Tawḥīd al-‘Ulūhiyyah as the Core of All Divine Missions

There is no doubt that believing in Allah as the only God who is worthy of worship is the greatest of all principles. It is also the most perfect, most superior, and most imperative for humanity’s welfare. Both humanity and jinn, as well as the rest of creation, have been created with justice, and the divine laws have been ordained for the purpose of fulfilling the obligation of this tawḥīd. With tawḥīd al-‘ulūhiyyah righteousness prevails, and without it evil and perversion will be the order of the day. Hence, it has been the essence of the mission of Allah’s Messengers, the objective of their message, and the foundation of their call. Allah says,

“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)

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The Qur’an has in so many places indicated that tawḥīd al-‘ulūhiyyah was the corner stone of every divine mission, and that every Messenger sent by Him began his mission by calling his people to the belief of Allah’s oneness and to worship none but Him. Allah says,

“To ʿĀd was sent their brother Hūd, who said, ‘My people, worship Allah; you have no deity other than Him. Then will you not fear Him?’” (Q, 7:65)

“To Thamūd was sent their brother Ṣāliḥ, who said, ‘My people, worship Allah; you have no deity other than Him.’” (Q, 7:73

“To Madyan was sent their brother Shuʿayb, who said, ‘My people, worship Allah; you have no deity other than Him.’” (Q, 7:85)

Tawḥīd al-‘Ulūhiyyah was the Disagreement Between Allah’s Messengers and Their People

It has been mentioned previously that tawḥīd al-‘ulūhiyyah has been the starting point of all divine missions. There was never a Messenger that was sent by Allah who did not begin his mission with an invitation to the belief in Allah’s tawḥīd. The dispute between the Messengers and their respective people were, therefore, centered around this aspect of faith. The Prophets asked them to believe in only Allah and to worship none but Him, while they, on their part, insisted on shirk and idolatry, except for those who Allah had shown the right way. Regarding this, Allah said to regarding the people of Nūh,

“They said, ‘Never leave your gods; never leave Wadd, Suwāʿ, Yaghūth, Yaʿūq, and Nasr.’ They have misled many. [My Lord], do not increase the wrongdoers except in error.” (Q, 71:23-4)

Allah also says concerning the people of Hūd,

“They said, ‘Have you come to delude us away from our gods? Then bring us what you promise us, if you should be of the truthful.’” (Q, 46:22)

“They said, ‘Hūd, you have not brought us clear evidence, and we are not ones to leave our gods on your say-so, nor are we believers in you.’” (Q, 11:53)

Allah says concerning the people of Ṣāliḥ,

“They said, ‘Ṣāliḥ, you were among us a man of promise before this. Do you forbid us to worship what our fathers worshipped? And indeed, we are, about that to which you invite us, in disquieting doubt.’” (Q, 11:62)

Allah says concerning the people of Shu‘ayb,

“They said, ‘Shuʿayb, does your prayer command you that we should leave what our fathers worship or not do with our wealth what we please? Indeed, you are the forbearing, the discerning!’” (Q, 11:87)

Allah says concerning the unbelievers from amongst the tribe of Quraysh,

“They wonder that there has come to them a warner from among themselves. The disbelievers say, ‘This is a magician and a liar; has he made the gods into one God? Indeed, this is a curious thing.’ The leaders among them went forth, [saying], ‘Continue, and be patient over [the defense of] your gods. Indeed, this is a thing intended. We have not heard of this in the latest religion. This is not but a fabrication.’” (Q, 38:4-7)

“When they see you, they take you not except in ridicule, [saying], ‘Is this the one whom Allah has sent as a messenger? He would have misled us from our gods had we not been steadfast in [worship of] them.’ But they are going to know, when they see the punishment, who is farthest astray in [his] way. Have you seen the one who takes as his god his own desire? Then would you be responsible for him? Or do you think that most of them hear or reason? They are not except like livestock. Rather, they are [even] more astray in [their] way.” (Q, 25:41-4)

The aforementioned tests and other similar ones are clear indications that the belief in one divine God and invitation to an unadulterated religion has been the main subject of disagreement between the Messengers of Allah and the people of their time. The Prophet said, as narrated in an authentic ḥadīth,

“I have been order to fight against the people until they testify that none has the right to be worshipped except Allah and that Muhammad is Allah’s Messenger, perform the ṣalāh, and give the zakāh. If they do, then their lives and properties are safe, except for an Islamic injunction and their reckoning is with Allah.”[1]

Another authentic ḥadīth relates that the Prophet said,

“Whoever proclaims, ‘None has the right to be worshipped except Allah,’ and disbelieves in all other objects of worship besides Allah, then his life and property are protected, and with Allah will be his reckoning.”[2]

[1] Bukhārī no. 25 and Muslim no. 22.

[2] Muslim no. 23.

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