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Lesson 5: The Polytheists Affirm Allah’s Lordship
The Tawheed of Allah, the belief in the oneness of Allah (the Most High), is of three categories. The first being Tawheed ar-Rubbūbiyyah, the second being Tawheed al-Ulūhiyyah (also referred to as Tawheed al-Ibādah). The third category is Tawheed al-Asmā was-Sifāt ―which is to affirm for Allah His Names and Attributes which He has affirmed for Himself, and what the Messenger (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam) affirmed for Him ―and to believe in them as the Prophet and His Companions believed in them.
One must have Imān, firm belief whatever Allah (subhānahu wa ta’āla) has affirmed regarding His Names and His Attributes ―to accept and to affirm whatever has been reported in the Qur’an and whatever has been reported in the Sunnah of Allah’s Messenger (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam) regarding Allah’s beautiful Names and His lofty Attributes.
That means to narrate them as they are and were revealed, that we do not deny them and nor do we resemble them to any of His creation. The Names and Attributes of Allah (the Most Perfect and Most High) are unique to Allah as He stated: “There is nothing like unto Allāh, and He is the All-Hearing and the All-Seeing.”
The categories of at-Tawheed are derived from the Book of Allah and the Sunnah of Allah’s Messenger (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam). Every verse in the Qur’an that speaks regarding the actions of Allah, His creating, His providing, His giving life and His causing death, His controlling the affairs, His ownership and possession ―all of these denote the Tawheed ar-Rubbūbiyyah of Allah, i.e. the Lordship of Allah. Allah has mentioned this category of Tawheed, the Tawheed ar-Rubbūbiyyah, in numerous places in the Qur’an, which is to single out Allah alone with His actions.
For example, Allah has stated in the Qur’an,
قُل لِّمَنِ الْأَرْضُ وَمَن فِيهَا إِن كُنتُمْ تَعْلَمُونَ
سَيَقُولُونَ لِلَّهِ ۚ قُلْ أَفَلَا تَذَكَّرُونَ
قُلْ مَن رَّبُّ السَّمَاوَاتِ السَّبْعِ وَرَبُّ الْعَرْشِ الْعَظِيمِ
سَيَقُولُونَ لِلَّهِ ۚ قُلْ أَفَلَا تَتَّقُونَ
قُلْ مَن بِيَدِهِ مَلَكُوتُ كُلِّ شَيْءٍ وَهُوَ يُجِيرُ وَلَا يُجَارُ عَلَيْهِ إِن كُنتُمْ تَعْلَمُونَ
سَيَقُولُونَ لِلَّهِ ۚ قُلْ فَأَنَّىٰ تُسْحَرُونَ
Say: “Whose is the earth and whosoever is therein if you know?”
They will say: “It is Allah’s.”
Say: “Will you not then take the reminder?”
Say: “Who is the Lord of the seven heavens, and the Lord of the Great Throne?”
They will say: “Allah.”
Say: “Will you not then fear Allah and be dutiful.”
Say “In Whose Hand is the sovereignty of everything? And He protects all, while against Whom there is no protector if you know?”
They will say: “All that belongs to Allah.”
Say: “How then are you deceived and you turn away from the truth?” (Surah al-Mu’minūn 23:84-89)
These verses prove that the Mushrikeen used to affirm the Lordship (Rubbūbiyyah) of Allah. When they were asked, “To who belongs the earth and whatever is within it?” They would say “Allah”. When it was said to them, “Who is the Lord of the seven heavens and who is the Lord of the Mighty Throne?” They used to affirm that the Lord of the seven heavens is Allah and the Lord of the Mighty Throne is Allah. The polytheists affirmed all of this. When it was said to them, “In whose hand is the sovereignty?” They would say, “It is for Allah”. When asked, “Who is the one who protects everything, against whom there is no protector?” They would say, “It is Allah.”
The Mushrikeen (polytheists) of Makkah used to affirm the Rubbūbiyyah of Allah; the Lordship and ownership of Allah. Likewise, Allah stated in Sūrah Yunus, (Āyah 31):
قُلْ مَن يَرْزُقُكُم مِّنَ السَّمَاءِ وَالْأَرْضِ أَمَّن يَمْلِكُ السَّمْعَ وَالْأَبْصَارَ وَمَن يُخْرِجُ الْحَيَّ مِنَ الْمَيِّتِ وَيُخْرِجُ الْمَيِّتَ مِنَ الْحَيِّ وَمَن يُدَبِّرُ الْأَمْرَ ۚ فَسَيَقُولُونَ اللَّهُ ۚ فَقُلْ أَفَلَا تَتَّقُونَ – 10:31
“Say to them, O Prophet, ‘Who is the one who provides you with sustenance from the sky, and from the earth? Who is the one who owns the hearing and He owns the sights, the one who brings life out of the dead and the one who brings the dead out of the living? Who is the one who controls all of the affairs of the universe?’” They will say, “It is Allah.” So say to them O Prophet: “Will you not fear Him and will you not be dutiful to Him?”
In all of these verses, it is clear that the Mushrikoon used to affirm that Allah is their Lord, the Creator, the Provider, the One who brings life from the lifeless and the one who causes the living to die and the One who controls the affairs of all creation. The Mushrikoon of Makkah, who used to worship the idols Al-Lāt, Al-‘Uzza and the other gods never denied Allah’s Lordship. Yet they were still polytheists because they would not worship Allah alone and abandon polytheism.
If they were asked, “Who is the Rabb of the Ka’ba?” They would say “It is Allah.” If it was said to them, “Who owns the Mighty Throne?” They would say “It is Allah who owns the Mighty Throne and the One who sends down the rain from the sky.”
Every verse that makes mention of the creation of the heavens and the earth and the existence of the universe ―then all of them enter into the Tawheed Ar-Rubbūbiyyah of Allah (the Mighty and Majestic), which is to single out Allah alone with His Lordship, i.e. His ownership and His actions.
Every verse that mentions ‘ibādah (worship), with the command to worship Allah and forbids from shirk (polytheism), then it enters into Tawheed Al-Ulūhiyyah, i.e. to single out Allah alone with His worship and the fact that He is the sole God (Ilāh) worthy of worship.
And every verse that speaks about the Names and Attributes of Allah enters into the Tawheed Al-Asmā was-Sifāt, i.e. to single out Allah alone with His beautiful Names and His lofty Attributes.
So, you will find all of these categories of Tawheed in the Book of Allah and for this reason, the scholars said that Tawheed is three categories:
1. Tawheed Al-Ulūhiyyah: to single out Allah alone as the sole God worthy of worship.
2. Tawheed Ar-Rubbūbiyyah: to single out Allah alone concerning His Lordship, that He is the Creator, and to single Him out with His actions.
3. Tawheed Al-Asmā was-Sifāt: to affirm that which Allah has affirmed in the Qur’an of His Names and Attributes and that which the Messenger of Allah (salallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) affirmed for Him in the authentic Sunnah ― and they are understood upon their apparent meaning, without denying them, distorting them, saying ‘how’, or resembling them to the creation.
The scholars did not invent this categorisation themselves. When they spoke concerning the three categories of Tawheed, it was not an innovation. It was not a bid’ah ―they took it from the Book of Allah, and we shall explain this affair, inshā’ Allah, in more detail in the next article. And also the position of those who reject these categories of Tawheed.
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This series of articles are generally based on Al-Imām Ibn Al-Uthaimeen’s (rahimahullāh) works, “Duroos min al-Qur’ān Al-Kareem” of Al-‘Allāmah Sālih bin Fawzān bin ‘Abdillāh al-Fawzān (hafidhahullāh) and a handful of other scholarly writings.