Islamic Online University The Foundations of Islamic Studies 101 Islamic Online University http://www. islamiconlineuniversity. com The Foundations of Islaamic Studies Dr. Abu Ameenah Bilal Philips Module ONE ‘ AQEEDAH 2 1. 1 THE CATEGORIES OF TAWHEED iterally tawheed means “ unification” (making something one) or “ asserting oneness,” and it comes from the Arabic verb )wahhada) which itself means to unite, unify, or consolidate. l However, when the term tawheed is used in reference to Allaah (i. . tawheedullaah)2, it means realizing and affirming Allaah’s unity in all of man’s actions which directly or indirectly relate to Him. It is the belief that Allaah is One, without partner in His dominion (ruboobeeyah), One without similitude in His essence and attributes (asmaa was sifaat), and One without rival in His divinity and in worship (ulooheeyah ‘ ibaadah). These three aspects form the basis for the categories into which the science of tawheed has been traditionally divided.
The three overlap and are inseparable to such a degree that whoever omits any one aspect has failed to complete the requirements of tawheed. The omission of any of the above mentioned aspects of tawheed is referred to as shirk (which literally means sharing” but here signifies) the association of partners with Allaah. In Islamic terms this association is in fact idolatry. Because of this principle of tawheed, the Islamic belief in God is uniquely unitarian and Islaam is counted among the world’s monotheistic religions along with Judaism and Christianity.
However, according to the Islamic unitarian concept (tawheed), Christianity is classified as polytheism and Judaism is considered to be a subtle form of idolatry. Thus, the principle of tawheed is very profound and needs further clarification even among Muslims. This point is vividly illustrated by the fact that some Muslims like Ibn ‘ Arabee3 understood tawheed to mean monism; that 1 J. M. Cowan, The Hans Wehr Dictionary of Modern Written Arabic, (Spoken Language Services Inc. , New York, 3rd. ed. , 1976), p. 1055.
The word tawheed does not actually occur in either the Qur’aan or in the statements (Hadeeths) of the Prophet (p). However, when the Prophet (p) sent Mu’aadh ibn Jabal as governor of Yemen in 9AH, he told him, mfou will be going to Christians and Jews (ahl al-Kitaab), so the first thing you should invite them to is the assertation of the neness of Allaah (Yuwahhidoo Allaah). ” (Narrated by Ibn ‘ Abbaas and collected by al- Bukhaaree (Muhammad Muhsin Khan, Sahih AlBukhari, (Arabic-English), (Riyadh: Maktabah ar-Riyaad al-Hadeetha, 1981), vol. 9, pp. 348-9, no. 69) and Muslim (Abdul Hamid Siddiq, Sahih Muslim (English Trans. ), (Lahore: Sh. Muhammad Ashraf Publishers, 1987), vol. l, pp. 14-5, no. 27). In this Hadeeth the present tense of the verb from which the verbal noun Tawheed is derived was used by the Prophet (p). 3 Muhammad ibn ‘ Alee ibn ‘ Arabee was born in Spain in the year 1165 CE and died in Damascus in the year 1240 CE. He claimed to possess inner light and knowledge of Allaah’s greatest name and referred to himself as the seal of the sainthood which he implied was a status higher than 3 everything which exists is Allaah and Allaah is everything.
He asserted that there is only one real existence, which is Allaah everything else is unreal. 4 Yet, such beliefs are classified by mainstream Islaam as pantheism and, as such, kufr. Other Muslims such as the Mutazilah5 held that tawheed consisted of stripping Allaah of all His attributes and asserting that He is present everywhere and in everything; yet these deas were also rejected by orthodox Islaam and considered heretical. In fact, almost all of the various heretical sects which broke off from the main body of Islaam, from the Prophet’s time till today, began their divergence from the point of tawheed.
All of those who worked for the destruction of Islaam and the misguidance of its followers have attempted to neutralize the principle of tawheed, because it represents the very essence of the divine message of Islaam brought by all the prophets. They have introduced concepts about Allaah totally alien to Islaam; concepts designed to take an away from the worship of Allaah alone. Once people accept these pagan philosophies about God, they become easily susceptible to a multitude of other deviant ideas, all of which eventually lead those who accept them to the worship of created things under the guise of the true worship of God.
The Prophet (p) himself vividly warned Muslims to beware of such deviations as had befallen the nations before them. He encouraged them to stick closely to the path which he had tread. One day as he sat with his companions, he drew a straight line in the dirt. He then drew a series of lines branching off from either side of it. When he companions asked him what it meant, he pointed to the branches and told them that they represented the various paths of misguidance in this life. He went on to say that at the head of each path sat a devil inviting people to it.
After that, he pointed to the straight line in the middle and told them that it represented the path of Allaah. When the companions asked for further clarification, he told them that it was his path and he recited the following verse: prophethood. In the centuries following his death, his followers elevated him to the status of saint, and gave him the title of ash-shaykh al-Akbar (The Greatest Master), ut the majority of Muslim legal scholars considered him a heretic. His principle works are al-Futoohaat al-Makkeeyah and Fusoos al-Hikim, (H. A. R. Gibb and J. H.
Kramers, Shorter Encyclopedia of Islam, (Ithaca, New York: Cornell University Press, 1953), pp. 146-7. 4 A modern proponent of this belief called wahdatul-wu]ood is Haroon Yahya. He has included a chapter in most of his works written in refutation of Darwinism promoting this belief. 5 A rationalist philosophical school founded in the Umayyad period (i. e. early 8th century CE) by Waasil ibn ‘ Ataa and ‘ Amr ibn ‘ Ubayd. It gained sway over the Abbaasid state for over a hundred years and continued to influence Islamic thought until the 12th century (Shorter Encyclopedia of Islam, pp. 421-6). This is my path leading straight, so follow it. And do not follow the other paths, or else you will be separated from His (Allaah’s) path. “ 6 It is therefore of the utmost importance that tawheed be clearly understood in the way it was taught by the Prophet (p) and understood by his companions, or else one could easily end up on one of the many deviant paths while claiming tawheed, praying, paying zakaah, 7 fasting and making Haj]. Allaah, Most Wise, has pointed to this phenomenon when He aid in the Qur’aan, ?????? : ‘” Most of them claim to believe in Allaah,} a01Jk es_si but they really commit shirk. 8 The three categories of tawheed are commonly referred to by the following titles: 1 . Tawheed ar-Ruboobeeyah: lit. “ Maintaining the oneness of Lordship,” that is, affirming that Allaah is one, without partners in his sovereignty. 2. Tawheed al- Asmaa’ was-Sifaat: lit. “ Maintaining the unity of Allaah’s Names and Attributes,” that is, affirming that they are incomparable and unique. 3. Tawheed al-‘ lbaadah: Affirming that Allaah is alone in his right to be worshipped. 9
The division of tawheed into its components was not done by the Prophet (p) nor by his companions, as there was no necessity to analyze such a basic principle of faith in this fashion. However, the foundations of the components are all implied in the verses of the Qur’aan and in the explanatory statements of the Prophet (p) and his companions, as will become evident when each category is dealt with in more detail later. 6 Soorah al-An’aam, (6): 1 53, Reported by Ibn Mas’ood and collected by an-Nasaa’ee, Ahmad and ad-Daarimee.
Authenticated by al-Albaanee in Sharh as-Sunnah, vol. l, p. 13, no. 17. 7 nnual compulsory charity. 8 Soorah Yoosuf, (12): 106. 9 Ibn Abil-‘ Ezz al-Hanafee, Sharh al-‘ Aqeedah at-Tahaaweeyah, p. 78. 5 The necessity for this analytical approach to the principle of tawheed arose after Islaam spread into Egypt, Byzantium, Persia and India and absorbed the cultures of these regions. It is only natural to expect that when the peoples of these lands entered the fold of Islaam, they would carry with them some of the remnants of their former beliefs.
When some of these new converts began to express, in writings and discussion, their various philosophical concepts of God, confusion arose in which the ure and simple unitarian belief of Islaam became threatened. There were also others who had outwardly accepted Islaam but secretly worked to destroy the religion from within, due to their inability to oppose it militarily. This group began to actively propagate distorted ideas about Allaah among the masses in order to tear down the first pillar of eemaan (faith) and with it Islaam istself.
The early caliphs and their governors were closer to Islamic principles, and the consciousness of the masses was high due to the presence of the Prophet’s companions and their students. Hence, the demand for the elimination of open eretics received immediate response from the rulers. In contrast, the later Umayyad caliphs were more corrupt and as such cared little about such religious issues. The masses were also less Islamically conscious and thus were more susceptible to deviant ideas.
As greater numbers of people entered Islaam under the Umayyads, and the learning of an increasing number of conquered nations was absorbed, the execution of apostates was no longer used to stem the rising tide of heresy. The task of opposing it fell on the shoulders of the Muslim scholars of the period who rose to meet the challenge intellectually. They systematically opposed the various alien philosophies and creeds by categorizing them and countering them with principles deduced from the Qur’aan and the Sunnah. It was out of this defense that the science of tawheed emerged, with its precisely defined categories and components.
Therefore, as the categories of tawheed are studied separately and in more depth, it must not be forgotten that they are each a part of an organic whole which is itself the foundation of a greater whole, Islaam itself. Tawheed ar-Ruboobeeyah (Maintaining the Unity of Lordship) This category is based on the fundamental concept that Allaah alone caused all hings to exist when there was nothing; He sustains and maintains creation without any need from it or for it; and He is the sole Lord of the universe and its inhabitants without any real challenge to His sovereignty.
In Arabic the word used to describe this creator-sustainer quality is ruboobeeyah which is derived from the root Rabb (Lord). According to this category, since God is the only real power in existence, it is He who gave all things the power to move and to change. Nothing happens in creation except what He allows to happen. In recognition of this reality, Prophet Muhammad (p) used to often repeat the xclamatory phrase “ La hawla wa laa quwwata illaa billaah. ” (There is no movement nor power except by Allaah’s will).
The basis for the ruboobeeyah concept can be found in many Qur’anic verses. For example, Allaah says: a01JI “ Allaah created all things and He is the agent on which all things depend. “ 10 “ And no calamity strikes except by Allaah’s permission. “ 11 The Prophet (p) further elaborated on this concept saying, “ Be aware that if the whole of mankind gathered together in order to do something to help, they would only be able to do something for you which Allaah had already written for you.
Likewise, if the whole of mankind gathered together to harm you, they would only be able to do something to harm you which Allaah had already written would happen to you. “ 12 Thus, what man conceives as good fortune and misfortune are merely events predestined by Allaah as part of the tests of this life. The incidents follow patterns set by Allaah alone. Allaah has said in the Qur’aan: ?????? 0 “” 0 Believers! Surely there is in your wives and children an enemy for you, so beware of them. “ 13 That is, within the good things of this life there are severe tests of one’s faith in God.
Likewise, in the terrible events of life there lies test as is mentioned in the verse, 10 Soorah az-Zumar, (39): 62. Soorah at-Taghaabun, (64): 1 1 . 12 Reported by Ibn ‘ Abbaas and collected by at-Tirmithee. See Ezzeddin Ibrahim and Denys Johnson -Davies, An-Nawawi’s Forty Hadith, (English Trans. ), (Damascus, Syria: The Holy Koran Publishing House, 1976), p. 68, no. 19. 13 Soorah at-Taghaabu, (64): 14. 11 7 “ Surely We will test you with fear, hunger, loss of wealth and life and the fruits of your work, so give glad tidings to those who are patient. 14 Sometimes the patterns are recognizable, as in the case of cause and effect elationship, and sometimes they are not, as in the case when apparently good results come from evil means, or bad results from good means. God has explained that the wisdom behind these apparent irregularities is often beyond man’s immediate comprehension due to his limited scope of knowledge: ” 9_ag “ It is possible that you dislike something that is really good for you, or like something bad for you, but Allaah knows (what is best for you), and you do not. 1 5 Apparently evil events in human lives sometimes turn out to be for the best, and apparently good things which people desire turn out to be harmful. Consequently, man’s realm of influence in the course of events which make up his life is limited to mental choices between options presented to him. The ultimate results of these choices, however are not under his control. In other words, “ Man proposes and God disposes. ” Apparent “ good fortune” and “ misfortune” are both from Allaah and cannot be caused by good-luck charms such as rabbits’ feet, four-leaf clovers, wishbones, lucky numbers, zodiacal signs, etc. or by omens of bad luck like Friday the thirteenth, breaking mirrors, black cats, etc. In fact, the belief in charms and omens is manifestation of the grave sin of shirk (association) in this form of tawheed. ‘ Uqbah, one of the companions of the Prophet (p), reported that once a group of men approached Allaah’s Messenger to give their allegiance to him, and he accepted the oath from nine of them but refused to accept it from one. When they asked him why he refused their companion’s oath, he replied, “ Verily, he is wearing an amulet. 16 The man who was wearing the amulet put his hand in his 14 Soorah al-Baqarah, (2): 155. Soorah al-Baqarah, (2): 216. 16 A charm worn to bring good fortune or avert evil. 15 loak, pulled the amulet off, broke it, and then made the oath. The Prophet (p) then said, “ Whoever wears an amulet has committed shirk. “ 17 As for using the Qur’aan like a charm or amulet by wearing or carrying Qur’anic verses on chains or in pouches to ward off evil or to bring good fortune, there is little difference between such practices and those of the pagans.
Neither the Prophet (p) nor his companions used the Qur’aan in this fashion, and the Prophet (p) said, “ Whoever innovates in Islaam something which does not belong to it will have it rejected. “ 18 It is true that the Qur’anic chapters an-Naas and alFalaq, were revealed specifically for exorcism (that is, for removing evil spells), but the Prophet (p) demonstrated the proper method by which they should be used. On an occasion when a spell had been cast on him, he told ‘ Alee ibn Abee Taalib to recite the two chapters verse by verse, and when he became ill he used to recite them on himself. 9 He did not write them down and hang them around his neck, tie them on his arm or around his waist, nor did he tell others to do so. Tawheed al-Asmaa’ was-Sifaat (Maintaining the Unity of Allaah’s Names and Attributes) This category of tawheed has five main aspects: 1. For the unity of Allaah’s names and attributes to be maintained in the first aspect, Allaah must be referred to according to how He and His Prophet (p) have described Him, without explaining away His names and attributes by giving them meanings other than their obvious meaning.
For example, in the Qur’aan Allaah says that He gets angry with the d isbelievers and the hypocrites. He says: Collected by Ahmad. Reported by ‘ Aaeshah and collected by al-Bukhaaree (Sahih A1-Bukhari, (Arabic- English), vol. 3, p. 535, no. 861), Muslim (Sahih Muslim, (English Trans. , vol. 3, p. 931, no. 4266 and no. 4267) and Abu Daawood (Ahmad Hasan, Sunan Abu Dawud (English Trans. ), (Lahore: Sh. Muhammad Ashraf Publishers, 1st. ed. , 1984), vol. 3, p. 1294). 19 Reported by ‘ Aa’eshah and collected by al-Bukhaaree (Sahih A1-Bukhari, (Arabic- English), vol. , p. 495, no. 535) and Muslim (Sahih Muslim, (English Trans. ), vol. 3, p. 1195, no. 5439-40). 18 “… that He may punish the hypocrites, men and women, and the pagans, men and women, who have an evil opinion of Allaah. A circle of evil is around them; Allaah is angry with them, curses them and has prepared for them an evil end. “ 20 Thus, anger is one of God’s attributes. It is incorrect to say as some have, that His “ anger” must really mean His “ punishment”, since anger is a sign of weakness in man that does not befit Allaah.
What Allaah has stated should be accepted, with the qualification that His anger is not like human anger-based on Allaah’s statement. “ There is nothing like him. “ 21 This verse clearly underscores the fact that Allaah’s attributes are diffe rent from those of men. When this fact is overlooked, however, a strictly literal interpretation of the verse results in the denial of God’s very existence. For Allaah describes Himself as iving and man lives; therefore, according to this “ rationalist” argument, God neither lives nor exists.
In fact, the similarity between God’s attributes and those of mankind is in name only and not in degree. When attributes are used in reference to God, they are to be taken in the absolute sense, free from human deficiencies. 2. The second aspect of Tawheed al-Asmaa’ was-Sifaat involves referring to Allaah as He has referred to Himself without giving Him any new names or attributes. For example, Allaah may not be given the name al-Ghaadib (the angry one), in spite of the fact that He has said hat He gets angry, because neither Allaah nor His messenger has used this name.
This may seem to be a very fine point, but it must be maintained in order to prevent the false description of God. That is, finite man is in no position to define the infinite Lord of creation. The names an-Naasir and ar-Rasheed are among the common names which cannot be authentically attributed to Allaah. Although their meanings are true and are mentioned as attributes of Allaah, they cannot be found in any Qur’aanic text or authentic hadeeth. They do, however, exist in a few hadeeths ontaining a list of the 99 names of Allaah, some of which can be found printed in copies of the Qur’aan.
Unfortunately, all of these hadeeths are inauthentic. 3. In the third aspect of Tawheed al-Asmaa’ was-Sifaat Allaah is referred to without giving Him the attributes of His creation. For example, it is claimed in 20 21 Soorah al-Fath, (48): 6. Soorah ash-Shooraa, (42): 1 1 . the Bible and Torah that Allaah spent the first six days creating the universe then slept on the seventh. 22 For this reason, Jews and Christians take either Saturday or Sunday as a day of rest during which work is looked at as a sin. Such a claim assigns to God the attributes of His creation.
It is man who tires after heavy work and needs sleep to recuperate. 23 Elsewhere in the Bible and Torah, God is portrayed as repenting for His bad thoughts in the same way that humans do when they realize their errors. 24 Similarly the claim that God is a spirit or has a spirit completely corrupts this aspect of tawheed. Allaah does not refer to Himself as a spirit anywhere in the Qur’aan nor does His Prophet (p) express anything of the nature in hadeeth. In fact, Allaah refers to the spirit as part of His creation. 25 The key principle which