The Goal of all Faiths is to Seek God
And (remember) when thy Lord brought forth from the Children of Adam, from their reins, their seed, and made them testify of themselves, (saying): Am I not your Lord? They said: Yea, verily. We testify. (That was) lest ye should say at the Day of Resurrection: Lo! of this we were unaware. – Surah al-A’raaf: 172
“No child is born except on the fitra [natural disposition to God] and then his parents make him Jewish, Christian or Magian (Zoroastrian), as an animal produces a perfect young animal: do you see any part of its body amputated?”
– Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 2, Book 23, Number 441
Part of Islamic belief is the idea that all human beings are born in a natural disposition to believe in God. When He created human souls He asked them if they bear witness that He is their Lord, to which all of them replied “Yes”. For some Muslims then it is not surprising that in the modern secular world where religion is usually placed into a backseat, that many people will refer to themselves as ‘agnostic’, or you will usually find them saying “I believe in Something, but I’m not really sure what It is”. Strangely it is usually people who are raised with no sort of religious up bringing that come up with these kinds of statements, testimony to the fact that belief is inherent in human beings, and something our soul inclines toward. Indeed it’s usually the militant atheist who will adamantly state a complete denial of anything metaphysical or spiritual, most people of no faith, have something of a faith inside them that’s bursting to come forth and find answers for questions their overly logicised mind cannot answer.
When one reflects on the major world religions, we find that the goal, no matter how veiled or disguised, still remains to be God. This is clear in the Abrahamic faiths, despite Judaism’s exclusivity and Christianity’s confusing mix and match of the pagan and the Abrahamic. How can God create all things and then only grant salvation to a few select born with the right parents, or only to those who accept that the sign of His love is that He must manifest Himself into a man, suffer, and then die for Him to be able to forgive sins?
A sceptic may have a looked at the title of this piece and dismissed the idea given the concept of the ‘Eastern Faiths’, namely Hinduism and Buddhism. The former a very much polytheistic tradition, and the latter dismissing the concept of a Creator. Hinduism at its core essence, and according to some of its philosophies is monotheistic. The concept of Brahman (or Baghwan in modern Hindi) is something akin to the concept of a Higher Entity; “the one supreme, universal Spirit that is the origin and support of the phenomenal universe”. The polytheistic nature of modern Hinduism is very similar to the pagan Arab tradition, a belief in Allah, as a Creator who is in the heavens, but then taking other gods alongside Him as minor deities on Earth to supplicate to instead. Buddhists on the other hand, strive not for God, but for enlightenment and the removal of human desire. But what is enlightenment? If we were to compare anything similar in the Islamic tradition to it we would possibly see it as something similar to ma’rifa, or gnosis of God. As the Hadith Qudsi states: “When I love him [My slave], I shall be his hearing with which he shall hear, his sight with which he shall see, his hands with which he shall hold, and his feet with which he shall walk”. Hardly something that can be taken lightly, a position and rank with God that causes creation to succumb to one’s demands by the right of its Creator, a deeper sense of knowledge that expands the mind and opens the soul and destroys all desire except for the One whose bliss is truly infinite, is this not the kind of thing Buddhists strive to attain in their life? When one reflects on the Eastern traditions, it makes sense when we see some of its adherents seemingly able to perform miracles. By controlling their ego (nafs), and struggling to search for what their soul desires, they have just touched the reality of the Prophetic statement regarding wilaya, or friendship with God.
Through reflection one finds common themes amongst nearly all religions, even amongst the not so common ones, for example the idea of a kind of God in Native American folklore. For the discerning Muslim this does not come as a surprise, as God tells us in the Qur’an: “And We never sent a messenger save with the language of his folk, that he might make (the message) clear for them” (14:4). We also find allusions to divinely revealed scripture across numerous tradition, the Vedas of the Hindus described as “not of human agency and directly revealed”. Everything seems to point to One source, but does that mean that Islam is a universalistic religion? The answer is simple, God tells us in the Qur’an: “He it is Who hath sent His messenger with the guidance and the Religion of Truth, that He may cause it to prevail over all religion” (9:33). Why does Islam with its holistic teachings then demand that it be considered the one true faith? If we reflect on what we mentioned previously, the goal of man must be to seek God, but do any of those faiths tear down the barriers that have been erected by man and go directly to the source? Some of the traditions we discussed see God as this vague supreme entity that cannot be fathomed or comprehended, and that has its truth to a certain extent. But it is only Islam that provides that relationship with that Supreme Magnificence that is God. It doesn’t need to be made into an idol or a crucified man, or a mysterious guessing game reflected on by philosophers for millennia; “We are closer to him than his jugular vein” (50:16). Islam provides that personal relationship with the Creator without any barriers, and by merely going back to the root of all things, when we were gathered in that primordial realm and declared “We bear witness”, we find the answers to all of the questions we had in our lives, and with that single truth we find salvation: “The key to paradise is ‘There is no god but God'”, “God has made the fire impermissible for the one who declares ‘There is no god but God'”. That’s it. The answer to all life’s question lies in that simple reality, the one single truth that all faiths strive to reach, succinctly placed into one simple phrase with which the path to salvation is opened, and the path to damnation is lost.
“No god but God”.