Tawheed, the core of Islam

Sami Zaatari

Tawheed is the essence of Islam, it is the core of Islam, it is what Islam stands for, and it is the reason why Allah created us. All prophets and messengers were sent with the message of Tawheed, the Quran itself is a book of Taweed, and those who have a firm and correct belief in Tawheed will indeed be the saved ones.

So therefore what is Tawheed, what does it mean, and how does someone correctly follow it? Well for starters you should know that Tawheed has been divided into three categories, and they are as follows:

Tawheed of Lordship (Rubbubiyah)

Tawheed of Worship (Ibaadah/Uluhiyyah)

Tawheed of Allah’s names and Attributes (Taweed ul-Asmaa was-Sifaat)

Each of the above categories are found within the Quran, they are not three categories simply based on someone’s desires or own thinking, rather the categories are all established within the Quran and the Sunnah.

One must not get confused about there being three categories, it does not mean that there are three Allah’s and so forth, rather the three categories are all connected to Allah, and each category is connected to the other, essentially all three categories fall within the term of Tawheed.

The reason why Tawheed has been divided into three categories by the scholars is simply to make things more simple and easier for the people, for when you break things down, it is always easier to follow, and easier to understand.

As the scholars of Islam-Qa mention:

From early times the scholars have categorized the rulings of sharee’ah. This has only been done to make it easier to understand the texts and rulings of sharee’ah, especially as time goes by and knowledge of Arabic language becomes weaker and the language gets mixed with foreign languages. The scholars thought it wise to set out principles, issues and categories to make it easier to understand. There is nothing wrong with this, in fact it is a good thing because it makes knowledge more accessible to the Muslims. Al-Shaafa’i set out the principles of fiqh and his categorization was well-received and was followed by the scholars of usool who wrote commentaries on what he said and added to it. This was done in all branches of Islamic knowledge such as tajweed (recitation of Qur’aan), Qur’aan and others, including Tawheed.

So let us now go into each category of Tawheed and what they mean, starting with Tawheed of Lordship:

Tawheed al-Rubbubiyyah

Tawheed of Lordship, titled Tawheed al-Rubbubiyyah in the Arabic is the first category of Tawheed, and essentially Tawheed of Lordship means that you believe that there is only one true God, namely Allah, and that there are no other gods or goddesses. Furthermore Tawheed of Lordship also means that you believe that all power, creation, and such things belong to God alone, for instance Allah alone is the creator of everything we see around us, and it is he who is in full control of them, and it is he who controls life and death and all such matters, and not anybody else.

This category of Tawheed is found throughout the Quran, as we read

Say: He is Allah, the One and Only (112:1)

And your Allah is One Allah: There is no god but He, Most Gracious, Most Merciful. (2:163)

Your Allah is one Allah: as to those who believe not in the Hereafter, their hearts refuse to know, and they are arrogant. (16:22)

So the Quran makes it clear that Allah is ONE, we Muslims do not believe in two Gods, or three Gods, no, we believe in ONE God alone.

Further verses which point to Tawheed of Lordship are the following:

Behold! verily to Allah belong all creatures, in the heavens and on earth. What do they follow who worship as His “partners” other than Allah? They follow nothing but fancy, and they do nothing but lie. (10:66)

Allah created the heavens and the earth in true (proportions): verily in that is a Sign for those who believe. (29:44)

To Allah belong all things in heaven and earth: verily Allah is He (that is) free of all wants, worthy of all praise. (31:26)

Such is Allah, your Lord, the Creator of all things, there is no god but He: Then how ye are deluded away from the Truth! (40:62)

It is Allah Who has made the Night for you, that ye may rest therein, and the days as that which helps (you) to see. Verily Allah is full of Grace and Bounty to men: yet most men give no thanks. (40:61)

Of Allah, to Whom do belong all things in the heavens and on earth! But alas for the Unbelievers for a terrible penalty (their Unfaith will bring them)!- (14:2)

It is Allah Who hath created the heavens and the earth and sendeth down rain from the skies, and with it bringeth out fruits wherewith to feed you; it is He Who hath made the ships subject to you, that they may sail through the sea by His command; and the rivers (also) hath He made subject to you. And He hath made subject to you the sun and the moon, both diligently pursuing their courses; and the night and the day hath he (also) made subject to you. (14:32-33)

Allah is He Who raised the heavens without any pillars that ye can see; is firmly established on the throne (of authority); He has subjected the sun and the moon (to his Law)! Each one runs (its course) for a term appointed. He doth regulate all affairs, explaining the signs in detail, that ye may believe with certainty in the meeting with your Lord. And it is He who spread out the earth, and set thereon mountains standing firm and (flowing) rivers: and fruit of every kind He made in pairs, two and two: He draweth the night as a veil o’er the Day. Behold, verily in these things there are signs for those who consider! And in the earth are tracts (diverse though) neighbouring, and gardens of vines and fields sown with corn, and palm trees – growing out of single roots or otherwise: watered with the same water, yet some of them We make more excellent than others to eat. Behold, verily in these things there are signs for those who understand! (13:2-4)

Knowest thou not that to Allah (alone) belongeth the dominion of the heavens and the earth? He punisheth whom He pleaseth, and He forgiveth whom He pleaseth: and Allah hath power over all things. (5:40)

To Allah doth belong the dominion of the heavens and the earth, and all that is therein, and it is He Who hath power over all things. (5:120)

To Allah belongeth the dominion of the heavens and the earth; and Allah hath power over all things. Behold! in the creation of the heavens and the earth, and the alternation of night and day,- there are indeed Signs for men of understanding,- (3:189-190)

That is Allah, your Lord! there is no god but He, the Creator of all things (16:102)

Say: “Who is the Lord and Sustainer of the heavens and the earth?” Say: “(It is) Allah.” Say: “Do ye then take (for worship) protectors other than Him, such as have no power either for good or for harm to themselves?” Say: “Are the blind equal with those who see? Or the depths of darkness equal with light?” Or do they assign to Allah partners who have created (anything) as He has created, so that the creation seemed to them similar? Say: “Allah is the Creator of all things: He is the One, the Supreme and Irresistible.” (13:16)

Allaah, it is He Who created the heavens and the earth and all that is between them in Six Days, then He Rose over the Throne. You have none besides Him as a protector or an intercessor, will you then no take heed? (32:4)

Surely, your Lord is Allaah Who created the heavens and the earth in Six Days and then Rose Over the Throne, disposing the affair of all things. No intercessor (can plead with Him) except after His leave. That is Allaah, your Lord; so worship Him (Alone) so will you not take heed? (10:3)

All of the above passages point to Tawheed of Lordship, and indeed there are an exceeding amount of verses that point to this category of Tawheed, it would literally take an entire book alone to simply quote them all, and indeed they have already been mentioned all in one book, and that is the Quran.

Most people already follow this category of Tawheed, for instance the following groups already follow Tawheed of Lordship:

-The Jews

-The Unitarian Christians

-The Jehovah Witnesses

-The Bahais

-The Qadianis

So many people who aren’t Muslims already have this belief, yet that alone does not make a person a true Muslim and does not make them saved, as the person must also have the other 2 categories of Tawheed as well, namely Tawheed of Worship, and Tawheed of Allah’s names and attributes.

Now the people who do contradict Taweed of Lordship are the following:

-Trinitarian Christians, they believe in three Gods, and believe that Jesus is the all mighty God the creator and sustainer of all things; hence this contradicts Tawheed of Lordship.

-The Atheists, they do not believe in God

-Various Pagan religions, who believe in several gods, with each god in control of a certain aspect of life

So this is Tawheed of Lordship.

Tawheed ul-Uluhiyyah/Ibaadah

This is the second category of Tawheed, and it is the one where most people fall short on, and it is the Tawheed that all messengers and prophets were primarily sent for. Indeed Tawheed of Lordship connects to Tawheed of Worship, one who has a belief in Tawheed of Lordship must logically have a belief in Tawheed of Worship.

Tawheed of Worship means that all acts of worship belong to God alone, and no one else, all acts of worship are purely and sincerely for God, not for idols, not for saints, not for Mary, not for the universe, not for anything except the one true God.

The Quran even makes the logical connection between Tawheed of Lordship and Tawheed of Worship:

That is Allah, your Lord! there is no god but He, the Creator of all things: then worship ye Him: and He hath power to dispose of all affairs. (6:102)

So notice how Allah connects Tawheed of Lordship to Tawheed of Worship, Allah mentions how he is the creator of all things, and that he is in charge of all things, and uses this as the logical proof that he must be worshipped, and indeed, will you not purely worship the one who created everything and the one who is in control of everything? Of course you will.

There are many verses which often mention Tawheed of Lordship and Worship in the same verse, which is making the connection between the two, because Tawheed of Lordship necessitates Tawheed of Worship, here are the verses:

To Allah do belong the unseen (secrets) of the heavens and the earth, and to Him goeth back every affair (for decision): then worship Him, and put thy trust in Him: and thy Lord is not unmindful of aught that ye do. (11:123)

Verily your Lord is Allah, who created the heavens and the earth in six days, and is firmly established on the throne (of authority), regulating and governing all things. No intercessor (can plead with Him) except after His leave (hath been obtained). This is Allah your Lord; Him therefore serve ye: will ye not receive admonition? (10:3)

He has created the heavens and the earth for just ends: Far is He above having the partners (in worship)  they ascribe to Him! (16:3)

He is the Living (One): There is no god but He: Call upon Him, giving Him sincere devotion. Praise be to Allah, Lord of the Worlds! (40:65)

So Tawheed of Lordship points to Tawheed of Worship. Now the verses which point to Tawheed of Worship are many, and indeed this was the message that all messengers and prophets were primarily sent for, as the Quran mentions:

Not a messenger did We send before thee without this inspiration sent by Us to him: that there is no god but I; therefore worship and serve Me. (21:25)

So every messenger was sent with Tawheed of Worship, to worship and serve Allah alone, this is the message of all prophets:

We sent Noah to his people. He said: “O my people! worship Allah! ye have no other god but Him. I fear for you the punishment of a dreadful day! (7:59)

But said Christ: “O Children of Israel! worship Allah, my Lord and your Lord.” Whoever joins other gods with Allah,- Allah will forbid him the garden, and the Fire will be his abode. There will for the wrong-doers be no one to help. (5:72)

There is for you an excellent example (to follow) in Abraham and those with him, when they said to their people: “We are clear of you and of whatever ye worship besides Allah: we have rejected you, and there has arisen, between us and you, enmity and hatred for ever,- unless ye believe in Allah and Him alone (60:4)

Indeed Tawheed of Worship is so significant that it is the reason as to why we were created:

And I have not created the jinn and the men except that they should serve Me. (51:56)

So the purpose of our creation is to worship Allah alone, the purpose of our creation is to adhere to Tawheed of Worship, and this alone shows how significant Tawheed of Worship is. A person who believes in Tawheed of Lordship, yet contradicts Tawheed of Worship is not a believer and does not have salvation, after all the pagans of the prophet Muhammad’s time believed that there was only one true God, who was in control over everything, and who also created everything, as the Quran mentions:

Say: “Who is it that sustains you (in life) from the sky and from the earth? or who is it that has power over hearing and sight? And who is it that brings out the living from the dead and the dead from the living? and who is it that rules and regulates all affairs?” They will soon say, “Allah”. Say, “will ye not then show piety (to Him)?” (10:31)

So the pagans affirmed Tawheed of Lordship, yet the problem with them is that they did not keep their worship purely for Allah alone, rather they set up idols and started worshiping their idols, even though they knew their idols could not create or do anything! The pagans created their idols as intercessors, they wanted their idols to bring them close to Allah, like a mediator, so they therefore worshipped and served these idols thinking it would bring them close to Allah, as the Quran mentions:

Is it not to Allah that sincere devotion is due? But those who take for protectors other than Allah (say): “We only serve them in order that they may bring us nearer to Allah.” Truly Allah will judge between them in that wherein they differ. But Allah guides not such as are false and ungrateful. (39:3)

So the pagans set up these false idols as intercessors to bring them closer to God, so they worshiped these idols and so forth, yet Allah did not give the green light to such activities, and condemned them for doing such things, as all worship is purely for Allah alone.

In fact we find that many Christians are also caught up in this act, from past to present, primarily the Catholics, they have done the same thing with Mary. One must know that acts like this are not only restricted to objects of wood and stone, no, rather people can do the very same thing that the pagans did, except that rather than worshipping stone and wood, they worship their saints instead, hence they worship their saints and ask their saints for help and so forth, to supposedly get closer to God. In fact there are certain Muslims who do such things, praying to dead saints and doing certain acts for these saints so the saints intercede for them! They even go further, not only do they pray to the saints to intercede for them, they also pray to the saints to help and guide them during times of distress, so for instance if they are facing a hardship, they will make a dua (invocation) to the saint rather than to Allah!

Now it must be made clear that when we say that all worship belongs to Allah we do not simply mean your salat prayer, rather we mean all acts of obedience in the religion belong to him, worship is not restricted to your salat prayer alone, but worship extends to fear, hope, trust, love, scarifying, and oath making.

So when you are in a time of distress and need help, you put your trust in Allah and call for Allah, you do not call for someone else unless it is a practical matter, for instance if there is a fire in your house, you call the fireman! Now let us even say there is a fire in your house and the fireman is on the way and you are trapped, then in that moment you put your hope and trust in Allah, and you make an invocation on him to save you, you do not make an invocation to the prophet Muhammad or some saint instead!

Also when you make an oath, which is when you swear, you only swear by Allah, for instance you say I swear by Allah that my repentance is sincere and truthful, you do not say I swear by Muhammad (AS), or by any other person etc.

Also when you make a religious sacrifice, not just of an animal, but of anything to do with a religious cause, then you make this sacrifice purely for Allah, for instance when you sacrifice your wealth for the cause of the religion, do you this for Allah or some saint? When you sacrifice a cow, do you do this for Allah or a saint? You do it for Allah!

All of this has a basis within the Quran and the Sunnah:

Say: “Truly, my prayer and my service of sacrifice, my life and my death, are (all) for Allah, the Cherisher of the Worlds (6:162)

While they call on their Lord, in Fear and Hope (32:16)

When ye sought help of your Lord and He answered you (saying): I will help you with a thousand of the angels, rank on rank. (8:9)

And make not Allah’s (name) an excuse in your oaths against doing good, or acting rightly, or making peace between persons; for Allah is One Who heareth and knoweth all things. (2:224)

Narrated ‘Umar:
The Prophet said, “If anybody has to take an oath, he should swear only by Allah.” The people of Quraish used to swear by their fathers, but the Prophet said, “Do not swear by your fathers.” (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 5, Book 58, Number 177)

“I put my trust in Allah, My Lord and your Lord! There is not a moving creature, but He hath grasp of its fore-lock. Verily, it is my Lord that is on a straight Path. (11:56)

So all of the above are acts of worship, everything you do in your religion is for Allah, as Surah 6:162 makes clear, your LIFE is for Allah, you live for him. This is why you hear Muslims always saying for the sake of Allah, I do something for the sake of Allah, Muslims do not do things just for the sake of themselves, or the sake of others, but for the sake of Allah. For instance when you give charity, yes you give it for the people to help them, but your main reason and your main act of worship and intention is to do this for the sake of Allah, it is an act dedicated to Allah, you want to please Allah.

With that said let us read the many more verses of the Quran which point to Tawheed of Worship:

“Verily, I am Allah: There is no god but I: So serve thou Me (only), and establish regular prayer for celebrating My praise. (20:14)

(Further, We sent a long line of prophets for your instruction). We sent Noah to his people: He said, “O my people! worship Allah! Ye have no other god but Him. Will ye not fear (Him)?” (23:23)

Behold, the messengers came to them, from before them and behind them, (preaching): “Serve none but Allah (41:14)

And (We also saved) Abraham: behold, he said to his people, “Serve Allah and fear Him: that will be best for you- If ye understand! “For ye do worship idols besides Allah, and ye invent falsehood. The things that ye worship besides Allah have no power to give you sustenance: then seek ye sustenance from Allah, serve Him, and be grateful to Him: to Him will be your return. (29:16-17)

“And the places of worship are for Allah (alone): So invoke not any one along with Allah

Also from the authentic hadiths:

Bukhari Volume 8, Book 76, Number 507:

Narrated Mu’adh bin Jabal:

While I was riding behind the Prophet as a companion rider and there was nothing between me and him except the back of the saddle, he said, “O Mu’adh!” I replied, “Labbaik O Allah’s Apostle! And Sa’diak!” He proceeded for a while and then said, “O Mu’adh!” I said, “Labbaik and Sa’daik, O Allah’s Apostle!” He then proceeded for another while and said, “O Mu’adh bin Jabal!” I replied, “Labbaik, O Allah’s Apostle, and Sa’daik!” He said, “Do you know what is Allah’s right on His slaves?” I replied, “Allah and His Apostle know better.” He said, “Allah’s right on his slaves is that they should worship Him and not worship anything besides Him.” He then proceeded for a while, and again said, “O Mu’adh bin Jabal!” I replied. “Labbaik, O Allah’s Apostle, and Sa’daik.” He said, “Do you know what is (Allah’s) slaves’ (people’s) right on Allah if they did that?” I replied, “Allah and His Apostle know better.” He said, “The right of (Allah’s) slaves on Allah is that He should not punish them (if they did that).”

Bukhari Volume 9, Book 93, Number 469:

Narrated Ibn Abbas:

When the Prophet sent Muadh to Yemen, he said to him, “You are going to a nation from the people of the Scripture, so let the first thing to which you will invite them, be the Tauhid of Allah. If they learn that, tell them that Allah has enjoined on them, five prayers to be offered in one day and one night. And if they pray, tell them that Allah has enjoined on them Zakat of their properties and it is to be taken from the rich among them and given to the poor. And if they agree to that, then take from them Zakat but avoid the best property of the people.”

From the above hadith we see that the prophet Muhammad commanded Muadh to first call the people to Tawheed of Worship, this is how significant and important Tawheed of Worship is, it comes before everything else, and once you teach this and the people understand it, then you teach them the rest of the religion. In fact since the pagans of the prophet Muhammad already affirmed Tawheed of Lordship, this then means that the prophet Muhammad spent 13 years in Makkah calling to Tawheed of Worship!

Lastly, one must know that Tawheed of Worship also includes the laws and legislations of Allah, in other words one must follow the laws of Allah, and the Sunnah of the prophet Muhammad, if one does not obey the laws of Allah and the Sunnah of the prophet then he is sinning, and if one makes his own law over the laws of Allah and the Sunnah of the prophet thinking it is better and so forth then he is a polytheist and is committing polytheism, because has put his own law over the law of God!

For instance in the Quran the Jews are called polytheists:

The Jews call ‘Uzair a son of Allah, and the Christians call Christ the son of Allah. That is a saying from their mouth; (in this) they but imitate what the unbelievers of old used to say. Allah’s curse be on them: how they are deluded away from the Truth! They take their priests and their anchorites to be their lords in derogation of Allah, and (they take as their Lord) Christ the son of Mary; yet they were commanded to worship but One Allah: there is no god but He. Praise and glory to Him: (Far is He) from having the partners they associate (with Him). (9:30-31)

So the Quran accuses the Jews of polytheism by worshipping their priests and rabbis, now most Jews would say that’s false, that they don’t worship their rabbis, this was even brought up to the prophet Muhammad:

(They took their rabbis and their monks to be their lords besides Allah, and the Messiah, son of Maryam) [9:31]. Imam Ahmad, At-Tirmidhi and Ibn Jarir At-Tabari recorded a Hadith via several chains of narration, from `Adi bin Hatim, may Allah be pleased with him, who became Christian during the time of Jahiliyyah. When the call of the Messenger of Allah reached his area, `Adi ran away to Ash-Sham, and his sister and several of his people were captured. The Messenger of Allah freed his sister and gave her gifts. So she went to her brother and encouraged him to become Muslim and to go to the Messenger of Allah . `Adi, who was one of the chiefs of his people (the tribe of Tai’) and whose father, Hatim At-Ta’i, was known for his generosity, went to Al-Madinah. When the people announced his arrival, `Adi went to the Messenger of Allah wearing a silver cross around his neck. The Messenger of Allah recited this Ayah;

[اتَّخَذُواْ أَحْبَـرَهُمْ وَرُهْبَـنَهُمْ أَرْبَاباً مِّن دُونِ اللَّهِ]

(They took their rabbis and their monks to be their lords besides Allah). `Adi commented, “I said, `They did not worship them.”’ The Prophet said,

«بَلَى إِنَّهُمْ حَرَّمُوا عَلَيْهِمُ الْحَلَالَ وَأَحَلُّوا لَهُمُ الْحَرَامَ فَاتَّبَعُوهُمْ فَذَلِكَ عِبَادَتُهُمْ إِيَّاهُم»

(Yes they did. They (rabbis and monks) prohibited the allowed for them (Christians and Jews) and allowed the prohibited, and they obeyed them. This is how they worshipped them.) The Messenger of Allah said to `Adi,

«يَا عَدِيُّ مَا تَقُولُ؟ أَيُفِرُّكَ أَنْ يُقَالَ: اللهُ أَكْبَرَ؟ فَهَلْ تَعْلَمُ شَيْئًا أَكْبَرَ مِنَ اللهِ؟ مَا يُفِرُّكَ؟ أَيُفِرُّكَ أَنْ يُقَالَ: لَا إِلَهَ إِلَّا اللهُ؟ فَهَلْ تَعْلَمُ مَنْ إِلهٌ إِلَّا اللهُ؟»

(O `Adi what do you say Did you run away (to Ash-Sham) so that ‘Allahu Akbar’ (Allah is the Great) is not pronounced Do you know of anything greater than Allah What made you run away Did you run away so that `La ilaha illallah’ is not pronounced Do you know of any deity worthy of worship except Allah)

The Messenger invited `Adi to embrace Islam, and he embraced Islam and pronounced the Testimony of Truth. The face of the Messenger of Allah beamed with pleasure and he said to `Adi,

«إِنَّ الْيَهُودَ مَغْضُوبٌ عَلَيْهِمْ وَالنَّصَارَى ضَالُّون»

(Verily, the Jews have earned the anger (of Allah) and the Christians are misguided.) Hudhayfah bin Al-Yaman, `Abdullah bin `Abbas and several others said about the explanation of,

[اتَّخَذُواْ أَحْبَـرَهُمْ وَرُهْبَـنَهُمْ أَرْبَاباً مِّن دُونِ اللَّهِ]

(They took their rabbis and their monks to be their lords besides Allah…) that the Christians and Jews obeyed their monks and rabbis in whatever they allowed or prohibited for them. This is why Allah said,

[وَمَآ أُمِرُواْ إِلاَّ لِيَعْبُدُواْ إِلَـهاً وَحِداً]

(while they were commanded to worship none but One God), Who, whatever He renders prohibited is the prohibited, whatever He allowed is the allowed, whatever He legislates, is to be the law followed, and whatever He decides is to be adhered to;

[لاَّ إِلَـهَ إِلاَّ هُوَ سُبْحَـنَهُ عَمَّا يُشْرِكُونَ]

(None has the right to be worshipped but He. Hallowed be He above what they associate (with Him).) Meaning, exalted, sanctified, hallowed above partners, equals, aids, rivals or children, there is no deity or Lord worthy of worship except Him.

So their polytheism and worship was in the form of taking the rules and laws of their rabbis over the rules and laws of God, so that was their worship. Hence this makes it clear that if you take man made rulings and laws over the rules and laws of God, then you are committing polytheism, that is unless it is against your will and you are forced to. The Quran makes it clear that we should obey the legislations of Allah and the prophet Muhammad:

Say: “Obey Allah and His Messenger”: But if they turn back, Allah loveth not those who reject Faith. (5:32)

O you who believe! Obey Allâh and obey the Messenger (4:59)

If any do fail to judge by (the light of) what Allah hath revealed, they are (no better than) Unbelievers. (5:44)

“And say not concerning that which you tongues put forth falsely: ‘this is lawful and this is unlawful’ so as to invent lies against Allaah. Indeed those invent lies against Allaah will never prosper.” (16: 116)

So all of the above comes under Tawheed of Lordship, without it, one is not a Muslim.

Tawheed al-Asmaat wa-Sifaat

This is the third category of Tawheed, and indeed it is through this category of Tawheed that we come to know who Allah is, after all there is no use in knowing there is one true God, and worshipping this God if one does not know who this God is! So it is through Tawheed al-Asmaat wa-Sifaat that we come to know our Lord.

Tawheed al-Asmaat wa-Sifaat is the Tawheed of Allah’s unique and exclusive Names and Attributes, this means a Muslim affirms a Name of Allah, and affirms that this Name is unique and exclusive to Allah alone, not for anyone else, and not for anyone else to be named with.

For example one of Allah’s names is the All Knowing, this Name is unique for him alone because Allah is the only one who is truly All Knowing, and perfect in knowledge, there is no created being who has such an attribute. The same applies to all of Allah’s names, they are unique for him alone, and not for others.

Now sometimes a human may be named with a name of Allah, but without the definite article, for instance Allah is Al-Alim, the All Knowing, and as you can see there is the definite article of AL, which accompanies the Alim, now for a human he will be called alim, a knowledgeable and smart person, but without the definite article preceding it.

Now the Names of Allah all describe who he is, they are not mere names just for the sake of being there, rather they tell us who Allah is. When Allah is called Al-Alim, the All Knowing, it allows us to know that Allah is perfect in knowledge. When Allah is called As-Sami it means he is the all hearing, he hears the invocations and calls of his followers, and he hears everything, whether in open, or secret. When Allah is called Al-Ghafur the All Forgiving it means he is the forgiving one, the one who has perfect forgiveness, and the one who forgives those who come calling to him in repentance. So each Name is an attribute, and each Name tells us about Allah, and allows us to know about Allah.

Now we Muslims believe that Allah has revealed 99 of his names to us, as reported by the prophet Muhammad:

Bukhari Volume 9, Book 93, Number 489:

Narrated Abu Huraira:

Allah’s Apostle said, “Allah has ninety-nine Names, one-hundred less one; and he who memorized them all by heart will enter Paradise.” To count something means to know it by heart.

So Allah has revealed 99 of his names to us, he has more than 99 names, but only 99 of them have been given to us. Furthermore we Muslims can also call to Allah by his names:

The most beautiful names belong to Allah: so call on him by them (7:180)

Allah’s names are also beautiful and perfect:

The most beautiful names belong to Allah (7:180)

He is Allah, the Creator, the Evolver, the Bestower of Forms (or Colours). To Him belong the Most Beautiful Names (59:24)

Allah! there is no god but He! To Him belong the most Beautiful Names. (20:8)

Lastly, there is no one that is comparable to Allah, there is nothing like him, his names and attributes are unique to him alone:

And there is none like unto Him. (112:4)

(He is) the Creator of the heavens and the earth: He has made for you pairs from among yourselves, and pairs among cattle: by this means does He multiply you: there is nothing whatever like unto Him, and He is the One that hears and sees. (42:11)

When one reads the Quran and the hadith literature one will find that Allah is also described with other attributes as the following:

When one reads the Quran and the hadith literature one will find that Allah is described with several names and attributes:

Allah has a face:

But will abide (for ever) the Face of thy Lord,- full of Majesty, Bounty and Honour. (55:27)

Allah has hands:

(Allah) said: “O Iblis! What prevents thee from prostrating thyself to one whom I have created with my hands? Art thou haughty? Or art thou one of the high (and mighty) ones?” (38:75)

Allah has a foot:

Hell will keep saying, Are there more? Until the Lord of Glory will put his Foot on it (Bukhari and Muslim)

Allah has a shin:

The Day that the shin shall be laid bare, and they shall be summoned to bow in adoration, but they shall not be able,- (68:42)

Allah rose over the throne:

The Beneficent One, Who rose over the Throne. (20:5)

Allah descends:

Narrated Abu Huraira:

Allah’s Apostle (p.b.u.h) said, “Our Lord, the Blessed, the Superior, comes every night down on the nearest Heaven to us when the last third of the night remains, saying: “Is there anyone to invoke Me, so that I may respond to invocation? Is there anyone to ask Me, so that I may grant him his request? Is there anyone seeking My forgiveness, so that I may forgive him?” (Bukhari)

Allah has an eye:

“‘Throw (the child) into the chest, and throw (the chest) into the river: the river will cast him up on the bank, and he will be taken up by one who is an enemy to Me and an enemy to him’: But I cast (the garment of) love over thee from Me: and (this) in order that thou mayest be reared under Mine eye. (20:39)

So God is described with several of these attributes. Now throughout the history of Islam and even up to this day there have been two main interpretations of the attributes of God, one group interpret such attributes to be metaphorical, for instance the hands of God refer to his power, the eyes refer to his knowledge and so forth, so everything is interpreted in a metaphorical way.

The second interpretation is that you leave the attributes as they are, without adding more to them, or trying to explain how they are, you basically leave it as it is, and this is the view I myself go with as it is the safer approach.

So for instance when the verse says Allah has hands, I simply say yes he has hands, however so I do not imagine that his hands are anything like a human hand, I do not even delve into what his hands actually are, I simply leave it as it is and affirm that he has hands. The Quran makes it very clear that there is nothing like God:

And there is none like unto Him. (112:4)

So the Quran makes it quite clear that there is nothing like God, hence when you affirm that Allah has a hand, an eye, a foot, a shin, and so forth you do not in no way believe or interpret any of these attributes to be anything human like, you simply leave it as it is.

Now there are some who say that this interpretation is no different than what the Christians say about their God, Jesus, who became a man in the flesh and so forth. This is nothing but a distortion and lie, because we are not saying that Allah has flesh, we are not saying anything about his attributes, rather we are leaving them as they are! Hence in reality it is the accusers who are making this false interpretation of God, it is them who are using their limited mindset to try and understand this issue, which is precisely what we keep away from, we leave the attributes as they are without trying to figure out how they are, we just leave at it is.

Now if we said yes Allah’s hand means it has flesh, bones, a shape, and so forth, then you could accuse us of being like the Christians etc, yet we say no such thing, rather it is the accusers who are saying such things!

So all in all if you take the second interpretation and someone comes up to you and asks you does Allah have hands? You reply by saying yes he has hands, but in no way do his hands resemble any human hand or anything our mind can even imagine, we simply leave it as it is without saying how or what, anyone who goes beyond this has made a mistake and has nothing to do with our position.

Now if the person cannot comprehend this simplicity and starts going into wild interpretations thinking Allah’s hands are some physical fleshy thing, then that is their problem and not ours, in no way do we believe that Allah is anything like the false Christian God who was literally a man with human physical attributes!

So with all of that said let us see what some of the major Islamic scholars have had to say concerning this very issue:

Imam Malik:

“Allah’s rising over the throne is known, and how is unknown, to have faith in it is obligatory and to question it is an innovation “. Then he said to the questioner: “I do not think except that you are an evil man”. So he ordered him to be expelled

Abu Hanifa:

God knows, but not as we know; He has power, but not as we have power; He sees, but not as we see; He hears, but not as we hear; and He speaks, but not as we speak. We speak by means of the speech organs and sounds, whereas God Most High speaks with neither organs nor sounds. Sounds are created, and the word of God Most High is uncreated. He is a thing, but unlike other things; by saying “thing,” we intend merely to affirm His reality. He has neither body nor substance, neither accidental property nor limit, neither opposite nor like nor similitude. He has a hand, a face, and a self (nafs); the mention that God most High has made of these in the Qur’an has the sense that these are among His attributes, and no question can be raised concerning their modality (bila kayf). It cannot be said that His hand represents His power or His bestowal of bounty, because such an interpretation would require a negation of an attribute. This is the path taken by the Qadarites and the Mu’tazilites Rather, His hand is an attribute, of unknowable modality, in the same way that His anger and pleasure are two attributes of unknowable modality God Most High created things out of nothing, and He had knowledge of them in pre-eternity, before their creation.

Salih al-Fawzaan:

The meaning of (…Takyeef…) is to specify the exact nature and reality of the established meaning of the attribute. It is said: He gave something a shape or form (kayyafa) when he made for it a known quality. Committing takyeef with Allaah’s attributes is to specify their precise nature, state or condition and their form or shape. This is impossible for mankind since the knowledge of this is amongst that knowledge which Allaah has kept to Himself. Therefore, there is no way of knowing the precise nature of His attributes because the attribute follows the Self (dhaat). Just as it is not possible for a person to know the exact nature of the Self of Allaah, it is likewise impossible to know the exact nature of His attributes. Their exact nature is not known. This is why when Imaam Maalik was asked about the verse:

Ar-Rahmaan has ascended (istawaa) the Throne [Taahaa 20:5]

How is the ascending (istawaa)? He replied: “The ascending is known, its reality is unknown, having eemaan in it is obligatory and asking about it is an innovation.”

And this is said with respect to all of Allaah’s attributes.

The meaning of (…Tamtheel…) is resemblance (tashbeeh) and it is committed when it is said that Allaah’s attributes are like the attributes of the creation. For example, it might be said: The hand of Allaah is like our hands and His hearing is like our hearing. High is Allaah above such things. Allaah said:

There is nothing like Him and He is the All-Hearing, the All-Seeing [Shooraa 42:11]

Therefore, it cannot be said that His attributes are like our attributes or that they resemble our attributes just like it cannot be said that the Self of Allaah is like our selves or that it resembles our selves.

Imaam at-Tirmidhee

“It has been stated by more than one person from the People of Knowledge about such ahaadeeth, that there is no tashbeeh (resemblance) to the Attributes of Allaah, and our Lord – the Blessed and Most High – descends to the lowest heaven every night. So they say: “Affirm these narrations, have eemaan (faith) in them, do not deny them, nor ask how.” The likes of this has been related from Maalik ibn Anas, Sufyaan ath-Thawree, Ibn Uyainah and Abdullaah ibn al-Mubaarak, who all said about such ahaadeeth: “Leave them as they are, without asking how.” Such is the saying of the People of Knowledge from the Ahl us-Sunnah wal-Jamaa’ah. However, the Jahmiyyah oppose these narrations and say: This is tashbeeh! However, Allaah the Most High, has mentioned in various places in His Book, the Attribute of al-Yad (Hand), as-Sama’ (Hearing), and al-Basr (Seeing) – but the Jahmiyyah make ta’weel of these aayaat, explaining them in a way, other than how they are explained by the People of Knowledge. They say: Indeed, Allaah did not create Aadam with His own Hand – they say that Hand means the Power of Allaah.”

Many more scholars could be quoted, but they essentially say the same thing, and as you can see none of them actually believe that Allah’s attributes in any shape or form resemble anything like a human or any created being, they even speak against it warning not to delve into Tasbeeh (resemblance, comparison) and takyeef (how)!

In conclusion I would tell the Muslims to simply leave the attributes as they are and move on, the only reason I write this article is incase any Muslim becomes confused by this matter as missionary propagandists may try to use this subject against the Muslims saying HA! You see you are like us Christians, you believe that God has human physical attributes, so why do you attack our concept of God!


So in conclusion all of the above is Tawheed, and the correct Tawheed a Muslim should believe in. All Muslims should continuously read and learn about Tawheed so that they are also able to teach it to other fellow Muslims, one must not forget that Tawheed is the essence and core of Islam, therefore it should be our main duty to have a complete and deep understanding of this belief.

And Allah Knows Best!

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