Tauheed & Shirk
by HAZRAT ALLAMA SYED AHMED SA’EED KAAZMI (RAHMATULLAHI ALAIH)
This book is intended to protect Muslims from all misconceptions and misunderstandings prevalent in the Muslim community, in so far as the belief in seeking assistance from great Prophets and Saints is concerned.
Allama Syed Ahmed Sa’eed Kaazmi Shah Saheb (alaihir rahma) was a great Aalim, Scholar and a specialist in the Field of Hadith and Tafseer, to which he made a voluminous contribution. He earned the title of “Ghazzali-e-Zamaan” or “The Ghazzali of the Age”. In this treatise, he clearly distinguishes between “Shirk” and “Tauheed”. He does so in an extremely simple manner, so that all Muslims are able to understand. This policy of his is based on the principle of education and the acquisition of knowledge which is compulsory in the life of all Muslims, man or woman.
The aim of the writer is not one of trivial argument and discussion based on heresay, rather, it is to make the public aware and to educate them on practises followed by the first generation of Muslims, yet these practises are mocked by a few “enlightened Modern-day” Muslims.
May Allah assist and guide those Muslims who are instrumental in producing this book and all those involved in the protection of the pristine faith of Islam. Aameen.
Bismillahir Rahmaanir Raheem
THE UNITY OF ALLAH
The Being of the Almighty Allah is indeed One. It is only those who are ignorant and persist in being ignorant need an explanation on how Almighty Allah is One and is actually Present. Those who are Allah-conscious do not desire an explanation on this subject of Tauheed and Shirk. They in fact accept without questioning. There is a famous proverb in the Arabic language which is as follows: Al Ashyaa’u tu’rafa bi azdaadihi – “Objects are indeed understood by its opposites.”
For example, peace can only be understood and appreciated by that person who has felt and experienced anxiety. That person though who has not felt anxiety, cannot appreciate peace. In the same manner, Day cannot be understood if a person has not experienced the Night. Likewise, if a person has not comprehended misguidance how is it possible for him to understand guidance? Using this very principle, we may ask, if a person has not understood “Shirk” or Polytheism, how is it possible for him to appreciate or comprehend “Tauheed” or Monotheism? It is, therefore, only logical that after we have understood Shirk can we then understand Tauheed.
The Almighty Allah has in fact very clearly explained the action Shirk and Tauheed, thereby completely eradicating the concept of non-religion. It is very surprising that after explaining the differences in the concept of Tauheed and Shirk so clearly, there are still doubts in the minds of those whose sole duty it is to destroy the concept or fundamentals of unity found in Islam.
THE MEANING OF TAUHEED
The meaning of “Tauheed” is to believe that there is no Partner to Allah in His Being and in His Attributes. In other words, how Almighty Allah is, we do not believe that there is another being like Him. If any person believes on the contrary, then his belief would constitute Shirk. We should remember that the attributes of Allah, among others, include the act of Listening, Seeing and Possessing Knowledge. If any individual believes that another possesses these Attributes, he will be guilty of Shirk.
THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN TAUHEED AND SHIRK
After we have understood the meaning of Tauheed, the natural question that arises is, if knowledge which is one of the Attributes of Allah is ascribed for another individual, will this really mean that we are guilty of Shirk? We know that Listening and Seeing are also among the Attributes of Allah. If we prove these very attributes for another individual, will we be guilty of Shirk? In the very same manner, the Attributes of Living is also among the Attributes of Allah. If we ascribe this attribute for another individual will we again be guilty of Shirk?
No! Dear Muslim Brothers and Sisters, do not be deceived by those who hope to mislead you. You should remember that indeed Almighty Allah possesses the Attribute of “Living”, yet He has, also through His Mercy, bestowed upon His Creation this very quality. The attribute of living though which we relate to ourselves is not the same Attribute of Living as we relate to Allah. The difference is that His Attribute of Living is non-bestowed, while the attribute of living which we posses is one which we have been bestowed with by Allah. The attribute of living which He has bestowed upon us is temporary and non-eternal, while His Attribute of Living is Eternal and non-bestowed.
If this principle and law is applied to all qualities and attributes, then the question of Shirk will never arise. It is simple, yet, as we have mentioned earlier, those Muslims whose sole aim is to deprive Islam of its unity, peace and harmony, intentionally make it difficult so that the simple-minded Muslims become confused and misguided.
HAS THE ALMIGHTY ALLAH GIVEN MAN POWER AND AUTHORITY?
The answer to this is quite simple. If man has not been given power and authority, then what indeed is the difference between him and stone? We know that the Almighty Allah Possesses Power and Authority. We also know that He has created these attributes within man. You may well ask, if both possess power and authority, then what is the difference? The answer to this is quite simple. If one applies the above law and principle, there is no doubt that the Almighty Allah Possesses Power and Authority, yet, although possessing these Attributes, He is not subservient to anyone, neither have these Attributes been given to Him by anyone. His slave, man, on the other hand, possesses these attributes of power and authority, yet, he is still subservient to the Almighty Allah, and these attributes are not his, rather they have been bestowed upon him by the Almighty Allah.
THE KNOWLEDGE OF THE ALMIGHTY ALLAH AND HIS SLAVE
This very same principle as explained above, can be applicable to the question of Knowledge, Seeing, Listening, and other Attributes. The Almighty Allah Possesses these Attributes and so does the slave. No one has given these Qualities to Allah, whilst the slave, on the other hand, has been accorded these attributes by Almighty Allah. This is, in fact, one of the clear differences between the Almighty Allah and His slave.
We understand that if an attribute which is conferred to any slave has been bestowed upon the slave by the Almighty Allah, then this belief cannot be labelled as Shirk. For example, if we relate the quality of “hearing” to a slave, we must therefore believe that this attribute of “hearing” has been bestowed upon the slave by the Grace of Allah, then this belief cannot be termed Shirk.
At this point an important question arises. Applying the above principle, we ask, why is it that we condemn the Idol worshippers who also believe that their Idols have been given these amazing powers by Allah. Are they not using the very same principle, which we are applying?
The answer to this question is quite clear and simple. When the Idol worshipper believed that their Idols were a creation of Allah, they also should have believed that the slave is indebtedly in bondage to the Creator. Without the Creator, the creation cannot come into being. They also should have believed and accepted that, as in life or in death, the slave is in need of the Creator. But, they refused to believe and accept this principle, that is, Allah’s Authority.
They began to believe that although their Idols were a creation, Almighty Allah had given the Idols Divinity and total “God-head”. They believed that after creating their Idols, there was now no need for submission towards Almighty Allah to complete (Allah forbid!) because their Idols could do whatever it wished, even if Almighty Allah had not commanded it to do a certain thing. The Idol worshippers could not understand this very simple principle, that is, that the creation can never to totally independent of Almighty Allah.
DIVINITY CANNOT BE GIVEN
Indeed, Almighty Allah, through His Mercy, may bestow upon His slave whatever powers He wishes, yet He would not bestow Divinity, which is Permanent and Independent, the attributes given to His slave are not permanent or even independent. The Idol worshippers believed that because of the tremendous worship performed by the Idols, “Laat” and “Manaat”, Almighty Allah set them free to do as they pleased. Based on this belief, the Idol worshippers believed that their Idols have been given Divinity and God-head. Any person who believes that Almighty Allah has given His certain slave God-head and Divinity has committed Shirk. There is no doubt in this. This is another difference between the Muslim and the Idol worshipper. The Muslim believes that the servant of Allah will always remain a servant and can never become one possessing God-head and Divinity.
DEEDS PERFORMED BY THE SLAVE THROUGH THE PERMISSION OF ALLAH CAN NEVER BE TERMED SHIRK
The Almighty Allah states in the Holy Quran: Man zal lazi yashfa’u indahoo illa bi izni. “Who is it that can intercede with Him, except with His permission.” (Sura Baqara: Verse 225)
From this Quranic injunction, an important fact is becoming apparent to us. Almighty Allah is quite clearly stating to us that not everyone will be given permission to intercede except those to whom He has given permission. It is also a warning to the Idol worshippers, in that they should not believe and hold high esteem of their Idols considering that their Idols have never been given permission to intercede for their worshippers. This clearly proves that their Idols are totally useless.
The beloved slaves of Allah, on the other hand, have been given permission to intercede. The first to intercede will be the Prophet Muhammad (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) as proven by many authentic sources. Thereafter, the other Prophets, the Martyrs (Shuhada), the Saints, etc. Another important fact we must always bear in mind is that if an individual performs a duty without the Permission of Allah, then this would be considered Shirk, whereas if a duty has been allocated, as will be discussed shortly, then this cannot be considered Shirk.
The Holy Quran is evidence of Hazrat ‘Isa (alaihis salaam) explaining to his nation some of his amazing miracles. This serves as a reminder to all, of the power and authority bestowed by Allah upon His beloved servants. He states: Wa ubri’ul akmaha wal abrasa wa uh’yil mawta bi iznillahi – “I heal those who are born blind and the leper and I raise the dead by Allah’s permission.” (Sura Ale Imraan: Verse 49)
We know that to perform amazing duties as explained by Hazrat ‘Isa (alaihis salaam) is indeed the Grace of the Almighty Allah, yet this great Prophet is actually stating that he can perform them. Is he guilty (Allah forbid!) of committing Shirk? No, for he has clearly proven by one verse the difference between Shirk and Tauheed.
When he has said, “these duties are performed through the permission of Allah”, immediately, the question of Shirk is dismissed and the entire concept becomes one of Tauheed. Keeping this in mind, when Muslims state that great Prophets and Saints can perform miracles and do so with the Permission of Allah, how can any sensible person call this action as being Shirk. This belief is purely Tauheed.
If one questions this and states that a Muslim cannot perform these amazing duties (of miracles and interceding) then he is contradicting numerous Quranic verses and Ahadith wherein amazing qualities and attributes of the special servants of Allah are explained.
THE REASON FOR THE CREATION OF MAN
Every creation of the Almighty Allah has been created for some specific reason and purpose, namely, the sun, the trees, water, the wind. Explaining the purpose for the creation of Man, the Almighty Allah states: Wa ma khalaqtul Jinna wal insa illa liya’budun – “I have not created Man and Jinn, but that they worship Me.” (Ad Dhaariyat: Verse 56)
Worship can only be performed if there is recognition. In other words, mankind and Jinn have been created to recognize the Almighty Allah. The question that arises is, what is the outcome of this recognition? It means that the more we recognize Allah, the more we worship Him.
From the above discussion we come to realize that mankind has been created to recognize Allah, and by doing so we become closer. In other words, closeness to Allah is the pinnacle of glory in the life of mankind.
By understanding this, we must examine it’s connotation, it’s results and it’s meaning in the light of Islamic Law.
There is a Hadith-e-Qudsi found in the Sahih Bukhari explaining this: The Prophet (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) has explained that the Almighty Allah has stated: “He who has caused enmity with My Wali (Friend), I give him declaration of war. Among those acts through which My slave achieves My closeness, the most beloved are the Fardh (Compulsory) acts. My slave also achieves My closeness through the Nafil (Optional) deeds, till I make him into My beloved. When he becomes My beloved, I become his ears through which he listens, his eyes through which he sees, his hands by which he holds, his feet by which he walks. When he pleads to Me for anything I definitely bestow it on him. When he seeks refuge in Me from any bad deed, then I definitely save him from it.”
Some individuals state that only after achieving this status does the slave refrain from all bad deeds. This thought is a flagrant misinterpretation of the Tradition, for any person possessing a little common sense will tell you that after refraining from all bad deeds, does the slave achieve this status. In other words, after he has adopted piety and abstinence, does he stand any chance of becoming the beloved.
In the following verse, Almighty Allah is explaining how we can achieve His closeness. He states: Kul in kuntum tuhiboonal laaha fattabi’ooni yuh’bibkumul laahu – “Say (O Muhammad to them), if you love Allah follow me, Allah will love you.” (Sura Ale Imraan: Verse 31)
In other words, after we have adopted piety and abstinence in following the Holy Prophet (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam), will we have any chance of becoming a beloved? The slave first refrains from bad deeds and actions. He then performs the Fardh and Nafil acts continuously. Then only does he become the beloved. It is not possible for him to continue performing evil deeds and still feels he can become the beloved servant of Allah.
Imam Fakhrudeen Raazi (radi Allahu anhu) in his “Tafseer Kabeer”, explains the above Hadith: “In the same manner, if the slave continuously adopts good deeds, then he indeed reaches that stage of which the Almighty Allah states that He becomes the slaves eye and ear. When the Magnificent Noor (Light) of Allah becomes the eye of the slave, then the slave perceives things near and distant. When this Light becomes the hand of the slave, then he, the slave, is then able to dispense with things easy and difficult, near and far.”
We also come to realize from this explanation that the beloved slaves of Allah have been given the power to help and assist. Once we have proved this, how can we call it Shirk if we implore them for assistance? It can never be Shirk, for although the slave and the Creator can help and assist, remember that the Creator Possesses this Attribute without it being given to Him by anyone. The slave, on the other hand, possesses these attributes after it has been given to him by Almighty Allah, and we still believe that the slave is the servant of Allah and is still subservient to Him. This is the belief of all Muslims.
When we have understood and accepted this, the difference between Tauheed and Shirk becomes quite clear, yet, unfortunately, there are certain individuals who state that they believe in Allah, yet consider asking His beloved slaves for assistance as Shirk. If this indeed be their faith, then what, we ask of you, is Kufr?
It also seems to be the habit of these “believers” to relate verses meant for the Kufaar towards Muslims, perhaps they are merely following the habit of their forefathers. It is recorded in the Sahih Bukhari, that Hazrat Abdullah Ibn Omar (radi Allahu anhuma) used to despise the Khaariji sect the most. Why? Let us see. He considered them the worst of creation. He use to say that “these people have made it a practice of theirs, that whatever verse has been revealed against the idol worshippers, they relate these verses towards the Muslims.”
Some individual has asked this question, and we feel that it should be answered. The question is this: we accept that the beloved slave of Allah possesses all these magnificent attributes. We accept that he can assist and help. Yet, are not all these attributes only prevalent in him when he is in this world, for when he dies, will not his body become a heap of sand and rubble? When it does become a heap of sand, will not all the attributes found in him will be immediately nullified?
This doubt, in fact, has only been created, for we have merely considered Man to be a combination of flesh and bones. This manner of thinking is indeed incorrect, for the essence of man is not flesh and bones, rather it is the soul. The soul, unlike the flesh and bones, never dies. If we accept that his soul will die, then how will he experience the punishment and reward within the grave? Describing the condition within the grave, the Prophet (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) has stated that the grave is sometimes a Garden of Paradise and sometimes a Pit of Hell.
We, therefore, logically ask: for who is this grave sometimes a Pit of Hell or sometimes a Garden of Paradise? It is, without doubt, for the soul which is still alive. The soul always has a connection with the body even if the body, described as the rays of the sun, even though it may manifest itself on a heap of sand, on a tree or on the roof of a house, it still has a relationship with the sun.
So we judge from this that the essence of man is the soul, it is this which enables him to assist us in times of need and anxiety.
Another query that seems to confuse people is: how is it that we cannot see the punishment or reward experienced by the body or the soul? The answer to this is simple. The happenings of the grave are being experienced within the Aalam-e-Barzakh, a world in itself which means, “The Screened World.” A logical explanation of this would be that if a person complains about a headache and although the pain he is experiencing is an absolute reality, we cannot perceive it or even comprehend it simply because the pain is screened from our eyes. Similarly, punishment and reward is experienced within the grave.
Another example would be of a person dreaming. Although he is seeing himself burning, we cannot see him burning or receiving a gift, for the simple reason is that his life in that context is screened from our eyes.
THE SQUEEZING OF THE GRAVE
It is reported in the Ahadith that when the person is placed within the grave, the grave squeezes him, be he Muslim or non-Muslim. The earth could be described as “the mother”, for man has been created from sand. Therefore, it stands to reason that all will return to her. Some of her children who have adopted piety and abstinence, they she will be welcomed and agreeably received. Those, on the other hand, who have adopted disgraceful behaviour and dishonour, she will receive them, not welcome them, but rather to punish them. This example clearly describes how a Muslim and non-Muslim will be treated in the grave. It will welcome the Muslim as a mother caressing her child, while she will squeeze the disbeliever till his ribs appear on opposite sides. This illustrates that the soul never dies and that the reward or punishment within the grave is a reality.
Let us return to the discussion describing the magnificent attributes possessed by the beloved slaves of Allah. Having proven that his soul and body still possesses these attributes, it means that he can still assist us, traverse miles on end, listen and see things far and near. When he can still do these things with the Permission of Allah, then how can any sane person term it as being as Shirk if we ask them to assist us?
In the Tirmidhi Shareef, Hazrat Abdullah Ibn Abbas (radi Allahu anhuma) narrates that a Sahaba once pitched his tent on a plot of ground without realizing that he was doing so over a grave. After a while, he realized that his tent was over a grave for he could hear the recital of the Sura Mulk. He related the entire episode to the Prophet (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam), who replied that the recital of Sura Mulk indeed assists the person within the grave and protects him from pain and punishment.
From this episode, we see that the beloved servants of Allah are still alive within their graves, or else the Prophet (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) would have merely disregarded the entire incident. But he did not do so. Rather, he commented on the excellences of the Sura Mulk, which means that he also accepted that the beloved servants of Allah are still alive within their graves.
Let us relate another incident from the period of the companions. It is recorded that in the period of Hazrat Mu’awwiya (radi Allahu anhu) a canal was dug between Mecca and Medina. Co-incidentally, the canal passed through that plot of land where the Shuhada (Martyrs) of Uhud lay buried. A person while digging accidentally cut the foot of a Shaheed with a spade. As a result of this, blood began to flow from the blessed foot. We learn from this incident that aside from their souls, even the bodies of these great and beloved servants of Allah are alive. This incident is narrated in “Jazbul Quloob” by Shaikh Muhaddith Delwi (radi Allahu anhu) and “Sharahus Sudur” by Imam Jallaludeen Suyutwi (radi Allahu anhu).
Let us now quote another example from the period of the Taabe’ins. Imam Abu Na’eem (radi Allahu anhu) in his book, “Hilyatul Awliya”, narrates from Hazrat Sa’eed (radi Allahu anhu). The great saint states, “By Allah, Hameed Taweel (radi Allahu Anhu) and myself were burying Hazrat Thaabit Nibhaani (radi Allahu anhu). As we were setting the final rocks, one rock accidentally fell into the grave. As I peeped into the grave, I saw that Hazrat Thaabit Nibhaani (radi allahu anhu) was about to perform the Salaah and he was imploring Allah in the following manner, ‘O Allah, You have given certain of Your creation the Permission to perform their Salaah within the grave, give me also the same permission’. It was indeed beyond the Mercy of Allah to refuse him.”
N.B.: Hazrat Thaabit bin Aslam Nibhaani Basri (radi Allahu anhu) was a Taabi’in. He has narrated Ahadith from Hazrat Anas (radi Allahu anhu) and various other Companions. Shuba states that he used to complete the recitation of the Holy Quran in one day and night. He also used to fast during the day. Abu Bakr Al Muzni states that he had not seen a more pious person than Thaabit bin Aslam (radi Allahu anhu). (“Kashfun Noor”, Imam Abdul Gani Naablisi, pg. 9)
Imam Baihaqi (radi Allahu anhu) narrates from Qazi Nishapuri Ebrahim (radi Allahu anhu) who states that, “A pious woman passed away. Among those that were present for her Janazah was a coffin thief, who attended only with the intention of noticing where she was being buried. As darkness set in, he dug the grave and was about to steal the coffin when the pious lady exclaimed, ‘By Allah, how strange that a dweller of Paradise is stealing the coffin of another dweller of Paradise’. She explained that whosoever took part in her Janazah, Allah would forgive them, and that the coffin thief took part in the Janazah. The thief immediately covered the grave and repented with a true heart.”
Indeed this is the greatness of the beloved servants of Allah, that one goes to them as a thief and returns as a Saint himself.
It is reported in the Hadith-e-Qudsi that the Almighty Allah has stated: “When My slave, becomes My beloved, then his words and attributes become the mirror of My Words and Attributes. Whatever he pleads for, I bestow it upon him. If he seeks refuge in Me, I protect him.”
As we have seen, all these gifts are still found in the beloved servants of Allah even after they have departed from this world. It is due solely to this that the believing Muslims visit the graves of the Saints for they are indeed people who have been promised the Mercy and Assistance of Allah. We derive from these proofs, that if an individual goes to the Mazaar of a great Saint and implores to him in this manner, “O beloved servant of Allah, you are indeed the beloved slave of Allah. Please ask the Almighty on my behalf,” how, we ask of you, can this be termed Shirk, when the Almighty Allah Himself has promised them all these gifts?
After considering these facts, if any person feels that he cannot achieve any help and assistance by visiting a Mazaar of a great Saint, then he has not in any way insulted the Saint, rather he has doubted the promise of Allah whereas Allah has promised his slaves His assistance.
Till now, we have proved that help and assistance that can be rendered by the beloved slaves of Allah in this world and in the Aalam-e-Barzakh, the question is: will they be able to assist us in the Hereafter?
The Holy Prophet (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) has already given this answer. He has stated: “The Ulema, the Hufaaz, and the Shuhada of my followers will indeed intercede on the Day of Judgment. Even the infant whose parents are Muslims will intercede.” If, as some misled individuals say, that it is Shirk to ask the creation for assistance, then how will these above mentioned beloved slaves help us on the Day of Judgment. This again is proof that it is not Shirk to ask them in this world either!
The events that will take place on the Day of Judgment are clear to all. We know that mankind will go to each Prophet (alaihimus salaam) seeking assistance, when finally they reach the Holy Prophet (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam), he will say, “I am for it (that is, I am that person who will intercede for you).”
He will then go into prostration and Praise the Almighty Allah, after which the Almighty Allah will say, “O Muhammad! Raise your head. Speak you shall be listened to. Ask, it shall be given to you. Intercede, your intercession will be accepted.”
The Prophet (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) will then intercede. After him, the great Prophets and Saints. If it is Shirk to ask the beloved servants of Allah for assistance, how will it be permissible on the Day of Judgment? We suggest to those who consider this action as Shirk to voice their opinion on the Day of Judgment, perhaps they will be amply “rewarded” for their folly.
May the Almighty Allah bestow upon people the Imaan to differentiate correctly between Shirk and Tauheed. Aameen!