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Al-Tahwiyyah: Pt1 Tawhid & its Dimensions

Note; Sheikh Haitham al-Haddad’s explanation of al-Aqeedah al-Tahawiyyah will soon be published as a hardback book. Islam21c have exclusive rights to share extracts from the book for its readers, and will be posting certain sections of the book on a weekly basis. The book: al-Aqeedah al-Tahawiyyah, is a short text outlining the aqeedah of Ahl al-Sunnah in short statements. Each extract posted is a complete explanation of any one of those statements. Edited by Asim Khan

نقول في توحيدِ اللهِ معتقدينَ بتوفيق الله: إنَّ اللهَ واحدٌ لا شريكَ له

We say about the Unity of Allāh – with Allāh’s help – that Allāh is one, without any partners.

Allāh is the Creator, Sustainer, and Owner of the universe. The beauty in the creation around us all points to the Mastery of Allah as the Creator of all. The passing of seasons, the cycle of rainfall, and the harmony within the ecosystems all profess that He is taking care to sustain them: ‘Surely, His is the Creation and Commandment. Blessed be Allah, the Lord of the Worlds ’[1].  The certainty with which Allah states this, indicates that every human has the sense of reason to appreciate and acknowledge the Lordship Allah has over him and all that exists.  

The Creator is One, and establishing His Oneness in its fullest capacity is known in Arabic as “tawhīd”. Striving to establish Allah’s Oneness (tawhīd) goes to the very heart of our existence; it is the reason why Allah created us, and the meaning behind life itself as Allah has said: ‘I have not created jinn nor mankind, except to worship Me’ [2] . This is man’s ultimate goal: to enslave himself to the One, to obey His Command, and Submit to Him in all spheres of life. So worshiping Allah comprises of all these dimensions And The reward of this strive is nothing less than Paradise itself. 

Knowing the importance of establishing Allah’s Oneness in one’s life helps a person appreciate the abominable nature of asserting divinity to others beneath Allah (shirk). The Companion Jabir b. Abdullah RA said that a Bedouin came to the Prophet SAW and asked him, “O Messenger of Allah, what are the two imperatives which lead to Paradise or Hell?”. He replied, “He who dies without associating anything with Allah will enter Jannah, and he who dies associating partners with Allah will enter the Fire”. Moreover, the Qur’ān states explicitly that paradise is prohibited for the one who takes others as gods beneath Allah: ‘Verily, whosoever sets up partners in worship with Allah, then Allah has forbidden Paradise for him, and the Fire will be his abode.’ [3]  So the sheer heinousness of the sin dictates that the person never be forgiven: ‘Allah does not forgive anything being associated with Him but He forgives whoever He wills for anything other than that. Anyone who associates something with Allah has committed a terrible crime.’ [4]

Allah does not accept that any of his creation worships others beneath Him or in partnership with Him. There is therefore, no success in this life or the next without establishing the Oneness (tawhīd) of Allāh in one’s life in the manner that Allāh wanted us to establish it.

The complete manner in which the Oneness of Allah is to be established is by adhering to the religion of Islām: ‘Truly, the religion with Allāh is Islām’[5],  where Islām literally means submission. The Prophet SAW taught mankind how to submit themselves to Allah and this is why the religion is called Islām.  

ONENESS of Allāh (tawhīd) has been the core message of every Prophet that has been sent: ‘And verily, we have sent among every nation (ummah) a Messenger (proclaiming): “Worship Allāh (Alone), and avoid (or keep away from) Tāghūt (all false deities).” Then of them were some whom Allāh guided and of them were some upon whom the straying was justified. So travel through the land and see what was the end of those who denied (the truth).’ [6]  Similarly, Allāh said: ‘And We did not send any Messenger before you (O Muhammad) but We revealed to him (saying): “Lā ilāha illa Ana [none has the right to be worshipped but I], so worship Me.” [7]  Even if one reads the stories of the Prophets as related in the Qur’ān in isolation, they would find that the call of everyone them focused heavily on the Oneness of Allah (tawhid).

Islam calls to the absolute Oneness of Allāh (tawhid). No act of worship or devotion has any meaning or value before Allah if this concept is compromised. For this reason it is mandatory to understand it fully and appreciate the reality of its meaning.  

The Qur’ān calls to the Oneness of Allah (tawhid) in many different ways. The theologians have analysed this call comprehensively and found it to be broadly consisting of three dimensions:

1. Establishing the Oneness of Allāh in His Lordship (al-tawhid al-rubūbiyyah)
2. Devotion of All Acts of Worship to Allāh Alone (al-tawhid al-ulūhiyyah)
3. Establishing the Oneness of Allāh in His Names and Attributes (al-tawhid al-asmā wa sifāt)

It is when these three dimensions transpire fully, that a person becomes a true believer in Allah and establishes His Oneness. 

Some other theologians, namely from the Ash‘arite school of thought, have another approach in defining what the Oneness of Allah (tawhid) means and identifying its dimensions. This however, still leads to the understanding as stated here, either explicitly or implicitly. In fact, all Sunni Muslims agree that establishing the Oneness of Allah revolves around His Lordship, Devoting oneself to Him, and maintaining His Oneness in terms of His Names and Attributes.  

These three dimensions can be elaborated upon as follows: 

Oneness of Allāh in His Lordship means that Allāh has complete mastery over the universe in every way. He alone is the Creator of all things. No one shares in His dominion and none can resist His decree. 

This concept is one that most people would agree with. Most people recognize that the Creator of the universe is One, without any partners. This is something that Allah created, as part of the human nature (fitrah), that is that every single person is born inclining towards the belief that out there, is a Supreme Being who created everything that exists. Allah stated as such when relating the story of Ādam, the father of all mankind; He said: ‘And remember when your Lord took out all their descendants from the loins of the children of Adam and made them testify against themselves ‘Am I not your Lord?’ they said, ‘We testify that indeed You are!’ Lest you say on the Day of Rising, ‘We knew nothing of this.’’ [8] The covenant left a deep impression on man and it is something that remains with him throughout his life. The Prophet SAW said: ‘Every new-born is born with a moral compass (fitrah)’,  and it is with this moral compass (fitrah) [9] that he knows that none of the creation came  into existence without a Creator. 

The Quraysh of Makkah, stooped in idol-worship, still affirmed this dimension of Allah’s Oneness (tawhid) even before the advent of the Prophet SAW. They believed that Allah is the Lord of the worlds, the sender of rain, and the ultimate sustainer of all that exists. This is something that Allah stated in clear terms in the Qur’ān. He said to the Prophet SAW: ‘If you asked them, ‘Who created the heavens and the earth?’ they would say, ‘Allah!’ [10]  And again He said to him: ‘If you ask them, ‘Who sends down water from the sky, bringing the earth back to life again after it was dead?’ they will say, ‘Allah.’ [11]

A question thus arises, if merely believing in Allah as the One and Only Lord of all was something that the Quraysh of Makkah already affirmed, why then did Allah send the Prophet SAW? That is to say, if testifying that there is no god out there except Allah was the message of the Prophet, and all Prophets for that matter, what was the need to send him? The response is that this is not establishing the Oneness of Allah in its entirety. There must be some other dimensions that were missing, compromised, or corrupted. 

If indeed one affirms that Allah is the One True Creator, and that He has mastery over all that exists; what leads on from that is to also affirm that He alone holds the right to be deified, worshipped, and venerated. No one has the right to be worshipped except for Allāh, just as everything other than Him is created and therefore does not have the capacity to create. 

This concept (Tawhid al-‘Ibādah or Uluhiyya) is the central belief that was proclaimed by all the Prophets throughout the ages. It is the most important pillar of belief in Islam. The purpose of Islam is to call people away from the worship of creation and towards the worship of the Creator. 

This is where Islam differs greatly from all other religions. Though most religions teach that there is a Supreme Being who created all that exists, they are rarely free of some form of polytheism with respect to worship. These religions either call on their adherents to worship other beings as deities beneath Allāh – by usually placing these other deities on a lower level than the Supreme Being – or they demand that their adherents call on other deities as intercessors between them and Allāh. 

All the Prophets and Messengers, from Adam to Muhammad (peace be upon them all) called people to worship Allāh aloneand this is the purest, simplest, most natural faith. Though the message of the previous Prophets was corrupted by later followers, Allah has decreed that Muhammad’s message be preserved until the Day of Judgement. 

The fact that Allāh is the Creator of all creation necessitates that he be worshipped alone. Allāh alone is the one who possesses all of the attributes and qualities which qualify an entity to be exclusively worshipped. This is the first commandment in the Qur’ān; to worship Allāh alone, and it provided the reason: ‘O mankind! Worship your Lord, who created you and those who were before you so that you may become Al-Muttaqūn. Who has made the earth a resting place for you, and the sky as a canopy, and sent down rain from the sky and brought forth therewith fruits as a provision for you. Then do not set up rivals with Allāh while you know (that He alone has the right to be worshipped).’ [12]

Islam rejects the notion of some cultural anthropologists that the early religion of human beings was polytheism, and then slowly the idea of monotheism evolved from that. Ibn ‘Abbas RA said: ‘Between Noah and Adam were ten generations, all of them were upon shari’ah (law) of the truth, then they differed. So Allāh sent prophets as bringers of good news and as warners.’ [13]

The truth is that the natural religion of humanity is to worship Allāh alone. People later came along and corrupted this religion, introducing into it the worship of other beings. People seem to have a tendency to want to focus their devotions on something tangible, something imaginable, even though they have an instinctive knowledge that the Creator of the universe is far beyond their imaginations. Throughout human history, Allāh sent Prophets and Messengers to call the people back to the worship of the One True Allāh, and repeatedly, people returned to the worship of created beings. 

Allāh created human beings to worship Him aloneand henceThe greatest possible sin is to worship anyone other than Him. It is no less sinful if the worshipper intends to get nearer to Allāh by offering devotions to another being. Allāh does not need intercessors nor intermediaries. Rather, He hears all of our prayers and has complete knowledge of everything that happens. 

At the same time, Allāh does not need our worship asHe is completely independent of all things. In fact, If every person in the world were to come together to worship Allāh alone, they would not benefit Allāh in the least andhey would not add an atom’s weight to His dominion. Conversely, if all Creation abandoned the worship of Allāh, this would not decrease His dominion in the least. By worshipping Allāh, we benefit our own souls and fulfill the purpose for which we were created. We do not fulfill any need of Allāh asHe is needless. 

The oneness of Allāh in His names and attributes implies that Allāh does not share the attributes of created beings and nor do they share in any of His becauseAllāh is unique in every way. Muslims believe in all of the attributes that Allāh asserts for Himself and that His Prophet SAW ascribes to Him with the understanding that those attributes are not similar to the attributes of creation. Likewise, we negate any name or attribute from Allāh that Allāh and His Messenger SAW negate from Him. 

Allāh’s attributes are all attributes of perfection and completeness. Human deficiencies cannot be ascribed to Allāhfor the simple reason that Allāh has no deficiency or weakness. 

It is a form of polytheism to ascribe to Allāh attributes of created things. It is likewise a form of polytheism to ascribe to created things attributes that belong to Allāh alone. Anyone who believes that another being is, for instance, All-Knowledgeable or All-Powerful has committed the sin of polytheism, which is the greatest of all sins in Islam. 

Points of Wisdom
1) Tawhīd is not just a theoretical concept that one must know, it is a belief that must be firmly established in one’s heart and then reflected in one’s actions. It is the responsibility of every Muslim to call people to change their lives by establishing tawhīd, and the more people establish tawhīd the more they will take Islām as their reference point in all things, the closer they will be to Allāh and the likelihood of their committing sins is less. Living without Tawhīd in general leads to living a miserable life. 

2) There seems to be no english or latin word that is equivalent to tawhid. We have used “The Oneness of Allah” to reflect the meaning of the word tawhid. 

3) Tawhid changes individual’s and societies’ life whereby the Creator and the life of the hereafter are placed firmly at the centre. They shape every and each aspect of life including spiritual, social, political, economical, intellectual etc. Those who submit to the will of their creator, or establish Tawhid, follow a Devine value system whereby those who do not submit solely to him, follow different value systems. And thus there are categorical differences between godly people and ungodly people; Muslims and Kuffar. Polytheists, submit to more than one God and hence they do not have one source of guidance and therefore, their life will never be coherent neither will it ever be consistent. This leads to continuous troubles and lack of contentment and tranquillity. Allah says, [translation of meaning], [14] “Allah puts forth  a similitude: a (slave)  man belonging  to  many  partners  (like  those   who worship others along  with Allah) disputing  with one another, and a (slave) man belonging entirely to one  master,  (like those  who  worship  Allah Alone). Are those two equal  in comparison?  All the praises and thanks be to Allah! But most of them know not”. All of this confirms that tawhid is the starting point to fix the individuals or societies life. This was evident in all of the prophet’s life and da’wah.  

4) It should be noted that the Qur’ān never stated that any of the prophets invited his people to the existence of Allah nor is it mentioned that any of prophets called people to believe in His existence first and then asked them to worship Him. The dawa of all the prophets, save prophet Lut, was very clear and explicit “worship Allah” or “worship your Lord”. This means that everyone believes in the existence of God and his supremacy. But Their main problem is the fact that He is not the only one whom they worship. Finally, This confirms that denying the existence of God is not a real belief nor  is it a matter that needs an intellectual ideological proof. Instead, It is part of the human being’s nature or natural disposition.



Notes: Dr Haitham al-Haddad’s explanation of al-Aqeedah al-Tahawiyyah will soon be published as a hardback book. Islam21c have exclusive rights to share extracts from the book for its readers, and will be posting certain sections of the book on a weekly basis. The book: al-Aqeedah al-Tahawiyyah, is a short text outlining the aqeedah of Ahl al-Sunnah in short statements. Each extract posted is a complete explanation of any one of those statements. 
Islam21c requests all the readers of this article, and others, to share it on your facebook, twitter, and other platforms to further spread our efforts.
[1] Q. Al- A’rāf, 7: 54.
[2]  Q. Al-Dhāriyāt, 51: 56
[3]  Q. Al-Mā’idah, 4: 72.
[4]  Q. Al-Nisā’, 4: 48.
[5]  Q. Āl ‘Imrān: 3, 19.
[6]  Q. Al-Nahl: 16, 36.
[7]  Q. Al-Anbiyā: 21, 25.
[8]  Q. Al-‘Arāf 7: 172.
[9]  H. Bukhāri
[10]  Q. Luqmān, 31: 25.
[11]  Q. Al-‘Ankabūt, 29: 63.
[12]  Q. Al-Baqarah, 2: 21-22.
[13]  Related by Ibn Jarir at-Tabari in his tafsir (4/275) and al-Hakim (2/546) who said, “It is authentic according to the criterion of al-Bukhari.” Adh-Dhahabi also agreed
[14] Q. Al Zumar 39:29



About Shaikh (Dr) Haitham Al-Haddad

Dr. Haitham al-Haddad is a jurist and serves as a judge for the Islamic Council of Europe. He has studied the Islamic sciences for over 20 years under the tutelage of renowned scholars such as the late Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia as well as the retired Head of the Kingdom's Higher Judiciary Council. He specialises in many of the Islamic sciences and submitted his doctoral thesis on Islamic jurisprudence concerning Muslim minorities. Shaikh Haitham is highly respected having specialised knowledge in the field of fiqh, usul al-fiqh, maqasid al-shari'ah, ulum al-Qur’an, tafsir, aqidah, and fiqh al-hadith. He provides complex theories which address the role of Islamic jurisprudence within a western environment whilst also critically re-analysing the approach of Islamic jurists in forming legal rulings (ifta’) within a western socio-political context. He has many well known students most of whom are active in dawah and teaching in the West. The shaikh is an Islamic jurist (faqih) and as such is qualified to deliver verdicts as a judge under Islamic law, a role he undertakes at the Islamic Council of Europe as Islamic judge and treasurer. Dr Haitham al-Haddad also sits on various the boards of advisors for Islamic organisations, mainly in the United Kingdom but also around the world.


  1. Much needed explanation
    Having watched the Shaikh’s entire explanation of this book, i was planning on requesting the notes be transcribed into a book so others could benefit. MashAllah this is already in the process. Many of the concepts discussed are thought provoking and require one to ponder over the meaning. The end result is coming away feeling awe of our Creator and His Power and Wisdom.

  2. Excellent
    First section beautifully summarised.


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