The Kalimah (word) of Tawheed, La ilaha ill-Allah, came to correct belief – not only that of the ancient polytheists but of all men up until the Day of Judgement. It testifies that there is no divinity except Allah none other than Him and none along with Him. None is similar to Him, none creates and sustains except Him, and none has the right to govern creation but Him. The concept of Tawheed necessarily overflows into all aspects of belief and worship into all aspects of life.
Whether he recognizes it or not, man is totally indebted to his Creator for his continuing existence hour by hour, not to mention such blessings as his many possessions and abilities.
Knowing that Allah alone is the Creator – the Sustainer, the Provider, the Controller, the source of all benefit and harm in whose hands is the Judgment and the final destination of men – requires through common sense and reason that He alone be worshipped.
Although the concept of worship (ibadah) has been gradually reduced in common usage to mean little more than the performance of certain religious rites and rituals, the original and true definition is comprehensive.
It encompasses all actions and intentions motivated by a recognition of greatness – that combination of love and fear, producing efforts to please the Lord Alone and to avoid His displeasure.
An object of worship continually occupies the mind of the worshipper and consequently governs his behavior, both consciously and unconsciously.
When applying the correct definition, it becomes clear that despite lip-service to “La ilaha ill-Allah,” one’s object of worship could well be something other than Allah.
“Have you seen him who takes his own lust (vain desires) as his god, and Allah knowing (him as such), left him astray…?” (Qur’an, 45:23)
Pursuers of falsehood like those who embrace political ideologies might assume that by bowing to Allah in prayer, they worship Him alone. But Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) firmly corrected this misconception.
Once, Adiyy Bin Hatim entered while the Prophet was reciting a verse from the Qur’an: “They took their rabbis and their monks as lords besides Allah and (they also took as their Lord) Messiah, Son of Mary, while they were commanded to worship none but One God…” (Qur’an, 9:31)
Adiyy (a former Christian) said, “O Messenger of Allah, they did not worship them.” The Prophet (peace be upon him) replied, “Did they (the priests) not tell them (the people) that the Haraam was Halaal and that the Halaal was Haraam and (the people) followed them in that?” When Adiyy admitted, “Yes,” the Prophet stated, “That was their worship of them.” (Ahmad and Al-Tirmidhi)
Willful obedience to what is disobedience to Allah is impermissible. Worship in the above Hadith was defined as obedience – a fact that becomes evident from even a superficial study of the Qur’an in which Allah orders repeatedly:
“Obey Allah and the Messenger.” (Qur’an, 3:32; 3:132; 4:59; 8:1; 8:64; 24:54; 47:33; 58:13; and 64:12) Many other verses, although worded differently, carry the same meaning.
“The command (or the judgment) is for none but Allah…” (Qur’an, 12:40)
Two types of shirk were common both before and after the commissioning of the prophethood of Muhammad (peace be upon him). The first of these is the dedication of acts of worship (especially du’a) to others besides Allah while still claiming belief in Him. The Qur’an orders:
“And invoke not any other god along with Allah. There is no god but Him.” (Qur’an, 12:40)
The other type of shirk is the willful adherence to laws and rulings other than those of Allah.
“Have you seen those who claim that they believe in that which has been sent down to you, and that which was sent down before you, and they wish to go for judgment (in their disputes) to the Taghut (false judges, etc.) while they have been ordered to reject them…?” (Qur’an, 4:60)
The absence of Tawheed is sadly evident today in the acceptance of foreign philosophies, political oppression, innovations in religion, and countless forms of disobedience. Allah warns:
“Follow what has been sent down unto you from your Lord. And do not follow any patrons besides Him.” (Qur’an, 7:3)
“And if you obey most of those on earth, they will mislead you far away from Allah’s Path.” (Qur’an, 6:116)
Reform will be accomplished only when the majority of Muslims return to the true worship of Allah and do not tolerate Shirk. The Jihad against tyranny and oppression everywhere on earth will neither be accepted by Allah nor aided by Him until the participants are truly dedicated to His cause and free of all other motivations. Jihad against the self and refinement of the soul should be the first step.
“Indeed, Allah will not change the condition of a people until they change what is in themselves…” (Qur’an, 13:11)
The solution begins with the individual… in the soul.
– An excerpt from Realities of Faith, Abul-Qasim Publishing House