After studying the lecture, please test your understanding using the seven 'Self-test' questions at the end.  For detailed analysis on these topics, please refer to Lectures 4,5,6,7,8 & 9 on our website. Lecture 9 also contains a detailed 'model' presenting the categories of Tawheed in graphical format. These lectures were sent last year and can be accessed at:


Lessons from the Qur’an (part Two)

Shaykh Saalih ibn 'Abdillaah Al-Fowzaan
From his book Duroos min Al-Qur'aan Al-Kareem (p.11-12)
Translated by Abul-'Abbaas exclusively for

The Meaning of the Word Tawheed
[ In the Name of Allaah, the All-Merciful, may His Salaah and Salaam be upon His final Messenger, and upon all his family members and companions, to proceed... ]

What exactly is this tawheed that is so important, that which holds such a high position?

Liguistically, the word tawheed comes from the word wah-hada, which means to make something waahid (singular). Waahid is the opposite of two, three, etc., the opposite of plurality. So waahid is something that will continue to be singular and never become a partner of something else.

As for the Sharee'ah's definition, the tawheed means to single out Allaah with all forms of worship, so that you make all of your worship for Allaah alone. Allaah says [1]:

( …and the religion will be entirely for Allaah )

The word religion in this verse means worship, as Allaah says [2]:

( and I have not created the Jinn nor Mankind except to worship Me )

And Allaah says [3]:

( and worship Allaah, and do not ascribe a single partner to Him )

Allaah also says [4]:

( So call on Allaah, making the religion entirely for Him, even if the disbelievers detest it )

This is the meaning of tawheed - to single out Allaah in all acts of worship and to abandon the worship of anything else.


The Categories of Tawheed
Tawheed has three categories understood directly from Allaah's Book. This division of tawheed is not from someone's opinion, nor is it merely a traditional way to explain tawheed. It is a division that is taken directly from Allaah's Book.

The first category is tawheed ar-ruboobiyyah, which means "to single out Allaah in understanding His Actions," like His creating, providing, bringing of life and death, and keeping order in all affairs. A person understands that Allaah alone is the Creator, the Provider, the Ever-Living One in charge of all affairs.

The second category is tawheed al-uloohiyyah, which means "to single out Allaah within the actions of the servant." This includes all actions that draw them closer to Allaah, Glorified and Exalted, like:

Du'aa' - supplication
Khowf - fear
Rajaa' - hope
Rahbah - awe
Ragbah - longing
Tawakkul - trust and reliance
Isti'aanah - seeking general assistance
Istighaathah - seeking assistance in emergencies
Thabh - slaughtering
Nathr - taking oaths

All forms of worship must be strictly for Allaah alone, and nothing can be done for other than Him. This is what is called tawheed al-'ebaadah, or tawheed al-uloohiyyah, and it is the tawheed that is put into practice as the servant singles out Allaah in everything He has requested, with an intention for Him alone, in all acts of obedience.

The third category is tawheed al-asmaa' was-sifaat, which means "to believe in every Name and Attribute that Allaah affirmed for Himself, or those that His Messenger (sallallaahu 'alayhe wa sallam) affirmed for Him.

These three categories are understood directly from Allaah's Book. Every verse that mentions Allaah's Actions, like creating, providing, bringing life and death, and controlling affairs, is describing tawheed ar-ruboobiyyah. This is quite frequent in the Qur'aan. Allaah says [5]:

( Say: 'Who owns the earth and all that is on it, if you truly have knowledge?' They will say: 'Allaah.' Say: 'Then won't you be reminded?' Say: 'Who is the Lord of the seven heavens and the Great Throne?' They will say: 'Allaah.' Say: 'Then won't you have taqwaa?' Say: 'In whose Hands are the treasures of everything, and He protects while there is no protector against Him, if you truly have knowledge?' They will say: 'Allaah.' Say: 'How then are you deluded from the truth?' )

Allaah also says [6]:

( Say: 'Who is it that provides for you from the heavens and the earth?' Or 'who possesses hearing and sight and brings forth the living from the dead, and the dead from the living? And who is in control of the affairs?' They will say: 'Allaah.' Say: 'So then won't you have taqwaa?' )

Similarly, every verse that mentions the creation of the heavens and the earth or other created things is about tawheed ar-ruboobiyyah.

Every verse mentioning worship, whether it be a command to worship Allaah or a prohibition of shirk, is about tawheed al-uloohiyyah.

Every verse mentioning something about Allaah's Names or Attributes is about tawheed al-asmaa' was-sifaat.

All of these categories are found in Allaah's Book, and this is what led the scholars to say, "Tawheed is three categories: uloohiyyah, ruboobiyyah, and al-asmaa' was-sifaat." They did not invent this division on their own, rather it is something directly from Allaah's Book. I will elaborate on this later, in shaa' Allaah. [7]


Tawheed as Understood by the Philosophers

There are those who say that tawheed is only one category - tawheed ar-ruboobiyyah. It is to acknowledge that Allaah is the Creator, the Provider, the Bringer of life and death, etc. They only refer to the actions of Allaah and to His Attributes. Upon this thought the scholars of philosophy and the independent thinkers have built their 'aqeedah. Their beliefs are found in their books, and if you were to read them, you would surely find that they affirm tawheed ar-ruboobiyyah only. So as far as they are concerned, whoever proclaims awareness of that is someone of tawheed to them. They have no understanding of tawheed al-uloohiyyah, nor of tawheed al-asmaa' was-sifaat, so they do not consider worshipping a grave or calling on the dead to be shirk. They may only say, "This is making one's intention for other than Allaah, and it is wrong," but they will not say it is shirk.

Some of them say, "Verily these people that call on the dead and seek help from those buried in graveyards are not people of shirk because they do not believe that these dead people or other objects of worship can actually create anything, nor can they provide or control the affairs along with Allaah. Since they have not believed that, they are not mushrikoon. These actions are not considered shirk, they have only taken these things as intercessors and intermediaries between them and Allaah!!"

These are their sayings, and they are identical to the sayings of the polytheists of old, who said [8]:

( We only worship them to get us closer to Allaah )

And Allaah says about them [9]:

( And they worship other than Allaah, things that neither harm them nor benefit them, saying: "These are our intercessors with Allaah" )

The philosophers say, "Verily it is not shirk to worship graves, nor to call on the dead or seek their their help. It is merely tawassul (seeking a means to get close to Allaah), seeking intercession, and making intermediaries between us and Allaah. It is not shirk unless they believe that these things create, provide, or control the affairs along with Allaah!"

This is stated specifically in their books and speeches. The few philosophers who do show any dislike for people falling into this merely say, "This is only a mistake, as these people are ignorant and fell into this mistake due to their ignorance, not intentionally."

However the majority of them do not show any contempt for it, rather they say, "This is making intermediaries and intercessors with Allaah, it is not shirk." [...]

As for Allaah's Names and Attributes, they believe that affirming them would necessitate making Allaah like His Creation, so they deny them. They, like the Jahmiyyah, Mu'tazilah, Ash'arees, and the Maatureediyyah, negate tawheed al-asmaa' was-sifaat, thinking to preserve Allaah's Glory by not likening Him to His created things. So tawheed with them is limited to tawheed ar-ruboobiyyah only, as they have no understanding of tawheed al-uloohiyyah, nor any understanding of tawheed al-asmaa' was-sifaat.

They despise those who divide tawheed into three categories, so much so that one of their modern day writers wrote, "Dividing tawheed into three categories is something from the Trinity!" Their shamelessness reached this point, that they called this division an imitation of the Christians, and with Allaah is the Refuge!


[1] the meaning of Soorah Al-Anfaal (8):39

[2] the meaning of Soorah Ath-Thaariyaat (51):56

[3] the meaning of Soorah An-Nisaa' (4):36

[4] the meaning of Soorah Ghaafir (40):14

[5] the meaning of Soorah Al-Mu'minoon (23):84-89

[6] the meaning of Soorah Yoonus (10):31

[7] covered in next week’s e-mail Insha Allah

[8] the meaning of Soorah Az-Zumar (39):3

[9] the meaning of Soorah Yoonus (10):18



§         What does the word wah-hada mean?

§         What is the meaning of the word tawheed in the Sharee'ah?

§         Explain the meaning of tawheed ar-ruboobiyyah.

§         Explain the meaning of tawheed al-uloohiyyah.

§         Explain the meaning of tawheed al-asmaa' was-sifaat.

§         Do philosophers affirm tawheed al-uloohiyyah?

§         How would you respond to someone who says: "These people that call on the dead are not people of shirk because they do not believe that the dead people can actually create anything, nor can they provide or control the affairs along with Allaah. Since they have not believed that, they are not mushrikoon."

Home - Quran & HadithCharity - Family & HealthIslamMiscellaneousMatrimonials

Human Rights - WomenNewscenterBoycottChechnyaPalestine - Links