It does not matter to me if you believe in one God, two Gods, many Gods or no God. You live your life and I live mine.
The following write up is about understanding the idea of one God. The idea of oneness was the first step towards building one nation and a cohesive society. There was a need to subscribe the idea of one ultimate God that was common to all. Hinduism calls it Vasudhaiva Kutumubukum – the whole world is one. The Abrahamic faiths believe the entire world came out of one couple; Adam & Eve. So, we are all one.
Each merchant in Mecca, a trading center then had his own Icon representing “his” values, and when the conflicts arose between two merchants, it was their “personal God-Icon” who rescued or won them their battle in business. The conflicts remained a daily routine, sort of the Wild West in America some 200 years ago.
It was a time period when an individual’s greed and his drive to control the resources, wealth and women turned him into pitting his version of God against the others. That was not only in Mecca, but that was the case all around the world then, and it is the same now.
Subscribing to one common God, with all the non-conflicting attributes packed into one, an abstract idea of God which everyone could relate to was the need of the day. The idea of the oneness of God and oneness of humanity was a source of healing that brought unity among diverse people.
What a relief it was, it freed the men from the blame games and mitigated the mundane conflicts. The wisdom was a panacea to the conflicts among people.
Muhammad (pbuh) received revelations about the oneness of God, and commonness of humanity despite the differences. He understood that very well when he recited God’s words (Quran 49:13) that we were born to a single couple and were made into different tribes, communities, nations, and faiths, and with that uniqueness conflicts are bound to happen and the way to move ahead is to know each other, when we know each other conflicts fade and solutions emerge.
Muhammad revealed this to his family and friends, and they started seeing the value in the conflictlessness of “Your God” versus “My God” and moving on to “our God” – a common denominator God. Thus the word subscribing to the idea of one supreme* God came into being, the Arabic word for submission for peace was “Islam” and the one who submits to the idea of oneness, and conflictlessness was a Muslim, a submitter to harmony.
Prophet Abraham unified people under one God, but the method he chose needs to be studied critically. It has got to be better than what is dished out to us in the scriptures. He was said to have broken the idols with a hammer to make a point that the idol cannot help itself. My response as a kid was, he had no business doing that.
Prophet Muhammad was ascribed with the same method of dealing with idols but found out that it was not true. When he took over Mecca, he respectfully removed the idols as any new owner would take down the pictures of the previous owners. It was beautifully picturized by Michael Wolfe in his movie – The Messenger. That was my concern before the release of the movie and he allayed those fears.
In his last sermon, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) delivered one of the best equality statements – that no human is superior or inferior to the other, the words are almost identical to our immortal Declaration of Independence, that all men are created equal. To beef up the idea of equality, he delivered one more statement in Quran – not to treat any prophet above the other, all are equal in the eyes of God
Center for Pluralism