In the name of Allāh,
the Beneficent, the Merciful.
Peace and Blessings of Allāh on Mohammad.
Allāh–the Glorious and the High,
Lord of the worlds
Mohammad–who brought the world
to our feet and eternity to our arms.
MONOTHEISM AND POLYTHEISM
Is polytheism superior to monotheism? Consider: That all time -keeping equipments were produced by a company consisting of three independent partners, with each specializing in only one aspect of these time-keeping equipments. Can such a company be depended on for continual supply of time-keeping equip-ments? What if one partner (for some reason) decides to withhold his part, or decides to stop making it altogether–where would this leave the consumers? Or what if each of the three partners, thinking that his part is the most important wants his name to be listed first at the top of the product–where would these wrangling leave consumers? Or what if the partners cannot agree on a specific design?
How eloquently Allah God has given us the arguments in the Qur’an for the existence of One God. He asks us to reason that:
- If there were other gods with Allah then the idolaters with the help of these other gods would have been able to seek a way to the Lord of the Throne–(17:42).
- If there were other gods besides Allah governing the heavens and the earth wouldn’t there be confusion in them–(21:22).
- If there were other gods with Allah then each would have taken away what he created, and some of them would have seek to dominate others–(23:91).
If there were other Gods besides Allāh it would be expected that they would send their messengers with their own revelations.
C. Rajagopalachari says in his Ramayana:
“Viswaamitra was a king who attained sainthood through terrible austerities. He had long ago exhibit-ed his spiritual powers by starting to create another Brahma and a rival universe: he had gone as far as the creation of new constellations, but was prevailed upon to stop by the entreaties of the alarmed gods.”(p. 19).
Imagine polytheism with its multiple gods. Imagine half a’ dozen disgruntled or ambitious gods each creating his own “rival universe.”
The suggestion that a great number of men constructing a house or ship, rearing a city and framing a Commonwealth may well be analogous to several deities associating together in framing a world, is a poor one. Such buildings by these great number of men are no guarantee of peace and harmony. There are much strife and infighting among the builders of this same house and city and Commonwealth.
There are those who transgress–who try to subjugate and control other nations; and even try to dominate the world– and they have created not even a gram of dirt, and they want to be lord over all. What if such transgressing nations were creators? Clearly, it can never be better to have many creators instead of one. Even in the human sphere there is only one at the helm–in the home, organization, expedition, or country.
“There is order in the universe because one law pervades the whole of it, and one law clearly points to one Author and Main-tainer of that law. The unity of law is a clear proof of the Unity of the Maker.” (Muhammad Ali, Qur’anic comm. # 1620)
Whereas in polytheism one needs to petition a myriad of Gods (and goddesses) for what is good. In Islam one prays only to Allāh–one brief all-encompassing prayer: “Our Lord grant us good in this world and good in the Hereafter, and save us from the chastisement of the Fire” (Ameen!)–(Qur’an 2:201).
It may be true that Hinduism and Buddhism do not have a dismal record of intolerance than the followers of monotheism. But Hinduism and Buddhism are not altogether free of religious fanaticism. Hindus have not only destroyed mosques–the most prominent being the 500-year old Babri Masjid1 demolished in 1992–and killed Muslims because of their religion as recently as the nineties; and continues to discriminate against Muslims. But, as Abdul Haque Vidyarthi notes in his book Muhammad in World Scriptures, the Hindu “ecclesiastic Shankaracharya” “perpetrated all sorts of afflictions upon the Buddhists in India because he was of the view that the Buddha was opposed to the Vedas…He massacred Buddhists to such an extent that none of them remained in India, either they were killed or they fled out of India”–(Vol. 1, p. 340).
And the Buddhists. In 1902 Thailand seized the Muslim “Malay sultanate of Pattani,” Haroon Siddiqui notes. The population of “3 million now” “have been systematically discriminated against by successive governments in Bangkok.” In 2004 “76 peaceful” Muslim protestors were killed. In a drive to create a state ““eth-nically Thai and religiously Buddhist”” Muslims have been ““neglected, persecuted and silenced.””2 (And recently, 2012, Buddhists have killed a thousand Muslims in Myanmar/Burma. Imagine how many Muslims the Buddhists would have killed if they were not “peaceful”).
However, this “wickedness and cruelty” of the monotheists is not to be put at the door of the religion of Allah God.
Regarding the “tolerance” of the Pagan Arabs, it is rather strange that these Arabian idolaters/polytheists have shown tolerance for another God by subjecting Mohammad and his followers to attempted assassination, persecution, exile, most horrid torture and war.
There is no “advantage” in “Idolatry.” There is no “advantage” in subjugating one’s self to monuments of stone. And of depend-ing on this God and on that God for this and for that. Objects fashioned by man’s own hands cannot confer benefit or effect harm. Regardless of how great a “tolerating spirit” idolatry may have, any man who would throw himself at the mercy of idols or would advocate or esteem such a practice of idolatry could be no “genius,” “customary” or otherwise. Much less, those who crown such individual(s) with the distinction of “genius.”
Declared the noble Messenger through Divine revelation: Allah has created man in the best make–(Qur’an 95:4); and has made subservient to him whatever is in the heavens and what-ever is in the earth–(31:20); adore not the sun nor the moon, but adore Allah Who created them –(41:37). By taking other humans in worship man has made himself subservient to man. By taking objects of creation in worship man has rendered himself subjective to nature rather than make nature subjective to him.
Idolatry is perhaps the worst of all degradations.
Islam did not and does not preach “hatred” of idolatry or poly-theism. Islam preaches only against the futility and degradation of idolatry, and the irrationality of polytheism.
Islam did not nor does it force religion on anyone at the point of the sword. Islam, and Monotheism in general, are not “inhe-rently intolerant”. No religion founded on Divine inspiration is “intolerant.” Such intolerance comes from its followers. Allah God, as He reveals in the Qur’an, has given man a free will to choose his way of life. It is because of this freedom that he (man) will have to give an account for his actions.
(It is said that the idol in Hinduism is a medium for con-centrating on God. That it is a “symbol” of Hinduism much as the cross is a “symbol” of Christianity and the crescent moon and star is a “symbol” of Islam. But there is no equating this “symbol” of Islam with the idol of Hinduism. The moon and star may be a “symbol” of Islam, but Muslims do not stand before it in their worship nor feed milk to it, nor offer it food. Also, Muslims have one moon and star, contrasted to the numerous idols of different features. Instead of concentrating through the idol, worshippers may consider concentrating through the written name of God; or even better, take the lofty path and follow the Divine universal religion–Islam!)
1. (Babri Masjid): Krishna says, “I still appear in every millennium….Whenever and wherever there is a decline in religious practice….To deliver the pious”–(Gita 4:6-8). Thus, Krishna must have come as Mohammad to the Arabs; and such seems to be Hindu belief as they say Allāh is one of the names of God. As Rama and Krishna are said to be incarnates of Vishnu, then Allāh, Vishnu, Krishna, and Rama must be the same. It is ironic then that Hindus destroyed the Babri Masjid to build a temple of Rama: in essence Hindus destroyed the shrine of Vishnu/Rama to build a shrine for Vishnu/Rama.
2. Toronto Star, Thursday, March 29, 2007; Haroon Siddiqui, A local conflict with global implications, p. A21.