Nothing In The Universe is More Important Than Allah

By Dr Shadee ElMasry

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?

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.


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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9 responses to “Nothing In The Universe is More Important Than Allah”

  1. Avatar fritz says:

    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 says:

    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 says:

    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 says:

    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 says:

      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 says:

    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 says:

    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 says:

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

  8. Avatar Taoheedah says:

    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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