The true meaning of the Kalimatut Tawheed
With an explanation of the false erroneous meanings given to it by ahlul bid’ah
A compilation from a work of The ‘Allaamah Ash Shaikh Saalih bin Fawzaan bin ‘Abdullah Al Fawzaan
Compiled and translated by, Abu ‘Abdis Salaam Siddiq Al Juyaanee
All praise and thanks belong to Allah. We praise Him, seek His aid and ask for His forgiveness. We repent to Him (Allah) and seek refuge in Him from the evil of ourselves and from our bad deeds. He whom Allah guides none can lead astray and he whom Allah leads astray none can guide. I testify and bear witness that none has the right to worshiped except Allah alone without any partners. I testify and bear witness that Muhammad is His slave and messenger. May Allah send the salaat was sallam upon him (Muhammad) his family, companions and all those who follow them in good until the last day.
The most important thing in a Muslim’s life is to know and understand the meaning of the statement of Tawheed (i.e. la ilaaha illAllah). It must be understood that the mere articulation of this beautiful statement is not enough to benefit the one who utters it. One must know its meaning, believe in it and act upon it; the ‘Ulamaa have explained this point in grave detail due to its importance and relevance in the life of every Muslim. Unfortunately, most of the Muslims today are ignorant of its true meaning. This ignorance has lead them to all types of evil, such as praying and slaughtering to those who are dead in the grave and in general giving aspects of worship to other than Allah. One must know the meaning of this beautiful statement, believe in it, as well as act upon that which it points to. The Imaam Al Mujaddid Muhammad bin Abdul Wahhab has pointed out this reality in his wonderful book entitled “The Explanation of the statement of Tawheed”. He said, “It is not intended to just utter it (la ilaaha illAllah) upon his tongue while being ignorant of its meaning, for verily the hypocrites utter it yet they will be under the disbelievers in the lowest part of the fire.
“The Shaikh Al ‘Allaamah Saalih bin Fawzaan bin ‘Abdullah Al Fawzaan said when explaining the first part of the afore mentioned point,
“It is not intended to just say la ilaaha illAllah with the tongue and not understand its meaning. It is incumbent that you learn the meaning of la ilaaha illAllah. For if you were to say it and not know its meaning (it would be impossible) for you to believe in that which it points to. For how can you believe in something that you are ignorant of?! It is a must that you know its meaning so that you may believe in it. What you believe in your heart, you will say upon your tongue. Therefore it is a must that you learn the meaning of la ilaaha illAllah. As for saying it only upon your tongue without understanding its meaning, (then this) will not benefit in the least.”
The true meaning of la ilaaha illAllah as explained by the ‘Ulamaa is,
“Nothing has the right to be worshiped in truth except Allah”
Shaikh Saalih Al Fawzaan says elsewhere in his explanation of Muhammad bin ‘Abdul Wahaab’s book entitled (The Explanation of The Statement of Tawheed), “The explanation of Ahlus Sunnah wa Jama’ah of the meaning of la ilaaha illAllah is that nothing has the right to be worshiped in truth except Allah. This is because there are many things that are worshiped.
However, the only thing that has the right to be worshiped in truth, is Allah alone. Everything else that is worshiped other than Allah is worshiped in falsehood as Allah says,
“This is because Allah is the truth (the only one who is worshiped in truth) and what they (the polytheists) invoke besides Him is false (falsehood) and Verily Allah, He is the Most High, the Most Great.” [Suratul Hajj: 62] ” end of Shaikh’s quote. (may Allah preserve him) As was stated earlier, most of the Muslims do not know nor understand the true meaning of la ilaaha illAllah and thus interpret it with erroneous interpretations that lead to kufr and shirk. Shaikh Saalih Fawzaan (may Allah preserve him) goes over these distorted and vile interpretations else where in the same book and says, “As for the explanation of the statement of Tawheed by the people who believe (the false belief) that Allah is everywhere, ibn ‘arabee and his followers. They say that the meaning of la ilaaha illAllah is that, there is nothing worshiped except Allah, or there is nothing worshiped in existence except Allah. The meaning of this is that everything that is worshiped is Allah. This is because with them the existence is not divided into the Creator and the creation, (rather) everything is Allah.
This is why they are called the people who believe that Allah is everywhere (and that the existence is one). They make the existence one and do not divide it, so (with them) everything is Allah. So whatever an individual worships is Allah. So the one who worships the cow and the one who worships the statue and the one who worships the rock and the one who worships the human being and the one who worships the Angels, all of them (as far as these astray people believe) are worshiping Allah. This is because (they believe) that all that exists is Allah. As for those (who are rightly guided) and say that the existence is divided into the Creator and the creation, they say that this one (who believes that Allah is everywhere) is a mushrik (a polytheist). It (the existence) is not one thing (and is only considered to be one thing) by the (astray) ones who says that, “verily the existence is one thing (and that thing) is Allah.
So whatever you worship in this existence from trees and rocks and statues and false gods, then verily you will be worshiping Allah because this (the existence is all) Allah. Because of this reason many of the common folk have erred when they say, “nothing is worshiped except you (Allah).” If they said that nothing is worshiped except Allah, then this would agree with the (astray and misguided) people who say that Allah is everywhere. Now if they were to add “in truth” then this would be correct; this is because everything that is worshiped other than Allah, is worshiped in falsehood. Allah says, “This is because Allah is the truth (the only one who is worshiped in truth) and what they (the polytheists) invoke besides Him is false (falsehood) and Verily Allah, He is the Most High, the Most Great.” [Suratul Hajj: 62]
The scholars of philosophical rhetoric say that meaning of la ilaaha illAllah is that, there is no one who has the ability to originate, create, and arrange the affaires except Allah. This is not correct, (in fact this) agrees with the religion of the mushrikoon (the polytheists). The polytheists say that nothing has the ability to create except Allah. None gives life except Allah. None causes death except Allah. None provides and give sustenance except Allah. This is the meaning of Tawheedur Ruboobiyyah.
The explanation of the meaning of la ilaaha illAllah by the Jahmiyyah and the Mu’tazeelah and those who are upon their methodology is to negate the Names and Attributes (of Allah). This is because with them, whoever affirms the Names and Attributes (of Allah) is a Mushrik (polytheist). Tawheed with them is to negate the Names and Attributes (of Allah).
The explanation of the meaning of la ilaaha illAllah by the hizbees and the ikhwaanees of today; is that there is no ruler/legislator except Allah (meaning none should rule except with that which Allah has revealed). Haakimiyyah (governorship/legislation) as they have named it, is the meaning of la ilaaha illAllah. (However), its (true) meaning encompasses
1 The ‘Ulamaa explain that this belief of the mushrikoon is not sufficient because it only covers one aspect of Tawheed (i.e. Tawheedur Ruboobiyyah). The true meaning of this beautiful statement of Tawheed includes and encompasses all aspects of Tawheed. It includes and encompasses At Tawheedur Ruboobiyyah (the singling out of Allah alone that He is the only Creator, Provider and Arranger of affairs), At Tawheedul Ulohiyyah (that all worship is for Allah alone) and At Tawheedul Asmaa was Sifaat (TheTawheed of the Names and Attributes of Allah). all aspect of worship. So we say to them, “where are the rest of the categories of worship?! Where is bowing, prostrating, slaughtering, taking of vows and the rest of the types of worship?!” Is worship only haakimiyyah, since its meaning is only haakimiyyah with them. Where is that which would prohibit him from the types of shirk? SubhaanAllah! It is a must to point out these matters and affairs.
La ilaaha illAllah is a great statement which saves from the fire the one who establishes it. All of the deen (religion) is built upon it, the first of it and the last of it. The call of the Messengers (may Allah be pleased with them), and every book that was sent down was built upon this statement (la ilaaha illAllah).”
The end of the speech of the Shaikh (may Allah preserve him)
In conclusion dear reader (may Allah have mercy upon me and you), learn, believe in and act upon the true meaning of la ilaaha illAllah which is, “nothing has the right to be worshiped in truth except Allah.” This necessitates an affirmation that all worship be given to Allah alone, as well as a complete and total disbelief in all that is worshiped other than Allah. Allah says,
“Whoever disbelieves in everything worshiped other than Allah, and believes in Allah, then he has grasped the most trustworthy handhold that will never break. And Allah is the All Hearer All Knower” [Suratul Baqarah: 256]
The Messenger of Allah (salallaahu alayhi was sallam) said in the hadeeth of Taariq bin Ashyam collected by Muslim, “Whoever says la ilaaha illAllah (nothing has the right to be worshiped in truth except Allah) and disbelieves in everything that is worshiped other than Allah…”
We ask Allah to make us from the people who understand the true meaning of la ilaaha illAllah and save us from those who are ignorant of its meaning. We ask Allah to make us of those who establish Tawheed and to save us from those who fall into shirk, the little of it and the big of it. May Allah send the salaat was sallam upon His Messenger (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam), his family and his companions. Our final du’ah is all praise is for Allah the Lord of the mankind, jinn and all that exists.