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The Tawhid that the Messengers came with affirmed divinity (ilahiyyah) for Allah alone such that a person bears witness that la ilaha illAllah: none is to be worshipped save Him, his tawakkul is only placed in Him, his love and hate is only for His sake, and any deed he does is only for His sake. That Tawhid also comprised affirming the Names and Attributes that He affirmed for Himself. Allah, Most High, says,

         “Your God is One God. There is none worthy of worship besides Him, the All-Merciful, the Most Merciful.”

[al-Baqarah (2): 163]    

         “Allah says, ‘Do not take two gods, He is only One God. So dread Me alone.” [al-Nahl (16): 51] 

         “Whoever calls on another god together with Allah, has no grounds for doing so at all and his reckoning is with his Lord. Truly the disbelievers have no success.” [al-Mu’minun (23): 117]

         “Ask those We sent before you as Our Messengers: Have We ever designated any gods to be worshipped besides the All-Merciful?”

[al-Zukhruf (43): 45]

        

He informs us that every Prophet called man to the worship of Allah alone without any partners,

         “You have an excellent example in Ibrahim and those with him, when they said to their people, ‘We wash our hands of you and all that you worship apart from Allah, and we reject you. Between us and you there will be enmity and hatred for ever unless and until you have faith in Allah alone.” [al-Mumtahanah (60): 4]

        

And He says about the polytheists,

         “When they are told, ‘There is none worthy of worship save Allah,’ they were arrogant. They said, ‘Are we to forsake our gods for a mad poet?’” [al-Saffat (37): 35-36]

 

There are many verses like these in the Qur´an. The meaning of Tawhid is not restricted to Tawhid al-Rububiyyah: the belief that Allah alone is the creator of the worlds as thought by the people of theological rhetoric (ahlu’l-kalam) and the Sufis. These people thought that if they were affirm this aspect, along with its proof, they would have affirmed the pinnacle of Tawhid, that if they were to witness this and were to obliterate themselves in it they would have done so in the pinnacle of Tawhid.

 

In reality, if a man was to accept the Attributes of His Lord as was deserving and was to absolve Him of everything He should be absolved of, and affirmed that He alone is the creator of everything, he would not be a muwahhid until he bore witness that none has the right to be worshipped save Allah alone, accepting that He is the only God deserving of worship, and then affixed himself to the worship of Allah alone without any partner. The ilah is one who is taken as god and worshipped (ma´luh ma`bud), who deserves worship, it does not mean one who is able to create from nothing. If someone were to explain al-ilah to mean one who was capable of creating from nothing and believed that this meaning was the single distinguishing meaning of the word, and thought that affirmation of this was the pinnacle of Tawhid, as was the way of those who affirmed the Attributes and delved into kalam – and this is what they say of Abu’l-Hasan and his followers – then he does not know the reality of the Tawhid with which Allah sent His Messenger (SAW). This is because the polytheist Arabs affirmed that Allah alone was the creator of everything, yet despite this belief they remained polytheists. Allah, Most High, says,

         “Most of them do not have faith in Allah without associating others with Him.” [Yusuf (12): 106]

        

A group of the Salaf said, “If you ask them, ‘Who created the heavens and the earth,’ they would answer, ‘Allah,’ yet despite this they would worship others besides Him.”[1] Allah, Most High, says,

         “Say, ‘To whom does the earth belong, and everyone in it, if you have any knowledge?’ They will say, ‘To Allah.’ Say, ‘So will you not pay heed?’ Say, ‘Who is the Lord of the Seven Heavens and the Lord of the Mighty Throne?’ They will say, ‘Allah.’ Say, ‘So will you not have taqwa?’ Say, ‘In whose hand is the dominion over everything, He who gives protection and from whom no protection can be given, if you have any knowledge?’ They will say, ‘Allah’s.’ Say, ‘So how have you been bewitched?” [al-Mu’minun (23): 84-89]

        

Not everyone who affirms that Allah, Most High, is the Lord of everything and its creator necessarily worships Him and only Him, supplicating to Him and no one else, placing his hope and fear in Him and no one else, loving and hating for His sake only, obeying His Messengers and enjoining what He enjoins and prohibiting what He prohibits. The generality of the polytheists believed that Allah was the creator of everything but they set up intercessors through whom they committed shirk, and they set up partners with Him. Allah, Most High, says,

         “Or have they adopted intercessors besides Allah? Say, ‘Even though they do not control a thing and have no awareness?’ Say, ‘Intercession is entirely Allah’s affair. The kingdom of the heavens and earth is His.” [al-Zumar (39): 43-44]

         “They worship, instead of Allah, what can neither harm them nor help them, saying, ‘These are our intercessors with Allah.’ Say, ‘Would you inform Allah of something about which He does not know either in the heavens or on earth?’ May He be glorified and exalted above what they associate with Him!” [Yunus (10): 18]       

         “You have come to Us all alone just as We created you at first, leaving behind you everything We bestowed on you. We do not see your intercessors accompanying you, those you claimed were partners with Allah.” [al-An`am (6): 94]      

         “Some people set up equals to Allah, loving them as they should love Allah.” [al-Baqarah (2): 165]    

This is why you will find amongst the followers of these people[2] those who prostrate to the sun, moon and stars and invoke them, fast for them, sacrifice to them, and try to draw close to them. They then claim that this is not shirk and that “shirk can only be committed when one believes that these objects regulate and control my affairs, but if I was to take them as a mere means (sabab) and intermediary (wasitah), I would not be a mushrik.” However, it is known by necessity in the religion of Islam that this is shirk. [Cited in Ali al-Shaykh, Fathu’l-Majid, pp. 26-29]

 

Footnotes

[1] Ibn Kathir relates this from ibn `Abbas, Mujahid, `Ata’, `Ikrimah, Sha`bi, Qatadah, Dahhak and `Abdu’l-Rahman ibn Zayd ibn Aslam.

[2] i.e. those who think that Tawhid is restricted to this meaning.

 

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