Verses from Surah al-Mu’minun (91-98)

[91] Allah did not take to Himself any son102 and there never was any god with Him; else each god would have carried off what He created,103 and some of them would have risen against the others.104 Glory to Allah, above what they ascribe.105

Commentary

102. “The Arab polytheists of the time also claimed that their deities were God’s offspring” (Mawdudi).
 
103. “..implying that in such a hypothetical case (of several gods), each of the gods would have been concerned only with his own sector of creation, thus causing complete confusion in the universe” (Asad).
 
104. Ibn Rushd discusses the question of Allah’s Oneness in his Faith and Reason in Islam (which is a translation of three of his treatises, “Al-Kashf ‘anManahij al-Adillah fi `Aqa’id al-Milla, Fasl al-Maqaland Al-Damimah). He presents the Ash`ari method of argument, which happens to be the argument forwarded by most Muslim philosophers (mutakallimun) of the past and adopted by quite a few commentators including Ibn al-Qayyim (Badae`). In Ibn Rushd’s words, “(The Ash`arites maintain that] ‘If there were two [gods] or more, it would be possible for them to disagree, and if they disagree, their [disagreement] would involve only three alternatives: (1) either they would all accomplish what they desired, or (2) no one would attain what he desires, or (3) only one of them would accomplish what he desires but not the other.’ They add that it is impossible that none of them could accomplish what he desires, for if this were the case then the world neither be existing nor non-existing. Moreover, it is impossible for what they both want to come to be, for the world would then be existing and non-existing at the same time. Thus, the only alternative left is that what one of them wishes will be accomplished, while what the other desires will be thwarted. Accordingly, the one whose will is not fulfilled is impotent, and the impotent cannot be a god.”

However, Ibn Rushd finds the above method inadequate on philosophical grounds and offers his own argument. He writes: “… As for denying the divinity to any other than He, the religious method in this regard is the one that God Almighty has spoken of in His Precious Book in three verses. The first is the saying of the Almighty: ‘Were there in them both [heaven and earth] other gods than Allah, they would surely have been ruined.’ (21: 22) The second is the saying of the Almighty, ‘Allah did not take to Himself a child and there was never any god with Him; or else each god would have carried off what He created, and some of them would have risen against the others. Exalted be Allah above what they ascribe.’ (23: 91) The third is the saying of the Almighty, ‘Say, “If there were other gods with Him, as they say, then surely they would have sought access to the Lord of the Throne.”’ (17: 42)

“The meaning of the first verse is implanted in the instincts [of man] by nature. It is self-evident that if there are two kings, the actions of each one being the same as those of the other, it would not be possible [for them] to manage the same city, for there cannot result from agents of the same kind one and the same action. It follows necessarily that if they acted together, the city would be ruined, unless one of them acted while the other remained inactive, and this is incompatible with the attributes of divinity. When two actions of the same kind converge on one substratum, that substratum is corrupted necessarily. [This] is the meaning of the saying of the Almighty: ‘Were there in them both [heaven and earth] other gods than Allah, they would have surely been ruined.’” (Faith and Reason in Islam, p.39-41, tr. by Ibrahim Najjar, Oneworld Publications, Oxford, 2001).

Yusuf Ali summarizes the argument, “The multiplicity of gods is intellectually indefensible, considering the unity of Design and Purpose in His wonderful Universe.”

We might add here that apart from theory, the created world itself offers convincing proofs of Allah’s oneness. Two aspects may be noted. First: an amazing phenomenon is that in whatever direction the observatories are turned, they report back that the universe is more or less just the same all around; that is, there is an almost uniform pattern of distribution of stars, galaxies, nebulae and other cosmic material. Technically known as ‘homogeneity’ it has defied explanation. If the ‘Big Bang’ theory, including its Inflationary version, is correct, then how is homogeneity to be explained? The consequence of the Big Bang would have been that matter would be found unevenly distributed in space. Uniform distribution points to a Hand in its making. A second noteworthy phenomenon is that the whole observable universe is run by a single set of physical laws, which in fact can be reduced to the four fundamental Forces of Nature: the weak force, the strong force, the electromagnetic force and the gravitational force. If that had not been the case, we would not have been able to receive data from the cosmos, analyze it and form meaningful conclusions. Thus, the unity of the created world, and unity of laws lead to the unity of the Creator, or His Oneness (Au.).

105. “To suppose that Allah has a son or family or partners or companions is to have a low idea of Allah, Who is high above all such relationships. He is the One True God and there can be none to compare with Him” (Yusuf Ali).

[92] Knower of the Unseen and the seen, far above what they associate (with Him).

[93] Say, ‘My Lord! If you should show me that with which they are threatened,

[94] Then, my Lord! Place me not among the wrongdoing people.’106

Commentary

106. This, of course, does not mean that there was any danger that the Prophet (peace on him) would suffer the same fate as the evildoers if Allah’s chastisement descended. But, rather, the chastisement – if sent down – would be of such nature that even those who have no fear of it should better seek not to witness it. It also emphasizes, by allusion, to the notice of the believers, that when Allah’s punishment comes upon a people as retribution for their collective misdeeds, there is some likelihood of the righteous being affected by it (with a point from Alusi). Accordingly, one of the Prophet’s words of supplication – in Tirmidhi and Ahmad and trustworthy –runs on the same line. It says:

“If You wish to try a people (i.e., chastise them), then, take me back unto You untried” (Ibn Kathir).

Zamakhshari offers another explanation: One might supplicate to gain what one knows as sure to come from Allah, as well as seek His refuge from what he knows is not going to strike him, for reasons of obedience, humbleness – and offer readiness to submit to whatever comes. The Prophet used to seek Allah’s forgiveness seventy times during a session, not because he was a sinner, but to demonstrate his humbleness and self-abasement before the Creator. How nice Hassan’s comment on Abu Bakr’s statement who said when installed as a Khalifah, “I have been made in charge although I am not the best of you.” Hasan remarked, “Of course he knew that he was the best of them, but he was being humble.”

Yusuf Ali draws the obvious conclusion: “In other words, we must eschew the society of evil ones.”

[96] Repel the evil with that which is better.107 We are most knowing of what they attribute (to you).

Commentary

107. Ibn Abi Hatim and Abu Nu`aym (in his Hilyah) have recorded Anas as saying (in explanation of this verse): “If someone points out a defect in his brother, which he does not have, then let him say, ‘If what you say is untrue, then I pray to Allah that He forgive you. But if you are true then I seek from Allah that He forgive me’” (Alusi).

[97]And say, ‘My Lord! I seek refuge in You from the whisperings of the Satans.108

Commentary

108. “Hamaza” is to prod (or prick, which Ibn Abbas explained as suggestions, incitement from the Satans: Ibn al-Qayyim [Badaae`]). E.g., the iron piece that is fixed on to the heel of a shoe to prod the riding animal is called “mahmaaz.” Satans prod men to sin in a similar fashion (so that they jump to evil deeds) –Alusi. It has also been said, adds Ibn al-Qayyim, that “hamaza” refers to general Satanic suggestions or provocation, while “nafakha” (or “nafatha”) are for specific suggestions, i.e., suggestions to specific purposes. It may also be noted that evil can have Satanic as well as human sources. The previous verse instructs that human evil be thwarted by returning with what is better, whereas Allah’s help is to be sought for evils of Satanic origin.

Ibn Kathir adds:

Hence the Prophet’s Prayer-words,“O Allah I seek Your protection against Satan the outcast – from his urgings, suggestions, and blows.”

The hadith is in Ahmad which Hakim declared Sahih (Au.).

[98] And I seek refuge in You, my Lord, lest they should attend me.’109

Commentary

109. Accordingly, Jabir reported: I heard Allah’s Apostle (may peace be upon him) say: “Satan is present with everyone of you in everything he does. He is present even when a man eats. So if any one of you drops a mouthful he should remove away anything dirty and eat the rest and not leave it for the devil; and when he finishes (food) he should lick his fingers, for he does not know in what portion of his food the blessing lies.‏”

Ibn Kathir adds: The Prophet has, therefore, instructed us that we spell Allah’s name at the start of every act. One of his Prayer-words preserved by Abu Da’ud says:

“O Allah! I seek Your refuge from collapsing, I seek Your refuge from falling down (from a height), I seek Your refuge from drowning, burning, and extreme old age. I seek Your refuge that Shaytan should confuse me at the time of death, and I seek Your refuge that I should die fleeing from the battle field, and I seek Your refuge that I should die bitten.” (Ibn Kathir)

The above hadith is also found slightly differently worded in Al-Jami` as-Saghir of Suyuti, and is presumed to be of good strength (Au.).

Ibn Kathir also reproduces a report of Ahmad that says, “The Prophet used to teach us words of supplication that were to be said at bedtime if in a fearful state: “I seek refuge in Allah’s complete words from His anger, punishment, and from the evil of His bondsmen; and from the prompting of the Satans and that they should come near me.”

The reporter added, “`Abdullah ibn `Amr (b. al-`Aas) used to teach his mature children these words to be said at bedtime. As for those who were too young to say it meaningfully, he would write down for them on a piece of paper and hang it by their necks.”

This report is also in Abu Da’ud, Tirmidhi and Nasa’i. However, Tirmidhi gave the hadith a Hasan Gharib tag.

Muhammad b. `Abdul Rahman states that the report is declared Sahih by Hakim. (But, Hakim added the words that there is difference in opinion over the hadith: Au.).

Accordingly, Shah Abdul Haq has thought that wearing of amulets is allowed in Islam. But this is disputed. However, what is not disputed is that the use of amulets that have pagan words in them. They are outlawed (Tuhfah).

ShamsulHaqAzeemabadi notes that according to Jazari too, use of amulets is allowed although the matter is disputed. Nevertheless, Ahmad and others have few other reports which say that the Prophet taught these words for insomnia and other sleep disorders (`Awn al-Ma`bood). That is, a second set of reports do not have the statement about `Abdullah ibn `Amr having hung the words by the neck of the children.

(To be continued)