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On Eemaan, Ibaadah and Tawheed : Their Link and Interrelation.
  Lesson 4: An Introduction to Tawheed
Author: Abu Iyaad as-Salafi
Article ID : SCL010004  [20374]  
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A side point worth mentioning here is that sometimes we look at a word in terms of what it means in the language and sometimes what it means when it used in relation to the Sharee’ah or the religion of Islaam. For example the word ‘hadeeth’ in the arabic language simply means ‘conversation, news, speech’. But islamically it means ‘a saying of the Messenger (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) . Why is knowing this important? It is important to understand this because we can differentiate between when a word is being used in terms of the Sharee’ah or when it is just being used as a word in the language, i.e. with its linguistic meaning. We will illustrate this with an example. You all know the saying of Umar’ when he joined all the people together behind one imaam for the taraaweeh prayer in Ramadaan. Then he commented ‘What an excellent innovation this is?’ Now, the word bid’ah linguistically means ‘something new, which has no previous example for it, an invention’. From this point of view it is not necessarily a bad thing. But when used Islamically and in reference to the Sharee’ah it means ‘ a newly invented matter, by which Allaah is sought to be worshipped and which has no previous example from the Sunnah’. So this distinction helps us to clarify that Umar said this statement by using the word ‘bid’ah’ in the linguistic sense, not the Sharee’ah sense. In other words, no one before him had thought of the idea to bring all the people together behind one imaam. His idea was a good one. So he was referring to his action from the linguistic sense. He was not referring it from the Sharee’ah sense, why? Because this action of Umar cannot be considered to be an innovation in the Sharee’ah sense anyway, because then it already has a previous example. In other words this action was done before, by the Messenger (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) when he led the people in taraaweeh prayer for three days in Ramadaan. So it is not possible for Umar to be referring to his action in the Sharee’ah sense, because then the definition of ‘bid’ah’ in the Sharee’ah sense would not apply to this situation or this action of Umar. Why? Because this action already has a previous example and model, from the Messenger (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) , whereas the Sharee’ah definition of bid’ah states that it is ‘something which has no previous model or example…’.

Anyway going back to the topic again.

We have just looked at the Sharee’ah definition of Tawheed - ‘testifying to the oneness of Allaah and worshipping Him alone’.

In order to do this - i.e.

  • To testify to the oneness of Allaah and,

  • To worship Allaah alone

We have to look at our Tawheed from:

  • the knowledge aspect and

  • the actions aspect.

In other words, Tawheed can be looked at from two angles, or it can be seen to have two branches. We have already discussed in Lesson 1, Ibn al-Qayyim’s classification of Tawheed. Lets go back to it again.


So one type of Tawheed is concerned with Knowledge and the other type of Tawheed is concerned with Action. We also mentioned in Lesson 1, how there is no contradiction between what Ibn al-Qayyim says (i.e. he divides Tawheed into two categories) and between what the rest of the Salaf say i.e. that Tawheed is of three branches:

  1. Tawheed ur-Ruboobiyyah

  2. Tawheed ul-Asmaa was-Sifaat

  3. Tawheed ul-Uloohiyyah

This is because two of the above categories (No’s 1 and 2) are in fact related to knowledge the third one is related to action. Lets reproduce the diagram again - including this:

 So it is clear that there is no contradiction, because in essence it is the same categorisation.

Now we will give a brief description of precisely what each one means:

Tawheed ur-Ruboobiyyah: This is to have the knowledge and firm belief that Allaah alone is the ‘Rabb’ of all the worlds. This means that He alone is the Creator, that He brought everything into existence alone, and that He sustains and controls the whole of creation - which includes such things like, giving life, taking life, sending down the rain, making the sun rise and set, etc. In fact everything related to the working of the whole of creation, then that is under the sole control of Allaah, He owns of everything and He alone created it.He is responsible for everything that happens. You can see how some of Allaah’s names are linked to his Ruboobiyyah eg. Khaaliq (the Creator), ar-Razzaaq (the Sustainer), an-Naafi’ (the One who causes benefit) ad-Daarr (the One who causes Harm), ash-Shaafee (the Healer), al-Muhyee (the One who gives life), al-Mumeet (the One who causes death) etc…

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