INDIAN FESTIVALS : The Seal of Muhammad
By Dr. Rafiq Zakaria
Ramzan eid
The first fundamental of the faith begins with the declaration: “There is no god but God.” It is both negative and positive. Negative because it signifies the renunciation by its believer of any other deity; positive because it asserts that “Your God is One”.

Unlike Judaism and Christianity, the pivot around which Islam revolves is not its Prophet, but God whose revelations are contained in the Quran, which was transmitted from time to time by Allah to Muhammad Ibn Abd Allah (570-632). Its Word bristles with the burning fervour of the unity and oneness of God. The first fundamental of the faith begins with the declaration: “There is no god but God.” It is both negative and positive. Negative because it signifies the renunciation by its believer of any other deity; positive because it asserts that “Your God is One”. Jews and Christians right from the inception of Islam have tried to sidetrack its cardinal belief and misrepresented the religion as the handiwork of an Arab upstart whose sayings were alleged to comprise the Quran. They denounced him as a devil, a debauch, a man possessed, a neurotic, an epileptic. His mission was never accepted as divinely inspired; his teachings were deliberately called “Muhammadanism” despite the fact that the Quran again and again stressed that Muhammad was no more than a conveyor of what God, in His infinite wisdom, had commanded him to say and do. This is made explicit in the Quran asking Muhammad to explain to the people:

I am a man like you,
I have been honoured by God
To be the receiver of His Revelations
And to proclaim the oneness of God. (surah XVIII, verse 110)

But Muhammad’s Jewish and Christian detractors ridiculed the divine source of the Quran and distorted its basic structure which was built on the belief in the unity of God. The truth is that no one propagated so unreservedly the creed of monotheism as Muhammad. The Quran dilates upon it in chapter after chapter. In surah Baqara there is a verse which so epitomizes this and in such moving terms that Muslims wear it round their neck, clasping it to their breast, as reverently as the Christians wear the cross. It is named aayatul kursi, or the “Throne Verse” and is believed to work as a panacea to ward off evil:

There is no god but God.
He is the Living,
The Eternal, the Ever-subsisting.
No slumber can seize Him
For He is always awake.
To Him belong heavens and earth.
There is none who can intercede
Except by His leave and pleasure.
He knows all about creation
What came before and after.
Everything unknown to His creatures
Is known to their Creator.
They shall never comprehend
The extent of His knowledge
Save as He wills it.
His throne extends from the heavens to the earth.
And He guards it untiringly
And preserves it with all His might
For He is the Highest and the Sublimest. (surah II, verse 255)

The oneness of God is stressed in the Quran quite frequently so that the believers remain steadfast in their conviction about it; surah al-Anam declares:

God is your Lord,
There is no other.
He has created everything.
Hence worship Him,
For He alone has the power
To deal with all affairs. (surah VI, verse 102)

The Quran also warns the believers that God sent prophets to every people, in every land, in different ages, to assert His oneness and to convey in their respective languages, His message to pursue the truth and be virtuous; surah Ibrahim reveals:

We sent apostles everywhere
To teach people in their language
Things to be made clear,
So that they may not go astray.
Those who obey, God blesses them.
He guides only those whom He pleases,
For He is, indeed, Exalted and All-Wise. (surah XIV, verse 4)

The believers are also told to honour all these apostles, because each of them preached the unity of God; in surah al-Anbiya it has been made clear by God:

No messenger did We send
Before you, O Muhammad,
Who did not assert
That I alone am the Lord
To be worshipped and served. (surah XXI, verse 25)

Of the many surahs in the Quran which glorify the oneness of God, the most categorical and assertive is surah al-lkhlas:

Proclaim to all
God is one,
He is the only one.
He is the Eternal.
He is the Absolute;
He has begotten none.
And of none has He been begotten.
There is, indeed, none
To compare with Him. (surah CXII, verses 1-4)

Through the centuries that witnessed the spread of Islam in different parts of the world, colourful legends and fanciful myths have, no doubt, been woven around Muhammad, often as a reaction of the faithful to the denunciation of the prophet by his critics. This has happened despite the fact that there are many Quranic verses and a number of traditions which disapprove of any kind of adoration of the Prophet. Repeatedly Muhammad told his followers that he was like one of them, as human as they were. For instance, he once saw some palm-growers engaged in a particular kind of grafting and advised them against it. They followed his advice. This resulted in a considerable decline in yield. When the Prophet learnt about it, he told them:

“I am a mere human being. When I command you to do anything about your faith in God, accept it, but when I give my personal opinion about worldly things, bear in mind that I am a human being and no more.”

He incessantly warned his people against deifying him and prohibited any depiction of him whether in the form of a statue, portrait or sketch lest they started worshipping him instead of the one and only God, who has no associate. He also instructed them not to indulge in any rite or ceremony which would detract from their faith in the oneness of God, who could not be shared by any other deity, in human or any other representation.

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