Tawhid is a transforming concept that constitutes the essence of the teachings of Islam. It means that there is only one supreme Lord of the universe. He is omnipotent, omnipresent and the sustainer of the world and of mankind.
Now can one observe the inexhaustible creativity of nature, its purposefulness, its preservation of that which is morally useful and destruction of that which is socially injurious, and yet fail to draw the conclusion that behind nature there is an all-pervading mind of whose incessant creative activity the processes of nature are but outward manifestations? The stars scattered through infinite space, the vast panorama of nature with its charm and beauty, the regular waxing and waning of the moon, the astonishing harmony of the seasons - all of these point towards one fact: there is a God. We witness a superbly flawless plan in the universe - can it be without a planner? We see great enchanting beauty and harmony in its working can they be without a creator? We observe wonderful design in nature can't be without a designer? We feel a lofty purpose in physical and human existence - can it be without a will working behind it? We find that the universe is like a superbly written, fascinating book - can it be without an author? Truly, God said:
O, Mankind: worship your Lord, Who created you and those before you, so that you may ward off evil; Who has made the earth a resting place for you, the sky a canopy and Who causes water to pour down from the heavens, thereby producing fruits as food for you. So do not set up rivals to God, when you know better. (Quran 2:21-22)
This is the basic tenet to which Muhammad asked humanity to adhere. It is an important metaphysical concept and answers the riddles of the universe. It points to the supremacy of law in the cosmos and the all-pervading unity behind the manifest diversity. It presents a unified view of the world and offers the vision of an integrated universe. It is a mighty contrast to the piecemeal views of the scientists and the philosophers and unveils the truth before the human eye. After centuries of groping in the dark, man is now coming to realize the truth of this concept, and modern scientific thought is moving in this direction.
But it is not merely a metaphysical concept: it is a dynamic belief and a revolutionary doctrine. It means that all men are the creatures of one God and that they are therefore all equal. Any discrimination based on color, class, race, or territory is unfounded and illusory. It is a remnant of the days of ignorance that chained men down to servitude. Humanity is one single family under God, and there can be no sanction for those barriers. Men are one - and not bourgeois or proletarian, white or black, Aryan or non-Aryan, westerner or easterner. Islam gives us a revolutionary concept of the unity of mankind. The Prophet came to unite humanity on the word of God, which says:
Cling firmly together by means of God's rope, and do not be divided. Remember God's favor towards you when you were enemies; He united your hearts so that you became brothers because of His favor. (Quran 3:103)
This concept also defines the true position of man in the universe. It says that God is the Creator and the Sovereign, while man is His vicegerent on the earth. This exalts man to the noble and dignified position of being God's deputy on earth and endows his life with a lofty purpose: to fulfill the will of God on earth. This will solve all the perplexing problems of human society and establish a new order wherein equity and justice, as well as peace and prosperity, will reign supreme.
The starting point of Islam is the belief in the oneness of God (tawhid).
Excerpted from Islam Basic Principles & Characteristics by Professor Khurshid Ahmad
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