From the above, it is clear that the belief in Allah as the only object of worship actually has a number of corresponding corollaries by which one must abide. In particular, there are a number of aspects of life that must be solely “dedicated to” Allah. Without an understanding of this fact, one has failed to grasp the reality of the statement, “There is none worthy of worship except Allah.” A brief explanation of these aspects should make this concept clearer.
First, all ritual acts of worship must be directed solely to Allah alone. Prayers, fasting, pilgrimage, alms and so forth must be done solely with the intent of pleasing Allah and as acts of worship towards Him alone. Thus, for example, if anyone prays to anyone other than Allah, he is actually violating the principles of worshipping no one other than Allah. In fact, the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) stated, “Prayers are the [essence of] worship.” (Abu Dawud)
Second, all ultimate authority in life rests with Allah. In other words, one must submit oneself only to the commands and revelation coming from Allah. He is the Creator and He has the right to lay down legislation and laws for the guidance of humankind. “The dominion [of rule and judgment] is for none but Allah. He has commanded that you worship none but Him, that is the [true] straight religion” (Yusuf 40). Intentionally ignoring or arrogantly superseding the laws from God means that one is not truly submitting to God and, thus, one is not taking Him as the only object of worship and submission. In fact, Allah makes it clear that some of the previous communities erred when it came to this very issue. Allah says, “They (Jews and Christians) took their rabbis and their monks to be their lords besides Allah [by obeying them in things which they made lawful or unlawful according to their own desires without being ordered by Allah], and (they also took as their Lord) Messiah, son of Mary, while they were commanded to worship none but One God. None has the right to be worshipped but He. Praise and glory be to Him, (far above is He) from having the partners they associate (with Him)” (9:31).
Third, one’s loves, loyalties, likes and dislikes must be in accord with what Allah has revealed. This aspect flows from the heart when the heart is truly filled with the belief in, love of and adoration for Allah alone. It is a fairly simple concept but it has far-reaching implications. The completeness of faith requires that Allah is the most beloved thing in one’s heart—He is the beloved of soul. When this fact permeates the human, he begins to love what his beloved loves and dislike what his beloved dislikes. Although this is commonplace with respect to the relations between humans, this phenomenon is more intense and comprehensive when found in the relationship between a human and his Lord. Thus, if Allah is found to love something, the devoted worshipper and servant also loves that thing. Conversely, if Allah is found to detest something—although He has created it and put it in this world as a test for humans and made it available to them—the devoted worshipper and servant will also detest that thing. Of course, the key to all of this is in the revelation from God Himself. If God states that He loves purity, sincerity, goodness and charity, for example, then these are beloved to the Muslim. If God demonstrates or states a dislike for idol worship, adultery, homosexuality, drinking alcohol and so on, then the devoted believer immediately develops and has a dislike for all of these displeasing acts. All of this is part of his believing in Allah as the only object of worship and adoration.
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Although accepting Allah as the only object of worship is the essential aspect of true monotheism, it is a concept that is not always understood in its totality nor applied in its proper manner. This is a real loss for humans because it is this aspect of monotheism that is the key to a “real life”, a life that is sound and proper. Ibn Taymiyyah wrote in his Fatawah,
“You must know that a human’s need for Allah that he worships Him and not associate any partner with Him is a need concerning which there is no comparison that one can make an analogy to. In some matters, it resembles the need of the body for food and drink. However, there are many differences between the two.
“The reality of a human being is in his heart and soul. These cannot be prosperous except through [their relation] with Allah, concerning whom there is no other god. There is [, for example,] no tranquility in this world except in His remembrance. Verily, man is heading toward his Lord and he shall meet Him. He must definitely meet Him. There is no true goodness for him except in meeting Him. If the human experiences any pleasure or happiness other than in Allah, that joy and happiness will not endure. It will move from one nature to another or from one person to another. The person will enjoy it at one time or only some of the time. In fact, sometimes the thing he enjoys and gets pleasure from does not bring him pleasure or enjoyment. Sometimes it even hurts him when it comes to him, and he is even more harmed by that. But his God is definitely always with him under every circumstance and at all times. Wherever he is, He is with him [by His knowledge and aid]…
“If someone worships anything other than Allah even if he loves it and attains some love in this world and some form of pleasure from that [that false worship] will destroy the person in a way greater than the harmful displeasure that comes to a person who took poison…”
Again, it cannot be emphasized enough that the belief in only one Creator and Sustainer of the cosmos is not all there is to a proper belief in God. Throughout history, it has been the case that some people stopped at this clear premise and deemed that such was all there was to the belief in God. Nothing could be further from the reality. That belief is definitely necessary but it is not sufficient. That belief must be followed up with the proper relations, emotions of the heart and acts with respect to Allah. It is by these acts that one truly takes the Creator as his only “God,” meaning his only object of extreme love, adoration and submission. In so doing, he denies that anyone other than Allah deserves to be worshipped in any way. Then, and only then, he will be fulfilling what it truly means to believe in God.
In sum, based on the preceding facts: (1) the human should desire to worship Allah due to His greatness and perfection and the fact that He is the only Creator and Sustainer; (2) Allah alone has these attributes just described and hence He alone deserves to be worshipped; and (3) the human should refrain from worshipping anything other than Allah in any shape or form.
There is one final but important point that needs to be added at the end of these two sections: Since the signs for the true belief in God are so strong (in human nature, in the physical surroundings, in the messages taught by the prophets throughout the ages) it is completely unacceptable rationally and religiously to worship anyone other than God. Hence, such associating of partners with God or refusal to worship God is a sin whose enormity and arrogance is so great that if one dies in such a state, Allah will not forgive that sin. Allah has clearly stated, “Verily, Allah forgives not that partners should be set up with him in worship, but He forgives except that (anything else) to whom He pleases, and whoever sets up partners with Allah in worship, he has indeed invented a tremendous sin” (4:48, see also 4:116).