The Fundamentals of Tawhid (Islamic Monotheism)

Friday, December 3rd, 2010, 03:02 WIB
The Fundamentals of Tawhid (Islamic Monotheism)
Name of Book :  The Fundamentals of Tawhid (Islamic Monotheism)
Author :  Dr. Abu Ameenah Bilal Philips
Publisher :  International Islamic Publishing House, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. 2005.
Dr. Philips is a devoted da'iyah who graduated from the Islamic University of Madinah. He wrote a number of books on Islam in English. In this book, he discusses the issue of Tawhid (monotheism) in an easy-to-understand language and style. It caters to the needs of all, especially the general readers, and goes along way towards making the issue wholly understood.
At the foreword, Philips says: "It is common knowledge that Tawhid is the basis of religion of Islam and that it is must precisely expressed in the formula "La ilaha illallah" (there is no God but Allah), which states that there is only one true God and that He alone deserves to be worshiped. This seemingly simple formula forms the dividing line between Eman (true belief in God) and Kufr (disbelief), according to the tenets of Islam. Because of this principle of Tawhid, the Islamic belief in God is considered Unitarian and Islam is counted among the world's monotheistic religions along with Judaism and Christianity. Yet, according to Islamic Unitarian concept (Tawhid), Chriatianity is classified as polytheism and Judaism is considered a subtle form of idolatry. Philips follows that by hinting the concept Tawhid according to Ibn Arabi and Mu'tazilah reminding that the prophet Muhammad (PBUH) vividly warned Muslims to beware of such deviations as had befallen the nations before them.
The book is an attempt to provide English speaking readers with a basic analysis of the major areas of the Science of Tawhid. The book is based on the approach used in classical Arabic texts on the science of Tawhid with avoiding the presentation of the theological issues found in classical works that have little or no relevance to modern English readers. It has eleven chapters which can be over-viewed as following:
In chapter one, "The Categories of Tawhid", Philips explains maintaining the Unity of Lordship, maintaining the Unity of Allah's Names and Attributes, and maintaining the Unity of Worship. Regarding that, he says that "literally Tawhid means 'unification' (making something one) or 'asserting oneness'...". He follows up saying that "The division of Tawhid into its components was not done by the Prophet (PBUH) nor his Companions, as there was no necessity to analyze such a basic principle of faith in this fashion. However, the foundations of the components are all implied in the verses of Qur'an and in the explanatory statement of the Prophet and his Companions, which he explains later in more detail in the chapter. Moreover he explains the aspects of each category in details comparing them once needed with Christianity and Shi'ite sects.
In chapter two, "The Categories of Shirk", he explains three categories too;
  1. Shirk in Rububiay (A. by association, B. by negation);
  2. Shirk in Names and Attributes (A. by humanization, B. by deification);
  3. Shirk in Unity of Worship (A. Major Shirk, B. Minor Shirk).
Philips explains that Shirk literally means partnership, sharing or associating, in Islam it refers to the act of assigning partners to Allah in whatever form it may take. He follows up analyzing Shirk according to the three broad categories just mentioned.
In chapter three, "Allah's Covenant with Adam", he explains the barzakh, pre-creation, man's natural disposition, born Muslim and the covenant. Philips follows up saying that "According to Islam and all divinely revealed religions, when a person dies on earth he will not be reborn until the Day of Resurrection". He compared this concept with the Hindu one and some of Shi'ite sects.
In chapter four, "Charms and Omens", he discusses the ruling of charms, omens, and the Islamic ruling on omens. Regarding that, he explains "knock on wood". "spilling salt", "breaking a mirror", "black cats", and "number 13".
In chapter five, "Fortunetelling", he discusses the world of Jinn, the Islamic ruling on fortunetelling (visitation and belief). While in chapter six, "Astrology", he explores the arguments of Muslim astrologist and the Islamic ruling on horoscope. Following that, by chapter seven about "Magic", its reality, and the Islamic ruling on it.
In the next four chapters, Philips discusses "Transcendency", "Seeing Allah", "Saint Worship", and finally "Grave Worship". At the end he concludes that "Man's worship of God is for his own benefit, as Allah is in no need of man's worship. In the worship of God, man realizes both his material and spiritual potential for all aspects of goodness and thereby earns for himself the everlasting abode of bliss at the end of this brief earthly journey". He follows up saying that "The Godly way of life, Islam, provides a means of turning each and every human act, no matter how insignificant or mundane it may seem, into an act of worship as long as the following two basic conditions are fulfilled
  1. That act must be consciously done for the pleasure of God alone; and
  2. It must be done according to the Sunnah of Messenger of Allah".