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All Praise is due to Allāh, we praise Him, seek His aid and His Forgiveness. We seek refuge in Allāh from the evils of our souls and the evils of our actions. Whomsoever Allāh guides there is none to misguide and whomsoever Allāh misguides there is none to guide. I bear witness that there is none worthy of worship except Allāh, alone, without any partners and I bear witness that Muhammad (صلّ الله عليه و سلّم) is His servant and Messenger.
The truest speech is the Book of Allāh, and the best way is the way of Muhammad (صلّ الله عليه و سلّم). The worst of affairs are the newly invented matters, every newly invented matter is an innovation, every innovation is misguidance, and every misguidance is in the Fire.
Lesson 1: Tawheed (Monotheism) is the foundation of the Religion
We are obligated to understand the importance of Tawheed and the punishment of those who turn away from it – that this is the most important affair that is mentioned in the Qur’an.
The people of Tawheed are the people of Paradise. As for the people of polytheism who worship others besides Allah, then they are deprived of Paradise, and their abode will be the Hellfire. That is because the people of Tawheed worship Allah alone ―meaning that they are true and sincere in their worship of the one true God (in Arabic: Al-Ilāh) ―they do not direct any aspect of their worship to other than Allah, not to prophets, saints, stars, angels, trees or righteous men ―they do not take anyone as an intercessor between them and their Lord, they call on Him directly in prayer and supplication, whether in times of ease of hardship.
The people of Tawheed worship Allah, the one true God (Ilāh), just as the Prophets and Messengers did throughout the ages ―culminating in their following of the final Messenger, Muhammad (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam). After he was sent, Prophethood was sealed, such that all religion is to be taken from the revelation that was sent to him. Much of the previous scriptures had been corrupted by the hands of priests and rabbis ―so Allah sent the final Prophet (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam) with Revelation (the Qur’an and Sunnah) that abrogated all previous revelations. So the people of Tawheed worship Allah alone just as the Messenger (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam) had done. The people of Tawheed are not restricted to a particular land, country, tribe, race or colour ―rather, anyone who worships Allah, the Mighty and Majestic, and he abandons all forms of polytheism and he follows the Messenger Muhammad (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam) is a person of Paradise. Some of the people of Tawheed may be punished for their sins that are less than polytheism (shirk), but their punishment will not be eternal, and they will be entered into Paradise eventually.
Every person of Tawheed must testify to the oneness of Allah and the Messengership of Muhammad. As for the testimony of Tawheed, then it is “Lā ilāha illallāh” (There is no deity worthy of worship except for Allah) ―meaning that there is no god, being or object worthy of worship, in truth, except for Allah. This testimony (the Shahādah) encompasses two important matters:
ONE: The negation of worship being directed to anything besides Allah (the Mighty and Majestic) because there is nothing else worthy of our worship.
TWO: The affirmation of true worship for Allah alone―and with this, sincere worship is accomplished by this mighty shahādah, and with it, a person enters into Islām. By this testimony, a person attains protection and safety in terms of his life, wealth and honour in this world ―and he attains salvation in the Hereafter.
From the conditions of the acceptance of this testimony of Tawheed (or shahādah) is that a person must utter it with certainty and knowledge, willingly without compulsion ―a person is required to be certain that there is no other deity or being, in truth, that is deserving of his worship. This Tawheed has conditions that must be present and it is perfected through many legislated acts of obedience, piety and worship.
Some may ask: “What is wrong with you people, you focus so heavily upon the issue of Tawheed and you continually speak concerning it? And, as far as we can see, you give no consideration to the other affairs of the Muslims in this time, those Muslims who are being killed, or driven out of their lands, or are being pursued by their enemies, by the non-Muslim nations and so on.”
So, we say in response to that (and guidance is from Allah): Tawheed is the foundation upon which this upright and steadfast Religion is built.
When we ponder over the Qur’an, this amazing and tremendous book that we recite throughout the days and the nights of this month of Ramadan, we find that the Quran explains the affair of Tawheed completely ―to the extent that, there is not a chapter from the chapters of the Qur’an except that it deals with the subject matter of Tawheed which is the worship of Allah alone, and singling out Allah (the Perfect and Most High) with that which is rightfully His, by way of His Names, His Attributes, His worship and His Actions. The Qur’an, likewise, forbids from whatever opposes Tawheed. Every chapter (Surah) has some mention of Tawheed.
Tawheed is the very purpose of the sending of the Messengers (‘alaihimus-salām) from the first of them to the last of them. Allah, the Most High, said to the Prophet (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam):
وَمَا أَرْسَلْنَا مِن قَبْلِكَ مِن رَّسُولٍ إِلَّا نُوحِي إِلَيْهِ أَنَّهُ لَا إِلَٰهَ إِلَّا أَنَا فَاعْبُدُونِ
“And We sent not before you any messenger except that We revealed to him that, ‘There is no deity worthy of worship except Me, so worship Me.'” (Al-Anbiyā: 25) Allah informed mankind that each of the Prophets would say to their people:
لَقَدْ أَرْسَلْنَا نُوحًا إِلَىٰ قَوْمِهِ فَقَالَ يَا قَوْمِ اعْبُدُوا اللَّهَ مَا لَكُم مِّنْ إِلَٰهٍ غَيْرُهُ إِنِّي أَخَافُ عَلَيْكُمْ عَذَابَ يَوْمٍ عَظِيمٍ
“We had certainly sent Noah to his people, and he said, ‘O my people, worship Allah, you have no deity other than Him. Indeed, I fear for you the punishment of a tremendous Day.'” (Al-A’rāf: 59) The Prophet Muhammad (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam) went sent to affirm this Tawheed with a complete affirmation and he prohibited people from associating partners with Allah, whether it entails lesser or greater polytheism. Allah stated about Himself:
رَّبُّ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ وَمَا بَيْنَهُمَا فَاعْبُدْهُ وَاصْطَبِرْ لِعِبَادَتِهِ ۚ هَلْ تَعْلَمُ لَهُ سَمِيًّا
“He is the Lord of the heavens and the earth, and all that is between them, so worship Him alone and be constant and patient in His worship. Do you know of any who is similar to Him?” (Maryam: 65) This one verse contains three types of Tawheed. The first is His Lordship, in His saying: “He is the Lord of the heavens and the earth, and all that is between them.” The second is His worship, in His saying: “So worship Him alone and be constant and patient in His worship.” The third is His Names and Attributes in His saying: “Do you know of any who is similar to Him?” proving that Allah has Names and Attributes that are unique to Him such that there is nothing like unto Him, the Mighty and Majestic.
Imām Ibn al-Qayyim (rahimahullāh, died 752H) mentioned in Madārij as-Sālikeen (vol. 3), the affair of the Qur’an and its emphasis upon Tawheed. Ibn al-Qayyim said that the whole of the Qur’an is concerning Tawheed. The Qur’an contains information related to the Names and Attributes of Allah, His Lordship and His actions, which is referred to as At-Tawheed Al-‘Ilmee, which is to the knowledge and descriptions that refer only to Allah ―this includes oneness in Allah’s Lordship and His Names and Attributes.
The Qur’an commands with the worship of Allah alone, without any partners, without associates, and it forbids from shirk (polytheism). This is what is referred to as the Tawheed in deeds and supplications (At-Tawheed al-‘Amali at-Talabi), i.e. that one makes his acts of worship singularly for Allah, and that he seeks from none except Allah with his supplications in seeking aid, assistance, refuge, deliverance and so on. This is what we refer to also as Tawheed al-Ulūhiyyah which to single out Allah alone with the fact that He is the sole deity worthy of worship, in truth, without any equal or associate ―and we do not set up partners with Allah in worship. And this is also referred to as Tawheed al-‘Ibādah.
The Qur’an commands with obedience to Allah (the Most High) and to His Messenger (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam) and the Qur’an forbids from disobeying Allah and His Messenger (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam). This affair of obedience to Allah and His Messenger (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam) and keeping away from disobedience to Allah and His Messenger is from the rights of Tawheed. It is from the perfection of Tawheed and the completion of one’s Tawheed.
Furthermore, the Qur’an contains news, information and stories concerning that which Allah has promised to the people of Tawheed, those who worship Allah alone, without any partners (the Muwahhideen). The Qur’an contains informs of the bliss, success, joy, the salvation and support that Allah gives to those people, both in this life and in the hereafter. The Qur’an also informs us of how the Mushrikeen, the polytheists, the idol worshippers are generally exempt from punishment in this life because it is saved for them punishment in the Hereafter―Allah will give them eternal and everlasting punishment in the Hellfire.
The recompense for the one who acts upon Tawheed is Paradise (Jannah), bliss, happiness, joy and honour ―that is what Allah has promised for the one who worships Him alone. And the recompense of the ones who are heedless of Tawheed is that Allah will punish them, dishonour them, disgrace them and Allah will enter them into the Hellfire to remain therein forever.
We see, therefore, that the whole of the Qur’an revolves around Tawheed. If you were to scrutinise the chapters of the Qur’an that were revealed in Makkah, you will find that the Makkan verses that were sent to the Messenger of Allah (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam) in the early part of his Messengership, which encompassed thirteen years from the time that he received prophethood at the age of forty, remaining in Makkah up until he was 53 years old, that the vast majority of those verses in the Qur’an deal with Tawheed―the issues of rectification of one’s beliefs by worshipping Allah alone and Allah’s condemnation of the worship of idols, and other gods alongside Him.
The Prophet (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam) lived in Makkah for thirteen years, calling to Tawheed and forbidding from shirk (polytheism). So, the vast portion of the obligations such as Zakāh, Fasting (Sawm), Hajj, the hijāb, the dress code, the forbiddance of drinking wine, gambling and the rest of the halāl and harām ―these regulations and laws were not revealed until after the migration to Madinah.
The exception to this being the five daily Prayers, which were obligated in Makkah on the night of the Mi’rāj when the Messenger of Allah (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam) was taken on the night journey known as the Isrā’ and Mi’rāj ―i.e. the night journey and ascension through the heavens. So the obligation of the Prayer took place shortly before the migration, but the vast majority of the rulings and laws of the Shari’ah were not revealed except after the migration to Madinah.
As far as Makkah was concerned, the focus was on strengthening the imān of the believers, calling the people to the worship of Allah, and clarifying the falsehood and futility of the worship of idols and other than that from the types of worship that the people had adopted. Allah (the One free of all imperfections, the Most High) forbade all of that―and this was the emphasis in Makkah, upon the worship of Allah alone. And this continued also in Madinah after the migration alongside the other laws and regulations of worship.
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This series of articles are generally based on Al-Imām Ibn Al-Uthaimeen’s (rahimahullāh) works and “Duroos min al-Qur’ān Al-Kareem” of Al-‘Allāmah Sālih bin Fawzān bin ‘Abdillāh al-Fawzān (hafidhahullāh).