Tawheed - Affirming the Oneness of Allah
Tawheed is to first part of the Muslim Shahada, testimony of faith; testifying that "There is non worthy of worship, i.e. no diety, except Allah".
The word "Tawheed" is grammatically a gerund, a noun made from a verb, the Arabic verb it is derived from is wahada or wahidu. The verb wahada means to unify something, to make something one or to declare something to be one. Linguistically tawheed means to affirm and declare something to be one, i.e. unification into one. Islamically it is in reference to Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) being singled out alone, in all that is particular to him. This uniqueness and oneness, separating Him and distinguishing Him from His creation is the opposite of 'Shirk' which is to associate partners with Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) by giving His qualities and attributes, to other than Allah (سبحانه و تعالى).
When a Muslim affirms the tawheed of Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) he affirms the Oneness and uniqueness of Allah (سبحانه و تعالى). Firstly, he affirms that Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) alone is the Lord of all creation, this is known as Tawheed-ar-Rububiyya, secondly, he affirms that only Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) alone is worthy and deserving of all forms of worship, this is known as Tawheed-al-Uluhiyya, and thirdly he affirms that Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) is unique in his names and attributes, this is known as Tawheed-al-Asma was-Sifat. These 3 types of Tawheed constitude a Muslims belief in Allah (سبحانه و تعالى), i.e. in His existence and the Oneness of His existence; this belief in Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) is also the first pillar of a Muslim's Iman, faith.
It needs to be clarified that the Islamic concept of tawheed is in no way similar to the Christian concept of trinity. The division of tawheed does not divide Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) up into three separate parts (as does trinity, i.e. Father, Son, Holy Ghost), but rather it helps us to understand as to how our Creator is unique and alone in being singled out for worship and reverence.
This is the belief that the the Lord of all creations is only Allah (سبحانه و تعالى). He alone is the Creator of all the universes, including the stars, the planets, the sun, the moon, the heavens, the earth, and all known and unknown forms of life within them. He is the Organizer and Planner of all its affairs. It is He Who gives life and death, and He (i.e. Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) Alone) is the Sustainer, and the Giver of Security, etc." And this is called the belief in the "Oneness of the Lordship of Allah," Tauhid-ar-Rububiyya. The evidence of the Lordship of Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) is his saying:
"Allah is the Creator of all things, and He is the Wakil (Trustee, Disposer of affairs, Guardian, etc.) over all things." [Quran: Surah Az-Zumar 39: Ayah 62].
"All the praises and thanks be to Allah, the Lord of the 'Alamin (mankind, jinns and all that exists)." [Quran: Surah al Fatihah 1: Ayah 2]
Say (O Muhammad (سبحانه و تعالى)): "Who is the Lord of the heavens and the earth?" Say: "(It is) Allah." Say: "Have you then taken (for worship) Auliya' (protectors, etc.) other than Him, such as have no power either for benefit or for harm to themselves?" Say: "Is the blind equal to the one who sees? Or darkness equal to light? Or do they assign to Allah partners who created the like of His creation, so that the creation (which they made and His creation) seemed alike to them." Say: "Allah is the Creator of all things, He is the One, the Irresistible."” [Quran: Surah ar-Ra'd 13: Ayah 16]
This is the belief that you pray to Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) and that none has the right to be worshipped except Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) Alone. As Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) says:
"And your Lord said: "Invoke Me, [i.e. believe in My Oneness (Islamic Monotheism)] (and ask Me for anything) I will respond to your (invocation). Verily! Those who scorn My worship [i.e. do not invoke Me, and do not believe in My Oneness, (Islamic Monotheism)] they will surely enter Hell in humiliation!" [Quran: Surah Ghafir 40: Ayah 60].
and: "You (Alone) we worship, and you (Alone) we ask for help (for each and everything)" [Quran: Surah Al-Fatiha 1: Ayah 5]
The word "Worship" (i.e. Ibadah) carries a great number of meanings in the Arabic language: It conveys that all kinds of worship are meant for Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) (and none else, whether it be an angel, Messenger, Prophet Jesus - son of Mary, Ezra, Muhammad, saint, idol, the sun, the moon, money, a person's own desires, or indeed any other kind of false deities).
When a person loves something as only God, Allah (سبحانه و تعالى), should be loved then this is considered Shirk, i.e. associating partners with Allah (سبحانه و تعالى), and is a form of worshiping of that thing; that is how it is possible to worship our own desires, when they are in disobedience to Allah, and we love and follow them more that we love and follow Allah (سبحانه و تعالى). Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) says:
Have you seen him who takes his own lust (vain desires) as his ilah (god), and Allah knowing (him as such), left him astray, and sealed his hearing and his heart, and put a cover on his sight. Who then will guide him after Allah? Will you not then remember? [Quran: Surah al Jathiyah 45: Ayah 23]
"There are among men those who worship others besides Allah as equals to Him. They love them as only Allah should be loved. But those who believe have a stronger love for Allah.” [Quran: Surah al Baqarah 2: Ayah 165].
Concerning the worship of anything other than Allah (سبحانه و تعالى), He says: Those whom they invoke besides Allah have not created anything, but are themselves created. [Quran: Surah an Nahl 16: Ayah 20]
Tawheed-al-Uluhiyya means that you pray to none except Allah (سبحانه و تعالى), invoke none except Allah (سبحانه و تعالى), ask help from the unseen from none, except Allah (سبحانه و تعالى), swear an oath by none except Allah (سبحانه و تعالى), offer an animal as sacrifice to none except Allah (سبحانه و تعالى), …etc.
In Islam it is not permissible to swear an oath by other than Allah (سبحانه و تعالى). The Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said: “Whoever swears an oath, let him swear by Allah or else remain silent.” [Bukhaari,4860 – al-Fath 8/611 and 6107 – al-Fath 10/516; Muslim, 1647; Ahmad, 2/309; Abu Dawood, 3247; al-Nasaa’i, 3775; al-Tirmidhi, 1545; Ibn Maajah, 2096].
And the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said: “Whoever swears by anything other than Allaah is guilty of kufr (disbelief) or shirk (associating partners with Allah).” [Abu Dawood, 3251; al-Tirmidhi, 1535; Ahmad, 2/125 Graded Saheeh].
In Islam it is not permitted to make a sacrifice of any thing to other than Allah (سبحانه و تعالى): Say (O Muhammad (صلى الله عليه و سلم)): "Verily, my Salat (prayer), my sacrifice, my living, and my dying are for Allah, the Lord of the 'Alamin (mankind, jinns and all that exists). [Quran: Surah al-An'am 6: Ayah 162].
The Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said: “Allah’s right over His servants is that they worship Him without associating any partner with Him in worship, and their right over Him is that He does not punish anyone who worships Him without associating any partner with Him in worship.” [Sahih al-Bukhari and Sahih Muslim].
This is the belief that to Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) belong the best names and the most perfect qualities or attributes. We know Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) by the names and attributes that He has qualified Himself with, in His Book (i.e. the Quran), or His Prophet Muhammad (صلى الله عليه و سلم) has named or qualified Him with.
"Allah! La ilahla illa Huwa (none has the right to be worshipped but He)! To Him belong the Best Names." [Quran: SSurah Ta-Ha 20: Ayah 8]
These names are known as Asma ul Husna (The Best Names or The Most Beautiful Names), and a Muslim uses these names and calls upon his Lord through them. We know of 99 names that Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) or His Messenger (صلى الله عليه و سلم) ascribed to Him along with His name of Allah (سبحانه و تعالى). Some of these names are:
Ar-Rahman (The All-Compassionate), Ar-Raheem (The All-Merciful), Al-Malik (The Absolute Ruler), Al-Quddus (The Pure One), As-Salam (The Source of Peace), Al-Khaliq (The Creator), Al-Ghaffar (The Forgiving), As-Sami (The Hearer of All), Al-Baseer (The Seer of All), Al-Karim (The Generous, the Noble), Al-Majid (The Majestic One), Al-Wahid (The Unique, The Single), Al-Ahad (The One, The Indivisible).
To Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) also belong the most perfect qualities and attributes. However, even when we know an attribute, for example seeing and hearing, it is unlike that of His creation and is perfect in every sense, i.e. Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) hears everything, He sees everything. As a part of the Muslim belief, we accept the attributes given by Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) to Himself or by His Messenger (صلى الله عليه و سلم) to Him, and we do not make a comparison, an analogy or similitude of these attributes with those of the creation, because the Creator is unlike His creation and our limited minds are unable to conceive the how or why of the attributes of Allah.
As Allah (سبحانه و تعالى), said: "... there is nothing like unto Him and He is the All-Hearer, the All-Seer" (Quran: Surah ash Shuraa 42: Ayah 11]. This Ayah confirms the quality of hearing and the quality of seeing for Allah (سبحانه و تعالى), without resemblance to His creation, it is truly unique and perfect in every sense. As Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) says:
"Whatever you (O Muhammad (صلى الله عليه و سلم)) may be doing, and whatever portion you may be reciting from the Quran, - and whatever deed you (mankind) may be doing (good or evil), We are Witness thereof, when you are doing it. And nothing is hidden from your Lord (so much as) the weight of an atom (or small ant) on the earth or in the heaven. Not what is less than that or what is greater than that but is (written) in a Clear Record." [Quran: Surah Yunus 10: Ayah 61]
In the above ayah Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) uses the term "We" a the plural of majesty in referring to Himself, as a king would use the word "We" instead of "I". Also, Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) has perfect knowledge of everything, as He informs us: "And with Him are the keys of the Ghaib (all that is hidden), none knows them but He. And He knows whatever there is in (or on) the earth and in the sea; not a leaf falls, but he knows it. There is not a grain in the darkness of the earth nor anything fresh or dry, but is written in a Clear Record." [Quran: Surah al-An’aam 6: Ayah 59]. The knowledge of Allah is such that He knows everthing that exists now, everything that has ever been in the past and everthing that will ever be in the future to the minutest detail. His knowledge also encompasses every possibility that could be or would not be from every moment in the past, to the present to the future; truly to Him belongs perfect Knowledge!
Allah (سبحانه و تعالى), has also said: "To one whom I have created with Both My Hands," [Quran: Surah Saad 38: Ayah 75]. And He said: "The Hand of Allah is over their hands." [Quran: Surah al Fath 48: Ayah 10]
This confirms the attribute of two Hands for Allah (سبحانه و تعالى), but again there is no comparison, analogy or similitude to the hands of his creation. They are not like those of His creation, and there is nothing like unto Allah (سبحانه و تعالى); nothing that is equal or comparable to Him or that can rival Him. He is far above any resemblance to any created being, and He is not like anything that can be imaged by His creation. We may know the name of the attribute but not the how or why of it. Whatever crosses the mind of humans with regard to Allah (سبحانه و تعالى), He is greater than that. No creature can envision Him or encompass Him. Thus a Muslim does not try to imagine or picture Allah (سبحانه و تعالى), or His attributes; rather, he believes in the sublime attributes which befit the Might and Majesty of Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) in which there is none like unto Him. A part of the Muslim's ‘aqeedah (basic beliefs, creed) is that Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) cannot be envisioned, imagined, or indeed seen in this world, as Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) has said:
“No vision can grasp Him” [Quran: Surah al-An’aam 6: Ayah 103]
“… they will never encompass anything of His Knowledge.” [Quran: Sura Ta-Ha 20: Ayah 110]