Maulana Wahiduddin Khan I Discover Islam
Monotheism means to believe in one God; to believe in the fact that all power lies in the hand of one God alone; that He alone deserves to be worshipped. No act in the nature of worship is lawful unless directed towards God. It is God alone who fulfils all our needs. It is God alone who is behind the functioning of the entire universe. Superiority is the prerogative of the one and only God. No one enjoys real superiority in this world. All such concepts are false which associate anyone or anything with any of the aspects of God’s sovereignty. The concept of God has been stated in the following verses of the Quran:
“God: there is no deity save Him, the Living, the Eternal One. Neither slumber nor sleep overtakes Him. To Him belong whatsoever is in the heavens and whatsoever is on the earth. Who can intercede with Him except by His permission? He knows all that is before them and all that is behind them. They can grasp only that part of His knowledge which He wills. His throne extends over the heavens and the earth; and their upholding does not weary Him. He is the Sublime, the Almighty One!” (2:255)
Worshipping God is to express reverence for one’s God and Creator, a Being who truly deserves to be held in awe. On the contrary, when man bows his head before anyone else, he exalts one who is no better than himself—and as such, has no right to be worshipped. Adoration of God glorifies Him, while worship of anything other than God degrades the worshipper. Veneration of God makes man a realist, while prostrating himself before a non-God turns him into a creature of superstition. Bowing to God opens the door to the realization of the truth, while the worship of something other than God closes this door in man's face.
The focus of a monotheist is only one, while idolatry has myriad objects of worship. That is why the centre of attention and worship of a monotheist is the one and only God. In all circumstances and throughout his entire life, he makes the one and the same God his all in all, but an idolater has no central point on which to focus. That is why shirk, that is, idolatry, is directed towards so many different things—the stars, the earth, man, the graves, the self, wealth, power, interests, children, etc. This entire practice, coming under the heading of worship of things other than God, has been openly condemned by the Quran.
A monotheist is one who accords the supreme status to the one and only God. He asks Him alone to meet his needs. He does obeisance before Him; he trusts Him implicitly and above all others, reserving for Him the supreme status in all respects. Worship is the ultimate stage in any relationship: that is why, whatever its form, it must have God as its object. Any gesture in the nature of adulation is not permissible except when meant for God.
When an individual makes God the object of his worship, he bows before an entity, which exists in reality. On the contrary, one who makes a non-God the object of his worship, bows before something which has no actual existence, even though he may have set up before him some material image of his ‘god.’ While the former has found the true source of power, the latter has simply associated himself with crass superstitious notions, which have no basis in logic. God’s worshippers are graced with eternal blessings; the worshippers of things other than God can expect nothing but eternal deprivation.