Contents > Chapter 2: The Islamic Concept of Tawheed (Monotheism) > Tawheed al-Ibaadah


3. Tawheed al-Ibaadah: Unity of Allah’s Worship

Allah says: “Say (O Muhammad (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam))! Verily, my Salaat, my sacrifice, my living, and my dying are for Allah, the Lord of the Aalamin (mankind and Jinn and all that exists).”[1] Tawheed al-Ibaadah (the Oneness of Allah’s worship) is the most apparent meaning of the concept of Tawheed because worship is the core and essence of Islamic Creed - based on the Shahadah statement, ‘La ilaha illa Allah’ meaning, ‘There is no Ilah (deity worthy of worship) except Allah (in truth).’

What is Ibaadah (worship)?

Ibaadah is a comprehensive term, which encompasses everything, which Allah loves and is pleased with; of both statements and actions – both apparent and hidden. Hence, Salaat, fasting, charity, truthfulness, honesty, loving Allah and His Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam), turning to Allah in repentance, sincerity of the Deen for Him, hope in His Mercy, fear from His Torment, supplications to Allah, kindness to parents, good morals and manners to neighbors, relatives and friends, helping the poor and needy, etc… are all different forms of Ibaadah.


Conditions for the Worship to be accepted

Allah says: “Whosoever hopes for the meeting with His Lord, let him work righteousness and associate none as a partner in the worship of His Lord.”[2] Al-Hafidh Ibn Katheer (rahimahullah) said in his Tafseer of this verse: “These are the two pillars of the accepted action. It is necessary that the action is sincerely for Allah and also correct upon the Sharee’ah of Allah’s Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam).


Blind Following

Blindly following anyone in matters that have clear guidance from the Book and the Sunnah is a form of Shirk in the worship to Allah. Narrated Adee Ibn Hatim (radhi allahu anhu) that he heard the Prophet of Allah (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) reciting the verse, “They (Jews and Christians) have taken their rabbis and monks to be as Lords besides Allah and (they also took as their lord) Messiah, son of Maryam (alaihi as-salaam) while they were commanded to worship none but one Ilah. Praise and glory be to Him, (far above is He) from having the partners they associate (with Him).”[3] He (Adee Ibn Hatim) said: ‘We didn’t worship them.’ The Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) said: “Did they not make Haraam what Allah made Halaal and you all made it Haraam, and they made Halaal what Allah made Haraam and you all made it Halaal?” He replied “Certainly.” The Prophet of Allah (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) said: “That is your worship to them.”[4]


Obedience to scholars, Imams and rulers are only acceptable when their orders comply with the Commands of Allah, because the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) said: “Obedience is only in what is good (i.e. within the boundaries laid down by Allah and His Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam)).”[5] And: “He who complies with the command of a master, a leader or a ruler in disobedience and defiance of Allah is an unbeliever and a Mushrik. There shall be no obedience to a creature of Allah when it would involve disobeying or displeasing Allah.”[6] Therefore, “Hearing and obeying is (binding) upon the Muslim in what he likes or dislikes, so long as he is not ordered to sin. If he is ordered with sin, then there is no hearing and no obeying.”[7]


Forms of Worship

Imam Ibn al-Qayyim al-Jawziyyah (rahimahullah) writes in Madaarijus-Saalikeen: “Uboodiyyah (worship) is a comprehensive term that asserts the meaning of the verse, “You alone do we worship and You alone we seek for help.”[8] It comprises the slavery of the heart, tongue, and the limbs to Allah. The slavery of the heart includes both the Qawl (saying of the heart) and the Aamaal (action of the heart). The saying of the heart is the belief in what Allah has informed about His Self, His Names and Attributes, His Actions, His Angels and all that which He revealed in His Books and sent upon the tongue of His Messenger Muhammad (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam).


The action of the heart include love for Allah, reliance upon Him, turning to Him in repentance fearing Him, having hope in Him, devoting the Deen sincerely to Him, having patience in what He orders and forbids, having patience with His decrees and being pleased with them, having allegiance for His pleasure having humility for Him and humbling oneself in front of Him, and becoming tranquil with Him.


The action of the tongue is to convey what Allah has revealed, to call to it, defend it, to expose the false innovations, which oppose it, and to establish its remembrance and to convey what it orders.


The actions of the limbs include Salaat (prayer), Jihad (fighting in the cause of Allah), attending the Jumuah prayers and the rest of the Jamaat (congregational prayers), assisting those who are unable and acting with goodness and kindness to the creation and other such acts….”[9]


Some Major Forms of Worship

Love: Loving Allah is worship of the heart and is the greatest form of worship that is obligatory on every Muslim. Love of Allah is not the love, which one feels towards one’s kindred, but love in Islam is ‘submission and obedience’, as Allah declared: “Say (O Muhammad (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam)): If you love Allah, then follow me (i.e. Prophet Muhammad (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam)), Allah will love you.”[10]

Shirk in the love of Allah is thus the love, which results in full submission and obedience to someone other besides Allah - Love that leads to disobedience to the Commandments of Allah is Shirk. Allah says: “Yet of mankind are some who take others as rivals besides Allah. They love them as they love Allah but those who believe, love Allah more (than anything else).”[11]


Hope (Tawakkul): Tawakkul is greatly associated with worship, as Allah says: “So worship Him (O Muhammad (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam)) and have Tawakkul in Him.”[12]And put your trust in the Living One, Who will never die, and glorify His praises; Sufficient He is, in being aware of the sins of His Ibaad (worshipers).”[13] Therefore to place trust in other than Allah, in matters in which Allah alone can help is Shirk. This applies to all other worships of the heart, like fear, sincerity, etc.


Supplication: Allah says: “And your Lord said: “Invoke Me and I will respond to your (invocation)’ Verily, those who scorn My worship, will enter Hell in humiliation.”[14] While explaining this verse the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) said: “Supplication is worship.”[15] Thus, supplication is worship as Allah mentioned in the verse and as His Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) explained in his Hadeeth.


The Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) once advised Ibn Abbas (radhi allahu anhu) saying: “If you ask, then ask Allah and if you seek help, then seek help from Allah.”[16] He (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) also said in a Saheeh Hadeeth: “Whoever abstains from asking others, Allah will make him content, and whoever tries to make himself self-sufficient, Allah will make him self-sufficient...”[17]


This command prohibits asking from others besides Allah, in matters which none can provide except Allah, like provision, sustenance, aid, cure, guidance, offspring, etc. However, this prohibition of asking others besides Allah does not restrict one from helping his Muslim brethren or asking help from them in matters which they can help. Allah says: “…Help you one another in al-Birr and at-Taqwa (virtue, righteousness and piety)…”[18]

[1] Soorah al-An’aam (6): 162.

[2] Soorah al-Kahf (18): 110.

[3] Soorah at-Tawbah (9): 31.

[4] Tirmidhee, vol. 3, p.56. no. 247.

[5] Saheeh al-Bukharee (Eng. Trans.) v: 9, no: 259, and Saheeh Muslim (Eng. Trans.) v: 3 no: 4535.

[6] Saheeh Muslim, Book of Imarah, p.1469

[7] Saheeh al‑Bukharee (Eng. Trans.) vol: 9, no: 258, and Saheeh Muslim (Eng. Trans.) vol: 3, no: 4533, and Abu Dawood.

[8] Soorah al-Fatihah (1): 5.

[9] See Ibn al Qayyim’s Madaarijus-Saalikeen V.1, p.100 - 105.

[10] Soorah al-Imran (3): 31.

[11] Soorah al-Baqarah (2): 165.

[12] Soorah Hood (11): 123.

[13] Soorah al-Furqaan (25): 85.

[14] Soorah al-Ghaafir (40): 60.

[15] Sunan of Abu-Dawood no: 1474, At-Tirmidhee.

[16] (Hasan) Musnad Ahmad vol. 1, no. 293, at-Tirmidhee no: 2516, and others.

[17] Saheeh al-Bukharee vol. 3, no: 265, and Saheeh Muslim no: 1053, Abu Dawood no: 1644, at-Tirmidhee no: 2025, and others.

[18] Soorah al-Maidah (5): 2.