‘In the name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful. Praise be to Allah, the Cherisher and Sustainer of the worlds; Most Gracious, Most Merciful; Master of the Day of Judgment. Thee do we worship, and Thine aid we seek. Show us the straight way, the way of those on whom Thou hast bestowed Thy Grace, those whose (portion) is not wrath, and who go not astray.’ (Suratul Al-Faatihah, Q1:1-7)
‘and (remember) when Luqmân said to his son when He was advising him: “O My son! join not In Worship others with Allâh. Verily! joining others In Worship with Allâh is a great Zûlm (wrong) indeed.’ (31:13)
This, God willing, is the first post in the Aqeedah Series.
Aqeedah refers to a set of beliefs, and is defined by Muslim scholars as ‘the firm Creed that one’s heart is fixed upon without any wavering or doubt.’ This is an attempt at explaining and clarifying Islamic beliefs, and what better way to start than with Tawheed (the Oneness of God).
Tawheed is one topic which has been discussed and explained so many times, and will continue to be, for it is the very foundation of Faith, and if any aspect of this is faulty, it results in major sin. May Allah (SWT) protect us and guide us from such a grave sin.
The statement ‘la illah illallah’ (none deserves to be worshipped but Allah) is a testimony to this, but how many of us really understand the gravity of those words, and fully appreciate all its implications?
Tawheed has three aspects (some maintain that there are two aspects, and usually combine the first and second, but for ease of understanding, I prefer going by three classifications). These three aspects are Tawheed ar-Ruboobeeyah (Oneness of Lordship), Tawheed al-asmaa wa sifaat (Oneness of Names, Qualities and Attributes), and Tawheed al-Ibadah (Oneness of Worship).
Tawheed ar-Ruboobeeyah is the absolute belief that Allah (SWT) is one, and without partners in His dominion. Saying ‘La illah illallah” is a way of testifying to this, that there is none worthy of worship except Allah (SWT). The second verse of Suratul Al-Fatihah (highlighted above), describes Allah as the ‘Cherisher and Sustainer of the Worlds’, not ‘One of the Cherishers and Sustainers’. He is THE Cherisher and Sustainer, no one else. This also includes the belief that everything is created by Allah, and all things depend on Him, and that nothing can occur unless He permits it.
“La Hawla wa la quwata illa billah’ means that there is no power except by Allah’s Will. This is a statement that we often repeat, but we must also reflect on it in totality. This means that neither calamity nor good can occur without Allah’s permission. We must therefore, not accord any aspect of Lordship – which is Allah’s sole preserve – to anyone simply because we fear that they may do us harm. Nobody has the power to do anything which Allah (SWT) has not ordained to happen.
Therefore, when good or evil comes our way, we must accept that God is in control, lest we fall into the trap of polytheism and/or shirk. As is written in Suratul Hadid;
“No calamity befalls on the earth or in yourselves but is inscribed in the Book of Decrees (Al-Lauh Al-Mahfûz), before We bring it into existence…’ (Q 57:21).
We should, therefore, not lose faith when tragedy strikes.
Tawheed al-Asmaa wa-sifaat refers to maintaining the uniqueness of Allah’s Names, Qualities and Attributes, by understanding Allah (SWT) according to how He described Himself, and not according to the things or people that we see (for shirk may result from this). Tawheed Al-Asmaa wa-Sifaat entails not adding any new names or attributes to Allah except what He revealed either in the Qur’an or through His Prophet (SAW), and describing Allah (SWT) without giving Him the attributes of His creations. For example, a Yorubaman may use the expression “Alagbada Ina” (one who wears the garment of fire) in describing God, this was never used by God or His Messenger (SAW) to describe Him and as such using such terms to describe God would be wrong. Also, Allah says in the Quran that He created man with His two hands (Q38:75); we must understand that His hands are nothing like ours, for Allah is like nothing that we know (Q42:11). This aspect of tawheed also implies that human beings cannot share Allah’s names, and this is why the prefix ‘Abdul’ is used. Human beings can also not be said to be infallible or perfect, for Allah (SWT) is the only one without error.
The third and final aspect of Tawheed is Tawheed al-Ibadah, which means to worship Allah (SWT) alone, and sincerely. This last aspect of Tawheed follows naturally from the first two, and implies that Allah (SWT) is the ONLY one that we pray to, and that we worship exactly as the Prophet (SAW) did, without innovations. Worship is all-encompassing, and is not just limited to the physical rituals, but includes emotional aspects as well. For instance, doing something haram in order to please a fellow human implies a greater love for the person than for Allah (may God protect us from such). Another example where somebody could associate a partner with Allah in this category of tawheed is when somebody says, in trying to show appreciation to somebody who has helped him “if not for Allah and you”. This person has associated a partner with Allah (albeit unconsciously) because he is equating Allah with one of His slaves, rather the person should have said “If not for Allah and then you”. [This is based on an hadith of the Prophet (SAW)]. The right to declare something as haram or halal should also not be attributed to human beings.
It is worthy of note that all three aspects of Tawheed are absolutely essential, and omission of any would lead to shirk (idolatory). While the classifications were not made by Nabiyy (SAW), it became necessary after Islam began to spread and reverts began to inculcate their previously held beliefs with Islam. These three classifications are based on verses from the Quran, and of course, supported by Hadith.
I leave you with this powerful Ayat (verse), which encompasses all three aspects of Tawheed, so that you may reflect on the words and their meanings, and see just how important Tawheed is.
‘Allâh! Lâ ilâha illa Huwa (none has the Right to be worshipped but He), the ever living, the one who sustains and protects all that exists. Neither slumber, nor sleep overtakes Him. To Him belongs whatever is in the heavens and whatever is on earth. Who is He that can intercede with Him except with his Permission? He knows what happens to them (his creatures) in this world, and what will happen to them In the Hereafter. And they will never compass anything of his knowledge except that which He wills. His Kursî extends over the heavens and the earth, and He feels no fatigue in guarding and preserving them. And He is the Most High, the Most Great.’ [This Verse Q2:255 is called Ayat-ul-Kursî.]
Ms. Rinsola Abiola
(For further reading, please see 7:59, 16:36, 12:38, 21:25, 39:3, 72:13, 6:102, 17:23, 2:21-22, among others)
I would like to thank brother Jamiu for his help, although he asked not to be acknowledged. Jazaak Allahu khayran katheeran.