What is Tawheed?


The Prophet (saws) said, “O Mu’adh! Do you know what Allah’s Right upon His slaves is?” I said, “Allah and His Apostle know best.” The Prophet (saws) said, “To worship Him (Allah) Alone and to join none in worship with Him (Allah). Do you know what their right upon Him is?” I replied, “Allah and His Apostle know best.” The Prophet (saws) said, “Not to punish them (if they do so).” (Sahih Bukhari)


The meaning of Tawheed and its categories:

Praise be to Allaah.  

Praise be to Allaah and blessings and peace be upon His Messenger and Chosen Prophet.

Tawheed in Arabic means attributing Oneness to Allaah and describing Him as being One and Unique, with no partner or peer in His Essence and Attributes.

The Arabs say waahid, ahad and waheed, all meaning one. Allaah is Waahid, meaning that He has no rivals or peers in any way. So Tawheed means knowing Allaah is One, with none like unto Him. Whoever does not acknowledge Allaah in these terms and does not describe Him as being One with no partner or associate does not believe in Tawheed.

With regard to the shar’i definition of Tawheed, it means believing in Allaah alone as God and Lord and attributing to Him alone all the attributes of Lordship and divinity.

It may be defined as follows: Believing that Allaah is One with no partner or associate in His Lordship (ruboobiyyah), divinity (uloohiyyah) or names and attributes (al-asma’ wa’l-sifaat).

This word (Tawheed) and its derivatives are used with this meaning in the Qur’aan and Sunnah. For example:

Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):

Say, “He is Allah , [who is] One,

Allah , the Eternal Refuge.

He neither begets nor is born,

Nor is there to Him any equivalent.”

[al-Ikhlaas 112:1-4]

And your god is one God. There is no deity [worthy of worship] except Him, the Entirely Merciful, the Especially Merciful.

[al-Baqarah 2:163]

They have certainly disbelieved who say, ” Allah is the third of three.” And there is no god except one God. And if they do not desist from what they are saying, there will surely afflict the disbelievers among them a painful punishment.

[al-Maa’idah 5:73]

And there are many similar verses.

In Saheeh al-Bukhaari (7372) and Saheeh Muslim (19) it is narrated that Ibn ‘Abbaas (may Allaah be pleased with him) said: When the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) sent Mu’aadh ibn Jabal to Yemen, he said to him: “You are going to people from among the People of the Book, so let the first thing to which you call them be belief in Allaah alone (Tawheed). If they accept that, then tell them that Allaah has enjoined on them five prayers every day and night. If they pray then tell them that Allaah has enjoined on them zakaah from their wealth to be taken from their rich and given to their poor. If they agree to that then take it from them but avoid the best of people’s wealth.”

In Saheeh Muslim it is narrated from Ibn ‘Umar (may Allaah be pleased with him) that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Islam is built on five (pillars): belief that Allaah is One, establishing regular prayer, paying zakaah, fasting Ramadaan and Hajj.”

What is meant by Tawheed in all these texts is affirming the meaning of the testimony that there is no god but Allaah and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allaah, which is the essence of the religion of Islam with which Allaah sent His Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him), based on the evidence of the words of the Qur’aan and Sunnah. In some versions of the hadeeth of Mu’aadh quoted above it says: “You will come to some people from among the People of the Book so when you come to them, call them to bear witness that there is no god except Allaah and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allaah.” Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 1492.

According to another version of the hadeeth of Ibn ‘Umar: The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Islam is based on five (pillars): the testimony that there is no god except Allaah and that Muhammad is His slave and Messenger…” Narrated by Muslim, 16.

This indicates that Tawheed is the essence of the testimony that there is no god except Allaah and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allaah, and that this is Islam with which Allaah sent His Prophet to the two races of mankind and the jinn, other than which Allaah will not accept any religion from anyone.

Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):

“Truly, the religion with Allaah is Islam”

[Aal ‘Imraan 3:19]

“And whoever seeks a religion other than Islam, it will never be accepted of him, and in the Hereafter he will be one of the losers”

[Aal ‘Imraan 3:85]

Once this is understood, it should be noted that the scholars have divided Tawheed into three categories, as follows:

Tawheed al-Ruboobiyyah (Oneness of Divine Lordship), Tawheed al-Uloohiyyah (Oneness of Divinity) and Tawheed al-Asma’ wa’l-Sifaat (Oneness of the Divine Names and Attributes). 

Tawheed al-Ruboobiyyah (Oneness of Divine Lordship): means believing in Allaah as One and Unique with regard to His actions such as creation, sovereignty, control, giving life and death, and so on.

There is a great deal of evidence to support this in the Qur’aan and Sunnah.

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

The disbelievers of old accepted this aspect of Tawheed in general terms, although they differed with regard to some of its details. The evidence that they used to accept this is to be found in several verses of the Qur’aan such as the following (interpretation of the meaning):

If you asked them, “Who created the heavens and earth and subjected the sun and the moon?” they would surely say, ” Allah .” Then how are they deluded?

[al-‘Ankaboot 29:61]

And if you asked them, “Who sends down rain from the sky and gives life thereby to the earth after its lifelessness?” they would surely say ” Allah .” Say, “Praise to Allah “; but most of them do not reason.

[al-‘Ankaboot 29:63]

And if you asked them who created them, they would surely say, ” Allah .” So how are they deluded?

[al-Zukhruf 43:87]

In these verses Allaah states that the kuffaar affirm that He is the Creator, Sovereign and Controller, but despite that they do not worship Him alone (Tawheed of worship), which points to the graveness of their wrongdoing and lies, and the weakness of their reasoning. For if there is One Who is described in such terms, none should be worshipped except Him alone and none should be described as being one and unique except Him; may He be glorified above those that they associate with him.

So whoever affirms this Tawheed in the true sense must inevitably also affirm the Oneness of Allaah’s Divinity (Tawheed al-Uloohiyyah).

Tawheed al-Uloohiyyah means devoting all acts of worship, both inward and outward, in word and deed, to Allaah Alone, and not worshipping anything or anyone other than Allaah, no matter who he is. Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):

And your Lord has decreed that you not worship except Him, and to parents, good treatment.

[al-Isra’ 17:23]

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

[al-Nisa’ 4:36]

It may be described as devoting all one’s actions to Allaah alone.

It is called Tawheed al-Uloohiyyah because it is based on ta’alluh lillaah which is worship and devotion of Allaah accompanied by love and veneration.

It is also called Tawheed al-‘Ibaadah (oneness of worship) because it means that a person worships Allaah by doing that which He has commanded and avoiding that which He has forbidden.

It is also called Tawheed al-Talab wa’l-Qasd wa’l-Iraadah (Oneness of goal, purpose and will) because it means that a person does not seek anything except the Face of Allaah, so he worships Him sincerely.

This is the kind of Tawheed concerning which people went astray, which is why the Prophets were sent and the Books were revealed. This is the purpose for which the universe was created and laws were prescribed. Concerning this disputes arose between the Prophets and their peoples, so the stubborn were doomed and the believers were saved.

Whoever goes astray with regard to this Tawheed, such as devoting some of his worship to someone other than Allaah, has gone beyond the pale of Islam and drifted away from true belief. May Allaah protect us from that.

With regard to Tawheed al-Asma’ wa’l-Sifaat (Oneness of the Divine Names and Attributes), this means affirming the names and attributes of Allaah and believing that there is none like unto Allaah in His names and attributes. This Tawheed is based on two principles:

1 – Affirmation: i.e., affirming that which Allaah has affirmed for Himself in His Book or that His Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) has affirmed of His beautiful names and sublime attributes in a manner that suits the Majesty and Greatness of Allaah, without distorting them, twisting their meanings, denying their reality or discussing how they are.

2 – Denial: i.e., denying that Allaah has any faults and denying any shortcomings that He has denied Himself. The evidence for that is the words of Allaah (interpretation of the meaning):

“There is nothing like Him, and He is the All‑Hearer, the All‑Seer”

[al-Shoora 42:11]

So He has denied that He bears any resemblance to His creation, and affirmed that He has attributes of perfection in a manner that befits Him, may He be glorified.

Source:  al-Hujjah fi Bayaan al-Mahajjah, 1/305; Lawaami’ al-Anwaar al-Bahiyyah, 1/57  (

“al-Hujjah fi Bayaan al-Mahajjah” is a book written by Abul Qasim Isma`il Al-Asbahani (457- 535 H.)).

Who is Allah?


Allah the personal name of God

Concept of God 

It is a known fact that every language has one or more terms that are used in reference to God and sometimes to lesser deities. This is not the case with Allah. Allah is the personal name of the One true God. Nothing else can be called Allah. The term has no plural or gender. This shows its uniqueness when compared with the word “god,” which can be made plural, as in “gods,” or made feminine, as in “goddess.” It is interesting to notice that Allah is the personal name of God in Aramaic, the language of Jesus and a sister language of Arabic.

The One true God is a reflection of the unique concept that Islam associates with God. To a Muslim, Allah is the Almighty Creator and Sustainer of the universe, Who is similar to nothing, and nothing is comparable to Him. The Prophet Muhammad was asked by his contemporaries about Allah; the answer came directly from God Himself in the form of a short chapter of the Qur’an, which is considered to be the essence of the unity or the motto of monotheism. This is chapter 112, which reads:“ In the name of Allah, the Merciful, the Compassionate. Say (O Muhammad), He is God, the One God, the Everlasting Refuge, who has not begotten, nor has been begotten, and equal to Him is not anyone”.

Some non-Muslims allege that God in Islam is a stern and cruel God who demands to be obeyed fully and is not loving and kind. Nothing could be farther from the truth than this allegation. It is enough to know that, with the exception of one, each of the 114 chapters of the Qur’an begins with the verse ” In the name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate”. In one of the sayings of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), we are told that “ God is more loving and kind than a mother to her dear child”.

On the other hand, God is also Just. Hence, evildoers and sinners must have their share of punishment, and the virtuous must have God’s bounties and favors. Actually, God’s attribute of Mercy has full manifestation in His attribute of Justice. People suffering throughout their lives for His sake should not receive similar treatment from their Lord as people who oppress and exploit others their whole lives. Expecting similar treatment for them would amount to negating the very belief in the accountability of man in the Hereafter and thereby negate all the incentives for a moral and virtuous life in this world. The following Qur’anic verses are very clear and straightforward in this respect.

Verily, for the Righteous are gardens of Delight, in the Presence of their Lord. Shall We then treat the people of Faith like the people of Sin? What is the matter with you? How judge you?

Islam rejects characterizing God in any human form or depicting Him as favoring certain individuals or nations on the basis of wealth, power or race. He created the human-beings as equals. They may distinguish themselves and get His favor through virtue and piety only.

The concepts that God rested on the seventh day of creation, that God wrestled with one of His soldiers, that God is an envious plotter against mankind, and that God is incarnate in any human being are considered blasphemy from the Islamic point of view.

The unique usage of Allah as a personal name of God is a reflection of Islam’s emphasis on the purity of the belief in God that is the essence of the message of all God’s messengers. Because of this, Islam considers associating any deity or personality with God as a deadly sin that God will never forgive, despite the fact that He may forgive all other sins.

The Creator must be of a different nature from the things created because if He is of the same nature as they are, He will be temporal and will therefore need a maker. It follows that nothing is like Him. If the maker is not temporal, then he must be eternal. But if he is eternal, he cannot be caused, and if nothing caused Him to come into existence, nothing outside Him causes Him to continue to exist, which means that he must be self-sufficient. And if He does not depend on anything for the continuance of His own existence, then this existence can have no end. The Creator is therefore eternal and everlasting: “He is the First and the Last”.

He is Self-sufficient or Self-subsistent, or, to use a Qur’anic term, Al-Qayyum The Creator does not create only in the sense of bringing things into being, He. also preserves them and takes them out of existence and is the ultimate cause of whatever happens to them.

“ God is the Creator of everything. He is the guardian over everything. Unto Him belong the keys of the heavens and the earth” (39:62-63).

“ No creature is there crawling on the earth, but its provision rests on God. He knows its lodging place and its repository” (11:16).

God’s Attributes

            If the Creator is Eternal and Everlasting, then His attributes must also be eternal and everlasting. He should not lose any of His attributes nor acquire new ones. If this is so, then his attributes are absolute. Can there be more than one Creator with such absolute attributes? Can there be, for example, two absolutely powerful Creators? A moment’s thought shows that this is not feasible.

The Qur’an summarizes this argument in the following verses:“ God has not taken to Himself any son, nor is there any god with Him: for then each god would have taken of that which he created and some of them would have risen up over others” (23:91).

“ And why, were there gods in earth and heaven other than God, they (heaven and earth) would surely go to ruin” (21:22).

The Oneness of God

            The Qur’an reminds us of the falsity of all alleged gods. To the worshippers of man-made objects it asks:“ Do you worship what you have carved yourself” (37:95). “ Or have you taken unto yourself others beside Him to be your protectors, even such as have no power either for good or for harm to themselves” (13:16).

To the worshippers of heavenly bodies it cites the story of Abraham:“ When night outspread over him, he saw a star and said: This is my Lord. But when it set, he said: I love not the setters. When he saw the moon rising, he said: This is my Lord. But when it set, he said: If my Lord does not guide me, I shall surely be of the people gone astray. When he saw the sun rising, he said: This is my Lord; this is greater. But when it set, he said: O my people, surely I quit that which you associate, I have turned my face to Him who originated the heavens and the earth; a man of pure faith, I am not one of the idolators” (6:76-79).

Source: WAMY