Submission to Allah: The Core Concept of Islam

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The concept at the core of Islam is the intention that a Muslim follows the will of Allah as closely as possible in hopes that each moment of each day is to be lived in an attitude of complete submission to Him. Allah’s greatest revelation, the Qur’an, teaches about a Muslim’s responsibility to God as he is “All-Forgiving, All-Compassionate” (Qur’an 24:53), exemplifying the belief of tawhid (unity of Allah). Muslims around ethical practices, such as being stewards of Allah’s creation and environmentally conscious, in the notion of tawhid and because of his greatness, are expected to obey him and fulfill this purpose. Muslims also submit to Allah in the practice of Hajj, a spiritual pilgrimage to Mecca as they find unity in their collective worship of Allah.

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Submission to Allah is considerably held at the forefront of Islamic adherents’ actions and values, especially in relation to environmental ethics, highlighting the importance of this devotion to their lives. The oneness of God (tawhid) is manifested in Allah’s created the beauty and greatness of the world and an adherent’s subsequent responsibility to submit to His will and care for it, thus, reflecting the ethical teaching of tawhid (unity) as “to God belongs all that is in the heavens and on earth” (Qur’an 4:126). It is of utmost importance in their relationship with Allah that Muslims care for all animals and undertake each ritual carefully and ethically in accordance with Sharia law. “It is acceptable as long as the animal is not dead prior to slaughter, all flowing blood has been drained, and a Muslim has done the ritual slaughter,” says Masood Khawaja (President, Halal Food Authority). Through the ethical teaching of Khalifa (stewardship), Muslims become “servants” to God’s creation as they strive to respect and care for it in complete submission to him. The article of faith, Mala’ika, or angels, epitomizes this idea of living in peace and harmony with nature as Muslims endeavor to submit to God by living out good deeds in the belief that angels are recording these actions, thus, observing their ethical behavior. The Qur’an, which is accepted as the divine word by both Sunni and Shi’a Muslims, teaches that “human beings are heirs to the earth” (Qur’an 6:165), demonstrating their call to implement environmentally sustainable actions as guardians of the earth, a role they owe to Allah. The ‘Green Mosque’ in the small village of Tadmament, Morocco, is an example of Muslims are being stewards of God’s creation and not being “wasteful” of energy resources. Their local mosque provides energy sources that not only powers the place of worship itself, but the whole village, a unique example paving the way for other mosques of its kind and to instigate ecologically sustainable actions. As Professor Al-Jayyousi said “Human responsibility is to save and protect livelihood and ecosystem services”, thus, submission is exemplified to a great extent as Muslims strive to implement everyday actions to protect and maintain the environment in accordance with Allah’s will as stewards of creation.

The centrality of submission to Allah to the Islamic faith is significantly revealed in the pilgrimage of Hajj, one of the Five Pillars of Islam. Hajj is an opportunity for redemption and forgiveness of sins as Muslims, as “servants” of God, re-enact significant events and embody the beliefs in Islam during a time for self-renewal, simplicity, and devoutness. “Do not despair of God’s Mercy. Surely God forgives all sins” demonstrates that a person who performs the Hajj well will return to their daily life as a person free of sin. Consequently, Hajj is a practice of complete submission to Allah as all Muslims unite as a community in an intense and living expression of their faith. As Prophet Muhammad said, “Whoever performs Hajj shall return like a newborn baby” (Al Bukhari), supporting the belief in Prophets (rusul), their teachings on Islamic practices, and the important messages they deliver to humanity. The practice of ‘wuquf’ at Arafat on Hajj is indicative of complete submission as it is the most significant practice undertaken on the pilgrimage, as Muhammad said, “Hajj is Arafat” (Hadith). This ritual involves pilgrims standing before God on the Mount of Mercy and seeking forgiveness, in this way, wuquf is almost a practice of the Day of Judgement, the belief in Al-Akhira, where all Muslims stand before Allah and are judged for their good and bad actions. Similarly, Hajj is an act of devotion to Allah and is a manifestation of tawhid. As adherents undertake the ritual of ‘tawaf’, occurring at the beginning and end of Hajj, they circle around the Ka’ba as their consciousness is awakened, representative of Allah, and their submission to his will, is at the center of their lives. The ‘talbiya’ that is said during this ritual, “Here I am O God, here I am”, exemplifies the glorification of Allah as Muslims pledge their service to Him and demonstrate their utter submission to His will. As Hajj is an expected practice of Islam, “And proclaim that the people shall observe Hajj pilgrimage” (Qur’an 22:27), the significance of this submission to Allah’s will is fostered through these rituals of complete devoutness and search for forgiveness and “God’s mercy”, conveying the substantial extent to which submission is central to Islam.

Thus, it is evident that submission to Allah plays a pivotal role in the religious tradition of Islam as adherents strive to be better versions of themselves in their devotion to the one God. By performing Hajj, a practice that is expected of all Muslims, they are in constant submission to Allah as they embark on a deeply spiritual journey in receiving “God’s mercy” as they receive forgiveness for any sins. Environmental ethics should also be implemented in Muslims' daily actions as they strive to be “servants” of God in striving to live out good actions. Ultimately, through these practices, Islamic adherents strengthen and affirm their relationship with Allah as they submit to his will.  

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