Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Reflections on La ilaha ill Allah

Reflections on La ilaha ill Allah

In the name of Allāh, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful;
All the praise and Thanks is due to Allāh, the Lord of al-‘ālameen. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allāh, and that Muhammad, Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam is His Messenger.

"That is Allah, your Lord! There is no god but He, the creator of all things: Then worship you Him: and He has power to dispose of all affairs." (Al-An'am, 6:102)

Although all practicing Muslims repeat the Shahadah many times every day, only few understand its profound meaning, and appreciate its implications. For example, how many Muslims understand why the Shahadah uses the negative form - La ilaha ha ill Allah (There is no Ilah except Allah), instead of the affirmative form - Allah is one; and why did the Qur'anic revelations stress this concept for the thirteen years which the Prophet (Sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam)  spent in Makkah before migrating to Medinah?

To help us in understanding the answer to these questions, and in better appreciating the implications of La ilaha ill Allah, the Qur'an provides us with the following two facts:

All the prophets and messengers of Allah were principally teaching the same thing: La Ilaha ill Allah:

My people! Worship Allah! You have no other god but Him (Al-A’raf 7:65);This is precisely what Noah said; Hud declared (Al-A’raf 7:65); and Salih affirmed (Al-A’raf 7:73). Shuib gave the same message (Al-A’raf 7:85). The same doctrine was repeated and confirmed by Prophets Moses, Isa, and Mohammad (Sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam):

"Say; Truly I am a warner: no god is there but Allah, the One, Supreme, and Irresistible." (Az-Zumar, 38:65)

"Say: Verily, I am commanded to serve Allah, and follow with sincere devotion his deen." (Az-Zumar, 39:11)

Many of the unbelievers who opposed the prophets did not deny the existence of Allah, nor was that He the sole creator of heavens and earth; and of human beings.

If you were to question them, "Who created the heavens and earth?" they would be sure to reply, "they were created by (Him), the exalted in power, full of knowledge ". (Al-Zukhruf, 43:9)

"If you ask them, who created them, they will certainly say, Allah: how then are they deluded away from the truth)?" (Al-Zukhruf, 43:87)

The Muslim scholar Abul A'la Maududi explains La ilaha ill Allah by using four basic terms from the Qur'an: Ilah, Rabb, Ibadah, and deen (see the table below). The four words, and their derivatives, are repeated many times in the Qur'an; the word Ilah (147 times), Rabb (975 times), Ibadah (275 times), and Deen (94 times). The word deen is an all encompassing concept dealing with life as an integrated whole. It is not restricted to the so called "religious" observances, practices, and rituals.

In the light of these four basic terms, La ilaha ill Allah means:

Allah is our Rabb and our Ilah; there is no Rabb and no Ilah except He. To Him alone we perform Ibadah; and only His Deen we adopt and sincerely follow.

In the light of this definition, it is clear that the whole dispute between the unbelievers and the Prophets centered around the uncompromising demand of the prophets that the unbelievers should recognize the very being whom they acknowledged as their creator, as their Rabb and Ilah (as defined in the table) , and should assign this position to none else.

There are many important consequences for appreciating the full meaning and implications of La ilaha ill Allah, including the following three:

i. Absolute freedom of the human conscience from servitude to, or subjection by, anyone or anything; and realization that one's life, livelihood, and sustenance are all in the hands of Allah and Allah alone.

ii. The natural urge for making ibadah to an ilah will be directed towards the true Ilah (Allah), rather than towards one or more false ilahs (false gods), whether they be humans, or material things.

iii.Following the true Deen of Allah gives a sense of direction, and a meaning to one's life in the present world, and leads to success in the Hereafter.

We pray to Almighty Allah to help us in appreciating the meaning and implications of La ilaha ill Allah, and in translating its meaning in our daily lives. Amin , Amin, Ya Rabbal'alamin.

Four terms needed to understand La ilaha ill Allah.

1. Ilah:

i. Deity, God

ii. One to be worshipped

iii. One who has power to satisfy your needs and answer your prayer

iv. One who is in control of your affairs

v. One who can comfort you; provide protection and support for you

2. Rabb:

i. Lord, Master and owner

ii. Sustainer, provider and guardian

iii. Sovereign, ruler and administrator

3. 'Ibabah:

i.Worship and devotion

ii. Submission and obedience

iii. Subjection and servitude

4. Deen:

i. Ideology

ii. Government and constitution

iii. Complete system (way of life)

Allah is the Rabb and the Ilah. There is no Rabb and no Ilah except He. To Him Alone we perform ‘Ibadah. Only His Deen we adopt and sincerely follow.

And Allāh Almighty Knows best.

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