Tawhid (توحيد), meaning "declaring God one", is the Islamic concept of monotheism. Its opposite, comprehending the sins of polytheism and idolatry, is shirk, where more information can be found.
Tawhid has three aspects: Tawhid ar-Rububiyya, Tawhid al-Asma wa as-Sifat and Tawhid al-ibada.
Tawhid ar-Rububiyya is the conviction that God, and only God, creates and sustains the universe, that without his will the universe could not continue to exist. Failure to hold this conviction results in either polytheism or atheism.
Tawhid al-Asma wa as-Sifat is understanding of God as characterized by his 99 names and characteristics, that failing to ascribe any one of these characteristics to God is to have a diminished concept of God, which therefore is not God.
Tawhid al-ibada means "declaring God one through our service", to worship God and only God both in those actions that are visible to others and in those actions and thoughts that are hidden from other men. This requires one to worship God alone, with pure and sincere intent and dedication.
Thus true monotheism in Islam requires one to have the correct knowledge (tawhid ar-rububiyya), the correct understanding (tawhid al-asma wa as-sifat), and the correct motivation (tawhid al-ibada).
A quote from the Nahj al Balagha, a collection of writing, sermons and saying of Ali ibn Abi Talib may help clarify the idea.
"Praise is due to Allah whose worth cannot be described by speakers, whose bounties cannot be counted by calculators and whose claim (to obedience) cannot be satisfied by those who attempt to do so, whom the height of intellectual courage cannot appreciate, and the divings of understanding cannot reach; He for whose description no limit has been laid down, no eulogy exists, no time is ordained and no duration is fixed. He brought forth creation through His Omnipotence, dispersed winds through His Compassion, and made firm the shaking earth with rocks.
The foremost in religion is the acknowledgement of Him, the perfection of acknowledging Him is to testify Him, the perfection of testifying Him is to believe in His Oneness, the perfection of believing in His Oneness is to regard Him Pure, and the perfection of His purity is to deny Him attributes, because every attribute is a proof that it is different from that to which it is attributed and everything to which something is attributed is different from the attribute. Thus whoever attaches attributes to Allah recognises His like, and who recognises His like regards Him two; and who regards Him two recognises parts for Him; and who recognises parts for Him mistook Him; and who mistook Him pointed at Him; and who pointed at Him admitted limitations for Him; and who admitted limitations for Him numbered Him.
Whoever said in what is He, held that He is contained; and whoever said on what is He held He is not on something else. He is a Being but not through phenomenon of coming into being. He exists but not from non-existence. He is with everything but not in physical nearness. He is different from everything but not in physical separation. He acts but without connotation of movements and instruments. He sees even when there is none to be looked at from among His creation. He is only One, such that there is none with whom He may keep company or whom He may miss in his absence."
An Introduction to Islamic Monotheism http://www.muhajabah.com/tawhid.htm (from Al-Muhajabah's web site)
Last updated: 02-08-2005 15:55:43
Last updated: 04-25-2005 03:06:01