The Importance of Tawheed
Tawheed Al-Asmaa Wa Sifaat
Allah has Names and Attributes. We need to practice Tawheed with them, which consists of Negation and Affirmation.
1) Allah has Names and Attributes which are particular to Him; no one else can be named or attributed with them.
E.g. Names: الرحمن، الصمد، القيوم، الواحد، الأحد
E.g. Attributes: القيومية, الصمدية، الخلق
2) Allah has Names and Attributes which are common between Him and the creation.
In Surah Yusuf Verse 55:
قَالَ اجْعَلْنِي عَلَىٰ خَزَائِنِ الْأَرْضِ ۖ إِنِّي حَفِيظٌ عَلِيمٌ
“[Yusuf (Joseph)] said: “Set me over the storehouses of the land; I will indeed guard them with full knowledge” (as a minister of finance in Egypt, in place of Al-‘Aziz who was dead at that time).”
“حفيظ“ = Guardian
“عليم“ = Knowing
We know that one of the Names of Allah is الحفيظ and another of His Names is العليم.
E.g. In Surah Hud Verse 75:
ثُمَّ بَعَثْنَا مِن بَعْدِهِم مُّوسَىٰ وَهَارُونَ إِلَىٰ فِرْعَوْنَ وَمَلَئِهِ بِآيَاتِنَا فَاسْتَكْبَرُوا وَكَانُوا قَوْمًا مُّجْرِمِينَ
“Verily, Ibrahim (Abraham) was, without doubt, forbearing, used to invoke Allah with humility, and was repentant (to Allah all the time, again and again).”
We know that Allah is الحليم, and Allah calls Ibrahim حليم in this verse.
From this, we know that humans can be named with some of the same names as Allah.
So how do we practice Tawheed in this instance?
By singling Allah out with Perfection in that Attribute.
E.g. You say that someone is عليم, but no one has perfect knowledge except Allah. You say he is generous, but no one can be perfect in their generosity, except Allah. (Negation + Affirmation)
People are deficient in their attributes. They have knowledge, but their knowledge is deficient. Their knowledge is not perfect like Allah’s Knowledge.
We should negate the Perfection of every Name and Attribute of Allah that is mentioned in the Qur’an and Sunnah, from the creation, and affirm it’s perfection to Allah alone.
The Attribute of الملك (Ownership) is a common attribute between Allah and the creation. But, Allah is the True Owner. As a test and trial, He has allowed us to own things – we own money, houses, cars, children, etc. Compare your ownership to the ownership of Allah in order to perfect your Tawheed.
There are many problems associated with our ownership:
1) As soon as Allah allows us to own something, we forget that Allah is the True Owner and believe that we earned what we own. We think that the money we have is because of our own effort and work – not that Allah granted it to us. This is just a trial for us.
In Surah Al-Fatihah, Verse 4:
مَالِكِ يَوْمِ الدِّينِ
“The Only Owner (and the Only Ruling Judge) of the Day of Recompense (i.e. the Day of Resurrection)”
On the Day of Judgement, the ownership of everything will go back to its True Owner – Allah. On that day you will realize that everything you owned did not belong to you; it belonged to Allah.
Qarun thought that he earned his treasure; that it was due to his knowledge and intelligence. He thought that he brought this favour on himself. This is a فتنة.
2) Another problem is that when someone in this world owns something, people call him “the owner”, so he hears that until he believes he really is the owner, and forgets the True Owner.
In reality, Allah is the One who granted it to him, the One who preserved it for him, and the One who makes him benefit from what he owns.
3) When we own something, we think we can keep what we own and preserve it, that it will remain with us forever, and that we can benefit from it whenever we want.
E.g. You think that if you become sick, you can, with your money, go to any good doctor and get cured; forgetting that no one can get benefit from what he owns unless Allah gives him permission to. The hungry person cannot benefit from the food in the refrigerator unless Allah benefits him from that.
E.g. He is intelligent and thinks he can understand whatever he wants, whenever he wants to. He does not know that التفهيم (understanding) is an action of Allah – he will not be able to understand unless Allah allows him to understand.
E.g. A person has many children and thinks he can benefit from his children when he is old. Yet there are people who have many children, and when they are sick in hospital, none come to visit. And there are people who have no children, and when they are sick, Allah subjects strangers to come and help them. We cannot benefit from everything we own.
E.g. Sometimes we buy a gift for someone, and after some time, it ends up going to someone else. Because it is not us who benefits the people, it is Allah who is مدبر الأمور. These little things we go through daily in life tells us that Allah is the one who gives permission to benefit people with what we own.
In Surah Al-Hadid, Verse 2:
لَهُ مُلْكُ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ ۖ يُحْيِي وَيُمِيتُ ۖ وَهُوَ عَلَىٰ كُلِّ شَيْءٍ قَدِيرٌ
“His is the kingdom of the heavens and the earth, It is He Who gives life and causes death; and He is Able to do all things.”
In Verse 5:
لَّهُ مُلْكُ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ ۚ وَإِلَى اللَّهِ تُرْجَعُ الْأُمُورُ
“His is the kingdom of the heavens and the earth. And to Allah return all the matters (for decision).”
Between these two verses, Allah tells us about Himself – His Names and Attributes. What is the wisdom behind the repetition of “له الملك السماوات و الأرض“? The answer is in Verse 7:
آمِنُوا بِاللَّهِ وَرَسُولِهِ وَأَنفِقُوا مِمَّا جَعَلَكُم مُّسْتَخْلَفِينَ فِيهِ ۖ فَالَّذِينَ آمَنُوا مِنكُمْ وَأَنفَقُوا لَهُمْ أَجْرٌ كَبِيرٌ
“Believe in Allah and His Messenger (Muhammad ﷺ), and spend of that whereof He has made you trustees. And such of you as believe and spend (in Allah’s Way), theirs will be a great reward.”
After learning about Allah in the first 6 verses in Surah Al-Hadid, you are told to believe in Him and the Prophet ﷺ, and spend from what He has given you. Because you are a مستخلف – a trustee over this money.
(The meaning of a مستخلف: Imagine that there is a safe full of money, and you have been appointed as a keeper of this safe. You are told to spend from this money. If you do not, then you die, someone else will be put as a trustee over it. It is temporary. It will go to the next person and next person until “و لله ميراث السماوات و الأرض” – it goes back to Allah)
Allah tells you that He is the Owner of the Heavens and Earth. The money you have in your hand belongs to Allah, so why are you not spending from it? You are just a مستخلف. If you knew this, you would spend and you would not be afraid of this money finishing.
These verses clearly tells us that we do not own what we have. We are granted it temporarily as a test. In Verse 10:
وَمَا لَكُمْ أَلَّا تُنفِقُوا فِي سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ وَلِلَّهِ مِيرَاثُ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ
“And what is the matter with you that you spend not in the Cause of Allah? And to Allah belongs the heritage of the heavens and the earth….”
In the end Allah will inherit what is in your hand and the hands of the people. So these verses teach us to spend in the cause of Allah, because we are going to leave it behind us soon. Our real name with regards to what we own is مستخلفين. T
he True مالك is Allah.
The Monotheist (الموحَّد) knows:
1) الملك ملك الله – The Kingdom is the Kingdom of Allah
2) We should not be proud of what we own, nor show ingratitude, nor be covetous (طمع) towards what is in the hand of the people.
3) Sometimes you have money but do not spend, other times you want to buy something and you do not have money, or you buy something for someone and it goes to someone else, or you buy something for yourself and you do not benefit from it. This shows us that only Allah can benefit us from what we own.
The Prophet ﷺ said to Ibn Abbas رضي الله عنه:
“وَاعْلَمْ أَنَّ الأُمَّةَ لَوِ اجْتَمَعَتْ عَلَى أَنْ يَنْفَعُوكَ بِشَيْءٍ لَمْ يَنْفَعُوكَ إِلاَّ بِشَيْءٍ قَدْ كَتَبَهُ اللَّهُ لَكَ”
“…Know that if the entire creation were to gather together to do something to benefit you- you would never get any benefit except that which Allah had written for you….” [At-Tirmithi]
No one can benefit anyone else unless Allah gives them permission to benefit each other. Our problem is in Tawheed – and specifically the negating part of Tawheed. We do not negate perfect attributes from everyone else and affirm it to Allah, especially when we are dealing with people who are in front of us.
E.g. You see someone who is knowledgeable. You tell yourself:
– Although she is knowledgeable, Allah has Perfect Knowledge. Her knowledge in comparison to Allah is deficient.
– No one granted her knowledge except Allah.
This is to protect your heart from getting attached to people. Our problem in this world is our attachment. As soon as someone says a good word to us or helps us, our heart is with them. We need to practice Tawheed. No one made this person kind to you except Allah. No one taught us except Allah. Allah is the True Provider. He is المنّان.
This is a Jihad (Struggle) within ourselves, in order to prevent our hearts from getting attached to people.
When we grow older we know the reality of people. But the youth, as soon as someone does something good to them, they see them as perfect. However, the problem with us is that although we know the reality of people, we start to think that there is no one there to help us – so we want to guarantee a future for ourselves. We want to build a house and secure a permanent income for ourselves because maybe our children will throw us out in the street.
This is considered bad thinking about Allah. Allah gave you shelter in the beginning of your life, how can you think that He will forsake you when you are old. If you devote yourself to Allah, Allah will never let you down. He will subject something or someone to help you. You do not know how, but be sure that Allah will never let down His believing slaves.
Even if you collect money, how do you know you will live long enough to enjoy your money? How do you know you will benefit of that money? Only when Allah, the True Owner, gives permission, will you benefit from this money. We should remove our trust from everyone and direct it to Allah alone.
Generally, whenever you see any good quality in a person say: Allah is the One who gave it to them and no one else. They were poor and Allah enriched them, and no one else. You do not need to say this with your tongue, just your heart.
This is not an easy battle. When you see that your children are well mannered, do not attribute it to yourself. Allah is the One who granted you children, took care of them, and He is the One who benefits you with them.
Those who commit Major Shirk committed it because they first attributed perfection to the deities they worship. Perfection only belongs to Allah and no one else.
Allah sent the Messenger ﷺ to be our leader. The companions followed him. The followers followed the companions. And so on. So should we worship the Prophet ﷺ or follow him? But the Sufis saw the Prophet ﷺ as a perfect human and did not negate perfection from him.
In Surah Al-A’raf, Verse 188:
قُل لَّا أَمْلِكُ لِنَفْسِي نَفْعًا وَلَا ضَرًّا إِلَّا مَا شَاءَ اللَّهُ ۚ وَلَوْ كُنتُ أَعْلَمُ الْغَيْبَ لَاسْتَكْثَرْتُ مِنَ الْخَيْرِ وَمَا مَسَّنِيَ السُّوءُ ۚ إِنْ أَنَا إِلَّا نَذِيرٌ وَبَشِيرٌ لِّقَوْمٍ يُؤْمِنُونَ
“Say (O Muhammad ﷺ): “I possess no power of benefit or hurt to myself except as Allah wills. If I had the knowledge of the Ghaib (unseen), I should have secured for myself an abundance of wealth, and no evil should have touched me. I am but a warner, and a bringer of glad tidings unto people who believe.”
If the Prophet ﷺ could benefit anyone, he would have benefited his uncle Abu Talib by converting him to Islam.
But he does not even own intercession. He will not even be able to intercede for people on the Day of Judgement except after Allah gives him permission.
The Prophet ﷺ said:
“I am your predecessor at the Lake-Fount (Kauthar) and some men amongst you will be brought to me, and when I will try to hand them some water, they will be pulled away from me by force whereupon I will say, ‘O Lord, my companions!’ Then the Almighty will say, ‘You do not know what they did after you left, they introduced new things into the religion after you.'” [Bukhari #7049]
Also, the Prophet ﷺ has no knowledge of what is occurring after his death. And he cannot even hear those who invoke him; in Surah Fatir, Verse 22:
وَمَا يَسْتَوِي الْأَحْيَاءُ وَلَا الْأَمْوَاتُ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّهَ يُسْمِعُ مَن يَشَاءُ ۖ وَمَا أَنتَ بِمُسْمِعٍ مَّن فِي الْقُبُورِ
“Nor are (alike) the living (believers) and the dead (disbelievers). Verily, Allah makes whom He will hear, but you cannot make hear those who are in graves.”