Tawheed ar-Ruboobiyyah
Ibn Abee al-'lzz al-Hanafee rahimahullaah
From the commentary on the creed of at-Tahaawee rahimahullaah


Tawheed ar-Ruboobiyyah is Recognized by Instinct

Allaah the Most High said (what means),

"So bring yourself to the upright natural religion of Allaah, the one which He (fatara) created people upon. There will be no changing Allaah's creation, and that is the straight religion, but most people are not aware. Turn to Him, revere Him, and establish prayer, and do not be of the mushrikeen, those who divided their religion and became sects, each party rejoicing with that which is with them. And when people are touched by harm, they call their Lord, turning to Him. Then when He gives them a taste of His mercy, this is when some of them associate partners with their Lord due to their ingratitude for what We gave them. So enjoy! But you will come to know. Or have We revealed some authority to them, speaking of that which they associate with Him? And when We let people taste mercy, then they rejoice in it, but if some evil afflicts them because of what their hands wrought, then they despair!" (Ar-Room 30:30) And,

"Their messengers said to them, 'Is there doubt that Allaah is the Originator (Faatir) of the heavens and the Earth?'" (Ibraaheem 14:10)

The Prophet salallaahu alayhi wa sallam said, "Every child is born upon the fitrah, but his parents turn him into a Jew, a Christian, or a Zoroastrian." (Agreed upon)

Contrary to what some say, the above hadith does not mean that people are born with no sense, not knowing (the difference between) tawheed and shirk before they are changed. For he reported from his Lord the Creator (in the hadith qudsi), "I created My servants upright, then the shayaateen took hold of them." (Ahmad and Muslim)

This point is also proven by the previous hadith, since the Prophet salallaahu alayhi wa sallam said, " ... his parents turn him into a Jew, a Christian, or a Zoroastrian," but he did not say, "... or a Muslim." In one report it is narrated, "... born upon the millah ..." and in another, "... born upon this millah." [Shaykh Muhammad Naasir ud-Deen al-Albaani, may Allaah have Mercy upon him, who gave the references for the ahaadeeth in this book, left no comment after these two additional wordings, and this may be important to note since under the hadith he said, "It is a hadith which is agreed upon, narrated by Abu Hurayrah raddi Allaahu anhu and it is referenced in Irwaa' ul-Ghaleel no. 1220." However, upon checking that reference one notices that the term millah is not contained in any of the narrations listed. We are checking further.]

Tawheed ar-Ruboobiyyah is Recognized by Reason

Now what the Prophet salallaahu alayhi wa sallam has mentioned here, as even arguments of reason will testify, is true. Among these arguments are the following:

1. It is said that man will develop beliefs and desires that are sometimes correct and sometimes false; and he is susceptible to the motivation of his desires. In each case, when faced with a choice, he must choose one possibility or the other, and one will be preferable to him. We know that if he examines a subject to decide if it seems correct and beneficial to him, or if it seems false and harmful, then by instinct, he is inclined to what is correct and beneficial. In this case acknowledging the existence of a Creator and believing in Him is either the truth or it contradicts the truth, and the second is obviously false, so he must choose the first. This implies that there is some element in the fitrah which makes one recognize the Creator and believe in Him. After this, his instinct is either to love that which proves beneficial for him or not, and the second case is obviously false, so his fitrah must contain the kind of love that benefits him.

2. Man is naturally inclined toward what benefits him and keeps away from what is harmful, all according to the way he perceives it. Here everyone's fitrah will not be left alone to its own natural end, rather it will depend upon certain causes that affect it, like teaching etc. So the final result will depend upon the condition that exists or the absence of preventive factors.

3. It is well-known that every soul is agreeable to knowledge and desirous of the truth. But teaching and prodding alone will not bring knowledge and this desire if the soul does not possess the ability to accept it, and, unless it is aware of ignorance and falsehood enough to reject it when prodded to do so. Since the outcome of acknowledging the Creator may result without distinct external causes, and the soul will approve of that once it realises the need (for the Creator) and it is able to avoid what opposes the idea of such need, then the individual will choose the option that keeps him secure in that belief. So it is known that the submitting fitrah, if not affected by what violates it, will acknowledge the Creator, being submissive to Him.

4. It is also said that if it is not faced with either an external benefit, or an external harm, then the fitrah will incline to the benefit anyway, because inclination to knowing and the desire for what is right remains and that which would prevent that inclination is absent. It has been said about Abu Haneefah rahimahullaah that some people of Ahl ul-Kalaam wanted to debate acceptance of tawheed ar-Ruboobiyyah [Translator's note: meaning that they wanted to argue their view that everyone does not necessarily believe in tawheed ar-Ruboobiyyah]. So he said to them, "Before we talk about that issue, I want you to think about a boat in a river: it sets out to fill up with food, merchandise and the like, all by itself. It returns by itself (full), it docks by itself, unloads and starts all over again. It does all of this alone without the management of anyone at all!" They said, "This is absolutely impossible!" He replied, "If this is impossible for a boat, then how can everything in this universe go up and down (on its own)?" This story has also been mentioned from others besides Abu Haneefah rahimahullaah.

So if a person were to accept the tawheed ar-Ruboobiyyah that these people promote - as many of the people of sufism have fallen victim to as well as most of the mystics, as mentioned by the author of Manaazil as- Saa'reen and others - then by this he would not be worshipping Allaah alone nor freeing himself from worshipping others with Him, he would be committing shirk in its essence the same as that committed by the mushrikeen.

The Proof for Ruboobiyyah is the Proof for Uloohiyyah

The Qur'aan is full of acknowledgement and explanation of tawheed, and in it many examples are given. Among these explanations is the acknowledgement of tawheed ar- Ruboobiyyah, explaining that it means that there is no Creator but Allaah, and that this fact necessitates that none be worshipped except Allaah. So it places the first argument before the second. Since they (the mushrikeen) would only agree to the first argument, and they dismissed the second, He the Exalted made it clear to them: since you know that there is no Creator but Allaah alone, and He is the One who gives the worshippers what they benefit from, and protects them from what harms them - there being no partner with Him in this - then why do you worship other than Him and make gods other than Him? He the Beneficent said (what means),

"Say, 'Praise is due to Allaah, and peace be upon His slaves whom He has chosen (for His Message)! Is Allaah better, or what you associate with Him?' Isn't He (better than your gods) Who created the heavens and the Earth, and sent down water from the heavens for you, whereby We cause beautiful gardens of delight to grow? It is not in your power to grow their trees. Is there a god with Allaah? Rather they are people who made equals for Him." (An-Naml 27:59-60)

In this passage, at the end of each ayah Allaah says, "Is there a god with Allaah?" Meaning, is there a god with Allaah that does this? This is a rhetorical question which implies negation. They acknowledged that none did this other than Allaah so such was an argument against them. The question is not, "Are there in fact other gods with Allaah?" as some speculate, because this meaning does not make sense when taken with the rest of the statement. The people did place other gods with Allaah as He said, "'Do you bear witness that with Allaah there are other gods?' Say, 'I do not bear witness.'" (Al-An'am 6:19)

They said, "'Has he turned all of the gods into one? This is surely a strange thing.'" (Saad 38:5) However, they were not claiming that there was a god with Him that " ... made the earth as an abode, and put the rivers in its midst, and put cliffs on them, and put a barrier between the two seas." (An-Naml 27:61)

Rather they acknowledged that Allaah alone did that as the remaining ayaat explain. Similarly He the Most High said (what means) "O People! Worship your Lord, the one who created you and those before you, so that you may have taqwa." (Al-Baqarah 2:21) Similarly He the Exalted said, "Say, 'If Allaah took away your hearing and sight and He put a seal on your hearts, do you think that there is a god other than Allaah who could restore this for you?'" (Al-An'aam 6:46)

This is the tawheed ar-Ruboobiyyah which is made out to be the sole focus of tawheed by the theorists and those among the soofeeyah that agree with them. However, when it is included with the tawheed that the messengers came with, that the books were revealed for, then it is known that its evidences are numerous, just like the evidences that confirm the Creator, and the truth of the messengers. Since the knowledge of this is more important for people, its evidences are more clear - out of mercy from Allaah for His creatures. In the Qur'aan, Allaah has given the people every example, each holding immense logic and benefit for religious inquiries. Indeed the Qur'aan explains the truth with wisdom and evidence, so what can there be besides truth except deviation? And what about the concepts well-known by necessity that are supported by it, proven by it, without any argument against them?

Deduction is the clearest way for explanation, and it is the Qur'aan's way contrary to what the ignorant claim - those who say that the Qur'aan does not utilise the method of substantiation. Rather, whatever arguments or objections are brought up in it, it clarifies them and provides the proof for them.

Arguments Against the Concept of Gods Other Than Allaah

The absurdity of shirk in Ruboobiyyah is well-known to most people, meaning to believe in two creators who are equal in their attributes and actions. Only some of the mushrikeen believed that there was a creator who created some portion of the universe. Like the Dualists with their belief in the Darkness, and the Qadariyah with the actions of the living beings, or the ancient philosophers about the movement of planetary bodies and souls, or their beliefs about physics; these people all affirm the occurrence of events without any initiation by Allaah. So they are mushrikoon in some Ruboobiyyah. Now most of the mushrikeen among the Arabs and their like believed that there were gods for things that caused benefit and harm, without Allaah having anything to do with that. Since this is the kind of shirk in Ruboobiyyah that exists among most people, the Qur'aan explained its falsehood as He the Most Sublime said (what means),

"Allaah did not take children, nor is there any god with Him. (If there had been many gods) behold, each god would have taken away what he had created, and some would have tried to overcome others! Glorified be Allaah above all that they attribute to Him!" (Al-Mu'minoon 23:91)

Look at this brilliant argument, with such clear and precise wording. The true god must be creating and doing, giving benefit to His servant and protecting him from harm. So if there was another god with Him sharing in His kingdom, then it too would be creating and doing, and in this case the partnership would be unacceptable, rather if he has the power to overcome that partner and be left alone in his sovereignty and divinity without him, then he would do that. If he is not able to do that, then he will withdraw with his creation into retreat as the kings of the earth do when retreating from others with their sovereignty when one is not able to defeat the other. Then this scenario requires one of three possibilities:

1. That each god retreats with his creation and authority.

2. That one of them defeats the others.

3. That they would all be under the control of one king doing with them as he wills and they would have no say in the matter, then this one would be their god, and they would be his servants, lorded over and subdued in every sense of the word.

The maintenance of the affairs of the universe and regulation of it is an evidence proving that one God organises it all, one King, one Lord, there is no god for creation other than Him, just as the evidence of impossibility (see previous article) proves that the universe's creator is one, there is no Lord other than Him and no god equal to Him. So just as it is impossible for the universe to have two equal creators, likewise it is also impossible that there would be two gods to be worshipped.

Commenting on the "Proof of Impossibility"

The idea that the existence of the universe originated from two equal creators is absolutely impossible. This is acknowledged by the fitrah, well- known by its obviousness, and proven false by reason. Similarly then, the concept of two gods is also proven false. So the noble ayah that supports the fitrah's confirmation and acknowledgement of tawheed ar- Ruboobiyyah is the same evidence that proves the necessity of tawheed al-Uloohiyyah. Similar in meaning to the previous ayah is the following statement of Allaah the Greatest (which means), "If there were in them (the heavens and the earth) gods besides Allaah, then there would be chaos." (Al-Anbiyaa' 21:22)

Some groups considered this to be the 'proof of the impossibility' as preceded in our discussion (see previous article), meaning the impossibility of two creators for the universe. But they neglected the meaning of the ayah, for He the Almighty informed us about what would happen if there were GODS other than Him; He did not say, 'Lords'. Additionally, this is only after the creation of the heavens and the earth. If the heavens and the earth existed and there were gods in them other than Him, the One True God, then there would certainly be chaos. He the All Wise said (what means), "there would be chaos," and this chaos is after existence in general; He did not say, "then there would be nothing." So the ayah proves that it is not possible for numerous gods to be in the heavens and the earth, rather there cannot be any god but one, and due to that it is not possible for this god to be other than Allaah - praised be He! Chaos in the heavens and the earth is what would result from the existence of more than one god in them, and if there was one god other than Allaah then there would be no benefit for the servants unless that god was Allaah alone.

So if there were two gods to be worshipped in the universe, then all of its affairs would be in chaos. Rather its maintenance can only be by justice, with it the heavens and the earth stand. Dark oppression spreads with shirk, and justice is by the correct tawheed.

Tawheed al-Uloohiyyah is deduced from tawheed ar-Ruboobiyyah, it is not the other way around. Whoever is unable to create, then he is powerless, and there is no benefit in the powerless being considered to be a god. Allaah said (what means), "Do they associate with Allaah those who created nothing and who are themselves created?" (Al-A'raaf 7:191) And, "Is the one who creates like the one who does not create? Why do you not reflect (upon this)?" (An- Nahl 16:17) And, "If there were other gods with Him, as they say, then they would have certainly sought a way before the Throne." (Al-Israa' 17:42)

There are two sayings among the later commentators on this particular ayah. The first, "...they would try to find a way to defeat Him," and the second saying, which is the correct report from the early Muslims like Qataadah and others, and the saying mentioned by Ibn Jareer (in fact, he mentioned no other saying for it): "... they would seek a way to be near Him." As in His Saying (which means), "Surely this is a reminder, so whoever wills, let him seek a way to His Lord." (Ad- Dahr 76:29) So He the Magnificent said (what means), "If there were other gods with Him, as they say ... " (Al-Isra' 17:42)

And they were not saying that there were two creators, but they were claiming gods with Him the Most High to be used for INTERCESSION as they said, "We do not worship them except to become nearer to Allaah." (Az-Zumar 39:3) By this they contradicted the ayah before it (which commanded not taking intercessors): "So worship Allaah (Alone) by doing religious deeds sincerely for Allaah's sake only, and not to show off, and not to set up rivals with Him in worship." (Az-Zumar 39:2)