Academic journal article Islamic Studies

A Common Word between Us and You*

Academic journal article Islamic Studies

A Common Word between Us and You*

Article excerpt

(ProQuest: ... denotes non-US-ASCII text omitted.)

In the Name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful. Call unto the way of thy Lord with wisdom and fair exhortation, and contend with them in the fairest way. Lo! thy Lord is Best Aware of him who strayeth from His way, and He is Best Aware of those who go aright.

(The Holy Qur'an, al-Nahl 16: 125)

(I) LOVE OF GOD

LOVE OF GOD IN ISLAM

The Testimonies of Faith

The central creed of Islam consists of the two testimonies of faith or Shahadahs,1 which state that: There is no god but God, Muhaammad is the Messenger of God. These two testimonies are the sine qua non of Islam. He or she who testifies to them is a Muslim; he or she who denies them is not a Muslim. Moreover, the Prophet Muhaammad ... said: The best remembrance is: 'There is no god but God'....2

The Best that All the Prophets have Said

Expanding on the best remembrance, the Prophet Muhaammad ... also said: The best that I have said-myself, and the Prophets that came before me-is: 'There is no god but God, He Alone, He hath no associate, His is the sovereignty and His is the praise and He hath power over all things.'3 The phrases which follow the First Testimony of faith are all from the Holy Qur'an; each describes a mode of love of God, and devotion to Him.

The words: He Alone, remind Muslims that their hearts4 must be devoted to God Alone, since God says in the Holy Qur'an: God hath not assigned unto any man two hearts within his body (al-Ahazab 33: 4). God is Absolute and therefore devotion to Him must be totally sincere.

The words: He hath no associate, remind Muslims that they must love God uniquely, without rivals within their souls, since God says in the Holy Qur'an: Yet there are men who take rivals unto God: they love them as they should love God. But those of faith are more intense in their love for God .... (al-Baqarah 2: 165). Indeed, [T]heir flesh and their hearts soften unto the remembrance of God .... (al-Zumar 39: 23).

The words: His is the sovereignty, remind Muslims that their minds or their understandings must be totally devoted to God, for the sovereignty is precisely everything in creation or existence and everything that the mind can know. And all is in God's Hand, since God says in the Holy Qur'an: Blessed is He in Whose Hand is the sovereignty, and, He is Able to do all things (al-Mulk 67: 1).

The words: His is the praise remind Muslims that they must be grateful to God and trust Him with all their sentiments and emotions. God says in the Holy Qur'an:

And if thou wert to ask them: Who created the heavens and the earth, and constrained the sun and the moon (to their appointed work)? they would say: God. How then are they turned away?/God maketh the provision wide for whom He will of His servants, and straiteneth it for whom (He will). Lo! God is Aware of all things./And if thou wert to ask them: Who causeth water to come down from the sky, and therewith reviveth the earth after its death? they verily would say: God. Say: Praise be to God! But most of them have no sense. (Al-'Ankabut 29: 61-63).5

For all these bounties and more, human beings must always be truly grateful:

God is He Who created the heavens and the earth, and causeth water to descend from the sky, thereby producing fruits as food for you, and maketh the ships to be of service unto you, that they may run upon the sea at His command, and hath made of service unto you the rivers;/And maketh the sun and the moon, constant in their courses, to be of service unto you, and hath made of service unto you the night and the day./ And He giveth you of all ye ask of Him, and if ye would count the graces of God ye cannot reckon them. Lo! man is verily a wrong-doer, an ingrate. (Ibrahim 14: 32-34).6

Indeed, the Fatihah-which is the greatest chapter in the Holy Qur'an7-starts with praise to God:

In the Name of God, the Infinitely Good, the All-Merciful. …

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