IOS on-line lecture based on review of the book The Cultural Atlas of Islam
New Delhi: Institute of Objective Studies organised a lecture based on review of the book The Cultural Atlas of Islam’ (Part-2, Chapter 4: The Essence of Islamic Civilisation) written by Prof. Ismail Raji al-Faruqi and Lamya al-Faruqi here on December 5, 2020. Assistant secretary general, IOS, Prof. Hasina Hashia introduced the topic by briefly explaining Prof. Raji’s approach to Tawhid. She insisted that Tawhid constituted the essence of Islam.
Delivering the lecture, the secretary general, IOS, Prof. Z.M. Khan, held that Tawhid provided a paradigm of Islam and spoke of the oneness of God. It defined relationship between God and human beings, who had to be subservient to universal brotherhood, that meant humanity. Tawhid is fundamental to Islam. He quoted Islamic scholar Syed Abid Hasan, who had said that Tawhid was the oneness of God because it is God who controls everything. He observed that in Islam, the concept of Tawhid embodies the essence of civilisation. Tawhid also has an element of unison and essential harmony, he said.
Explaining it, Prof. Khan pointed out that one of the characteristics of Tawhid was that nothing could be made a part of it. But the duality of the Creator and creature had to be maintained. A sound faculty to understand the reality of God was imperative. He said that teleologicaly it was cosmos and the will of God which was realised through humans, who were created with a purpose to be moral. The Will of God was actualised in humans. Spiritual functions, moral behavior and consciousness formed part of a utilitarian concept that shaped human personality.
He said that physical appearance of human, his emotional, rational and spiritual personality were kinds of human personality. The creature had the capacity of change and adjustment to conditions. Tawhid, the fundamental of Islam, was prescribed by the Almighty. On Tawhidic paradigm, he said that there were several methodical dimensions to it. These were – unity, concept of Tawhid, rationality and tolerance. While unity did not mean uniformity, it allowed Islam and Tawhidic paradigm to grow. Thus this underlined the importance of Tawhidic paradigm, he noted.
Prof. Khan maintained that rationalism was the essence of Islam and its rejection did not correspond to reality. Rationalism and reason were not contradictory to each other. God is perfect and does not commit mistake whereas humans are restricted in knowledge.
Referring to tolerance, he said that it was the conviction that God never left the world without a messenger. That was the reason why He sent different messengers at different times. Tolerance was a fundamental principle which every Muslim was expected to practice and have harmonious relationship with others. He said that Tawhid was the first principle of metaphysics and it meant elimination of everything’s existence except God’s. Tawhid was highly logical, permeative and rational. He said that science did everything but could not deny the existence of god. Tawhid was a principle of accountability which implied service to the Lord, the concepts of Hidayah and Akhirah, forgiveness and an element of grace. Calling humanism the byproduct of Tawhid, he said that ideas and virtues of human beings were elements of humanism.
Prof. Khan held that the world had got an international Ummah and a model had been prescribed for it by Islam. Tawhid was also a uniting force for Ummah. He observed that Tawhid was not against artistic creation. Rather it was the first principle of aesthetics in Islam. Beauty present in nature must be appreciated. He said that in al-Faruqi’s book several aspects of Tawhid were presented. Relationship between Tawhidic paradigm and humanism and unity of knowledge was inalienable, he added.
The lecture ended with a vote of thanks extended by Prof. Hasina Hashia, who also conducted the proceedings.