The rights of Allahﷻ are five:
- Believing that none has the right to be worshipped but Allahﷻ
- Ibaadah (worship) of Allahﷻ alone without partners
- Shukr (gratitude, giving thanks) to Allahﷻ for His blessings
- Having fear and hope from Allahﷻ alone
- Loving Allahﷻ more than anyone or anything else
- Believing that none has the right to be worshipped but Allahﷻ
But before believing in the Kalima Tawheed, we must know who Allahﷻ is. Many Muslims say that they believe in ‘one god’. Islam is not the name of worshipping ‘one god’. Islam is the worship of Allahﷻ who is Al-Ahad – Unique, As-Samad – Free from all needs, Al Ladhi lam yalid wa lam yulad wa lam yakullahu kuf wan Ahad – He begets not, nor was He begotten. And there is none equal or comparable to Him. To know Allahﷻ, to reflect on His Glorious Names and Attributes (Asma wa Sifaat), to reflect on His bounties in our lives, to love Him, to fear the meeting with Him while retaining hope in His Infinite Mercy and Forgiveness, are all necessary to be a true Believer. Our belief is not academic or intellectual. Our belief is real, dynamic, interactive, and passionate. We love Allahﷻ, we seek His protection, we seek to please Him, we try to live our lives according to His Book, Al-Qur’an and in the way demonstrated by His Beloved Prophet and Messenger Muhammadﷺ. Islam is the name of a practice which makes us Muslim. That is why there is no such thing as a non-practicing Muslim.
Believing in and saying the Kalima Tawheed is the first Pillar of Islam. This is the right of Allahﷻ. The reward of living by that is freedom from the Fire.
Narrated Mu’adh bin Jabal (R), Rasoolullahﷺ asked, “O Mu’adh! Do you know what Allahﷻ‘s Right upon His slaves is?” I said, “Allahﷻ and His Messengerﷺ know best.” Rasoolullahﷺ said, “To worship Him (Allahﷻ) Alone and to join none in worship with Him (Allahﷻ). Do you know what their right upon Him is?”
I replied, “Allahﷻ and His Messengerﷺ know best.” Rasoolullahﷺ said, “Not to punish them (if they do so).” [Bukhari]
It is the ‘living by it’, that we sometimes lose sight of. Allahﷻ made this clear that it is not only belief but to stay firm on it and to live by it, which counts.
إِنَّ ٱلَّذِينَ قَالُوا۟ رَبُّنَا ٱللَّهُ ثُمَّ ٱسْتَقَـٰمُوا۟ فَلَا خَوْفٌ عَلَيْهِمْ وَلَا هُمْ يَحْزَنُونَ
Ahqaaf 46: 13 Verily, those who say: Our Rabb is (only) Allah, and thereafter Istaqamu (stood firm), on them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve.
The Kalima is our brand, it is our signature, it is our standard to which we are called, and we answer. It is our differentiator from every other religion and every other way of being. Tawheed is the foundation of Islam.
To believe in the Kalima – that there is nobody worthy of worship other than Allahﷻ; to be sincere in that belief, to love that belief, to have complete certainty in that belief and to live our lives according to that belief – are the requirements of the Kalima and the right of Allahﷻ. This will entitle us to Allahﷻ’s forgiveness and freedom from Jahannam. That is the highest, most critical, and most valuable of rewards. It is the result of remaining firm on the Kalima. I remind myself and you that we make dua for steadfastness in every Rak’a of every Salah, in Sura Al-Fatiha. In Islam, it is steadfastness and consistency that counts. Allahﷻ likes deeds that may be small, but which are done consistently.
Allahﷻ stated that to join partners with Him is Shirk and is the biggest of sins. May Allahﷻ save us from committing any kind of Shirk.
وَإِذْ قَالَ لُقْمَـٰنُ لِٱبْنِهِۦ وَهُوَ يَعِظُهُۥ يَـٰبُنَىَّ لَا تُشْرِكْ بِٱللَّهِ إِنَّ ٱلشِّرْكَ لَظُلْمٌ عَظِيمٌ
Luqman 31: 13 And (remember) when Luqman said to his son when he was advising him: O my son! Join not in worship others with Allah. Verily! Joining others in worship with Allah is a great Zulm (wrong) indeed.
And finally, Allahﷻ declared that if anyone dies on Shirk (believing that Allahﷻ has partners) then he will not be forgiven.
إِنَّ ٱللَّهَ لَا يَغْفِرُ أَن يُشْرَكَ بِهِۦ وَيَغْفِرُ مَا دُونَ ذَٰلِكَ لِمَن يَشَآءُ وَمَن يُشْرِكْ بِٱللَّهِ فَقَدِ ٱفْتَرَىٰٓ إِثْمًا عَظِيمًا
Nisa 4: 48 Verily, Allah forgives not that partners should be set up with him in worship, but He forgives except that (anything else) to whom He pleases, and whoever sets up partners with Allah in worship, he has indeed invented a tremendous sin.
Abu Sa’id al-Khudri (R) reported: Rasoolullahﷺ came to us while we were discussing the Dajjaal (False Messiah). Rasoolullahﷺ said, “Shall I not tell you about my greater fear for you than the Dajjaal?” We said, “Of course!” Rasoolullahﷺ said, “It is hidden idolatry (Shirk), that a man stands for prayer and beautifies his prayer when he sees another man looking at him.” [Ibn Mājah]
The thing to understand here is that though even the weakest and most ignorant of Muslims will not pray to an idol or make Sajda to one, there are many who go to the graves of those they declare to be ‘saints’ and ask them for favors, i.e., make dua to them or ask them to make dua to Allahﷻ on their behalf. The safest way is to see what Rasoolullahﷺ and his Sahaba did and follow that and not anything else. About dua, Rasoolullahﷺ said:
عَنْ النُّعْمَانِ بْنِ بَشِيرٍ عَنِ النَّبِيِّ صلى الله عليه وسلم قَالَ الدُّعَاءُ هُوَ الْعِبَادَةُ ثُمَّ قَرَأَ وَقَالَ رَبُّكُمْ ادْعُونِي أَسْتَجِبْ لَكُمْ إِنَّ الَّذِينَ يَسْتَكْبِرُونَ عَنْ عِبَادَتِي سَيَدْخُلُونَ جَهَنَّمَ دَاخِرِينَ
Al-Nu’man ibn Bashir (R) reported that Rasoolullahﷺ said, “Dua is worship itself.” Then, Rasoolullahﷺ recited the Ayah, “Your Rabb said: Call upon Me and I will respond to you. Verily, those who disdain My worship will enter Hell in humiliation.” [Tirmidhi]
Dua is worship and it is the most common way in which many people commit Shirk. They go to the graves of Anbiya including Rasoolullahﷺ or to the graves of those who they call ‘Awliya’ of Allahﷻ and either ask them for favors or ask them to make dua to Allahﷻ on their behalf. To believe that someone who didn’t know you in his lifetime, who doesn’t speak your language, cannot recognize you nor understand your speech, but will know you and make dua for you is major Shirk because that person is ascribing to a human being, attributes that belong to Allahﷻ alone. It is also completely illogical and is blind superstition which has no place in Islam.
Allahﷻ declared that He is the sole creator of everything and is solely in control of them without any partners or helpers.
ٱللَّهُ خَـٰلِقُ كُلِّ شَىْءٍ وَهُوَ عَلَىٰ كُلِّ شَىْءٍ وَكِيلٌ
Zumar 39: 62 Allah is the Creator of all things, and He is the Wakil (Trustee, Disposer of affairs, Guardian, etc.) over all things.
Sainthood is a Christian concept. A person is bestowed ‘sainthood’ by the Church, usually the Pope, at his discretion. In Islam we don’t have ‘saints’. One must be very careful about using terminology that has specific meanings in other theologies. In Islam we have ‘Awliya Allahﷻ’. Who are they? Allahﷻ told us who His Awliya are. May He include us among them.
أَلَآ إِنَّ أَوْلِيَآءَ ٱللَّهِ لَا خَوْفٌ عَلَيْهِمْ وَلَا هُمْ يَحْزَنُونَ
ٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُوا۟ وَكَانُوا۟ يَتَّقُونَ
لَهُمُ ٱلْبُشْرَىٰ فِى ٱلْحَيَوٰةِ ٱلدُّنْيَا وَفِى ٱلْـَٔاخِرَةِ لَا تَبْدِيلَ لِكَلِمَـٰتِ ٱللَّهِ ذَٰلِكَ هُوَ ٱلْفَوْزُ ٱلْعَظِيمُ
Yunus 10: 62-64 No doubt! Verily, the Awliya’ of Allah [favorite slaves], no fear shall come upon them nor shall they grieve. (They are) those who believed (Islam, Tawheed), and used to fear Allah much (had Taqwa). For them are glad tidings, in the life of the present world, and in the Hereafter. No change can there be in the Words of Allah, this is indeed the supreme success.
First thing to understand here is that though the word ‘Awliya’, which is the plural of ‘Wali’, which means a close friend, confidant, and supporter; when it relates to Allahﷻ, we understand it to mean a favorite slave of Allahﷻ. This is because there is no parity or equality between Allahﷻ and His slaves and so we can’t call anyone a ‘friend’ or ‘Wali’ of Allahﷻ. When it comes to Allahﷻ the meaning changes in keeping with the Glory and Magnificence of Allahﷻ and His unique position as our Creator, Sustainer and Master, to whom is our return.
Secondly, Allahﷻ defined His Awliya. He said that His Awliya are those who have Imaan and Taqwa. So, we understand from this that any Muslim who has Imaan and Taqwa – believes in Allahﷻ without partners and lives his life seeking Allahﷻ’s pleasure and fearing His displeasure, is a Wali of Allahﷻ In-sha-Allah. We ask Allahﷻ to include us among His Awliya and to enable us to lead our lives, trying to please Him alone. I am explaining this because the big mistake that some people make is to name a person and say, ‘He is or was a Wali of Allahﷻ.’ That is a serious mistake because the person saying that is speaking about Allahﷻ without knowledge which is the mother of all sins.
About the Anbiya and Rusul – the prophets and messengers – Allahﷻ named them. So, we can safely say that Musa (AS), Isa (AS) and so on were the Anbiya and Rusul of Allahﷻ. But about His Awliya, Allahﷻ in His infinite mercy, made a general statement. To re-define that statement and apply it to a particular individual is wrong and we have no authority to do so. The problem is that this then gives rise to the reprehensible practice of visiting the graves of the so-called ‘Awliya’ to ask for favors. Rasoolullahﷺ did not do this, nor did he permit anyone to do it. He did not tell the Sahaba that they should come to his grave and ask him for anything or to make dua for anything. The Sahaba visited the grave of Rasoolullahﷺ for salaam only.
For anyone with any doubt, there is story in the Seerah where Omar ibn Al-Khattab (R), took people out of Madina to pray Salatul Istisqa (Salah for rain). After the Salah, he addressed the people and said, “When Rasoolullahﷺ was among us, we used to ask him to make dua for rain. Now when he is no longer among us, I ask his uncle Al-Abbas bin Abdul Muttalib (R) to make dua for rain.”
Al-Abbas (R) then came forward and made dua for rain. I don’t need to point out that Sayyidina Omar (R) knew where the grave of Rasoolullahﷺ was. So did everyone else present. But they didn’t go to the grave to ask Rasoolullahﷺ to make dua for them. They asked someone who was alive and about whose piety and position they had a high opinion, to make dua for them. The basic principle is that the dead can’t hear the living. Allahﷻ said:
وَمَا يَسْتَوِى ٱلْأَحْيَآءُ وَلَا ٱلْأَمْوَٰتُ إِنَّ ٱللَّهَ يُسْمِعُ مَن يَشَآءُ وَمَآ أَنتَ بِمُسْمِعٍ مَّن فِى ٱلْقُبُورِ
Fatir 35: 22 Nor are (alike) the living (believers) and the dead (disbelievers). Verily, Allah makes whom He will hear, but you cannot make hear those who are in graves.
إِنَّكَ لَا تُسْمِعُ ٱلْمَوْتَىٰ وَلَا تُسْمِعُ ٱلصُّمَّ ٱلدُّعَآءَ إِذَا وَلَّوْا۟ مُدْبِرِينَ
Naml 27: 80 Verily, you cannot make the dead to hear, nor can you make the deaf to hear the call, when they flee, turning their backs.
Just like the world of the womb is different from this world and its rules are totally different from these rules, so also the A’alam ul Barzakh is different from this world with totally different rules. We lived in a sack filled with amniotic fluid, without breathing air and getting sustenance from our mother without her will or effort, for 9 months. But after we are born, we can’t exist for 9 minutes without air and need to make effort to eat. Similarly, the rules that govern the next world are different and those that govern the Day of Judgement are different from the rules of the grave and those that govern Jannah are different from all other forms of existence before that. We follow what Rasoolullahﷺ said and did as did his Sahaba. There is no guide better than Muhammadﷺ to lead us to Allahﷻ and Jannah. We do not follow anyone else because the matter of Shirk is too serious to make a mistake about.
Finally, I want to conclude with two very powerful Ahadith which underline the importance of Tawheed (Monotheism) in Islam. I ask Allahﷻ to save us from all tests and to forgive us and accept us into His Presence.
It was narrated from Abu Darda (R) that my close friend (Rasoolullahﷺ) advised me: “Do not associate anything with Allahﷻ even if you are cut and burned. Do not neglect any prescribed prayer deliberately, for whoever neglects it deliberately no longer has the protection of Allahﷻ. (Ibn Majah)
Narrated Hudhaifah bin Yaman (R) that Rasoolullahﷺ said, “Islam will wear out as embroidery on a garment wears out, until no one will know what fasting, prayer, rites of pilgrimage, and charity are. The Book of Allahﷻ will be taken away at night, and not one Ayah of it will be left on earth. And there will be some people left, old men and old women, who will say: “We saw our fathers saying these words: ‘La ilaha illallah’ so we say them too.” Silah said to him: “What good will (saying): La ilaha illallah do them, when they do not know what fasting, prayer, rites of pilgrimage, and charity are?” Hudhaifah (R) turned away from him. He repeated his question three times, and Hudhaifah (R) turned away from him each time. Then he turned to him on the third time and said, “O Silah! It will save them from Jahannam”, three times. (Ibn Majah)