Taking a Deeper Look at Islamic Monotheism
Monotheism in Islam: In all circumstances and at all times throughout your life, you’ll find that you mention the words of monotheism more than any other. Even if we exclude prayers and reading of the Qur’an, you will notice that in your most joyful moments, you say: “There is no God but Allah.”
When you weep about someone or something, you say: “There is no god but Allah.”
Also when you hear good news and cannot find appropriate words to thank Allah, you say: “There is no god but Allah.”
When you are sad and fear your patience is wearing thin, you say: “There is no god but Allah.”
Perhaps all of us have experienced these moments, but we didn’t notice them. We did not stop to reflect on the meaning of “Tawheed.” Perhaps those of us that are not scholars are simply uninterested in explaining its significance. As long as we believe and say, “There is no god but Allah,” we do not feel the need to pay special attention to the words of monotheism.
Reflecting on Monotheism in Islam
When we fail to reflect on monotheism, we miss the overwhelming feelings attached to understanding the original meaning of monotheism. The words, “There is no God but Allah,” is enough to admit us to paradise eventually.
The Messenger (peace be upon him) said:
“Whosoever testifies that there is no true god except Allah and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah, Allah (SWT) saves him from the Fire (of Hell).” (Riyad as-Salihin 412)
Scholars are of the view that this virtue is not achieved by mere speech but by the heart’s awareness of it and the sincerity of the tongue in it. So, it is necessary to explain the definition of “Tawheed” briefly.
What Does Monotheism Mean Linguistically?
Monotheism is derived from the Greek word “mono” and “theos.” Mono means “one, single, alone.” And ‘theism’ is “the belief in God.” Therefore, it means belief in only one God.
Monotheism in the Shariah means “the singling out God” – with what is specific to Him of lordship, divinity, names, and attributes. We acknowledge and affirm that He is our Lord and our God, the Possessor of the Most Beautiful Names and Lofty Attributes. The meaning of Allah’s (subhanahu wa tala) monotheism is clear to us in Surat Al-Ikhlaas (Qur’an 112):
- Say, “He is God, the One.
- God, the Absolute.
- He begets not, nor was He begotten.
- And there is nothing comparable to Him.”
The division of monotheism is three; without them combined, monotheism is not complete.
Three Areas of Monotheism in Islam
1- Monotheism of Lordship (Tawheed ar-Rububiyyah)
Monotheism of lordship is to single out God Almighty with His Actions, Command, Creation, and Kingship. You acknowledge that God is the Owner of everything. The Creator of everything. The Everlasting and the Supporter of the whole universe. When you look around, you know with certainty that God is the Creator of all things and the Lord of the Worlds. If the question, “In whose hand is the kingdom of all things,” is asked, your response would be, “Certainty within yourself, Ya Allah.”
Quran says about the disbeliever, “And if you ask them who created them, they will say, “God.” (43:87)
The strange thing here is that their answer will be the same as ours. This is why Tawheed (monotheism) is comprised of three parts to differentiate between the two. This is also why it is necessary to reflect on monotheism.
2- Oneness of Worship (Tawheed al-Uluhiyyah):
Oneness of Worship means acknowledging the source of all things around as it has One King, One Creator, and One Lord, i.e., Who is God.
It is not simply to say that “God is God.” Instead, it is to say, “there is no god but God.” In this belief and understanding, you worship Him alone. In this, you reached the unification of divinity. Unlike those who acknowledged that God is the Creator of everything, they know the monotheism of God. However, because they take gods besides Him, they have not reached the unification of divinity. In other words, they have not singled out God for His divinity.
”And your God is one God; there is no god but He, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.” (Qur’an 2:163)
3- Monotheism of Names and Attributes (tawhid al-asma’ wal-sifat):
If you know Allah is the Creator of everything, then you believe in Him as a God who has no partners. Therefore, the monotheism of names and attributes means you know Him by His Names that He singled out for Himself.
“And to Allah belong the Most Beautiful Names, so call upon Him by them.” (Qur’an 7:180)
These are the attributes He made known to us and His Self-Purification of all things. The Almighty says in His Book:
“He is Allah, other than whom there is no deity, the Sovereign, the Pure, the Perfection, the Grantor of Security, the Overseer, the Exalted in Might, the Compeller, the Superior. Exalted is Allah above whatever they associate with Him.” (Qur’an 59:23)
Through reflecting on monotheism, you’ll see that this verse explains it beautifully. Through this verse you can grasp the essence of the Oneness of Allah.
Acknowledging the Oneness of Allah in Our Hearts
“There is no god but Allah” is more than mere words. It is more than an automatic phrase we repeat and utter with our tongues. Though it is good to do, it is better when we realize with our hearts what are saying.
We must have this in our hearts to truly reach a place of pure belief and acknowledgment. Groups of people believed in monotheism’s first division but ignored the rest, thus disbelieved. Another group of people believed in two divisions of monotheism and left the latter, so they innovated. Then they are those Muslims that believe in all three divisions of monotheism. Their heart acknowledges that Allah is the sole divine deity and does not share His divinity with other partners. Therefore, they have truly understood the meaning of the hadith, “Whosoever testifies that there is no true god except Allah and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah, Allah (subhanahu wa tala) saves him from the Fire (of Hell).” (Riyad as-Salihin 412)
This article only covered a very general understanding of monotheism. Unfortunately, despite being Muslim, many of us are unaware and ignorant of this knowledge.
IQRA is a platform dedicated to helping everyone access authentic Islamic knowledge taught by qualified teachers. We have created a course that will help explain Islamic monotheism in further detail. It is an excellent option for families to sit together to learn and reflect on what it is to be Muslim.