Tawheed al-'Ebaadah (Maintaining The Unity of Worship)
In spite of the wide implications of the first two categories of Tawheed, firm belief in them alone is not sufficient to fulfill the Islamic requirements of Tawheed. Tawheed ar-Ruboobeeyah and Tawheed al-Asmaa was-Sifaat must be accompanied by their complement, Tawheed al-'Ebaadah, in order for Tawheed to be considered complete according to Islaam. This point is substantiated by the fact that Allaah Himself has related in clear terms that the Mushrikoon (idolators) of the Prophet's time confirmed many aspects of the first two forms of Tawheed. In the Qur'aan Allaah tells the Prophet (saws) to say to the pagans:
"Say: 'Who is it that gives you all sustenance from the sky and earth, governs sight and hearing, brings forth life from dead (matter) and death from the living, and plans the affairs of man?' They will all say 'Allaah'."35
"If you asked them who created them, they would surely say, 'Allaah' "36
"If you asked them who brings down water from the sky and with it brings the earth to life after its death? They will most certainly say, 'Allaah'."37
The pagan Makkans all knew that Allaah was their creator, sustainer, their Lord and Master yet that knowledge did not make them Muslims according to God. In fact, Allaah said:
"Most of them do not believe in Allaah except while joining partners to Him."38
Mujaahid's39 commentary on this verse was as follows: "Their belief in Allaah represented by their statement, 'Allaah created us, provides for us and takes our lives', did not stop them from worshipping other gods along with Allaah."40 From the previously mentioned verses, it is clear that the Kuffaar (disbelievers) knew of Allaah's sovereignty, dominion and power. In fact, they used to faithfully devote various types of worship to Him like Hajj, charity, animal sacrifices, vows and even prayers in times of dire necessity and calamity. They even used to claim that they were following the religion of Abraham. Because of that claim, Allaah revealed the verse:
"Abraham was not a Jew nor was he a Christian, but (he) was a true Muslim and not among those who joined partners with Allaah."41
Some pagan Makkans even believed in the Resurrection and the Judgement and others in predestination (Qadar). Ample evidence of their belief can be found in pre-Islamic poetry. For example, the poet Zuhayr was reported to have said:
"It is either delayed, placed in a book and saved for the Day of Judgement or hastened and avenged."
'Antarah was quoted as saying:
"O 'Ebil to where will you run from death, if my Lord in the sky has destined it?"42
In spite of the Makkans' confessions of Tawheed and their knowledge of Allaah, Allaah classified them as disbelievers (Kuffaar) and pagans (Mushrikoon) simply because they worshipped other gods along with their worship of Allaah.
Consequently, the most important aspect of Tawheed is that of Tawheed al-'Ebaadah, maintaining the unity of Allaah's worship. All forms of worship must be directed only to Allaah because He alone deserves worship, and it is He alone who can grant benefit to man as a result of His worship. Furthermore, there is no need for any form of intercessor or intermediary between man and God. Allaah emphasized the importance of directing worship to Him alone by pointing out that this was the main purpose of man's creation and the essence of the message brought by all the prophets. Allaah says:
"I did not create the Jinn and Mankind except for My worship."43
"Verily, We have sent to every nation a messenger (saying), 'Worship Allaah and avoid false gods'."44
Understanding the purpose of creation in a complete sense is beyond man's innate abilities. Man is a finite created being and can not reasonably hope to fully comprehend the actions of the infinite Creator. Hence, God made it a part of man's nature to worship Him, and He sent prophets and books of divine revelation to clarify the aspect of the purpose of creation which was within man's mental ability to grasp. That purpose is, as was previously mentioned: the worship of God ('Ebaadah) and the main message of the prophets was to worship God alone, Tawheed al-'Ebaadah. Consequently, the gravest sin is Shirk, the worship of others instead of Allaah or along with Allaah. In Soorah al-Faatihah, which every Muslim is required to recite in his or her prayers at least seventeen times daily, verse four reads, "You alone do we worship and from You alone do we seek help". A clear statement that all forms of worship should only be directed to the One who can respond, Allaah. The Prophet Muhammad (saws) confirmed the concept of unity of worship saying, "If you ask in prayer ask only Allaah, and if you seek help, seek it only from Allaah."45 The absence of any need for intercession is further emphasized by the many verses indicating His closeness to man. For example:
"When My servants ask you (O Muhammad) about Me (tell them), 'Verily I am close (to them), I listen to the prayer of every one who calls on Me. So let them respond to Me and believe In Me in order that they may he guided aright."46
"It is We who created man and We know what his soul whispers to him, for We are nearer to him than his jugular vein."47
The confirmation of Tawheed al-'Ebaadah conversely necessitates the denial of all forms of intercession or association of partners with Allaah. If someone prays to the dead seeking their influence on the lives of the living or the souls of those who have passed away, they have associated a partner with Allaah, because worship is being shared between Allaah and His creation. The Prophet Muhammad (saws) said, in no uncertain terms, "Prayer (du'aa) is worship."48 And, Allaah, Most Great and Glorious, said:
'Do not worship besides Allaah that which can not help or harm you."49
"Those on whom you call besides Allaah are only slaves like yourselves."50
If someone prays to the Prophet (saws), to so-called saints, Jinns or angels asking for help or asking them to request help from Allaah for them, they have also committed Shirk. The concept of "Ghaus-i-Azam" (al-Ghawth al-A'dHam), a title given by the ignorant to 'Abdul-Qaadir al-Jeelaanee,51 is also an expression of Shirk in this form of Tawheed. The title literally means "the greatest source of rescue; the one most able to save someone from danger" and such a description only belongs to Allaah. When misfortune occurs, some people call on 'Abdul-Qaadir by this title seeking his aid and protection even though Allaah has already said:
"If Allaah allows harm to befall you none can. remove it except Him." 52
According to the Qur'aan, when the Makkans were questioned about directing their prayers to their idols, they answered,
"We only worship them so that they may bring us closer to Allaah."53
The idols were only used as intermediaries yet Allaah called them pagans for their practice. Those among Muslims who insist on praying to other than Allaah would do well to reflect on this fact.
Christians, influenced by the teachings of Saul from Tarsus (later called Paul), deified Prophet Jesus and directed their prayer to him and his mother. The Catholics among Christians have saints for every occasion to whom they direct their prayers in the belief that these saints can directly influence the affairs of this world. The Catholics also use their priests as intercessors between themselves and Allaah in the mistaken belief that the priests are closer to Allaah due to their celibacy and piety, and thus more likely to be listened to by Allaah. Most Shi'ite sects have devoted certain days of the week and hours of the day for prayer to 'Alee, Faatimah, Hasan and Husayn54 due to their distorted belief in intercession.
Worship ('Ebaadah) in the Islamic view, includes more than just fasting, paying Zakaah, Hajj and animal sacrifices. It includes emotions like love, trust, and fear, all of which have degrees which should only be directed to God. Allaah has addressed these emotions and warned against excesses in them as follows:
"There are among men those who take (for worship) others besides Allaah as equals to Him. They love them as they should only love Allaah. But those who believe have a much greater love of Allaah..."55
"Will you not fight people who broke their oaths, plotted to expel the messenger and were the first to (attack) you? Do you fear them? Allaah has more right to be feared if you are truly believers."56
"Put your trust in Allaah if you are truly believers."57
Since the term 'Ebaadah means total obedience and Allaah is considered the ultimate Lawgiver, the implementation of secular legal systems not based on divine law (Sharee'ah) is an act of disbelief in the divine law and belief in the correctness of such systems, such a belief constitutes a form of worshipping other than Allaah (Shirk). Allaah said in the Qur'aan:
"Those who do not rule by what Allaah has revealed are disbelievers (Kaafiroon). "58
On one occasion, the Prophet's companion 'Adee ibn Haatim, who was a convert from Christianity, heard the Prophet (saws) recite the Qur'anic verse, "They have taken their rabbis and monks as lords besides Allaah,"59 so he said: 'Surely we did not worship them,' The Prophet (saws) turned to him and said 'Did they not make forbidden (Haraam) what Allaah had made allowable (Halaal)60, and you all made it Haraam, and did they not make Halaal what Allaah made Haraam61 and you all made it Halaal?' He replied, 'We certainly did.' The Prophet (saws) then said, 'That was how you worshipped them'."62
Hence, a significant part of Tawheed al-'Ebaadah involves the implementation of Sharee'ah, especially in lands where Muslims form the majority of the population. Divine law has to be re-introduced in the many so-called Muslim countries where governments now rule according to imported capitalist or communist constitutions, and Islamic law is either totally extinct or relegated to a few areas of minor importance. Likewise, Muslim countries, where Islamic law is on the books but secular laws are in force, have also to be brought in line with the Sharee'ah as it pertains to all aspects of life. The acceptance of non-Islamic rule in place of Sharee'ah in Muslim lands is Shirk and an act of Kufr. Those in a position to change it must do so, while those unable to do so must speak out against the rule of Kufr and call for the implementation of Sharee'ah. If even this becomes impossible, un-Islamic government must be sincerely hated and despised for the pleasure of God and the upholding of Tawheed.