Tauhid Al-Uloohiya
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The meaning of Tauhid Al-Uloohiya is to make Allah Most High the only object of all forms of worship whether spoken, acted or intended and complete rejection of all other objects of [any act of] worship other than Allah.   Thus, in order to truly understand tauhid, one must gain an understanding of exactly what worship (ibada) consists of.

The Meaning of Worship

Worship is the deification of Allah alone, the humbling of oneself before Allah and the submission to Allah by carrying out what He has ordered and staying away from that which He has prohibited.  The scholars have defined ibada as: "An all-inclusive term for all that which Allah loves and with which He is pleased of our actions, both outward and inward.

So, included in the concept of worship is desire (for Allah's rewards), fear (of His punishment), love, hope and other actions "of the heart".   Worship also includes prayer, fasting, paying zakat, Hajj and other actions "of the body".  Similarly, worship also includes giving sovereignty to the law of Allah (the Shari'a) by taking our differences or problems to it for solution, giving our allegiance to the believers over and above the disbelievers and turning ONLY to Allah with our du'a and in seeking aid in times of difficulties or against an enemy.  Worship also includes keeping promises, fulfilling trusts, maintaining family ties and many other branches and categories of obedience to Allah Most High.

In short, ever major and minor principle and teaching of Islam falls under the concept of ibada.  And the meaning of tauhid al-uloohiya, as has been said, is to devote all of these exclusively to Allah Most High and to turn to Him alone with all of these acts and actions.

A Widespread Error in the Area of Worship

The concept of limiting the understanding of worship to the rituals and symbols of Islam exclusively is an error and a deviation which is widespread among Muslims.  Perhaps it is one lasting effect of colonialism and the invasion of secular philosophies which advocate the concept of the "separation of church and state".   In actual fact, as should be clear by now, EVERY action, statement, etc. which is pleasing to Allah Most High is converted - by the presence of the appropriate INTENTION (niya) of pleasing Allah - to an act of worship.

For this reason, the Prophet (sas) said that "In having relations with your wives there is a [reward of] sadaqa."  As another example, taking responsibility for the public interests of the Muslims and working on their needs such as water supply, roads, electricity, etc. is considered a collective obligation (fardh kifaya).  With the correct intention, all of these acts become acts of worship of Allah Most High.

Types of Slavery

Slavery is of two types, corresponding to the two "wills" of Allah Most High.  Allah has a will which is a "must be". This is his Decree and His Determination of all things.  Whatever Allah wills in this way is and whatever is can only be because Allah so willed it.  NOTHING happens out of the scope of this will of Allah and nothing can change it or turn it back.  The second will of Allah is His Order and His Commandments - what He loves from His creation and what He hates for them to do.  The Command of Allah is obeyed and carried out in some cases but is disobeyed and violated in other cases.  Allah commanded us all to be Muslim and to obey Him, but many choose kufr over iman and disobedience of obedience to Allah Most High.  Corresponding to these two "wills" of Allah are two types of slavery to Allah which have each been mentioned in many places in the Qur'an.

  1. Universal and Involuntary Slavery.  This is the involuntary submission of every part of Allah's creation to His Decree and His Ordination of all things, actions and events.  The righteous, the corrupt, the believer and the disbeliever are all 100% in submission to this Decree of Allah and no one is outside of it.  It is the inevitable result of the fact that Allah is the absolute Master of His creation and does with it whatever He pleases.  About this, Allah said:

{Wa lahu aslama man fiy as-samaawaati wa al-ardhi taw'an wa karhan}

{And to Him has submitted all who are in the heavens and the earth, willingly and unwillingly.}  Aal-'Imraan: 83

{In kullu man fiy as-samaawaati wa al-ardhi illa aatiy ar-rahmani 'abdan.  Laqad ahsaahum wa 'addahum 'addan.  Wa Kulluhum aateehi yauma al-qiyamati fardan.}

{All who are in the heavens and the earth come to the Merciful slaves.  He has surveyed them and counted each and every one of them.   And all of them will come to Him on the day of Qiyama alone.}  Maryam: 93-95

  1. Special and Voluntary Slavery.  Allah chooses for this form of slavery those whom He wishes among His slaves.  It is a slaver which enobles and raises man to a higher state.  Allah said:

{Bal 'ibaadun mukramoon}

{Rather, slaves, highly honored.}  Al-Anbiyaa: 26

And, Allah said about His final Messenger Muhammad (sas):

{Subhana alladhiy asraa bi 'abdihi lailan min al-masjid al-haraam ilaa al-masjid al-aqsaa alladhiy baaraknaa  haulahu.}

{Exalted is He who transported His slave by night from the sacred masjid to the farthest masjid around which We have blessed.}  Al-Israa: 1

{Wa 'ibaadu ar-rahman alladheena yamshoona 'alaa al-ardhi haunan wa idhaa khaatabahum al-jaahiloona qaaloo salaaman.}

{And the slaves of the Merciful who walk on the earth with humility and when addressed by the ignorant, speak a word of integrity.}  Al-Furqaan: 63

The Importance of this Tauhid in Islam

This is the most important area of tauhid and it could even be said that it is tauhid. Here are some of the proofs of that:

  1. It is the message of all of the prophets (may peace be upon them all). Allah said:

    {Wa maa arsalnaa min qablika min rasoolin illa noohee ilaihi annahu laa ilaaha illa ana fa'budoon.}

    {We have not send before you any messenger but that we communicate to them that there is no deity except Me, so worship Me.} Al-Anbiyaa: 25

    {Wa laqad ba'athnaa fiy kulli ummatin rasoolan an i'budoo Allah wa ijtaniboo at-taaghoot.}

    {We have commissioned a messenger in every nation that: "Worship Allah and get away from all those worshipped other than Him."} An-Nahl: 37

    {Wa dhkur akhaa 'aadin idh andhara qaumahu bil ahqaafi wa qad khalat an-nudhur min baini yadaihi wa min khalfihi allaa ta'budoo illa Allah.}

    {And remember the brother of [the people of] 'Aad when he warned his people by the hills - and many other warnings have gone by both before and after him - that: "You must not worship any but Allah."} Al-Ahqaaf: 21

    {Qul yaa ahla al-kitabi ta'aalau ilaa kalimatin sawaa'in bainanaa wa bainakum allaa na'buda illa Allahi wa laa nushrika bihi shai'an wa laa yattakhidha ba'dhunaa ba'dhan arbaaban min duni Allahi.   Fa in tawallau fa qooloo ish-hadoo bi'annaa Muslimoon.}

    {Say: O people of the book let us come to a fair word between us: that we not worship any but Allah and that we associate none with Him and that we do not take one another as lords other than Allah. If they turn away, the say: "We bear witness that we are Muslim."} Aal 'Imraan: 64

    And, the Prophet (sas) said:

    "Al-anbiyaa ikhwa.   La'ulaatu ummahaatihim shattaa, wa deenuhum wahid."

    "The prophets are brothers. The lineage of their mothers is different, but their din is one."

    Thus, we see that all religion is one and it is the religion of tauhid. Religions in the sense of rulings, laws and other specifics have been different. Furthermore, these messages superceded and abrogated each other if they came to the same people and the message of Muhammad (the first and only message to come to all of mankind), superceded all previous messages. Note that this last point only pertains to the rulings and details of the law. There was no difference in the tauhid (theology) taught by the various messengers through the ages. The differences we see today are the result of the corruption of the original messages of the earlier messengers. Allah said:

    {Wa anzalnaa ilaika al-kitaaba bi al-haqqi musaddiqan lima baina yadaihi min al-kitabi wa muhaiminan 'alaihi.  Fa hkum bainahum bima anzala Allahu wa laa tattabi' ahwaa'ahum 'amma jaa'aka min al-haqqi.  Likullin ja'alnaa minkum shir'atan wa minhaajan.  Wa lau shaa' Allahu laja'alakum ummatan waahidatan wa laakin liyabluakum fiy maa aaataakum.  Fa stabiqoo al-khairaati.   Ilaa Allahi marji'ukum jamee'an fa yunabbi'ukum bima kuntum fihi takhtalifoon.}

    {And we send down to you the book with the truth - a confirmation of the books which came before it and an authority over them. So judge between them with what Allah sent down and do not follow their inclinations away from the truth which has come to you. For each of you we have made a law and a program. And if Allah had wished, He would have made you a single nation. Rather in order that He may test you in that which you have been given. So compete in good deeds. Unto Allah is your return altogether and He will inform you about that in which you differ.} Al-Ma'idah: 48

  2. It is the first aspect of the din with which people are addressed. It is a prerequisite required for all good deeds. Just as prayer cannot be accepted without ablution, likewise no good deed can be accepted unless accompanied by tauhid of Allah Most High. Allah said:

    {Wa laqad awhaa ilaika wa ilaa alladhina min qablika la'in ashrakta layahbitanna 'amaluka wa lattakunanna main al-khaasireen.  Bal Allaha fa 'bud wa kun min ash-shaakireen.}

    {It has been communicated to you and to those who came before you that if you associate any with Allah that your deeds will be nullified and you will be among those in loss. Rather it is Allah you must worship and be among the grateful.} Az-Zumar: 65-66

    The Prophet (sas) said to Mu'adh ibn Jabal when he sent him to Yemem:
    "O Mu'adh, you will be coming to a people from those of the book. Let the first thing you call them to be the worship of Allah Mighty and Great. Once they understand that, inform them that Allah has made obligatory upon them five prayers in each day and night. Once they do that, inform them that Allah has made obligatory upon them zakat. It is taken from their wealthy and returned to their poor. Once they obey you in that, take it from them and beware of taking the best of their property." Muslim and Bukhari

  3. It is the key to success and safety in this life. With the acceptance of tauhid, the covenant of Islam is established and blood and property is protected from the Muslims except for any provision in the law (such as treason, adultery or murder).

    The Prophet (sas) said:
    "I have been ordered to fight the people until they say: "There is no deity but Allah." So, whoever says "There is no deity but Allah" has protected his blood and his property from me except for its rights and his account is up to Allah." Bukhari

  4. It is the key to success and safety in the life hereafter. One who knows the tauhid of Allah in his/her heart will enter Allah's paradise, even if they may be punished in hell-fire for a time if their bad deeds outweigh their good deeds. One who associates partners in worship with Allah will be in hell-fire forever no matter what the quantity of their good deeds and even if they pray and fast and believe themselves to be Muslim. Allah said:

    {Inna Allaha laa yaghfiru an yushraka bihi wa yaghfiru maa duna dhalika liman yashaa'.}

    {Verily, Allah does not forgive for any to be associated with Him and He forgives anything less than that to whomever He wishes.} An-Nisaa: 48

    The Prophet (sas) was asked: What are the inevitables? To which he (sas) said:
    "Whoever dies not associating anything with Allah enters paradise and whoever dies associating anything with Allah enters the fire."

  5. It is the essence if Islam and that which distinguishes it from all other religions and philosophies. This is why a Muslim must repeat its assertion many times a day in the five prayers, in the adhaan in discourse and in remembrance of Allah.

  6. All of Qur'an is really about this kind of tauhid, its implications, obligations and results and the result of straying from it. All of the Qur'an consists of:

    1. Information about Allah and His Names, Attributes and Actions. This is the intellectual basis of tauhid.

    2. Calls to the worship of Allah alone and to avoid any associating with Him in worship. This is the program of action of tauhid.

    3. Orders and prohibitions and commands to obey Allah Most High. These are the implications and necessary results of the tauhid of Allah Most High.

    4. Information about the bounties Allah has bestowed on the people of tauhid, including the blessings they receive in this world and the great rewards which await them in the hereafter. This is the result of the tauhid of Allah Most High.

    5. Information about the people of shirk (the opposite of tauhid) and the examples Allah has made of them in this life as well as the punishment which awaits them in the hereafter. This is the result of straying from, deviating from or being ignorant of the ways of the tauhid of Allah Most High.