Home > Tawheed > Fundamentals of Tawheed Asma Was Sifaat

Fundamentals of Tawheed Asma Was Sifaat


Tawheed is typically divided into three categories:

1) Tawheed Ar Rububiyaa (Maintaining the Oneness of Allah’s Lordship)

2) Tawheed Asma Wa Sifaat (Maintaining the Oneness of Allah’s names and attributes)

3) Tawheed al-Ibadah (Maintaining the Oneness of Allah’s worship)

Tawheed Asma Wa Sifaat is further maintained by sticking to these five aspects or principles[1].

1) “Allah must be referred to as how He and His prophet have described Him” and not by interpreting them in fashion, other than by their obvious meaning.

2) New names and attributes must not be assigned to Allah. This category also includes avoiding deriving new names from Allah’s attributes.

3) Attributes of the creation should not be assigned to Allah

4) Attributes of Allah should not be given to the creation

5) Not giving the definite names of Allah to His creation

We shall explore these five basic characteristics of maintaining the Unity of Allah’s names and attributes in detail as well as assess how some Muslims may have gone astray in these aspects of Tawheed al Asmaa Wa Sifaat.

In the first aspect, we have identified that Allah must be referred to how He and His prophet have described Him. This goes without saying that Allah is best suited to describe himself. Furthermore, we must also be aware that although an attribute of Allah might sound similar to a human attribute, such as “The Living” or “anger” etc., the similarity ends with the name and not in degree and free from human shortcomings. [2] For instance, some Muslims may question the use of word “anger” in following ayah of Quran:

“And may punish the hypocritical men and the hypocritical women, and the idolatrous men and the idolatrous women, who think an evil thought concerning Allah. For them is the evil turn of fortune, and Allah is wroth against them and hath cursed them, and hath made ready for them hell, a hapless journey’s end.” [Quran 48:6].

They would reason that since humans get angry and it is a human trait, the anger must refer to God’s punishment instead.  Also, the Ashari’ school of thought among Muslims went astray in this aspect when they interpreted the two hands of Allah as two powers and Allah’s face as light.[3]

The second aspect instructs us not to assign new names nor derive new names from Allah’s attributes. Since, one of Allah’s attributes is that He gets angry, it would be inappropriate if some Muslims derive from this attribute and say that one of the names of Allah is Al Ghadib.[4]

Another pointer in maintaining Tawheed in Allah’s Asmaa Wa Sifaat is not assigning the attributes of creation to Allah. This is a critical aspect as the deviation is evident among Christian belief as well as other faiths in depicting God in human form. The classical example would be the statue of Jesus Christ among the Christians or the various idols in human forms representing God, in the Hindu faith. Some group of Muslims has also deviated in this aspect.  This area of violation in Tawheed could be understood in instances where Muslims may limit their visualization of Allah to human attributes. For instance, while thinking about Allah’s hands or face, they might imagine a big hand in a human form etc. This is incorrect, as the finite human mind cannot comprehend the infinite form of God.

The opposite of above mentioned point holds true too, i.e., the attributes that are unique to Allah should not be assigned to the creation. Allah describes Himself as the All Knowing and All Hearing in ayah 48:6 in Quran. Allah also describes himself as Al Qudoos which means “The Holy” implying that He is free from all imperfections.[5] The majority of the Shia groups consider the 12 Imams to be infallible and free from sins and mistakes and all knowing.[6] Other deviant sects such as the Shia Nusayriyah (Alawi) of Syria, consider Ali bin Abu Talib as a incarnation of Allah on earth and assign many of Allah’s attributes to him.[7] The Alawi/Nusayriyah also believe in assigning Allah’s attributes to Muhammad (PBUH) and Salman Al Farsi, as is evident in their testimony of faith:   `I have borne witness that there is no God but He, the most High, the object of worship [al-‘Ali al-Ma’bud] and that there is no concealing veil (hijab) except the lord Muhammad, the object of praise, (as-Sayyid Muhmmad al-Mahmud), and there is not Bab except the lord Salman al-Farisi`[8] These beliefs are clear examples of violation of fundamental aspect of maintaining Tawheed in Asma Wa Sifaat.

Finally, the fifth aspect pertains to the reservation of the exclusive names of Allah to Him alone and not to Creation, unless preceded by Abd (slave of). Allah’s most glorious names define His attributes. If one looks at Allah’s name “Ar-Rahman”, it is commonly translated as The Merciful or more accurately, “The All Comprehensive in Mercy”. Now, in its definite article form, the name cannot be assigned to any of His creation. However, without “the”, it can be used for humans, as “Rahman” no longer implies the absolute sense of the word used earlier. However, Ar-Raheem translates to “The Owner of Mercy”, and is a name exclusive to Allah, even in the indefinite form. A common example where muslims commit this mistake is naming humans as ArRahman or Raheem or Abd Nabi, Abd Rasool and similar mistakes in not following the protocol explained earlier while naming using Allah’s names. [9]


[1] Taken from The Fundamentals of Tawheed, Bilal Philips, Pg. 27 – 30

[2] The Fundamentals of Tawheed, Bilal Philips, Pg. 27

[3] Ismail Kamdar, Live Session – Aqeedah 101 Class

[4] The Fundamentals of Tawheed, Bilal Philips, Pg. 27

[5] An Explanation of the Last Tenth of the Noble Quran, Pg 71

[6] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Fourteen_Infallibles

[7] The Fundamentals of Tawheed, Bilal Philips, Pg. 51

[8] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alawis

[9] The Fundamentals of Tawheed, Bilal Philips, Pg. 30-31

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Categories: Tawheed
  1. October 3, 2010 at 11:30 am

    Read it… Seems to be a nice summary on the 3 types of Tawheed. Keep up the good work.

    Try writing some more details on this subject in the future.

    As salaamu alaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakaatuhu.

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