Tawheed and Taqwa (Oneness of God and Piety)
Tawheed refers to Allah (Glorified and Exalted be He) being one and without any partner. He knows everything and His knowledge is without limit. He created us and to Him we return and to Him is our ultimate accountability. Acknowledging and internalising these facts leads to taqwa (piety).
The attributes of Allah (Glorified and Exalted be He) that we know of and the realities of life after death can be presented even to a child. The meanings and gravity of these matters then begin to unfold gradually through knowledge, life experience and reflection.
As we traverse through life, guided by moral values dictated by Islam, our conviction in tawheed and our application of taqwa is poised to increase. This is aided through intimate study of the Qur’an, tafsir, hadith, and also by paying heed to the advice of pious elders, sitting in their company, and observing and learning from them.
Applying taqwa and the knowledge of tawheed is a lifetime’s mission; yet it can be renewed daily with saying the testification of faith (shahada) frequently and the following statement every morning and evening.
رَضِيتُ بِاللَّهِ رَبًّا وَبِالإِسْلاَمِ دِينًا وَبِمُحَمَّدٍ نَبِيًّا
“Whoever says when he reaches the evening: ‘I am pleased with Allah as (my) Lord, with Islam as (my) religion, and with Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) as (my) Prophet,’ it is a duty upon Allah to please him.” [Tirmidhi]
As Imam al-Ghazzali says in his Ihya, there is no salvation without meeting with Allah. The only means to meet Him is to die in love with Him. Love is fruit of constant remembrance of the beloved and to work with that end in view. One can get acquainted with Him by constantly thinking of Him, His attributes, and His wonderful creations. Whoever wishes to make his scale heavy with good deeds, let him spend most of his time doing good deeds.
إِنَّ نَاشِئَةَ ٱلَّيۡلِ هِىَ أَشَدُّ وَطۡـًٔ۬ا وَأَقۡوَمُ قِيلاً / إِنَّ لَكَ فِى ٱلنَّہَارِ سَبۡحً۬ا طَوِيلاً۬ / وَٱذۡكُرِ ٱسۡمَ رَبِّكَ وَتَبَتَّلۡ إِلَيۡهِ تَبۡتِيلاً۬
“Indeed, the hours of the night are more effective for concurrence [of heart and tongue] and more suitable for words. Indeed, for you by day is prolonged occupation. And remember the name of your Lord and devote yourself to Him with [complete] devotion.”
Living with tawheed and taqwa entails accepting that Allah (Glorified and Exalted be He) alone knows what is best for us in every situation. We supplicate to Him with the following words:
رَبَّنَآ ءَاتِنَا فِى ٱلدُّنۡيَا حَسَنَةً۬ وَفِى ٱلۡأَخِرَةِ حَسَنَةً۬ وَقِنَا عَذَابَ ٱلنَّارِ
“Our Lord, give us in this world [that which is] good and in the Hereafter [that which is] good and protect us from the punishment of the Fire.”
The good of this world is not simply about material well-being. With regard to this world, it is quite possible that something that we perceive as good could actually be bad in the grand scheme of things, while something that we perceive as inconvenience or bad can actually be good for us in this world and/or the next.
A few verses away from the above supplication in the Qur’an, we see:
وَعَسَىٰٓ أَن تَكۡرَهُواْ شَيۡـًٔ۬ا وَهُوَ خَيۡرٌ۬ لَّڪُمۡۖ وَعَسَىٰٓ أَن تُحِبُّواْ شَيۡـًٔ۬ا وَهُوَ شَرٌّ۬ لَّكُمۡۗ وَٱللَّهُ يَعۡلَمُ وَأَنتُمۡ لَا تَعۡلَمُونَ
“But perhaps you hate a thing and it is good for you; and perhaps you love a thing and it is bad for you. And Allah Knows, while you know not.”
It is reported that Al-Hasan al-Basri said, “Do not resent the calamities that come and the disasters that occur, for perhaps in something that you dislike will be your salvation, and perhaps in something that you prefer will be your doom.”
Allah’s Messenger (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said, “Allah has ninety-nine Names, one-hundred less one; and he who memorized them all by heart will enter Paradise.” To count something means to know it by heart. [Sahih al-Bukhari]
“There is nothing (in the form of trouble) that comes to a believer even if it is the pricking of a thorn that there is decreed for him by Allah good or his sins are obliterated.” [Sahih Muslim]
It is reported that Ibn Taymiyyah said, “A calamity that makes you turn to Allah is better for you than a blessing which makes you forget the remembrance of Allah.”
One must keep in mind that our Lord is Arham ar-Raahimeen (the Most Merciful of all that show mercy). He is All-Knowing and Most Wise. So it is essential to relegate our plans and desires over to Him and trust His way of execution, for Allah is the Best of Planners. This is made possible by the firm conviction that He wants the best for us and our duty is to ensure that we obey Him and avoid disobeying Him.
Blessings and trials come in different forms at different times in a person’s life. Just as blessings can come in the disguise of trials, so can trials come disguised in the form of blessings. Wisdom is to know how to manage everything that one encounters in a manner that is pleasing to Allah (Glorified and Exalted be He).
Abu Hurairah narrated that the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said, “Indeed Allah Most High says, ‘I am as My slave thinks of Me, and I am with him when He calls upon Me.'” [Tirmidhi]
Therefore a firm believer has husn-ud-dhann billah (good opinion of Allah) and with that he remains at peace. One way of building up this automatic reaction of thinking well of Allah is to maintain a habit of constant gratitude. Coupled with this, one must develop humility in realising that our limited intellects cannot grasp the vast comprehensiveness of Allah’s plan.
It is reported that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said, “If you were to rely upon Allah with the reliance He is due, you would be given provision like the birds: They go out hungry in the morning and come back with full bellies in the evening.” [Sunan Ibn Majah]
Allah’s (Glorified and Exalted be He) attributes are infinite. He has infinite power, infinite knowledge, etc. When we say “subhan-Allah“, often translated as “glory be to Allah”, what we are really declaring is that He is free from imperfection. The Quran tells us that everything in the heavens and the earth glorifies Him.
The principle of cause and effect is widely agreed upon. Nothing happens by itself. Everything has a cause. Even one who does not believe in Allah will accept that there has to be a cause.
A person may reflect on the sequence of creation. For instance he may ponder upon the paper in front of him–where the paper came from, where the trees came from, where the sunlight came from, and so on and so forth, until he reaches a point of infinity. That point of infinity is Allah (Glorified and Exalted be He)–the Musabbabul Asbaab (cause of all causes).
Once a person reflects on the sequence of creation and accepts that there is an infinite entity that is beyond the comprehension of our limited intellect, he begins to understand that super-rationality exists and that miracles are possible. He accepts that miracles are not irrational or illogical, but rather that they are super-rational. They are rational but beyond our ability to explain them. The Arabic word for a miracle is “mu’jiza“. It indicates that it is something that humbles the human mind (makes it ajz).
We are not aware of the workings of infinity. Allah (Glorified and Exalted be He) can do what millions of people collaborating together cannot do. He can do things in millions of different ways. He can hear billions of people at the same time. He has no limitations.
Our minds, on the other hand, are finite. We can only see and grasp to a limited extent. We have limitations in every aspect of our lives and we tend to judge the whole universe based on those finite terms.