Imaam Ibn Abee al-‘Izz al-Hanafee [d794AH] (rahimahullaah) wrote in his famous work Sharh al-Aqeedah at-Tahaawiyyah:
(1) We say as believers in the Tawheed of Allaah: Indeed Allaah is One with no partners.
“One must know that Tawheed is the first matter the Prophets preached. It is the first step on the path and the first stage of the journey towards Allaah. Allaah stated, “Indeed, We sent Nooh (Noah) to his people and he said: "O my people! Worship Allaah! You have no other Ilâh (God) but Him.” [7:59]. Hud said similar words to his people, “He said: "O my people! Worship Allaah! You have no other Ilâh (God) but Him.” [7:65]. Salih said to his people, “Worship Allaah! You have no other Ilâh (God) but Him.” [7:73]. Shu’ayb said to his people “Worship Allaah! You have no other Ilâh (God) but Him [7:85]. Allaah also says, “We have sent among every Ummah (community, nation) a Messenger (proclaiming): "Worship Allaah (Alone), and avoid (or keep away from) Tâghût (all false deities, etc. i.e. do not worship Tâghût besides Allaah)." [16:36], and, “We did not send any Messenger before you (O Muhammad SAW) but We inspired him (saying): Lâ ilâha illa Ana [none has the right to be worshipped but I (Allaah)], so worship Me (Alone and none else)." [21:25]. The Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam) also stated, “I have been commanded to fight the people until they accept that none has the right to be worshipped but Allaah and that Muhammad is His Messenger.”
Therefore, it is correct to say that the first obligation upon a person is to testify that none has the right to be worshipped except Allaah. He is not required to reflect, to intend to reflect or to be skeptical at first, as the leaders of the censured Kalaam have stated. In fact, all the leaders of the Salaf agree that the first thing one must do is testify to the Oneness of Allaah and the Prophethood of Muhammad (sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam). They also agree that if a child did that before he reached the age of puberty, he is not commanded to repeat the testification after attaining puberty. Instead, he is commanded to ritually purify himself and pray when he reaches puberty or is able to ascertain things, according to those who hold this latter opinion. None of them requires his guardian to address him at that time and tell him to repeat his act of testification to the faith, even though that is the first duty of a Muslim and a necessary condition for performing the prayer. But he, in fact, has already fulfilled that obligation.
The jurists have also discussed the case of the person who prays but he has not made the testimony of faith (the two shahadahs) or performs some aspect of Islaam without the testimony. Is such a person a Muslim? The correct opinion is that he becomes a Muslim by fulfilling all the deeds that are particular to Islaam.
With Tawheed one enters into Islaam, and with it one will depart from this world. The Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam) said, “He whose last words are, ‘There is none who has the right to be worshipped except Allaah,’ will enter Paradise.” It is, therefore, the first duty and the last duty.
Tawheed is, then, the beginning of the matter and its end. What is meant by this is Tawheed al-ilaahiyyah, or the belief in the Oneness of God (as the only object of worship). For Tawheed has three dimensions to it: first, matters concerning the attributes of Allaah; second, Tawheed ar-Rububiyyah (the Oneness of His Lordship), which states that Allaah alone created everything; and third, Tawheed al-ilaahiyyah or the Oneness of His worship, that Allaah alone is to be worshipped and served without associating any partner to Him.
The first category of Tawheed concerns the attributes of Allaah. Those who deny the attributes include the denial of attributes as part of what they call Tawheed. Jahm Ibn Safwan and those who agree with him say that affirming the attributes requires more than one necessary being. Such a statement is known to be obviously and blatantly wrong, for a being devoid of all attributes cannot have a real existence. It is an impossibility, a mere fancy of mind, an absolute void. This view of Tawheed led some people to the doctrine of incarnation (hulul) and union (ittihad), which is far worse than the heresy of the Christians. The Christians at least limit the divinity to Christ, while these people extend it to all creation.
A number of evil consequences follow from this false understanding of Tawheed. For example, Pharaoh and his followers become perfect Believers and the best gnostics of the truth of Allaah. The idol worshippers are also considered correct and faithful since they were actually worshipping Allaah and no one else. Similarly, there is no longer any difference between the lawful and the unlawful, between (marrying or having intercourse with) a mother or sister and a non-related women; there is no difference between water and alcohol nor between adultery and marriage. They are all from one and the same essence. In fact, they are all one and the same Being. This doctrine also finds fault with the prophets, since they curtailed the freedom of the people and made things difficult for them. Exalted is Allaah high above what they say.
The second category of Tawheed, Tawheed ar-Rububiyyah, is to believe that He alone is the Creator of everything. There are not two creators equal in attributes and actions. This Tawheed is definitely true without any doubt. It is the goal (of final belief) of many philosophers, theologians, and some Sufis. No known people have denied the truthfulness of this kind of Tawheed. In fact, hearts have an inherent tendency to believe in it, more so than for any other truth or existence. The messengers, as Allaah mentions, questioned their people about this belief in the following manner, “Can there be any doubt about the existence of Allaah, the Originator of the heavens and the earth?” [14:10]
The person most famous for claiming his ignorance or rejection of the existence of the Creator was Pharaoh. But in his inner soul, he was actually sure of it. Moses said to him, "Verily, you know that these signs have been sent down by none but the Lord of the heavens and the earth as clear (evidences i.e. proofs of Allaah's Oneness and His Omnipotence, etc.).” [17:102]. And Allaah stated the following about Pharaoh and his people, “And they belied them (those Ayât) wrongfully and arrogantly, though their ownselves were convinced thereof.” [27:14]. That is why, when Pharaoh said, “’Who is the Lord of the Worlds?’” as if rejecting it, he was actually aware of Him, so Moses said to him, Mûsa (Moses) said: "Lord of the heavens and the earth, and all that is between them, if you seek to be convinced with certainty." Fir'aun (Pharaoh) said to those around: "Do you not hear (what he says)?" Mûsa (Moses) said: "Your Lord and the Lord of your ancient fathers!" Fir'aun (Pharaoh) said: "Verily, your Messenger who has been sent to you is a madman!" Mûsa (Moses) said: "Lord of the east and the west, and all that is between them, if you did but understand!" [26:24-28]
Some people claim that Pharaoh asked Moses about the nature of Allaah and since one cannot talk about His nature, Moses could not answer his questions. This is wrong. Pharaoh did not put the question to Moses elicit any information about Allaah, but only to deny His existence. The other verses of the Qur’aan show that Pharaoh was denying or refusing to admit God’s existence, as the signs of God’s existence and the proofs of His Lordship are so obvious that no one would ask about who He is. His existence is too well-known, clear and obvious for anyone to be ignorant of Him. The knowledge of His existence is inherent in man more than any other truth.
We know of no people who have ever said that there are two creators of the world equal in attributes and actions. Even the dualist Magians and Manichaeists, who affirm two principles, light and darkness and believe that the world has proceeded from them, agree that light is better than darkness; it is the praiseworthy god, while darkness is evil. They dispute over whether darkness is eternal or contingent. Therefore, they do not affirm two equal lords.
As for the Christians, who believe in the Trinity, they do not affirm three separate lords for the world. Rather, they agree that the creator of the world is one and they say, “In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost” as one God. But this belief in the triune God is self-contradictory, and their belief in incarnation is even worse. That is why they have great differences regarding its interpretation. No one has been able to produce an intelligible view, and no two views agree with each other. They believe that He is one as essence, three as hypostases; but then they differ about the nature of the hypostases. Some conceive them as properties, others as qualities, and still others as persons. Every human being knows in the light of his natural reason that this is false. In any case, they do not say that there are two Creators similar to one another.
The point here is that there have never been any people who have affirmed the existence of two equal creators. In spite of all that, many theologians and philosophers have tired themselves out trying to prove the fact that there is only one Creator. Some of them have admitted that it cannot be proven by rational argument and claim that it is something that is known only through revelation.
The most common argument they advance is known as the argument of exclusion. This argument runs like this. If there were two creators and they disagreed about something, such as one wanted to move X, whereas the other did not want it to be moved, or one wanted to make Y a living being, whereas the other wanted to make it lifeless, then, logically speaking, there are only three possibilities. First, the wills of the two are both carried out; second, only the will of one of them is carried out; third, the will of neither of them is carried out. The first case is not possible because it requires the existence of contraries. The third possibility is also ruled out because it would imply that a body is neither mobbing nor not moving and this is impossible. This would also imply that both of them are incapable of carrying out their wills, which would disqualify them from being God. Finally, if the will of one is realized and not that of the other, he alone will deserve to be God and the one whose will is no realized cannot be considered God. For a fuller treatment of this argument, one may consult the relevant books.
Many people think that this argument is implied in the verse, “Had there been gods other than Allaah, the Heavens and the Earth would have collapsed.” [21:22]. The cause of their misunderstanding is their belief that the unity of lordship (Tawheed ar-Rububiyyah) which they try to prove is the same as the unity of worship (Tawheed al-ilaahiyyah) which the Qur’aan states and which the prophets preached. But this is not so. The Tawheed which the prophets preached and which their books teach is the Tawheed al-ilaahiyyah, which encompasses or includes the Tawheed ar-Rububiyyah. It means to worship and to serve Allaah without ascribing any partner to Him. The Arab polytheists and pagans affirmed the notion of Tawheed ar-Rububiyyah and that the Creator of the heavens and the earth is one. Allaah states about the, “If you ask them who created the heavens and the earth, they will say, ‘Allaah” [31:25], and “Say (to them): To whom does the earth and all upon it belong, if you truly know? They will say, ‘To Allaah.’ Say (to them then): Will you not then receive admonition?” [23:84-85]. There are many verses of this nature in the Qur’aan.
They did not believe about their idols that they participated with Allaah in the creation of the world. Their beliefs were the same as those of the other polytheists of the world, the Indians, Turks, Berbers and others. Sometimes they believed that their idols represented some pious men, prophets or saints who would intercede for them with Allaah and bring them closer to Allaah. This was the root of the polytheism of the Arabs. In talking about the people of Noah, Allaah states, "And they have said: 'You shall not leave your gods, nor shall you leave Wadd, nor Suwâ', nor Yaghûth, nor Ya'ûq, nor Nasr (names of the idols)” [71:23]. It is confirmed in the Saheeh of Al-Bukhaaree, the books of Tafseer, narratives of the prophets and elsewhere, from Ibn Abbaas and others from amongst the Salaf, that those were the names of some pious people among the people of Noah. When they died, the people gathered over their graves, then put up their statues and after a period of time they began to worship them. And these particular idols were passed on to the Arab tribes. Ibn Abbaas mentions where they went to tribe by tribe.
It is confirmed in Saheeh Muslim on the authority of Aboo al-Hayyaaj al-Asadee that Alee ibn Abee Talib said to him, “Shall I send you on a mission like the mission of the Messenger of Allaah (sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam) sent me on? He commanded me not to leave any elevated grave but to level it to the ground, and not to leave any idol except to demolish it.
In the Saheehs of al-Bukhaaree and Muslim it is also recorded that the Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam) said during his fatal illness, “May Allaah curse the Jews and Christians who took the grave sites of their prophets as places of worship.” He was warning against what they had done. Commenting on this hadeeth, ‘Aa’ishah said, “If the Prophet had not warned against this, his grave would have been elevated, but he abhorred that his grave should be made a place of worship.
In the Saheehs of al-Bukhaaree and Muslim it is also recorded that while on his deathbed, someone mentioned to the Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam) some church in Abyssinia and described its beauty and icons. He (sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam) said, “Whenever a pious person died in their community they erected a church on his grave and decorated it with icons. They will be the worst people in Allaah’s sight on the Day of Judgement.”
In Saheeh Muslim it is recorded that the Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam) stated, some five days before he died, “Beware! The people before you used to make the graves of their prophets and pious people a worshipping ground. Beware! Do not make graves into mosques. I strictly forbid you to do so.”
Another cause of shirk is the worship of the stars. People build idols symbolizing their properties and then worship them. It is said that the Shirk of the people of Abraham was of this nature. Similarly, there is associating partners with Allaah by (taking) angels and jinns (as Allaah’s partners) and using idols to worship them.
Such people affirmed the existence of the Creator and did not claim that there were two creators for this world. But they took these idols as intermediaries to intercede for them. Allaah Himself said about such people, “Surely, the religion (i.e. the worship and the obedience) is for Allaah only. And those who take Auliyâ' (protectors and helpers) besides Him (say): "We worship them only that they may bring us near to Allaah." [39:3]. He also says, “And they worship besides Allaah things that hurt them not, nor profit them, and they say: "These are our intercessors with Allaah." Say: "Do you inform Allaah of that which He knows not in the heavens and on the earth?" Glorified and Exalted be He above all that which they associate as partners with Him!” [10:18]
Similar was the case with the previous polytheistic nations who denied the messengers. Concerning the story of Salih, Allaah states that the nine groups of people swore by Allaah that they would attack Salih and his family at night. Those evil-doing polytheists swore by Allaah that they would kill their prophet and his family, thus establishing that they believed in Allaah – (but a belief in the manner) of polytheists.
It is clear, therefore, that the Tawheed which is desired or which is the goal is Tawheed al-ilaahiyyah, which encompasses and includes Tawheed ar-Rububiyyah. Allaah has stated, “So set you (O Muhammad sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam) your face towards the religion of pure Islâmic Monotheism Hanifa (worship none but Allaah Alone) Allaah's Fitrah (i.e. Allâh's Islâmic Monotheism), with which He has created mankind. No change let there be in Khalq¬illâh (i.e. the Religion of Allaah Islâmic Monotheism), that is the straight religion, but most of men know not. (Always) Turning in repentance to Him (only), and be afraid and dutiful to Him; and perform As¬Salât (Iqâmat¬as¬Salât) and be not of Al¬Mushrikûn (the disbelievers in the Oneness of Allaah, polytheists, idolaters, etc.). Of those who split up their religion (i.e. who left the true Islâmic Monotheism), and became sects, [i.e. they invented new things in the religion (Bid'ah), and followed their vain desires], each sect rejoicing in that which is with it. And when harm touches men, they cry sincerely only to their Lord (Allaah), turning to Him in repentance, but when He gives them a taste of His Mercy, behold! a party of them associate partners in worship with their Lord. So as to be ungrateful for the graces which We have bestowed on them. Then enjoy (your short life); but you will come to know. Or have We revealed to them a Scripture, which speaks of that which they have been associating with Him? And when We cause mankind to taste of mercy, they rejoice therein, but when some evil afflicts them because of (evil deeds and sins) that their (own) hands have sent forth, lo! They are in despair!” [30:30-36]. Allaah also says, “Can there be any doubt about the existence of Allaah, the Originator of the heavens and the earth?” [14:10]
The Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam) said, “Every child is born with fitrah (the natural way, the religion of Islaam). Thereafter, his parents make him a Jew or a Christian or a Magian. This hadeeth does not mean that a child is born like a clean slate, completely unaware of Tawheed or Shirk, as some people say. The verses above negate this claim (as they show that the natural religion that the child is born with is Islaam). Furthermore, the Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam) narrated from Allaah, “I created My servants with a mind to serve none but Me. Thereafter, the devils grab them…” The same idea is alluded to in the previously quoted hadeeth. For along with the words, “Then they make him a Jew or a Christian or a Magian,” the Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam) did not say, “or a Muslim”. In other narrations of the hadeeth, it states, “is born in the millah” or “or in this millah,” that means faith.
What the Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam) stated is also supported by sound rational arguments.
(From among those sound rational arguments) is the following. It is stated that man has beliefs and volitions that are sometimes true and sometimes wrong. He is moved by will or volition. Therefore, he must have at least one of them and he must have some way of deciding on one over the other. We know that if you give a choice to anyone to be truthful and beneficent or lying and harmful he will incline by his nature to being truthful and beneficent. Therefore, recognition of the Creator and belief in Him is truth or its opposite is truth. The latter is definitely not the case; the former must be true. Therefore, there must be something in the person’s nature that requires him to know the Creator and believe in Him. Furthermore, it must be the case that having love for Him, the Creator, is either beneficent to the servant or not. The second is definitely not true. It must be the case that he has in his nature a love for what benefits him.
(Another rational argument) is that the person is by nature driven to seek benefit and ward off harm by his senses. Even if not everyone’s soul by itself is sufficient to achieve that, but instead he needs some assistance for his natural endowment, such as teaching, then if this condition is met and obstacles are present, the soul will respond due to the built – in forces it has.
Similarly, one could say that it is known that every soul is capable of receiving knowledge and yearning for truth. But just teaching and exhortation by themselves do not necessitate knowledge or will unless the soul has the power to accept it. If someone teaches ignorant people or animals and exhorts them, they will not respond. It is also known that the soul, without any external influence, can believe in the possibility of a creator. The soul is sufficient for that. If that driving force is present in the soul and we assume that there is no obstacle, then the driving force which is present with no obstacles will bring about its goal. Therefore, it is concluded that the pure soul or pure human endowment, if met with nothing that corrupts it, will affirm the existence of a creator and will be a servant to Him.
As a corollary to the above, one can argue that if the natural human endowment does not meet with any positive or negative external factors, the natural disposition will drive him to what is good, as the built-in force that allows him to accept knowledge and will is present, while the obstacles are not present.
It is said of Aboo Haneefah that a group of the people of Kalaam came to him to discuss the unity of the Creator and the Lord (Tawheed ar-Rububiyyah). He said to them, “Before we enter into a discussion on this question, tell me what you think of a boat in the Euphrates which goes to shore, loads itself with food and other things, then returns, anchors and unloads all by itself without any sailing or controlling it?” They said, “That is impossible; it could never happen.” Thereupon he said to them, “If it is impossible with respect to a ship, how is it possible for this whole world, with all its vastness, to move by itself?” This story has also been narrated from people other than Aboo Haneefah.
However, if anyone believe in Tawheed ar-Rububiyyah which the theologians and philosophers expound, and in whose ecstatic experience many Sufis try to lose their self-consciousness, considering it to be the end of their pursuit, as the author of Manazil as-Sa’irin and others have stated, but, if at the same time he does not serve Allaah alone and eschew the worship of anything else, then he is a polytheist like any other polytheist.
The Qur’aan abounds with statements and parables concerning this type of Tawheed. It first affirms the Tawheed ar-Rububiyyah, that there is no Creator other than Allaah. That requires or necessitates that no one should be worshipped except Allaah. It takes the first proposition as evidence and disputed the second. Allaah then made it clear to them: Since you know that there is no creator except Allaah, and that He is the One who can give a person what benefits him or keep away from him what harms him, and He has no partner in those who acts, then how can you worship others besides Him and associate partners with Him in His ilaahiyyah?
For example, Allaah says in the Qur’aan, “Say: "Praise and thanks be to Allaah, and peace be on His slaves whom He has chosen (for His Message)! Is Allaah better, or (all) that you ascribe as partners (to Him)?" (Of course, Allaah is Better). Is not He (better than your gods) Who created the heavens and the earth, and sends down for you water (rain) from the sky, whereby We cause to grow wonderful gardens full of beauty and delight? It is not in your ability to cause the growth of their trees. Is there any ilâh (god) with Allaah? Nay, but they are a people who ascribe equals (to Him)!” [27:59-60] 78
At the end of other, similar verses, Allaah states, “Can there by another god besides Allaah?” [21:6, 63, and 64] This is a rhetorical question whose answer is definitely in the negative. They accepted the notion that no one but Allaah does such things. Allaah used that as proof against them. It does not mean to ask if there is another god besides Allaah, as some have claimed. Such a meaning is inconsistent with the context of the verses and since the people actually used to take other gods alongside Allaah. As Allaah says, “Can you verily bear witness that besides Allaah there are other alihâ (gods)?" Say "I bear no (such) witness!" [6:19] And they used to say (about the Prophet), "Has he made the âliha (gods) (all) into One Ilâh (God - Allaah). Verily, this is a curious thing!" [38:5]. But they would never say that there was another god (with Allaah) that would “make the earth a fixed abode, place rivers in its fold, and place firm hills therein” [16:61]. They accepted the fact that only Allaah did all those things. Therefore, Allaah says, “O mankind! Worship your Lord (Allâh), Who created you and those who were before you so that you may become Al-Muttaqûn.” [2:21], and “Say (to the disbelievers): "Tell me, if Allaah took away your hearing and your sight, and sealed up your hearts, who is there - an ilâh (a god) other than Allaah who could restore them to you?" [6:46]. And there are similar other verses.
Since Tawheed ar-Rububiyyah, which the theologians and those Sufis who are in agreement with them consider to be the end-all and goal of their endeavor, is part of the Tawheed which prophets preached and the heavenly books teach, various evidence exists that point to it, such as other evidence that prove the existence of the Creator and the truthfulness of the Prophet. By Allaah’s mercy to His creation, the truths that are most important and most needed have the most evident proofs.
Allaah has given parables of every kind that contain rational arguments and promote faith. He has narrated stories which teach and discuss signs and proofs. And what is other than truth except error? The Qur’aan makes the truth clear with evidence. However, those premises that are well known and agreed upon are built upon without any need for proving them. The most correct form of exposition in language is that of ellipsis and that is the manner used in the Qur’aan, as opposed to what the ignorant say claiming that there are no demonstrative arguments in the Qur’aan. The Qur’aan, though, does state all the premises when they are not clear or when there is some dispute about them.
Since associating partners with Allaah in His Lordship is impossible, according to all peoples, that is, the confirmation of two creators similar in attributes and actions, some of the polytheists advanced the claim that there is another creator that created part of this world. This is what the dualists say concerning “darkness”, what the Qadariyyah say about the actions of animals and what the naturalist philosophers say about the movement of the planets, souls, and physical bodies. All of them posit events that are not brought into existence by Allaah, and associate partners with Him in the act of creation. They are polytheists in some aspects of Rububiyyah. In fact, many of the Arab polytheists and others that their idols could bring about some good or cause some harm even if Allaah did not bring such good or harm into existence.
Since this type of shirk was found among the people, the Qur’aan makes clear its falsehood. Allaah says, “No son (or offspring or children) did Allaah beget, nor is there any ilâh (god) along with Him; (if there had been many gods), behold, each god would have taken away what he had created, and some would have tried to overcome others!” [23:91]. Reflect on this wonderful argument so briefly and clearly stated: The true God has to be the Creator and the Actor, causing good and warding off evil from His creatures. If there were another god besides Him, sharing in His powers, that other god would also create and act, and he would not be pleased with that partnership. In fact, if he could dominate and subjugate the partner and bring everything under his control, he would have done so. If he were not able to do that, he would have created things by himself and kept all his creation to himself, as the kings of the world keep their kingdoms to themselves when they are not able to subjugate others. Therefore, one of three situations must exist: first, every god keeps his creation and kingdom to himself; second, some dominate others; third, they are all subjugated by the All-Powerful Lord, Who deals with them as He pleases. They are not able to defy Him but must, instead, simply submit to His authority and carry out His command. Therefore, they will actually simply be His servants and bondsmen and He will be the one and only one true God.
The order of the world and its perfect rule is the best argument that its Rulers in only one God, the one King and the one Lord, and that there is no god and no lord of creation other than He. The argument of exclusion says not only that the Creator of the world is only one, but also that He alone is the Lord and God and no one else. Exclusion applies to creation and action as well as to lordship and divinity. In the same way, if it is not possible for there to be two equal lords and creators, it is also not possible for there to be two gods and two beings deserving worship.
The knowledge that there cannot be two equal creators is part of the natural endowment of man, self-evident to his reason. Human nature similarly rejects the idea of two gods. Hence the verdict of the Qur’aan and the verdict of human nature are one regarding the unity of the Creator-Lord that implies and necessitates the unity of Divinity.
Close in meaning to the above verse is Allaah’s statement, “ Had there been therein (in the heavens and the earth) gods besides Allaah, then verily both would have surely fallen into chaos” [21:22]. Some people think that this verse states the above-mentioned argument of exclusion, “If there were two creators…”, but they fail to note that the verse refers to gods (alihâ) and not to creator-lords (arbab); furthermore, the verse speaks about the world after its creation. It says that if there were many gods in the world, the heavens and the earth would be destroyed. It also states, “It would fall into chaos” and that refers to after its existence. So the verse argues that there cannot be more than one God, that He cannot be other than Allaah, and the destruction of the heavens and the earth would be bound to follow if gods were many or if the one God were other than Allaah, and that the order in which we find the heavens and the earth is because there is only one God, Allaah. If there were another god besides Him, the heavens and earth would have disintegrated because their survival depends on the justice on which their foundation has been laid, and the greatest form of injustice is shirk and the greatest form of justice is Tawheed.
Tawheed al-ilaahiyyah implies Tawheed ar-Rububiyyah but not vice-versa. One who cannot create is incompetent and the one who is incompetent is not deserving of divinity and worship – of being God. Allaah says, “Do they attribute as partners to Allaah those who created nothing but they themselves are created?” [7:191], “Is then He, Who creates as one who creates not? Will you not then remember?” [16:17]; and, “Say: "If there had been other âliha (gods) along with Him as they assert, then they would certainly have sought out a way to the Lord of the Throne.” [17:42]. Later scholars differ regarding the meaning of the last verse quoted. Some think that it means that if there were gods besides Allaah, the Lord of the Throne, they would try to dominate Him.
The second interpretation, which is the correct interpretation coming from the Salaf, such as Qatadah and others, and the only interpretation mentioned by Ibn Jareer at-Tabaree, is that the other gods would try to seek His favor. It is similar to another verse in the Qur’aan, “Verily! This is an admonition, so whosoever wills, let him take a Path to his Lord.” [76:29]. And He says, “If those were gods besides Allaah as they claim…” While such people did not claim there were two creators they instead took others gods as intercessors with Allaah and said, “We worship them only so they may bring us near to Allaah” [39:3], which is different from what is stated in the first verse.
The Tawheed which the prophets preached and the heavenly books taught are of two kinds: Tawheed in knowledge and recognition and Tawheed in will and intention. The first is to affirm that God is unique in His essence, attributes, names and acts; that there is nothing like Him in any respect; and that He is as He has said about Himself or as His Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam) has said about Him. The Qur’aan has expounded this type of Tawheed in the clearest fashion, as may be found in the beginning of Sooratal Hadid, TaHa, the end of Al-Hashr, the beginning of As-Sajdah, the beginning of Aali-Imraan, all of Al-Ikhlaas, and so on.
The second type of Tawheed, Tawheed in actions and intention, is described in Al-Kafiroun, in the verse, “Say: People of the Book, let us agree to a statement common between you and us…” [3:64], in the first and last parts of Az-Zumar, in the beginning, middle and end of Yunus, in the beginning and end of Al-A’raaf, and the whole of Al-An’am.
Most of the Qur’aan – actually all of it – refers to these two kinds of Tawheed. For the Qur’aan either speaks about Allaah, His names, attributes and actions, and this is part of Tawheed in knowledge and affirmation, or it calls people to His worship alone, without ascribing any partners to Him and leaving everything that is worshipped other than Him, and this is Tawheed of intention and action. Or it commands, forbids and requires obedience to Him, and this is all part of the rights and implications of Tawheed and its completion. Concerning what is stated of how Allaah honors those who believe in Tawheed and how He treats them in this world and what He honors them with in the Hereafter, all of this is the reward for Tawheed. Concerning what is stated about those who have associated partners with Allaah and whom He has punished in this life or will punish in the next, this is the just reward of those who abandon Tawheed.
Thus, the entire Qur’aan is about Tawheed, its consequences and the reward for it, as well as shirk, those who commit it and the punishment they will suffer for it. (The opening verses of the first chapter of the Qur’aan), “All the praises and thanks be to Allâh, the Lord of the 'Alamîn (mankind, jinns and all that exists)” is Tawheed; “The Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful” is Tawheed, “The Only Owner (and the Only Ruling Judge) of the Day of Recompense (i.e. the Day of Resurrection)” is Tawheed;
“You (Alone) we worship, and You (Alone) we ask for help (for each and everything)” is Tawheed; “Guide us to the Straight Path” is Tawheed, as it is a request to be guided to the path of the people of Tawheed, those whom Allaah has blessed, not (the way) of those who earned Your Anger (such as the Jews), nor of those who went astray (such as the Christians)” or, in other words, those who have forsaken Tawheed.
Furthermore, Allaah has himself witnessed to His Tawheed and unity; and His angles, prophets and messengers have witnessed to His unity. Allaah says, “Allaah bears witness that Lâ ilâha illa Huwa (none has the right to be worshipped but He), and the angels, and those having knowledge (also give this witness); (He is always) maintaining His creation in Justice. Lâ ilâh illa Huwa (none has the right to be worshipped but He), the All-Mighty, the All-Wise. Truly, the religion with Allaah is Islaam.” [3:18-19]. This verse underlines the essence of Tawheed and refutes all those who have wrong beliefs. It mentions the greatest, finest and most truthful testimony from the greatest beings to the greatest reality.
The use by the Salaf of the word shahida (‘bearing witness) revolves around judgement, ruling, informing, clarifying and reporting. All those uses are correct and there is no contradiction between them. For the word shahadah encompasses the statement of the witness as well as his report; but it also encompasses his informing, reporting and clarifying. It has four aspects to it: first, knowledge, understanding and belief in the soundness of what is being witnesses to and confirmed; second, speaking or enunciation about what has been witnessed, for even if he does not tell anyone about it, he mentions it to himself and remembers it or records it; third, to inform others of it, inform them and clarify the matter to them; fourth, that he complies with what it entails and commands him to do.
Allaah’s testifying to His own Unity and standing firm on justice involves all four aspects: His knowledge of it, His speaking about it, His informing and telling His creation about it and His commanding them to abide and live by it. As for the aspect of knowledge, the testimony, as a must, definitely includes it. Otherwise it would be a testimony without knowledge of what one is testifying to. Allaah says, “Except those who bear witness to the truth and are knowledgeable thereof” [43:86]. And the Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam) said, “And similarly I bear witness” and he pointed to the sun. [da’eef chain due to Muhammad ibn Sulaiman al-Masmuli]
As for the aspect of speaking it, Allaah says, “They make the angles those servants of the Most Merciful, female. Did they witness their creation? Surely their testimony will be recorded and they will be questioned” [43:19]. Allaah has stated that to be a testimony from them, even if they did not state it in the form of testimony from them and even if they did not pass it on to others.
As for the aspect of informing and reporting to others, there are two types, informing by speech and informing by action. That is the case with everyone who wants to inform someone else of something: sometimes he tells him by his speech and sometimes he tells him by his action. For example, the one who designates his house a mosque, opens its doors wide, clear the way to it and allows people to enter it and pray in it, has actually declared that it is a religious endowment (waqf), even though he did not say so in words. Similarly, the one who tries to get closer to another by various avenues announces to him and to others that he loves that person, even though he did not say so, and vice-versa.
Such is the case with Allaah’s testimony and His expounding and announcing it. Sometimes He does this by speech and sometimes by action. As for speech, it includes what He sent with messengers and revealed with books. As for His exposition and announcing by His actions, as Ibn Kaysan mentioned, Allaah witnesses to it with His marvelous control and order of His creation. This lead to the conclusion that there is no except He. Another person said in lines of poetry, “In everything there is a sign of Him/ That points to Him being only One.”
What points to testimony also possibly being in actions is the verse of the Qur’aan, “It is not for the idolaters to control maintenance of Allaah’s houses of worship when they bear witness to their own disbelief” [9:17]. That is, testimony against themselves is found in their actions. The point is that Allaah testifies with His created signs that point to His existence, and the evidence is in their being His creation.
Concerning being obligated to and following what has been testified to – which is not a necessary component of a simple witnessing per se, but in this case it does point to it and includes it – Allaah witnesses to His unity a type of testimony that necessitates that people are ruled by it and He decreed to, commanded and required His servants to abide by it. As Allaah states in the Qur’aan, “And your Lord has decreed that you worship none but Him” [17:23]. He also says, “And Allaah said (O mankind!): "Take not ilâhaîn (two gods in worship, etc.).” [16:51]; and, And they were commanded not, but that they should worship Allaah,” [98:5]; also, “And set not up with Allaah any other ilâh (god)” [17:39]; and again, “And invoke not any other ilâh (god) along with Allaah,” [28:88]. In fact, all of the Qur’aan bears testimony to that.
That it is obligatory to obey and follow His testimony can be seen in the following arguments. When He testifies that there is no ilâh but He, He is enunciating, clarifying, instructing, judging and decreeing that nothing besides Him is an ilâh, and that anything taken as an ilâh other than Him is false. This means that nothing is deserving of worship other than He, in the same way that no other thin is worthy of being divine. Therefore, that necessitates the command to take only Him as God, and the prohibition against taking anything with Him as a god. This what the addressee understand from that form of negation and confirmation.
In the same manner, if you saw someone asking another person for a religious verdict, or calling upon a specific person to be a witness, or referring to someone for medical advice and these people were not qualified for those jobs and the persons who were qualified were ignored, you would say, “That person is not a jurist; that person cannot be a witness; and that other person is not a doctor. But so-and-so is qualified as a jurist, and so-and-so is qualified as a witness, and so-and-so is qualified as a doctor.” This is, in reality, a command from Him and a prohibition.
Similarly, the verses point to Him being the only One deserving of worship. When He enunciates that He is the only One worthy of worship, it follows that this enunciation is a command to the servants to fulfill the statement and worship Him in the manner that He deserves and to fulfill that command solely and sincerely for Him as is His right upon them.
Furthermore, the words “judgement” and “decree’ are used in declarative sentences. In such sentences one says, “decree” and “judgement”. Allaah says, “Beware! It is their own lie that they assert, ‘Allaah has begotten offspring.’ They are certainly liars. Has he chosen daughters in preference to sons? What is the matter with you? How you judge!” [37:151-154]. Allaah declared their plain statement as a judgement. Allaah also said, “Will we treat those who submit to Allaah like the sinful? What has come over you that you form such a judgment!” [68:35-36] However, that judgment has nothing making it obligatory to be implemented; but the judgment and decree that there is no god but He includes such an obligation.
If (the shahadah) were simply meant to be a declaration, they would not be able to know the meaning of it or benefit from it, nor would the shahadah be a proof against them. But the shahadah does encompass a declaration for the servants and evidence and clarification of what he is witnessing to. Like the case of a human witness who has testimony but does not declare or divulge it, but instead conceals it, nobody would benefit from it and no proof would be based upon his witness.
If it cannot be benefited from except through declaring and clarifying it, then Allaah has made a complete exposition and declaration by three means: hearing, seeing and reason.
As for hearing, it is through hearing His verses that are recited and are clear that we know of His perfect attributes, of His unity and of other matters in the clearest fashion. It is not the case, as the Jahmiyyah and those who agree with them of the Mu’tazilah claim, that one should deny some of His attributes, claiming that they may lead to confusion and loss, as this denies the clarity of Allaah’s Book, which Allaah has described as clear, and of that of His Messenger. Allaah says, “Ha Mim. By the book that makes things clear” [43:1-2]. “Alif Lam Ra. These are the verses of the Book and a clear reading” [15:1]. “This is a clear declaration to all of mankind and guidance and admonition for the God-conscious” [3:138]. “Know that the obligation on Our Messenger is simply plain conveyance (of the Message)” [5:92]. “We have revealed to you the Reminder for you to explain to mankind what has been revealed for them. Perhaps they will reflect” [16:44].
Similarly, the Sunnah of the Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam) is filled with statements that explain or concur with what the Qur’aan states. When it comes to matters related to the foundations of our religion, Allaah has never made it necessary for us to turn to the personal opinions, intuition or instincts of any human being.
That is why we find that those who differ from the Book and the Sunnah are always in confused disagreement. In fact, Allaah has stated, “This day, I have perfected your religion for you, completed My Favour upon you, and have chosen for you Islaam as your religion.” [5:3]. Therefore, it is not necessary to complete or complement the religion with anything that comes from outside the Book and the Sunnah.
This is the meaning that Shaykh Aboo Ja’far at-Tahawi, may Allaah have mercy on Him was alluding to in his coming statement, “We do not interpret His words according to our fancy, for no can secure his faith unless he submits to God and His Prophet completely.”
As for His created, witnessed signs, one can look at them and infer from them the same that can be inferred from His signs that are stated and passed on (that is, verses of the Qur’aan and Hadeeth of the Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam). Reason combines both of them and declares definitively the correctness of what the messengers brought. Therefore, the witness of hearing, sight, reason and natural endowment are all in agreement.
Due to His complete justice, mercy, goodness, witness, love for vindication and establishment of the proof and truth, He did not send any messenger without signs that pointed to his truthfulness concerning what he stated about His Lord. Allaah says, “Indeed We have sent Our Messengers with clear proofs, and revealed with them the Scripture and the Balance (justice) that mankind may keep up justice.” [57:25]; and, “And We sent not before you any but men, whom We inspired. So ask of those who know the Scripture, if you know not. With clear signs and Books (We sent the Messengers).” [16:43-44]; “Say: "Verily, there came to you Messengers before me, with clear signs and even with what you speak of;” [3:183]. And Allaah says, “Then if they reject you , so were Messengers rejected before you, who came with Al-Baiyinât (clear signs, proofs, evidences) and the Scripture and the Book of Enlightenment.” [3:184]
Allaah also says, “It is Allaah Who has sent down the Book in truth, and the Balance” [42:17]. Even the most indistinct sign of any messenger, that of Hud, whose people said to him, “No evidence have you brought us,” [11:53], was a very clear sign for anyone Allaah allowed to ponder it. Allaah alludes to in these words, “He (Hud) said: "I call Allaah to witness and bear you witness that I am free from that which you ascribe as partners in worship, - With Him (Allaah). So plot against me, all of you, and give me no respite. "I put my trust in Allaah, my Lord and your Lord! There is not a moving (living) creature but He has grasp of its forelock. Verily, my Lord is on the Straight Path (the truth).” [11:54-56]. That is the greatest of signs: that a single individual could address a great nation with that speech without any fear, apprehension or anguish. In fact, he was fully confident and certain of what he was saying. First, he took Allaah as a witness that he was innocent of their religion and what they were following. It was the type of testimony that he could be certain of and could rely upon. He informed his people that Allaah was his friend and supporter and that He would not allow them to gain control over him.
Then he testified to them in frank testimony that he had nothing to do with their religion and the gods that they aligned themselves with and who they would oppose others for and would sacrifice their blood and wealth on behalf of. Then he stressed that upon them by showing disdain for their idols, ad he looked down upon them with contempt. If they all worked together against him to relieve themselves of him, that would not slow him down. Then he clearly explained to them his message. He made it clear to them that His Lord and their Lord, in Whose Hand was everybody’s forelock, was his helper and protector Who supported him and aided him, and that he was along the straight path, and that He would not leave anyone who put his trust in Him and believed in Him. And He would not let his enemies rejoice at his misfortune.
What sign or proof is better than those of the prophets and their proofs and evidence? They are testimonials from Allaah for them and He made it clear as clear as could be for His servants.
One of the names of Allaah is Al-Mu’min. And, according to one explanation of its meaning, it means that He is the One Who proves the veracity of the truthful by doing the things that bear testimony to their truthfulness. He shows mankind, for example, signs within the universe and in their own selves that make it clear to them that the revelation that the messengers conveyed is true. Allaah says, “We will show them Our Signs in the universe, and in their ownselves, until it becomes manifest to them that this is the truth.” [41:53], that is that the Qur’aan is true. It is what is referred to in the verse previous to it, "Tell me, if it (the Qur'aan) is from Allaah,” [41:52]. And then He says, “Is it not sufficient in regard to your Lord that He is a Witness over all things?” [42:53] Allaah testifies for His Messenger by His statement that what He brought is the truth and by promising to show mankind created signs that also witness to that. Then Allaah mentions what is even greater and more profound than all of that and that is His witness of everything.
Another of His names is Ash-Shahid, which means the One from Whom nothing is hidden or escapes. He sees and observes everything and is knowledgeable of its details. This is a proof from His names and attributes. The first is a proof from His words and speech. And proof by His signs in the universe and in the souls is an inference from His actions and creation.
If you ask how one can infer from His names and attributes, as using them as inference never occurred in terminology, the response to that is that Allaah placed in human disposition (fitrah), when it is not defiled by denial or rejection, or by anthropomorphism, that Allaah is complete and perfect in His names and attributes. He is as He has been described by Himself or by His messengers. What is hidden of His perfection is greater (than what is known) and is greater than what is known from Him.
And from His holy perfection is His witnessing and observing everything, such that not an iota, hidden or apparent, in the heavens or the earth is hidden from Him. From this characteristic of His, how can human beings ascribe partner to Him, worship others besides Him and take other gods? How can He, with His perfection, allow anyone to commit the greatest falsehood against Him and report something about Him contrary to what He has commanded and then, beyond that, even help that liar, support him, raise his position, respond to his call, destroy his enemy and show through him signs and evidence that other strong human beings would not be capable of, and, given all of that, that person is a liar and forger? It is well-known that His being a witness of everything, His ability, His wisdom, His honor and holy perfection would not allow that. Whoever would say that such is permissible is a person furthest away from actually knowing Him.
The Qur’aan is filled with this type of argument. It is the approach of those well-grounded in knowledge. They argue concerning Allaah by His actions and what actions are fit for Him to do or not to do. Allaah says in the Qur’aan, “And if he had forged a false saying concerning Us, We surely should have seized him by his right hand and then certainly should have cut off his life artery. And none of you could withhold Us from (punishing) him. [69:44-47]. This will be discussed in more detail later, Inshaa’Allaah.
His names and attributes are also used as evidence of His unity and the falsehood of shirk. Note the verse, “He is Allaah than Whom there is Lâ ilâha illa Huwa (none has the right to be worshipped but He) the King, the Holy, the One Free from all defects, the Giver of security, the Watcher over His creatures, the All-Mighty, the Compeller, the Supreme. Glory be to Allaah! (High is He) above all that they associate as partners with Him.” [59:23]. This (kind of argument) can be found many times in the Qur’aan.
This approach, though, is followed by a very few: only the elect, well-grounded in knowledge, are guided to it. The majority of people use as proof the signs that can be witnessed, as they are easier to convey and more encompassing. And Allaah exalts some of His creation over others.
The Qur’aan has combined some aspects that are not combined elsewhere. It is both the evidence and what is being proved, as well as the witness and what is being witnessed to. Allaah says in the Qur’aan to anyone who is seeking evidence that His messenger is truthful, “Is it not sufficient for them that We have sent down to you the Book (the Qur'ân) which is recited to them? Verily, herein is mercy and a reminder (or an admonition) for a people who believe.” [29:51]
Now that it is established that Tawheed al-ilaahiyyah is what the prophets preached and what the heavenly books taught, as has been pointed out, one should not heed the statement of those who divide Tawheed into three types (as in the following manner). This first type of Tawheed, they say, is Tawheed of the common people. The second type is the Tawheed of the elect, which, they say, is the Tawheed that is realized in mystical experience. The third is the Tawheed of the elect of the elect. This Tawheed, they believe, is affirmed by the Eternal Being Himself. However, one should not heed these statements, for the people who were most perfect in Tawheed were the prophets (alayhim as-salaam).
The Messengers were even greater than they, especially those of resolute purpose, namely Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus and Muhammad (alayhim as-salaam). Of these, two – the most beloved of Allaah – Abraham and Muhammad, were the most complete in Tawheed for they fulfilled the demands of Tawheed more than anyone else – demands regarding faith, knowledge, experience, calling men to it and striving for its cause. No Tawheed can be more complete than the Tawheed which the messengers stated, preached and struggled for. That is why Allaah commanded His Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam) to follow in their footsteps. After describing Abraham’s argument with his people in support of Tawheed and his denunciation of shirk, and after mentioning other prophets among his descendants, Allaah, says, “They are those whom Allaah had guided. So follow their guidance.” [6:90]. No one can be more complete in Tawheed than those whom the Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam) was told to follow.
The Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam) used to teach his companions that they should say in the morning, “We begin our day on the pattern (fitrah) of Islaam. The statement of sincerity, the religion of our Prophet, Muhammad, and the faith (millah) of our forefather, Abraham, who submitted himself sincerely to Allaah and did not associate anyone with Him.” [Ahmad 3:406, 407; Ad-Darimi, 2:292. Its chain is Saheeh] The millah of Abraham is Tawheed. The religion of Muhammad is every statement, action, and belief that He brought from Allaah. The statement of sincerity is the testimony la ilâha illa Allaah. The fitrah of Islaam is the natural disposition man has been given to love and worship only Allaah, without ascribing any partner to Him, and submitting to Him with complete servitude, humility and reverence.
This is the Tawheed of the most elite or dear from among the chosen ones of Allaah. Whoever turns away from it is the fool of all fools. Allaah has Himself said, “And who turns away from the religion of Ibrâhim (Abraham) except him who befools himself? Truly, We chose him in this world and verily, in the Hereafter he will be among the righteous. When his Lord said to him, "Submit (i.e. be a Muslim)!" He said, "I have submitted myself (as a Muslim) to the Lord of the 'Alamîn (mankind, jinns and all that exists)." [2:130-131].
The one who with intelligence and sense is not in need of the arguments of the dialecticians and the theologians or their terms and methods. In fact, they may only lead him to doubts that will further lead him to confusion, bewilderment and misbelieve. Truly, Tawheed is beneficial when the heart is free of all of those (diseases), that is, the sound heart, concerning which no one will prosper unless he approaches Allaah with such a heart.
The second and third types of Tawheed, which have been called the Tawheed of the elect and that of the elect of the elect, culminate in the passing away of the self (fana) which most Sufis strive for. It is a dangerous alley which leads to (the concept of) union (ittihad). Read these lines which Shaykh al-Islaam Aboo Ismaa’eel al-Ansaree al-Harwee, may Allaah have mercy on him, composed,
No one affirms the unity of the One
For whoever affirms His unity denies it.
Whoever describes Him, His description of Unity
is void and unacceptable to the One.
The real affirmation of His unity
is what the One Himself does, and
whoever tries to describe Him is a heretic.
Although the author of these lines did not imply union (ittihad), he has used vague words which an proponent of union is likely to interpret on his lines and think that the author belongs to his way of thinking. Had he used the words which the Sharee’ah uses and which are clear and non-misleading, it would have been more correct. Had we been required to believe I what these lines suggest the Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam) would have mentioned it, invited people to believe in it, and explained it at length. But there is no proof that he ever distinguished between a Tawheed of the commoner, a Tawheed of the elect and a Tawheed of the elect of the elect. There is absolutely no allusion to it anywhere. In fact, there is nothing even close to it.
Here is the Book of Allaah, the Hadeeth of the Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam), the traditions of the best people of all ages after the age of the Prophet, and the works of the leading scholars. Is there any mention of fana in any of them? Has any one of them talked about these levels of Tawheed? In fact, this concept developed later, when some people became excessive with respect to some parts of the religion, just as the Khawaarij did earlier in Islaam or the Christians did in their religion. Allaah has condemned all excesses in religion and has strictly prohibited them. Allaah states, “People of the Book! Commit not excesses in your religion; nor say aught of Allaah except the truth.” [4:171]. And also, “Say: People of the Book! Exceed not in your religion the bounds (of what is proper), trespassing beyond truth, nor follow the vain desires of people who went wrong in times gone by, who mislead many and strayed themselves from the even way.” [5:77].
The Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam) said, “Do not commit excess and make things difficult for yourselves, for Allaah will then make things difficult for you. From among those who came before you were people who went to excesses and Allaah made things difficult for them. It is their remnants that you see in the cloisters and monasteries. ‘They invented monasticism; We did not prescribe it for them’ [57:27].” Aboo Dawood recorded this Hadeeth. [declared da’eef by Shaykh Al-Albaanee]