*Note: this is a summary of the following article: https://www.searchforbeauty.org/islam-101/god-and-the-purpose-of-creation/

In this article, the concept of submission in Islam is explored. Islam means submission to God, not to anyone or anything else. True submission must come from love and a longing for unity with the Divine, and it requires self-mastery and responsibility for one’s actions. The article also discusses the harms of a militarized view of submission and highlights the importance of embracing moral growth and exploring limitless potential for development.

Islam means submission, and its central demand is for people to submit to God, not to anyone or anything else. Humans should work to overcome their weaknesses, manage their desires, and master themselves. Only by achieving self-mastery can they truly submit to God. If someone’s self is dominated by ego, desires, fears, or whims, their submission to God is less meaningful since they can’t submit what they don’t control.

The Qur’an states that humans are God’s representatives on Earth, responsible for civilizing it and not causing corruption. Individuals are accountable for their actions, and no one can carry the sins or responsibilities of another. Because humans are directly accountable to God, their submission means they should not submit to anyone else. Giving up one’s autonomy to another person goes against the relationship with God. Everyone must exercise their conscience and mind, and be responsible for their thoughts and actions. If someone surrenders their autonomy to another, they are breaking their bond with God.

The first duty of a Muslim is to gain self-mastery; the second is to avoid unlawfully giving up their autonomy to another person; and the third is to fully and completely submit to God.

This submission should not be reluctant, desperate, or motivated by fear of punishment. True submission must come from love and a longing for unity with the Divine. Those who submit should find fulfillment in love, not just obedience.

However, some interpretations of Islam, like Puritanical-Salafi, have portrayed submission as a soldier’s obedience to a superior officer. This approach reduces God’s message to a set of commands, as if the Qur’an were a military manual. This militarized view has caused significant harm to Islam. It focuses on power rather than beauty and love, which are the true essence of submission to God.

True submission involves loving God and being loved by Him. To love God, one must know the truth about the Divine without projecting human limitations and anxieties. One should not fall in love with a constructed image of God, but rather with the limitless, infinite Divine. This love should not be used as a means to control others or assert power over them.

Submitting to the infinite Divine means embracing limitless potentialities. Obedience to what one believes is God’s will is necessary, but it is only the first step. Submission to God is like submitting to an unquantifiable reality, like nature or the universe. It involves being in love with love itself and the endless possibilities of divine beauty.

This understanding of submission is essential for reclaiming the true message of Islam. Muslims have a relationship with God that involves bearing witness to moral virtues like justice, mercy, and compassion. These virtues are part of God’s beauty and are expressed through kindness and goodness toward humanity. The beauty of submission is not in gaining power over others but in serving them.

This approach assumes a process of moral growth. A relationship with the Divine should involve a never-ending pursuit of beauty and an exploration of limitless potential for moral development. A connection with God should be an ongoing journey toward greater beauty, rather than being confined to a fixed set of laws.

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