What does Tawheed mean?

The Tawheed (also spelled Tawhid) is actually quite simple, as it is the foundation of the religion that makes the Shahada valid.

The term 'Tawheed' comes from the Arabic language which in English translates to: Making something one. So in Islam it refers to Monotheism. The opposite of Tawheed is Shirk. Thus Muslims distance themselves from idolatry by practicing the Oneness of Allah.

  1. Categories of Tawheed
  2. Who categorized it

Categories of Tawheed

Allah brings up the subject of His Unity a lot of times. Allah emphasizes Tawheed because it is the basis of religion. It is essential for a Muslim to believe in this concept. Now let's talk about how this concept is divided into three categories.

1. Tawheed Asmaa wa Sifaat in de Quran

The Names and Attributes of Allah (Asmaa wa Sifaat) is one of the categories by which Allah makes known what His Names and Attributes are. Thus, it is a great favor to know more about Allah since it strengthens the Eman of a Muslim.

Allah! There is no god ˹worthy of worship˺ except Him, the Ever-Living, All-Sustaining. Neither drowsiness nor sleep overtakes Him. To Him belongs whatever is in the heavens and whatever is on the earth. Who could possibly intercede with Him without His permission? He ˹fully˺ knows what is ahead of them and what is behind them, but no one can grasp any of His knowledge—except what He wills ˹to reveal˺. His Seat1 encompasses the heavens and the earth, and the preservation of both does not tire Him. For He is the Most High, the Greatest.
(Surah Al-Baqara, 255)

Allah! There is no god ˹worthy of worship˺ except Him—the Ever-Living, All-Sustaining.
(Soera Al-Imran, 2)

Allah—there is no god ˹worthy of worship˺ except Him. He has the Most Beautiful Names.
(Surah Taha, 8)

2. Tawheed Rububiyyah

This category implies that Allah has all power over His creation. He has power over: the sun, the rain, the earth, the people etc. He provides life and He gives death. No one has the strength and power to control creation except Allah. The term Rububiyyah (Reign) comes from the word 'Rabb', which means 'Lord' in Arabic.

Their messengers asked ˹them˺, “Is there any doubt about Allah, the Originator of the heavens and the earth? He is inviting you in order to forgive your sins, and delay your end until your appointed term.” They argued, “You are no more than humans like us! You ˹only˺ wish to turn us away from what our forefathers worshiped. So bring us some compelling proof.”
(Surah Ibrahim, 10)

If you ask them ˹O Prophet˺ who created the heavens and the earth, they will certainly say, “The Almighty, All-Knowing did.”
(al-Zukhruf, 9)

Moses replied, “You know well that none has sent these ˹signs˺ down except the Lord of the heavens and the earth as insights. And I really think that you, O Pharaoh, are doomed.”
(al-Isra’, 102)

3. Tawheed Uluhiyyah

Uluhiyyah is about the worship of Allah. He alone has the right to be worshiped. This form of Tawheed is often emphasized in the Quran. It is essential as a Muslim to attribute worship completely and only to Him.

When people are touched with hardship, they cry out to their Lord, turning to Him ˹alone˺. But as soon as He gives them a taste of His mercy, a group of them associates ˹others˺ with their Lord ˹in worship˺,
(Surah Ar-Rum, 33)

Their limbs do forsake their beds of sleep, the while they call on their Lord, in Fear and Hope: and they spend (in charity) out of the sustenance which We have bestowed on them.
(Surah As-Sajda, 16)

So, worship Allah, making your submission exclusive for Him, even though the disbelievers dislike (it).
(Surah Ghafir, 14)

And your Lord has said, "Invoke Me and I will respond to you. Surely the ones who wax too proud to do Me worship will soon enter Hell utterly abject."
(Surah Ghafir, 60)

Who divided Tawheed into categories?

We often hear that Ibn Taymiyyah was the one who divided Tawheed into three categories, but there was a scholar who preceded him. This scholar is Ibn Battah.

Ibn Battah Al 'Ukbaree was a jurist and theologian born in a city called 'Ukbara (Iraq). He started gaining knowledge about the religion at an early age, and grew up to be a great scholar in Fiqh and Aqeedah. Ibn Battah is a Hanbali (follower of Hanbal school of thought). He lived around the same time as Imam Barbahari.

Ibn Battah said:
And this is because the foundation of al-eemaan (faith) in Allah whose belief is obligatory upon the creation in affirmation of of belief in Him is [comprised of] three things:

The first of them: That the slave believe in his Rabbaaniyyah (his Lordship over all creation) so that by this he separates from the doctrine of the negators who do not affirm a maker (creator).

And the second: That he believes in his Wahdaaniyyah (his sole right to be worshiped) so that by this he separates from the people of shirk (associationism) who affirm the Maker (Creator) but they associated others with Him in worship.

And the third: That he believes Him be to be described with [such] attributes which are not permitted except for Him to be described with, such as knowledge (ilm), power (qudrah), wisdom (hikmah) and all of what He has descrbed Himself with in His Book.

Source: al-Ibaanah 2/172-173 of Ibn Battah

Abu Athari writes about basic principles within Islam. He uses his critical and well-researched way to spread knowledge of the first three Muslim generations.

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