Purification Through Tawheed : Mankind's Greatest Need
Ibn Abil-'Izz (died 792 AH) - may God be pleased with him - said:
"Knowledge of Usool-ud-Deen (the fundamentals of the religion) is the most noble branch of knowledge, since the excellence of a certain type of knowledge depends upon what it is concerned with
, and this is the greater Fiqh
(understanding) , which is why lmaam Abu Haneefah (died 150AH) - may God be pleased with him - called that which he compiled concerning Usool-ud-Deen: "al-Fiqhul- Akbar"
(The Greatest Fiqh
). The need of the servants for this knowledge is greater than every other need; and it is the most necessary of all things for them, since there is no life for the hearts, nor any delight, nor any tranquillity, except through knowing their Lord, the One to be worshipped, their Creator - with His Names, His Attributes and His Actions, and that He - along with all that - is more beloved to the person than anything else. So man's striving is with regards to everything that will draw him nearer to God, to the exclusion of the creation.
However, it is impossible for the minds to come to know and understand all that in detail, so the Most Merciful, the Most Majestic - from His mercy, sent Messengers to teach that and call to it; and to give good news to those who accept their Call and to warn those who reject it. The key to their Call and the essence of their message was the servant's drawing closer to Almighty God - the Most Perfect - through His Names, Attributes and Actions, since all that the Messengers were ordered with is built upon this. This then is followed by two great principles: Firstly
: Knowing the path that leads to Him and that is the Sharee'ah
(Islamic Law and Way) which is comprised of His orders and prohibitions. Secondly
: That those following the path know what lies in store for them, which is endless bliss. So the people who know God best are the ones who best follow the way to Him; and know best what lies at the end of the way."1
Firmness Upon the Deen (The Religion of Islam)
So, firmness upon the Deen
of Almighty God, excellence in this world and salvation in the Hereafter is built upon two great matters: "Firstly
: Knowledge of God and the beautiful Names and lofty Attributes that befit Him and His Actions - and this necessitates appreciation of His Majesty, honouring Him, fearing Him, being in awe of Him, loving Him, placing one's hopes in Him, placing reliance upon Him, being pleased with His decree and having patience with what He sends down as regards to hardships. Secondly
: Knowledge of what He loves and is pleased with, and what He hates and angers Him - whether beliefs, sayings, outward or inward actions. So the one who has knowledge of this has to rush to fulfill that which Almighty God loves and is pleased with, and to avoid that which He hates and which angers Him.2
Sufyaan ibn 'Uyaynah (died 197H) - may God be pleased with him - said:
"There are three types of Scholars: one who knows God and knows God's commands; and one who knows God, but does not know His commands; and one who knows God's commands, but does not know God. And the most complete of them is the first - and that is the one who fears God and knows His rulings."3
The Essence of Islam
Explaining the essence of Islam and its main pillar, the Prophet - the peace and blessings of God be upon him - said: "Islam is built upon five (pillars): Testifying that none has the right to be worshipped except Almighty God and that Muhammad is the Messenger of God; establishing the Salaah (formal prayer), paying the Zakaah (charity tax), making Hajj (pilgrimage) to the House and fasting in Ramadaan. "4
In another narration: "Islam is built upon five (pillars): To worship God and to reject anything along with Him . . . "
5 Also in another narration: "lslam is built upon five: The Tawheed of Almighty God . . . "
Thus: "Testifying that none has the right to be worshipped except Almighty God"
, has the same meaning as: "To worship Almighty God and to reject anything along with Him",
which has the same meaning as: "The Tawheed of Almighty God."
So, it will be clear to the honourable reader that Tawheed
is the essence of Islam, and it is the starting and ending point for all goodness and excellence.
means: "To make something one, or to assert the oneness of something."7 However, what we are concerned with here is the Sharee'ah
or technical meaning of Tawheed
, which is: "To single out Almighty God alone for worship."
Al-Bayjowree - may God have mercy on him - said: "It is to single-out al-Ma'bood
(the One to be worshipped - i.e. Almighty God) with worship, along with belief and affirmation in the oneness and uniqueness of His Dhaat
(Attributes) and Actions."9
Shaykh al-Ghunaymaan - may God protect him - said: "It is to single Him out with worship, with love, lowliness and submissiveness to Him, by complying with His commands and submitting to them."10
The Divisions of Tawheed
And Tawheed - with the Salaf
and the Scholars of Ahlus-Sunnah wal-Jamaa'ah
has three divisions.
'Allaamah as-Safaareenee (died 1112H) - may God's mercy be upon him - said: "Know that Tawheed
has three divisions: Tawheedar-Ruboobiyyah
(the Oneness of God in His Lordship), Tawheed al- Uloohiyyah
(to single-out Almighty God alone for worship) and Tawheed al-Asmaa was-Sifaat
(the uniqueness of God's Names and Attributes)."11
"And God has gathered these three divisions in His - the Most High's- saying: "Lord of the heavens and the earth and all that is between them, so worship Him alone and be constant and patient in the worship of Him. Do you know of any who is similar to Him?"12"13
"So Tawheed ar-Ruboobiyyah
implies: A firm and definite belief that Almighty God alone is the Creator, the Master and Owner, and the Command is for none but Him."14
"And Tawheed al-Uloohiyyah
is to single-out God alone for all worship and not to worship anything along with Him, whether it be an angel, a Messenger, a prophet, a pious person, a tree, a stone, the sun, the moon, or other than these."15
"And Tawheed al-Asmaa was-Sifaat
is the uniqueness of Almighty God - the Most High - with regards to His Names and His Attributes, by affirming that which God has affirmed for Himself - whether in His Book (i.e. the Qur'aan
) or by the tongue of His Messenger - may the peace and blessings of God be upon him - without tahreef
(distorting the Names and Attributes), ta'teel
(denial of the Names and Attributes), takyeef
(saying how they are), or tamztheel
(making any resemblance with the creation)."16
Tawheed in Knowledge and Action
The above three divisions of Tawheed
have been grouped - by some of the Scholars - into two types: the first type deals with knowing Almighty God through His Names, Attributes and Actions (i.e. Tawheerd al-Asmaa was Sifaat and Tawheed ar-Ruboobiyyah
), and the second deals with actualising and manifesting this Tawheed
through singling out God alone for worship (i.e. Taawheed al- Uloohiyyah
). The first type of Tawheed is connected with knowledge, whilst the second type is connected with action.
Ibn al-Qayyim (died 756H) - may God's mercy be upon him - said: "As regards the Tawheed
which the Messengers called to and which the Books were sent down with, then it is of two types: Tawheed fil-Ma'rifah wal-lthbaat
(the Tawheed of Knowledge and Affirmation) and Tawheed fit-Talab wal-Qasd
(the Tawheed of Actions and Intentions).
So the first type affirms the reality of the Dhaat
(Essence) of the Lord - the Most High - along with His Names, His Attributes, His Actions, His speaking in His Books and His speaking to whomsoever He wishes from His servants. It also affirms the all-embracing nature of His Predestination and Pre-Decree and His wisdom. The Qur'aan
has completely clarified this type of Taheed - as occurs at the start of Soorah Hadeed
and Soorah Taa Haa
, at the end of Soorah al-Hashr
, at the beginning of Soorah Sajdah
, at the beginning of Soorah Aal 'Imraan
and all of Soorah al-Ikhlaas
, and other than these.
The second type: Then it is what is contained in Soorah al-Kaafiroon
and contained in His - the Most High's - saying: "Say: O people of the Book! Come to a word that is just and fair between us and you, that we shall worship none but God and that we shall associate no partner along with Him, and that we shall not take others as lords besides God. Then if they turn away, say: Bear witness that we are Muslims."17
It is also contained at the beginning of Soorah Tanzeel
and at the beginning, middle and end of Soorah al-Mu'min
, and at the beginning and end of Soorah A'raaf
and the greater part of Soorah An'aam
. Indeed, every soorah
(chapter) in the Qur'aan
comprises these two types of Tawheed
, witnesses to them and calls to them.
Since the Qur'aan
[i] information about Almighty God, His Names, His Attributes, His Actions and His Sayings - which is Tawheed fil-Ma'rifah wal-lthbaat
(the Tawheed of Knowledge and Affirmation); or
[ii] it is a call to worship Almighty God alone without any partner, and a rejection of whatever is worshipped besides Him - and this is Tawheed al-lraadee at-Talabee
(the Tawheed of Actions and Intentions); or
[iii] it is a command to obey Him and to comply with His orders and prohibitions - so this is from the rights of Tawheed
and is a completion of it; or
[iv] it gives information about the people of Tawheed
and how they were treated in this world and how they will be honoured in the Hereafter - and this is the reward for Tawheed
[v] it gives information about the people of Shirk (associating partners along with Almighty God) and the punishment they receive in this world and the torment they shall receive in the Hereafter - so this is the reward for those who abandon Tawheed
Tawheed - its Importance in the Qur'aan
Ibn Abil--'Izz - may God have mercy on him - said: "So the Qur'aan
- all of it - is about Tawheed
, its rights and its rewards; and about Shirk
, its people and their punishments. Thus: "All praise belongs to God, Lord of the worlds."
19 is Tawheed
(of knowledge). "The Most Merciful, the Bestower of Mercy"
(of knowledge). "The Master of the Day of Judgement"
is also Tawheed
(of knowledge). "You alone do we worship and You alone do we seek aid and assistance from"
(of action) . "Guide us to the Straight Path"
and asking for guidance to the path of the people of Tawheed
, (which is): "The Path of those whom You have favoured." "Not of those who have earned Your anger, nor of those who have gone astray" - those who have separated themselves from Tawheed."
20 So Almighty God begins this soorah
by first informing us about Himself - the Most Perfect (i.e. Tawheed of knowledge). Then after having knowledge of Almighty God - the Most High - God orders us with the Tawheed
of action: "You alone do we worship."
Likewise just as "the great Qu'aan
opens with Tawheed
it also I ends with it. So the Qur'aan opens with Soorah al-Faatihah
: "All praise belongs to God, Lord of the Worlds"
and the great Qur'aan ends with the Soorah
: "Say: I seek refuge with the Lord of mankind"
Likewise, the greatest ayaah
(verse) in the Qur'aan
(the Verse of the Throne).23 Since this great aayah
informs us - from start to finish - purely about Almighty God's Names, His Attributes and His Actions. So this further emphasizes the importance of the Tawheed
of knowledge. Similarly, Soorah al-Ikhlaas
- from start to finish - is concerned with the Tawheed
of knowledge, whilst Soorah al-Kaafiroon
is connected with the Tawheed of action.24 Indeed, the Prophet - may the peace and blessings of God be upon him - said about a man who was reciting al-Kafiroon
in the first rak'ah (unit of formal prayer): "This is a servant who believes in his Lord."
Then the man recited al-Ikhlaas in the second, so he - may the peace and blessings of God be upon him - said: "This is a servant who knows his Lord".
25 The Prophet - may the peace and blessings of God be upon him - said: "Say: He is God, the One" is equivalent to one third of the Qur'aan. And "Say: O disbelievers . . . "
is equivalent to a quarter of the Qur'aan.26
What further demonstrates the importance of this Tawheed
is the fact that the Prophet - may the peace and blessings of God be upon him - "would begin his day with Tawheed
(of knowledge and action), since he recited both Soorah al-Kafiroon
and Soorah al-Ikhlaas
in the two rak'aat
(units of prayer) before Fajr
(dawn prayer).27 And he would end the night by reciting both of these soorahs
in his witr
(final - literally "odd numbered") prayer.28"29
"Indeed, all of the Qur'aan
is about Tawheed
."30 And Almighty God - the Mighty and Majestic - says: "A book We have sent down, full of blessings, that men may ponder over its messages; and those who possess understanding may take them to heart."
Tawheed - its Importance from the Sunnah
And what proves the importance of Tawheed from the Sunnah is that the Chosen one - may the peace and blessings of God be upon him - remained in Makkah thirteen years amongst the disbelievers, calling them to it, and saying to them: "Say: None has the right to be worshipped except Almighty God and thus be successful . . . ".
The Messenger of God - may the peace and blessings of God be upon him - said: "I have been sent close to the Hour, with the sword, so that none has the right to be worshipped except Almighty God alone, without any partner. My sustenance is beneath the shade of my spear. And humiliation and ignominy is for whosoever opposes my command. And whosoever resembles a people is from them."33"34
Similarly he would send his Companions to various communities ordering them with this Tawheed
first - as was the case when he sent Mu'aadh ibn Jabal to Yeman, saying: "Indeed you are going to a people from the People of the Book, so let the Tawheed of God be the very first thing you call them to . . . "35
And just as the Prophet - may the peace and blessings of God be upon him - started his Prophethood and teaching with the matter of Tawheed
, then likewise he - may the peace and blessings of God be upon him - mentioned "the matter of Tawheed during his final illness from which he - may the peace and blessings of God be upon him - died, when he said: "The curse of Almighty God be upon the Jews and the Christians, for they took the graves of their Prophets as places of worship."36"37
Clearing a Misconception
Shaykhul-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah (died 728H) said: "The Tawheed
with which the Messengers came with comprises of affirming that Divinity and worship belong to Almighty God alone, such that a person witnesses that none has the right to be worshipped except Almighty God, and that none is worshipped except Him, nor depended upon other than Him, nor are alliances or enemies made except for Him, nor is an action done except for Him. This affirmation also covers those Names and Attributes which Almighty God affirms for Himself, as God - the Most High - says: "And the God to be worshipped is only one God. None has the right to be worshipped except Him, the Most Merciful, the Bestower of Mercy."
38 And God - the Most High - says: "Do not take two objects of worship. Indeed, Almighty God is the only Deity to be worshipped, so fear Him."
39. And He - the Most High - says: "Whosoever calls upon (i.e. supplicates or prays to) other than God, for which he has no proof, then his reckoning is only with his Lord. Indeed the disbelievers will not be successful."
40 Almighty God - the Most High - also says: "And ask those of our Messengers whom we sent before you: 'Did We ever appoint objects of worship besides the Most Merciful?'"41
And Almighty God informed us about every Prophet from amongst the Prophets that they called the people to the worship of God alone, having no partner, as He said: "Indeed there is an excellent example for you in Abraham and those with him, when they said to their people: 'Indeed we are free from you and whatever you worship besides Almighty God. We have rejected you, and there has arisen between us and you, hostility and hatred forever - until you believe in God alone."
42 And God said about the mushriks
(pagan idolaters): "When it is said to them: 'None has the right to be worshipped except Almighty God', they become arrogant. And they say: 'Are we to abandon those deities that we worship because of a mad poet?"
43 And this occurs a lot in the Qur'aan.
And what is meant by Tawheed
is not merely Tawheed ar-Roobubiyyah
- the belief that Almighty God alone is the Creator - which is what some of the people of Kalaam
(speculative theology) and the Sufis think! So they think that if they affirm this type of Tawheed
, along with its proofs, then they have affirmed the utmost limits of Tawheed
and that if they bear witness to this and become absorbed in it, then they have absorbed themselves in the limits of Tawheed
! However, this is not the case. Since even if a person agreed to those attributes which are befitting to the Lord, and declared Him free from everything He should be declared free from and affirmed that He alone is the creator of everything - then still such a person would not be a muwahid
(a person of Tawheed) until along with this, he witnesses that the only Ilaah
(i.e. object of worship) is Almighty God (Allah
) - (i.e. none has the right to he worshipped except God alone) - affirming that Almighty God alone is the Ilaah
deserving off all worship, adhering to this worship and associating no partners with Him. Also affirming that this Ilaah
(object of worship) is He who is deified and worshipped and who deserves worship and it is not that Ilaah
merely with the meaning: "The One who has the power to create and originate."44
So if an explainer (of the Qur'aan
) explains Ilaah
to mean: "The One who has the power to create and originate" and believes that this is the most particular description of Ilaah
and affirms this to be the limits of Tawheed
- as is done by the people of Kalaam
(speculative theology), and it is what they say from Abul-Hasan al-Ash'aree45 and his followers - then they do not know the true reality of the Tawheed
with which Almighty God sent His Messengers, since the Arab mushriks
(pagan idolaters) used to agree that Almighty God alone is the Creator of everything. Yet despite this, they were still mushriks
, as God - the Most High - says: "Most people do not believe in God except that they commit shirk (i.e. associate others with Him in belief and worship).''
A group from amongst the Salaf
(the first three generations of Muslims) said: "If you ask them who created the Heavens and the earth, they will say: 'God' - yet along with this, they worshipped others besides Him."47
Almighty God - the Most High - said. "Say: 'Whose is the earth and all that is in it, if you do indeed know?' They will say: 'It belongs to God.' Say: 'Will you not then remember?' Say: 'Who is the Lord of the heavens and the Lord of the great Throne?' They will say: 'God.' Say: 'Will you not then fear Him?"48 So not everyone who affirms that Almighty God is the Lord of everything and is its Creator, will be a worshipper of Him to the exclusion of everything else - calling upon Him alone, hoping in Him alone, having fear of Him alone, forming allegiance and enmity for Him, obeying His Messengers, ordering what He orders and forbidding what He forbade."
Shaykh 'Abdul-Qaadir al-Jeelaanee (died 561H) said: "So it is upon you to fear God - the Mighty and Majestic - and not to fear anyone else except Him. Turn to God - the Mighty and Majestic - for your every need, and rely upon Him alone - the Most High - seeking that which you need from Him alone. Do not rely upon anyone other than Almighty God. And Tawheed
- all is contained in Tawheed
1. Sharhul-'Aqeedatul-Tahaawiyyah (p. 69).
2. Fadl 'Ilmus-Salaf (p. 47) of al-Haafidh Ibn Rajab (died 795H).
3. Related by ad-Daarimee (1/102) and Abu Nu'aym in al-Hilyah (7/ 280), with a Saheeh isnaad.
4. Related by al-Bukaaree (1/49) and Muslim (no. 16) from 'AbduIlaah ibn 'Umar - may God be pleased with him.
5. Related by Muslim (no. 20).
6. Related by Muslim (no. 19).
7. Lisaan ul-'Arab (3/450) of Ibn Mandhoor and also al-Hujjah fee Bayaanil-Mahajjah (1/305) of Abul-Qaasim al-Asbahaanee.
8. Ad-Dururus-Sunniyyah (1/48) of Shaykh 'Abdur- Rahmaan ibn Hasan.
9. Jawharah at-Tawheed (p. 10).
10. Sharh Kitaabut-Tawheed min Saheehil-Bukaaree (1/38).
11. Lawaami' al-Anwaarul-Bahiyyah (1/128) of as-Safaareenee. For the division of Tawheed into three types, refer to: al-Ibaanah 'an Sharee'atil-Firqatin-Naajiyah (p. 693-694) of Ibn Battah (died 387H); Kitaab ut-Tawheed of Ibn Mandah (died 395H) and al-Hujjah fee Bayaanil-Mahajjah (1/85, 1/111-113) of Abul-Qaasim al-Asbahaanee (died 535H).
12. Qur'an - Soorah Maryam 19.65.
13. Taqreebut-Tadmuriyyah (p. 110) of Shaykh Ibn al-'Uthaymeen.
14. Taqreebut-Tadmuriyyah (p. 110-111).
15. Taqreebut-Tadmuriyyah (p. 112-113).
16. Taqreebut-Tadmuriyyah (p. 116-117).
17. Qur'aan - Soorah Aal 'lmraan 3:64.
18. Mandaarijus-Saalikeen (3/449-450) of lbn al-Qayyim.
19. Qur'aan - Soorah al-Faatiha 1:1 - and what follows is a completion of this soorah.
20. Sharhul-'Aqeedatul-Tahaawiyyah (pp. 89-90) of lbn Abil-'Izz.
21. Qur'aan - Soorahtun- Naas 114:1.
22. Hukmul-Intimaa (p.58) of Shaykh Bakr Abu Zayd - slightly adapted.
23. Related by Muslim (no.1768) from 'Ubayy ibn Ka'b - may God be pleased with him.
24. Refer to Majmoo' al-Fataawaa (1/54) of Ibn Taymiyyah.
25. Hasan: Related by at-Tahawee and Ibn Hibbaan. Al-Haafidh Ibn Hajar authenticated it in Ahadeethul-'AaIiyaat (no.16).
26. Saheeh: Related by at-Tabaraanee in al-Mu'jamul-Kabeer (3/203/2) from Ibn 'Umar - may God be pleased with him. It was authenticated by al-Albaanee in Saheehul-Jaami' (no. 4405).
27. Related by Muslim (no.726)
28. Saheeh: Related by an-Nasaa'ee and al-Haakim, who declared it saheeh.
29. At-Tawheed wa Atharahu fee Hayaatil-Muslim (p.30) of Ahmad ibn Ibraaheem al-Hareeqee.
30. Madaarijus-Saalikeen (3/450).
31. Qur'aan - Soorah Saad 38:29.
32. Related by Ahmad (4/63).
33. Saheeh: Related by Ahmad (no. 5114) and Ibn Asaakir (19/96/1), from Ibn 'Umar - may God be pleased with him. It was authenticated by al-Haafidh al-'Iraaqee in Takhreejul-Ihya (3/42), and al-Haafidh Ibn Hajr in in Fathul-Baaree (10/222).
34. At-Tawheed wa Atharahu fee Hayaatil-Muslim (p.29).
35. Related by al-Bukhaaree (1/13) and Muslim (1/272), from Ibm 'Abbaas - may God be pleased with him.
36. Related by Bukhaaree (1/532) and Muslim (5/16).
37. At-Tawheed wa Atharahu fee Hayaatil-Muslim (p.29).
38. Qur'aan - Soorah Aal-'Imraan 3:163.
39. Qur'aan - Soorah Nahl 16:51.
40. Qur'aan - Soorah Mu'minoon 23:117.
41. Qur'aan - Soonh az-Zukhruf 43:45.
42. Qur'aan - Soorah al-Mumtahinah 60:4.
43. Qur'aan - Soorah Saafaat 37:35-36.
44. This is the saying of the people of Kalaam (speculative theology), Abu Mansoor al-Maatureedee in al-Tawheed (pp.20-21), and for a similiar misconception refer to Fee Dhilaalil-Qur'aan (5/2707) of Sayyid Qutub. Compare this meaning of Ilah with the correct explanations of great mufassirs - such as Imaam Ibn Jareer at-Tabaree in his Tafseer (20/102) and Ibn Katheer in his Tafseer (3/398) - which is: the one who is who is worshipped and who alone deserves to be worshipped.
45. He is Abul-Hasan 'Alee ibn Ismaa'eel al-Asharee (died 324H) - to whom the Ashariyah'aqeedah is is incorrectly
ascribed, since he abandoned the 'aqeedah - and that of the Mu'tazilah previously - for the 'aqeedah of the Salaf - as is mentioned by Ibn Katheer in Tabaqaatush-Shaafi'iyyah and shown by his last book: Al-Ibaanah 'an Usoolid-Diyaanah.
46. Qur'aan - Soorah Yoosuf 12:106.
47. This is the saying of lbn 'Abbaas and others - as occurs in Jaami'ul-Bayaan 'an Ta'weelul-Qur'aan (13/50-51) of at-Tabaree.
48. Qur'aan - Soorah Muminoon 23:84-87.
49. Majmoo'ul-Fataawaa (3/97-105) of Ibn Taymiyyah.
50. Futoohul-Ghayb (p.176).