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Nothing In The Universe is More Important Than Allah

In every era, in every society, there’s a common phrase people use to praise a person. In ours it’s the generic expression, “good person.” So…what exactly is a ‘good person’?

If someone saved four lives, but it was then discovered that he killed his mother and father in cold blood with no regrets, would they be considered good? He saved four and took two, so the net is a positive two. But if you said no, he can’t be good for killing his parents, then you’ve just implied that ‘goodness’ has some hierarchy. So this “good person” thing is starting to be less generic and more specific.

There’s a hierarchy of deeds. Not all deeds are equal. If the categorically superior deed was skipped, then it doesn’t matter how many lesser deeds you did. The hierarchy must be observed. Which brings us to our point: who or what determines this hierarchy?

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I was a bit surprised—even though I shouldn’t have been—when last week, people (Muslims) were saying explicitly that they believed that what people did for humanity was more important than if they believed in Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) or disbelieved in Him. One said, “I don’t think God is going to judge people by their religion, but by what they do for people.”

I thought to myself…’People are more important than Allah? What’s going on here? Muslims are saying this? Do we have a religion here or not?’

Then I realized, you know what, I think we’ve just been assuming one of the most important parts of aqidah and not explicitly stating it or teaching it (which is why I highly encourage people follow Sh Hamzah Wald Maqbul’s Tahawiyya lectures and soon-to-be book).

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Tawhid is not just that there’s only one god, but that nothing in the universe is more important than Allah.

That’s the line: NOTHING IN THE UNIVERSE IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN ALLAH.

People are not more important than Allah. Humanity at large is not either. I think this is the central pillar that’s been subtly displaced by the nuances of Humanism, which are embedded in all facets of modern life from literature to governance to Super Bowl commercials.

In the Renaissance, European intellectuals in Florence and Venice had lost faith in the Church, but they needed something to fill the void in place of God: they chose us, humans. (In a sense, it actually confirms our belief that the most noble creation is the human being, so in the absence of belief in the Divine, they went with humans.) Humanism thus became a grand celebration of the human being. In the next generation, a synthesis was developed: Christian Humanisms.

Muslims have a type of Muslim Humanists. It began as ‘Islamic Modernism,’ in which Islam is viewed as a tool to make our life in this world easier and better. The Muslim went from someone whose purpose is to serve Allah, to someone who uses Islam to serve his or her own lot in life. The true vision of Islam is lost on these folks. The sign of Islamic Modernism is that if you’re around them you get this odd feeling: “Wow, we’re doing a lot of work, but what about Allah in all this??” There seems to be no mention of Him at any turn! Du’a becomes just a ceremonious thing, not a real tool. The modernist agenda is solely filled with issues that affect Muslim worldly life. Discussing what Allah asked us to do—doctrine, law, spirituality—is redundant and mostly ignored. If knowledge is approached at all, it is interrogated and tortured until it divulges the fatwa of our choice. Contentions about the Sunnah and orthodoxy— the right way to practice Islam (everything worth doing has a right way to do it and a wrong way) —are viewed as sectarian, and worse, something impossible to know.

And then there’s Islamic Modernism’s illegitimate child: Reformism. The sign of Reformism is the visible, palpable, unbridled *anger* that is expressed when a regular Muslim merely utters a certain hot button ruling or belief. If you’re lucky, they’ll just roll their eyes and call you ‘haram police.’ Otherwise, they will come after you and make sure to smother you until you learn never to talk like that again. And if you want to know what the hot button issues are, just go onto HuffPost, watch MSNBC, Rachel Maddow, that whole liberal crowd. Anything that would upset them upsets a Reformist Muslim.

Now back to Humanism. As it pervaded all the social sciences, this subtle prioritization of humanity—us—over God takes root little by little, until we reach a cross-roads that shows us how far we’ve really gone: a person is lauded solely for what they do for humanity, and oh by the way, the fact that he insults God is just an unfortunate wrinkle in the bigger picture. The Muslim who thinks like this has to be woken up, ‘Excuse me, your scales are upside down.’ If the most important thing in the universe is Allah, then the best deed is belief in him, and the worst deed is rejecting Him.

From what I’ve been seeing recently, Priority #1 amongst us is to revive and re-cement this very simple but utterly core foundational conviction: NOTHING IN THE UNIVERSE IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN ALLAH. This is what’s at the top of the list. After that gets cemented, then we can talk about everything else.

In the first write up of this, I ended it with this joke: Now if this idea catches on, we may end up one day with a conference by Muslims about Allah, imagine that!

But now, a few days later, let’s think seriously about this. The umbrella organizations will only do what the general Muslim populace has proven to be hungry for. So let’s just start doing our own local events and conferences, and make it trickle upwards. I’m talking about the fundamentals of Tawhid and Islam here, not the classical debates. I’m talking about: Who is Allah? What does being Muslim entail? And we must get into the nitty-gritty of what happens and what we are supposed to do when belief crosses culture and politics.

Wallahu wali al-tawfiq.

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Dr Shadee Elmasry was born and raised in New Jersey and studied in the Muslim world in Fez, Hadramawt, Cairo, Makka, and Madina. He completed a Masters from The George Washington University in comparative religion, then a PhD from the University of London, SOAS on “Da’wa in the Works of Imam al-Haddad.”

9 Comments

9 Comments

  1. Avatar

    fritz

    March 27, 2018 at 7:05 PM

    Some of this sounds a bit tongue in cheek.

    there are plenty of people who seem to have plenty of knowledge of tawhid and not a lot of good manners. And the overall net effect is

    Surely the message about maintaining any heirarchy is that everything is given its due position and balance.

  2. Avatar

    Dr.Fatima Moinuddin

    March 28, 2018 at 9:01 AM

    As salam alaikum.Brilliant article..much much needed.Alhamdulillah Allah guided you to write it.Yes,this needs to be drilled into our brains-The brains which dare to think that anything else could be more important than Allah Swt.

  3. Avatar

    aronno

    March 28, 2018 at 10:14 AM

    Alhamdulilah! I am happy to see this article – much needed, especially after all the BS comments I saw after the death of professor Hawking. Concise, to the point, simple and bold. Masha Allah, nice work brother.

  4. Avatar

    Ann Barakat Archist

    March 28, 2018 at 12:55 PM

    Well, I think this piece is contradictory. Because, if Allah is omnipotent, the Creator, “all around us”, then certainly Allah IS the universe. And if people are created in a state of fitrah (pure an dgood) then surely the highest worship of Allah would be that of doing good on the earth. We also know that “people of fitrah” (indigenous peoples and other religions) are mentioned as being “believers”, so I believe the ideas that the author has scoffed at as being “above” Allah, actually are in perfect keeping with Islamic traditions and doctrine.

    • Avatar

      Ahmed

      March 28, 2018 at 3:56 PM

      Sister Ann,

      The belief that Allah is “all around us, then certainly Allah IS the universe” is not a fundamental belief (meaning not explicitly stated in Quran and hadith), and hence, has controversy around it. To use this belief to form our world-view and our understanding of Islam could lead to troublesome conclusions.

      For example, if Allah IS the universe, then idol-worship can be justified since idols are created from the Earth. In fact, this is an argument that intellectual Hindus and Buddhists use for justifying the worship of stone idols. We know for a fact that Prophet Muhammad (SAWS) instructed us to worship Allah and not idols, and make our greatest love, our love for Allah.

      I don’t mean to argue the belief about Allah being part of His creation or completely separate from His creation. I just hope to point out that this belief is full of controversy for a reason.

      Were it true that Allah is distinctly separate from His creation, and not part of it, can we draw the same conclusions? Can we still arrive to the conclusion that humanism is the ultimate form of worship to Allah?

  5. Avatar

    Nazar Sherif

    March 28, 2018 at 1:33 PM

    Allah Swt Says: (Quran 51:56)
    “I did not create jinn and humans except to worship”.
    Again,(Quran 16:36) Verily, We have sent to every nation a Messenger, proclaiming, “Serve Allah, and shun Taghut (devil).”
    Now the above two verses are sufficient enough to support the author’s article. Now let me give you a few verses in Allah Swt Says any amount of good deeds without the faith will result in great loss. Allah, The Most High Says:
    “And it was already revealed to you (Prophet Muhammad and his nation) and to those before you (the previous nations) that if you should associate [anything] with Allah, your work would surely become worthless, and you would surely be among the losers.” (Quran 39:65)

    That is the guidance of Allah by which He guides whomever He wills of His servants. But if they had associated others with Allah,(in worship) then whatever they did would be worthless for them.(Quran 6:88)

    Those are the ones who disbelieve in the verses of their Lord and in [their] meeting Him, so their deeds have become worthless; and We will not assign to them on the Day of Resurrection any weight or importance.(Quran 18:105)
    But those who disbelieved – their deeds are like a mirage in a lowland which a thirsty one thinks is water until, when he comes to it, he finds it is nothing but finds Allah before Him, and He will pay him in full his due; and Allah is swift in account. (Quran 24:39)
    But those who disbelieve – for them is misery, and He will waste their deeds. (Quran 47:8)
    That is because they disliked what Allah revealed, so He rendered worthless their deeds. (Quran 47:9)
    That is because they followed what angered Allah and disliked [what earns] His pleasure, so He rendered worthless their deeds. (Quran 47:28)
    Indeed, those who disbelieved and averted [people] from the path of Allah and opposed the Messenger after guidance had become clear to them – never will they harm Allah at all, and He will render worthless their deeds. (Quran 47:32)
    O you who have believed, obey Allah and obey the Messenger and do not invalidate your deeds.(Quran 47:33)

  6. Avatar

    Spirituality

    March 28, 2018 at 6:28 PM

    Awesome article! There is nothing in the universe more important than Allah, indeed. We need to realize this fact in our intellect, and in our hearts. In fact, I believe it maybe very difficult to realize this fact intellectually, if we don’t first recognize it in our hearts. Our hearts will lead our intellect to come up with all sorts of justifications and philosophical arguments against this fact. This is where purification and worship come in…only when we purify ourselves and humble ourselves to Allah, then, and only then, will we be able to realize reality: the Greatness of Allah, and the smallness of ourselves and the world around us.

  7. Avatar

    Amina

    March 31, 2018 at 6:11 PM

    JazakAllahkhair for this article . This article assures my belief and brings peace to my heart .

  8. Avatar

    Taoheedah

    April 6, 2018 at 5:02 PM

    Ma sha Allah. Perfect perspective. Badly needed in this day and age with lots of people claiming to be “good without God”!

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#Current Affairs

This Eid And Beyond Boycott Goods Made With Enslaved Labor Of Uyghurs Even If It Is Your Favorite Brand

Bidding farewell to Ramadan, celebrating Eid?

Well, the Muslims of East Turkestan under Chinese occupation had neither Ramadan nor will they have Eid…

Not only that, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) run government has transferred Uyghurs and other ethnic minority citizens from East Turkestan to factories across the country. Under conditions that strongly suggest forced labour, Uyghurs are working in factories that are in the supply chains of at least 83 well-known global brands in the technology, clothing and automotive sectors, including Nike, Gap, Adidas, Ralph Lauren, Carters and others. Read Uyghurs for Sale for more information

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CCP is also pressuring governments across the world to extradite Uyghurs back to occupied East Turkestan.

Here is what you can do to help them:

Action Items

  1. Keep making dua for the oppressed of East Turkistan and the world.
  2. Boycott Chinese products! Do not be complicit in slave labour. Start with focusing on the companies in the graphic. Share it with #SewnWithtTears, #StopChina, #BoycottChina. Write to them and demand that they do better.
  3. Raise awareness on the plight of Uyghurs and the East Turkistani cause. Learn more at SaveUighur.org
  4. Work towards reducing your country’s economic dependence on China.
  5. Build alliances with all people of conscience to demand a cessation of China’s oppression of all faith groups, be it Muslim Uyghur, Hui; Chinese Christian; or Tibetan Buddhist.
  6. Encourage and promote fairer trade and commerce with Muslims and others rather than China.
  7. Inquire about Uyghur diaspora members in your area. Organize to help out orphans, widows, and students.
  8. Pressure governments to provide legal protection to Uyghur refugees-exiles by granting either citizenship or refugee/asylee status. Stop the “extradition/repatriation” of Uyghurs to China!
  9. Get your universities/endowments to divest from China. Raise awareness about Chinese espionage and hired guns in academia. Demand academic and financial support for Uyghur scholars and students. Request more academic attention and funds for Central Asian, Uyghur, Turkistani studies. 

Read a greater discussion of action items in A Response to Habib Ali Al-Jifri’s Comments on the Uyghurs, which also contains a greater discussion on East Turkistan’s history and its current situation. A condensed Arabic version of the article can be found here

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#Islam

30 Khawaatir in 30 Days- A Parent’s Guide | Day 9: A Good Word

Now that we have learnt about the life of this world, let’s talk about a good word.

I want you all to close your eyes and think of a beautiful tree. 

Question: Who can tell me what their tree looks like? Is the tree big and strong? Does it have lots of branches and leaves? Does it have fruit?

Now, I want you to think of a time when someone said something really nice to you.

Question:  What are some of the nice statements you remember people telling you?

Question: How did those statements make you feel?

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Yes, they fill us up with a warm feeling. We may have felt proud of ourselves and we may have felt loved. Do you know that Allah [wt] describes a good word to a good tree? 

In Surah Ibrahim, Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) says:

أَلَمْ تَرَ كَيْفَ ضَرَبَ اللَّهُ مَثَلًا كَلِمَةً طَيِّبَةً كَشَجَرَةٍ طَيِّبَةٍ أَصْلُهَا ثَابِتٌ وَفَرْعُهَا فِي السَّمَاءِ 

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تُؤْتِي أُكُلَهَا كُلَّ حِينٍ بِإِذْنِ رَبِّهَا ۗ وَيَضْرِبُ اللَّهُ الْأَمْثَالَ لِلنَّاسِ لَعَلَّهُمْ يَتَذَكَّرُونَ 

Have you not considered how Allah presents an example, [making] a good word like a good tree, whose root is firmly fixed and its branches [high] in the sky? [Surah Ibrahim; 24]

It produces its fruit all the time, by permission of its Lord. And Allah presents examples for the people that perhaps they will be reminded. [Surah Ibrahim; 25]

Question: Now, I want you to think of a time when someone said something mean to you. How did that make you feel?

It’s not fun to remember the mean stuff right? Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) continues in Surah Ibrahim and says:

وَمَثَلُ كَلِمَةٍ خَبِيثَةٍ كَشَجَرَةٍ خَبِيثَةٍ اجْتُثَّتْ مِن فَوْقِ الْأَرْضِ مَا لَهَا مِن قَرَارٍ

And the example of a bad word is like a bad tree, uprooted from the surface of the earth, not having any stability. [Surah Ibrahim; 26] 

Question: What do you think are good words we can use to build strong, firmly rooted trees?

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History and Seerah

Podcast: Five Historic Events That Rocked The World During Ramadan | Dr. Muhammad Wajid Akhter

We all know that Ramadan is the month of fasting, abstinence and reflection. Ramadan also just happens to be a month of awesome history defining events that shaped the world we live in today.

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