REL 241 23rd February, 2015
Islamic Perspective of Belief
Belief in the Islamic tradition is referred to as the result of a choice. This choice implicates embracing, understanding, and following the central idea of the religion: al-Islam, which means “surrender”, and the harmony and concord that emanates from our surrender to God. Islam says that our commitment must be complete not limited; it implies not only internal but also external submission to God. In this essay, I would like to explain importance of belief in the Islamic religion, by presenting the fundamentals of belief, and their indispensable relationship with surrender.
There are two key ingredients to get the reward to an eternal life in presence of God: believing in and surrendering to God. But one may ask: Why believe and surrender to One being? What does surrender to the One involve? Who is that One? All these questions have an answer. The One God, Allah, is the central reality of Islam in all of its facets. The word Allah is composed of “Al” which means “the,” and “ilah” which means “god”. The corroboration of this oneness is the nucleus of the Islam and, from the Muslim perspective, of every authentic religion.
But the oneness of God is not the only creed. According to the Qur’an there are five elements Muslims have to believe in: God, angels, prophets, the scriptures, and the hereafter. There is another concept that is not explicitly stated in the scripture, which is also considered part of the articles of faith: Destiny. These have been condensed in three fundamentals of belief: “There is no god but God,” “Muhammad is the messenger of God,” and the belief in an life after death.
The first fundament of belief is the more complex one. There is one term, which explains the concept of oneness and therefore a big part of what surrender of God signifies: Tawhid. Tawhid is translated as “unity” and “oneness” which, in this case, are not synonyms. The notion of Divine Oneness or ahadiyya explains how everything is connected to God. The best way of understanding this notion is to give an example. For instance, think about genes and how they determine our traits. They are the set of instructions for what a baby would be like. On the other hand, if one stops and thinks about this carefully, one understands how genes are not intelligent. They have to be programmed by someone else which points to the existence of a higher being. Genes, chromosomes, and DNA are all elements that are part of the plan of someone who knows everything related to the baby and the universe the baby exists in. He is the one who programs the genes. The genes are just the recipe, but God is the “chef-author” who writes and executes the recipe. Furthermore, the Divine Unity or wahadiyya relates to the thought that the creator of the one is the creator of the whole. This term explains the interconnection of all the elements of the world. That the one who created the genes is also the same one who created the food that the baby is going to eat once born and the one who gives the mother the capacity to take care of the baby. Tawhid, in short, refers to the beings in the world displaying knowledge, wisdom, care, and power, but all these qualities coming from One Source. Understanding, embracing, and believing that “There is no god but God” is the concept upon which the religion of Islam has been built. Surrendering to God involves recognizing Tawhid and being at peace, embracing, and not resenting this supremacy.
However, surrender is not as easy as it seems. True surrender, as Nasr says in his book titled The Heart of Islam, “must involve our whole being” (Nasr 8). In order to do so you cannot believe blindly because your parents, family, or society tells you to. One needs to use reason, intellect and evidence to question, investigate, and to get involved…