The foundations of Iman are the basis of our religion. When you are constructing a building, the building can only be as strong as the foundation. You cannot see the foundation of the building because it
lies underneath the ground, away from the human eye. However, you can see the building on top of the ground, and continue adding on top of that building as long as the foundation will support it. If
the foundation has any weakness in it, you can be sure that the building is going to collapse.
Similarly, our Islamic Aqeedah, or foundational Islamic beliefs, is equivalent to the foundations of a building. You cannot see our beliefs, because they lie hidden within our heart, where no other human can see. The building is equivalent to the acts which make up our religion of Islam. We build upon our Iman through acting out our religion of Islam. Everything that we do as a Muslim is a result of our beliefs. Our acts will be good as long as the beliefs are sound, and the acts will be destroyed when the inner belief becomes weak.
Our Aqueedah is made up of six essential parts. In order for our faith to complete, we must believe in:
3. Messengers and Prophets
4. The Holy Books
6. Al Qadaa Wal Qadar
The most basic belief in Islam is that Allah (SWT) is one. Although it is easy to say that and to think that we believe this concept, the real meaning of the Oneness of Allah (SWT) is very deep, and must be understood and accepted in its entirety. There are three parts of Tawheed, which describe to us how to understand the Oneness of Allah (SWT).
A. Tawheed ar Rububeeyah
B. Tawheed al Asmaa was Sifaat
C. Tawheed al Uluheeyah
As Muslims we profess our faith by saying “La ilaaha illah Allah”. This is a clear declaration which means “There is no God but Allah (SWT)”. The first part of this declaration abolishes the possibility that we could take any other entity as partners with Allah (SWT). The most unforgivable sin in sight of God is Shirk. Shirk is associating partners with Allah (SWT). Ilaah means God, which is “that which we submit to”. There is nothing and no one that we can submit to except Allah (SWT).
What does this mean for our lives? The way that we show our submission to Allah (SWT) is through the acts of worship which we are required to do in Islam. Take for example the obligatory prayers. When it is time to pray, if we really believe in “La ilaha Illah Allah”, then we will submit to the command of Allah (SWT) by preferring to pray properly over any other worldly act, be it work, play, or rest. The choice to pray on time will be very easy for us, because we know that it is Allah (SWT) who has given us everything that we have, and also has the power to take it away from us if He wills.
When one understands and believes that it is Allah (SWT) who has the power, and not other human beings, then that person will not commit shirk. However, if the person believes that he or she must compromise their prayers, by missing or delaying them because it will displease their boss to be away from the job, then that person is submitting to their desires, or choosing to create partners with Allah (SWT).
Tawheed ar Rububeeyah
One of the three aspects of Tawheed is Tawheed ar Rububeeyah. This aspect of Tawheed teaches us that Allah (SWT) alone caused all things to exist, and he also sustains and maintains the creation without any need from it. He is the only Lord of the universe without a challenger to His Power. Nothing happens except what He allows to happen.
There are numerous verses in the Holy Quran which enforce this belief. “Allah created all things and He is the agent on which all things depend.” (Surah Az Zumar 39:62)
“And Allah created you all and whatever you do.” (Surah As-Saaffaat 37:96)
Also, the Prophet Mohammad (SAW) discusses the concept of Tawheed ar Rububeeyah in the following hadith:
“Be aware that if the whole of mankind gathered together in order to do something to help you, they would only be able to do something for you which Allah had already written for you. Likewise, if the whole of mankind gathered together to harm you, they would only be able to do something to harm you which Allah had already written to happen to you.”
(Reported by Ibn ‘Abbas and collected by Tirmidhee)
Tawheed Al Asmaa was Sifaat
The second category of Tawheed is Tawheed Al Asmaa was Sifaat. This means to describe Allah according to the names and attributes which He has described himself with in the Qur’aan or by
those used by the Prophet Muhammad (SAW). Allah’s names are called Asmaa al Husnaa, meaning The Most Beautiful Names. Allah (SWT) says in the Quran:
“Allah, there is no God but He. To Him belong the Most Beautiful names.” This category of Tawheed has five aspects.
1. Allah must be referred to according to how He and His Prophet (SAW) have ascribed him.
2. Allah (SWT) must be referred to only how He has referred to Himself without giving Him any new attributes.
3. Allah (SWT) must be referred to without giving Him the attributes of His creation.
4. Man cannot be given the attributes of Allah (SWT).
5. Allah (SWT)’s names cannot be given to His creation unless preceded by the prefix ‘Abd’ meaning “slave of”.
In summary, in order to fulfill belief in Tawheed Al Asmaa was Sifaat, one must believe in Allah’s names and attributes as they are found in the Quran and Sunnah without addition, denial, or distortion. One must not attribute any human-like characteristics to Allah (SWT).
Tawheed al Uluheeyah
The final category of Tawheed is Tawheed al Uluheeyah. This is the aspect of Tawheed states that only Allah (SWT) has the right to be worshipped. Sometimes this aspect of Tawheed is referred to as
Tawheed al Ibaadah. In order to understand this aspect of Tawheed, we must first understand the definition of worship.
Firstly, worshipping Allah (SWT) means we must submit to Allah only, and not share that submission with anyone or anything else. In Surah Fatiha, we state over seventeen times daily in our obligatory Salah, “Iyya ka na’budu wa Iyya ka nasta’een”. This means “You alone we worship, and from you alone we seek help”.
We must also love Allah more than anyone or anything else. In Surah Al Baqarah, ayah 165, Allah (SWT) states, “And yet there are people who choose other than God to love them as only God should be loved: whereas the believers love God more than anything else.”
Humans are created to naturally love and be attached to people around them, their education, their jobs, their homes, and their societies. This love is lawful only as long as it stays within a boundary where we still love Allah (SWT) more than all of those things. As soon as we love those things more than Allah (SWT), and we start submitting to our love for those things over and above submitting to Allah, then we are associating partners with Allah.
There are many cases where this is considered shirk. Shirk is a major sin and cannot be taken lightly.
Let’s revisit the example about prayer. We may be at our job, and know that our supervisor wants us to be productive. At prayer time, if we choose to prefer pleasing our boss and working through the Salah time over pleasing Allah, then we have submitted to other than Allah (SWT).
Furthermore, we must only make duaa to Allah (SWT). We should put our deepest hopes and fullest trust in Allah (SWT). Supplicating is a form of Ibaadah. Allah (SWT) says in the Holy Quran:
“And invoke not besides Allah, any that will neither profit you, nor hurt you, but if in case you did so, you will certainly be one of the evildoers.”
(Surah Al Anfal, 10:106)
“And put your trust in Allah (SWT) if you are believers indeed.” (Surah Al Ma idah, 5:23)
Our Prophet Muhammad (SAW) stated in a hadith narrated by Anas: “You will not properly believe until I become dearer to everyone of you than his or her children, parents and all other people.”
(Reported by Imams Al Bukhari and Muslim)
Finally, we must only fear Allah (SWT). If one fears anything besides Allah (SWT), thinking that this other thing has any power in and of itself, this is clear shirk. In the Holy Quran, Allah (SWT) asks us,
“Do you fear the enemies? Nay it is God alone whom you ought to fear, if you are truly believers!”
(Surah At-Tawbah 9:13)
“And if Allah should touch you with harm, then there is none to remove it but He; and if He intends good to you, there is none to reverse His grace; He brings it to whom He pleases of His servants, and He is the forgiving, the Merciful.”
(Surah Al Anfal 10:107)