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An Overview of Kitāb Al-Tawḥīd: Part 1

Posted by Abu Iyaad
Thursday, May 30 2024
Filed under Tawḥīd

The Book of Monotheism

THE BOOK OF MONOTHEISM by Shaykh al-Islām Muḥammad bin ʿAbd al-Wahhāb (رحمه الله) elucidates and clarifies the meaning of the statement (لا إله إلا الله), “There is none worthy of worship but Allāh alone”. This statement enters a person into Islām, which is the religion of all the Prophets and Messengers of Allāh.

This book explains the reality of Tawḥīd al-Ulūhiyyah, or Tawḥīd al-ʿIbādah (strict, pure monotheism in belief, speech and deed, which is singling out Allāh with all forms and types of worship, and unifying them for Him alone) and makes mention of its rulings, limits, conditions, excellence, evidences, foundations, details, requirements, fruits, what strengthens and weakens it, what nullifies it, and what completes and perfects it.

The author brought verses of the Qurʾān and ḥadīths from the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) with little speech of his own. Being a clarification and elucidation of the reality of what the Qurʾān came with, in confirmation of the messages of previous prophets and messengers, it is a proof (ḥujjah) against the polytheists, the Jews, the Christians and the misguided among the Muslims who followed the ways of these past nations, just as the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) informed that they would, handspan by handspan.

Rather, he (صلى الله عليه وسلم) informed explicitly, that some from this ummah would worship idols, indicating, that although the entirety of this ummah would not go astray, as did past nations, some among them would certainly fall into the avenues, snares, and web complexes of shirk. This indicates the severity of this matter, because Tawḥīd is the foundation for rectification of the earth and its inhabitants, and determines their bliss in this life and the next.

What follows below is a summary and overview of the book for the purpose of revision and review. It is subject to addition, editing and revision for improvement.

Click on a chapter title to expand and view its summary or click the button below to expand/collapse all chapter summaries.

On Tawḥīd, its meaning, obligation and explanation, calling to it and fear of falling into shirk

Chapter 01 Allāh’s right upon His servants is to single Him out in worship

Verses: (51:56-) (16:36-) (17:23-) (6:151-)

Tawḥid is to single out Allāh with attributes of majesty and perfection and to single Him out in worship. It comprises both knowledge and action. As for knowledge, then it is Tawḥīd al-Rubūbiyyah and Tawḥīd al-Asmāʾ wal-ṢĪfāt. And as for action, then it is Tawḥīd al-Ulūhiyyah. All revealed books and sent messengers called to this Tawḥīd, which is the foundation of Islām, the religion of all Prophets and Messengers. This Tawḥīd is Allāh’s right over His servants, it is the greatest foundation of the religion, and of every act of worship.

Allāh created the Jinn and Men for His worship, and He sent prophets and messengers to invite them to this. Mankind was once united upon this, prior to the era of Nūḥ (عليه السلام). Rejection of false deities and singling Allāh out in worship is the greatest right and the greatest justice, from which all other manifestations of justice emanate.

Chapter 02 The excellence of Tawḥīd and its expiation of sins

Verses: (6:82-)

Alongside Tawḥid being the greatest obligation, it is the greatest goodness, it has great effects and tremendous rewards. It expiates sins, even if they were equal to a fill of the earth. Whoever met Allāh, without having associated others in worship with Him, his sins will be expiated, he will receive mercy and forgiveness and enter Paradise. From its results is goodness in this life and the next. It leads to provision, safety and security in this life and the next. It leads to relief from the afflictions and calamities of the world and the hereafter. It earns Allāh's pleasure in this life and the next and intercession in the hereafter. It facilitates and leads a believer to do righteous deeds. It also gives weight to his deeds, even if they are few. Most importantly, it liberates man from being enslaved to the creation, being attached to them, fearing them, hoping in them, and acting for their sake. This is in fact, true liberation, true nobility and honour. It also leads to victory and authority in this world.

Chapter 03 Whoever actualizes Tawḥīd will enter Paradise without reckoning

Verses: (16:120-) (23:59-)

This chapter is a completion of the previous chapter. Whoever actualises Tawḥīd, in belief, word and deed, like Ibrāhīm (عليه السلام), and makes completion and perfection therein, placing complete reliance upon Allāh in all affairs, will enter Paradise without any reckoning.

This is achieved by complete sincerity to Allāh in intentions, words and deeds, and then shunning shirk, that which is major and invalidates the foundation of Tawḥīd, and that which is minor and impairs Tawḥīd, rendering it deficient and incomplete. Likewise, with safety from innovations and sins, which pollute the affair of Tawḥīd and prevent a servant from receiving its benefits. The one who implements all of this, with complete reliance upon Allāh, without his heart being attached to the creation, will enter Paradise without reckoning.

People vary in their actualisation of Tawḥīd, they are of degree and ranks based upon their sincerity, the rooting of faith in their hearts, their righteousness and the degree of their reliance and attachment to Allāh.

Chapter 04 Fear of falling into Shirk

Verses: (4:48-) (14:35-)

The Muwaḥḥid is fearful of both the major shirk (which invalidates Tawḥīd), such as invoking others besides Allāh and sacrificing to other than Allāh, and the minor shirk (which impairs Tawḥīd, making it deficient), and from the greatest of that is doing deeds for show and recognition. In fact the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) feared minor shirk greatly for his ummah, and warned them against it. Minor shirk refers to all statements and actions (and intentions and feelings) that lead to major shirk, being a doorway and avenue to it, but are not in themselves, major shirk. This includes swearing by other than Allāh, infrequent showing off and dissimulation (doing deeds for praise, recognition) and so on.

Hence, in order not to be deprived of the fruits and benefits of Tawḥīd, the believing Muwaḥḥid is fearful, just like Ibrāhīm (عليه السلام), of being put to trial with major shirk and likewise being afflicated with minor shirk in intentions, words and deeds. Thus, he strives to maintain sincerity in all affairs and all states.

Chapter 05 Calling to the testimony that none has the right to be worshipped but Allāh

Verses: (12:108-)

In the previous chapters, the author mentioned the obligation of Tawḥīd and its excellence, its expiation of sins, strong encouragement upon its actualisation and completion, inwardly and outwardly, and fearing its opposite. This leads to a servant's perfection of himself.

Given that Tawḥīd is the greatest good, the greatest justice, and the first and greatest obligation, then inviting and guiding others to it is also from its actualisation and its completion. Whoever does so is following the way of the Prophets and Messengers and it has great rewards. A person calls with knowledge and insight, with wisdom and good manners, and has patience in the face of harm and abuse, as is the way of the Messengers.

Chapter 06 Explanation of [the meaning of] Tawḥīd and the testimony that none has the right to be worshipped but Allāh

Verses: (17:57-) (43:26-) (9:31-) (2:165-)

Tawḥīd is to acknowledge Allāh's uniqueness in His attributes of perfection and to make worship purely and sincerely for Him alone. However, the reality of Tawḥīd is only made clear through what opposes and invalidates it. From the affairs that the author (رحمه الله) mentions in this chapter, by way of example, are the following:

a) invoking the righteous (for aid, rescue, intercession etc.).
b) obedience to priests, rabbis, scholars in what is unlawful and sinful.
c) showing loyalty and allegiance to the polytheists, based on love of them and their religion, whereas the word of Tawḥīd necessitates disavowal and repudiation.
d) loving other deities with a type of reverential love that is due only to Allāḥ.

All of these are affairs of major shirk, and the author mentioned them here to contrast them with Tawḥīd, though they are covered in separate chapters later in the book. Tawḥīd cannot and does not exist except with disbelief in and rejection of every deity worshipped besides Him, because it is being worshipped in vain and in falsehood.

After laying the foundations in the first six chapters, the author (رحمه الله) then proceeds to mention a variety of issues relating to both minor shirk and major shirk over the next 17 chapters. From the affairs that enter into shirk, and which become a doorway to major shirk is error in causation (superstition) and taking means that are not means, neither legislatively, in the Sharīʿah, nor creationally, in the systems of cause and effect. In this regard, the author (رحمه الله) began with wearing bracelets, threads and using talismans and the likes.

On bracelets, threads, talismans and incantations for protection

Chapter 07 From Shirk is to wear bracelets, threads and their likes to prevent or remove affliction

Verses: (39:38-)

Wearing bracelets, cords, threads and the likes to prevent and remove harm, believing they are from the means is from the minor shirk. These affairs were rejected with harshness by the Companions. If the one who wears or hangs them believes they can prevent or remove affliction after its occurrence, then this is major shirk. Whoever relied on these things is abandoned by Allāḥ and left to these things which, in reality, are of no benefit to him. Hence, he is left to that which his heart is attached, and which is not even from the means.

Means are only those established in the Sharīʿah or verifiably proven to be means through research and investigation. When something is established to be a means, then though a person implements it, his reliance is upon Allāh, its Creator, and not upon the means itself. This is because every cause depends on other causes, all of which are created by Allāh, who is independent and without cause, and thus, ultimately, all results and outcomes are completely under His will, power and control. Thus, one takes the proven, legitimate, legislated means, with his heart attached to Allāh, with his knowledge that despite taking all the means, a successful outcome, or attainment of the goal only lies with Allāh.

Chapter 08 What has come regarding incantations and talismans

Incantations uttered by the people of pre-Islamic ignorance contained affairs of shirk, and likewise they used to wear and hang talismans, on themselves or their animals, for protection from evil eye and other afflictions. These affairs are from shirk. If a person believes that the talisman, in itself, is able to repel and remove affliction, then this is major shirk. But if he believes that wearing it or hanging it is a means, while Allāh is the one who repels and removes affliction, then this is minor shirk.

However, ruqyah with true speech (reciting the Qurʾān, remembrances and supplications) is not from those affairs and is legislated. As for wearing talismans from the Qurʾān then this is disliked and becomes an avenue for other than it, alongside what it contains of disrespect for the Qurʾān.

On seeking blessings from trees and stones

Chapter 09 On the one who seeks blessings from trees and stones

Verses: (53:19-) (7:138-)

The Pagan Arabs would seek blessing through trees and stones (and graves or tombs of the righteous dead), yet Allāh is the source of all blessing (barakah) and it is not sought except from Him. Hence, this is from the affairs of shirk.

Allāh has placed blessing (virtue, excellence, growth, abundance, goodness) in certain things, such as times (Ramaḍān) and places (the Ḥaramayn, and mosques). Likewise, in men, through faith and piety, or physical well-being and strength and likewise, in things, such as zamzam water and ajwā dates. So He is the one who places blessing in things, and hence it is sought from Him alone, and through things that He legislated and made a means for blessing, worldly or religious, in this life, or the next. However, outside of that, seeking blessings from things, such as trees, stones, graves, tombs, relics and the likes, all of this is prohibited and enters into shirk. If a person believes that these things in themselves confer blessings, due to their essences, then this is major shirk. And if he believes blessing is from Allāh, but that these things are a means to acquire blessings, then this is minor shirk.

On sacrificing to other than Allāh

Chapter 10 What has come regarding sacrificing to other than Allāh

Verses: (6:162-) (108:2-)

Slaughter of animals for consumption is done out of veneration of their Creator, so when their blood is spilt, it is spilt in veneration of Allāh and recognition of His favour of creating and providing mankind with livestock for meat, as well as other things such as drink (milk), clothing (skin, fur) and transport. Hence, it is from the greatest of affairs of worship, which is connected to the prayer in a number of places in the Qurʾān. To sacrifice to other than Allāh, such as to a righteous dead person, a jinn, a prophet or an angel, is major shirk.

Chapter 11 Sacrifice is not made for Allāh in places where sacrifice is made for other than Allāh

Verses: (9:108-)

The previous chapter relates to the end-goals, objectives (maqaṣid), which is to avoid that which is major shirk. And this chapter relates to the means and avenues (wasāʾil). This is from the angle of closing the avenues that lead to sacrificing for other than Allāh. Hence, a Muslim is prohibited from sacrificing in places where the polytheists make their sacrifices to their deities, because this is resemblance of them, and it is an avenue towards shirk.

In a more general sense, Muslims are prohibited from resembling the disbelievers and polytheists in their symbols, celebrations, appearances, apparel and in everything that is unique to them. The wisdom behind this is to keep Muslims distant from outward agreement that leads to being inclined to their ways.

Vowing to other than Allāh

Chapter 12 From Shirk is to vow to other than Allāh

Verses: (76:7-) (2:270-)

Making a vow (oath) to offer worship to Allāh if Allāḥ grants the servant something is to have an evil opinion of Allāh and to believe that Allāḥ only gives in return for something offered to Him, whereas Allāh bestows favours and bounties upon His creation freely. Making a vow is an act of worship as it is based on veneration for the one to whom the vow is made, wherein a person obligates something upon himself (that the Sharīʿah did not obligate upon him). Hence, making a vow to other than Allāh is major shirk.

Thus, the one who makes a vow to a Jinn or a dead person, or to an angel, that he will do something, such as give charity, or make a sacrifice, then this is major shirk. This is because the vow entails veneration and seeking nearness to and acceptance from the one to whom the vow is made.

Making a vow (to Allāh, to do an act of obedience), in principle, is forbidden as it will not affect Allāh’s decree and is a sign of miserliness in obedience and worship. However, if a vow of obedience is made to Allāh, then it must be fulfilled. Vows that entail sin are forbidden and are not to be fulfilled.

Seeking refuge, rescue and relief from other than Allāh

Chapter 13 From Shirk is to seek refuge with other than Allāh

Verses: (72:6-)

Seeking refuge (الإستعاذة) involves an invocation, a request, wherein refuge, safety and protection is sought, in a state of fear, during an affliction, while the heart submits and relegates the affair to the one being sought, and hence it is worship. As such, to seek refuge in other than Allāh in affairs none has power over but Allāh is major shirk, such as the one who sought refuge with the dead during a calamity, or from one who is remote and unable to hear him.

Chapter 14 From Shirk is to seek rescue from other than Allāh or to invoke other than Him

Verses: (10:106-) (29:17-) (46:5-) (27:62-)

Seeking rescue (الاستغاثة) is a form of supplication in which rescue is sought from a calamity, in which there is severe harm or death. When rescue is sought from other than Allāh in what only Allāh has power over, then this is major shirk. And the scholars have explained the conditions in which it is permitted to seek rescue from others, it is when they are living, present, hearing and able to do what is sought from them. An example would be calling on bystanders to rescue you while trapped in a building that is burning. As for invoking someone who is thousands of miles away, or a dead person for rescue then this is major shirk. No one invokes in this manner unless he believes that they are able to hear from a distance and have powers that belong only to Allāh. Otherwise, there is no reason to invoke them given that Allāh has expressly forbidden that others are invoked alongside Him and has declared them powerless over benefit and harm.

Note: In the preceding chapters, the author has brought affairs that relate to the heart the tongue and the limbs, since worship occurs with the heart, tongue and limbs. So sacrificing to other than Allāh is a physical act of worship, but it also involves the heart and its veneration. And making a vow is both verbal (imposing something upon oneself) and physical (performing it) and it also comprises veneration in the heart of the one to whom the vow is made. And likewise, seeking refuge and seeking rescue, they are verbal and comprise belief in the heart (in the ability of the one being sought to provide refuge and rescue), and the actions of the heart. In this manner, the author, in bringing all these affairs with their texts, has elucidated the reality of Tawḥīd by explaining what contradicts, violates, impairs and clashes with it, until the reader is able to clearly comprehend its reality.

Affirmation of Rubūbiyyah for Allāh falsifies invocation of others for refuge, rescue and relief

Chapter 15 Allāh the Exalted’s statement: “Do they associate [as partners to Allāh] those who create nothing but are themselves created? And no help are they able to give, nor can they help themselves.” (7:191-192)

Verses: (35:13-)

The author (رحمه الله), from his great insight, placed this chapter after the preceding chapters related to seeking refuge and rescue. This chapter establishes that those invoked besides Allāh do not possess even the membrane of a date seed, and as such invoking them (for refuge, rescue and relief) is irrational. The author mentioned ḥadīths to show how the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم)—when abused and harmed by his enemies—invoked Allāh for aid and relief, and how the Prophet explicitly told his family and relatives, that he can avail them nothing against Allāh. Thus, this chapter uses the affirmation of Rubūbiyyah for Allāh to negate and falsify invoking others for refuge, rescue and relief.

Chapter 16 Allāh the Exalted's statement: “Until when fear is banished from their (angels') hearts, they (angels) say: ‘What is it that your Lord has said?’ They say: ‘The truth. And He is the Most High, the Most Great.’” (34:23-)

This chapter highlights the Majesty of Allāh and His Greatness in that the inhabitants of the heavens fear Him (16:50-) (21:28-) and hold Him in awe. This further emphasizes that He alone is worthy of worship. Thus, the previous chapter alludes to His creative power, that He alone creates independently and He alone aids His servants when in need, and this chapter alludes to attributes of perfection and beauty, to augment the previous chapter. Thus, when we combine both chapters, they provide evidence that He alone is worthy of worship, that the Prophets hold Him in reverence and awe, and invoke Him for relief, and the inhabitants of the heavens likewise, hold Him in reverence and awe.


Chapter 17 Intercession

Verses: (6:51-) (39:44-) (2:255-) (53:26-) (34:22-)

The author (رحمه الله) brought this chapter because the associationists, when evidence is presented against seeking refuge and rescue from other than Allāh, such as the righteous dead, they respond by saying we acknowledge that they do not aid or deliver, or have power to prevent or repel harm, but we only seek their intercession, for them to intercede on our behalf with Allāh, because they are closer to Allāh, and we seek closeness to Him through them, so that He can fulfil our needs, given that they carry favour with Him and He is more likely to respond to them.

Intercession is worship because it is invocation (الدعاء) and also seeking invocation of another (طلب الدعاء). Hence, they invoke others besides Allāh, those who are dead, remote from them and cannot hear them, requesting them to invoke Allāh for them, so this is seeking intercession from them and this is major shirk.

The intercession that is affirmed and accepted is that which occurs with His permission (since to Him belongs all dominion) and with Him being pleased with the interceder and the one being interceded for (53:26-), which means they must be people of Tawḥīd. Thus, one asks Allāh to facilitate for him the intercession of others, as it only occurs with His permission and pleasure. He does not ask anyone for intercession directly as this falsely assumes that anyone is freely able to intercede for others with Allāh, without His permission and pleasure, which would be an encroachment upon His dominion and authority.

Guidance to Tawḥīd

Chapter 18 Allāh the Exalted’s statement: “Indeed you [O Muḥammad] do not guide whom you like but Allāh guides whomever He wills.” (28:56-)

Those who are attached to other than Allāh, seek guidance from them in affairs of their world and hereafter. This takes the form of seeking aid from them, seeking refuge in them, seeking rescue from them, seeking their intercession. So the author (رحمه الله) placed this chapter to show that even the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) is unable to guide those whom he likes, such as his uncles and near relatives, and that the affair is entirely with Allāh. This is further evidence that the hearts should only be attached to Him and only He should be sought for one’s beneficial interests in the world and the hereafter.

Causes and Avenues Leading to Major Shirk (Grave and Idol-Worship)

Chapter 19 What has come regarding the cause of disbelief of Ādam's offspring and their abandonment of their religion, that it is exaggeration in the [status of] the righteous people

Verses: (4:171-) (71:23-)

Having explained the reality of Tawḥīd in the previous chapters and falsifying what opposes it, and the underlying foundations of what contradicts it, the question arises as to how, despite its clarity, people went astray with respect to it.

With this in mind, the author (رحمه الله) begins to address this issue and mentions one of the greatest of causes for mankind’s misguidance. It is exaggeration in the status of the righteous people. Naturally, people love the righteous, so Iblīs (Satan) attacked them from this angle, as occurred with the people of Nūḥ. He made them revolve around the righteous dead, first to remember their righteousness. Then to make representations of them, which they placed in their homes, to be reminded of their righteousness, to be like them. Then over the passing of generations, and absence of knowledge, he led their offspring to believe that their ancestors used to worship these representations, pictures and statues, seeking nearness to Allāh through them. Given this, the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) warned against exaggeration and extremism and explained to his ummah that they lead to ruin and destruction.

Chapter 20 What has come of harshness regarding the one who worshipped Allāh by the grave of a righteous man, how then, for the one who actually worshipped him?

After explaining a major cause among the causes for the appearance of shirk, in this chapter the author addresses how the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم)—being concerned for his ummah and merciful towards them—warned from every avenue that leads them to shirk, closed such avenues, was very stern and harsh in that respect, and repeated his warnings over and over. Thus, he explained that those who construct places of worship over graves are the worst of creation, that Allāh cursed the Jews and Christians for this practice of building places of worship over the graves of their prophets, and he forbade his ummah from doing so.

Chapter 21 What has come in relation to exaggeration in the graves of the righteous, that it turns them into idols that are worshipped besides Allāh

Exaggeration in the graves of the righteous means to take them beyond the description that they ought to have and exceeding the limits with respect to them. Thus, he (صلى الله عليه وسلم) prohibited plastering of graves, or raising them and beautifying them, rendering them places where people congregate, and eventually in a step by step fashion, Iblīs (Satan) misleads them into invoking their inhabitants, or sacrificing to them in order to solicit their intercession, rescue and relief, something observed among Muslims today. The Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) supplicated to Allāh that his grave not to be turned into an idol that is worshipped, which is proof that graves can be turned into idols that are worshipped, with the meaning that people come to them and worship their inhabitants by seeking aid, refuge and rescue from them, and seeking worldly needs from them.

Chapter 22 What has come regarding the Prophet’s(صلى الله عليه وسلم) protection of Tawḥīd and closing every path that leads to shirk

Verses: (9:128-)

The Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) was gravely concerned for his ummah and thus, he notified them and warned them against all the avenues that lead them to shirk, closing all its doors for them. From the greatest of them is being put to trial with the righteous people, exaggerating in them, and taking their graves as places of worship, initially for Allāh, and eventually, for their inhabitants. To this end, he prohibited them from taking his grave as a place of celebration, and informed them that they are able to offer their salutations to him from wherever they are, as they are conveyed to him. Hence, in this issue of graves, a serious one, and in all other issues, the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) closed every door leading to shirk, whether related to the heart and its feelings, the tongue or the limbs.

Chapter 23 What has come that some of this nation will worship idols.

Verses: (4:51-) (5:60-) (18:21-)

Up until this point, the author (رحمه الله) covered various issues pertaining to Tawḥīd such as its obligation, its great virtue and excellence, having knowledge of it and fear if its opposite, shirk among other things. Likewise, he covered individual elements and aspects of Tawḥīd and likewise, of shirk, both major and minor. He also addressed some of the ways that lead to it, and some of the forms that appeared in past nations, including the People of the Book.

Through this chapter, the author establishes that shirk will certainly appear in this nation, and that from this nation will be those who worship idols. This is a refutation of the doubts and misconceptions used by the grave-worshippers, who claim this nation is protected from falling into shirk, and they rely on certain texts which they have misunderstood. Hence, this chapter is a further warning, that despite the concern of the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) for his ummah, his closing of all the avenues, and showing severity in that, Allāh has decreed that there will be from this nation, those who fall into major shirk, through its avenues.

Regarding Magic, Its Forms and Manifestations and Affairs that Adversely Affect Beliefs, Thoughts, Feelings and Behaviours

Chapter 24 What has come regarding magic.

After having addressed major forms of shirk, such as sacrificing to other than Allāh, vowing to other than Allāh, seeking refuge and rescue in other than Allāh, such as inhabitants of the graves, and the causes and avenues leading to grave and idol-worship, the author (رحمه الله) brings this chapter on magic, and the five or six chapters that follow it, which all come under it. Magic is shirk and kufr as it involves obeying and worshipping the Jinn for their assistance, but it also has a broader meaning and various other forms that are not disbelief. The general theme of these chapters is hidden and subtle effects (real or imaginary) upon the hearts, upon feelings, and behaviours that emanate from them. This includes superstition, omens, belief in soothsayers, in astrology, in contagion and its effects and what is similar.

Verses: (2:102-) (4:51-)

The word al-jibt refers to magic and al-ṭāghūt, to Satan (and the devils).

Magic is to employ the service of the Jinn to bring about effects which are true and real such as, causing harm, illness and death. It is not possible for the magician to execute his magic except through worshipping and obeying the Jinn, making offerings to them and doing actions of kufr. Magicians appear and are rampant when Tawḥīd is absent or weak in a society, and when Tawḥīd is present and strong, they disappear or go underground. They benefit financially from the jealousies, fears, hatreds, vengeances, lusts, desires and the likes, selling themselves and their hereafter for a miserable price. The ruling on this magic is that it is shirk and kufr that expels from Islām.

Magic is from the destructive sins, alongside shirk, murder, usury, consuming wealth of the orphan, deserting the battlefield, and accusing chaste women of fornication.

As for what has the appearance of magic, but does not involve the use of the Jinn, but the use of substances, chemicals and drugs which harm, or intoxicate or alter perception and imagination, then this is a different type of magic, and it is unlawful and constitutes sin, it is not major disbelief. This type is historically known as pharmakeia, which is the Greek word for sorcery, magical arts, poisoning and administering drugs.

Chapter 25 What has come regarding the types of magic.

Given that “magic” also has a broader linguistic meaning, in this chapter the author (رحمه الله) explained other types of magic that do not entail major disbelief. These types have been mentioned in the aḥādīth of the Messenger (صلى الله عليه وسلم) but without them being judged as major shirk. Given that it is of various forms and manifestations, one of which takes the ruling of shirk and kufr (that which involves seeking assistance of the Jinn), then the author intended to clarify its other types which are not like that.

From those other types mentioned in this chapter:

Speech (bayān) that is powerful, emotional, and can affect and convince, having a strong effect upon the hearts can be considered a type of ‘Siḥr’, and this has come in texts.

Likewise, astrology and the belief that the stars have an influence upon the events on the earth is another branch of ‘Siḥr’.

The author mentions tale-carrying (al-namīmah) as well, since when this affair spreads in the society (which can comprise backbiting and slander), it influences the hearts and minds, with an effect that can be a type of ‘Siḥr’.

The author also mentions the belief in omens by way of birds i.e., the flight of birds or types of birds, seeing certain types of birds and which way they fly and so on and so forth, and taking that as an evil omen etc.

Likewise, drawing lines in the ground (al-ṭarq), which is used for divination (seeking knowledge of the future).

All of these come under the types of magic.

Chapter 26 What has come regarding fortune-tellers (soothsayers) and their likes.

From the affairs that come under the broad umbrella of magic is “fortune-telling” and this is because this also involves the use of the Jinn. The fortune-tellers claim to have knowledge of the unseen and they seek the assistance of the Jinn in acquiring information. Claiming knowledge of the unseen is major shirk, just as seeking the assistance of the Jinn is also major shirk, whether to acquire knowledge of the unseen, or to harm others through them.

As such, “fortune-telling” clashes with Tawḥīd and it used to be widespread among the Arabs in Jāhiliyyah. People would flock to fortune-tellers and soothsayers for needs, solutions and cures, and they would be embezzled of their wealth.

In the view of scholars, a kāhin refers to a soothsayer, a prognosticator, meaning one who informs about the future. And ʿarrāf refers to one who informs about the past or about lost items. However, these terms are interchangeable. Ibn Taymiyyah explains that ʿarrāf is a general word that includes everyone who informs about the past or present using various means whether through astrology, or drawing lines,or various other mechanisms. Likewise, the one who informs about lost items, he is also called a kāhin and an ʿarrāf.

The ruling on these people, or the overwhelming majority of them, is that they are mushriks, disbelievers because their action involves major shirk. They cannot attain such knowledge except through worship of the Jinn.

Connecting with the soothayers, fortune-tellers and prognosticators and asking them is unlawful (ḥarām). The one who asks them without believing in what they say, his prayer is not accepted for forty days. The one who asks them and believes in what they say, he has fallen into disbelief, because this is believing them in their claim of knowledge of the unseen. Then there is the one who goes to them to ask them in order to expose them and make their affair known to the people, to show that what they are engaged is fraudulent, a swindle. This is engaged in by those who are capable and is from the affairs of goodness, as it diminishes and puts an end to evil.

This is why the author (رحمه الله) placed these chapters together.

Chapter 27 What has come regarding al-Nushrah (cure).

This chapter on ‘al-Nushrah’ is connected to chapters 24 and 25 on magic and its types. This word, ‘al-Nushrah’, refers to a cure or a healing and literally means to get a man standing back on his feet, removing from him his illness, or his ailment by way of a cure. This can be through legitimate means such as using the Qurʾān, Ruqyah, Adhkār, etc. and this is permissible. Or it can be through unlawful means such as using the jinn and repelling magic with magic which returns to disbelief and is impermissible.

The author placed this chapter here in order to clarify that which is lawful and that which is unlawful with respect to curing one who has been afflicted with magic or other ailments. The one who treats the afflicted could be using magic, or could be using ruqyah and permitted medications and hence, some detail (tafṣīl) is required in the matter.

Chapter 28 What has come regarding omens.

In this chapter, the author (رحمه الله) deals with pessimism, cynicism and abandonment of beneficial activities on the basis of superstition (errors in causation) and unwarranted, unjustified fear, all of which oppose and erode reliance (tawakkul) upon Allāh. These affairs, which are harboured as erroneous thoughts and feelings, have a detrimental influence. The opposite of these things is optimism and firm determination.

Evil omens are taken from things that are seen (bird, cat, dog), heard (negative words and suggestions) and known (about things, events, times). Harbouring belief in an evil omen entails cutting off reliance upon Allāh and attaching oneself to something that is imaginary.

If one harbours an evil omen and allows it to affect his behaviour, acting upon it, then this is minor shirk and harmful to his Tawḥīd. And if he does not act upon it but is internally disturbed, with anxiety and fear, then this damaging to his reliance. When he negates these thoughts and feelings (and all of us are prone to them), does not allow them to affect him, and places total reliance in Allāh, and proceeds upon his activities with firm determination, then this is what is desired and is from completion of Tawḥīd.

The Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) mentioned contagion alongside omens, and likewise, he mentioned something called al-anwāʾ (which is belief that the positions and motions of stars are causally connected to events on earth). These are based on errors in causation (superstition) and lead to harm in belief and conduct.

Weak people are prone to belief in contagion due to misinterpretation of observations and unwarranted and exaggerated fear, just because they mixed with a sick person, forgetting that everything is by the decree of Allāh and has its appointed time. Hence, the sick do not incapacitate the healthy. So to protect them from being victims of their own thoughts and fears, the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) gave directives for such people to keep away from the leper, and the land of plague, and the owners of sick camels to keep them away from healthy camels, in order to protect society from the revival of belief in contagion and what it necessitates of unwarranted fear, acting upon superstition and doing laughable things, as was done by the Pagan Arabs. In another view, the Prophet's directives are from the angle of taking the means in order to avoid potential causes of harm.

As for the topics of astrology and the stars, the author dedicated separate chapters to them in what follows.

Chapter 29 What has come regarding astrology.

Astrology is the claim that the position and movements of the heavenly bodies (sun, moon, planets and stars) are causally connected to worldly events, such as births, deaths, wars, famines, ascension (of kings or nations) and descension, victory and defeat, occurrence of rain and so on. This type, when a person believes that Allāh is the one with power to effect all these things, but made the stars to be causally connected to them in the scheme of His creation, then this is minor shirk.

However, when this involves claims to knowledge of the unseen through the positions and motions of the stars, then it resembles the way of the soothsayers and prognosticators.

So this astrology returns back to the ruling on the soothsayers and their likes, and it is disbelief. And in reality, these people are likely in connection with the Jinn, receiving information from them, while their use of the stars and their positions is simply a device for deceiving people, similar to palm reading, drawing lines and gazing into crystal balls and the likes.

As for when a person believes that the stars, in themselves, determine and direct these affairs on earth, as is found among the polytheists and star-worshippers, then this is major shirk.

As for using the position and movement of the sun, moon and stars for the determination of time, direction and routes of travel, then there is no harm in this. This can be called astronomy. Rather, there is much benefit in this, and the people determine prayer times and guide themselves in travel on the land and sea in this way, “And by the stars, they are guided.” (16:16-).

Chapter 30 What has come regarding al-Anwāʾ.

Verses: (56:82-)

The Pagan Arabs believed that the rain was causally connected—within the scheme of Allāh’s creation—to certain stars, or constellations, when they are in certain positions. This affair, called al-anwāʾ, was mentioned in the chapter on omens, as has preceded, in the ḥadīth on omens and contagion. These are affairs of Jāhiliyyah that will remain in this ummah, wherein people attribute rain to the stars and illness to contagion.

The Pagan Arabs would say: “We were given rain by such and such a star”, with the meaning, that the star was a cause in the occurrence of rain. So this is minor shirk in speech, it is based on error in causation, making something a cause that is not a cause, and failing to attribute the rain to Allāh in one’s speech. All of these affairs are compounded together. Thus, Tawḥīd cannot be completed and perfected except with full acknowledgement and correct attribution of all of Allāh’s favours and bounties.

This chapter is connected to the previous one on astrology, being a subset of it, and all of this comes under the broader umbrella of magic (siḥr) in which there is hidden causation, real (involving Jinn) or imaginary and presumed, which affect thoughts, feelings and behaviours in subtle and hidden ways.

These errors in causation, which underly minor shirk, provide a stepping stone to major shirk, and this is how major shirk appeared among nations. For when they see power and life force in phenomena, wherein Allāh has actually put powers and properties in things, such as the sun that provides warmth and energy, clouds that give rain, the lightning and so on, then over the passing of time, people may eventually invoke these entities and things directly, after observing their power, energy and life force. This is the case when these things have been actually conferred properties and are in fact genuine causes.

However, this can also happen with erroneous notions of causation, as we see in this cause with the stars and rain. Hence, among the polytheists, the star-worshippers, are those who invoke the stars and planets, thinking they have power over benefit and harm, influence events on earth, and are the source of bounties and favours. All of this started with errors in the matter of causation, and eventually grew into major shirk, into idol-worship.

This chapter brings us to the end of a block of chapters, all of which relate to magic, with its broad linguistic meaning and then the various types that come beneath it, some of which are major shirk and kufr and others lesser than that. From this point onwards, the author (رحمه الله) proceeds with chapters that relate to affairs of worship connected to the heart, which must be directed only to Allāh and with sincerity. These are love, fear, reliance and security.

Major actions of the heart (love, fear, reliance, feeling secure) wherein there is Tawḥīd and Shirk

Chapter 31 Regarding the statement of Allāh the Exalted: “And of mankind are some who take (for worship) others besides Allāh as rivals (to Allāh). They love them as they love Allāh.” (2:165-)

Verses: (9:24-)

The actions of the heart are the foundation for Tawḥīd, after belief in Allāh and His Rubūbiyyah and His Beautiful Names and Lofty Attributes. Love is the foundation of devotion, worship, obedience and loyalty, and as such this love should be made purely and sincerely for Allāh. This love should supercede and dominate love for all other things. The types of love are therefore three:

a) Loving Allāh which is the foundation of Īmān and Tawḥīd.
b) Loving for Allāh, which is love of the Prophets and Messengers their followers, and loving whatever He loves, of actions, places, times and so on.
c) Loving alongside Allāh, and this the love of the polytheists for their deities, such as idols, trees, stones and so on.

There is also a fourth type and that is natural love which one has in relation blood relationships, food, drink, clothing, spouses and so on. This is permissible love. When this type of love aids and supports love of Allāh and His obedience, it becomes worship, and if it hinders from that and leads to what Allāh does not love it becomes prohibited.

The associationists have love in their hearts for those to whom they give devotion and worship with a type of love that belongs only to Allāh, and they have such love for their deities that the believers have exclusively for Allāh. Hence, this is major shirk in relation to the actions and feelings of the heart.

The perfection of a believer’s love for Allāh is know through various qualities, from them: That he loves Allāh and His Messenger more than anything else, that he lovers others only for the sake of Allāh, that he hates to revert to disbelief, after being rescued from it, just as he hates to be thrown in Hellfire. On the Day of Judgement all ties between people not forged upon love of Allāh will be cut off and be of no avail.

Chapter 32 Regarding the statement of Allāh the Exalted: “That is only Satan who frightens [you] of his supporters. So fear them not, but fear Me, if you are [indeed] believers.” (3:175-)

Verses: (9:18-) (29:10-)

Fear (khawf) and awe (khashyah) are states of the heart, and they can constitute worship or they can be natural feelings, and this returns to the cause of these states and whatever associations are present with them. Upon this, fear is divided into three types.

a) The fear comprising shirk. This is when a person has fear of a person or thing on the basis that this person has power and control over what he hopes (to acquire) or fears its loss, or that this person commands harm and benefit over him in the hereafter, and thus, out of such fear, he obeys this person, and fears disobeying him, in case it brings him loss or harm. This type of internal state comprises major shirk, because it comprises attachment to other than Allāh through the route of fear. This type of fear is only for Allāh. Among the associationists, from the idol and grave-worshippers, are those who have such fear of towards their idols or saints.
b) The fear that is unlawful and prohibited. This is to fear the creation in fulfilling an obligation or shunning what is unlawful. Thus, he fears people in performing the commands of Allāh. Hence, he does not pray, or does not keep a beard and what is similar, for fear of being mocked or criticised. This is considered a type of shirk, because it is putting fear of people ahead of fear of Allāh.
c) The fear that is natural and permitted. This type of fear is natural and a protective instinct that Allāh has placed in man. Hence, he fears an enemy, or a poisonous snake, or a lion, and whatever is like that which harms or kills.

There is also another type of fear, and that is fear which is baseless and unwarranted, or fear that has a weak reason. This is blameworthy and enters into cowardice, and it is from the lowly characteristics. A believer is strong, reliant (upon Allāh) and brave and this is why the author discussed reliance (tawakkul) in the next chapter. This is also connected to the subject matter of omens and contagion wherein errors in causation (superstition) provide a fertile ground for unwarranted fear and pessimism, which weaken reliance.

Chapter 33 Regarding the statement of Allāh the Exalted: “ِِِِِAnd put your trust in Allāh if indeed you are believers.” (5:23-)

Verses: (8:2-) (8:64-) (65:3-)

Trust and reliance (tawakkul) upon Allāh is an obligation and singling out Allāh with it is Tawḥīd while placing reliance upon other than Allāh is shirk that expels from Islām. It is one of the great forms of worship.

The reality of reliance is in the servant’s knowledge that the dominion of this creation is in Allāh’s hand, He disposes all the affairs however He wishes. He is the Creator of all causes and tied them to their effects, and He affirms, changes or overturns whatever He wishes. As such, the believing Muwaḥḥid resigns his affairs to Him, alongside taking the means, even though pure reliance upon Allāh is itself from the means, and the greatest of them.

Reliance combines many actions of the heart, from them resignation to Allāh, recoursing to Him, the belief that the affair belongs entirely to Him, and that nothing is without His permission and decree. Thereafter, embarking upon the means, which are part and parcel of reliance, without depending on the means themselves. Rather, with resignation of the affair to Allāh, as He is the one who allows a cause or sum of causes to lead to the effect, in full, or in part, or not at all.

In its essence, reliance is the action of the heart, and it is obligatory to single out Allāh with it and having such reliance upon other than Allāh is shirk.

This can have two situations in terms of its ruling:

a) When it is major shirk. and this is when a person depends on the creation in that which only Allāh has power over. Such as relying on the creation for forgiveness of sin, or attaining good in the hereafter, or having offspring, or acquiring employment. Thus he relies upon the creation with his heart while they have no power or control in these affairs. This type is found with saint and grave-worshippers, who turn to the saints and resign their affairs to them.
b) When it is a hidden, or lesser type of shirk. This is when a person relies upon the creation in that in which they have power and ability. In this case, this person or thing, is only a cause (sabab) in the attainment of the objective, and should not be relied upon with the reliance of the heart, because it is unable to effect anything independently.

In all situations, the reliance of the heart should be upon Allāh, completely, and not upon any cause, any person or thing, even if it is a legitimate cause. As reliance is worship, some of the scholars have said it is not permissible to say: “I rely upon Allāh and you”, nor “I rely upon Allāh, then upon you”, as this constitutes minor shirk, since the creation do not have any share in reliance, it is for Allāh alone.

Chapter 34 Regarding the statement of Allāh the Exalted: “Then did they feel secure from the plan of Allāh? But no one feels secure from the plan of Allāh except the losing people.” (7:99-)

Verses: (15:56-)

The author placed these chapters in this sequence. First, love is the foundation of worship. However, Allāḥ is worshipped with both love and fear, and the heart is attached to Allāh through both love and fear. Alongside that, one should rely upon Allāh in his worship, obedience and worldly pursuits. Yet, despite all of this he must not feel secure (from Allāh's plan).

The sense in which this occurs is explained by the fact that a believer is in between many states, from the greatest of them are love, fear and hope, which are the foundations of the actions of the heart. So he recognises that he has sins, which he fears. He knows his Lord is just and swift and severe in punishment. He may be put to trial with sins, or with affictions. He knows that the bounties he enjoys may be removed due to his shortcomings and lack of gratitude. At the same time, he also has hope in Allāh’s mercy, hope that Allāh accepts his repentance, hope that he continues to enjoy Allāh’s bounties and so on.

Given this, he must avoid two blameworthy qualities:

a) The first is to be overwhelmed with fear until he despairs of Allāh’s mercy.
b) The second is to be overwhelmed with hope until he starts feeling safe and secure from Allah’s plan (makr) and from His justice and punishment.

This is what the author intends from this chapter, which is that combining between fear and hope is from the obligations of faith, and without this Tawḥīd cannot be complete. Thus, he places hope with fear and fear with hope and thereby avoids both despair and a false sense of security.

Having a false sense of security returns to weakness in knowledge and comprehension of Allāh’s Names and Attributes such as al-Qahhār (the Invincible Subduer) al-Jabbār (the Almighty Compellor). When a person has this false sense of security, then he is in a situation where Allāh progressively and gradually encircles him (for his sins and transgressions), until when justice and punishment befall, they befall swiftly and cannot be repelled.

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