Idol-worship can take many forms. For example, if a person chooses to make their ego paramount, their life will be controlled by their ego. They will idolise their own ego. If a person makes the accumulation of wealth paramount, his or her life will be controlled by greed and he or she will idolise money. If a person chooses to idolise other humans, his or her deen will be controlled by that conviction and others will dictate their way of life. Similarly, should a person choose to profess religion he or she would then idolise the religious leaders, and the rituals dictated by these religious leaders or priests will regulate their way of life.
The common factor here is idol-worship. There are clear instances in the Reading about people who idolise their prophets, messengers, energies and jinn.
It is not possible for a human whom God has blessed with the Scripture and wisdom and prophethood that he should tell the people to serve him besides God. Nor will He ask you to idolise the energies or the prophets. (3:79-80)
Clearly, God’s prophet and messengers are not to be idolised. Yet many prophets and messengers are – in effect – worshipped. And then there are others who idolise saints, gurus, priest and religious scholars.
They have taken their priests and scholars as lords besides God. (9:31)
What about the one who idolises his own ego? Can you do anything for him? (25:43)
The egotists have been forewarned. God’s response to the question as to what can be done for them is:
Do you suppose many of them hear or understand? Indeed, they are just like animals. No, they are worse than animals. (25:44)
The Reading does not mince words. As regards those who reject it, it is clear and unequivocal:
The Reading is full of wisdom. You are one of the messengers, advocating the right path. A revelation from the Almighty, most merciful – to warn people, whose forefathers were never warned, they are unaware. It is written that the majority will not believe. Consequently, We chain their necks to their chins, and thus they are forced [into the directions they choose]. And We place a barrier in front of them and a barrier behind them, so they can never see. (36:2-9)
The Reading urges people to consider the Creation:
And the sun is moving in a specific orbit. Such is the design of the Almighty, the Omniscient, and We designed the moon to appear in stages until it reverts to a thin curve. The sun never catches up with the moon, nor does the night prematurely overtake the day. Each floats in its own orbit. (36:38-39)
In retrospect, if an undoubted source tells me that a set of instructions have arrived for me from the Being who created the sun and the moon and set them on their orbits, I would still verify them through scientific findings or accept it as logical understanding through observation. Until today nobody has proven the information wrong. In contrast in 1969, the chief priest of the Grand Mosque in Mecca was quoted as saying that the earth was flat and anyone professing the contrary was an infidel. This serves to illustrate the crux of the problem with the Arab religion, which goes by the name of Islam: ignorance. The Reading says:
Will they choose other than God’s deen, whilst everything is peaceful (aslama)1 in the skies and the earth either willingly or unwillingly? And to Him they will return. (3:83)
The word aslama in this verse is the same (i.e. has the same semantic root and is merely a separate conjugation of the root idea) as the word Islam. Everything in the seven heavens: the billions of stars, all the planets, everything on earth from every kind of creeper, plant and tree, every kind of animal and insect, every kind of bird, and kinds of aquatic life exist peacefully willingly or unwillingly. Thus, God poses the question that begs to be answered: ‘Will they choose other than God’s deen when His other creations are able to exist peacefully?
The message is clear, simple and the same in substance in every instance2. No prophet was sent to deliver or start a religion. Their job was simply to deliver God’s message, the gist of which is the deen.
1 The word aslama is derived from the same root S L M. When it is translated that everything that was created by God in the heavens exists peacefully – it reflects on how mankind chose to create disorder through their own choice.
2 Every prophet delivered God’s message the way it was revealed to them. They never tried to give their own opinions about how a person should conduct his or her life. The majority of Muslims need the Arab religionists to teach them how and what to eat – or how to dress or grow one’s beard.