Tawheed – The Only Way You Will Succeed

There is one thing that distinguishes Islam from all the other religions out there. It is a belief that makes the motto with which one enters Islam. A motto that is recited and declared a minimum of five times a day in almost every city around the world in the call to prayer (adhan). A motto that is whispered into the ear of a baby born to a Muslim household as the very first few words it hears when it comes into this gigantic world full of words. But this motto is not just mere words, it is the foundation upon which everything we as Muslims say, do or understand is built. Just these few words and the way you decide to understand them, and to abide by them can change your life here and in the hereafter. What are those words? They are:

“Laa ilaaha ill-Allaah Muhammadur Rasool-Allah”

There is no god worthy of worship but Allah, and Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah

This is the motto, the testimony of faith (what in Arabic is called ‘Shahada’) that all Muslims have to abide by to be Muslims, otherwise we are nothing but mere Muslim names.
This is the foundation upon which everything else is built, and if this foundation isn’t strong, if we fail to understand the importance of it and act upon it, not much can be said about all the other good deeds with which we may try to build over it, except that they will be in vain. All those efforts will produce no result.
This is not a ruling that somebody just came up with out of thin air, this is in fact what Allah Himself has emphasized by Mentioning it in His Glorious Quran by Saying to His Messenger Muhammad Sallahu Alayhi wa Sallam:

And indeed it has been revealed to you (O Muhammad), as it was to those (Allah’s Messengers) before you: “If you join others in worship with Allah, (then) surely (all) your deeds will be in vain, and you will certainly be among the losers.”

Nay! But worship Allah (Alone and none else), and be among the grateful.

[Surah Az Zumar: Ayah 65-66]

So it is absolutely, fundamentally important that we as Muslims understand this foundation of Islam before we even bother to discuss all the other matters that our religion consists of because they are subsidiary in nature to this one, for Allah says:

Is it then he, who laid the foundation of his building on piety to Allah and His Good Pleasure, better, or he who laid the foundation of his building on an undetermined brink of a precipice ready to crumble down….

[Surat At Tawbah: Ayah 109]

In order to understand this better, let us answer the question that – in Islam:

What comes first?

The call to believe in the Oneness of Allah Subhanu wa Ta’la (Glory be to Him the Most High) came before any other call in Islam, it came before the call to establish the five time prayer or keeping fasts, it came before the call to fulfilling the rights of the orphan or the neighbours, or the call forbidding the abhorrent crime of burying female offspring alive into the Earth that was prevalent before the coming of the last Messenger, although all such matters hold a very high status in Islam.

After three years of quietly preaching Islam in secret, the time finally came for the Messenger of Allah Sallahu Alayhi wa Sallam to start preaching it openly in the city of Makkah, it came by the revelation of the following Ayah:

And warn your tribe (O Muhammad SAW) of near kindred.

[Surat Ash-Shuara: Ayah 214]

Gathering a crowd of forty-five men from his city, he stood up and delivered the following speech:

I celebrate Allah’s praise, I seek His help, I believe in Him, I put my trust in Him, I bear witness that there is no God worthy of worship but Allah with no associate. A guide can never lie to his people. I swear by Allah , there is no god Worthy of Worship but He, that I have been sent as a Messenger to you, in particular and to all the people, in general. I swear by Allah you will die just as you sleep, you will be resurrected just as you wake up. You will be called to account for your deeds. It is then either Hell forever or the Garden (Paradise) forever.” [Fiqh As-Seerah p.77,78]

If you were to think about the Ayahs of the Quran that were revealed in Makkah, you will find that they focus entirely on calling people towards worshipping none but Allah. The vast majority of the religious obligations like zakaah, fasting, Hajj, the affairs of halaal and haraam, business transactions, etc. were not revealed until after the Prophet Muhammad’s Migration to the city of Madeenah. Thus showing how truly important the subject is. Furthermore, the religious obligations were not revealed until the call to worship Allah without any partners was presented and established within the souls of the people. [Taken from Shaykh Saalih ibn ‘Abdillaah Al-Fawzaan’s book-Duroos min Al-Qur’aan Al-Kareem (p.5-11)]

The Messenger of Allah Sallalahu Alayhi wa Sallam rooted the five pillars of Islam for us, and what did he mention as the first among them?:

It is narrated on the authority of ‘Abdullah son of ‘Umar that the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) said:

“Al-Islam is raised on five (pillars), testifying that there is no god but Allah, that Muhammad is His slave and messenger, and the establishment of prayer, payment of Zakat, Pilgrimage to the House (Ka’ba) and the fast of Ramadan.”

Muslim :: Book 1 : Hadith 20

When the Messenger of Allah authorized his companions, people who had converted to Islam during his time, to go and spread the message, he would specify the aspect of the religion the should they call towards first. Such has been captured in the following incident.

It is reported on the authority of Ibn ‘Abbas that Mu’adh said:

“The Messenger of Allah sent me (as a governor of Yemen) and (at the time of departure) instructed me thus: You will soon find yourself in a community one among the people of the Book, so first call them to testify that there is no god but Allah, that I (Muhammad) am the messenger of Allah, and if they accept this, then tell them Allah has enjoined upon them five prayers during the day and the night and if they accept it, then tell them that Allah has made Zakat obligatory for them that it should be collected from the rich and distributed among the poor……”

Muslim :: Book 1 : Hadith 27

The Noble Messenger Sallalahu Alayhi wa Sallam brought up his followers upon the Oneness of Allah right from when they were children.

He Sallahu Alayhi wa Sallam said to the son of his uncle, his cousin Abdullah Ibn Abbas RadhiAllahuAnhu:

“O boy! I will teach you a statement: Be mindful of Allah and He will protect you. Be mindful of Allah and you will find Him before you. When you ask, ask Allah, and when you seek aid, seek Allah’s aid. 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.”

Narrated by Ibn Abbas :: Jami` at-Tirmidhi
English reference :  Vol. 4, Book 11, Hadith 2516
Arabic reference :    Book 37, Hadith 2706

Our Prophet Sallahu Alayhi wa Sallam also emphasised and prioritized mentioning the Oneness of Allah even in the form of Dhikr (remembrance of Allah) when he said:

“The best Dhikr (remembering Allah) is La ilaha illallah (there is no god worthy of worship except Allah) and the best supplication is Al-Hamdu Lillah (All praise be to Allah).”

At-Tirmidhi, An-Nasa’i and Ibn Majah

Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’la has emphasised in His Book the mission that He sent His Messengers with, the first to the last. What was that mission? He said:

And verily, We have sent among every Ummah (community, nation) a Messenger (proclaiming): “Worship Allah (Alone), and that they should avoid everything worshipped besides Allah.”

[Surat An Nahl: Ayah 36]

And Allah said:

And We sent not before you any messenger except that We revealed to him that, “There is no deity except Me, so worship Me.”

[Surat Al Anbya: Ayah 25]

The Prophets that Allah sent followed this command. Episodes that reflect the very first thing that they used to warn their people against before anything else is presented in various places of the Quran.

This was Nuh Alayhis Salams first message in the da’wah to his generation:

“O my people, worship Allah; you have no deity other than Him…”

[Surat Al A’raf: Ayah 59]

“I have come to you as a plain warner. That you worship none but Allah…..”

[Surat Hud: Ayahs 25–26]

This was Prophet Huds first message in the da’wah to his generation:

 “O my people, worship Allah ; you have no deity other than Him. Then will you not fear Him?”

[Surat Al Aaraf: Ayah 65]

 This was Prophet Ibrahim Alayhisalams first message in the da’wah to his generation:

“O my people! I am indeed free from all that you join as partners in worship with Allah. Verily, I have turned my face towards Him Who has created the heavens and the earth (worshipping none but Allah Alone) and I am not from amongst those who ascribe partners with Him in worship.”

[Surah Al Anam: 78 -79]

When we examine the stories of all the Prophets, we find that all of them started upon the same universal way of firstly calling towards the Oneness of Allah. None of the Prophets commenced their call by referring to subsidiary subjects like fasting, zakah, cleanliness, halal and haram food etc. This has been the way and the method of the Prophets and Messengers, the best of mankind to walk the face of the Earth, the way that was prescribed to them by Allah. Is there any way better than the way of Allah? Is there any doubt in the end result being successful while following Allah’s path and method?

 And so it is evidently proven that the matter of worshipping Allah alone without any partners has been and will always be the most prominent aspect of the religion to call towards, as it relates to the very purpose of our existence stated by Allah Himself. A great purpose that Allah has defined for us in the Quran:

And I (Allah) created not the jinns and humans except they should worship Me (Alone).

[Surat Adh Dhariyat: Ayah 56]

This is a purpose of honour and high nobility, a purpose that brings meaning to the state of us being alive and makes us more than just a random arrangement of carbon molecules run by systems of society.

So the answer to the question – ‘What comes first? is the matter of singling out Allah with all forms of worship, so that you make all of your worship for Allah alone. In a more general sense, this is the definition given to the word Tawheed in Islam.

The meaning of Tawheed is –

To single out Allah in all acts of worship and to abandon the worship of anything else.

And this is what the most important motto of Islam, the Shahaada, the testimony of faith proclaims as –

‘Laa ilaaha ill-Allah’ 
(There is no god worthy of worship but Allah)

Now that we have understood that Tawheed comes first in Islam, the question is how can we achieve it? But before we deal with that question, someone may ask why bother making the effort to achieve it? After all –

What’s in it for me?

Allah, The Lord of everything that exists promises you:

“… Whoever disbelieves in false deities and believes in Allah, has grasped the most trustworthy handhold, that will never break…”

[Surat Al Baqarah: Ayah 256]

Tawheed is the solution to the turmoil Muslims are in today. Allah promises us honour and authority over the Earth if we attain Tawheed, when He said:

“Allah has promised those among you who believe, and do righteous good deeds, that He will certainly grant them succession to (the present rulers) in the earth, as He granted it to those before them, and that He will grant them the authority to practice their religion, that which He has chosen for them (i.e. Islam). And He will surely give them in exchange a safe security after their fear (provided) they (believers) worship Me and do not associate anything (in worship) with Me. But whoever disbelieved after this, they are the Fasiqoon (rebellious, disobedient to Allah). “

[Surat An-Noor: 55, 56]

Ibn Kathir, famously known amongst Islamic scholars for his Tafsir (Explanation) of the Quran commented on this Ayah by saying:

“This is a promise from Allah to His Messenger (Prophet Muhammed – blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) that He will cause his ummah to gain authority in the land, i.e., become leaders of people and rulers over them, and by means of them the people’s affairs will be put right and the people will submit to their rule, and after having being afraid of the people, they will enjoy security and will rule over them. And He, may He be glorified and exalted, did indeed do that, may He be praised. The Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) did not die until Allah enabled him to conquer Makkah, Khaybar, Bahrain, the entire Arabian Peninsula and all of the land of Yemen; he took the jizyah from the Magians of Hajar and from some of the border regions of greater Syria. Heraclius, the ruler of Byzantium, exchanged gifts with him, as did the ruler of Egypt and Alexandria, al-Muqawqis, the kings of Oman, and the Negus, the ruler of Abyssinia, who came to the throne after Ashamah, may Allah have mercy on him and honour him. Then when the Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) died, and Allah chose for him that which is with Him of honour, Abu Bakr as-Siddeeq became the ruler (caliph) of the Muslims.” [Tafseer Ibn Katheer (6/77)]

A companion of our Prophet Sallalahu Alayhi wa Sallam named Jaabir (may Allah be pleased with him) said: A man came to the Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) and said:
“O Messenger of Allah, what are the two deeds that make entering Paradise or Hell inevitable?”
He said: “Whoever dies not associating anything with Allah will enter Paradise, and whoever dies associating anything with Allah will enter Hell.”

Narrated by Muslim in his Saheeh (135) 

The Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) explained the situation of the sinners in Hell, and he explained that no one will be brought out of Hell except those who died believing in Tawheed and uttered the Shahaadah (testimony of faith), and had in their hearts something of faith:

“There will be brought out of the Fire anyone who said, Laa ilaaha ill-Allah (there is no god Worthy worship but Allah) and had in his heart goodness equal to the weight of a grain of barley. Then there will be brought out of the Fire anyone who said Laa ilaaha ill-Allah (there is no god Worthy of Worship but Allah) and had in his heart goodness equal to the weight of a grain of wheat. Then there will be brought out of the Fire anyone who said Laa ilaaha ill-Allah (there is no god Worthy of worship but Allah) and had in his heart goodness equal to the weight of a small ant.”

Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 6861; Muslim, 285

Notice, with complete attention, that people are not being taken out of the Hell fire on the basis of any other deed such as being kind to parents or ceaseless charity. Rather, it is because of the faith and the complete belief that one had on the words ‘Laa ilaaha ill-Allah’ that they are being taken out from the Hell fire, signifying and highlighting its importance.

Allah will forgive anything lesser than the crime of ascribing partners to Allah in any way or form if He Wishes,

“Verily, Allah forgives not that partners should be set up with him in worship, but He forgives except that (anything else) to whom He pleases, and whoever sets up partners with Allah in worship, he has indeed invented a tremendous sin”

[Surat an-Nisa: Ayah 48]

Abu Dharr RadhiAllahuAnhu said: The Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) said: 
“Jibreel appeared to me at the side of the harrah and said: ‘Give your ummah the glad tidings that whoever dies not associating anything with Allah will enter Paradise.’ I said: ‘O Jibreel, even if he steals and even if commits zina?’ He said: ‘Yes.’ I said: ‘Even if he steals and even if commits zina?’ He said: ‘Yes.’ I said: ‘Even if he steals and even if he commits zina?’ He said: ‘Yes, and even if he drinks alcohol.’”

Al-Bukhaari (6933) and Muslim (1659)

Bear in mind that this Hadith in no way encourages the commencement of such heinous crimes of fornification and drinking of alcohol, bear in mind that Allah is severe in punishment and He will punish whomsoever He Wills . The Hadith only goes to show the Mercy of Allah Subhanu wa Ta’la towards those who had sown the seed of Tawheed (to single out Allah in all acts of worship and to abandon the worship of anything else) in their hearts and that it will be enough to take them out of the Hell fire.

It was narrated from Abu Sa’eed al-Khudri (may Allah be pleased with him) that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said:
“When the people of Paradise enter Paradise and the people of Hell enter Hell, Allah will say: ‘Whoever had a mustard-seed’s weight of faith in his heart, bring him out.’ So they will bring him out, and they will come out like burned skeletons, and they will turn into charcoal. They will be thrown into the River of Life, then they will grow like seeds growing in the silt left by a flood.” The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “Do you not see how they emerge yellow and curved?”

Narrated by al-Bukhaari (6192) and Muslim (184)

The vastness of the forgiveness of Allah to those who do not associate anything or anyone in worship with Him can be well expressed by the following Hadith:

Abu Dharr reported Allah’s Messenger Sallalahu Alayhi wa Sallam as saying that Allah, the Exalted and Glorious, stated:
“He who comes with goodness, there are in store for him ten like those and even more than those: ‘And he who comes with vice, ‘ it is only for that that he is called to account. I even forgive him (as I like) and he who draws close to Me by the span of a palm I draw close to him by the cubit, and he who draws close to Me by the cubit I draw close to him by the space (covered) by two hands, and he who walks towards Me I rush towards him, and he who meets Me in the state that his sins fill the earth, but not associating anything with Me, I would meet Him with the same (vastness) of pardon (on My behalf).”

Sahih Muslim 
Book 48, Hadith 29
USC-MSA web (English) reference : Book 35, Hadith 6499

Narrated Anas RadhiAllahuAnhu : The Prophet Sallahu Alayhi Wa Sallam said, 
“Allah will say to that person of the (Hell) Fire who will receive the least punishment, ‘If you had everything on the earth, would you give it as a ransom to free yourself (i.e. save yourself from this Fire)?’ He will say, ‘Yes.’ Then Allah will say, ‘While you were in the backbone of Adam, I asked you much less than this, i.e. not to worship others besides Me, but you insisted on worshipping others besides me.'”

Sahih al-Bukhari 3334
Book 60, Hadith 9
USC-MSA web (English) reference : Vol. 4, Book 55, Hadith 551

 Now the following is a narration that should sum it all up to show you how high and important the place for Tawheed is in Islam.

‘Abdullah bin ‘Amr narrated that the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said:
“A man from my nation will be called before all of creation on the Day of Resurrection, and ninety-nine scrolls will be spread out for him, each one extending as far as the eye can see. Then Allah will say: “Do you deny anything of this?” He will say: “No, O Lord.” He will say: “Have My recording scribes been unfair to you?” Then He will say: “Apart from that, do you have any good deeds?” The man will be terrified and will say: “No.” (Allah) will say: “Indeed, you have good deeds with Us, and you will not be treated unjustly this Day.” Then a card will be brought out on which is written Ash-hadu an la ilaha illallah wa anna Muhammadan ‘abduhu wa rasuluhu (I bear witness that none has the right to be worshipped but Allah, and that Muhammad is His slave and Messenger). He will say: “O Lord, what is this card compared with these scrolls?” He will say: “You will not be treated unjustly.” Then the scrolls will be placed in one side of the Balance and the card in the other. The scrolls will go up (i.e., be light) and the card will go down (i.e., will weigh heavily).”

Grade : Sahih
Sunan Ibn Majah
English reference : Vol. 5, Book 37, Hadith 4300
Arabic reference   : Book 37, Hadith 4442

So now do you see what’s in it for you and me? Do you see the power and weight that just a few words have over all other aspects of Islam? A few words when acted upon, that can substantially change our lives here for the hereafter? Because they are not just mere words, they are words that that are the ultimate truth and no other phrase uttered from anyone’s mouth can match their stature, they define our the outcome of the various things we do here and our end result in the hereafter because they are the foundation upon which everything else we do will be built, they are words that define the only way you will succeed –

“Laa ilaaha ill-Allaah Muhammadur Rasool-Allah”

There is no god worthy of worship but Allah, and Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah

And so let us examine and make an individual assessment of ourselves to see whether we have understood these words correctly like the way they should be understood, and to make sure we are fit to enter everlasting Paradise that Allah has promised for the believers in these words. Let us ask ourselves the following question:

Have I achieved Tawheed?

We have already had a look at what Tawheed means.It is –

To single out Allah in all acts of worship and to abandon the worship of anything else.

It becomes clear just by the definition of it that being on Tawheed is more than just uttering the words Laa ilaaha ill-Allaah. Knowing exactly what you mean by the words escaping your mouth and acting upon every word matters a lot more.

It was narrated that Ubaadah ibn al-Saamit said: The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said:
“Whoever says ‘I bear witness that there is no god worthy of worship except Allah alone [with no partner or associate] and that Muhammad is His slave and Messenger, and that ‘Eesa is the slave of Allaah, the son of His maidservant, a Word which He bestowed upon Maryam and a Spirit created by Him, and that Paradise is true and that Hell is true, Allah will admit him into Paradise with the deeds which he had done even if those deeds were few.”
(Junada, the sub-narrator said, ” ‘Ubada added, ‘Such a person can enter Paradise through any of its eight gates he likes.)

Narrated by al-Bukhaari (3252) and Muslim (28)   

A great and revered Islamic scholar by the name of Shaykh ‘Abd al-Rahmaan ibn Hasan ibn Muhammad ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhaab (may Allaah have mercy on him) commenting on the hadith above said:

“The words “Whoever says ‘I bear witness that there is no god except Allaah alone” mean, the one who speaks these words, knowing what they mean and acting upon them inwardly and outwardly, because with regard to the Shahaadatayn (the testimony of faith) it is essential that one know and be certain and act upon them as Allah says (interpretation of the meaning): “So know (O Muhammad )that Laa ilaaha illAllaah (none has the right to be worshipped but Allaah)” [Muhammad 47:19].”

So it can be said that it is not enough to just utter the Shahadah and forget about it, but more importantly knowing and acting upon is what counts considerably more. Allah Subhanu wa Ta’la says:

…except those who bear witness to the truth (i.e. believed in the Oneness of Allah, and obeyed His Orders), and they know (the facts about the Oneness of Allah).

[Surat Az Zukhruf: Ayah 86]

Directing any act of worship to other than Allah and associating any among the creation with Him in worship are acts of disbelief, even if one pronounced La iláha illalláh a thousand times with his tongue.

A renowned Islamic scholar, who belonged to what Prophet Sallahu Alayhi wa Sallam described as the second best generation of Muslims after that of the Sahabah, named Al Hasan Al-Basri was once asked: “Some people say that those who proclaim La iláha illalláh shall enter Paradise.” Al Hasan Al-Basri replied, “Yes. For those who proclaim this word and fulfill its implications and requirements, then saying La iláha illalláh shall enter them into Paradise.” In addition, Wahb bin Munbih asked: “Is not La iláha illalláh the key to Paradise?” He said, “Yes. However, every key has teeth; if you use a key that has teeth it will open for you, otherwise it will not open.”

And so we have to ask ourselves, as it is without a shadow of a doubt the most important matter of our lives here and in the hereafter –

Do we know and act upon Tawheed?

Here is a chance to finally check for ourselves and find out.

To answer this question, we will have to analyze our relation with certain aspects of Tawheed. For ease of understanding, Islamic Scholars have categorized the characteristics of Tawheed into three categories. Three very simple, easy to understand categories derived straight from the book of Allah Subhanu wa Ta’la that no intelligent person in the right senses cannot understand or grasp.

As we go along the three categories, let us question ourselves whether or not we comply with each because if we are not upon all of them, we are not upon Tawheed.

Tawheed Ar-Ruboobiyyah
(Oneness of Allah’s Lordship)

The first category is Tawheed Ar-Ruboobiyyah, which means “to single out Allah in understanding His Actions“, like His creating, providing, bringing of life and death, and keeping order in all affairs. A person understands that Allah alone is the Creator, the Provider, the Ever-Living One in charge of all affairs.

[Taken from Shaykh Saalih ibn ‘Abdillaah Al-Fawzaan’s book-Duroos min Al-Qur’aan Al-Kareem (p.12-14)]

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

Who created the heavens and the Earth? None but Allah.
Who created us? None but Allah.
Who makes the Sun rise and set? None but Allah.
Who makes the day enter into the night and the night enter into the day? None but Allah.
Who makes the vegetation grow on this beautiful lively planet of ours and Who nourishes the animals on the earth, in the sky and within the depths of the oceans? None but Allah.
Who sustains me with food and monitors every single one of my affairs? None but Allah.
Who creates within the bellies of the mothers? None but Allah.
Who decides whether it is a boy or a girl? None but Allah.
Who protects me from harm and provides for all my needs? None but Allah.
Who will decide whether I enter Paradise or the Hellfire? None but Allah.

So who is the Creator, the Owner, Provider, Sustainer, Protector etc? None but Allah.

No one except Allah is the Owner of everything that exists and therefore everything is under His Control and Lordship. And if anyone was to attribute any of Allah’s Actions to anyone else, then he is not upon Tawheed.

But is it enough to be upon this aspect of Tawheed to be on Tawheed as a whole? No. In fact even the disbelievers during Prophet Muhammad Sallalahu Alayhi wa Sallams time used to believe in this aspect of Tawheed.

The evidence that they used to accept this is found in several verses of the Qur’aan such as the following:

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

[Surat Al-‘Ankaboot: Ayah 61]

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

[Surat Al-‘Ankaboot:  Ayah 63]

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

[Surat Al-Zukhruf: Ayah 87]

So if the disbelievers had no problem in accepting Tawheed Ar-Ruboobiyyah (Oneness of Allahs Lorship), where did they make the mistake? It is in the second aspect of Tawheed.


The meaning of Tawheed Ar-Ruboobiyyah is –

To single out Allah in understanding His Actions.

Tawheed Al-Uloohiyyah
(Oneness in Allah’s Worship)

The second category is Tawheed Al-Uloohiyyah, which means “to single out Allah within the actions of the servant.” This includes all actions that draw them closer to Allah, Glorified and Exalted, like Dua (Supplicaton).
All forms of worship must be strictly for Allah alone, and nothing can be done for other than Him. This is what is called tawheed al-‘ebaadah, or tawheed al-uloohiyyah, and it is the tawheed that is put into practice as the servant singles out Allah in everything He has requested, with an intention for Him alone, in all acts of obedience.

[Taken from Shaykh Saalih ibn ‘Abdillaah Al-Fawzaan’s book-Duroos min Al-Qur’aan Al-Kareem (p.12-14)]

If we associate partners to Allah Subhanu wa Ta’la in our acts of worship, which is basically worshiping others than Allah, then we are clearly not upon this aspect of Tawheed and Islam as a whole.

Allah says:

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

[Surat Al-Isra: Ayah 23]

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

[Surat An-Nisa: Ayah 36]

 And He commands us to say something that we recite at least 17 times a day in every unit of prayer:

“You (Alone) we worship, and you (Alone) we ask for help (for each and everything).”

[Surat Al-Fatihah: Ayah 5]

 The Prophet Sallahu Alayhi wa Sallam taught us to proficiently polish our Intention (Niyyah) before performing every act of worship of doing it only and only for the sake of Allah when he said:

Narrated ‘Umar bin Al-Khattab:
I heard Allah’s Apostle saying, “The reward of deeds depends upon the intentions and every person will get the reward according to what he has intended.”

Bukhari :: Book 1 :: Volume 1 :: Hadith 1

Allah makes sure that we firmly believe that whatever we do here for the hereafter is only for Allah and nobody else, He the Most High tells us to:

Say, “Indeed, my prayer, my rites of sacrifice, my living and my dying are for Allah, Lord of the worlds.”

[Surat Al Anaam: Ayah 162]

Allah warned His Messenger and Prophet Muhammad Sallahu Alayhi wa Sallam and all of the believers, who believe and affirm that Allah is their Lord and the Only One Who is to be worshipped, about the dangers of setting partners in worship with Him or worshiping anyone else besides Him by Saying:

And it was already revealed to you and to those before you that: “If you should associate [anything] with Allah, your work would surely become worthless, and you would surely be among the losers.”

Rather, worship Allah alone and be among the grateful.

[Surat Az Zumar; Ayahs 65-66]

And this is where the disbelievers erred. They used to believe in the existence and the Lordship of Allah but also used to associate make-believe partners to Allah and worship them.

What were the disbelievers of the Prophet’s time like?

They didn’t like the powerful message that the Prophet SallahuAlayhi wa sallam was proclaiming of the futility and insensibility of idol worship. The disbelievers of the Prophet’s hometown (Makkah) burst into outrage and disapproval. The Prophets words of calling towards Tawheed created a thunderbolt that turned the Makkan time- honoured ideological life upside down. They could not bear to hear that the tradition of idol worship that they were so accustomed to was a strayed path. They had to do something about this situation.

And so they tried to push him and his followers down. They would clog their ears with their fingers whenever the Prophet would recite the Ayahs or they would play the dirty trick of talking loudly and insolently when it was being read, so that even the passer-by’s and those who wanted to listen may not be able to hear.
They tried to harm him by throwing stones at him, threw the entrails of goats on his back when he was praying and strangling him. Even his followers were not left alone. The uncle of ‘Uthman bin ‘Affan used to wrap ‘Uthman in a mat of palm leaves, and set fire under him. Bilal, the slave of Omaiyah bin Khalaf, was severely beaten by his master when the latter came to know of his conversion to Islam. Sometimes a rope was put around his neck and street boys were made to drag him through the streets and even across the hillocks of Makkah. At times he was subjected to prolonged deprivation of food and drink; at others he was bound up, made to lie down on the burning sand and under the crushing burden of heavy stones. Khabbab bin Al-Aratt  was made to  lie on burning coal with a big rock on his chest to prevent him from escaping. Some Muslims of rank and position were wrapped in the raw skins of camels and thrown away, and others were put in armours and cast on burning sand in the scorching sun of Arabia.

One of their most devilish schemes of shunning the bright illuminating message of Islam and debarring the public from being attracted to the Prophet Sallalahu Alayhi wa Sallams message was by calling him a soothsayer, possessed, a poet, a magician and a liar. But no matter how hard they tried, the messenger’s followers kept increasing because of the sheer might of the message he had come with.

The very fact that they had to go through so much trouble of trying to stop people from being attracted to Islam shows how powerful and how true the message was, and the disbelievers knew this too. The following incident reflects on how entrancing and realistic this message was even to the disbelievers of Makkah:

One day some of the important men of Makkah gathered in the enclosure of Al-Ka‘bah, and ‘Utbah bin Rabi‘a, a chief among them, offered to approach the Prophet Sallalahu Alayhi wa Sallam and contract a bargain with him whereby they give him whatever worldly wealth he asks for, on condition that he keep silent and no longer proclaim his new faith. The people of Quraish (the elite tribe in Makkah) endorsed his proposal and requested him to undertake that task. ‘Utbah came closer to Muhammad [pbuh] and addressed him in the following words:

“We have seen no other man of Arabia, who has brought so great a calamity to a nation, as you have done. You have outraged our gods and religion and taxed our forefathers and wise men with impiety and error and created strife amongst us. You have left no stone unturned to estrange the relations with us. If you are doing all this with a view to getting wealth, we will join together to give you greater riches than any Quraishite has possessed. If ambition moves you, we will make you our chief. If you desire kingship we will readily offer you that. If you are under the power of an evil spirit which seems to haunt and dominate you so that you cannot shake off its yoke, then we shall call in skilful physicians to cure you.”

“Have you said all?” asked Muhammad Sallalahu Alayhi wa Sallam; and then hearing that all had been said, he spoke forth, and said:

Ha, Meem.

[This is] a revelation from the Entirely Merciful, the Especially Merciful –

A Book whose verses have been detailed, an Arabic Qur’an for a people who know,

As a giver of good tidings and a warner; but most of them turn away, so they do not hear.

And they say, “Our hearts are within coverings from that to which you invite us, and in our ears is deafness, and between us and you is a partition, so work; indeed, we are working.”

[Surat Fussilat: Ayah 1-5]

The Messenger of Allah Sallalahu Alayhu wa Sallam went on reciting the Chapter while ‘Utbah sitting and listening attentively with his hand behind his back to support him. When the Messenger reached the verse that required prostration, he immediately prostrated himself. After that, he turned to ‘Utbah saying: “Well Abu Al Waleed! You have heard my reply, you are now free to do whatever you please.” ‘Utbah then retired to his company to apprise them of the Prophet’s attitude. When his compatriots saw him, they swore that he looked different coming back from when he had gone. He immediately communicated to them the details of the talk he gave and the reply he received, and appended saying:

“I have never heard words similar to those ones he recited. They definitely relate neither to poetry nor to witchcraft nor do they derive from soothsaying. O people of Quraish! I request you to heed my advice and grant the man full freedom to pursue his goals, in which case you could safely detach yourselves from him. I swear that his words bear a supreme Message. Should the other Arabs rid you of him, they will then spare you the trouble, on the other hand if he accedes to power over the Arabs, then you will bask in his kingship and share him his might.” These words of course fell on deaf ears, and did not appeal to the infidels, who jeered at ‘Utbah and claimed that the Prophet [pbuh] had bewitched him.” [Ibn Hisham 1/293,294]

Such were the disbelievers. Why didn’t they want to submit to this mighty message? The answer to this is simple. They knew that denying worship to anyone but Allah and that belief in the Divine Message and the Hereafter would mean complete compliance and absolute commitment, and this in turn would leave no area at all for them to claim authority over themselves and over their wealth, let alone their subordinates. In short, their arrogated religiously-based supremacy and highhandedness would no longer be in effect; their pleasures would be subordinated to the pleasures of Allah and His Messenger and lastly they would have to abstain from incurring injustices on the weak, and carry out dreadful sins in their everyday life. They would have to give up a major part of their distorted lives. They had already been fully aware of these meanings, which is why their souls would not condescend to accept this ‘disgraceful’ position not out of motives based on dignity and honour but rather because of the reason that Allah Himself proclaimed in the Holy Quran:

 But man desires to continue in sin.

[Surat Al Qiyaama: Ayah 5]

They had been aware of all these consequences but they could afford to do nothing before an honest truthful man who was the highest example of good manners and human values. They had never known such an example in the history of their folks or grandfathers. What would they do? They were baffled.

And so they continued to worship others besides Allah and ask others besides Him and turned a deaf ear even when the following Ayah was revealed:

And those whom you invoke other than Him do not possess [as much as] the membrane of a date seed. If you invoke them, they do not hear your supplication; and if they heard, they would not respond to you. And on the Day of Resurrection they will deny your association. And none can inform you like the One Who knows all things.

[Surat Faatir: Ayahs 13 -14]

And how did they justify their action of invoking and calling on others besides Allah?

Allah revealed:

And those who take protectors besides Him [say], “We only worship them that they may bring us nearer to Allah in position.” Indeed, Allah will judge between them concerning that over which they differ. Indeed, Allah does not guide he who is a liar and [confirmed] disbeliever.

[Surat Zumar: Ayah 3]

And Allah revealed:

And when it is said to them, “Come to what Allah has revealed and to the Messenger,” they say, “Sufficient for us is that upon which we found our fathers.” Even though their fathers knew nothing, nor were they guided?

[Surat Al Maaida: Ayah 104]

And again to present how insensible those are who call upon and ask for help from other than Him, Allah says:

And they worship other than Allah that which neither harms them nor benefits them, and they say, “These are our intercessors with Allah “ Say, “Do you inform Allah of something He does not know in the heavens or on the earth?” Exalted is He and high above what they associate with Him!

[Surat Yunus: Ayah 18]

Now why did we dwell so deep into the times of the Prophet in the middle of understanding Tawheed you may ask? It is to understand the nature of those who denied Tawheed during the Prophets time and compare their profile with ours. As peculiar and paradoxical as the question may seem, do we as Muslims worship others besides Allah in today’s time? Are we falling into the same trap that the disbelievers of Makkah did of believing in Tawheed Ar Ruboobiyyah but failing to understand Tawheed Al Uloohiyyah? Just like we mentioned in the section of Tawheed Ar Ruboobiyyah, the desibelevers of Makkah had no problem in accepting that Allah is the Creator and the Sustainer but then when it came to worship (Tawheed Al Uloohiyyah) they abandoned Allah. Do we do the same? Do we believe in One Lord Who is responsible for creation and sustenance then invoke, ask, seek protection and therefore worship others besides the Only One Who can give? If we don’t then why do we stand beside graveyards and shrines asking the deceased saints for help and rely on pieces of rusty amulets for our protection, and then justify our actions just like the disbelievers justified theirs by saying, “These are only or intercessors with Allah, they only bring us closer to Allah and this is what our forefathers did so we will do the same”?  Sure it may not be idol worship like the disbelievers of Makkah used to do, but the only difference between then and now is that they worshipped vertical figures while we worship horizontal figures, in the grave. Are we truly following the teachings of the Messenger and his righteous followers who gave up their entire lives so that the Oneness of Allah in all matters could prevail or are we only becoming more insensible day by day because of wanting to follow our whims and desires just like the disbelievers did?

Have we forgotten the teachings that our Prophet gave to young Ibn Abbas one fine day by saying:

“O boy! I will teach you a statement: Be mindful of Allah and He will protect you. Be mindful of Allah and you will find Him before you. When you ask, ask Allah, and when you seek aid, seek Allah’s aid. 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
English reference: Vol. 4, Book 11, Hadith 2516
Arabic reference: Book 37, Hadith 2706

Five days before the Prophet’s death, he Sallalahu Alayhi wa Sallam said:

Beware of those who preceded you and used to take the graves of their prophets and righteous men as places of worship, but you must not take graves as mosques; I forbid you to do that.

Muslim :: Book 4 : Hadith 1083

It has also been reported:

Narrated ‘Aisha:

Um Habiba and Um Salama mentioned about a church they had seen in Ethiopia in which there were pictures. They told the Prophet about it, on which he said, “If any religious man dies amongst those people they would build a place of worship at his grave and make these pictures in it. They will be the worst creature in the sight of Allah on the Day of Resurrection.”

Bukhari :: Book 1 :: Volume 8 :: Hadith 419

The Muslim Ummah in today’s time is seen vibrantly engaging in all these pathetic activities that never took place during the Prophets time and that are evidently wrong. We have to remember that for any of our deeds to be accepted they should meet two conditions:

The first condition: The act of worship should be devoted to Allah Alone.


Allah says:

“And they were commanded not, but that they should worship Allah, and worship none but Him Alone (abstaining from ascribing partners to Him).”

[Surat Al-Bayyinah 98: Ayah 5]

It was narrated that ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab (may Allah be pleased with him) said: “I heard the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) say:

“The reward of deeds depends upon the intentions and every person will get the reward according to what he has intended. So whoever emigrated for worldly benefits or to marry a woman, his emigration was for what he emigrated for.”

(Narrated by al-Bukhari, Bad’ al-Wahy, 1).

It was narrated by Muslim from Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) that the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said:

“Allah, may He be blessed and exalted, says: ‘I am so self-sufficient that I am in no need of having an associate. Thus he who does an action for someone else’s sake as well as Mine will have that action renounced by Me to him whom he associated with Me.”

(Narrated by Muslim, al-Zuhd wa’l-Raqaiq, 5300)

The second condition: The act should be in accordance with the Law of Allah and His Messenger.


It was narrated that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “Whoever does any action that is not in accordance with this matter of ours (i.e., Islam), will have it rejected.”

(Narrated by Muslim, al-Aqdiyyah, 3243)

The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) enjoined following his Sunnah (ways) and teachings. And he gave us a direction to follow. He (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said:

“You have to follow my Sunnah (way) and the way of my rightly-guided successors (al-khulafa’ al-rashidoon); bite onto it with your eyeteeth (i.e., cling firmly to it).”

And he warned against things invented into the perfect religion of Allah as he said:

“Beware of newly-invented matters, for every newly-invented matter is a going astray.”

(Narrated by al-Tirmidhi, al-‘Ilm, 2600; classed as saheeh/authentic by al-Albani in Saheeh Sunan al-Tirmidhi, no. 2157)

The time has come for us to check whether we are involved in any such newly invented practices and to stay far away from them. It is time to wake up and refrain from directing even the slightest of our acts of worship to other than Allah Subhanu wa Ta’la and knowing that He the Most High said:

O people, an example is presented, so listen to it. Indeed, those you invoke besides Allah will never create [as much as] a fly, even if they gathered together for that purpose. And if the fly should steal away from them a [tiny] thing, they could not recover it from him. Weak are the pursuer and pursued.

[Surat Al Hajj: Ayah 73]

And He said:

Say (O Muhammad to mankind): ‘How do you worship besides Allah something which has no power either to harm or benefit you? But it is Allah Who is the All-Hearer, All-Knower’?

[Surat Al Maaida: Ayah 76]

Verily, those whom you call upon besides Allah are slaves like you. So call upon them and let them answer you if you are truthful.

[Surat Al-Araaf: Ayah 194]

And He said:

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.

[Surat Al Baqarah: Ayah 165]

Are you stronger in love for Allah? Then invoke, ask, expect from and direct all your acts of worship to Allah Subhanu wa Ta’la Who is the Only One Who can give you what you ask for, because Only He is the Owner of everything, because Only He is the one Who can Create and Destroy, because Only He is the One Whom we can rely upon and trust during times of joy and at times of turmoil, because Only He is the All Knower and the All Wise.

This religion of ours is unique in the sense that it establishes a direct connection between the created and the Creator, a connection that all the Prophets and Messengers from the beginning of time were sent to establish. It is the Mercy of Allah that He has kept the access to this connection easy and free of cost for all that we must do to establish it is mention His Name because He said:

Remember Me; I will remember you.

[Surat Al Baqarah: Ayah 152]

And He said to you:

Indeed I am near.
I respond to the invocation of the supplicant when he calls upon Me.

[Surat Al Baqarah: Ayah 186]

 And He said to you:

Call upon Me; I will respond to you.

[Surat Ghafir: Ayah 60]

Allah is offering you to connect with Him, isn’t He sufficient for you? Do you need to direct your dua’s or any other acts of worship for anyone other than Him?  He answers this by telling you:

Surely, Allah is All-Sufficient for His creatures needs, All Knowing.

[Surat Al Baqarah; Ayah 115]

Are many different lords better or Allah, the One, the Irresistible?

[Surat Yoosuf: Ayah 39]

Stay well within this aspect of Tawheed by doing whatever you do here for the hereafter for His sake and Only for Him.


The meaning of Tawheed Al-Uloohiyyah is –

To single out Allah within the actions of the Servant.

Tawheed Al-Asmaa’ was-Sifaat 
(Oneness in Allah’s Divine Names and Attributes) 

The third and last category is Tawheed al-Asmaa’ was-Sifaat, which means “to believe in every Name and Attribute that Allah affirmed for Himself, or those that His Messenger (sallallaahu ‘alayhe wa sallam) affirmed for Him.

[Taken from Shaykh Saalih ibn ‘Abdillaah Al-Fawzaan’s book-Duroos min Al-Qur’aan Al-Kareem (p.12-14)]

So the third and last fundamental aspect of Tawheed is to believe that:

1) We must not name or attribute Allah except with what He or His Messenger Sallahu Alayhi wa Sallam has named or attributed Him with.

2) None can be named or attributed with the Names or Attributes of Allah. (1)

3) We must believe in all the attributes of Allah which Allah stated in His Book (the Quran) or mentioned through His Messenger Muhammad Sallahu Alayhi wa Sallam without changing their meaning or ignoring them completely or twisting the meanings or likening them to any of the created things.

[Extract from the appendix of The Noble Qur’an interpreted in English language by Dr. Muhsin Khan and Dr. Hilali]

Allah Subhanu wa Ta’la says a statement in the Quran that is essential for us to sear into our minds, He said:

There is nothing like Him, and He is the All-Hearer, the All-Seer

[Surat Ash Shura: Ayah 11]

Imam Abu Hanifah (May Allah have Mercy on him) stated in Al Fiqh Al Akbar, “Allah is not like any of His creatures, nor is any creature like His. His attributes are different from their attributes. He knows but not as we know (meaning He knows Everything with complete perfection, we don’t); He acts, but not as we act; (meaning He is completely Perfect in His Actions, we aren’t); and He sees but not as we see (meaning He sees Everything with complete perfection, we don’t).”
[Taken from Al Fiqh Al Akbar with commentary by Mullah ‘Ali Al Qari page 24]


The meaning of Tawheed Al-Asmaa’ was-Sifaat is –

To single out Allah in the Names and Attributes that He has affirmed for Himself and those that His Messenger Sallahu Alayhi wa Sallam affirmed for him, without adding or taking away the meanings that were assigned to them.

Now lets summarize what you have learnt:

Summary of Tawheed and its categories:

 What is Tawheed?

Tawheed is to single out Allah in all acts of worship and to abandon the worship of anything else.

What are the three categories of Tawheed?

  • Tawheed Ar-Ruboobiyyah (Oneness of Allah’s Lordship)
  • Tawheed Al-Uloohiyyah (Oneness of Allah’s Worship)
  • Tawheed Al-Asmaa’ was-Sifaat (Oneness of Allah’s Divine Names and Attributes)

What do the three categories of Tawheed mean?

Tawheed Ar-Ruboobiyyah is to single out Allah in understanding His Actions.

Tawheed Al-Uloohiyyah is to single out Allah within the actions of the servant.

Tawheed Al-Asmaa’ was-Sifaat is to single out Allah in the Names and Attributes that He has affirmed for Himself and those that His Messenger Sallahu Alayhi wa Sallam affirmed for him, without adding or taking away the meanings that were assigned to them.

Accept and implement Tawheed. This is the only way you will succeed.


This article was compiled using the following resources:

  1. ‘Lessons From the Noble Qur’aan’
    by Shaykh Saalih ibn ‘Abdillaah ibn Saalih Al Fawzaan
  2. ‘The Wahhabi Myth’
    by Haneef James Oliver
  3. ‘The Sealed Nectar’
    by Sheikh Safi ur Rahman
  4. ‘The Belief of a Muslim’
    by Muhsin Khan & Taqi-ud-Din Hilali

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