LESSON SIXTEEN: ONENESS OF GOD
In previous lessons the essentiality of the existence of God the Creator of the universe was established. In later lessons we investigated the materialist worldview and provided an explanation of their various criticisms. To assume the universe was free from a creator became apparently absurd and the interpretations given were unacceptable.
It is now an appropriate time to expand upon the issues relating to the oneness of God and unveil the flaws in polytheistic thought.
With reference to the appearance and alteration of polytheistic beliefs, there have been distinctive opinions between the sociologists. However none of these arguments can be considered as clear or authentic.
It may be possible to state that the initial reason for the inclination towards polytheism was the appearance of numerous heavenly and earthly phenomena, which, lead to the view that a particular god manages each phenomenon. Some related goodness to the god of good and evil to the god of evil. This resulted in the belief of there being two sources for the world.
From another angle by focusing upon the effect of the light (nūr) of the sun, moon and stars, upon the earthly phenomena, they discerned that the celestial objects have a type of lordship (rubūbiyyah) compared to the earth.
In addition to the above, man’s tendency towards having a tangible God became the reason for creating different idols, signs and symbols for worshiping their presumed gods. These idols and symbols then gradually became the fundamental aspect of belief among the less intelligent. Every nation, perhaps every tribe on the basis of ambiguity and doubt established customs and rituals for idol worship as an answer for the intrinsic tendency of god worshiping. Furthermore, in order to sanctify their animalistic and egoistic tendencies, they moulded these tendencies into religious rituals. Such rituals like dancing festivals, wine-drinking fiestas, Epicureanism, etc still exist among the idol worshipper.
However more significant than the mentioned reasons, were the egotistic interests and arrogance of tyrants and authoritarians, which caused them to abuse the beliefs of simpletons in order to expand their power and rule. Furthermore they considered a type of lordship for themselves and also regarded satanic worship as part of their rituals. Such examples can be seen in the past empires of China, India, Iran and Egypt.
Nevertheless polytheistic religions came under the influence of different factors and discernment among humans. Thus a barrier was formed preventing people from understanding the true perfection, which was supposed to be applied by the divine and monotheistic religions. The Noble Qur’an portrays such struggles encountered by the prophets (a) of God and the polytheists.
On these bases, the foundation of polytheistic belief is to believe in the lordship of an existent other than God the Supreme, for the appearance of some of the universe’s phenomena. Furthermore many polytheists had faith in the oneness of the Creator, and in reality they accepted the oneness of creatorship. However on a lower realm they recognised other second level
gods who administrated the world independently, and they called God the Creator, the God of gods or Lord of the lords (rabb al-arbāb).
These gods, who administrate according to some, were known as angels, and were called by the polytheist Arabs, the daughters of God. Some recognised them as fairies and genies or some regarded them as the spirits of stars or humans from the past, or as a type of invisible existent.
In lesson ten indications were made that creatorship and true lordship are inseparable from each other, belief in the creatorship of God and the acceptance of the lordship of others is not compatible. By explaining the contradiction in this belief, it is possible to nullify the argument of those who held such a view.
In order to establish the oneness of God, the Supreme, many arguments have been demonstrated in the different books of theology and philosophy. Here we are going to demonstrate an argument, which encompasses the oneness of lordship and rejects the polytheistic beliefs.
Proofs for the Oneness of God
The assumption that the universe has two or more gods can solely be imagined through a few possibilities:
Firstly it can be considered that every phenomenon of the universe is created and is an effect of all the assumed gods. The second assumption could be that each particular group of phenomena is an effect (or created by a particular god) of one of the assumed gods. Finally the third assumption is that all of the phenomena are created by one of these assumed gods and the other gods are recognised as the managers of the universe.
However it is impossible to assume that every phenomenon has several gods. If two or more gods created an existent, it would imply that each of the assumed gods would create an existent. This would result in many existents, whereas in reality there is only one.
If it is to be assumed that a particular god creates each particular phenomenon, this will imply that each phenomenon exists because of its particular god. Furthermore they must not require or depend upon any other existent unless the (dependency) need returns to their particular god. This type of requirement or need must be upon the existent, which is created by that very creator who has created that particular group.
In other words, the assumption of having more than one god necessitates the order in the universe to be multifarious and deteriorating. In reality there is only one order and all phenomena are related and effectual upon each other and at the same time need each other.
Furthermore the present phenomenon is linked with the former phenomenon and every coexisting phenomenon creates grounds for future phenomena. Hence a universe, which is linked and related to each other (interwoven with each other) is governed under a sole order and it (this universe) cannot be an effect of several causes that bestow existence.
Moreover, if the assumption is made that the creator of the creation is one, and other gods are the administrators and governors of the universe, this is also incorrect, because every effect with all its being is established on the cause that bestows existence (‘illah mufīda lil-wujūd). No independent existent has the means to interfere unless the results and outcomes of effects
of a cause are all under the authority of the existence-bestowing agent and take place with the will of the Divine. In this case none of them would be considered as lord because the true meaning of ‘lord’ means the one who can freely and independently intervene in the creation. However there is no intervention, but in the dissipation of the lordship given by the Creator and with the power He has bestowed. This form of executing does not contradict with the oneness of lordship because the oneness of creatorship, does not contradict ‘the creating’ with the Divine decree of the Creator. In the Noble Qur’an and traditions we find a similar type of creation or origination based on Allah’s support and godly power. As it has been mentioned with regards to Prophet Jesus (a) that:“ and when you would createA from clay the form of a bird, with My leave, and you would breathe into it and it would become a bird, with My leave” (al-Māi’da:110).
And also in another verse we find:
“And those who direct the affairs [of creatures]” (al-Nāzi’āt:5).
It can be concluded that the illusion of having several gods, stems from the comparison made between God and material causes, where many causes are not unusual. However it can never be accepted that several causes can bestow existence for an effect, or that several lords and independent administrators can be assumed for administrating the universe.
Based on this argument for nullifying this illusion, one must focus upon the meaning and the peculiarities of this cause that bestows existence until it is known that the profusion of this cause is impossible. Furthermore one must contemplate upon the coherence of the creation until reaching the realisation that several gods could not possibly create this type of order, or numerous lords administer this type of universe.
Likewise it became clear for some of the qualified and saintly individuals of God, that by accepting Divine authority (wilāyah al-takwīniyyah) in a setting where there is no independent lordship or creatorship over them, the oneness of God would not be negated. The legislative authority (wilāyah al-tashrī’iyyah) of the Prophet (s) and Imams (a) is not inconsistent with the Divine legislative lordship (rubūbiyyah al- tashrī’iyyah), because it comes with the Divine degree.
1- Explain the causes for the development of polytheism.
2- What is the basis of polytheism?
3- Why can one not assume that a phenomenon has several gods?
4- What difference is caused if one considers that the creation created by one god has several lords to administer it?
5- Why can one not regard every group of creation to be created by its particular god?
6- How would you criticise the assumption that the entire universe is created by one God, and at the same time claim that there are many lords and executers?
7- From where does the illusion of several gods come from, and how can it be nullified?
8- Why does it make no difference to the oneness of lordship and creatorship, if one believes in the Divine authority for the saints?