A seed–a tiny grain–is put into the ground. From it a mighty tree develops. A seed is just a minute particle, and a tree a massive structure. But would it be true to say that the seed is a limited manifestation, and the tree a complete one? No, that is not the nature of the relationship between a seed and a tree. Rather, the seed is the essence, and the tree it’s an offshoot. And it is the same with thought and action. Thought is a seed inside a human being. From it stems countless forms of actions. Thought is the essence; actions are its offshoots. Again, it would be wrong to think of action as the completion of thought, just as it would be wrong to think of a tree as the completion of a seed.
So it is with God’s true religion. It too has an essence, just as it has offshoots. The essence of true religion is the belief that God is One. Then there are the multiple injunctions of religion; they constitute the offshoots of this selfsame essence. It would be wrong to say that belief in one God is religion in an incomplete form, and that with all its injunctions and commandments religion becomes complete. Monotheism is the essence of true religion. We would underestimate its importance were we to think of it as incomplete, with injunctions and edicts presenting a complete picture of religion.
There are only a couple of hundred verses in the Quran that deal with the injunctions of religion. Yet in Islamic jurisprudence, we find hundreds of thousands of religious injunctions. Does this mean that the Quran is incomplete, and jurisprudence is a religion in a complete form? It is not so; the relationship between the Quran and jurisprudence is the same as that between a seed and a tree: the Quran is the essence, jurisprudence its offshoot.
Indeed, Islam has been likened to a tree in the Quran. This is because true Islamic belief first takes root in the heart; from there it spreads to a person’s outward actions.