occasion, in which the virtues of God were extolled, addressed them in these words : " Surely, the sun and the moon are the two signs of Allah, and they do not suffer eclipse of the birth or death of anyone."

Every conceivable precaution has been taken by the Shariat against the creeping in of Polytheistic beliefs and practices into the body of the Islamic faith. As an example of it, Muslims are forbidden to offer Namaz at sunrise, mid-day and sunset so that there may be nothing in common between them and the fireworshippers in the mater of faith, even outwardly, and no misunder standing may arise, Further, kneeling and touching the ground with the forehead are an essential feature of the Namaz. No Namaz can be completed without them. Yet, they have been omitted from the funeral Namaz for the simple reason that the participants might not have an occasion to suppose that they were kneeling and prostrating themselves before the dead body. How utterly sad and shocking really is the victory of the Devil that Polytheistic modes of thought and behaviour, which have been the ruin of the earlier communities, are now stealing in among the followers of a religion that had taken such great pains to seal up all the passages they could enter by