From the basic tenets of Islam, the most important and primary one is the doctrine of Tawheed (monotheism, i.e. the belief in only one God). Tawheed is the origin and root of all beliefs. Just as a tree survives not because of a branch, but because of its roots, similarly, one cannot become a Muslim without believing in Tawheed. Allah Almighty has clearly declared that those who believe in more than one god are disbelievers:
لَقَدْ كَفَرَ الَّذِیْنَ قَالُوْۤا اِنَّ اللّٰهَ ثَالِثُ ثَلٰثَةٍۘ-وَ مَا مِنْ اِلٰهٍ اِلَّاۤ اِلٰهٌ وَّاحِدٌؕ-وَ اِنْ لَّمْ یَنْتَهُوْا عَمَّا یَقُوْلُوْنَ لَیَمَسَّنَّ الَّذِیْنَ كَفَرُوْا مِنْهُمْ عَذَابٌ اَلِیْمٌ(۷۳)
Indeed are disbelievers those who say, ‘Indeed Allah is the third from amongst the three gods.’ And there is no god except the One God (Allah), and if they do not abstain from what they are saying; so, those amongst them who will die as disbelievers, a painful punishment will definitely reach them.
[Kanz-ul-Iman (translation of Quran)] (Part 6, Surah Al-Maa’idah, Verse 73)
Tawheed is the first means for the acceptance of all of a person’s good deeds and good morals. In the Holy Quran, the deeds of those who deny the doctrine of Tawheed are described as like being ashes which are blown away by the wind leaving no sign or trace behind whatsoever. In this regard, Allah Almighty says:
مَثَلُ الَّذِیْنَ كَفَرُوْا بِرَبِّهِمْ اَعْمَالُهُمْ كَرَ مَادِ ﹰ اشْتَدَّتْ بِهِ الرِّیْحُ فِیْ یَوْمٍ عَاصِفٍؕ-لَا یَقْدِرُوْنَ مِمَّا كَسَبُوْا عَلٰى شَیْءٍؕ-ذٰلِكَ هُوَ الضَّلٰلُ الْبَعِیْدُ(۱۸)
The state of those who disbelieve in their Lord is such that their deeds are like ash, upon which a strong blast of wind came on a stormy day; they got nothing from all that they earned; this is deep misguidance.
[Kanz-ul-Iman (translation of Quran)] (Part 13, Surah Ibraheem, Verse 18)
The importance of Tawheed can also be gauged from the fact that all heavenly religions are based on Tawheed. All the Prophets عَـلَيْـهِمُ الـسَّـلَام were sent to preach this very doctrine of Tawheed, as Allah Almighty says:
وَ مَاۤ اَرْسَلْنَا مِنْ قَبْلِكَ مِنْ رَّسُوْلٍ اِلَّا نُوْحِیْۤ اِلَیْهِ اَنَّهٗ لَاۤ اِلٰهَ اِلَّاۤ اَنَا فَاعْبُدُوْنِ(۲۵)
And We did not send any Messenger before you but We would reveal to him that, ‘There is no god except Me; hence, only worship Me.’
[Kanz-ul-Iman (translation of Quran)] (Part 17, Surah Al-Ambiya, Verse 25)
What is Tawheed?
Tawheed means: to believe that the Being of Allah Almighty is exalted above having partners associated to Him in His Being and Attributes, in other words, not believing in anyone to be God like Allah Almighty is. Knowledge, Hearing, Sight, etc. are the Divine Attributes of Allah Almighty. The one who believes that someone else is a partner in these Divine Attributes is a polytheist. (Maqalat-e-Kaazimi, vol. 3, p. 19, summarised)
Sayyiduna ‘Allamah Ibrahim Ibn Muhammad Baajuri says, ‘Allah Almighty is uniquely One in His Being and Attributes, i.e. there is no-one like Him in His Being and Attributes. Oneness in Being means that He is exalted above being composed of parts. Oneness in Attributes means that each Attribute (such as Knowledge or Power) is exalted above being plural, like the Attribute of Power being two or more, or the Attribute of Knowledge being two or more. In the same way, oneness in Divine Actions means that there is no partner or helper in the Actions of Allah Almighty. (Tuhfa-tul-Mureed, p. 151, summarised)
Difference between Tawheed and Shirk
Here, the following questions may arise in someone's mind, ‘Since Knowledge is an Attribute of Allah Almighty, if somebody else has knowledge, would it constitute Shirk? Hearing and Sight are Attributes of Allah Almighty, so if the attributes of hearing and seeing are affirmed for someone else, will it also constitute Shirk? In the same way, the attribute of Living is an Attribute of Allah Almighty, so if someone else is referred to as living, will the one who says it become a polytheist?
Answer: Everyone believes in Allah’s attribute of Life and all those who have been given the attribute of life by Allah عَزَّوَجَلَّ are indeed alive as well, so we accept the attribute of life for ourselves and we also believe in Allah’s attribute of Life. The reason for this is that the Attribute of Life that we believe in for Allah عَزَّوَجَلَّ is completely different to the life that we affirm for ourselves or for anyone else, because Allah عَزَّوَجَلَّ is the One who gave us life, whereas no one gave Allah عَزَّوَجَلَّ His Attribute of Life; our life is temporary and has been given to us by Him, whilst the Life of Allah عَزَّوَجَلَّ is not temporary, and nor is it given or limited; and the Life of Allah عَزَّوَجَلَّ is everlasting, whereas our life is limited and mortal. Through these distinctions, Shirk is negated. If you apply the same concepts to the rest of the issues (hearing, sight etc.), the matter becomes clear.’
There is only one God
When there cannot be two kings in one city because each one of them would wish for superiority and dominance over the other, as rival kings and rulers always do – then how can this universe, which is like a city, be under the dominion of two gods? Therefore, it is not at all possible for there to be two gods for this universe. There is only one Divine Lord of all the worlds and He is Allah Almighty. This is indicated in the Holy Quran as follows:
مَا اتَّخَذَ اللّٰهُ مِنْ وَّلَدٍ وَّ مَا كَانَ مَعَهٗ مِنْ اِلٰهٍ اِذًا لَّذَهَبَ كُلُّ اِلٰهٍۭ بِمَا خَلَقَ وَ لَعَلَا بَعْضُهُمْ عَلٰى بَعْضٍؕ-سُبْحٰنَ اللّٰهِ عَمَّا یَصِفُوْنَۙ(۹۱)
Allah did not take any child, nor is there any other god with Him; if it was so, each god would have taken away his creation, and each one would certainly seek superiority over the other. Purity is to Allah from those things which they fabricate.
[Kanz-ul-Iman (translation of Quran)] (Part 18, Surah Al-Mu’minoon, Verse 91)
In another place, Allah Almighty said:
وَ قَالَ اللّٰهُ لَا تَتَّخِذُوْۤا اِلٰهَیْنِ اثْنَیْنِۚ-اِنَّمَا هُوَ اِلٰهٌ وَّاحِدٌۚ-فَاِیَّایَ فَارْهَبُوْنِ(۵۱)
And Allah has proclaimed, ‘Do not take two gods. Indeed, He is the only One God; so, fear only Me.’
[Kanz-ul-Iman (translation of Quran)] (Part 14, Surah An-Nahl, Verse 51)
(For detailed information about Shirk, read next month's edition, اِنْ شَــآءَالـلّٰـه!)