Tawheed is the essence of Islam, manifested by saying the words “La Ilaha Ilallalah”. Allah SWT is the Creator of the Heavens and the Earth. He created man from clay. After creating all souls, Allah SWT took covenant from ALL of us – starting from Adam (AS) to the last person that will be born – am I not your Lord? And we all replied in affirmative.[i]The story of creation of Adam SWT is detailed in many verses of the Qur’an, including in Sura Al Baqarah where Allah SWT says that He is going to create a “khalifah” or vicegerent in the earth.[ii] The purpose of creation is very clear from the verses in Sura Al Mulk wherein Allah SWT says that He created death and life so that man may be tested[iii] and in Sura Az Zariyat wherein Allah SWT says that He only created jinn and man that they may worship Him[iv].

After creation, Allah SWT did not leave man without guidance. In Sura Al Baqarah Allah says that He will send guidance and whomsoever will follow the guidance shall not fear nor shall they grieve.[v] Allah sent messengers and all messengers spread the same message – worship Allah and Him alone, there is no other deity worthy of worship other than Allah SWT, the Creator of the Heavens and the Earth, and one Day we shall all return to Him wherein we will be either punished or rewarded based on the deeds that we have accumulated in this life. The life of this earth is nothing but a testing period. Some messengers came with book of revelation, others without. But they all spread the one single unified message to humanity.[vi]

In order to understand the meaning of tawheed, it is important to understand the meaning of the opposite of tawheed, which is shirk, or association of partners with Allah SWT. Shirk does not mean denying the existence of Allah SWT or denying the fact that He is the Creator and Lord, but it means association of others with Allah SWT and attributing some or all characteristics of Allah SWT with them, or taking them to be equal to Allah SWT[vii]. There are many ways a person can do this. Some ways that people start associating partners with Allah SWT:

  1. association in worship, which the pagans of Makkah used to do. Sacrificing animals in front of these deity, bowing down, asking for help when in danger, etc. What is noticeable here is the fact that they thought they were doing this so they may get closer to Allah SWT through these idols.[viii] The people of Nuh (AS) also did the same.
  2. thinking that someone is a son, daughter of Allah. The jews took Uzair as the son and the Christians think of Jesus son of Mary as the son.[ix]
  3. associating some of the characteristics or Seefat of Allah SWT with others. For example – only Allah has knowledge of the unseen. If someone thinks that anyone else is knowledgeable of the unseen too, that is associating of partner.
  4. taking another ‘Ilah’ other than Allah SWT. Thinking that any of the powers of Allah SWT are with someone else. Like giving child, curing sickness, giving rizq, saving from danger, etc.
  5. following own desires other than the rulings of Islam.[x]

Prophet PBUH said Shirk is more hidden than a black ant creeping on a black stone in the middle of a moonless night.[xi]

What is the punishment for shirk? Allah says in the Qur’an that He will forgive all sins, to whomsoever He wishes, except the sin of shirk.[xii] May Allah save us from shirk, whether known or unknown. The Prophet PBUH taught us this du’a, “O Allah, I seek refuge in You lest I associate anything with You knowingly, and I seek Your forgiveness for what I know not.”[xiii]

What is the benefit of Tawheed?  It was narrated from Uqbah bin Amir Al-Juhani that the Messenger of Allah (SAW) said: “Whoever meets Allah (SWT) not associating anything in worship with Him, and not having shed any blood unlawfully, will enter Paradise.”[xiv] The essence of tawheed is explained beautifully in Sura Ikhlas.

I would like to conclude by saying that without knowing the meaning of tawheed, it is easy to fall into shirk unknowingly.


Philips, A. A. (2005). The fundamentals of tawheed islamic monotheism. Riyadh: International Islamic Publishing House.

Faruqi, I. R. A. (2010). Translated by Prof. Ali, S. At Tawheed (in Bangla). Dhaka: Bangladesh Institute of Islamic Thought.

[i] And [mention] when your Lord took from the children of Adam – from their loins – their descendants and made them testify of themselves, [saying to them], “Am I not your Lord?” They said, “Yes, we have testified.” [This] – lest you should say on the day of Resurrection, “Indeed, we were of this unaware.” [7: 172]

[ii] And [mention, O Muhammad], when your Lord said to the angels, “Indeed, I will make upon the earth a successive authority.” They said, “Will You place upon it one who causes corruption therein and sheds blood, while we declare Your praise and sanctify You?” Allah said, “Indeed, I know that which you do not know.” [2:30]

[iii] [He] who created death and life to test you [as to] which of you is best in deed – and He is the Exalted in Might, the Forgiving – [67:2]

[iv] And I did not create the jinn and mankind except to worship Me.[51:56]

[v] We said, “Go down from it, all of you. And when guidance comes to you from Me, whoever follows My guidance – there will be no fear concerning them, nor will they grieve. [2:28]

[vi] And We certainly sent into every nation a messenger, [saying], “Worship Allah and avoid Taghut.” And among them were those whom Allah guided, and among them were those upon whom error was [deservedly] decreed. So proceed through the earth and observe how was the end of the deniers.[16:36]

[vii] And We have placed over their hearts coverings, lest they understand it, and in their ears deafness. And when you mention your Lord alone in the Qur’an, they turn back in aversion. [17:46]

[viii] Unquestionably, for Allah is the pure religion. And those who take protectors besides Him [say], “We only worship them that they may bring us nearer to Allah in position.” Indeed, Allah will judge between them concerning that over which they differ. Indeed, Allah does not guide he who is a liar and [confirmed] disbeliever. [39:3]

[ix] The Jews say, “Ezra is the son of Allah “; and the Christians say, “The Messiah is the son of Allah .” That is their statement from their mouths; they imitate the saying of those who disbelieved [before them]. May Allah destroy them; how are they deluded? [9:30]

[x] Have you seen the one who takes as his god his own desire? Then would you be responsible for him? [25:43]

[xi] Reported by Ibn Abee Haatim

[xii] Indeed, Allah does not forgive association with Him, but He forgives what is less than that for whom He wills. And he who associates others with Allah has certainly fabricated a tremendous sin.[4:48]

[xiii] Ahmad 4/403

[xiv] Sunan Ibn Majah

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