What is the Tauhid?
Say, “My prayer, my offering, my life and my death are for Allah, the Lord of all the worlds. (162) Sura Al-Anaam (6), Verse 162]
Tauhid is the opposite of idolatry (Schirk): it is pure monotheism. As short and simple as this definition may look, most people do not understand the implications of this definition. This is because the definition of idolatry involves much more than just the worship of stones and figures of the invented Gods. Let us try to understand the concept of Tauhid by sharply differentiating it from all forms of idolatry.
First, we must understand the meaning of our creation itself. The Koran says:
"And I created Djinn and men only whereupon they serve Me. [The noble Quran 51 Verse 56]
We did not send before you any messenger but We revealed to him that there is no god but I, so worship Me.” (25)
[Sura 21 Verse 25]
So we are created to serve and worship Allah. This is the reason of our being. Those who do not understand this meaning inevitably commit idolatry (Schirk), even if they may believe in a God. For he will serve something other than God alone, e.g. his fatherland, his career, his family, his material prosperity and others, especially his own ego. Of course, the first questions will arise here at the latest, such as: "Yes, doesn't a Muslim work and doesn't strain himself for the family?" Yes, he does, but his intention should be different. To understand this, let us illuminate the different forms of idolatry:
There are three forms of idolatry:
1. the greater idolatry (Schirk Akbar).
2. the smaller idolatry (Schirk Asghar).
3.The inconspicuous idolatry (Schirk Khafi)
What does this mean specifically?
1. Schirk Akbar
Whoever commits Schirk Akbar is no Muslim! It is sin that Allah will not forgive:
Surely, disbelievers are those who say, “Allah is the Masih, son of Maryam” while the Masih had said, “O children of Isra’il , worship Allah, my Lord and your Lord.” In fact, whoever ascribes any partner to Allah, Allah has prohibited for him the Jannah (the Paradise), and his shelter is the Fire, and there will be no supporters for the unjust. (72) [Sura 5 Verse 72]
Schirk Akbar is divided into four categories, and we will see that many people commit this great sin without realizing it.
a. The Schirk in Worship
But this does not only include the worship of another God besides Allah, but also the request for help, which only Allah is entitled to: If we ask someone to show us the way to the post office, this is of course no Schirk; but if we ask e.g. a doctor to protect us from death, then this is indeed Schirk, because this is a request that only God can fulfill. Only God has power over life and death.
b. The Schirk in Intention
If, for example, we go to war for the sake of our country and not because of Allah, then this is also Schirk, and we die for something other than Allah. Our intention should be to serve Allah and defend His religion, but not to defend man-made borders and constitutions.
c. The Schirk in obedience
This is the shirk to which most of today's so-called Muslims fall victim: Obedience to man-made laws, disregarding the laws of God.
When one day a verse from the Koran was read to a Christian named'Adi bin Hatim, who later joined Islam, he thought it meant taking someone to God, bowing before him and bowing down. He therefore contradicted the Prophet s.a.w. and said that Christians do not take priests and monks as gods. Then the Prophet explained s.a.w. this verse: "... take their priests as gods beside Allah":
"It is true (Christians do not bow down before their priests), but verily they forbid something that Allah has allowed, and allow something that Allah has forbidden, after which the people follow their decrees. And that's why they worship her!" [Ahmad]
d. The Schirk in love
You commit this shirk, if you love something or someone, with a love that only Allah deserves. Here in Europe you inevitably think of Jesus, who is not only placed next to Allah in worship by Christians, but above all also in love. We also remember the test Abraham a.s. was given, namely to sacrifice his son, whom he had not seen for years and loved dearly. Abraham passed the test because his love and obedience to God was stronger than his love for Ishmael.
2. Schirk Asghar
The smaller idolatry is Ar-Riya, actually a form of Schirk in the intention, but without letting one go out of Islam: One does not worship purely because of Allah, but to be praised by other people because of one's own "piety“.
However, Ar-Riya can also become a great success if "all" deeds are continually done only to be praised by society (eye-serving). Then you're a Munafiq, a hypocrite.
3. Schirk Khafi
This Shirk means that one is dissatisfied with the fate, although Allah has already determined this for one. Also this widespread Schirk does not let you leave Islam.
The Worship of the Ego
The above forms of idolatry are those commonly called. But now we will see that in principle every sin is also a form of Schirk! For again, we are made whereupon we serve Allah. If we serve anything other than Allah, this is Schirk. Ego is everything that does not serve God, even Schirk. And usually everything that doesn't serve God serves our ego. This is confirmed in several places in the Koran:
Tell me about the one who has taken his desire as his god, would you then, become a guardian for him? (43)
[Sura Al-Furqan (25), Verse 43]
So, have you seen him who has taken his desires as his god, and Allah has let him go astray, despite having knowledge, and has sealed his ear and his heart, and put a cover on his eye? Now who will guide him after Allah? Still, do you not take lesson? (23)
[Sura Al-Jathiya (45), Verse 23]
Most people worship their ego and serve it by following their tastes and desires. But, you might ask, you have to eat and sleep, these are quite natural inclinations. That's right! So there must be a criterion that tells us when something serves God and where is the limit from which we serve our ego.
Allah created us as human beings together with our natural needs. God in His grace has now determined that if we satisfy our (basic) needs, this is considered a worship service. We must eat to be strong for worship. So food itself becomes a worship service. But, everything must be practiced within its defined limits and in the right balance.
The first criterion that defines these limits is Sharia, the divine law: e.g. eating only what is halal and not during the day in Ramadan. So there are limits to our inclinations:
[Sura Al-Maeda (5), Verse 87]
Sharia determines which things are allowed and which are not. But even with the good things that are allowed, there is a limit that should not be crossed.
The second criterion is the model of the Prophet s.a.w. It is said that Muhammad s.a.w. is the perfect example for us humans. He has shown us what a life wanted by God looks like in practice. And if we love and serve Allah, we must follow Muhammad's example:
[Sura Al-E-Imran (3), Verse 31]
However, since the model of the Prophet s.a.w. is generally a shining ideal for the normal believer, which he strives for, it is at the same time hardly or not at all attainable in everyday life. That is why a third criterion is added: the voice of one's own heart.
Each of us must feel what is God-pleasing in our present situation and serves God or our ego. The ideal is to make our whole life a service, starting with our prayer, our work, eating, sleeping, learning, travelling, even going to the toilet! What makes all these activities a worship service:
a) our sincere intention (for and because of Allah alone) and
b) to carry out this activity in accordance with the model of the Prophet s.a.w.
However, our intention can only be sincere if we are "awake". Only when we are "awake" can we see whether what we are doing really serves Allah or not. One exercise to keep us awake is, for example, the recitation of the basmallas ("Bismillahirrahmannirrahim": In the name of Allah, the Merciful, the Merciful) before an activity. So we can see relatively easily whether an activity is god-pleasing or not. A simple example: It is impossible to light a cigarette and recite the Basmallah! Smoking cannot possibly serve God, on the contrary: it destroys our health and also our money, which we should both use for our religion. Ergo: it serves 100% our ego, and if we are extreme, we could say it is therefore 100% Schirk. If we are already full after a plate of food, but pile up another one because it tastes so good: again, we serve our ego and move away from pure tauhid.
Someone who is really awake can observe his thoughts and will not entertain thoughts that are useless or bad and follow desires. If such thoughts should arise, he will concentrate again on Allah and deal with productive thoughts.
Here you need a lot of wisdom (and actually also a spiritual guide[Scheikh], which you hardly find nowadays). The key here is not to fall into extremism and to choose a middle path that slowly but surely approaches the model of the prophet, but at the same time one does not become proud of what has already been achieved (and thus again serves one's ego). This path is individually different and depends on our personal strength and abilities, on external circumstances and ultimately... from God!
It is a narrow path, and few find it, the realization of pure Tauhid: A life pure for Allah
(Taken from the page "The Tauhid" and revised)