Home

ISLAMIC MEDICAL EDUCATION RESOURCES 04

9810-TAWHEED: ITS MEANING AND IMPLICATION

Paper Presented at the 15th International Leadership Training programme Islamabad Pakistan 01-31st October 1998 by Prof Dr Omar Hasan Kasule, International Islamic University, Malaysia.

OUTLINE

1.0 Tauhid: The Islamic World-View

2.0 Tauhid Al Rububiyyat

3.0 Tauhid Al Uluhiyyat

4.0 Tauhid: Names Of Allah And Allah’s Attributes

5.0 Tauhid: Implications For Daily Life

 

1.0.TAUHID: THE ISLAMIC WORLD-VIEW

The concept of tauhid encapsulates the Islamic world-view. It is the basis of Islamic culture and civilization. Knowledge, social action and social organizations in Islam are based on the world-view defined by tauhid. Tauhid defines the relation between the human and the creator as well the relationships among the various creations in the universe.

 

Tauhid is the highest level of the development of the human mind. It is an intellectual and abstract reality. Normally many people do not want to go through the rigors of dealing with an abstract reality and they find easy recourse to one or several material gods they can see and interact with directly.

 

Tauhid is the most powerful and integrating concept for the universe. All other concepts and empirical phenomena derive from and are explainable by tauhid.

All creation and all phenomena of the universe derive from the one and same source. If the source is one, then there are relationships among all objects and phenomena in the universe. These relationships are the basis for physical and social laws (sunan Allah fi al kawn)

 

There is evidence in the universe (p 692 s:21…71:15-20) and in humans (p 698 2:28…9:8-10) for oneness of Allah. Oneness of Allah (wahdaniyyat) can be proved philosophically or empirically. Prior belief in the unseen is indispensable for appreciating the empirical evidence for oneness of Allah. Starting from a basis of belief the philosophical and empirical evidence becomes more powerful and reinforces the underlying belief. Those without the smallest grain of belief in the unseen will not be able to fully appreciate the empirical or philosophical evidence however obvious it may be. In essence they have an inherent bias since belief in the unseen is innate in humans (fitra).

 

2.0 TAUHID AL RUBUBIYYAT

The concept of rububiyyat is the assertion that there is a creator for the universe and all its contents (7:54, 32:7-9, 87:2, 54:49). This concept can be appreciated as a logical imperative since all the universe could not create itself.

 

The essence of tauhid is the oneness of Allah (112:1-4, 23:9, 6:100). Belief in the one-ness of Allah is inborn (p 699 6:63…41:5). The assertion that there is only one creator for the whole universe (tauhid al rububiyyat) is also a logical imperative. It is impossible for the harmonious and well-coordinated universe to have more than creator. No 2 creators could agree so perfectly without any contradictions (p705-706 s:21…80:17-19; p708 2:139…73:9). No harmony can exist in situations of contradictions.

 

Related to rububiyat is the concept of sustenance (rizq) (p 702-703 6:44…67:21), Allah not only created all creatures but provides for and sustains them. Thus rububiyyat is a continuous process. It covers human and non-human creation of Allah. It extends into the future until Allah decides to terminate the universe as we know it today.

 

3.0 TAUHID AL ULUHIYYAT

The concept of uluhiyyat implies worship of Allah and the acknowledgement that He is the sustainer and sovereign and of the world (mulk) (p 708 23:84-89…67:1). Many people easily accept the assertion that the sole creator of the whole universe deserves to be worshipped. Some however find it difficult to understand that nothing else can be associated with that creator in worship (tauhid al uluhiyyat). They also find it difficult to understand that worship is for the only one creator (wahdaniyat al ibadat/wahdaniyat al ibadat) (p 709-710 1:5…109:1-6).

 

Messengers and revelations were sent to emphasize that there is one creator to be worshipped and that there are no associates. Associating Allah with anything else in worship is the greatest of sins and is unforgivable. Many problems that afflict individuals and communities arise out of rejection of tauhid al uluhiyyat. Rejection of uluhiyat opens the door to anarchy in religion. This anarchy leads humans to appropriate attributes of the creator wrongly and some go to the extent of misusing this to justify exploitation of others.

 

Knowledge and understanding of rububuyyat and uluhiyyat lead logically to the conclusion that the human must worship the creator. It is not possible that the whole complex universe was created with no purpose behind the creation. This purpose we learn from the revelations is the worship of Allah. Worship is a way of expressing gratitude for the creation and the bounties of Allah in the universe. Every other creature worships Allah and never disobeys. It is only humans who sometimes disobey. The human was given a special status and specific competences like a high intellect and limited free-will. Misuse of these competences may result in disobedience. Kufr, denial of the existence of the creator or refusal to worship Him, is a great crime. It is ungratefulness for the great gift of creation and sustenance that humans have.

 

4.0TAUHID AL ASMAU WA AL SIFAAT

Allah has the most beautiful of names. They all testify to His majesty and power. These names are for Allah only and no creature can have any of them (tauhid al asma). A Muslim must believe in all the names. Denial of any one name nullifies iman. All the 99 names of Allah are mentioned in the Qur’an (p 107-126). The names of Allah are of great significance. They reflect the nature and power of the creator. They remind humans of their humble status in front of Allah. They help humans strengthen their understanding of uluhiyyat and rububiyyat.

Allah has attributes (sifaat) (p 708-709 2:163….112:4). The Qur’an has mentioned all of Allah’s attributes that a human needs to know (2:115, 2:255, 4:164, 6:133, 6:59, 7:143, 19:52, 31:26, 31:34, 42:11, 42:49-50).

 

Some of the attributes are just for resemblance (sifaat al tashbiih) such as leg (p 689 68:42), eye, ‘ayn (p 690 11:37…54:14), coming, majiu (p 690 2:210…89:22), face, wajh (p 690 2:115…92:20), hand, yad (p 690 13:26…67:1), sight basar, p 772 2:144…96:14), hearing sam’u p. 678 3:181…58:1), speaking, kalaam p 682-683 2:37…66:12).  Attributes with names similar to the above are also found in humans and other creatures but are different from Allah’s because nothing can be like Him. The use of terms such as the hand, the face, hearing etc was more for easing human understanding than making statements about the nature of Allah. The nature of Allah is beyond human understanding. 

 

Some attributes are states of being such as being above, fawqiyyat (p 690 6:18..92:20), Eternity (al baqau p. 688 19:40…57:3), life (al hayat, p. 687-688 2:255…40:65), being the first (al qidam p 682 57:3), and self-reliance (al qiyam bi nafsihi p 682 2:255…112:2),   

 

Some attributes relate to actions such as will (iraadat p 676 2:26…74:31), knowledge (ilm p. 678-681 3:30…100:11), ability (al qudrat p. 681-682 2:20….85:13), and being unique ie different from the creations (mukhalafat al hawadith p 683-684 2:116….112:3).

 

Shirk in essence is associating the creator with human attributes. Some human attributes like hunger, thirst, and sleep reflect human weakness and should not be associated with the creator. Shirk also occurs when divine attributes are appropriated by humans.

 

Names and attributes are an aid for humans to understand the creator’s omnipotence. The attributes of Allah are beyond human comprehension and it is useless or even dangerous to engage in too much debate about them. It is enough to believe in them and not try to seek to explain them. Humans get confused in discussions of the nature of Allah when they do not acknowledge that there are limitations to human intellect and knowledge. Some concepts can not be reached by the human intellect and recourse must be made to revelation. The Qur’an provides enough guidance on the nature of Allah leaving no room for human confusion (2:115, 2:255, 6:103).

 

Looking at the expanse and complexity of the universe shows that the creator must be very powerful, omnipresent and omnipotent. The creator must be different in all ways from what he created. It does not make sense to associate any human attributes to Him.

 

The creator must be perfect because the creation is perfect.

 

5.0 TAUHID: IMPLICATIONS IN DAILY LIFE

Tauhid and civilization: the concept of tauhid, by emphasising belief in one creator and sustainer of the whole universe, gives human civilization a beginning and an end. It gives it purpose, an objective and a sense of direction. It is an integrating concept without which an ever-lasting and successful civilization can not be built. Many human civilizations that history has recorded could not sustain themselves beyond a few centuries because of lack of a central integrating vision like tauhid. They soon run into contradictions and collapsed.

 

Human brotherhood and equality: tauhid explains the unity of mankind because of a common origin (2:213, 10:19). The differences of nations and tribes have a purpose and do not negate the common human brotherhood (49:13).

 

Science and technology: Tauhid presents the vista of a wide expansive universe which motivates search for knowledge far and wide. Acknowledging existence of one creator, implies that there are fixed physical laws in the universe (sunan Allah fi al kawn). These are the basis for predictable causal relations. The purpose of science is to identify and define these causal relations. Technology exploits or manipulates the causal relations to create benefits (sometimes harm) for humans.

 

Social organization: Tauhid, by emphasising a common creator for everything, implies that there must exist social  laws needed for smooth functioning of the universe especially human society. Under tauhid the need for a community and family is obvious (7:189-190, 25:54). Both are structured organisations that ensure integrated harmonious human existence.

 

Economic organization: The basic economic teaching under tauhid is that sustenance is from Allah (29:60-62). The wealth that an individual gets should not be a cause of arrogance because it is essentially not his or hers. Human economic activities are undertaken with a sense of responsibility knowing that economic resources are in the hands of Allah and that the human is just a vicegerant. The human will therefore undertake economic activity within a moral context defined by Allah. This context requires that economic activity shall promote moral well-being, social and human justice.

 

Political organization: tauhid implies that ultimate political sovereignty is with Allah. Those who wield political power are vicegerents and are thus accountable. They can not behave as if they have absolute authority because that is the prerogative of Allah alone.


 

7.0 DISCUSSION

1.                  Explain in your own words the difference between uluhiyyat and rububiyyat.

2.                  Find out what the terms ‘atheism’ and ‘agnosticism’ mean. Explain how these negate the Islamic creed.

3.                  Why and how do people become misled from tauhid al rububiyyat and tauhid al uluhiyyat

4.                  What makes humans different from other creations of Allah (SWT)?

5.                  Using any index of the Qur’an that you have, list at least one verse in which each of the names above is mentioned

6.                  Attempt to classify the names of Allah into 3-5 categories

7.                  List names of friends or relatives that include one of the names of Allah and signify that they are slaves of Allah

8.                  Identify names/attributes of Allah appropriated by Pharaon, Nimrod and any other taghut that you know

9.                  Give one example you know or have read about in which divine attributes are given to humans and vice versa

10.              Prepare a one-minute oral presentation on each of the following topics about tauhid in daily life:

(a)     Tauhid leads to unity

(b)     Tauhid encourages growth of science and technology

(c)     Tauhid fosters an ethical social order

(d)     Tauhid fosters a just economic system

(e)     Tauhid and family values

(f)      Tauhid and the liberation of the mind

(g)        Tauhid and true worship

Omar Hasan Kasule October 1998