Explanation of the Kalimah (Word) of Tawheed
Sheikh Muhammad Ibn Abdul Wahhaab (may Allah have mercy upon him)
All praise is due to Allah, may His praise and blessings be upon His Prophet.
Sheikh Muhammad (may Allah have mercy upon him) was asked about the meaning of “Laa ilaaha ill Allah,” so he answered by saying:
Know, may Allah have mercy upon you, that this statement is the distinction between Kufr (disbelieve) and Islam. It is the statement of taqwaa and the firmest handhold, as was made by Ibraaheem (alaihis salaam):
“And he made it [i.e. Laa ilaaha ill-Allah] a Word lasting among his offspring, that they may turn back (i.e. to repent to Allah or receive admonition).” [Suratu Zukhruf (43) ayah 28]
However, what is intended here is not just speech upon the tongue while being ignorant about its meaning. For verily the hypocrites say “Laa ilaaha illa Allah”, pray and give charity but they will be below the disbelievers in the lowest part of the Hell-Fire. Rather, what is intended is to say the statement while having recognition of it in the heart, loving it and its people and having hatred and enmity to whatever or whoever opposes it, as the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) said:
‘Whoever says Laa ilaaha ill Allah sincerely…” in another narration: “sincerely from his heart…, in another narration: ‘Truthfully from his heart. . .”, and in another hadeeth: “Whoever says Laa ilaaha illa Allah and disbelieves in all that is worshipped besides Allah…”, as well as many other ahadeeth which indicate that most people are ignorant of this testimony.
So know that this statement contains a negation and an affirmation. Negation of worship to other than Allah from the creation, even to Muhammad (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) and Jibreel and moreso others from the awliyaa and the righteous people. So when you have understood this, then contemplate the Uluhiyyah (servitude), which Allah has affirmed for Himself and negated for Muhammad (sallallahu aliahi wasallam) and Jibreel, to such an extent that they do not even have an atom’s weight of share in it.
Know that this Uluhiyyah is what the common people of our time have termed the ‘secret’ and ‘wilaayah’ (allegiance). The meaning of ‘ilaah’ (according to them) is the ‘wali’, who possess the secret (of the unseen) and he is the one they call al-faqeer, Shaikh and Sayyid etc. This is because they think that Allah is pleased with giving some of His creation a status whereby a person resorts to them with hope, seeking aid from them and making them intermediaries between himself and Allah. So the Mushrikeen (Idol Worshippers) in our time claim that these saints are their intermediaries, and they call them ‘al-awaloon a1-aalihah’ (the foremost deities) because according to them an intermediary is an ‘ilaah’ (deity).
However, when a person says Laa ilaaha ill Allah, then this negates their intermediaries and in order to have a complete understanding of this, you must know the following two issues:
The ﬁrst: that you know that those Kuffaar whom the Messenger of Allah (salAllahu aliahi wasallam) fought, killed, captured their wealth and permitted taking of their wives, used to afﬁrm tawheed-ar-Rububiyyah for Allah, which is that none creates, sustains, gives life, brings about death and manages the affairs except Allah alone, as He, the Most High says:
“Say: ‘Who provides for you from the sky and from the earth? Or who owns hearing and sight? And who brings out the living from the dead and brings out the dead from the living? And who disposes the affairs?” They will say: ‘Allah.” Say: ‘Will you not then be afraid of Allah’s Punishment (for setting up rivals in worship with Allah)?”’ [Suratu Yunus (10) ayah 31]
This is a great and important principle, since the Kuffaar used to affirm and accept all of the above but despite that, it did not cause their blood or wealth to be unlawful. They also gave charity and abandoned the prohibited acts due to fear of Allah (the One free from all imperfections, the Most High), but:
The second issue is: that which caused them to be disbelievers and caused their blood and wealth to be permissible was the fact that they did not affirm tawheed-al-uluhiyyah for Allah, which is to supplicate and hope in Allah alone without any partners; and not to seek help, sacrifice and vow to anyone other than him, neither an angel brought near nor a prophet sent, for whoever does that has disbelieved.
The completion of this is to know that the Mushrikeen (Idol Worshippers) whom the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) fought used to call upon the righteous like the angels, Eesaa (Jesus) alayhi salaam, Uzair (Ezra) and other awliyaa and this was the reason for their disbelief, despite their affirmation of the fact that Allah is the Creator, Sustainer and Disposer of all the affairs.
When you know this, then you will understand the meaning of Laa ilaaha ill Allah and you will understand that the one who calls upon a prophet or an angel or places his trust in them or seeks help from them, has left the fold of Islam. This is the Kufr for which the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) fought the Kuffaar. So if one of the Mushrikeen (Idol Worshippers) were to say: “We know that Allah is the Creator, Sustainer and Disposer, however these righteous people (e.g Jesus, Muhammad, Niyas, Ogun, Sango etc) may be close to Allah, so we supplicate, vow, seek help and approach them, because we need them for influence and intercession. Otherwise we understand that Allah is the Creator and Disposer.”
Then say to them: “This saying of yours is the madhab (way or path) of Abu-Jahl and his likes, since they used to call upon Eesaa (Jesus) alaihis salaam, Uzair, the angels and the awliyaa while intending the same thing. As He, the Most High, said:
“Surely, the religion is for Allah only. And those who take awliyaa (protectors and helpers) besides Him say: ‘We worship them only that they may bring us near to Allah.” Verily, Allah will judge between them concerning that wherein they differ. Truly, Allah guides not him who is a liar, and a disbeliever.” [Suratu Zumar (39) ayah 3]
“And they worship besides Allah things that hurt them not, nor profit them, and they say: ‘These are our intercessors with Allah.”Say: ‘Do you inform Allah of that which He knows not in the heavens and on the earth?”Glorified and Exalted be He above all that which they associate as partners with Him!” [Suratu Yunus (10) ayah 18]
So when you fully contemplate this and you recognize that the Kuffaar afﬁrmed tawheed ar—rububiyyah for Allah, while they called upon Eesaa (Jesus) alaihis salaam, the angels and the awliyaa for nearness and intercession with Allah and that they, particularly the Christians, have amongst them people who perform acts of worship night and day, abstain from the world, give in charity all their worldly possessions while living in seclusion from the people in monasteries, but despite this they are disbelievers, enemies of Allah, eternally in the Fire due to their belief in Eesaa (Jesus) alaihis salaam and other awliyaa whom they call upon, sacriﬁce and vow for.
So when you understand all this then the description of Islam and the call of your Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) will become clear and you will realize that many people are detached from it. And you will clearly understand the meaning of his saying: “Islam began as a stranger and it will return as a stranger as it began.” [Muslim]
So by Allah, O my brothers, cling to the foundation of your deen, the first and the last of it, its foundation and its head: the testimony that none has the right to be worshipped except Allah. Know its meaning, love its people and make them your brothers even if they are far away. And disbelieve in the tawaagheet (leaders of Kufr), have enmity towards them and hate those who love them, argue on their behalf and do not disbelieve in them or say: “I have nothing against them” or say: “Allah has not made me responsible for them.” Then verily, they have forged a lie against Allah, since Allah has made them responsible and obligated them to disbelieve in the tawaagheet and dissociate themselves from them, even if they are their brothers or children. So by Allah, cling to this in order that you may meet your Lord without associating anything with Him.
O Allah cause us to die as Muslims and join us with the righteous.
And we ﬁnish our discussion with an ayah mentioned by Allah in His Book, which will clarify to you that the Kufr of the Mushrikeen (Idol Worshippers) of our time is more severe than the Kufr of those whom the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) fought. Allah, the Most High, says:
“And when harm touches you upon the sea, those that you call upon besides him vanish from you except him (Allah Alone). But when He brings you safely to land, you turn away (from Him). And man is ever ungrateful.” [al-Israa’ (17) ayah 67]
So you have heard that Allah (the One free from all imperfections, the Most High) has mentioned that when the Kuffaar were in distress they would abandon their leaders and scholars and not seek help through them. Rather, they showed sincerity to Allah alone, without associating any partners and sought aid from Him alone. However when relief and ease came, they would commit shirk again.
You can see that when the Mushrikeen (Idol Worshippers) of our times, some of whom claim to be people of knowledge, possessing zuhd (asceticism) and striving hard, are in distress they begin to seek help from other than Allah like Maroof or Abdul Qaadir Jelaani or those greater than them like, Zayd bin al-Khattaab and az-Zubair or those who are greater than them like the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam), and help is sought from Allah. And more severe and disastrous than this is the fact that they seek help from the tawaagheet: the disbelievers and the apostates like Shamsaan, Idrees (also called al-Ashqar), Yusuf and their likes.
And Allah (the One free from all imperfections, the Most High) knows best and praise be to Him in the beginning and the end and May peace and blessings of Allah be upon the best of creation, Muhammad, his family and his Companions.