Tawheed is the essence of Islam. Tawheed is an Arabic term which means ‘oneness’ and ‘unity.’ In Islamic terminology it means the oneness of God. It is a fundamental doctrine of Islam referring to the oneness of God in all it meanings. Thus the declaration that ‘there is no God but Allah’ is called Tawheed. God has no partner (sharik), He exists by Himself. Nothing can rival Him as a source of power or love. There is no one worthy of worship other than God. He is not an abstract concept. He is always near us; He cares for us and we owe our existence to Him alone.
Islam established a close and direct relationship between the Creator and His creation. In Islam no mediating power of any kind exists between the Creator and His creation. God’s absolute unity is reflected in the unity of His creation in which each individual part is in harmonious order with the remainder. There is nothing remotely like Him. The Quran thus enjoins us:
“Say: He is God, the one. God the Absolute. He begets not, nor is He begotten; And there is none like Him.” (chapter 112).
Tawheed means that God alone is the Creator and Sustainer of the universe including human beings. He is the only possessor of all powers. He is Omniscient, Omnipotent, and Omnipresent. That is, He knows everything, He sees everything and is present everywhere, although invisible to the naked eye.
Monotheism is to believe in the fact that all power lies in the hand of one God alone; that He alone deserves to be worshipped. No act in the nature of worship is lawful unless directed towards God. It is God alone who fulfills our needs. It is God alone who is behind the functioning of the entire universe.
Here are further verses from the Qur'an which state very clearly the concept of God:
“Truly your God is but one; Lord of the heavens and of the earth.” (37:4)
“This is God your Lord; there is no god but He, the Creator of all things; therefore, worship Him alone.” (6:102)
“Your God is one God; there is no God but He, the Compassionate, the Merciful (2:158)
“God: there is no God but He the Living, the Eternal One. Neither slumber nor sleep overtakes Him. His is what the heavens and the earth contain. Who can intercede with Him, unless by His leave? He is cognizant of men’s affairs now and in the future. Men can grasp only that part of His knowledge which He will. His throne is as vast as the heavens and the earth, and the preservation of both does not weary Him. He is the Exalted, the Immense One.” (2:255)
Tawheed has two aspects to it: tawheed fi az-Zat and tawheed fi as-Sifat, that is, oneness of being and oneness of attributes. This means that God is alone in His Being as well as in His attributes.
The attributes of God are called Al Asmaul Husna, or the excellent names. The Quran says: “But God’s are excellent names, call on Him thereby.” (7:179) Abu Hurayrah, a companion of the Prophet, has narrated a saying of the Prophet to this effect: “Verily, there are ninety nine names of God.’
Islam enjoins the believers to worship one God alone. No other being or object is worthy of being worshipped. No other being should be associated with God. Idolatry or shirk is to worship or hold in reverence anything other than God. It is strictly forbidden in Islam, and is regarded as the worst of all sins.
The Far Reaching effect of Tawheed
By believing in one true God man is saved from worshipping many false gods. Tawheed enables man to establish a direct link between God and man.
Belief in tawheed makes man humble and modest instead of being proud and arrogant. It is because belief in one Great God implies that man is His humble servant and that modesty alone befits him. Believers know that they must submit to God, on whom they depend utterly. Submission to one God results in individual freedom and dignity, for, all human beings become equal and all deserve our respect. There is only one God and all of us are servants of the same God. Belief in the oneness of God helps individual to live in unity with others. Belief in one Creator gives a sense of oneness with all creation.
Belief in one God gives the believers confidence, for, they trust in God and believe that nothing can happen unless God wills it. Life and death are entirely in His hands. They remain content because they believe that power, wealth and success come from God alone. He gives them to whom He wants and takes them away from whom he wants. Tawheed thus brings about a unique blend of submission to God and human dignity and freedom.