Reflection No. 302 on Q 19:65 – Can there be anyone like Allah?
Hal ta‘lamu lahu samiyya
Do you know anyone who is (named) like Him
(Sūrat Maryam, No.19, Āyat 65)
In this verse Almighty Allah asks human beings a question. Do you know anyone else who has the qualities of the Lord? Is there anyone who can be equal to Him? The question comes after God talks about His Lordship over the Heavens and the earth and what is between them, and tells the human being to persevere in His worship. Although this path may be difficult and challenging, the unique greatness of God naturally dictates the need to persevere on it. That last understanding alone makes it incumbent upon us to rise and strive on in ways we would not normally do.
The verse indicates that none but Allah deserve the name of God. Not the idols, not the false gods, not the subtle deities that human beings may worship. None can be called Rabb or Lord. No one has His qualities of Rububiyat, His generosity and bounty, His love and nurture of the human being. Then is there anyone else that the human being can turn to who has those qualities so he can worship him? Is there an equal so there can be an alternate refuge?
Belief in One God is Tawhīd, the essential foundation of Islam. The belief in Tawhīd is further divided into various stages. Among them are:
Tawhīd al-Uluhiyyah – belief in Oneness of the Creator,
Tawhīd al-Rububiyyah – belief in Oneness of Lordship
Tawhīd al-‘Iāadah – belief in Oneness of worship.
People have always believed in Oneness of the Creator. When the polytheists were asked about the Creator they knew it was One God. And if you ask them, Who created the heavens and the earth and made the sun and the moon subservient, they will certainly say, Allah. How then are they turned away? (Q 29:61). It is in Oneness of Lordship that polytheism crept in, saying there were gods who looked after various aspects of human life. There was a god for rain, a god for war, and a god for protection, etc. Thus they worshipped the different gods and asked them to fulfill their needs. All the Prophets dealt with such polytheism in Lordship. Nabī Ibrāhīm asked his people: Do you then worship besides Allah that which cannot cause you any benefit or harm? (Q 21:66) Nabī Yūsuf talked to the two prisoners who came to him for dream interpretation, telling them of the One Lord. He then asked them: Are diverse lords better or God, the one, the Almighty? (Q 12:39).
Belief in Oneness of Lordship leads to Oneness of worship. That is what the verse is referring to. Do you have a Lord other than Him, or like Him, whom you could worship? We have none other than Him. Amīrul Mu’minīn Imam Ali (a) says to his son: Know O my child, if there had been a partner with your Lord, his messengers too should have come to you and you would have seen signs of his authority and power and have known his deeds and qualities. But He is only One God as He has described Himself (Document 31, Nahjul Balāgha).
Recite this verse to inspire you to persevere in His path. There is no one like Him. He alone is worthy of worship and servitude. Turn to Him for He is all you have. Imam Ali (a) says it beautifully in the same letter: Therefore, cling to Him Who created you, fed you and put you in order. Your worship should be for Him, your eagerness should be towards Him, and your fear should be of Him.
Sources: Amīrul Mu’minīn Ali bin Abu Talib (a), Nahjul Balāgha; Āyatullāh Muhammad Husayn Tabātabā’ī, Tafsir al-Mizan; Seyyed Hossein Nasr, (Ed. in chief), The Study Quran;