Al-Baqarah · Juz 2 · Qur'an Tafseer

Understanding Tawheed – the Oneness of Allah

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In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful

Tafseer Al-Baqarah Ayaat 163-164

In the previous ayaat, Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala informed us that He has chosen us the best nation. This best nation has some responsibilities which is to guide others to the Right Path. But before we take the message to others we need tarbiyah [personal development]. The tarbiyah begins with the lesson of Tawheed – belief in the Oneness of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala. If our belief is incorrect then no good deed will benefit us. Therefore, this is the fundamental principle of Islam.

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Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala is the only diety. He has no partners or equals. He is Allah, the One and Only, the Sustainer, and there is no deity worthy of worship except Him. He is the Most Gracious – Ar-Rahman, the Most Merciful – Ar-Raheem.  

Shahr bin Hawshab reported that Asma bint Yazeed bin As-Sakan radhiAllahu ‘anha narrated that Allah’s Messenger salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said:

اسْمُ اللهِ الْأَعْظَمُ فِي هَاتَيْنِ الآيَتَيْنِ

Allah’s Greatest Name is contained in these two ayaat (2: 163 and 3: 2).

وَإِلَـهُكُمْ إِلَـهٌ وَحِدٌ لاَّ إِلَـهَ إِلاَّ هُوَ الرَّحْمَـنُ الرَّحِيمُ

“And your Ilah [God] is One Ilah [God – Allah], La ilaha illa Huwa [there is none who has the right to be worshipped but He], the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.” [Al-Baqarah 2: 163]

And,

 ٱللَّهُ لَآ إِلَـٰهَ إِلَّا هُوَ ٱلْحَىُّ ٱلْقَيُّومُ

“Alif-Lam-Meem. Allah! La ilaha illa Huwa [none has the right to be worshipped but He], Al-Haiyul-Qaiyum [the Ever Living, the One Who sustains and protects all that exists].” [Aal-Imran 3: 2]

Tawheed is a cardinal principle of Muslim faith – a summary of this principle is as below:

1. Allah, He is One in the state of His being – there exists no entity like Him. He is without any duplicate or replica and without any equal or parallel. Such unshared and pristine is His station that He alone is deserving of being called the Wahid, the One.

2. He is One in claiming the right of being worshipped, that is, in view of the nature of His Being, the comprehensiveness of His most perfect attributes and the great charisma of His creation and its nurture; all human obedience all ‘ibadah and all worship has to be for Him alone.

3. He is One in being free of any conceivable composition. He is free of segments and fragments, units and organs, substances and elements, atoms and particles. There is just no way He can be analyzed or divided or resolved.

4. He is One in being the anterior and the posterior. He existed when nothing did and He will remain existing when nothing will. Who then, if not Him, shall be called the Wahid, the only One? (Al-Jasas)

The Proofs of Tawheed

When the Mushrikeen [idolaters] heard this ayah (2: 163), they were puzzled: How could there be only One deity? In ayah 164, Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala provides the proof for Tawheed.

“Verily, in the creation of the heavens and the earth…” the first proof is the creation of the heavens and the earth. The sky with its height, intricate design, vastness, erected without any pillars that we could see; the heavenly objects in orbit; and this earth, with its density, its lowlands, mountains, seas, deserts, valleys, and other structures, and beneficial things, all remind us of the Creator.

“…and in the alternation of night and day…” when night leaves the day follows without any delay. As Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala said, in another ayah,

لاَ الشَّمْسُ يَنبَغِى لَهَآ أَن تدْرِكَ القَمَرَ وَلاَ الَّيْلُ سَابِقُ النَّهَارِ وَكُلٌّ فِى فَلَكٍ يَسْبَحُونَ

“It is not for the sun to overtake the moon, nor does the night outstrip the day. They all float, each in an orbit.” [Ya-Seen 36:40]

Who is managing this perfect system? How can one bypass the wonder of the creation of the heavens and the earth? Who can ignore the constant alternation of the night and the day? The message is simple and clear. Their origination and their perpetuity is the work of His perfect power alone and that there is absolutely no being other than Him who can take that credit.

“…and the ships which sail through the sea with that which is of use to mankind,” Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala shaped the sea such that it carries ships from one shore to another. The movement of boats on the surface of waters, is a formidable indicator of Allah’s power which gave water the property of lifting on its back ships carrying tons of weight all the way from the East to the West. The winds coordinate by the permission and wisdom of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala to move the ships to their destination, and with His wisdom, keeps changing their direction. These are great signs; they tell us that they were created and operated by a supreme being, the One who is All-Knowing, All-Aware, All-Wise. If the substance of water was not given a state in which the molecules move freely among themselves while remaining in one mass, a functional fluidity in other words, all this maritime activity would not be there. Even if this fluidity of sea-surface was there, help from winds was still needed in order to cover all those thousands of nautical miles across the seas of the world. The Qur’an has summarized the subject by saying:

“If He wills, He causes the wind to cease, then they would become motionless on the back (of the sea).” [Ash-Shuraa 42:33]

Then comes the marvel of water descending from the sky, drop by drop, released in a measure and manner that it hurts nothing, “…and the water (rain) which Allah sends down from the sky and makes the earth alive therewith after its death.” If it always came in the form of a flood, nothing would have survived. Then, the raining of water is not all; it is the storage of water on earth that baffles the human ingenuity. Imagine if everyone was asked to store for personal use a quota of water for six month, how would everyone manage that? Even if such an impossible storage was somehow done, how could it be made to remain potable and hygienic all this time? Allah Almighty, in His infinite mercy, took care of this too. SubhanAllah!

In Surah Al-Muminoon, it appears, “And We sent down from the sky water (rain) in (due) measure, and We gave it lodging in the earth, and verily, We are Able to take it away.” (23:18)

But, He did not allow this to happen. For the inhabitants of the earth, human and animal, water was stored in ponds and lakes openly. Then, the same water was lowered into the earth under the mountains and valleys in the form of a network of hidden pipelines of water accessible to everyone taking the trouble of digging and finding water. Furthermore, is it not that a huge sea of ice was stored out on top of the mountain ranges which is secure against spoilage and melts out slowly reaching all over the world through nature’s own water lines?

“…and the moving (living) creatures of all kinds that He has scattered therein,” meaning, in various shapes, colors, uses and sizes, whether small or large. Allah knows all of that, sustains it, and nothing is concealed from Him.

“…and in the veering of winds…” sometimes, the wind brings mercy and sometimes torment. Sometimes it brings the good news of the clouds that follow it, sometimes it leads the clouds, herding them, scattering them or directing them. Sometimes, the wind comes from the north (the northern wind), and sometimes from the south, sometimes from the east, and sometimes from the west. Similarly, the clouds work. They move as Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala permits them.

لآيَـتٍ لِّقَوْمٍ يَعْقِلُونَ

“…are indeed Ayaat for people of understanding.”

Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala says while the signs of His Oneness can be widely witnessed, only those can grasp them who are the people of understanding – meaning those who don’t spend their time on earth like a cattle, moving without a purpose, but by those who reflect on things and use their mind.

[Becoming One of Allah’s Special People]

LESSONS:

– We should reflect on the creation of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala and acknowledge His Magnificence. We enjoy a variety of produce and seasons, different types of flowers and trees; we see different shades of the sky, but fail to thank Him. We should make a conscious effort to not only take pleasure but also appreciate His artistry.

– When it rains we should ask Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala for beneficial rain and seek protection from the one that brings destruction. Rain is a blessing of Allah that brings food. Plant seeds before light rain and see how quickly they sprout. When it rain everything is washed off of its dirt and glistens. This is not possible by a regular water sprinkler. 

– When doing sea travel, remember Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala. With Whose permission is the ship sailing calmly over water? Remember and thank Allah abundantly.

– Reflecting on the creation is an intellectual activity. Do not underestimate it. Many people have dedicated their lives in studying different species and weather patterns. While that is not required of us, we must at least appreciate the One Who created them.

– We should have no doubts about the Oneness of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala. Were there more gods would there have such organization and discipline in the universe as we see now? No, it was not possible. The universe itself is the proof of Tawheed.

DOWNLOAD PDF: Tafseer Al-Baqarah Ayaat 163 – 164

رَبَّنَا تَقَبَّلْ مِنَّا ۖ إِنَّكَ أَنتَ السَّمِيعُ الْعَلِيم
“Our Lord, accept [this] from us. Indeed You are the All-Hearing, the All-Knowing.” [Al-Baqarah 2: 127]
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