Tawheed is an Arabic word which is central to the understanding of the oneness of Allah in all three Abrahamic faiths- Islam, Christianity and Judaism. It is derived from the root word ‘Wahid’ which denotatively means one, but connotes a more complex meaning signifying the only One. It is important to understand tawheed because it is so integral to our faith that any deviation from it makes one stray from the straight path of Islam and nullifies our worship and dedication to Allah.
Tawheed means to know Allah as the only God, creator, sustainer and destroyer of all creation. He is the divine, the ever-lasting, the One who exists with no parents, offspring, associate or partner. All lordship, divinity and supremacy belong to Him alone. Allah tells us that He is the unique being, unlike any of His creation and that all divinity belongs to Him alone (the Quran, Chapter 112). For Allah, the only acceptable religion is Islam (the Quran, Chapter 3, Verses 19 & 85).
Many people, including polytheists (who believe in several gods and goddesses) also recognize that there is one God, the creator. However, the difference in their belief is that they ascribe different functions to the lesser gods, such as gods of maintainence, destruction, rain, wind, sun, moon, knowledge, music, war and countless others. As such, divinity and lordship is shared among godly beings, who also mimic human characteristics such as emotion, physical bodies and weaknesses and failings.
The Islamic principle of Tawheed can be categorized into the following:
Tawheed Al- Ruboobbiyyah- (oneness of Lordship) This means Allah owns the oneness of status or lordship. There is none that can share in this status, and He is the sole origin of creation, destruction and mainetence.
Tawheed Al-Ibadaah- (oneness of Worship) This means that Allah alone has the right to be worshipped. Many people who believe in the lordship of Allah as their creator, deviate from this second principle because they worship other than Allah, even if indirectly or unintentionally. For example, many people devote acts of worship and praise to worldly things or to people they believe have access to Allah.
Tawheed Al-Asma Wal-Sifat- (oneness of Names and Attributes) This means that the names and characteristics which Allah has used to describe Himself belong only to Him and we need to recognize that as humans, we are limited in our understanding of his complete perfection. The beautiful names of Allah that He has given us to praise Him with, help us understand Him better. For example, Allah’s 99 names include Ar-Rahman (the Merciful), Ar-Raheem (the Beneficient), Al- Malik (the sovereign ruler), Al-Khaliq (the Creator), Al-Razzaq (the Giver), Al- Alim (the All-knower), Al-Adl (the Just) and several others. These characteristics, in their most perfect and exalted meanings, belong only to Allah. For example, as we believe Allah to be Al-Razzaq, it is impermissible for us to ask anyone or anything else to relieve our needs or to provide us livelihood; likewise, our belief in Allah as being Just, means that He is the perfect form of justice without fault, oversight or partial knowledge.
It is only by applying all three principles of tawheed in our belief and worship, that our faith can be complete.