Auron ka hai Payaam aur, mera Payaam aur hai, / Ishq key dardmand ka tarz-e-kalaam aur hai! (Iqbal)
That is what Qur'an calls Tauhid. That mans how everything everywhere points to one single conclusion: that these things could have come from only one source, God Almighty.
That means to everyone everywhere each one of these things is an ongoing miracle and proof of the power and presence of the creator!
How much more rewarding or comforting can the creation get for those who understand it and see the hand of God behind everything that there is or happens?
And that is what Tauhid is: the notion of the oneness of God. Tauhid is what the whole thing is about: in thought, in belief and in action! In theory and in reality: God, the one maker and creator and God the one master, owner and controller.
One God; one creation; one human family; one final message; one last book from him; brought down by one last and final messenger, Muhammad, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam!
One formal way of worship; one Ka’abah and one direction to face in formal worship; one way to wash yourself ritually; one way to line up and perform your Salah or formal prayer.
The list goes on and on and on. And yet at the end everything adds up to Unity – number one.
EVERY AAYAT A MYRIAD MIRACLES
Not only does the Qur'an contain numerous miracles, every Aayat of the Quran, as I keep repeating every opportunity I get, is a myriad miracles in itself. In fact, the Qur'an packs a million miracles in every Aayat. That is part of the reason why every passage of the Qur'an is called an Aayah. The word aayat itself means a miracle, a proof, a sign, a marker.
That is the name – aayat – given by the Qur'an itself to its own passages. That is the name God himself uses to describe the passages of his book, The Quran. The book that he sent down to his beloved Rasul, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam.
Where is the wonder if that book is guidance to those who care – Muttaqueen – those who fear God? And that book is advice and admonishment to all. And it is cure for all that ails the human heart!
What a book, indeed!
Is an Aayat really a “Verse” as so many Muslims continue to call it? That is why I have a serious problem with our prevalent use of the word “verses” – taken by Muslim translators of the Qur'an and others from the language of the Bible – to describe the glorious Aayats of the Quran.
To me, an Aayah is an Aayah is an Aayat. It is his call – God’s I mean. He gets to call his work what he wants.
Aayat is a name given by the one whose word the Qur'an is. It is his chosen expression. If you want to continue to call it a “verse,” by all means go ahead and do it. But don’t blame anyone for what happens to us as a consequence. When the consequences of our words and deeds catch up with us.
Falaa taloomoonee wa loomoo anfusakum, as the Qur'an says: Blame no one but yourself and hold yourself accountable for what happened.
Yet at the same time, Aayat is also a word of the Qur'an that I find so hard to render in one comprehensive English equivalent – just like so many other words that Almighty Allah has used in the Quran: Wudu, Salaah or Zakaah!
An Aayat! Is it a sign? Is it a marker? Or is it a miracle? Or is it really proof? Or is it all of the above? Or is it that an Aayah is simply an Aayah is an Aayat?
A QUICK REALITY CHECK
There is no Islam if the next world (literally: Aakhirah) is not as real to us as this immediate world (literally: Dunya) in which we presently live. That is, we cannot be Muslim if we do not believe in the next world as strongly and firmly as we believe in our present world.
One is the visible and the seen and the other is the invisible and the unseen – Al-Ghaib.
The animal world mostly operates by the seen – that which is discernible through the senses of sight, sound, touch, taste and smell. At least so we think. Animals run their world based on the Seen.
Allah expects human beings to operate by a higher standard. He expects them to rise above the world of the senses – Haadhihil Hayaatid-Dunyaa, as the Qur’an puts it – and run their life based on the Unseen.
The Qur’an calls these special people – people who believe in the unseen world – Al-Ladheena Yu’minoona Bilghaib. And it does so right at the outset – in the very beginning of Surah Al-Baqarah. The Qur’an, Allah says, is of use and relevance only to those who believe in the Unseen.
And yet that is where many of our troubles may be coming from – from the shakiness of our belief in the next world. That is, our professions to the contrary, our belief in the present world may be somehow stronger and more real than our belief in the next world.
Allahu Akbar! What have I started! Well, I am going to leave it at that for the time being.
Let us return to the business at hand – this never-ending business of Salaam.
REPETITIVENESS IS PART OF LIFE
Repeating the same thing, right? You will say – and it has been said before – I am repeating the same thing over and over again.
But isn’t that what we all do: repeat the same thing over and over again? Ask yourself: How many breaths do you take every day, every hour?
Is it the same breath all the time – repeated I mean – or do you take a new breath every time? The air and oxygen and the rest may be different, but the sheer repetition of the act of breathing itself – over and over and over.
And just think of the pandemonium that breaks lose when our poor heart fails to repeat its monotonous beating just once!
And think of all the times in a day we repeat – or ought to repeat – to each other the greetings Assalaamu Alaikum?
Even Namaz, Roza are all about repetition, correct? And saying Subhanallah. And Alhamdulillah. And Allahu Akbar. And Laa Ilaaha Illallah. And Laa Haula wa Laa Quwwata Illa Billah. And the rest. These are all about endless repetition, right?
So, repetition is part of life – often the very foundation of life, I am tempted to say. So, we should not stop talking about the miraculous Islamic concept of Salaam for fear of being accused of repetition and monotony.
BUILDING A NEW MINDSET
All I am doing is asking us to become aware of what we are doing when we say Assalaamu Alaikum. That is all! Yes, I am doing that over and over and over. But there is a reason for it.
Ask yourself: How long – how many years, decades or longer – have the Muslims been out of it, as they say? I mean how long have the Muslims been out of touch with the real meaning and spirit of that piece of Paradise in our hands that we call Salaam?
So, how do you drill it back into their consciousness? How do you change that culture of mindless mouthing of this most amazing divine gift and make the Muslims wake up to the reality of it?
How do you move the daily, hourly, exchange of Assalaamu Alaikum among Muslims from being merely a mechanical and automatic function of the reflex arc – as the psychologists would call it – to a staple of their daily dose of conscious, thoughtful, rational and purposeful reality?
In other words, how do you change a culture that has for so long been dead or dormant? How do we create a new mindset, a new attitude, a new way of looking at things among a people who have been a slave of the status quo for so long?
One way to do that is to repeat things till they become second nature to us.