By: Shaykh Mahdi Lock
An excerpt from Shaykh Mahdi Lock's upcoming publication titled: Some Secrets of the Divine Approach
Faith in Allah and the Secret Behind Its Necessity
Allah the Exalted has said: “O mankind! The Messenger has brought you the truth from your Lord, so it is better for you to believe. But if you disbelieve, everything in the skies and the earth belongs to Allah. Allah is All-Knowing, All-Wise.” [an- Nisāʾ 4:170]
This verse contains the most important commandment that Allah addresses all of humanity with, regardless of time or place, and it is to have faith in Allah’s divinity and His alone.
It is to have faith that He alone is the creator. He alone brings about harm and benefit. He is the causer of all causes in existence. He grants things their natures and arranges their functions. In other words, He is the one “...who gives each thing its created form and then guides it.” [Ṭaha 20:50] He is the One who will gather mankind on a Day of Gathering of which there is no doubt; one group in Paradise, the other in the Blazing Fire.
No one is exempt from this covenantal obligation apart from the small child, the insane, or a person who lives somewhere where people never heard of the Religion and no guide or warner has been there. These people and those like them are affirmed by His statement: “We never punish until we have sent a Messenger.” [al-Isrāʾ 17:15]
Many people ask about the wisdom behind this general divine commandment.
Some of them ask:
Why does the Creator need His slaves to yield to Him in loyalty and faith, and what harm would befall them if they did not do so?
The benefit of having faith in Allah the Exalted and yielding to Him does not go back to Allah, such that we can marvel at it and ask what kind of benefit it brings to Him and what its corresponding harm might be. The benefit of faith in Allah only goes back to humanity itself, just as the harms of disbelief also only go back to it.
The elucidation of this is that man is endowed with a certain number of indispensable attributes and characteristics so that he can develop the world, subjugate it, and benefit from it. For example, there is the attribute of intellect, and what stems from it such as consciousness and knowledge. There is egoism and what stems from it, such as selfishness, love of ownership, and love of oneself. There is strength and what stems from it, such as the tendency for domination and love of majesty and rank.
These attributes cannot carry out their righteous task of developing the world in a way that is pleasing to mankind unless there is some higher form of supervision over these attributes, and those who possess these attributes are aware of the existence of this supervision. This is because if these attributes and characteristics are left alone, they are more likely to be a source of evil and wretchedness than they are to be a source of goodness and felicity.
Thus, the attribute of intellect, or knowledge, turns into a snare that captures man’s life and dignity. The characteristic of strength and its means is turned into violent storms with which certain groups strike one another. Then the storm recedes and leaves one group weak and enslaved while the other is strong, dominant, and deifying themselves.
The truth is that human tyranny is nothing other than the natural consequence of these attributes’ being released from any form of supervision or control. Therefore, the one who bears these attributes forgets that there is anyone watching him and monitoring him and that He has a severe punishment in store for any conduct or behaviour that displeases Him. He thus acts of his own accord and does whatever his ego and passions desire.
A human’s subservience to other humans and one man’s being another man’s slave is nothing other than the natural consequence of this same freedom. When these attributes are left on their own, those who bear them fight for control over this worldly life, and the winners are those who have greater strength and means of power, while everyone else, by necessity, falls under their rule and authority. Then they submit to the subdual and humiliation that that situation necessitates, resulting in utter slavehood because they are unaware of a Dominant Creator who decrees what He wants regarding His creation and there is no escape from His rule and decree.
If these slaves and tyrannical enslavers realised the Lord’s existence, affirmed His words, and believed in His Messengers, the tyrants would refrain from their tyranny and the slaves would be emancipated from their slavehood to their fellow man.
Firʿawn’s unbelief made him turn his authority over his subjects into such oppression and tyranny that they became his humiliated slaves, to the extent that when his magicians were displaying their proficiency in magic before Mūsā they said: “By the might of Firʿawn, we are the winners.” [ash-Shuʿarāʾ 26:44] Their feelings of slavehood to him had made them deny their own selves and attribute any victory or success they attain to Firʿawn’s might and authority.
Then, when faith in Allah entered these magicians’ hearts, and they became certain that He alone is the Lord who brings about benefit and harm, brings about life and death, their weakness turned into strength. They were freed from their counterfeit slavehood to a man just like them, and when Firʿawn warned them and threatened them, they stood tall and responded by saying: “We will never prefer you to the clear signs that have come to us nor to He who has brought us into being. Decide on any judgment you like. Your jurisdiction only covers the life of this world. We have put our faith in our Lord so that He may forgive us our mistakes and for the magic you forced us to perform. Allah is better and longer lasting.” [Ṭaha 20:72-73]
Therefore, the secret behind the necessity of having faith in Allah is the necessity of removing man from slavehood to his fellow man, and then they all enter into absolute slavehood to Allah the Exalted.
The only way that man can be emancipated from the shackles of this slavehood and humiliation is sincere slavehood to Allah.