The Kalimah (Word) of Tawheed (Oneness), "Laa ilaaha ill-Allah” came to correct belief — not only that of the ancient polytheists, but of all men up until the Day of Judgment. It testifies that there is no divinity except Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) none other than Him and none along with Him. None is similar to Him, none creates and sustains except Him, and none has the right to govern creation but Him.
The concept of Tawheed necessarily overflows into all aspects of belief and worship into all aspects of life. Whether he recognizes it or not, man is totally indebted to his Creator for his continuing existence hour by hour, not to mention such blessings as his many possessions and abilities. Knowing that Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) alone is the Creator, the Sustainer, the Provider, the Controller, the source of all benefit and harm in whose hands is the Judgment and the final destination of men requires through common sense and reason that He alone be worshipped.
Although the concept of Worship (Ibaadah) has been gradually reduced in common usage to mean little more than the performance of certain religious rites and rituals, the original and true definition is comprehensive. It encompasses all actions and intentions motivated by a recognition of greatness — that combination of love and fear, producing efforts to please the Worshipped One and to avoid His displeasure. An object of worship continually occupies the mind of the worshipper and consequently governs his behavior, both consciously and unconsciously. When applying the correct definition, it becomes clear that despite lip-service to "Laa ilaaha ill-Allah,” one’s object of worship could well be something other than Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa).
أَفَرَءَيۡتَ مَنِ ٱتَّخَذَ إِلَٰهَهُۥ هَوَىٰهُ وَأَضَلَّهُ ٱللَّهُ عَلَىٰ عِلۡمٖ (23)
“So, have you seen him who has taken his desires as his god, and Allah has let him go astray, despite having knowledge,” (al Jaathiyah 45:23)
Scholars have said that the phrase "`alaa `ilm” refers to Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa)’s knowledge of that servant and his preference for his own desires, or as well, to that servant’s knowledge of the truth although he rejects it.
Those pursuers of falsehood in the form of political ideologies and national leaders, foreign customs, wealth, fashion or various worldly enjoyments might assume that by bowing to Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) in Salaah (Prayer), they worship Him alone. But Prophet Hadhrat Muhammad (SallAllaho Alaihe WaSallam) firmly corrected this misconception.
Once, ‘Adiyy bin Hatim entered while the Prophet (SallAllaho Alaihe WaSallam) was reciting an Aayah (Verse) from the Quraan:
ٱتَّخَذُوٓاْ أَحۡبَارَهُمۡ وَرُهۡبَٰنَهُمۡ أَرۡبَابٗا مِّن دُونِ ٱللَّهِ وَٱلۡمَسِيحَ ٱبۡنَ مَرۡيَمَ وَمَآ أُمِرُوٓاْ إِلَّا لِيَعۡبُدُوٓاْ إِلَٰهٗا وَٰحِدٗاۖ لَّآ إِلَٰهَ إِلَّا هُوَۚ سُبۡحَٰنَهُۥ عَمَّا يُشۡرِكُونَ (31)
“They have taken their rabbis and their monks as gods beside Allah, and also (they have taken) MasiH the son of Maryam (as god). And they were not commanded but to worship only One God. There is no god but He. Pure is He from what they associate with Him.” (at-Taubah 9:31)
Hadhrat ‘Adiyy (who had been a Christian), said: "O Messenger of Allah, they did not worship them.”
The Prophet (SallAllaho Alaihe WaSallam) replied: "Did they not tell them that the prohibited was lawful and that the lawful was prohibited and they followed them in that?”
Hadhrat ‘Adiyy admitted: "Yes.”
The Prophet (SallAllaho Alaihe WaSallam) stated: "That was their worship of them.” (Ahmad and at-Tirmizi)
Thus worship was defined as obedience — a fact that becomes evident from even a superficial study of the Quraan in which Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) orders repeatedly:
أَطِيعُواْ ٱللَّهَ وَٱلرَّسُولَۖ
"Obey Allah and the Messenger.”
(Aale ‘Imraan 3:32 & 132, an-Nisaa 4:59, al-Anfaal 8:1 & 64, an-Noor 24:54, Mohammad 47:33, Mujaadilah 58:13 and at-Taghaabu 64:12. Many other verses, although worded differently, carry the same meaning.)
إِنِ ٱلۡحُكۡمُ إِلَّا لِلَّهِ أَمَرَ أَلَّا تَعۡبُدُوٓاْ إِلَّآ إِيَّاهُۚ ذَٰلِكَ ٱلدِّينُ ٱلۡقَيِّمُ وَلَٰكِنَّ أَكۡثَرَ ٱلنَّاسِ لَا يَعۡلَمُونَ (40)
“Sovereignty belongs to none but Allah. He has ordained that you shall not worship anyone but Him. This is the only right path. But most of the people do not know.” (Yousuf 12:40)
Two types of shirk were common both before and after the prophethood of Muhammad (SallAllaho Alaihe WaSallam). The first of these is the direction of acts of worship (especially supplication) to others besides Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) while still claiming belief in Him. The Quraan orders:
وَلَا تَدۡعُ مَعَ ٱللَّهِ إِلَٰهًا ءَاخَرَۘ لَآ إِلَٰهَ إِلَّا هُوَۚ (88)
“And do not invoke any other god along with Allah. There is no god but He.” (al-Qasas 28:88)
The other type of shirk is the willful adherence to laws and rulings other than His.
أَلَمۡ تَرَ إِلَى ٱلَّذِينَ يَزۡعُمُونَ أَنَّهُمۡ ءَامَنُواْ بِمَآ أُنزِلَ إِلَيۡكَ وَمَآ أُنزِلَ مِن قَبۡلِكَ يُرِيدُونَ أَن يَتَحَاكَمُوٓاْ إِلَى ٱلطَّٰغُوتِ وَقَدۡ أُمِرُوٓاْ أَن يَكۡفُرُواْ بِهِۦۖ (60)
“Have you not seen those who claim that they have believed in what was revealed to you and what was revealed before you? They want to take their disputes to the Taghut, while they were ordered to reject it.” (An-Nisaa 4:60)
The loss of Tawheed is sadly evident today in the acceptance of foreign philosophies and lifestyles, political oppression, innovations in religion, and countless forms of disobedience. Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) warns:
ٱتَّبِعُواْ مَآ أُنزِلَ إِلَيۡكُم مِّن رَّبِّكُمۡ وَلَا تَتَّبِعُواْ مِن دُونِهِۦٓ أَوۡلِيَآءَۗ قَلِيلٗا مَّا تَذَكَّرُونَ (3)
“(O humankind!) Follow what has been sent down to you from your Lord, and do not follow any masters other than Him. Little you heed to advice!” (al A’raaf 7:3)
وَإِن تُطِعۡ أَكۡثَرَ مَن فِي ٱلۡأَرۡضِ يُضِلُّوكَ عَن سَبِيلِ ٱللَّهِۚ (116)
“If you obey the majority of those on earth, they will make you lose the way of Allah.” (al-An’aam 6:116)
وَإِنَّ كَثِيرٗا لَّيُضِلُّونَ بِأَهۡوَآئِهِم بِغَيۡرِ عِلۡمٍۚ (119)
“Surely, there are many who misguide people on the basis of their desires without having knowledge.” (al-An’aam 6:119)
وَلَا تُطِعۡ مَنۡ أَغۡفَلۡنَا قَلۡبَهُۥ عَن ذِكۡرِنَا وَٱتَّبَعَ هَوَىٰهُ وَكَانَ أَمۡرُهُۥ فُرُطٗا (28)
“And do not obey the one whose heart We have made heedless of Our remembrance, and who has followed his desire and whose behavior has exceeded the limits.” (al-Kahf 18:28)
The Help and Nusrah for Ummah will descend down only when a considerable number of Muslims has returned to the true worship of Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) and will no tolerate Shirk (Polytheism). The greater Jihad against tyranny and oppression everywhere on earth will neither be accepted by Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) nor aided by Him until the participants are truly dedicated to His cause and free of all other motivations.