Monotheism, belief in one God, is the most important and foundational concept in Islam. Muslims believe in one God who created the universe and has power over everything within it. He is unique and exalted above everything He creates, and His greatness cannot be compared to His creation. Furthermore, He is the only one deserving of any worship and the ultimate purpose of all creation is to submit to Him. The Islamic understanding of God is distinct from all other religions and beliefs in various respects since it is based on a pure and clear understanding of monotheism.
Muslims refer to the God as Allah, Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa)! This is a universal name for God and does not refer to an exclusively ‘Islamic’ God. Interestingly, this name is related to the Aramaic and Hebrew names for God, Allaha and Elohim. Therefore, Allah is simply the Arabic name for God which affirms that Allah is name of One singular God with no partners or equals. The name Allah cannot be pluralized or limited to a specific gender, whereas God has plural like gods and another gender like goddess. Muslims use only this original Arabic name for God i.e. Allah, since it perfectly expresses His unique qualities.
Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) is the Creator and the Sustainer of the universe who created everything for a reason. Muslims believe that He created humankind with a simple purpose – to live like His servant. He sent Messengers to guide people in fulfilling this purpose. Some of these Messengers include Adam (Prophet Aadam, peace be upon him), Noah (Prophet Nooh, peace be upon him), Abraham (Prophet Ibrahim, peace be upon him), Moses (Prophet Moosaa, peace be upon him), Jesus (Prophet Eesaa, peace be upon him), and Prophet Muhammad (SallAllaho Alaihe WaSallam). They all taught a consistent message about Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) by affirming His greatness as the Creator and guiding people to obey Him in all aspects of life including worshipping Him alone. This basic concept has always resonated with people’s natural understanding about Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa).
When the Final Prophet, Hadhrat Muhammad (SallAllaho Alaihe WaSallam) was asked about Allah, the answer came directly from Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) in the Holy Book of Muslims, the Quraan:
قُلْ هُوَ اللَّهُ أَحَدٌoاللَّهُ الصَّمَدُoلَمْ يَلِدْ وَلَمْ يُولَدْoوَلَمْ يَكُنْ لَهُ كُفُوًا أَحَدٌ [الإخلاص: 1-4]
“Say, .The truth is that Allah is One. Allah is Besought of all, needing none. He neither begot anyone, nor was he begotten. And equal to Him has never been any one.” (Al-Ikhlaas 112:1-4)
This is a clear statement by Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) describing Himself to humanity without any room for confusion. Allah is One and is exalted above everything He creates and He is capable over all things.
Fully accepting the Monotheism is to accept that He is distinct from everything else. It would not suit Majesty and Glory to associate the limited attributes of His creation to Him because He is not restricted in any way, while His creation is. He is the First with no beginning and the Last with no end. Everything in the universe was created by His will. He is not confined by space or time and He is the only One who is in control and provides for His creation.
هُوَ اللَّهُ الَّذِي لَا إِلَهَ إِلَّا هُوَ عَالِمُ الْغَيْبِ وَالشَّهَادَةِ هُوَ الرَّحْمَنُ الرَّحِيمُOهُوَ اللَّهُ الَّذِي لَا إِلَهَ إِلَّا هُوَ الْمَلِكُ الْقُدُّوسُ السَّلَامُ الْمُؤْمِنُ الْمُهَيْمِنُ الْعَزِيزُ الْجَبَّارُ الْمُتَكَبِّرُ سُبْحَانَ اللَّهِ عَمَّا يُشْرِكُونَ Oهُوَ اللَّهُ الْخَالِقُ الْبَارِئُ الْمُصَوِّرُ لَهُ الْأَسْمَاءُ الْحُسْنَى يُسَبِّحُ لَهُ مَا فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ وَهُوَ الْعَزِيزُ الْحَكِيمُ [الحشر: 22-24]
“He is Allah, besides whom there is no god, the Knower of the unseen and the seen. He is All-Merciful, Very-Merciful. He is Allah, besides whom there is no god, the Sovereign, the Supreme-In-Holiness, the Safe (from all defects), the Giver-Of-Peace, the Guardian, the All-Mighty, the All-Repairer, the Sublime. Pure is Allah from what they associate with Him. He is Allah, the Creator, the Inventor, the Shaper. His are the Most Beautiful Names. His purity is proclaimed by all that is in the heavens and the earth, and He is the All-Mighty, the All-Wise.” (Al-Hashr 59:22-24)
اللَّهُ لَا إِلَهَ إِلَّا هُوَ الْحَيُّ الْقَيُّومُ لَا تَأْخُذُهُ سِنَةٌ وَلَا نَوْمٌ لَهُ مَا فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَمَا فِي الْأَرْضِ مَنْ ذَا الَّذِي يَشْفَعُ عِنْدَهُ إِلَّا بِإِذْنِهِ يَعْلَمُ مَا بَيْنَ أَيْدِيهِمْ وَمَا خَلْفَهُمْ وَلَا يُحِيطُونَ بِشَيْءٍ مِنْ عِلْمِهِ إِلَّا بِمَا شَاءَ وَسِعَ كُرْسِيُّهُ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضَ وَلَا يَئُودُهُ حِفْظُهُمَا وَهُوَ الْعَلِيُّ الْعَظِيمُ [البقرة: 255]
“Allah: There is no god but He, the Living, the All-Sustaining. Neither dozing overtakes Him nor sleep. To Him belongs all that is in the heavens and all that is on the earth. Who can intercede with Him without His permission? He knows what is before them and what is behind them; while they encompass nothing of His knowledge, except what He wills. His Kursiyy (Chair) extends to the Heavens and to the Earth, and it does not weary Him to look after them. He is the All-High, the Supreme.” (Al-Baqarah 2:255)
The primary pillar of Islamic belief clearly states that there is nothing worthy of worship except Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa). Associating partners with Him or attributing qualities of lesser beings to Him is considered to be the greatest sin in Islam.
In the past, this often took the form of idol worship or praying to multiple lesser Deities. Although this is less common now, the current era has replaced many of the physical ‘idols’ of the past with other contemporary ‘Deities.’ Many people today allow passions like entertainment, drugs, relationships or material objects to become the center of their lives. They become so consumed with these things that they submit to whatever will allow them to fulfill their desires. For example, if a drug addict allows their addiction to control their actions, beliefs, feelings, and behaviors, causing them to risk their personal safety and the safety of others, that drug has essentially become their god. Likewise, if another person puts a loved one before Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) by obeying that person even if that causes them to transgress against Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa)’s commands, their loved one has taken precedence over Him.
Islam teaches that people should completely submit only to Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) as He is the only One worthy of their worship. He is the Creator and Sustainer of the universe and everything in it belongs to Him. The Quraan points out the faulty thinking of those who worship other than Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa):
قَالَ أَتَعْبُدُونَ مَا تَنْحِتُونَ Oوَاللَّهُ خَلَقَكُمْ وَمَا تَعْمَلُونَ [الصافات: 95-96]
“Do you worship what is carved by yourselves, while Allah has created you and what you make?” (As-Saaffaat 37:95-96)