The meaning of Islamic monotheism (Monotheism=Tawhid in Arabic) and its categories

What is the meaning of Islamic monotheism (Monotheism=Tawhid in Arabic) and what are its categories?

Answer

Praise be to Allah.

and blessings and peace be upon His Messenger and Chosen Prophet. 

Monotheism=Tawhid in Arabic means attributing Oneness to Allah and describing Him as being One and Unique, with no partner or peer in His Essence and Attributes.

The Arabs say waahid, ahad and wahid, all meaning one. Allah is Waahid, meaning that He has no rivals or peers in any way. So, Monotheism=Tawhid means knowing Allah is One, with none like unto Him. Whoever does not acknowledge Allah in these terms and does not describe Him as being One with no partner or associate does not believe in Monotheism=Tawhid. 

Regarding the shar’i definition of Monotheism=Tawhid, it means believing in Allah alone as God and Lord and attributing to Him alone all the attributes of Lordship and divinity.  

It may be defined as follows: Believing that Allah is One with no partner or associate in His Lordship (ruboobiyyah), divinity (uloohiyyah) or names and attributes (al-asma’ wa’l-sifaat). 

This word (Monotheism=Tawhid) and its derivatives are used with this meaning in the Qur’an and Sunnah. For example: 

Allah says (interpretation of the meaning): 

“Say (O Muhammad): He is Allah, (the) One [Ahad].

2. Allah‑us‑Samad [Allah — the Self‑Sufficient Master, whom all creatures need, (He neither eats nor drinks)].

3. He begets not, nor was He begotten.

4. And there is none co‑equal or comparable unto Him”

[Qur’an Chapter al-Ikhlaas 112:1-4]

“And your Ilaah (God) is One Ilaah [ilaahun waahidun] (God — Allah), Laa Ilaaha illa Huwa (there is none who has the right to be worshipped but He), the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful”

[Qur’an Chapter al-Baqarah 2:163]

“Surely, disbelievers are those who said: ‘Allah is the third of the three (in a Trinity).’ But there is no Ilaah (God) (none who has the right to be worshipped) but One Ilaah [ilaahun waahidun] (God —Allah). And if they cease not from what they say, verily, a painful torment will befall on the disbelievers among them”

[Qur’an Chapter al-Maa’idah 5:73]

And there are many similar verses. 

In Sahih al-Bukhari (7372) and Sahih Muslim (19) it is narrated that Ibn ‘Abbaas (may Allah be pleased with him) said: When the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) sent Mu’aadh ibn Jabal to Yemen, he said to him: 

“You are going to people from among the People of the Book, so let the first thing to which you call them be belief in Allah alone (Monotheism=Tawhid). If they accept that, then tell them that Allah has enjoined on them five prayers every day and night.

If they pray, then tell them that Allah has enjoined on them zakat from their wealth to be taken from their rich and given to their poor. If they agree to that then take it from them but avoid the best of people’s wealth.”  

In Sahih Muslim it is narrated from Ibn ‘Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said:

“Islam is built on five (pillars): belief that Allah is One, establishing regular prayer, paying zakah (almsgiving), fasting Ramadan and Hajj.” 

What is meant by Monotheism=Tawhid in all these texts is affirming the meaning of the testimony that there is no god, but Allah and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah, which is the essence of the religion of Islam with which Allah sent His Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), based on the evidence of the words of the Qur’an and Sunnah.

In some versions of the hadeeth of Ma’idah quoted above it says:

“You will come to some people from among the People of the Book so when you come to them, call them to bear witness that there is no god except Allah and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah.” Narrated by al-Bukhari, 1492. 

According to another version of the hadeeth of Ibn ‘Umar: The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “Islam is based on five (pillars): the testimony that there is no god except Allah and that Muhammad is His slave and Messenger…” Narrated by Muslim, 16. 

This indicates that Monotheism=Tawhid is the essence of the testimony that there is no god except Allah and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah, and that this is Islam with which Allah sent His Prophet to the two races of mankind and the jinn, other than which Allah will not accept any religion from anyone. 

Allah says (interpretation of the meaning): 

“Truly, the religion with Allah is Islam”

[Qur’an Chapter Aal ‘Imran 3:19]

“And whoever seeks a religion other than Islam, it will never be accepted of him, and in the Hereafter, he will be one of the losers”

[Qur’an Chapter Aal ‘Imran 3:85]

Once this is understood, it should be noted that the scholars have divided Monotheism=Tawhid into three categories, as follows: 

·       Monotheism=Tawhid al-Ruboobiyyah (Oneness of Divine Lordship)

·       Monotheism=Tawhid al-Uloohiyyah (Oneness of Divinity)

·       Monotheism=Tawhid al-Asma’ wa’l-Sifaat (Oneness of the Divine Names and Attributes). 

Monotheism=Tawhid al-Ruboobiyyah (Oneness of Divine Lordship):

Means believing in Allah as One and Unique regarding His actions such as creation, sovereignty, control, giving life and death, and so on.

There is a great deal of evidence to support this in the Qur’an and Sunnah.

Whoever believes that there is any creator other than Allah or any sovereign controlling this universe and disposing of its affairs other than Allah has denied this aspect of Monotheism=Tawhid and disbelieved in Allah. 

The kuffar=Disbelievers of old accepted this aspect of Monotheism=Tawhid in general terms, although they differed with regard to some of its details.

The evidence that they used to accept this is to be found in several verses of the Qur’an such as the following (interpretation of the meaning): 

“And if you were to ask them: ‘Who has created the heavens and the earth and subjected the sun and the moon?’ they will surely reply: ‘Allah.’ How then are they deviating (as polytheists and disbelievers)?”

[Qur’an Chapter al-‘Ankabut 29:61] 

“And if you were to ask them: ‘Who sends down water (rain) from the sky and gives life therewith to the earth after its death?’ they will surely reply: ‘Allah.’ Say: ‘All the praises and thanks be to Allah!’ Nay, most of them have no sense”

[Qur’an Chapter al-‘Ankabut 29:63] 

“And if you ask them who created them, they will surely say: ‘Allah.’ How then are they turned away (from the worship of Allah Who created them)?”

[Qur’an Chapter al-Zukhruf 43:87]

In these verses Allah states that the kuffaar affirm that He is the Creator, Sovereign and Controller, but despite that they do not worship Him alone (Monotheism=Tawhid of worship), which points to the graveness of their wrongdoing and lies, and the weakness of their reasoning.

For if there is One Who is described in such terms, none should be worshipped except Him alone and none should be described as being one and unique except Him; may He be glorified above those that they associate with him. 

So, whoever affirms this Monotheism=Tawhid in the true sense must inevitably also affirm the Oneness of Allah’s Divinity (Monotheism=Tawhid al-Uloohiyyah). 

Monotheism=Tawhid al-Uloohiyyah means devoting all acts of worship, both inward and outward, in word and deed, to Allah Alone, and not worshipping anything or anyone other than Allah, no matter who he is. Allah says (interpretation of the meaning): 

“And your Lord has decreed that you worship none but Him”

[Qur’an Chapter al-Isra’ 17:23] 

“Worship Allah and join none with Him (in worship)”

[Qur’an Chapter al-Nisa’ 4:36]

It may be described as devoting all one’s actions to Allah alone.  

It is called Monotheism=Tawhid al-Uloohiyyah because it is based on ta’alluh lillaah which is worship and devotion of Allah accompanied by love and veneration. 

It is also called Monotheism=Tawhid al-‘Ibaadah (oneness of worship) because it means that a person worships Allah by doing that which He has commanded and avoiding that which He has forbidden. 

It is also called Monotheism=Tawhid al-Talab wa’l-Qasd wa’l-Iraadah (Oneness of goal, purpose and will) because it means that a person does not seek anything except the Face of Allah, so he worships Him sincerely. 

This is the kind of Monotheism=Tawhid concerning which people went astray, which is why the Prophets were sent and the Books were revealed. This is the purpose for which the universe was created, and laws were prescribed.

Concerning this dispute arose between the Prophets and their peoples, so the stubborn were doomed and the believers were saved. 

Whoever goes astray regarding this Monotheism=Tawhid, such as devoting some of his worship to someone other than Allah, has gone beyond the pale of Islam and drifted away from true belief. May Allah protect us from that.

Regarding Monotheism=Tawhid al-Asma’ wa’l-Sifaat (Oneness of the Divine Names and Attributes), this means affirming the names and attributes of Allah and believing that there is none like unto Allah in His names and attributes.

This Monotheism=Tawhid is based on two principles: 

1 – Affirmation: i.e., affirming that which Allah has affirmed for Himself in His Book or that His Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) has affirmed of His beautiful names and sublime attributes in a manner that suits the Majesty and Greatness of Allah, without distorting them, twisting their meanings, denying their reality, or discussing how they are. 

2 – Denial: i.e., denying that Allah has any faults and denying any shortcomings that He has denied Himself. The evidence for that is the words of Allah (interpretation of the meaning): 

“There is nothing like Him, and He is the All‑Hearer, the All‑Seer”

[Qur’an Chapter al-Shoora 42:11]

So, He has denied that He bears any resemblance to His creation, and affirmed that He has attributes of perfection in a manner that befits Him, may He be glorified.

See al-Hujjah fi Bayaan al-Mahajjah, 1/305; Lawaami’ al-Anwaar al-Bahiyyah, 1/57.

Allah knows Best.

Reference

The Oneness of Allah

The Oneness of Allah – Tawheed Part 1 of 5 (Dr. Bilal Philips)

Almighty Allah is the highest and most knowledgeable, and the attribution of knowledge to him is the safest.

Right from Almighty Allah and wrong from me and Satan

Prepared by Mohamad Mostafa Nassar- Australia.

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