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The Pure Truth



After saying Qul, attention is focused on Huwa with full concentration, otherwise even without the use of the word Huwa, the sense and sentence could have been complete, by just saying Allahu Ahad.

Grammatically it is personal pronoun of third person, singular, masculine. He refers to God, as in many verses it (Huwa) has been used in place of Allah. It means He is. It occurs in the Quran in this sense, e.g:

Laailaaha Illaa Huwa (Illallaahu) (2-255)

There is no god, but He

'Allahu laa ilaaha illaa Huwa' (3-1): 'Allah, there is no god, but He. This sentence is called nafii wal isbaat. nafii: negation, denial; that which is rejected is nafii: e.g., 'there is no god'. wa: and isbaat: affirmation; that which is affirmed is isbaat: e.g, 'but He'. The word Huwa is often referred by Sufis as Huu, e.g: Laa ya'lamu maa Huwa illaa Huu (Huwa): He, Whom no one knows what He Himself is, but Himself. The use of the word Huwa, dissociates His Being as separate and distinguished from all, anyone, and everything. "..I (Allah) Am the Lord, the First, and the Last;

I am He." (Isaiah 41-4) From discussion, in the preceding pages, on conjecture about God, different concepts about theology, and theories about religion, we have observed that it is not possible for man to fully understand and correctly define His Nature and His Attributes. The style of expression of Surah Ikhlaas also brings into light important aspects of limitations of understanding and expression of man, in this regard. We may note that Allah's Nature is so Sublime, so far beyond our limited conception and imagination, that the best way in which we may try to understand Him is as Allah has introduced Himself in the Quran, and as His Prophet (Peace be upon him) has himself explained. Within these limitations and basic information provided by God Himself, many philosophical approaches and scientific data, progressively becoming available, are increasingly providing evidence that there is One Creator-Designer-Fashioner-Provider-Organiser, Who is directing, ruling, developing, evolving and managing all worlds-creations with Mercy and Benevolence. Such a marvelously coherent and comprehensive system is otherwise unconceivable to come into existence and continue to remain in operation in harmony. Therefore He must be Living and Intelligent:

He personally manages and monitors His affairs (32-5).

Also consider following: Allah arranged for Moses (Peace be upon him) to be brought under His observation: "In order that you (O Moses) may be brought up under Mine Eye." 20-39 Allah kept Noah's Ark under His observation: "Floating (Noah's Ark) under Our Eyes" 54-14

Narrated Abu Musa (may Allah be pleased with him): "We were with the Prophet (Peace be upon him) on a journey, and whenever we ascended a high place, we used to say, Allahu Akbar. The Prophet (Peace be upon him) said: 'Don't trouble yourselves too much! You are not calling a deaf or an absent person, but you are calling One Who Hears, Sees and is very near." (Bukhari, 484, Vol-IX) He is Independent of all effects of His own creation, e.g., matter, space and time, which are ever changing coordinates of physical system.

"He (Allah) is the Creator, the Inventor, the Bestower of forms." 59-24 Narrated Ibn Abbas: "The Prophet (Peace be upon him) used to invoke Allah at night saying: 'O Allah! All the praises are for You. You are the Lord of the heavens and the earth. All the Praises are for You. You are the Maintainer of the heaven and the earth, and whatever is in them. All the Praises are for You. You are the Light of the heavens and the earth. Your Word is the Truth, and Your Promise is the Truth, and the Meeting with You is the Truth, and the Paradise is the Truth, and (Hell) Fire is the Truth, and the Hour is the Truth. O Allah! I surrender myself to You, and I believe in You, and I depend upon You, and I repent to You, and with You, I stand against my opponents, and to You, I leave the judgement. O Allah! Forgive me my sins that I did in the past, or will do in the future, and also the sins I did in secret or in public. You are my only God, and there is no other god for me." (Bukhari, 482, Vol-IX)

Non-personified and Non-abstract Personality

This makes us realize that He is a Personality, Whom this Surah introduces as Huwa (He), and not a mere abstract conception or conjecture. Here Huwa is not used for pointation (ism ishaaraa) towards something, but for introducing the Personality in His Own Highness, Right, Reality, Standing and Stature. Practices of many schools of tasawwuf (generally mis-translated as mysticism, which has different nuances, usages and expressions, in the West, e.g. mystic, mysticism, mystical experience, mystical consciousness, etc.) can be considered as attempts towards understanding of and contact with the Being or Personality, called Huwa. But some of them go so far after ineffable, in hazy hallucinations, that they miss the Truth in mystic mist. They mix up imagination with the Reality without realizing one's own limitations to contain or to see within their finite physical frame the Infinite Personality.

Narrated Masruuq: "Aisha (may Allah be pleased with her) said: 'If an anyone tells you that Muhammad (Peace be upon him) has seen his Lord, he is a liar, for Allah says:

'No vision can grasp Him
' 6-103 And if anyone tells you that Muhammad (Peace be upon him) has seen the unseen, he is a liar, for Allah says: 'None has the knowledge of the unseen-hidden but Allah."

See 72-26 also. It is only after resurrection, when physical laws will be changed, and man will be raised in such a form and frame that he will be able to see his Lord (Allah): Narrated Jarir bin Abdullah (may Allah be pleased with him): The Prophet (Peace be upon him) said: "You will definitely see your Lord with your own eyes." (Bukhari, 530, Vol-IX)

"On the Day when the earth will be changed to another (different) earth, and so will be the heavens, and they (humanbeings) will appear before Allah , the One ,the Irresistible." 14-48 Also see 50-22

Mysticism in the West

"The word mystic has its origin in the Greek mysteries. A mystic was one who had been initiated into these mysteries, through which he had gained an esoteric knowledge of divine things and been reborn into eternity. His object was to break through the world of history and time into that of eternity and timelessness. The method was through initiation ceremonies of the sort so vividly described by the late Latin writer, Apuleius, in The Golden Ass. Through the mysteries the initiated entered into something holy and numinous, a secret wisdom about which it was unlawful for him to speak. The word mystery (mysterion) comes from the Greek verb muo, to shut or close the lips or eyes." (F.C.Happold, Mysticism, A Study and an Anthology, p.18)

Examine above statement in the light of following verse which highlights basic human weakness or desire to break through physical existence, become super human, live for ever, etc.:

"Then began Satan to whisper suggestions to them (Adam and Eve), in order to reveal to them their shame, that was hidden from them. He said: 'Your Lord only forbade you this tree, lest you should become angels, or such beings as live for ever." 7-20

Alongwith principles for righteous-living, the Quran elevates righteous-dying to the status of immortality: "Think not of those who are slain in Allah's way as dead. Nay, they live finding their sustenance in the Presence of their Lord. (169) "They rejoice in the Bounty provided by Allah. And with regard to those left behind, who have not yet joined them, the martyrs glory in the fact that on them is no fear, nor they grieve. (170) "They glory in the Grace and the Bounty from Allah and in the fact that Allah sufers not the reward of the faithful to be lost." (171) 3-169 to 171 , Also see 2.154

Usually masses get misled by claims shrouded in secrecy that what the mystic sees others don't, and that they are supposed not to disclose details about it. It may be true in case of some individual experience but at larger scales of a society, it can not be generalized and prescribed for greater good of all. On the other hand, Islam prescribes a straight path that develops personality for the benefit of individual himself and the society as a whole. The Quran enunciates principles of right conduct on the Right Path for good of mankind, without deviation. On the basis of this principle it explains that salvation and success of individuals and nations are results of devotion to God and righteous living. Failure is the consequence of deviation from and disbelief in the Truth (the immutable Law), i.e., salvation and condemnation, here and Here-after, are determined by the immutable laws.

In the eastern tradition, tasawwuf implies closeness and communion with God without any intermediary or intercessor or interconnector and contradicts the idea of any curtain in between. In this sense nearness or communion is not just mystic as in the Western concept and in the sense of being wholly ineffable or unclear

The Quran presents a clear course to bring the slave nearer than the nearest to his Lord-Master-Owner Allah, in communion:

"And when My (Allah's) slaves ask you concerning Me, then I am indeed close. I grant the prayer of the suppliant when he calls on Me. So let them bear My call and let them trust in Me, in order that they may be led aright". 2-186

In above verse, comparative or superlative of the word `Qareeb' (Close) has not been used which makes it absolute that it can't be more close! "For, We (Allah) are nearer to him than (his) jugular vein." 50-16 "And know that Allah comes in between a man and his heart , and that it is He to Whom you shall be gathered." 8-24

Consider implications involved for people in secret claims in the light of following : "(Moses) said: 'What then is your case O Saamri?' (95) "He replied:

'I saw what they saw no
t, so I took a handful (of dust) from the footprint of the Messenger, and threw it (into the calf). Thus did my soul suggest to me." (96) 20-95 & 96

The problem with such personal secretive claims is that they are not verifiable. They are ineffable and inexplicable. They can not be generalized and repeated for general and greater good; even for one's own self they may not be available again. Structures and institutions are essential for raising edifice of a society, which require active participation of individuals and groups excelling in knowledge and skill. The Quran holds out guidance to the conscious (e.g., 2-2), and promises wisdom-power (hikmah: e.g., 2-231 & 269). It is guaranteed that effort of no one is let lost (3-195). In addition God promises succour and success from His side (3-160).

F.C. who has discussed mysticism and its different aspects quite at length, defines characteristics of mystical states, thus: ineffable, unintelligible, noetic, transience, passivity, etc, etc. ((F.C.Happold, Mysticism, A Study and an Anthology, pp. 45-46)

That is why when process of general degradation set in the Ummah, the very positive and useful institutions of Suufiis came to be mostly misused for exploitation of poor and ignorant masses. Therefore this can not be prescribed as a general norm. On the contrary Islam prescribes active development of consciousness for coming closer to God and pleasing Him with righteous living.

Some people make an extra effort to present mysticism as purely and wholly an Islamic principle, without going into its contrast with Tasawwuf and history of the former at least from Plato in the West, and from Chanakya in the Sub-continent, when muslims came in contact with their respective civilizations. They have even established different brands and branches in the names of the Companions (may Allah be pleased with them) and their followers separately.

Happold elaborates his point that all religions have mystical expressions: "Any worth-while study of mysticism must, however, of its nature, be a study of comparative religion, for mysticism is a manifestation of something which is at the root of all religion and all the higher religions have their mystical expressions. I have not, therefore, confined myself, either in the Study or in the Anthology, to the expressions of mysticism within Christianity."

Interaction of different civilizations over a period of time, and internal schism have developed different variants of 'mysticism' within different religious communities and groups as admixtures of inter-cultural influences, and even heretic and secular encroachments.

"The word mysticism is not a fully satisfactory one. The word is, however, used with a number of different meanings and carries different connotations to different minds. To some it is simply a type of confused, irrational thinking. In the popular mind it is associated with spiritualism and clairvoyance, with hypnotism, and even with occultism and magic, with obscure psychological states and happenings, some of which are the result of neurasthenia and other morbid pathological conditions. To some it is bound up with visions and revelations. Others use it as a synonym for other-wordliness, or to describe a nebulous outlook upon the world or a religious attitude, which does not care for dogma or the outward forms of religious observance. Some would limit its use to that rare state of consciousness which is found in the contemplative saints." (F.C.Happold, Mysticism, A Study and an Anthology, pp.16 &.36)

Mysticism is considered manifestation of something, usually termed as truth, for which different religions use different mystical expressions. In higher religions it is a spiritual quest for the most direct experience of God. In Christianity it is centered on prayer. God is considered accessible through Scripture, Sacraments, and above all Jesus Christ. Mystic seeks to go beyond concepts and images presented in Scripture, theology, and tradition, and comes to God himself. Theologians disagree on mystic's claim about attainment of God, as to whether it is an 'experience', ever truly direct and immediate, or whether it always involves mediation of concepts and ideas, or whether it is mere imagination and visualization.

Mystics symbolize attainment of God in different ways: St Bernard, St Teresa, and St John of the Cross used images of sexual love and spiritual marriage.

St Gregory Palamas speaks of illumination by seeing uncreated light in transfiguration of Jesus on Mount Tabor.

St Gregory of Nyssa sees the mystic taken from revelation of God in light to the unknowledge of him in darkness, as Moses (Peace be upon him) met God first in the burning bush, and then in the cloud. On the contrary the Quran tells that God is the Light of the heavens and the earth: 24-35, and that He takes man from darkness unto light:

"He it is (Allah) Who sends blessings on you, as do His angels, that He may bring you out from the depths of darkness into the Light. And He is full of Mercy to the believers." 33-43.

Some other religions also believe in this: "To show them special Mercy, I, dwelling in their hearts, destroy with the shinning lamp of knowledge, the darkness born of ignorance." (The Opulence of the Absolute, Bhagavad-Gita as it is, p.366)

Like other religions, Christian mysticism also has many forms, e.g:

i. Liturgical and sacramental mysticism, as means of ascent to God,
ii. Devotional mysticism centered on meditation on the person, life, and teaching of Jesus (Peace be upon him).
iii. Contemplation, taking different forms in eastern hesychasm and in western philosophy,
iv. Different schools of mysticism, using discursive meditation as a means of preparation in the earlier stages of the path, and then moving to contemplative prayer. (J.R.Hinnells, Dictionary of Religions, pp.224-225)

As in many other religions, Jews and Christians went too far in personification of the Personality, that they sculptured Him into dimensions, design and behaviour of physical creation. But this very one word Huwa in Surah Ikhlaas is so iconoclast in lexico-philological explanations that it demolishes all iconization, sculpture and idolization. Furthermore, it is not localized in a direction. Huwa (He) is all around, everywhere, Necessary for all contingent existence and even for occurrence of any idea or thought:

"..And know that Allah comes

in between man and his heart.." 8-24

Sufism and Islam

In Islamic context, Sufism developed its own institutions. Sufis and dervishes congregated in houses or convents, variously called ribats, khaankaahs, and zawiyas, foci for living communally, for performing Jihaad against unbelievers, and as centres for education and evangelism among un-islamic or imperfectly Islamic people. These were charitable foundations (Waqf). Within Sufi circles, a special liturgical ritual (dhikr, literally remembrance of God) was practiced, including repeated chanting of the Most Beautiful Best Names of God, with or without a rosary, controlled breathing, dancing, specially by Mevlevis, with music, etc. "In certain frontier regions like Anatolia, the practices of some orders, e.g., the Bektashis, showed a distinct syncretism with Christian practices." (John R. Hinnells, Dictionary of Religions, p.313)

Suufiis found essential truths of Islam for themselves by reliving its central experience. By 12th century, Sufis began to coalesce into orders (tariqaas: literally ways, groups) under leaders with their adherents; equivalents of Christian lay brethern or tertiaries. These orders further divided into subdivisions, and spread all over Islamic world. On the peripheries, such as West Africa, Sudan, Indo-Pakistan and Central Asia, they played a leading role in Muslim evangelism and remain influential even today. "In their heyday in the pre-modern period, the orders supplied in the Sunni world a focus for the emotional aspect of believers' religious needs, analogous to devotion to the Imams in the Shi'i one, and acted as a cohesive social force in the community, specially though not exclusively, among the lower classes." Prominent orders include Qadiris, of Iraqi origin but later active in India; Naqshbandis, specially active in Turkey; Shadhilis, characteristically North African; Ahmadis, centered on Lower Egypt; recently established Tijanis, active in North and West Africa; Sanusis; etc. In Ottoman Turkey, the Bektashis were connected with elite military force of janissaries and have survived in recent times, in Albania specially; while Mevelevis, also called the whirling dervishes, were particularly connected with ruling classes and were famed for their use of music and gyratory dancing, recently revived as a tourist attraction. In the past, extravagances such as fire-walking, snake-handling, riding over adherents on horseback, etc., were practiced. (J.R.Hinnells, Dictionary of Religions, p.313).

How far one can deviate from the teachings of the Quran and yet claim to be rightly practicing or righteous Muslim or true seeker of the Truth or even a Suufii, in that context?!

"…After living for ten years as a Suufii, Al-Ghazaali found that the religious experience was the only way of verifying a reality that lay beyond the reach of the human intellect and cerebral process..

"Al-Ghazaali eventually returned to his teaching duties in Baghdad…

"Instead of being an external, objectified Being whose existence can be proved rationally, God is an all-enveloping Reality and the Ultimate existence which can not be perceived as we perceive the beings that depend upon (Him) and partake of (His) necessary existence : we have to cultivate a special mode of seeing."

(Karen Armstrong, A History of God, pp.219-221). The monastic, and in that sense, mystic approach is that one should not be tempted by immediate gain and gratification of world duniyaa, but he should be patient to strive for better and greater (deferred) reward of aakhirah (Hereafter). This has very easily led to extreme denial and asceticism. Some Muslim mystics interpreted duniyaa as prison, with extreme negative connotations, although the Quran categorically clarifies that hayaat al-duniyaa (life of this world) has been so designed that man has to earn for his hayaat al-aakhirah (life Hereafter) in this world. The test (trial) of life lies in action and in dealing rightly in this wordly set up: 67-2. At this point it may be pertinent to overview the image of Sufism, as understood in the rest of the world. Dictionary of Religions gives a brief overview:

"The Sufis (wearers of wool, i.e., the coarse garments of the ascetic) also dervishes (poor men) and, in North Africa, marabouts, are the mystics of Islam. At the outset they were influenced by the ascetics of the Eastern Christian churches, but later they developed mainly within the framework of orthodox Islam, except for an extravagant, antinomian wing of the movement in Eastern Persia that may have been influenced by religious currents from the Indian world. Within these later Sufis, pantheistic and monist ideas, revolving round the unity of all existence, are discernible, as in the ideas of the great Spanish Muslim mystic Ibn Al-Arabi (1165-1240). The majority of Sufis remained, however, within the bounds of orthodoxy, regarding the Sufi path, progress through the stations of worldly renunciation, etc., and the states of spiritual gifts conferred by God such as nearness to Him, etc, as the means to real communion with knowledge (ma'rifah) of God. In this way such ideals as self-annihilation (fanaa), self-perpetuation with God (baqaa), and even infusion or indwelling of the Divine Being (hulul) could be achieved. These could only uneasily be reconciled with orthodox theology and the external observances of the Shari'ah.

Sufiism, however, evolved into distinct orders (Sufi Orders). They had their own places of congregation and rituals. Sufism has been a great stimulus to, and a persistent strain in, Islamic literature, seen for instance in the work of the great Persian poets Rumi (1207-73) and Hafiz (1325-1390)."

Sufis have remained at odds with Ulema (Islamic scholars), although a modus vivendi between these two aspects has also been attempted, e.g. by Al-Ghazali (1058-1111 C.E.). Sufis have sometimes paid with their lives, for their views, e.g. Al-Hallaj in 922 C.E. Therefore phrases like following need to be very carefully and cautiously analyzed:

"I am the speaking Qur'an" (Hazrat Ali, may Allah be pleased with him);

"Glory to me" (Ba-Yazid); "I am the truth" (Mansoor al-Hallaj), According to Andrae (1987:69), for the early Sufis, 'the world is thus a concept which , is, in the final analysis, religiously determined. What the world is, its value or worthlessness, is determined solely in terms of our relationship with God'. In this regard, body as the locus for desire and material gratification is part of world (duniyaa). Thus body is the pivotal concept of duniyaa. It is regarded as a product of this world, and worthy of rejection. Only spirit, the true nature of the self, has potential for human salvation.

Here we are talking about duniyaa and not earth as nature and creation of God. For the latter, Sufis extend the Quranic symphony of the signs of nature in their prose and poetry also. Andrae cites some lyrical songs of Dhu'l Nuun (d.c.859): "O God, whenever I listen to the voices of the animals, to the wind in the tree and the song of the birds, whenever I enjoy the coolness of shade, listen to the howling storm and raging thunder, in all this I find a testimony to Thy Goodness." (Andrae 1987:69)" (Abdulkader Tayob, Islam, A Short Introduction, p.53)

The believer has, therefore, to balance between the world known by its conceptual construction, always potentially ensnaring, and the signs of God, which are liberating. According to Shah Abdul Latif Bhitai, in Sur Suhnii, from one aspect, the world is a sign of God taking the seeker to his beloved (God). From another perspective, involvement in the world distracts from communion and meeting Him, the real goal. For proper evaluation of Islamic conception of the world, we must take into consideration this perspectival shift between the physical world and its human appropriation. The world as reality, and nature is the wonderful creation of God. The signs suggest true reflection of God. The world as pure human conceptualization, away from or without God, is dangerous.

In constrast to early Sufis, however, many scholars have argued for a more moderate approach towards duniyaa. Extreme asceticism is regarded misunderstanding of true attitude of Islam towards world and human body. Islam is the world-affirming religion, and regulates human relations therein. In fact, the very use of the terms duniyaa and aakhirah in the Quran, refers to the play between 'now' and 'immediate' on the one hand , and 'later' and 'deferred' on the other. In verse 93-4, the Prophet (Peace be upon him) is consoled for his sufferings at the hands of his opponents. He is told to be patient because: "the deferred (aakhirah) will be better than the earlier (al-uula)." 93-4

At the same time world-affirming verses in the Quran (e.g. 28-77) remind human beings: "not to forget their share of the duniyaa" 28-77. "And of them there are some, who say: 'Our Lord! Give us in the world that which is good, and in the Hereafter that which is good, and save us from the torment of the Fire." 2-201

Thus, Islam does not ordain that all world be postponed for the Hereafter.

"In general, the self-mastery of human beings over the duniyaa was not so much a complete denial as the 'control' to which Reinhart referred. Wealth, marriage, children and other pleasures in duniyaa could well become a distraction, but the test was to exercise restraint and control.

A well known maxim says: Faith should be in your heart and the world in your pocket:

You should keep faith, and be prepared to do without the world. "Thus, the two views may be placed on a continuum reaching from a distinction between world and earth to that between world/earth and the Heareafter." (Abdulkader Tayob, Isla, A Short Introduction, p.54)

Necessary (Creator-Sustainer) and contingent (creation)

History shows that each age appeals to its most impressive technology or science as a metaphor of cosmos, or even of God. Similarly at present attempts are made by some theologians and scientists, both, to explain the revealed statements in the light of latest available scientific information. First science of Physics came into existence, with the Big Bang. Some scientists may like to put the so called idea of Mathematical Singularity before the idea of the Physical Singularity. All other sciences came into play, in a sequence to satisfy unfolding and emerging needs of the universe; one developing itself and developing into the other - Chemistry, Biology, Bio-Chemistry, and so on. But "the Reality that we call God lay outside the realm of sense perception and logical thought, so science and metaphysics could neither prove nor disprove the Wujuud (Presence) of Allah." (Karen Armstrong, A History of God, pp.219-221).

Paul Davies explains the concept of creation of the universe being contingent which leads to confirmation of the belief of independent and Necessary Creator. "Ultimately, it is the assumption that the universe is both `contingent' and `intelligible' that provides the motivation for empirical science. For, without the contingency we would in principle not be able to explain the universe using logical deduction alone, without ever observing it. And without the intelligibility there could be no science. `It is the combination of contingency and intelligibility,' writes the philosopher Ian Barbour, `which prompts us to search for new and unexpected forms of rational order.' Barbour points out that the contingency of the world is fourfold: First, the laws of physics themselves appear to be contingent. Second, the cosmological initial conditions could have been otherwise. Third, we know from quantumn mechanics that `God plays dice'- i.e. there is a fundamental statistical element in nature.. Finally, there is the fact that the universe exists.

"After all, however comprehensive our theories of the universe may be, there is no obligation for the world actually to instantiate that theory. This last point has been vividly expressed by Stephen Hawking: `Why does the universe go to all the bother of existing?', he asks. `What is that breathes fire into the equations and makes a universe for them to describe?"

"..There is also a fifth type of contingency, which is to be found in the `higher-level' laws associated with the organizational properties of complex systems. Mendel's laws of genetics,.. though perfectly consistent with the underlying laws of physics, could not be derived solely from the laws of physics. Likewise, the various laws and regularities found in chaotic systems, or in self-organizing systems, depend not only on the laws of physics, but also on the specific nature of the systems concerned. In many cases the precise form of the patterns of behaviour adopted by these systems depends upon some `accidental' microscopic fluctuation, and must therefore be considered as undetermined in advance. These higher-level laws and regularities thus possess important contingent features over and above the usual laws of physics.

"The great mystery about contingency is not so much that the world could have been otherwise, but it is contingently `ordered'. This is most forcefully apparent in the biological realm, where terrestrial organisms are clearly contingent in their particular forms (they could so easily have been different), where there is a conspicuous and pervasive order in the biosphere. If objects and events in the world were merely haphazard and arranged in no specially significant way, their `particular' arrangement would still be mysterious. But the fact that the contingent features of the world are also ordered or patterned is surely deeply meaningful. "Another highly relevant feature of the world's ordered contingency concerns the `nature of that order', which is such as to bestow a rational unity on the cosmos.. `It is this combination of contingence, rationality, freedom and stability of the universe,' writes Torrance, `which gives it its remarkable character, and which makes scientific exploration of the universe not only possible for us but incumbent upon us…It is through relying on the indissoluble bond between contingence and order in the universe that natural science has come to operate with the distinctive interconnection between experiment and theory which has characterized our greatest advances in knowledge of the physical world." (Shahzado Shaikh, The Gateway to the Quran, pp.174-175)

The proofs of God's Presence, and those of His Power, and Attributes, as exhibited in nature, are known as Zaahir-ul Mumkinaat: Religious scholars explain His Independent Wujuud (Presence) and dependant existence of His creation in different ways:

Waajib-ul Wujuud: The Necessary Presence - Only God is the Necessary Presence, Absolute Presence or Absolute Reality Mumkin-ul Wujuud: possible existence: relative existence or contingent reality

Mumtani-ul Wujuud: impossible existence, e.g., an associate with God

From Surah Ikhlaas (Surah 112), first two levels of existence can be explained. Once these two levels are understood, the third one then becomes easier to understand. For Absolute Reality Surah Ikhlaas uses unique and specific terminology: Huwa, Allah, Ahad, and As-Samad. Ontology deals with the knowledge of Absolute Reality. Contingent (creation or existence) is the subject of study of Cosmology. The contingent reality of space-time is limited and controlled, in which everything has a specific place and position making arrangement and organization possible. The dependent creation has been created in pairs: azwaaj (51-49). Therefore contingent is not comparable with the Only and the One, Necessary, in any sense, and as such it does not qualify to be associated with the latter.

Sufi view of Necessary and Contingent

Sufis believe that Allah is Necessary for all existence, knowledge, power, matter, energy, intention, intuition, hearing, speech, all faculties and forms of life. Scientists explain this as contingent existence in a system of unified law, dependent on the Necessary. Tafsir-e-Mazhari has quoted verses 22-62 and 28-88, which provide some explanation in this regard.

Allah is Unique (Ahad) in every Attribute. When we say He Knows everything, His Knowledge is not like that of any creature or any created thing. Allah knows, everything seen and unseen, in His Omni-Presence, as ever all Informed-Scientist. He knows everything about everything, being Himself the Creator-Sustainer of all. Only Allah knows better, everything (Wallaahu A'alamu).

Therefore those who know truth do not interpret "Laa-ilaaha illallaahu": (There is no god, except Allah) as "Laa ma'buud illallaahu': (There is no one worthy of worship-obedience, except Allah), but they interpret it as 'Laa maujuudu illallaahu": (There is no existence-presence, save Allah). (Tafsir-e-Mazhari, Vol-11 & 12, p. 379-380).

From above statements, in simple words, it follows that there is no existence without His Presence.

"Furthermore, O Arjuna! I am the generating seed of all existence. There is no being - moving or nonmoving - that can exist without Me.".. (A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, The Opulence of the Absolute, Bhagavad-Gita as it is, p. 385)

"..There is not a moving creature, but He (Allah) has grasp of its forelock.." 11-56

"And no moving creature is there on earth, but its sustenance depends on Allah. And He knows its dwelling place and its deposit. All is in a clear Book." (Al-Lauh-al-Mahfuuz: The Hard Disc) 11-6 Also 18-39 and 36-83.

He comprehends all existence as well as nature of unseen-hidden. He is the Only One Who can create ex nihilo and also blot out existence.

Correction of Sufi Views on Presence and Existence

Here His Presence must be differentiated from other existence as it should be differentiated both from pantheism and panentheism. Such concepts of oneness of existence (wahdat-al-wujuud) need to be carefully examined. In pantheism it is conjectured that whole of reality is divine (Laa wujuudu illallaahu: There is no existence except He). In panentheism it is conjectured that God includes and permeates, but is not exhausted by all that is known in sense-experience. In this connection discussions about Necessary and contingent (creation) by Paul Davies in his book The Mind of God, and also interpretation and explanation of Surah Ikhlaas (112) in Tafsir-e-Mazhari (Vols. 11-12, pp.377-382), provide some interesting explanations. It is extremely essential to be careful to differentiate conjecture and adventure in conceptualization about oneness or unity of existence of created physical things from monotheism, as clarified in the Quran:

"And there are among them illiterate, who know not the Book, but they trust upon false desires, and they do nothing but conjecture." 2-78

Avoiding Conjecture

One should avoid unnecessary conceptualization, and be careful about such discourses and discussions that get confused by conjecture, leading to idle argument rather than active implementation of good of the faith for benefit of mankind. Consequently such an idle mind may be cast into so called mystic mould, leaving man and his society into a state of passive existence. Therefore it is better to avoid hair-splitting subtleties and unnecessary semantics.

Studies show that innumerable strands of mystic concepts ultimately proved to be too idealized, ineffable and narrowly individualistic. When stretched onto enlarged scale of Islamic society, they blurred the cross cutting dynamic concept of universal Islam into personal cult, shrouded in myth, mystery, and miracle. All other factors responsible for fall of nations played their part, and ultimately Muslims lost their cutting edge in conquests. They closed eyes to the theophany in physical phenomena and cosmos. They abandoned pursuit of science, observation and advancement through experimentation. They 'hardened their hearts' through schism and groupings, closing all possibilities of ijmaa and ijtihad guided by interpretation and reasoning in the Quran itself. Instead, they left reading and teaching of the Quran and the Sunnah as a professional pursuit for livelihood and advancement of interests of individuals and groups. They adopted and adhered to their fatwaas (verdicts) as an authority and a final word on the Quran and the Sunnah, without any need to refer to or to know the source in original. As different classes and schools of thought, they initially excelled in Falsafaa and Ilm-ul Kalaam, mainly influenced by Greek philosophy. Thus the freshly sprouting sapling of public administration, rooted into justice and human rights, planted in Madina, was routed out, when they adopted corrupt practices of governance after coming into contact with Roman Empire. Persian culture and civilization influenced and admixtured equally as did Indian mysticism and mythology.

It is high time that Muslim Ummah, in the words of Iqbal, embarks upon search for a new order, with a fresh mind and a pure heart; a mind that is open to creative thinking and a heart that accepts new ideas; i.e., ijtihad. According to Dr Hamid Ullah, ijtihad is the duty of every Muslim. But ijtihad is possible only if creative thinking becomes essential part of our being.

The Term Huwa Stands For Allah

Coming back to the main topic, it is clear that the term Huwa has many connotations and explanations in the background of the revelation and spirit of Surah Ikhlaas. Syed Muhammad Rafai Arab, in his 'Tafsir-e-Rafai', (p.730), says that Huwa is a noun that refers to the Other One, of which existence is sure, though unseen-hidden. Polytheists used the term haadhaa (this) in pointation to a thing which could be perceived with five senses. So it was in reply and in admonition to them as they used to point to idols placed before them, e.g., 'Haadhihii ilaahunaa' (These are our gods). They used to say that as their gods were displayed before them, Muhammad (Peace be upon him) should also point in the same manner that they could see Him in a direction, in a place and position.

Some commentators believe that the word Huwa stands for the High Exalted Name of God (Al Ism-ul A'zam), which Muslim scholars say is only known to God. But it is also held that either Al-Hayyu, or Al-Qayyuum is the Ismul A'azam. There is another tradition, from which it appears that the Great Name may be either Al-Ahad (the One) or As-Samad (the Eternal). According to some other Traditions and some scholars, Allah is the Greatest Name or the High Exalted Name--- Al-Ism al-A'azam. (Thomas Patrick Hughes, A Dictionary of Islam, p.181). It has been reported that the Prophet (Peace be upon him) saw a man praying and supplicating, saying: "O Allah! Verily, I ask you, by my testifying that there is no god worthy of worship except You. You are the One, the Self-Sufficient Sustainer of all, Who does not give birth, nor were You born, and there is none comparable to You."

The Prophet (Peace be upon him) said: "By He in Whose Hand is my soul, verily he has asked Him by His Greatest Name. It is His Name that if He is asked by it, He will give, and if He is called upon by it, He will answer." (An-Nasai in Al-Kubra, Tuhfat Al-Ashraf 2-90)

Some scholars, like Talikani, say that Huwa itself is complete in all senses: a complete word and a sentence. It is comprehensive in itself. Huwa has been used with Great Glory in many verses of the Holy Quran (e.g. 2-255), and also in many Traditions. Ali (may Allah be pleased with him) gives his reflections as: "Yaa Huwa, (O He!) man laa ya'lam maa Huwa, (Whom no one knows what He is) wa laa kaifa Huwa, wa laa aina Huwa, (and neither, where He is) wa laa haitha Huwa, (and nor, ever-where He is) illaa Huwa." (Except that He is)

Prof. Karar Hussain has quoted Tabatabai, from Al-Mizan that Ali (may Allah be pleased with him) said that he had learnt a formulation, with which he overcame his enemies in all his encounters:

"Yaa Huwa (O He!) Yaa man laa Huwa illaa Huwa" (O He, there is no he, except He) When Ali (may Allah be pleased with him) told this, the Prophet (Peace be upon him), is reported to have said that he had learnt Ism-al A'azam (The Great Name of Allah). [Prof. Karar Hussain, (Quran jo Mutaa-li-o, (Study of Quran, pp.74-75] Prof Karar Hussain says that this introduction must have influenced the explanation given above by Talikani.

As already discussed, it is not a pointation which makes the object pointed at as limited; since Allah is not limited. It is only to save from nullification that Allah has explained Himself with certain Names and Attributes, so that people can understand Him, otherwise He is High Exalted above limitations of words and their explanations.

Surah Al-Ikhlaas with all frankness and gracious style of expression moves forward to assert that the Personality, Who has just been introduced as Huwa is Allah, the Only One Alone to Whom worship is due. With candid introduction, the concept has been cleared about the same One Being, Whom they already knew by the Name of Allah. Arabs were already familiar with this Name, Allah. They did not apply this Name to any of their gods. This Name was applied for the Creator of universe and everything, since earlier times. For idols, as gods, they applied the term 'ilaah'. They called Ka'bah as 'Bait-Allah' and not as 'Bait-ilaah'. Familiarity of Arabs with this terminology is quite clear in lexicography, philology and linguistics of Arabic and their history, lore and literature.

"If you ask them, who created them, they will surely say, 'Allah'. 43-87 Also see 29-61 to 63, 23-84 to 89, 10-22, 23 & 31, 17-67, and compare verses 43-87 and 34-24.

Continuity of Dialogue and Conclusion

The Quran has the unique style of dialogue and the way of communication. It discusses subjects frankly; even puts questions to initiate dialogue and answers queries to satisfy and put minds at ease. In Surah Ikhlaas also it goes on to introduce with all aptness, for taking the discussion to its logical conclusion. Starting with Huwa, underlines continuity of the topic under discussion and response to the questions which were already in circulation. Therefore, for the study of this Surah, background to revelation of this Surah has to be fully kept in view. 'He is Allah'(112-1): when this was said in reply to questions of polytheists, it was to remind and clarify to them that He is the Same One Allah Whom they already knew and invoked in times of fear, need and emergency, and it is about Him that they had been raising silly questions.

There are other subtleties also, bordering on admonition for those who were indulging into idiotic debate and going too far in their foolishness in conceptualizing God within their own dimensional design, demands and desires. They were told that about Whom you are putting silly and stupid questions, He is Allah, the Most-High, so beware!

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