The Oneness of God (tawhid)

The most important belief held by Muslims is the belief in the oneness of God, known as tawhid.  It was this belief that formed the central part of what Muhammad said when he preached a return to the beliefs of Abraham.  The Arabic word for God is Allah (Al-lah or the God) and the word Allah has no plural.

As far as many Muslims are concerned, sura 112 from the Qur’an explains the whole of God’s nature.

In the name of Allah, the Gracious, the Merciful.

  1. Say, “He is Allah, the One.
  2. Allah, the Absolute.
  3. He begets not, nor was He begotten.
  4. And there is nothing comparable to Him.”

sura 112

If we look at this chapter closely, we can see that each section tells us a lot about beliefs about God.

Say, “He is Allah, the One.

This stresses that Allah is the God, meaning that there is no other.  This idea is then repeated by clearly stating that God is ‘the One’.  This phrase directly contrasts with the polytheistic beliefs that Muhammad was surrounded by repeatedly saying that there is just one God, rather than many.

Allah, the Absolute.

There are lots of ways of defining the word ‘absolute’.  It can mean complete; total; free from restriction or limitation; not restrained by anything; not mixed with anything else.  All of these can apply here, so ‘Absolute’ means that God’s existence is necessary as God does not depend on anything else for his existence, which means that God must exist and therefore that God cannot be changed or affected by anything.

He begets not, nor was He begotten.

Here the contrast is with Christian belief.  In Christianity, Jesus is believed to be the begotten Son of God which means that Jesus and God are made of the same substance.  For Muslims, this is unacceptable as this undermines the Oneness of God.  This verse makes it clear that there is nothing else that can be the same as God.

And there is nothing comparable to Him.

The idea that there is just one God is reinforced by this verse.  It warns against talking about God in human terms (this is known as anthropomorphism) by clearly stating that God is beyond human understanding.  It also makes clear that since nothing can compare to God, that God is higher than all other beings.

It is because of verses like these that the Shahadah, the basic statement of Muslim belief begins with the phrase, “There is no God but God”, meaning that there are no gods except God, that Allah is the one and only God.

 

Note:

There are occasions in the Qur’an where Allah refers to himself as ‘We’.  A similar pattern is seen in the Bible.  This does not imply that God is plural, but show importance and significance.  The Queen might refer to herself as ‘We’ using what we call ‘the royal We’.

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