The word Tawheed has by the grace of Allah, become a word which is well known amongst the Muslims of today. But do we really know the reality of this word?

'What is tawheed?' you ask any Muslim 'Is it the oneness of Allah?' he would reply 'What's that?' You ask again. 'I'm not too sure' he would say. This is the kind of scenario which the Muslims are involved in, and what a sad state of affairs it is when we cannot even explain the basics of our religion to those around us.

Some of us are so dedicated to completing our studies, that we engross ourselves in the textbooks for hours. Others of us love the western culture and lifestyle so much, that we can mimic and relay the words of non-Muslims to such an extent that we even start to quote chapter and verse from the latest Hollywood blockbuster! Yet upon being asked 'What is Tawheed? ' our tongues fall silent.

The cure for ignorance is knowledge, and in order to cure ourselves we have to take time-out to learn about this beautiful religion, even if it means reading articles such as this!

It is true that tawheed is simply the oneness of Allah, yet at the same time it is something which is so vividly explained in our religion, that it is a life long quest for knowledge. The detailed nature of tawheed is something which unfortunately, is not known by the majority of the Muslims and this is why you find many Muslims saying that Christianity and Judaism, like Islam, are monotheistic[1] religions. Yet if these Muslims were to truly learn about Islam they would discover that religions such as Christianity and Judaism are forms of idol-worship, which are far from being similar to Islam.

The Reality of Tawheed
Linguistically the word tawheed means unification (to make something one). However Islamically it is in reference to Allah being singled out alone, in all that is particular to him. The opposite of tawheed is 'Shirk' which is to associate partners with Allah by giving that which belongs to him, to others.[2]

Traditionally tawheed has been divided into three categories which help us to understand why Allah alone deserves to be singled out for worship. The division of tawheed into these three categories was something which was not done by the prophet of Allah (saws) or any of his companions. So is this something new that has been introduced into the religion (bida[3])? The answer to this is no, because we find that the basis of these three categories are to be found in the verses of the Qur'aan, hadeeth [authenticated reports] of the prophet (saws) and the statements of his companions.

The necessity for dividing up tawheed into three categories first came about during the early days of Islam. After the death of the prophet (saws) Islam spread like wildfire and before long the empires of Africa, Byzantium, Persia and India all fell under Muslim rule. Many people from these areas became Muslims. However some of these converts to Islam also carried with them some of their old pagan beliefs. This caused much confusion amongst people, and the simple belief of Islam which the people had accepted, started to become clouded. The task of opposing these new thoughts and ideas which were becoming prevalent, fell upon the shoulders of the Muslim scholars, who rose to meet this challenge intellectually. Amongst the first people to divide tawheed into three categories was the famous scholar of Iraq, Abu Haneefah.[4]

Before mentioning what these three categories are, it has to be stressed that the concept of tawheed is in no way similar to the Christian concept of trinity except the fact that they both begin with the letter 'T'!! The division of tawheed does not divide Allah up into three separate parts (as does trinity), but rather it helps us to understand as to how our Creator is unique and alone in being singled out for worship and reverence. Unfortunately there are some Christians today[5] who seem to forget this fact and continue to spread lies about the meaning of the tawheed of Allah.

The Unity of Allah's Lordship
This first category of tawheed is known as tawheed-ur Ruboobeeyah or the unity of Allah's lordship. Through this we understand that it is Allah who alone created the universe which is why one of his divine names is AlKhaliq (the Creator). Through this we know that it is Allah alone who controls the universe and allows things to happen. This is why Allah refers to himself in the Qur'aan as AI-Malik (The Owner of the universe). Hence when something happens, it only happens with the permission of Allah:
                    "And no calamity strikes except with the permission of Allah"
                          (Surah At-Taghabun 64:11)
The prophet Muhammed (saws) further elaborated on this concept of Allah's control over the universe by saying: "Be aware that if the whole of mankind gathered together in order to do something to help you they would only be able to do something for you which Allah had already written for you. Likewise, if the whole of mankind gathered together to harm you, they would only be able to do something to harm you which Allah had already written to happen to you". [7]

We know that another name, which Allah chooses to call himself by, is Ar-Razzaq (the Sustainer). It is Allah who provides us with our food, shelter, clothing, families and friends. When our crops seem to be dying and there is not a cloud in sight, it is Allah who sends down His rain from the skies and sustains us.
                 "Allah created all things and He is the agent upon which all things depend"
                          (Surah Az-Zumar 39:62)
  From this you would expect that people would turn back to Allah for good or bad fortune. However this is not the case. Today we find people relying on all kinds of good luck charms[9], which they believe will bring them good fortune and ward off evil.
Unfortunately, this selfish act of turning away from the favours of Allah has hit the Muslims hard, we find in many of our societies that the Muslims believe in all kinds of superstitions and good luck charms such as the Tawees (amulet). These practices have absolutely no basis whatsoever in Islam, but rather the prophet (saws) warned us by saying: "Whosoever brings something new into Islam, something which does not belong to it, will have it rejected".[10]