Islam-beliefs

Fundamentals of Tawheed – Inspired by Dr. Billal Philips

INTRODUCTION TO TAWHID

Meaning of Tawhid

Tawhid means: The oneness of God – which is the core of the Islamic faith. Literally, the word Tawhid means “unification” which came from the Arabic verb wahhada which means to unite or unify. However, when the term Tawhid is used in reference to Allah, it refers to the belief that:

  • Allah(swt) is One;
  • He does not have any partner;
  • He is unique in His essence and attributes; and
  • He is the only entity who is deserved to be worshiped alone.

Associating partners with Allah(swt) results to the greatest of all crimes i.e. Shirk, so we should be very cautious in this matter.

Tawhid is the very foundation of Islam on which all the other pillars and principles actually depend upon. 

Tawhid is the basis of the religion of Islam and most precisely expressed as “La Ilaha Illallah” (There is no god but Allah), which proclaims that, there is only one true God and that He deserves to be worshipped alone. This simple formula draws the line between our Eeman (true belief in God) and Kufr (disbelief).

Is Allah Everywhere?

The concept that Allah is present everywhere and in everything is rejected by orthodox Islam. This misconception can push people away from the worship of Allah alone, this may lead them to justify the idea of worshiping created things instead. One may easily think that, since God is everywhere, He is also present in an Idol – So, what is the problem in prostrating before it? That person will justify that, he is actually prostrating before his creator in that manner.

Analysing Quranic Ayats

The below Ayats indicates Allah’s(swt) position above every creation:

The Most Merciful [who is] above the Throne established. {Surah Ta Ha: Ayat 5}

It is Allah who created the heavens and the earth and whatever is between them in six days; then He established Himself above the Throne{Surah As-Sajdah: Ayat 4}

Indeed, your Lord is Allah, who created the heavens and earth in six days and then established Himself above the Throne{Surah Al-Araf: Ayat 54}

He created the heavens and earth in truth. High is He above what they associate with Him. {Surah An Nahl: Ayat 3}

They[creatures&angels] fear their Lord above them, and they do what they are commanded. {Surah An Nahl: Ayat 50}

The below Ayat indicates Allah’s(swt) position above the throne and in the same time, He declares His presence with us in His divine knowledge and vision.

It is He who created the heavens and earth in six days and then established Himself above the Throne. He knows what penetrates into the earth and what emerges from it and what descends from the heaven and what ascends therein; and He is with you wherever you are. And Allah, of what you do, is Seeing. {Surah Al-Hadid: Ayat 4}

The below Ayats also confirms His presence with us in His divine knowledge and vision. (whenever He declares His nearness to us He immediately clarifies that He is present with us in His Divine Knowledge, Vision or by means of His Angels[on our shoulders]).

[ Allah ] said, “Fear not. Indeed, I am with you both; I hear and I see. {Surah Ta Ha: Ayat 46}

Have you not considered that Allah knows what is in the heavens and what is on the earth? There is in no private conversation three but that He is the fourth of them, nor are there five but that He is the sixth of them – and no less than that and no more except that He is with them [in knowledge] wherever they are. Then He will inform them of what they did, on the Day of Resurrection. Indeed Allah is, of all things, Knowing. {Surah Al-Mujadila: Ayat 7}

Al-Qasimi says, “The scholars among the Prophet’s companions, who transmitted the meaning of the Qur’an to their successors, held this verse to mean that Allah is above His ‘Arsh, but His knowledge is everywhere.”

And We have already created man and know what his soul whispers to him, and We are closer to him than [his] jugular vein. When the two receivers receive, seated on the right and on the left. {Surah Qaf: Ayat 16-17}

In the final Ayat, most of the mufassireen (exegesis) explains the meaning that, He is near to us by means of His angels, whose task it is to record people’s deeds. all of these Ayats, that mentions that He is with us or near to us, they mean that He is near by His knowledge and vision. After each of these Ayats Allah(swt) subsequently mentions that He Knows, Listens or Sees or the Angels are writing right after these Ayats – these clarify any misconception.

Factual Analysis

The Journey of Miraj

Allah(swt) is above His seven heavens, above His ‘Arsh, and separated from His creatures, and His creatures are separated from Him. We all know that, in Mi’raj, Muhammad(pbuh) had to travel from Makkah to Jerusalem and from there he had to get up, crossing all the seven Heavens, to reach out to Allah(swt) – from where commandment of our obligatory prayer was received. So the most obvious argument is that, he had to travel up and above the seventh heaven to meet Allah(swt) because Allah(swt) position is above the throne.

What we recite in our Sejdah(prostration)

Another strong argument is that, when we get down in our Shejdah or prostration to Allah(swt) we say – “Subhaana Rabbiyal A’ala” which means Glory be to Lord, the Most High. We continuously declare His position while we are in our prostrations (our lowest position).

All of these should be sufficient enough to prove His position above the Throne and separated from His creations.

Importance of understanding Tawhid

The Shaitan is the eternal and arch enemy of mankind, who vowed that he will not spare any effort to distract man from the guided path – so we must protect ourselves. We need to educate ourselves more and more from the most authentic sources of knowledge (starting from the Quran and the Sahih Hadiths) and avoid deriving implications based on our own assumptions because our assumptions are highly influenced by the Shaitan.

One day, our Prophet (pbuh) was sitting with his Companions (may Allah be pleased with all of them). He drew a straight line in the dirt and then a series of lines branching off from either side of it. He pointed to the branches and told them that they represented the various paths of misguidance in this life where the devils invite the people. He then pointed to the straight line and told them that it represented the path of Allah(swt). When the Companions asked for further clarification, he recited the following Ayat:

“And, [moreover], this is My path, which is straight, so follow it; and do not follow [other] ways, for you will be separated from His way. This has He instructed you that you may become righteous.” {Surah Al-A’nam: Ayat 153}

It is therefore of the utmost importance that Tawhid be clearly understood in the way it was taught by our Prophet(pbuh) and understood by his Companions, or else one could be easily misled to a deviant path away from Allah(swt). Misconceptions in mind do not just spread across but it also carries forward in generations destroying the crucial part of our faith, so we must be very careful in this matter.

THE CATEGORIES OF TAWHID

The 3 categories of Tawhid are most commonly referred as:

  • Tawhid ar-Rububiyah (literal meaning “Maintaining the Unity of Allah’s Lordship”) which means, affirming that Allah is one, without partners in his sovereignty.
  • Tawhid al-Asma’ was-Sifat (literal meaning “Maintaining the Unity of Allah’s Names and Attributes,”) which means, affirming that all the Names and Attributes of Allah are completely incomparable & unique.
  • Tawhid al-Ibadah (literal meaning “Maintaining the Unity of Allah’s Worship”) which means, affirming that Allah(swt) is alone in His right to be worshipped.

A brief History

The division of Tawhid into its components was not done by the Prophet nor by his Companions, as these were not necessary in their times. But in our time, such clarification is becoming more and more vital for the lack of religious knowledge and deviations between the Muslim Ummah.

Islam gradually spread into different parts of the world like Egypt, Byzantium, Persia and India and unfortunately absorbed the cultures of these regions. Few people also outwardly accepted Islam but secretly worked to destroy the religion, from within, by distorting the actual concept and ideology of Tawhid, which is the first pillar of our faith (i.e Eeman). Thus, it became necessary for the scholars to combat and respond against these misconceptions and also to clarify the Muslims what is the correct understanding of Tawhid.

Now let’s briefly discuss these three categories of Tawhid, which are actually overlapping, but we look at them separately for analysis purposes. For example, when we study the human body (human anatomy), we consider the skeletal system, nervous system, blood circulatory system, digestive systems etc. separately, but they are actually interrelated to constitute the whole body. Similarly, these categories are analyzed separately but combinedly constitute one complete belief system of Tawhid.

Tawhid ar-Rububiyah (Maintaining the Unity of Lordship)

This category is based on the fundamental concept that Allah(swt) alone caused all things to exist from nothing.

He sustains and maintains all the creation without any support.

He is the sole Lord of the entire universe and all its inhabitants without any real challenge to His sovereignty.

The Arabic word Rububivah is used to describe His creator-sustainer quality, which is derived from the root word Rab (Lord). We say in Surah Fatiha:

Alhamdulillahi-rabbul-aalameen; here the word Rab means, the one who Creates, Maintains and Sustains every aspect of the entire existence.

The description of the concept of Rububiyah may be found in many Quranic Ayats, for example, Allah (swt) says:

Allah is the Creator of all things, and He is, over all things, Disposer of affairs. {Surah Az-Zumar: Ayat 62}

No disaster strikes except by permission of Allah . And whoever believes in Allah – He will guide his heart. And Allah is Knowing of all things. {Surah At-Taghabun: Ayat 11}

So, God creates and controls everything in existence. Nothing happens in creation, except what He allows to happen. In recognition of this reality, Prophet Muhammad used to often repeat the exclamatory phrase, La hawla wa la quwwata illa billah.(There is no movement nor power except [the help/permission of] Allah).

The Prophet (pbuh) further elaborated in the below hadith:

…Know that if the entire creation were to gather together to do something to benefit you- you would never get any benefit except that Allah had written for you. And if they were to gather to do something to harm you- you would never be harmed except that Allah had written for you. The pens are lifted and the pages are dried.” {Jami` at-Tirmidhi: Book 37, Hadith 2706}.

Where did Evil Originated?

But, this concept gives rise to few strange questions:

  • What about the bad/evil creations and events?
  • Who is the controlling authority?
  • Have they originated and controlled by the same God?

This is a most commonly misunderstood concept among the atheist, followers of other religions and even among the Muslims. Failing to answer this concept correctly may lead people to question the fairness of Allah(swt); for example:

  • Why did God do this to me?
  • How do I deserve this?
  • How can God be so unfair to me?

Even people may start even questioning God’s existence, because they find the God to be silent and not helping to get them out of their situation of injustice. The answers to these questions will eventually be answered in this article.

Devil as a separate God

Zoroastrianism(which is a religion of the fire worshipers from Iran) is an example where its followers dealt with this concept by attributing 2 separate Gods for the Good and the Evil. Their actual good God is Ahura Mazda and the devil/evil God is Angra Mainyu. However, in their concept the Good God is symbolized by Fire and the evil as darkness and thus the Good is going to win out at the end of the day. But this raised Shaitan to the level of the God, who has the power to create evil and beyond the permission and control of  the actual Good God.

This particular concept has serious problems associated with it. If the devil is a separate God, then it would be difficult for a person to rely on the actual God. This is because the situation would seem to be beyond the control of the Good God (as they say) and people will have a tendency to worship the devil either to save themselves or to harm others. In addition, they do not need to rectify their lifestyle in order to be a devil worshiper.

Allah(swt) is the Originator of Everything (Good or Bad) and has full control of all their affairs

Now, let’s try to further analyze this concept in term of the understanding of the major Muslim scholars.

As Allah(swt) mentioned, that He created everything, that literally means every aspect of existence originated from Him. So, all the good fortune and misfortune(in our understanding) that we may think of actually originates from one and only Allah(swt).

Whatever we might perceive to be evil, end of the day they are not purely evil. There is always a good side of every creation. If we look at the Quran and the Sunnah, we can find that He has referred Himself as the creator of creations which might be evil for us. As in Surah Al-Falaq he said:

 “Qul a’uzoo bi rabbil-falaq; Min sharri ma khalaq”

Say: “I seek refuge with the Lord of the Daybreak.

From the Evil of what He created.

The world functions in a manner where certain creations may look evil or harmful to someone but they have some good, that comes out of that evil. For example, one person goes to a doctor due to a disease and the doctor prescribes him an injection, for the cure. Just considering the injection itself, it seems to be evil, right? If someone out of nowhere came to you and ask, “Can I stick one needle to your arm?”; what would you respond? “No thank you, I am not a Masochist.” But, in the Doctor and Patient scenario, the sticking of the needle has the ultimate good in it i.e. treatment of the disease.

The Story of Adam AS and Iblees as an Example

Allah(swt) has created Adam AS and also created Iblees. From this incident, the most common and obvious question that might come into our minds is: Why did Allah create Iblees? Allah(swt) already knew that Iblees would refuse to bow down to Adam AS and subsequently Adam AS would eat from the tree. So, why didn’t Allah(swt) create Adam AS and leave Iblees completely out of the picture. In fact, this has a great good in it, let’s analyze how.

Both Iblees and Adam AS made their mistakes. One refused to prostrate and another ate from the tree. Committing mistakes or disobeying Allah(swt) does not itself straightforward result the sinner to be a Kafir. When Iblees was asked to answer for the reason behind his disobedience, he put forward his argument “I am better than him, you’ve created me from fire and created him from clay”. So, he is suggesting that: Allah(swt) is wrong, by telling him to bow down before an inferior creation and this is where the actual disbelief or Kufr came into play. But on the other hand, Adam AS, after his disobedience, turned back to Allah(swt) in repentance, and this is one of the greatest acts of worship. So, there was a greater good (repentance of Adam AS) behind the evil (presence of Iblees in the scene).

In Sahih Muslim, Book 50, Hadith 13 – Abu Huraira reported that, Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) said: Wallahi, if you were not to commit sin, Allah would sweep you out of existence and He would replace (you by) those people who would commit sin and seek forgiveness from Allah, and He would have pardoned them. In fact, giving up hope of Allah’s(swt) mercy and forgiveness is considered to be a form of disbelief as mentioned in Surah Yusuf, Ayat: 87-

“…Indeed, no one give up hope of Allah’s mercy, except the people who disbelieve.”

The Story of Musa AS and Khidir as an Example

In the incidents of Musa AS and Khidr RA, Musa AS spend some time with Khidr RA where – all the acts of Khidr seemed to be evil in the eyes of Musa AS, till Khidr RA explained and provided justifications of those acts at the end of their journey.

All evils that we perceive in this world are not purely evil but have some good in it and we can never appreciate the good in the total absence of evil. Also that, there is always a good in avoiding bad/evil things, if there were nothing bad then how can one strive against his/her temptations to avoid those – in order to be good, by following Allah’s (swt) commandment and restrictions.

Analyzing Good and Bad Fortune

Good fortune and misfortune are merely events predestined by Allah(swt) as part of the tests of this life.

Testing with Troubles

In the terrible events of life there lies test for us, as Allah(swt) mentions:

And We will surely test you with something of fear and hunger and a loss of wealth and lives and fruits, but give good tidings to the patient, {Surah Al-Baqarah: Ayat 155}

Even the members of our family might become our own enemy and be a serious test for us, but these people are actually predestined to be selected by Allah(swt). Passing out this difficult test might be a means of our forgiveness:

O you who have believed, indeed, among your wives and your children are enemies to you, so beware of them. But if you pardon and overlook and forgive – then indeed, Allah is Forgiving and Merciful. {Surah At-Taghabun: Ayat 14}

Things Beyond our Contemplation

Sometimes bad things happen to us which have ultimate good in it and sometimes good things that people desire turn out to be harmful. Sometimes we fail to understand these situations as they are often beyond our immediate comprehension, due to our limited scope of knowledge:

… But perhaps you hate a thing and it is good for you; and perhaps you love a thing and it is bad for you. And Allah Knows, while you know not. {Surah Al-Baqarah: Ayat 216}

So, if a person is born with some disability or struggle in life or whenever calamity strikes a good person – he should be able to relate this to have happened with the permission of Allah(swt) who is all wise and the most merciful and the best of all planners. So, there should be a greater wisdom on that fact that we are placed in that situation. Either something good is going to happen, out of that situation or some of our sins are going to expiate as a result of our suffering and/or patience.

Good Luck Charms and Amulets

As the fortune comes from Allah(swt), so the good-fortune can note be expected from good-luck charms like rabbits’ feet, four-leaf clovers, wishbones, lucky numbers, zodiacal signs, etc. and the bad luck can’t be caused from omens like Friday the thirteenth, breaking mirrors, black cats, etc. In fact, the belief in charms and omens might result to the manifestation of the grave sin of shirk (association) in this form of Tawhid.

Once a group of men approached Allah’s Messenger(pbuh) to give their allegiance to him, and he accepted the oath from nine of them except one. When asked for the reason of the refusal, he replied, that that person was wearing an amulet (as a protecting charm). The man who was wearing the amulet put his hand in his cloak, pulled the amulet off, broke it, and then made the oath. The Prophet then said, `Whoever wears an amulet has committed shirk.’ {Narrated by Ahmad, Hadeeth: 16969 classed as sahih by Shaykh al-Albaani}. There are few other similar authentic hadiths like Sunan an-Nasa’i; Hadith: 4079 & 5067 where Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) had forbidden to use amulets. https://sunnah.com/nasai:4079, https://sunnah.com/nasai:5067.

Amulets with Quranic Ayats

However, there are some differences in opinions among the scholars regarding wearing or carrying Quranic Ayats on chains or in pouches in the form of amulets which are believed to ward off evil or to bring good but neither the Prophet(pbuh) nor his Companions have practiced it and this might result to innovation(bidah):

Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) said, “If somebody innovates something which is not in harmony with the principles of our religion, that thing is rejected.” {Sahih al-Bukhari, Hadith: 2697}

It is true that, several authentic sources suggest various Quranic Ayats may work as the healer for example the chapters al-Falaq and an-Nas, were revealed specifically for exorcism (that is, for removing evil spells), but the Prophet(pbuh) demonstrated the proper method by which they should be used none of them included wearing or hanging in the form of amulets.

Summary

So basically, when we speak of Tawhid ar-Rububiyah, we are talking about Allah’s(swt) dominion over all things; believing that, nothing takes place in the creation except by His permission and whatever we perceive as being evil there is good behind it. As Allah(swt) has dominion over all things so we should depend on Him alone and to depend on anything besides him to protect us from evil or to bring good we are in fact destroying this particular principle of Tawhid. 

Tawhid al-Asma’ was-Sifaat (Maintaining the Unity of Allah’s Names and Attributes)

This category of Tawhid maintaining the unity of Allah’s names and attributes has five main aspects:

1. The first aspect requires that, Allah must be referred in a way how He and His Prophet have described Him

He has described Himself through revelations, so that we can have the correct concept regarding Him. If we start making assumptions, we may end up like the Hindus (with so many Gods and idols etc.) or like the Buddhist believing that our spirits become gods if reached in the highest level of spiritual journey. Quran mentions that, Allah does not like us to make wrong assumptions regarding Him:

And [that] He may punish the hypocrite men and hypocrite women, and the polytheist men and polytheist women – those who assume about Allah an assumption of evil nature… {Surah Al-Fath; Ayat: 6}

2. The second aspect involves referring to Allah, without giving Him any new names or attributes

For example, Allah may not be given the name al-Ghaclib (the Angry One), despite of the fact that He himself told us in the Quran that, He gets angry sometimes. We cannot name like this because neither Allah nor His messenger has used this name. In simple terms, we are not in a position to define our God from assumptions.

3. The third aspect requires that, Allah should not be given the attributes of His creation

For example, the Christians and the Jews believe (from the Bible and the Torah) that God spent the first six days creating the universe then took rest on the seventh day {Genesis 2:2}. This indicates His attributes of getting tired – like His creations get tired after long work. Allah(swt) has described us in the famous Ayat-ul-Kursi that He never gets tired, neither drowsiness nor sleep overtake Him in any way. Elsewhere in the Bible and Torah, God is portrayed as repenting for His bad thoughts in the same way, that humans do. In the Exodus 32 verse 14 where it is stated that the Lord repented of the evil which he thought to do to his people.

Another major unacceptable deviation of understanding, is found in the concept that, Allah(swt) is present within every one of us – being our spirit or soul. Allah does not refer to Himself as a spirit anywhere in the Quran nor does His Prophet (pbuh) express anything of this nature in the hadiths.

The key principle which should be followed when dealing with Allah’s attributes is the Quranic formula,

“… There is nothing like Him, and He is the hearer and seer of all.” {Surah Ash-Shuraa; Ayat 11}

Even though the attributes of hearing and seeing are among human attributes, but when these things are attributed to Allah(swt) they are without comparison in their perfection. So, we must understand that He sees and hears but not like us or any of His creations.

For example (just to understand), the hands of a clock and the hands of a human with 5 fingers are not equal. The face of a mountain does not mean a mountain has ears and nose and mouth. Similarly, whenever any attribute is mentioned in terms of Allah, we should never try to compare that with the attributes of His creations.

So, we don’t try to picture Allah in the form of an image or idol. If we try to do that, it will result in considering Him like a creation instead.

4. The fourth aspect requires that, human beings should not be given the attributes of Allah

For example, in the New Testament of the Torah {Genesis 14:18-20}, Paul considers Melchizedek (the king of Salem) and gives him the attribute of having no beginning or end. The same attribute is also given to Jesus. But This is a divine attribute of Allah(swt), who doesn’t have any beginning or end.

Some sects have given their leaders divine attributes like:

  • They are Infallible (can never be wrong);
  • They possess the knowledge of the past, the future and the unseen;
  • They have the ability to change destiny and have control over the atoms of creation.

By doing so, they set up rivals as to who share God’s unique attributes. Few people thought, that the belief in the Imams falls under one of the pillars of the Faith – which is not correct, as it is not included within the 6 Pillars of the Faith of Islam.

Christians have given Jesus(pbuh) the attributes of the God. We believe him to be one of the mightiest Messenger of God but Christians have elevated him to an unacceptable level. Their own scriptures say that Jesus prayed, so if they are asked, to whom was he praying to – they don’t have a convincing answer to it. 

5. The fifth and the final aspect demands that, Allah’s names in the definite form, cannot be given to His creation

The creations of Allah(swt) cannot be given a name from among the names of Allah(swt), unless preceded by the prefix Abd meaning “slave of” or “servant of” Allah(swt).

For example, one of the names of our God is Ar-Rahim, which means the most merciful. He is the most merciful, so we cannot name any person as Ar-Rahim, rather we can name Abdur-Rahim safely.

Similarly, names like Abdur-Rasool (slave of the messenger), Abdun-Nabi (slave of the Prophet), Abdul-ljusayn (slave of Ijusayn), etc., where people name themselves slaves to other than Allah(swt) are also forbidden as mentioned by our Prophet(pbuh) in Sunan Abi Dawud Hadith 4975.

So, we must be very careful in selecting the names of our Children and the next Muslim generations.

We should not call out to someone who is dead or cannot answer us

Thauban (May Allah be pleased with him) reported that:

The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said, “He who guarantees me that he will not beg anything from anyone, I will guarantee him (to enter) Jannah.” {Riyad as-Salihin » The Book of Miscellany » Hadith 535 / Sunan Ibn Majah 1837 / Sunan Abi Dawud 1643}.

This directly refers to begging but also extends to calling out to someone for divine help.

For example, if someone calls out to someone on the street to help him fix his car’s punctured tire – there is no problem with it. But we should not call out to a person who is not available to help or who has already died – which might result in calling them in our prayer or making dua to them. We cannot even call out to Prophet Muhammad(pbuh) which is apparent from the speech of Abu Bakr when our prophet(pbuh) died:

Whoever worshipped Muhammad, then Muhammad is dead, but whoever worshipped Allah, then Allah is Alive and shall never die.” {Sahih al-Bukhari 3667}.

In Arabic the word “ya” is used while calling out to someone, like “Ya Abdul” which means “O Abdul” or “Hey Abdul”. So, we should not call out to someone, by mentioning “Ya so and so” who is already dead or cannot answer our call.

Tawhid al-Ibadah (Maintaining the Unity of Worship)

Tawhid, to be considered complete according to Islam, the first two categories of Tawhid must be accompanied by Tawhid al-Ibadah. It means maintaining the unity of Allah’s worship.

Worship to Allah alone

All forms of worship must be directed only to Allah(swt) because, He alone deserves to be worshiped. We believe there is no God that is worthy to be worshiped except Allah(swt).

No intercessor between us and Allah

Furthermore, there is no need for any form of intercessor or intermediary between us and God. Allah(swt) emphasized the importance of directing worship to Him alone by pointing out this as the main and sole purpose of the creation of mankind and the Jinns. {Surah Adh-Dhariyat; Ayat 56}. Allah also said that He has sent messengers to every nation who told them to worship Allah and avoid false Gods {Surah An-Nahl; Ayat 36}.

The concept that, we should not take any intercessor is further emphasized in many Ayats of the Quran, indicating Allah’s closeness to us for example, in Surah Baqarah, Ayat 186 where Allah(swt) said to our Prophet(pbuh) that:

When My servants ask you, concerning Me, [tell them] – indeed I am near. I respond to the invocation of the supplicant when he calls upon Me. So let them respond to Me [by obedience] and believe in Me that they may be [rightly] guided.” 

Understanding the Religious Concepts according to the Quran & the Sunnah

The Prophet (ﷺ) said, “The people of my generation(Sahabas) are the best, then those who follow them(Tabi’een), and then whose who follow the latter(Taba-al-Tabiee’n). {Sahih al-Bukhari, Hadith: 2652}.

So, in order to understand the Quran and the Sunnah, we must interpret them on the understanding of the Sahabas, then the understanding of Tabi’een and then the Taba-al-Tabiee’n. We must understand the concept of our religion, maintaining the unity of our Worship avoiding innovations.

Danger of Innovations

In the hadith narrated from ‘Awf bin Malik, the Messenger of Allah(ﷺ) said, my nation will split into 73 sects, one of which will be in Paradise and 72 in Hell.” {Sunan Ibn Majah 3992}. When the Companions asked the Prophet (pbuh) what is that one he said the one that I am on and you are on (meaning the way of the Prophet and the Sahabas). So, we should worship Allah(swt), by maintaining unity in that worship and by following the way that the companions of the prophet(pbuh) and their true followers are on. We should also avoid any innovations to the religion and the way of worshiping Allah(swt) which are considered to be Bidah.

Innovations can lead to change the religion altogether and distort its pristine purity, so if a matter is connected to our religion, we must consider whether this is directed by the Quran and the Sunnah. If it is not then we should not do it.

For example, Prophet(pbuh) said prayer in Jamaat worth 27 times greater in deeds to Allah {Sahih al-Bukhari, Hadith 645}; we also know that, prophet(pbuh) also encouraged us to pray 2 Rakat entering into the masjid; but, we cannot combine these two and start praying 2 Rakat in congregation – as it will be an innovation which prophet(pbuh) did not teach us to do – so it will constitute a Bidah.

We might think that some good innovations might bring us closer to Allah(swt), but in fact it will push us further away from Him, no matter how much good reasoning we might give to it. The basic principle is: The best speech is the Quran, and the best way is the way of Muhammad, and the worst matters are those where new things which are introduced into the religion {Sahih al-Bukhari 7277}. So, we must worship Allah(swt), the way that our Prophet(pbuh) taught us to worship Him.

Nothing beside Allah can benefit or harm us

We must also believe that, nothing beside Allah(swt) can benefit or harm us, without His permission so we must worship Him alone:

He[Allah] said, “Then do you worship instead of Allah that which does not benefit you at all or harm you? {Surah Al-Anbya; Ayat 66}.

So, we should not revert to any other entity hoping to benefit us or protect us from any harm as the ultimate source of our help and blessings and the ultimate protection comes from Allah(swt).

We must not seek divine help from anyone beside Allah(swt) as “If Allah allows harm to befall you none can remove it except Him…” {Surah Al-An’am; Ayat:17}. If someone prays to or make dua to the angels, jinns, prophets or saints it might constitute the greatest of all sins, i.e. Shirk.

The concept of the Pre-Islamic Mekkans

According to the Quran, pre-Islamic Mekkans used to believe Allah as their ultimate God, but they used to consider other Idols as Gods beside Allah.

“And if you asked them, “Who created the heavens and earth?” they would surely say, “Allah”… {Surah Luqman; Ayat 25}

But, when they were asked, the reason why they used to pray the idols, they answered:

“We only worship them that they may bring us nearer to Allah…” {Surah Az-Zumar, Ayat 3}.

So, we must get rid of the concept of taking intercessors as a source of rescue of the sins or achieving some from Allah(swt). People start to worship the intercessors and also start disobeying Allah(swt), as they start assuming that they will be to be saved by those intercessors.

The concept of the Christians

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 the God in the mistaken belief that the priests are closer to the God due to their celibacy and piety, and thus more likely to be answered by the God.

On one occasion, the Prophet’s Companion, `Adi ibn Hatim, who was a convert from Christianity, heard the Prophet (pbuh) recite the Quranic Ayat:

They have taken their scholars and monks as lords besides Allah… And they were not commanded except to worship one God; there is no deity except Him. Exalted is He above whatever they associate with Him. {Surah At-Tawbah; Ayat 31}

So, he said: “Surely we did not worship them.” (means the scholars and the monks)

The Prophet turned to him and said: “Did they not make forbidden (haram) what Allah had made allowable (halal) and you all made it haram, and did they not make halal what Allah made (haram) and you all made it halal.

He replied, “We certainly did.”

The Prophet then said, “That was how you worshipped them.”

Extended concept of Worship

Worship(Ibadah), in the Islamic view, includes more than just Fasting, Paying, Zakah, Hajj and Animal Sacrifices. It includes emotions like love, fear and trust – all of which have certain degrees which should only be directed to God alone. Allah has addressed these emotions and warned against excesses in them as follows:

And [yet], among the people are those who take other than Allah as equals [to Him]. They love them as they [should] love Allah. But those who believe are stronger in love for Allah… {Surah Al-Baqarah; Ayat 165}.

…Do you fear them? But Allah has more right that you should fear Him, if you are [truly] believers. {Surah At-Tawbah; Ayat 13}

… And upon Allah rely/trust, if you should be believers. {Surah Al-Ma’idah; Ayat 23}.

Hence, a significant part of Tawhid al-Ibadah involves the implementation of the Shariah so it is our utmost duty to know and understand the Quran and the Sunnah and rightly establish them cumulatively in our life spiritually, intellectually and practically.

Conclusion

Thus, it is the duty of every sincere believer in God to acquire knowledge of Tawhid – which is the foundation of this faith, because we may only achieve true salvation by the application of this knowledge.

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