Friday, December 7, 2007

Tawhid Ar-Rubbubiyah

Tawhid Ar-Rubbubiyah
[Maintaining the Unity of Lordship]

Dr. Billal Philips

In the name of Allāh, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful;
All the praise and Thanks is due to Allāh, the Lord of al-‘ālamīn. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allāh, and that Muhammad, Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam is His Messenger.

Allah Alone Caused All Things to Exist

This category of Tawhid is based on the fundamental concept that Allah alone caused all things to exist when there was nothing; He sustains and maintains creation without any need from it or for it; and He is the sole Lord of the universe and its inhabitants without any real challenge to His sovereignty. In Arabic the word used to describe this creator-sustainer quality is Rubbubiyah which is derived from the root "Rabb" [Lord].

According to this category, since God is the only real power in existence, it is He who gave all things the power to move and to change. Nothing happens in creation except what He allows to happen. In recognition of this reality, Prophet Muhammad (Sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam) used to often repeat the exclamatory phrase "La Hawla Wa Laa Quwwata Illa Billah" [There is no movement nor power except by Allah's will].

The basis for the Rubbubiyah concept can be found in many Qur'anic verses. For example, Allah says:

• "Allah created all things and He Is the agent on which all things depend." [9]

• "And Allah created you all and whatever you do." [10]

• "It was not you who threw, when you threw, but it was Allah who threw." [11]

• "And no calamity strikes except by Allah's permission." [12]

The Prophet (Sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam) further elaborated on this concept saying, "Be aware that if the whole of mankind gathered together in order to do something to help you, they would only be able to do something for you whom Allah had already written for you. Likewise, if the whole of mankind gathered together to harm you, they would only be able to do something to harm you which Allah had already written to happen to you" [13]

Thus, what man conceives as good fortune and misfortune are merely events predestined by Allah as part of the tests of this life. The incidents follow patterns set only by Allah. Allah has said in the Qur'an:

"O Believers! Surely there is in your wives and children an enemy for you, so beware of them." [14]

That is, within the good things of this life there are severe tests of one's faith in God. Likewise, in the terrible events of life there lies test as is mentioned in the verse:

"Surely We will test you with fear, hunger, loss of wealth and life and the fruits of your work, so give glad tidings to those who are patient." [15]

Sometimes the patterns are recognizable, as in the case of cause and effect relationships, and sometimes they are not, as in the case when apparently good results come from evil means or bad results from good means. God has explained that the wisdom behind these apparent irregularities is often beyond man's immediate comprehension due to his limited scope of knowledge.

"Perhaps you may dislike something which is really good for you or like something bad for you, but Allah knows [what is best for you], and you do not." [16]

Apparently evil events in human lives sometimes turn out to be for the best and apparently good things which people desire turn out to be harmful. Consequently, man's realm of influence in the course of events which make up his life is limited to the mental choice between options presented to him and not the actual results of his choice. In other words "man proposes and God disposes". Apparent "good fortune" and "misfortune" are both from Allah and cannot be caused by good-luck charms such as rabbit's feet, four-leaf clovers, wishbones, lucky numbers, zodiacal signs, etc., or by omens of bad luck like Friday the thirteenth, breaking mirrors, black cats, etc. In fact, the belief in charms and omens is a manifestation of the grave sin of syirik [association] in this form of Tawhid. 'Uqbah, one of the companions of the Prophet (Sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam), reported that once a group of men approached Allah's messenger to give their allegiance to him, and he accepted the oath from nine of them but refused to accept it from one. When they asked him why he refused their companion's oath, he replied, "Verily, he is wearing an amulet" [17] The man who was wearing the amulet put his hand in his cloak, pulled the amulet off and broke it then made the oath. The Prophet (Sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam) then said, "Whoever wears an amulet has committed Syirik." [18]

As for using the Qur'an like a charm or amulet by wearing or carrying Qur'anic verses on chains or in pouches to ward off evil or to bring good fortune, there is little difference between such practices and those of the pagans. Neither the Prophet (Sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam) nor his Companions used the Qur'an in this fashion, and the Prophet (Sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam) said, "Whoever innovates in Islam something which does not belong to it will have it rejected." [19] It is true that the Qur'anic chapters, An-Naas and Al-Falaq, were revealed specifically for exorcism [that is, for removing evil spells, but the Prophet (Sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam)demonstrated the proper method by which they should be used. On an occasion when a spell had been cast on him, he told 'Ali Ibn Abu Talib to recite the two chapters verse by verse and when he became ill he used to recite them on himself. [20] He did not write them down and hang them around his neck, tie them on his arm or around his waist, nor did he tell others to do so.


9. Surah Az-Zumar, 39:62.

10. Surah As-Safaat, 37:96.

11. Surah Al-Anfaal, 8:17. This was in reference to a miraculous incident which took place when the Prophet (~) gathered some dust in his hand and threw it at the enemy (at the beginning of the Battle of Badar). Allah caused the dust to reach the faces of the enemy in spite of their great distance.

12. Surah At-Taghabun, 64:11.

13 Reported by Ibn 'Abbas and collected by at-Tirmidzi. See Ezzeddin Ibrahim and Denys Johnson - Davies, An-Nawawi's Forty Hadith, (English Trans.), (Damascus, Syria: The Holy Koran Publishing House, 1976), p.68, no.19.

14. Surah At-Taghabun, 64:14.

15. Surah Al-Baqarah, 2:155.

16. Surah Al-Baqarah, 2:216.

17. A charm worn to bring good fortune or avert evil.

18. Collected by Ahmad.

19.Reported by 'Aishah and collected by Al-Bukhari (Sahih Al-Bukhari, (Arabic - English) vol.3, p.535, no.861), Muslim (Sahih Muslim, (English Trans.) vol.3, i, 931, no.4266 and no.4267) and Abu Dawud (Ahmad Hasan, Sunan Abu Dawud (English Trans.), (Lahore: Sh. Muhammad Ashraf Publishers, 1st. ed., 1984), vol.3, p. 1294).

20. Reported by 'Aishah and collected by Al-Bukhari (Sahih Al-Bukhari, (Arabic-English), vol.6, p.495, no.535) and Muslim (Sahih Muslim, (English Trans.), vol.3, p.1195, no.5439 and 5440).

[Via MSA].

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