Chapter 3: Tawḥīd al-Ulūhiyyah (Oneness of Divinity)

The word ‘ulūhiyyah is a derivative of the word ilāh, which means god or deity. Al-Ilāh is therefore one of the most beautiful names of Allah, while al-ulūhiyyah (divinity) constitutes a great attribute of His. Accordingly, Allah is the only true God whom every soul must worship, submit to, humble itself before, and comply fully with His injunctions, for He is the Great Lord who created the universe, and has its absolute control. He embodies every quality of perfection, and is free from any defect. People should not submit or humble themselves before any other being save Allah, who, alone has create and originated all that exists, and has the exclusive power to reproduce them; hence, none but Him alone should be worshipped.

Tawḥīd al-‘Ulūhiyyah is to worship none but Allah, meaning that one should know for sure that Allah alone and not any other being is worthy of worship. Moreover, the qualities and features of a divine nature are exclusively His, and none but He alone merits them.

Anyone who know this and believes in it would make Allah his only object of worship and serve Him with all forms of worship, that which is seen and that which is not seen, alike. Thus, you find this person performing outward acts, such as ṣalāh, zakāh, fasting, and ḥajj. He would also be encouraging others to so what is right and forbid them from what is wrong, being dutiful towards the parents, and being kind to the relatives. Similarly, such a person would not neglect the inward prinicples of the religion, which are belief in Allah, in His angels, His Books, His Messengers, the Last Day, and in preordainment, whether it is favorable or unfavorable. His objective in doing all that will be nothing save to satisfy his Lord and to gain His reward.

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Proofs and Importance of Tawḥid al-‘Ulūhiyyah

The proofs which indicate the obligation to believe in Allah as the only God who is worthy of worship are ample and numerous. They have also been expressed in a variety of ways, such as the following:

  • A command may come in this regard, as expressed in the following verses:

“People, worship your Lord, who created you and those before you, that you may become righteous.” (Q, 2:21)

“Worship Allah and associate nothing with Him.” (Q, 4:36)

“Your Lord has decreed that you worship none except Him.” (Q, 17:23

  • Sometimes the body of a Qur’anic text will illustrate this type of tawḥīd as the basis of creation and the purpose of bringing humanity and jinn into existence. Allah says,

“I created not the jinn and humans except that they worship Me.” (Q, 51:56)

  • At times this aspect of tawḥīd is explained to be the motive for the coming of Allah’s Messengers. The Qur’anic verses in this respect include:

“We sent a messenger to every community, saying, ‘Worship Allah and shun false gods.’” (Q, 16:36)

“We did not send before you any Messenger but We revealed to him, ‘There is no god but I, so worship Me.” (Q, 21:25)

  • At other times, this form of tawḥīd is described as the purpose of Allah’s revelations. Allah says,

“He sends down the angels, with the inspiration of His command, upon whom He wills of His servants, [saying], ‘Warn that there is no deity except I, so fear Me.’” (Q, 16:2)

  • At times, this may take the form of an explanation of tremendous gains, ample rewards, and generous blessings that Allah has in this life and the hereafter for those who believe in this aspect of tawḥīd. Thus, the Qur’an states,

“They who believe and do not mix their belief with injustice; those will have security, and they are guided.” (Q, 6:82)

  • Another way this is usually explained is to warn against its opposite. This may also involve mentioning the risk involved in doing the opposite, as well as what Allah has kept in reserve as punishment for those who ignore this tawḥīd. Allah says,

“Indeed, he who associates others with Allah, then Allah has forbidden Paradise for him, and his refuge is the Fire. And there are no helpers for the wrongdoers.” (Q, 5:72)

“Do not set up any other god along with Allah, lest you be thrown into Hell, reproached and rejected.” (Q, 17:39)

This and many other types of proofs affirm the belief in the oneness of Allah. They similarly contain an invitation to it, as well as reference to its virtue, reward, and the severity of the punishment, which acting in contrast to it may entail.

There are still in the Prophetic tradition many other proofs with respect to this tawḥīd al-‘ulūhiyyah and its importance. They include

  • Mu‘ādh b. Jabal narrated,

The Prophet said, “Mu‘ādh, do you know the right of Allah over His servant?” Mu‘ādh replied, “Allah and His Messenger know best?” The Prophet said, “To worship Hi alone, associating none as partners with Him.” He then asked, “Mu‘ādh, do you know what is the due from Him?” Mu‘ādh replied, “Allah and His Messenger know best.” The Prophet said, “To not punish him [if he worships Him alone].”[1]

  • Ibn ‘Abbās narrated that the Prophet sent Mu‘ādh to Yemen and said to him,

“You are going to a people of the Book, so the first thing to which you should invite them is to is the tawḥīd of Allah. If the learn this, then inform them that Allah has enjoined on them five daily prayers.”[2]

  • Another ḥadīth related by ibn Mas‘ūd states that the Prophet said,

“Whoever dies will invoking other than Allah as a rival to Him, then such a person will be admitted into the Hellfire.”[3]

  • Jābir b. ‘Abdullāh narrated that Allah’s Messenger said,

“Whoever meets Allah without having associated any partner with Him will be admitted into Paradise. Whoever meets Him while having associated any partner with Him will enter the Hellfire.”[4]

The ḥadīths pertaining to this matter are numerous.

[1] Bukhārī no. 7373.

[2] Bukhārī no. 7372.

[3] Bukhārī no. 4497.

[4] Muslim no. 93.

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