The basis of faith in pure monotheism is expressed in the belief in the One and only God of transcendent perfection. Aside from the inherent knowledge of God we are all born with, we can only know about God and our relationship to Him through the message He sent to His final Messenger Muhammad whose character and numerous miracles attest to the truth of his message.
So we can only be sure about our faith through the knowledge attained from the Book of God (the Qur’an) and the established tradition (the Sunnah) of His final Prophet. A Muslim uses his mind as a guide because sound logic and faith go hand-in-hand. Knowledge is essential since learning gives one a strong foundation and dispels doubt.
One and Only
The Qur’an is the exact words of God Himself which he sent to be the final code of guidance for humanity. Throughout the Qur’an, God teaches us about himself. He teaches us that He is the One and Only God Who created everything and it is to Him that we will all be held accountable.
Therefore, nothing should be worshipped besides Him. He is infinite and eternal with no faults or weaknesses. He is Exalted, Perfect and Flawless. His attributes are without flaw and are unchanging.
He is not bound by time, space or matter as we know it. In relation to us, He is the Most High above His great throne which He created above the heavens which encompasses the heavens and the universe, yet He is also closer to us than our jugular vein and is with us wherever we may be.
God does not resemble any of His creations. He is without limitations. He does not resemble anything man sees in the universe or anything he can imagine since imagination is part of the creation. He is inconceivable to man. He is as He says He is in a manner that suits His perfection and majesty only truly known by Him. These points are all clarified in the 114 chapters of the Qur’an:
Say, He is the One God. God is the eternally depended upon while He is self-dependent. He does not beget nor is He begotten. And nothing in existence is similar to Him. (Al-Ikhlas 112:1-4)
God- There is no deity except Him, The Ever-Living Sustainer of all existence. Neither does he tire nor does He sleep. Everything in the Heavens and the Earth belongs to Him. Who can intercede except by His permission? He knows what is presently before them and He knows what will come after them. They (all intelligent life forms) don’t encompass one bit of His knowledge except for what He wills.
His throne of majesty extends over the heavens and the universe. And preserving them doesn’t tire Him in the least bit. He is the Most High and Most great. (Al-Baqarah 2:255)
God’s Relationship to Man
(An exegesis of the first chapter of the Qur’an)
The first and most important thing in describing God’s relationship with man is His abundant Mercy. He begins His book of guidance (the Qur’an) and “the mother of supplications” which Muslims repeat at least 17 times daily:
1- “In the Name of the One God, The Source of Mercy to all, the especially Merciful (to his servants)”. (Al-Fatihah 1:1)
He also says “My mercy encompasses everything”. (Al-A`raf 7:156)
This mercy and compassion is clearly apparent to anyone. God has created existence with such perfection and beauty and then subjected it all to the service of man:
Do you not see that God has subjected to you everything in the heavens and the earth. (Luqman 31:20)
The vegetation gives us oxygen, the precipitation cycle gives life to the land, the inland (where people are) water is sweet and good to drink while the ocean water is salty, sweet refreshing fruits and healthy vegetables for vitamins and minerals, many animals are good for meat and their skins for many other uses, trees and metals for building materials, the day so that we may see while we carry out our work and the night which is cool and dark that we may get rest, and the list goes on and on.
So the first action a person should begin with after recognizing the countless blessings and mercy upon them is to show thanks and gratitude to Almighty God and serve Him as well as trying to increase our love for Him and His love for us. This is illustrated in the second verse of the Qur’an and second part of the supplication said by Muslims many times a day-
2- “(Say) All Praises and thanks go to Almighty God, Lord of the Universe.” (Al-Fatihah 1:2)
So in gratitude and awe of their Creator and His incomprehensible greatness, one must seek to know Him and His will for them. So God emphasizes His characteristic of mercy in teaching us the most important part of His relation to us-
3- “The Source of Mercy to all, the especially Merciful (to his servants)”. (Al-Fatihah 1:3)
After clarifying that, God reminds us that life is a test and that we are all accountable to Him.
4- “Sovereign of the Day of Judgment”. (Al-Fatihah 1:4)
This verse signifies that there is an ultimate accountability for our choices in life and that God is the One to Whom we are accountable. So we must take account of ourselves and do our best to learn what His will is for us, that we may implement it and earn his love and satisfaction with us.
5- “Only you do we worship and in only You do we seek help” (Al-Fatihah 1:5) is the natural reaction we should have after realizing that everything around us is a blessing provided to us by our Merciful Creator who has given us our own intelligent life as a test of loyalty.
If we choose to have ultimate loyalty to other than Him, then we have made a clear treachery and strayed from our purpose in life which is to nurture our love for our Creator by humble submission to His will for us.
Now that we have directed our complete devotion and trust in God alone all that is left is to know exactly what He wants from us. He teaches us the most important question that anyone could ask of Him. We ask Him-
6- “Guide us to the straight path” (Al-Fatihah 1:6)
People can supplicate God as much as they want and for many different things, but if they do not know and therefore follow His divine will for them, then they will be lost. God teaches us to be clear in the most elementary form of the word-
7- “The path of those whom you have favored and not the path of those who have evoked your anger or of those who have gone astray.” (Al-Fatihah 1:7)
The Prophet taught us that the meaning of “those who God has favored” is those who worship Him alone and follow His guidance without innovation in matters of religion.
On the other hand, “those who have evoked His anger” are generally those who are ungrateful to Him by denying His existence, rejecting any of His Prophets, or not even seeking His guidance relying on themselves and basically worshipping themselves as they decide for themselves (by their own will) what is right and what is wrong and how should they live their life.
”Those who have gone astray” are generally those who believe in God who created them and they wish to be close to him, but they unknowingly associate others with him in divinity and worship.
This could be because they were born into some religion and the pure message of God was not available. This group is only lacking the pure guidance of God Almighty and statistics show from this group millions of reverts are coming to Islam every year across the globe.
The article is an excerpt from the author’s book “The Foundations of Islamic Faith”, Islam Presentation Committee (IPC), Kuwait (2008).