Dr. Abu Ameenah Bilal Phillips
This book: Fundamentals of Tawheed presents a detailed explanation of the classical Islamic concept of God’s unity as it relates to faith and acts of religious devotion. It also discusses the major areas within which the Islamic unitarian belief (Tawheed) is either nullified or compromised by idolatrous concepts and practises, collectively called Shirk.
Literally 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.However, when the term Tawheed is used in reference to Allaah (i.e. Tawheedullaah), it means the realizing and maintaining of 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 and His actions (Ruboobeeyah), One without similitude in His essence and attributes (Asmaa wa Sifaat), and One without rival in His divinity and in worship (Ulooheeyah/’Ebaadah). 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” (lit. sharing); the association of partners with Allaah, which, in Islamic terms, is in fact idolatry.
The three categories of Tawheed are commonly referred to by the following titles:
1. Tawheed ar-Ruboobeeyah (lit. “Maintaining the Unity of Lordship”)
2. Tawheed al-Asmaa was-Sifaat (lit. “Maintaining the Unity of Allaah’s Names and Attributes”)
3. Tawheed al-‘Ebaadah (lit. “Maintaining the Unity of Allaah’s Worship”)
The division of Tawheed into its components was not done by the Prophet (may Peace Be Upon Him) 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 (may Peace Be Upon Him) and his companions, as will became evident to the reader when each category is dealt with in more detail later in this chapter.
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 discussions, their various philosophical concepts of God, confusion arose in which the pure 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 itself.