Contents > Chapter 2: The Islamic Concept of Tawheed (Monotheism) > Tawheed ar-Ruboobiyyah and Tawheed al-Asma was-Sifaat


Chapter 2: The Islamic Concept of Tawheed (Monotheism)

The first religious fundamental to which Allah’s Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) called to, was Tawheed (the Oneness of Allah), which is expressed by the testification, ‘La ilaha illa Allah’ (meaning, none has the right to be worshiped except Allah). He (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) spent thirteen years in Makkah explaining the Oneness of Allah, and not calling towards any other aspect of the religion. This is because the correct belief (Aqeedah) is the foundation of Islam. Only those actions and statements that stem from the correct belief (Aqeedah) are acceptable to Allah and therefore, it is a Muslim’s duty to safeguard his Aqeedah against all defects.


The Islamic Concept of Tawheed is divided into three categories – Tawheed ar-Ruboobiyyah, Tawheed al-Uloohiyyah, and Tawheed al-Asma was-Sifaat; which respectively mean that Allah is One…

  • without partner in His dominion and His Actions

  • without similitude in His Essence and Attributes

  • without rival in His divinity and worship 


1. Tawheed ar-Ruboobiyyah: Belief in the Lordship of Allah

Tawheed ar-Ruboobiyyah means to believe that Allah alone is the Rabb (the Creator, Provider, Sustainer, etc.) He has no partner in His Dominion and Actions. Allah alone has the power to benefit or harm, the power to change destiny, and He alone is truly Self-Sufficient (As-Samad) upon whom all the creation depends, as He says: “Allah created all things and He is the Wakeel (Trustee, Disposer of affairs, Guardian) of all things.”[1] “To Him belong the keys of the Heavens and the earth. He (Allah) enlarges and restricts provisions to whomever He Wills. Surely, He has Knowledge of everything.”[2]


Tawheed ar-Ruboobiyyah also includes the belief that Allah is Unique (One, single) and Incomparable. He has no wife nor offspring, no mother nor father. “Say, He is Allah, the One and Only. Allah, the Eternal - the Absolute: He begets not, nor is He begotten.”[3] Allah does not merge in any living or dead creature, nor anything is part of Allah. Neither living nor dead merges in the Being of Allah, nor is any creature part of Him. All creatures are created by His Order and are subservient to His Will.


The Arab Pagans believed in Tawheed ar-Ruboobiyyah

The belief in Tawheed ar-Ruboobiyyah was never denied by any of the previous nations, except few who denied the existence of Allah, like Fir’awn (Pharaoh), the atheists and communists of this age. The Arab Pagans amongst whom the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) was sent believed in Tawheed ar-Ruboobiyyah. They believed in Allah to the extent that they declared Allah as the Supreme Lord. They acknowledged Him as the Creator of the Universe and considered Him to be the Sovereign and the Provider of sustenance, as is clear from the verses of Soorah al-Muminoon, Allah says: “Say (to the disbelievers): “Whose is the earth and whosoever is therein? If you know!” They will say: “It is Allah” … Say: “Who is the Lord of the seven Heavens and the Lord of the Great Throne?” They will say: “Allah” … Say: “In whose Hands is the sovereignty of everything? And He protects all, while against whom there is no protector, if you know?” They will say: “(All this belongs) to Allah.”[4]


However, the belief in Tawheed ar-Ruboobiyyah did not make them Muslims, because they lacked Tawheed al-Uloohiyyah (Oneness of Allah’s Worship). Even though, the Arab Pagans believed that Allah was their Lord, they did not direct all forms of worship to Him alone. They believed that Angles and pious people had special status with Allah, and thus could intercede with Allah for them. They would say: “We only worship them so that they may bring us closer to Allah.”[5] Calling upon Allah for one’s needs is a great act of worship, and if it is directed towards other than Allah, it leads to Shirk in the worship. Allah revealed: “They worship besides Allah things that hurt them not, nor profit them, and they say: “These are only our intercessors with Allah.”[6]


Thus, Allah declared their act of seeking intercession with Allah as Shirk and termed them as Kafirun and Mushrikeen. He ordered His Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) to proclaim, “I worship not that, which you worship, nor will you worship that which I worship, and I shall not worship that you are worshiping, nor will you worship that which I worship.”[7] These verses of the Noble Qur’aan establish the importance of the Tawheed of worship along with the Tawheed of Lordship.


Essential Points: From the above, we understand that the Arab Pagans, despite their ignorance and arrogance, completely understood the meaning of Ibaadah (worship). They believed that intercession is a form of worship, and did not deny that calling upon pious people amounted to worshiping them. They would call their idols, ‘Aaliha[8]‘(pl. of Ilah lit. meaning, One, who is worshiped). This is in sharp contrast of the belief of the grave-worshipers of today, who make the engraved as intercessors with Allah, and yet do not consider it to be Shirk!!


2. Tawheed al-Asma was-Sifaat: Belief in Allah’s Names and Attributes

Allah says: “To Him belongs all the Best Names. All that is in the Heavens and the earth glorify Him. And He is the All-Mighty, the All-Wise.”[9] Abu Hurayrah (radhi allahu anhu) narrates: “Allah has ninety-nine Names, and whoever believers in their meanings and acts accordingly will enter Paradise…”[10]


Tawheed al-Asma was-Sifaat[11] is to believe and affirm all the Names and Attributes of Allah found in the Qur’aan and the Ahaadeeth of Allah’s Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam). The Names and Attributes of Allah should be accepted without any alteration, whether in words or meaning. They should be understood in the absolute sense and free from human deficiencies because the similarity between the Attributes of Allah and mankind is only of name and not in degree. For example, Allah says: “That He may punish the hypocrites, men and women, and the pagan men and women, who have an evil opinion of Allah. A circle of evil is around them; Allah is Angry with them, Curses them and has prepared for them an evil end.”[12]


In this verse, Allah is described with the Attribute of Anger. It is wrong to believe that Allah’s Anger has any similitude to those of the humans. It is also wrong to change the meaning of the verse saying, ‘His Anger must mean His Punishment, because anger is a sign of weakness and weakness cannot be attributed to Allah, etc… It is sufficient to believe in the Attribute of Allah and believe that “There is nothing like unto Him.”[13]


The Names and Attributes of Allah should be accepted and affirmed without inquiring about their exact nature. Believing in their apparent meaning is an obligation and deeply reflecting about Allah is an innovation, as the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) said: “Reflect upon the creation and do not reflect upon Allah.”[14]


The Essence of Shirk in Tawheed al-Asma wa-Sifaat:

Shirk in Tawheed al-Asma wa-Sifaat is to give other than Allah, the qualities (Attributes), which are specific of Allah Alone. For example, amongst the Attributes of Allah is that He is the Knower of the Unseen (Ghayb[15]) and He alone knows what the heart conceals. Allah says: “Say, ‘None in the Heavens and the earth know the Ghayb (Unseen) except Allah, nor can they perceive when they shall be resurrected.”[16] Therefore, to consider someone other than Allah to have the knowledge of the past, future or the Unseen is Shirk (associating partners with Allah).


This concept of Tawheed distinguishes Islam from many other religions. Those who have studied comparative religion can very easily realize that, while the Jews made their Creator like the creation[17], the Christians make the creation like the Creator[18].

[1] Soorah az-Zumar (39): 62.

[2] Soorah ash-Shoorah (42): 12.

[3] Soorah al-Ikhlas (112): 1-3

[4] Soorah al-Muminoon (23): 84-89. See also Soorah az-Zukhruf (43): 9, Soorah az-Zukhruf (43): 87 and Soorah al-Ankaboot (29): 63.

[5] Soorah az-Zumar (39): 3.

[6] Soorah Yunus (10): 18.

[7] Soorah al-Kafiroon (109): 2-5.

[8] Soorah Sad (38): 5.

[9] Soorah al-Mumtahinah (60): 24.

[10] Saheeh al-Bukharee vol.8. no. 419.

[11] Shaikh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah (d. 728H) said: “From Eemaan in Allaah is Eemaan in what He has described Himself with and what His Messenger Muhammad (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) described Him with, without tahreef and ta’teel, and without takyeef and tamtheel…” [Al-’Aqeedah al-Waastiyyah, p.3]

[12] Soorah al-Fath (48): 6.

[13] Soorah ash-Shoorah (42): 11.

[14] Refer to Silsilaat as-Saheehah, no. 1788.

[15] Everything, which is hidden from people of future and past occurrences, and what is not seen, is exclusive of Allah’s Knowledge.

[16] Soorah an-Naml (27): 65

[17] As in Genesis (33): 24-30 where it has been claimed that Allah came in the form of a man and lost in a wrestling match with Prophet Yaqoob. [Glory be to Allaah! (High is He) above all that they associate as partners with Him.]

[18] In their claim that Prophet Essa, who lived a life like any other human being and was then helplessly crucified, was Allah. [Glory be to Allaah! (High is He) above all that they associate as partners with Him.]