The Meaning of Ibadah

By Shaykh Omar Bakri Muhammad

It is quite common today to see people preoccupied with issues to do with the branches of Islam instead of the roots and foundations of the Deen (religion).

To understand the meaning of Laa ilaaha illallah, its affect on life, its negations, and how to reject taaghout is the foundation of all foundations (asl ul-usool), yet we see people ignoring this and paying more attention to the branches (furoo’) of the Deen. This is indeed similar to a person who wants to plant a tree but they start with the branches first, before planting the seed.

It is essential for the servant of Allah to have a proper understanding of the foundations of the Deen, in order that he may understand his relationship with Allah, what Deen he follows and to avoid following (worshipping) taaghout.

Four topics (or terms) in particular are very important for the Muslim to know and understand. These are:


Many people speak about these topics, but unfortunately many explanations (of these terms) have caused more confusion for Muslims as their meanings have been twisted by government sympathizers.

The Meaning of ‘Ibaadah

Al-‘Ibaadah means tadhallul (humility) and khudoo’ (submissiveness). Scholars of the Arabic language have also explained ‘ibaadah to mean “at-tareeq ul-mu’abbad”, or the levelled (paved) road. (Refer to Lisaan ul-‘Arab and al-Qaamoos al-Muheet)

However, juristically (in Shar’eeah) it has been comprehensively defined by Sheikh ul-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah (d. 728 AH) as:

“Al-‘Ibaadah is a term which comprises everything that Allah loves and is pleased with, from the outward and inner sayings and actions.” (Al-‘Uboodiyyah)

Singling out Allah in our worship (Ifraadullahi bil-‘Ibaadah) consists of three pillars:

Ifraadullahi bin-Nusk – Singling out Allah in ritual acts
Ifraadullahi bil-Hukmi wat-Tashree’ – Singling out Allah in matters of ruling and legislation
Ifraadullahi bil-Wilaayah – Singling out Allah in alliance and support

Therefore, ‘ibaadah does not only consist of ritual acts; it is any saying or action (of the heart or limbs) which Allah likes (us to do) and is pleased with. Hence, love, hatred (for the sake of Allah), sincerity, rajaa’ (hope), sabr (perseverance), salaat, siyaam (fasting), Hajj, dhikr (remembrance of Allah), tahaakum (arbitration to Islam), sadaqah (charity), da’wah (inviting people to Islam), commanding good and forbidding evil, ruling by Islam, jihad and all other good deeds are ‘ibaadah (worship).

After defining the term ‘ibaadah, Sheikh ul-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah said:

“Salaat (prayer); Zakaat (charity tax); Siyaam (fasting); Hajj (the Pilgrimage); truthfulness in speech; trustworthiness; kindness to parents; maintaining kind relationship with relatives; fulfilling pledges; enjoining the good and forbidding the evil; jihad against the Kuffaar and Munaafiqeen (Hypocrites); goodness to the neighbour, the orphan, the poor, the wayfarer and the owned beings whether human or animal; du’aa (supplication); dhikr (remembrance of Allah); qiraa’ah (recitation of the Qur’aan); and the like are all part of ‘ibaadah.

Likewise, loving Allah and His Messenger (SAW), apprehension before Allah and returning repentantly to Him, sincerity in the Deen for Him, patience with His Ordainment, thankfulness for His Bounties, contentment with His Decree, dependence on Him, hope for His Mercy, fear of His Punishment and the like are also part of ‘ibaadah due to Allah.” (Al-‘Uboodiyyah)

Allah (SWT) has told us in the Qur’aan that He created us for the sole purpose of ‘ibaadah:


“And I (Allah) created not the jinns and humans except li-ya’budoon [for ‘ibaadah].” (EMQ Adh-Dhaariyaat, 51:56)

In explanation of the above verse, Ibn ul-Qayyim al-Jawziyyah (d. 751 AH) – a student of Ibn Taymiyyah – said:

“The Almighty has informed us that He created them [mankind and jinns] for ‘ibaadah, and He sent upon them His Messengers and Books in order that they submit to Him and obey Him. So ‘ibaadah is the only purpose they were created for.” (Badaa’i at-Tafseer, volume 4, page 248)

Therefore, Allah did not only create us (humans) to pray to Him five times a day, fast in Ramadaan or to perform Hajj at least once in our lifetime; rather, He created us for ‘ibaadah – to say and do what pleases Him. Allah (SWT) says:


“Say: ‘Verily, my salaat (prayer), my sacrifice, my living, and my dying are for Allah, the Lord of the ‘aalameen (mankind, jinns and all that exists).

He has no partner. And of this I have been commanded, and I am the first of the Muslims.’” (EMQ al-An’aam, 6:162–163)

This aayah (verse) denotes that all our actions should be done for the sake of Allah until death, and even our death should be in His way, for His Deen (religion). Commenting on the above verse, Imaam Abul Faraj Ibn ul-Jawzi (d. 597 AH) said:

“What is meant in this aayah is that he [the Muslim] should tell them [the Disbelievers], ‘Verily, my actions and state of affairs are exclusively for Allah, not for anyone else, the way you (oh Disbelievers) associate partners with Him (the Almighty)!”’ (Zaad ul-Maseer, volume 3, page 161)

The term ‘ibaadah has also been mentioned concisely in Soorat ul-Bayyinah. Allah (SWT) says:


“And they were commanded not, but li-ya’budullah (that they should worship Allah), sincerely (abstaining from ascribing partners to Him), and perform Salaat and give Zakaat: and that is the right religion.” (EMQ al-Bayyinah, 98:5)

‘Ibaadah in this verse has a very general and comprehensive meaning, denoting that man was only commanded to serve and obey Allah, and do all actions to attain His Pleasure.

Furthermore, the Messenger Muhammad (SAW) said:

“Islam is built (based) upon five [matters]: (1) ‘Ibaadah of Allah and rejecting anything [worshipped] besides Him, (2) and the establishment of prayer, (3) payment of Zakaat, (4) Pilgrimage to the House and (5) the fast of Ramadaan.” (Saheeh Muslim, Kitaab ul-Imaan, Chapter 5, Hadeeth no. 16)

The terms deen, tawheed, ‘ibaadah and taaghout have been hijacked by secularists and the assistants of tawaagheet (apostate rulers) from the shuyookh (scholars) that are paid to twist Sharee’ah terms and justify the presence of taaghout.

It is these same so-called scholars who confine ‘ibaadah (worship) to merely ritual acts done in the masjid or in one’s home. And because of this incorrect understanding of ‘ibaadah that is being propagated by them, it is quite common to see people today who perform lengthy prostrations (sujood) yet they vote for man-made laws, or individuals who fast regularly that deal with ribaa (interest). This is because for these kinds of people, ‘ibaadah means salaat, siyaam, performing Hajj and other ritual acts (only), and not ruling and judging, buying and selling, and so forth.

Nowadays, it is said that if a person sells alcohol or un-slaughtered meat, he is still a good person so long as he prays and keeps a beard! For them, ‘ibaadah does not amount to a way of life.

‘Ibaadah means ittibaa’ and inqiyaad

Ibn Hazm az-Zaahiri (d. 456 AH) said ‘ibaadah is ittibaa’, “following”, and inqiyaad, “submission”. (Refer to al-Ihkaam, volume 1, page 93)

It would seem that the one who outwardly obeys Allah and fulfils their duties is doing what has been requested of them; however, if their obedience is not inwardly championed with love, keenness and submission, that person is actually a liar and a hypocrite. Allah (SWT) says in the Qur’aan:


“Say (oh Muhammad [SAW], to mankind): ‘If you (really) love Allah then follow me (i.e. accept Islamic Monotheism, and do what Allah has ordained), Allah will love you and forgive you of your sins. And Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.’” (EMQ Aal ‘Imraan, 3:31)

Regarding this aayah, Ibn Katheer (d. 774 AH) said:

“This aayah (verse) judges against he who claims to love Allah, yet he does not follow the way of Muhammad (SAW). Such a person is a liar until they follow the Sharee’ah (law) of Muhammad and his Deen (way of life) in all his sayings and actions.” (Tafseer Ibn Katheer, volume 1, page 366)

Hence, undoubtedly, a person cannot truly love Allah unless they follow (i.e. have ittibaa’) and obey the Prophet (SAW), and fulfil what he ordered: salaat, public da’wah, forbidding evil, jihad and all other obligations.

In another verse, Allah (SWT) says:


“And of mankind are some who take (for worship) others besides Allah as andaad (rivals) to Allah. They love them as they love Allah. But those who believe love Allah more (than anything else)…” (EMQ al-Baqarah, 2:165)

Explaining the above verse, Sheikh ul-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah (RH) said:

“Whoever makes obedience to other than Rasoolullah (SAW) compulsory, even if it differs with the command of Allah and His Messenger, he has taken him [i.e. the obeyed] as a nad (rival to Allah), or [he has] even elevated him the way the Christians extolled al-Maseeh (Jesus).” (Al-Fataawaa, volume 10, page 267)

‘Ibaadah means taa’ah

‘Ibaadah means taa’ah (obedience), and there is nobody worthy of obedience but Almighty Allah. We only obey the Prophet (SAW), our parents (so long as they do not order us with disobedience to Allah) and rulers who implement Islam because Allah commanded us to obey them. Allah (SWT) says:

“Oh you who believe! Obey Allah and obey the Messenger (SAW), and those of you (Muslims) who are in authority. (And) if you differ in anything amongst yourselves, refer it to Allah and His Messenger (SAW), if you indeed believe in Allah and in the Last Day. That is better and more suitable for final determination.” (EMQ an-Nisaa’, 4:59)

The Messenger Muhammad (SAW) said:

“There is no obedience [to any creation] in disobedience to Allah; obedience is only in ma’roof [what Allah has commanded].” (Saheeh al-Bukhaari and Muslim)

Our obedience to Almighty Allah is unrestricted, whereas our obedience to a creation (i.e. human) is conditional. Even though it is obligatory to obey an ameer (leader), it is prohibited to obey him if he commands one with disobedience to Allah. The Messenger of Allah (SAW) said:

“Obedience of the Imaam [i.e. caliph] is a duty upon the Muslim, providing he was not ordered with disobedience to Allah; and if he was ordered to disobey Allah, there is no obedience to him [the Imaam].” (Al-Bukhaari and Muslim)

In Soorah Yaaseen, Allah (SWT) reminds us of the covenant He made with the children of Aadam (mankind), saying:

“Did I (Allah) not make a covenant [agreement] with you, oh children of Aadam, that you should not worship Shaytaan (Satan)? Verily, he is a plain enemy to you.” (EMQ Yaaseen, 36:60)

It is not necessary for one to invoke, prostrate, bow down or pray to Shaytaan in order to worship him. In this verse, the command not to worship Shaytaan means not to obey him or follow what he orders (i.e. to leave what Allah has obliged and do what is forbidden). Hence, Shaytaan (Satan) is worshipped when people follow his path and obey him when he tells them to disobey Allah and leave their obligations. (As explained in Tafseer ut-Tabari and Zaad ul-Maseer by Ibn ul-Jawzi)

‘Uday bin Haatim used to be a Christian. One day he visited the Prophet (SAW) while wearing a gold saleeb (cross) around his neck. Upon seeing him, the Prophet remarked, “Oh ‘Uday, discard this wathan from your neck!” (wathan is an object people worship, not like an idol, which is usually made to resemble a living being). After ‘Uday (RA) removed it, the Prophet of Allah (SAW) recited the verse:

“They (Jews and Christians) took their rabbis and their monks to be their lords besides Allah…” (EMQ at-Tawbah, 9:31)

‘Uday protested, “We did not worship them (rabbis and priests).” The Prophet (SAW) replied:

“Did they (rabbis and priests) not forbid what Allah permitted and hence you forbade it; and they permitted what Allah forbade and thus you permitted it?”

“Yes,” replied ‘Uday. The Prophet (SAW) said, “That is how you worshipped them.”

In commentary of the verse, “They (Jews and Christians) took their rabbis and their monks to be their lords besides Allah,” Imaam al-Baghawi (d. 509 AH) said:

“If it is said, they (Jews and Christians) did not worship their rabbis and priests – by the meaning of rukoo’ (bowing to them) and sujood (prostrating to them) – in response, we say: The meaning here is that they (Jews and Christians) obeyed them (their rabbis and priests) in disobedience to Allah, and they (Jews and Christians) made halaal (permissible) what was made halaal by them (rabbis and priests), and they made haraam (illegal) what was made haraam by them, so they consequently took them as lords.” (Tafseer ul-Baghawi, volume 3, page 285)

And Abul Bukhturi said:

“Verily, they (Jews and Christians) did not pray to them (rabbis and priests), and even if they asked them to worship [someone] other than Allah by bowing and prostrating to them, they (Jews and Christians) wouldn’t have obeyed them (their rabbis and priests). But they ordered them and made haraam (forbidden) what Allah made halaal (legal), and they permitted what Allah made haraam (forbidden). And that was indeed the ruboobiyyah (worship).” (Al-Fataawaa by Ibn Taymiyyah, volume 7, page 76)

We learn from this that obedience is worship, and the Jews and Christians did not worship their rabbis and priests by praying to them. When an individual obeys a person – whether scholar, mufti, sheikh, president or ruler – who permits what Allah forbids (or vice versa), they are in actual fact worshipping them and taking them as arbaab (lords) besides Allah – even if they do not pray or bow down to them.

People assume just because they are not prostrating or bowing down to their rulers, leaders or presidents that they are not worshipping them. However, the reality is: they are worshipping them because they are obeying them and following their laws.

A person cannot be a Muslim unless they worship and obey Allah exclusively.

Obedience to Others Besides Allah

Allah (SWT) says, in Soorat ul-Qitaal (the Chapter of Fighting):

“Verily, those who became apostates after the guidance has been manifested to them, Shaytaan (Satan) beautified for them (their apostasy and false hopes), and (Allah) prolonged their term (age).

That is because they said to those (Disbelievers) who hate what Allah has sent down: ‘We will obey you in some of the matters,’ but Allah knows their secrets.” (EMQ Muhammad, 47:25–26)

Explaining the first part of this verse (“Those who became apostates…”), Ibn Katheer said:

“…Those who abandoned Imaan and went back to kufr (disbelief).” (At-Tafseer, volume 4, page 193)

It has been narrated in the aforementioned verse that a number of Believers became apostates after announcing they would obey the Disbelievers in some matters only – not all. If this is the case when one obeys the Disbelievers in only some issues, what is the situation of those who declare absolute obedience to them and say that we must obey (all) their laws?!

A group of idolaters approached the Prophet (SAW) and his Companions, debating the issue of un-slaughtered meat. They said to the Believers, “You claim that you seek Allah’s Pleasure, yet how is it that you do not eat what Allah causes to die, but you eat what you slaughter (kill) with your knives?” Allah (SWT) then revealed the verse:

“…And certainly, the Shayaateen (devils) do inspire their friends (from mankind) to dispute with you, and if you obey them [by making the meat of dead animals halaal], then you would indeed be Mushrikoon (polytheists, i.e. Disbelievers).” (EMQ al-An’aam, 6:121)

So Allah (SWT) issued a stern warning to the Believers, informing them that if they obey the Disbelievers by permitting what Allah has forbidden – in this case, the meat of dead (un-slaughtered) animals – then they would undoubtedly become Mushrikoon (people who worship many gods).

We learn from this that it is not merely prohibited to obey a person who orders one with what opposes the Sharee’ah, but it is in fact shirk akbar (a major polytheistic act).

The Types of Obedience

Obedience is two types: (1) praised and (2) dispraised. The dispraised form of obedience is, as well, two types:

– Apostasy
– Sin (which does not expel one from Islam)

Obedience that constitutes apostasy

If a person looks to a creation (i.e. human) and merely believes they have the right to be obeyed for who they are, that person will become a Mushrik (polytheist) – even if they have not yet obeyed them. And if they are obliged by an authority to do something which contradicts the Sharee’ah, such as being asked to join their police, army, security services, intelligence and so on, it is kufr akbar (major apostasy) if they answer (obey) that call.

As a further example, if a Muslimah (Muslim woman) does not wear the khimaar (headscarf) outdoors (in public), she is undoubtedly committing a sin. However, if the same woman chooses not to wear it because the law (authority) has made it prohibited (illegal), she will become an apostate as she is obeying legislation that opposes the Sharee’ah.

Allah (SWT) says in the Qur’aan:

“The rule [power of legislating] is for none but Allah.” (EMQ Yoosuf, 12:40)

Imaam al-Baghawi commented on this verse, saying:

“Indeed the [right of] ruling, commanding and prohibiting is for none but Allah.” (Tafseer ul-Baghawi, volume 2, page 427)

So it is one of Allah’s main qualities, as Lord, to determine what is haraam and halaal, legal and illegal. And any person who believes this characteristic (attribute) can be shared or given to anyone else – whether prime minister, president, scholar, sheikh, or any man or woman – is a Mushrik (Disbeliever). This is indeed the very meaning of shirk – to give an attribute (quality) of Allah to a creation.

The action of legislating (which is kufr akbar) manifests itself in the following ways:

Istihlaal ul-Haraam – Legalising what is forbidden
Tahreem ul-Halaal – Prohibiting what is legal
Juhood ul-Wujoob – Denying obligations

Allah (SWT) says:

“… And He (Allah) makes none to share in His Decision and His Rule.” (EMQ al-Kahf, 18:26)

Imaam Abu Ja’far Muhammad bin Jareer at-Tabari (d. 311 AH) explained this verse, saying:

“Allah will never let His creation be a partner in His ruling and judgement. He is indeed the only One who rules (legislates) and judges, and He manages them (the creations) in whatever way He wills.” (Tafseer ut-Tabari, volume 8, page 212)

In essence, the meaning of this verse is that Allah does not share His attribute of legislating with anyone. Therefore, only He has the right to make laws, and believing otherwise will render a person Mushrik.

No doubt, if someone follows (obeys) a person’s legislation, they are following their deen (way of life) and they have taken them as a (false) god.

One of the beauties of Islam is that it has organised and structured our worship and life’s affairs, preventing those in authority from abusing their positions, and prohibiting individuals in society to obey commands that contradict the Sharee’ah. As a result, people will not suffer from oppression or tyranny. The Messenger Muhammad (SAW) said:

“There is no obedience to a bashar (person) in disobedience to Allah; obedience is only in ma’roof [what Allah has ordered].” (Musnad ul-Imaam Ahmad)

“Attentiveness and obedience is obligatory upon the Muslim, whether he likes it [what was ordered] or not, as long as he was not ordered to disobey (Allah). And if he was ordered to disobey (Allah), there is no listening and obeying.” (Musnad ul-Imaam Ahmad)

And it has been narrated by Abdullah bin Mas’ood (RA) that the Prophet (SAW) said:

“Soon, your affairs will be succeeded by men who will extinguish the Sunnah, practise bi’dah (innovation), and they will delay the Salaat (prayer) from its time [i.e. until it has elapsed].” So I (Abdullah bin Mas’ood) said, ‘Oh Messenger of Allah, if I meet them what shall I do?’ He (SAW) replied, “Are you asking me, oh son of the mother of (that) slave, what to do?! There is no obedience to whoever disobeys Allah!” (Musnad ul-Imaam Ahmad)

Concerning obedience to one’s parents, Allah (SWT) says:

“And We have enjoined on man to be good and dutiful to his parents, but if they strive to make you join with Me (in worship) anything (as a partner) of which you have no knowledge, then obey them not. Unto Me is your return, and I shall tell you what you used to do.” (EMQ al-‘Ankaboot, 29:8)

Regarding rulers and governors, the Messenger Muhammad (SAW) said:

“Whosoever from among the governors orders you to disobey Allah, do not obey him.” (Musnad ul-Imaam Ahmad)

It is not fitting to rise against a Muslim ruler by the sword if he orders one with disobedience to Allah in an isolated situation, unless the disobedience if a form of major kufr. The Prophet (SAW) instructed the Believers to obey those (Muslims) in authority and not to rise against them unless they indulge in clear kufr (disbelief). ‘Ubaadah bin as-Saamit (RA) said:

“We swore allegiance to Allah’s Messenger (SAW) to hear and obey… and not to dispute about rule with those in power, except if you see kufr bawaah (clear kufr).” (Al-Bukhaari and Muslim)

Allah (SWT) does not permit the Believers to (joyfully) live under the authority of Disbelievers, whether Jews of Christians, or apostates (like the rulers of Muslim countries today). Allah (SWT) says:

“…And never will Allah grant to the Disbelievers a way (to triumph) over the Believers.” (EMQ an-Nisaa’, 4:141)

Obedience that is sin:

It is understood that obedience to one who legalizes what Allah has forbidden is apostasy and shirk akbar (polytheism) because such a person is a false god (taaghout). And if one obeys the Disbelievers in forbidding what Allah has permitted or obliged, they are likewise committing apostasy.

However, if a person is asked to do something haraam (not kufr), such as to go to a cinema or night club, then obedience here is a sin, not apostasy, providing they do not legitimize it.

On a side note, if a person is asked by a non-Muslim to do something permissible, such as to wear a seatbelt, stop at a red light or drive on the left side of the road, it is allowed to do so because these things have already been made permissible by Allah. However, if a person does so because they believe those in authority have the right to be obeyed for who they are, this becomes shirk.

At-Tahaakum (Arbitration)

Any person that refers to an arbiter who does not settle disputes based on Islamic law is a Mushrik (Polytheist).

People do not claim, take or share the rights of Allah, or His names, by only one or two means. There are many ways in which a person can become a false god and steal some of Allah’s names and attributes.

It is not necessary to say what Pharoah said (i.e. “I am your highest lord”) in order to become a false god or ilaah. It is enough for one to arbitrate by kufr laws and discard the Sharee’ah of Allah to be considered a taaghout or ilaah (false deity).

There are many ways in which people today are stealing Allah’s rights and functions. No doubt, those who do so are Kuffaar (Disbelievers), but so are those who consent and obey them. This is because it is well known in the Sharee’ah, as a principle, that Ar-Ridaa bil-Kufri Kufr (Contentment with Kufr is Kufr). Thus, those who commit shirk and those who consent to it are both Disbelievers.

Since arbitration is ‘ibaadah (worship), like taa’ah (obedience) and inqiyaad (submission), one can only refer to the Sharee’ah of Allah when a dispute or problem arises. No person who believes in Allah and the Last Day will ever refer to man-made laws or the Kuffaar for hukm (judgement). Allah (SWT) says:

“Do they then seek the judgement of (the Days of) Ignorance? And who is better in judgement than Allah for a people who have firm conviction (i.e. Imaan).” (EMQ al-Maa’idah, 5:50)

“Say: ‘Shall I seek a judge other than Allah while it is He Who has sent down unto you the Book (Qur’aan), explained in detail…’” (EMQ al-An’aam, 6:114)

Allah (SWT) has revealed a complete Deen that has solutions to every single problem one can face in their life. Consequently, there is really no excuse to refer to any law other than the Sharee’ah of Islam. Allah (SWT) says:

“And in whatsoever you differ, its ruling is with Allah. (And say to the Polytheists:) ‘Such is Allah, my Lord in Whom I put my trust, and to Him I turn in all of my affairs and in repentance.’” (EMQ ash-Shooraa, 42:10)

In another verse, Allah (SWT) says:

“Have you seen those (Hypocrites) who (yaz’umoon) claim that they believe in that which has been sent down to you, and that which was sent down before you, and they wish to go for judgement (in their disputes) to the Taaghout (false judges, etc.) while they have been ordered to reject them. But Shaytaan (Satan) wishes to lead them far astray.” (EMQ an-Nisaa’, 4:60)

Explaining this verse, Imaam Muhammad ash-Shawkaani (d. 1255 AH) said:

“Therein (the verse), Rasoolullah (SAW) was informed about the strangeness of those people who attributed to themselves that they have combined between what was revealed upon Rasoolullah (SAW) – which was the Qur’aan – and what has been revealed before him to the Prophets before him. And they have committed what nullifies this claim and they invalidated it from its roots.” (Fath ul-Qadeer, volume 1, page 482)

The above verse (“Have you seen those who claim to believe…”) uses the plural form of the verb za’ama, meaning to claim something which one does not (inwardly) believe in. So those who intended to refer to a false arbiter (that did not judge by the Sharee’ah) were lying about their belief in Allah and His Messenger because they proposed to go to taaghout for judgement. Hence, merely intending to refer to taaghout for judgement and adjudication was enough to put them beyond the pale of Islam.

Therefore, as ash-Shawkaani stated, it was indeed ‘ajeeb (strange) for them to claim to be Believers. They had not yet referred to a false arbiter, yet they were deemed as impostors (Hypocrites) simply because they were willing to refer to non-Islamic law.

Muhammad bin Ibraaheem Aal ash-Sheikh (d. 1389 AH) also explained the above verse, saying:

“Indeed His (Allah’s) saying, ‘Those who claim…’ is a testimony from Allah that they are liars in what they have claimed from Imaan, because, surely, tahaakum to other than what Rasoolullah came with will never coexist with Imaan in the heart of a servant. Rather, Imaan will certainly nullify the other (tahaakum to taaghout).” (Risaalat Tahkeem al-Qawaaneen)

In other words, any person who has Imaan in their heart and believes in the Messenger Muhammad (SAW) will never consult taaghout for judgement, because tahaakum to taaghout and Imaan in Allah immensely oppose each other.

If tomorrow we are granted authority and power, the Khaleefah will punish and execute those so-called Muslims who refer to man-made laws and kufr constitutions and legislatures (e.g. United Nations). Allah (SWT) has informed us in His Book that corruption, tyranny, oppression and adversities will appear on Earth when people do not live by His commands and legislation:

“Corruption has appeared on land and sea because of what the hands of men have done…” (EMQ al-Ahzaab, 30:41)

“And if the people of the towns had believed and had the Taqwaa (fear of Allah by following His commands), certainly, We should have opened for them blessings from the heaven and the earth, but they belied. So We took them (with punishment) for what they used to earn (polytheism and crimes, etc.).” (EMQ al-A’raaf, 7:96)

Hence, those who discard the Sharee’ah and seek to live by man-made laws and kufr ways of life (e.g. democracy) will be deprived of prosperity and Allah’s bounties; they will face all kinds of calamities, floods, hurricanes, tsunamis and they will continually bicker and fight with each other. No doubt, it is only the Munaafiqeen and Kuffaar that refer to other than what Allah (SWT) has revealed for life’s affairs:

“And when they are called to Allah (i.e. His Words, commandments etc.) and His Messenger (SAW), to judge between them, lo! A party of them refuse (to come) and turn away.

But if the right is with them, they come to him willingly with submission.

Is there a disease in their hearts? Or do they doubt or fear lest Allah and His Messenger (SAW) should wrong them in judgement? Nay, it is they themselves who are the Zaalimoon (oppressors, polytheists, Hypocrites and wrong-doers, etc.).

The only saying of the faithful Believers, when they are called to Allah (His commands) and His Messenger (SAW), to judge between them, is that they say: ‘We hear and we obey.’ And such are the prosperous ones (who will live forever in Paradise).” (EMQ an-Noor, 24:48–51)

Ibn Taymiyyah (RH) said that if the people of the cities and towns fight each other until not a single person remains alive, this is easier upon Allah than for them to appoint a taaghout who will rule and judge by other than what Allah (SWT) has revealed.

Indeed, it is better for one to lose all their rights and properties than to refer to kufr law for judgement or “justice”. Who is worse than the one who knows the truth but refers to falsehood?

The path of Ahlus Sunnah wal Jama’ah & brotherhood amongst Muslims

Shaykh ul Islaam Ibn Taymiyyah


‘Aqeedatu Waasitiyah’  (Creed of the Middle Path)


The path of the people of the Sunnah and the Jama’ah is following the Prophet’s Tradition both inwardly and outwardly, and following the foot- steps of the early Muslims, both the Muhajirun (Emigrants) and the Ansar (Helpers), and following the Prophet’s recommendation: “Hold on to my Sunnah and the Sunnah of the Rightly Guided Caliphs after me. Hold on to it firmly. And beware of heretical innovations (Bid’ah) because each heretical innovation (Bid’ah) is a falsehood and each false- hood is a deviation from the right path.” (Reported by Ahmad Ibn Hanbal Abu Dawud, at-Tirmidhi who said it is a good and sound hadith, and Ibn Majah)


The people of the Sunnah know that the most truthful words are Allah’s Words over the words of all people, and they put the guidance of Muhammad (peace be upon him) ahead of the guidance of all people. Because of all this they are called the People of the Book and the Sunnah. They are called the People of the Community because community means unity and its opposite is disunity.


The term Jama’ah became a name for the unified people themselves and al-Ijma’ (consensus) is the third pillar on which people depend for ‘ilm (knowledge) and din (faith).


By these three pillars (Qur’an, Sunnah, and Ijma’) is measured all that people follow of inward or outward words and acts which have any relation to din (faith) and to the controlled ijma’ of the righteous ancestors since after them the disagreement increased, and the ‘Ummah dispersed.


Brotherhood Among Muslims


By these fundamentals, then, they bid good deeds and forbid objectionable deeds in accordance with what the Shari’ah ordains. And they believe in practicing Hajj (pilgrimage) and Jihad (struggle for the cause of Allah), in attending Friday communal prayers and the holidays with the leaders, be they pious or wicked, and in observing the community prayers. They believe in advising the ‘Ummah, and they indoctrinate themselves with the Prophet’s saying: “A believer is for a believer just as all the parts of an edifice support each other.” (Reported by al-Bukhari and Muslim)


The Prophet (peace be upon him) intermixed his fingers while saying this.


And [they indoctrinate themselves with] the saying of [the Prophet] (peace be upon him): “The example of the believers in their affection and compassion and benevolence is like the body; If one part of it becomes ill the whole body comes to its aid with fever and sleeplessness.” (Reported by al-Bukhari and Muslim)


[Ahl as-Sunnah] bid people persevere when calamity strikes, and are thankful in the time of life’s ease, and are accepting in the fulfillment of Allah’s Irreversible Decree. They call on people to practice noble manners and good deeds, and to indoctrinate themselves with the Prophet’s saying: “A perfect faith belongs to a believer with good manners.” (Reported by Ibn Hanbal and at-Tirmidhi who said it is good and sound hadith)


[Ahl as-Sunnah] urge people to mend the relations with those who have broken with them, to give to those who have deprived them, and to forgive those who have done injustice to them. They order people to keep filial piety, to be good to other relatives, to be good neighbors, to treat orphans, wayfarers and the poor kindly and to be gentle and humane to the slave. They forbid bragging, arrogance and transgression. They prevent people from feeling superior over others, rightly or wrongly. And they bid people use high manners and prohibit them from pursuing trifles. All that they say or do of the above, or of other than it, in all of it they follow the Book (The Qur’an) and the Sunnah. Their “path” is the religion of Islam, for which Allah sent Muhammad (peace be upon him).


But for all this, the Prophet (peace be upon him) foretold: “That his ‘Ummah will split into seventy-three factions, all of them in Hell except one: The Jama’ah (the Community).” (Reported by Ahmad Ibn Hanbal)


And (the Prophet) (peace be upon him) said in another hadith: “They are those who will follow what I am and what my companions are today.” (at-Tirmidhi)


Those referred to in this saying, those who hold firmly to pure, unadulterated Islam, became the people of the Sunnah and the Jama’ah. Amongst them are the Siddiqs, the martyrs, the righteous, included in them are the cairns of guidance, the lamps for darkness, the masters of memorable merits, the ever-remembered virtues; Among them are the Abdal 1 the Imams about whose judgment and understanding all Muslims agree. These are the victorious ones about whom the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “A group of my ‘Ummah will continue to follow the truth prominently. Whoever betrays them or opposes them can never harm them to the Day of Judgment.” (al-Bukhari and Muslim)


Thus, we ask Allah ,The Great “to make us part of them, and not to let our hearts swerve after He has guided us and to bestow on us Mercy from Him. Indeed, He is, The Generous. Allah knows best.


“May Allah’s many blessings and greetings be upon Muhammad, his family, and his companions.

“I shall teach youi some words of advise”

On the authority of Abdullah bin Abbas, who said : One day I was behind the prophet and he said to me:


“Young man, I shall teach you some words [of advice] : Be mindful of Allah, and Allah will protect you. Be mindful of Allah, and you will find Him in front of you. If you ask, ask of Allah; if you seek help, seek help of Allah. Know that if the Nation were to gather together to benefit you with anything, it would benefit you only with something that Allah had already prescribed for you, and that if they gather together to harm you with anything, they would harm you only with something Allah had already prescribed for you. The pens have been lifted and the pages have dried.”


Narrated by Termithi, who said it is true and fine hadith


In a version other than that of Tirmithi it reads:”..


Be mindful of Allah, you will find Him before you. Get to know Allah in prosperity and He will know you in adversity. Know that what has passed you by was not going to befall you; and that what has befallen you was not going to pass you by. And know that victory comes with patience, relief with affliction, and ease with hardship.”

Absolute Trust in Allah (swt) (Al-Tawakkul A’lal-Allah)

Tawakkul is a fundamental part of the Islamic Aqeedah. Tawakkul is translated here as either trust or dependence. Putting our trust in Allah (swt) is a matter of belief and contributes to our view regarding this life. To make this point clear, some of the Ayahs are quoted as below. Allah (swt) says:

“If Allah helps you, none can overcome you: If He forsakes you, who is there after that, that can help you? In Allah then, let the Believers put their trust.” [EMQ 3: 160]

And Allah (swt) says:

“Say: Nothing will happen to us except what Allah has decreed for us: He is our Protector: And on Allah let the believers put their trust.” [EMQ 9:51]

And Allah (swt) says:

“And put they trust on the exalted in Might, the Merciful.”  [EMQ 26:217]

Allah (swt) also says:

“…Then when thou hast taken a decision put they trust in Allah. For Allah loves those who put their trust (in Him)”  [EMQ 3:159]

All of the above Ayahs order Muslims to wholly and exclusively to rely on Allah (swt) in their lives. It is only Allah who controls the Universe and both good and bad are His decree. The significant element that should always be kept in mind is the omnipotence of Allah (swt). Therefore our actions and the material resources available to us do not guarantee the outcome of any of our undertakings. For example our material and physical strength may deceive us into believing that victory in a battlefield is inevitable. The truth is that our strength or weakness has no bearing on the outcome of the battle, and it is only by the will of Allah that we become victorious or get defeated by the enemy. It was this firm belief that lead a handful of Muslims during and after the time of the Prophet (saw) to fight so valiantly against a formidable enemy over and over again.

One may ask, why then do we strive to accomplish any task if we cannot influence its outcome? The answer is rather simple. The actions that we take fall into three categories: They are either obligated upon us by Allah (swt), recommended by Him or we are simply allowed to do them. The obligatory actions are taken because Allah (swt) has ordered them as compulsory. The recommended actions are taken to be rewarded in addition to the rewards we get upon accomplishing the fard. In both of these cases we seek to please Allah (swt), Actions falling under the third category are taken to achieve certain objectives we anticipate to fulfil. However, the certainty of accomplishing those objectives is not under our control. Therefore the cause of initiating any action is not whether we control its outcome. It is the anticipated goal we aim to achieve.

This brings us to an important misconception amongst the Muslims where some of the associate effort with having trust in Allah (swt). For example, it is a popular notion that earning provides rizq and Tawakkul in Allah (swt) should come after one has made a sincere effort to earn a living. Some of the Muslims who hold such a view often present the following Hadith in their defence:

A man came to the Prophet (saw) and said, “I will not tie my camel and trust in Allah” The Prophet (saw) said, ‘Tie it and trust in Allah.’

This Hadith does not indicate any prerequisite for trusting Allah (swt). It does not, therefore suggest that somehow there is a link between people tying the camel (an action) and putting ones trust in Allah (swt). However, the Hadith conveys an important lesson to all of us: That while trust in Allah (swt) is absolute being independent of what we do it is our responsibility to act on what we intended to accomplish. In this case tying the camel was a right thing to do if the person feared that the camel would run away. Therefore he should have taken the precaution regardless of his trust in Allah (swt). Tying the camel does not take away from his trust in Allah (swt), irrespective of our efforts and the circumstances surrounding us.

This belief should help us to this life according to the commands of Allah (swt) even if we face hardships in doing so. Disappointment, hopelessness should not daunt us because we have put our trust in Allah (swt), our Creator and the only Sustainer. Many Muslims indulge in the prohibited actions arguing that it is the only alternative; otherwise they would face disastrous consequences. Avid example is giving riba when buying a house on a mortgage. They regard owning a house as a necessity and we are willing to sacrifice Islam in doing so.

They fail to realise that it is only Allah (swt) who provides security for them and their off springs and they need only to put their absolute trust in Him.

Unfortunately the materialistic thought that we have acquired from the Kuffar who depend on material gains for their very survival, has drastically influenced our view towards this life as well… we take pride in our wealth and what we do, and have displaced the trust in Allah (swt) by relying solely on material possessions. May Allah (swt) restore only trust in Him for only then can we truly succeed!

Shirk in Ruboobiyyah and Uloohiyyah

By the noble Shaykh Omar Bakri Muhammad (ha)

Shirk is to direct the names, attributes or functions of Allah (swt) towards anyone or anything other than Him. It is completely wrong to translate or understand shirk to mean “idol worship”, as a person does not necessarily need to worship an idol to become a Mushrik (a disbeliever who associates partners with Allah). Likewise, it is also wrong to say that shirk only means to attribute a son or friend to Allah; this is partly correct but not completely.

As just explained, shirk is to associate someone or something with Allah (swt). For example, Allah is al-Hakam (the Only Legislator); anyone who takes this exclusive name of Allah (swt) and attributes it to someone other than Him is committing shirk, and will hence become a Mushrik (disbeliever).Likewise, Allah is al-Khaaliq (the Only Creator). Any person who attributes this name to someone other than Allah (i.e. by believing that so-and-so also has the power of creation), will become a Mushrik.

This proves the fact that you do not need to believe that Jesus is the son of God (na’oodhubillah) or bow down to an idol to become a Kaafir. You can also become Kaafir just by sitting in one place and doubting Allah or believing that man has the right to make laws.

The type of shirk that most people commit nowadays is Shirk ul-Uloohiyyah. Tawheed ul-Uloohiyyah is the absolute right of Allah (swt) to be worshipped, elevated, obeyed, and for all ritual acts to be offered for His sake alone. All ritual acts should not be offered to anybody but Allah, such as Salaah, Du’aa (supplication), at-Tahaakum (arbitration), slaughtering and fasting etc.

Therefore, for a person to commit Shirk ul-Uloohiyyah it does not mean that he disbelieves in Allah (i.e. in His existence). Rather it occurs when a person offers ritual acts to Allah and/or somebody else. For example, a person obeys Allah and the British kufr law, or prays to Allah and Krishna etc. This type of Tawheed (Uloohiyyah) requires the believer to exclusively worship Allah and offer none of his ritual acts to anyone other than Him. Allah (swt) says:

“O you who believe (Muslims)! Do not take the Jews and the Christians (the non-Muslims) as Awliyaa’ (friends, allies, supporters etc.)…” (EMQ al-Maa‘idah, 5:51)

This verse is an example of Tawheed ul-Uloohiyyah as Allah (swt) forbids us to take the disbelievers as Awliyaa’ (friends, supporters, allies etc.). In other words, it is a verse commanding obedience to Him, and to not ally with the disbelievers. Anybody who obeys Allah and something or somebody else is committing Shirk ul-Uloohiyyah (or Shirk ut-Taa’ah – shirk of obedience).

Tawheed ur-Ruboobiyyah on the other hand, is to believe in the Lordship of Allah. This means that you believe in all His names and attributes, such as He is the Creator, the Provider, and the Most-Gracious etc. Verses in the Qur’aan that speak about the Lordship, attributes or functions of Allah (swt) are verses of Tawheed ur-Ruboobiyyah. Hence, those who commit Shirk ur-Ruboobiyyah are people who do not believe in or accept Allah’s Lordship, names and attributes.

However, even the Kuffaar usually believe in Allah, that He is the Creator, the Provider and the Judge etc. Allah (swt) says:

“And if you ask them: ‘Who has created the heavens and the earth?’ They will certainly say: ‘Allah.’” (EMQ Luqmaan, 31:25)

If the Mushrikeen believed in Allah and His Ruboobiyyah, why were they still deemed Mushrikeen? It was because they did not offer their ritual acts and obedience exclusively to Allah (i.e. they lacked Tawheed ul-Uloohiyyah). Therefore, most people become Mushrik by committing Shirk ul-Uloohiyyah. Allah (swt) says in His Book:

“All praise belongs to Allah, Lord of the mankind.” (EMQ al-Faatihah, 1:1)

This verse is an example of Tawheed ur-Ruboobiyyah as Allah speaks about His attribute of being ar-Rabb (the Lord).

To conclude, it is vital for us to understand that shirk is not only just to say: “Jesus is the son of God”. Rather it also involves directing any of Allah’s attributes, names or functions to anyone or anything other than Him. Examples or manifestations of shirk are: Joining the parliament (as it involved legislating, which is an exclusive function of Allah), following your desires (obeying and worshipping yourself), arbitrating (to solve a dispute) to anybody other than Almighty Allah, and so on.