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Responding To An Email - Believing In -: Polytheists Believed In Tawheed al-Rububiyyah. Matter Of Blame Or No-Blame?


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Introduction:

A brother sent me email after reading my following article, here, which was criticising sister Umm Abdullah and Najdi Shuyukh for belief that polytheists of Arabia believed in Tawheed al-Rububiyyah. He contacted and criticised some parts of it and attempted to reason that their position is without blame. In response I took the easiest way out to avoid writing again on this topic. I sent him links of following articles, here, here, here, and here. And setup my self by saying: If there is anything else I can do for you, I would be glad to. After about a month brother came back after going through all the articles and deeply thinking about topic and sent me following short email.

0.0 - Email Received From A Salafi Brother:

“Salam. You have justifiably criticised the Najdi Shuyukh regarding their belief that polytheists believed in Tawheed al-Rububiyyah. I have been reading the articles you suggested and after mulling over mountain of evidence against Najdi position I am forced to seriously doubt my initial understanding of subject. I can gladly abandon their position [that polytheists believed in Tawheed al-Rububiyyah]. I see no reason to demonize these Shuyukh or charge them of any wrong doing. Tawheed Al Rububiyyah is defined as xyz and polytheists believed xyz for Allah. In this sense of definition it would be correct to say they believed in Tawheed Al Rububiyyah. If I can be convinced/over-whelmed to believe contrary to my judgement then it would be easy to disregard the teaching of Najdi Shuyukh. Seeing there is no blame in holding to Najdi position is holding me back from leaving it altogether.” [This is edited and improved version of original.]

0.1 - Material Related To Fourth Argument In Mentioned Articles:

In the mentioned articles evidences were submitted and explained which establish polytheists were/are not believers in Tawheed al-Rububiyyah. Note that evidence established; polytheists believed their gods also exercised authority in affairs of Rububiyyah which refuted the notion ‘they believed in Tawheed al-Rububiyyah’ according to Salafi definition of Tawheed al-Rububiyyah. In other words it was established; polytheists negated Tawheed al-Rububiyyah even according Salafi definition of Tawheed al-Rububiyyah.

1.0 - Tafsir Of Verses Establishing Shirk On Safety Of Land:

Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) states: And when harm touches you upon the sea, those that you call upon vanish from you except Him. But when He brings you safe to land, you turn away (from Him). And man is ever ungrateful.” [Ref: 17:67] Their gods vanish from their minds and they solely invoke Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala): “… and they sail with them with a favourable wind, and they are glad therein, then comes a stormy wind and the waves come to them from all sides, and they think that they are encircled therein. Then they invoke Allah, making their Faith pure for Him Alone, And addressing Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) they say: "If You (Allah) deliver us from this we shall truly be thankful (to you alone).” Yet when they reach the safety of land, due to Mushrikeen/Insaan being ever ungrateful they do not thank Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala):  But when He delivers them, behold! They on land rebel (against Him) without justification/right. [Ref: 10:22/23] Contextually the meaning of the last portion is; polytheists even though promise Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) to be grateful and thankful to Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) alone if their lives are saved. But despite this they rebel against Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) by doing something against their own promise and by doing something for which they have no justification/right. This rebellion is rebellion of Shirk.[2]  In other words, when polytheists are on safety of land they commit Shirk, they associated partners with Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala), for which they have no right (i.e. no permission from Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala) even though they promised they will not commit Shirk when their lives were in peril at sea. Following verse establishes how they turn away from their promise and rebel against Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala): “Say: "Who rescues you from the darkness of the land and the sea, (when) you call upon Him in humility and in secret (saying): If He only saves us from this (danger), we shall truly be grateful? Say: "Allah rescues you from this and from all (other) distresses, and yet you (still) associate others (as partners) with Him ." [Ref: 6:63/64] When on the safety of land they associate idols and gods as partners with Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala).[3] End of Tafsir.

1.1 - Implications Of Immediate And General Context On Verse  6:63/64:

When it is evident that polytheists of Arabia when their lives were at peril, as it is true with mankind in general, they invoked Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) promising Him to believe in Him alone but on safety of land they broke their promise and associated idols/gods as partners with Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala). There are two possible contexts in which the polytheist would associate partners with Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) -: which the verse could be targeting: i) the immediate context of transpired event, ii) and in their general and daily life. In the first category the implication is that polytheists said: Thanks to the Goddess Al-Laat today my life was saved. They broke the promise and instead of giving credit to Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala), even though they asked Him alone, they gave credit to their idols and gods. In second category the implication is Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) is targeting their belief in many idol-gods, their worship of many gods etc. In this context they promised at sea: O Allah if you save us, we will not associate gods/idols (i.e. Al-Laat, Al-Uzza, Al-Manat etc.) with you nor we will worship them (i.e. Al-Laat, Al-Uzza, Al-Manat etc.). And when Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) saved their lives and they reached safety of land they associated with Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) gods/idols. Rebelling against their true God by breaking their promise and demonstrating they are ungrateful. My judgment is both were intended and both are valid.

First Argument -: Polytheists Committed Shirk In al-Rububiyyah:

Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) is saving the life by calming the sea, or by other means, it is proof He is managing the affairs of His creation and this is demonstration of Rububiyyah. Out of the two possible contexts mentioned if the first context is believed then polytheists of Arabia committing Shirk in Rububiyyah is established because they give credit of an act of Rububiyyah to their idols/gods: “Say: "Allah rescues you from this (i.e. storm of sea) and yet you (still) associate others (such as Al-Laat, Al-Uzza as partners) with Him (soon as you reach safety of land by thanking and crediting them for safe return).” Implications of second context are two, one is inclusive of Rububiyyah and other is exclusive of Rububiyyah. The one inclusive of Rububiyyah is: “Say: "Allah rescues youfrom all distresses, and yet you (still) associate others (such as Al-Laat, Al-Uzza as partners) with Him (as partners by associating your idol-gods with Him in His powers of Rububiyyah and worshiping them).” Exclusive of Rububiyyah is following: “Say: "Allah rescues you from this and from all (other) distresses, and yet you (still) associate others with Him (as partners by associating idol-gods and worshiping them).” Do note all these interpretations are of verses 6:64. All three are result of focus on a particular part of verse in discussion and the focused part is highlighted. Therefore all interpretations are valid and none should not be rejected. Alhasil polytheists associating partners in Rububiyyah of Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) is established and that too in accordance with Salafi definition of Tawheed Al-Rububiyyah.

Second Argument –: Belief In Ilah Beside Allah Negates Tawheed al-Rububiyyah:

Tawheed (i.e. Oneness) is always associated with TWO main parts; Zaat (i.e. Essence) and Sifaat (i.e. Attributes). Note Tawheed al-Afaal (i.e. Actions) – Tawheed al-Rububiyyah - is connected with some if not all attributes of Tawheed al-Sifaat. So when someone says: I believe in Tawheed of Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala). Fundamentally the person is saying: I believe in Oneness of Allah’s Zaat and Sifaat. If Tawheed of Zaat is negated/disbelieved, via believing there are many gods beside Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala), or there is another god beside Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala), then all parts of Tawheed are by default negated. From logical perspective to believe there are other gods , or there is a god beside Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) by default negates Tawheed al-Sifaat, which Rububiyyah is part of, because god beside Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) would be believed with attributes. And these attributes are directly or indirectly related to Rububiyyah details of which I will not go into.

Third Argument -: Negation Of One Part Of Tawheed Is Negation Of All:

Also Muslims divided Tawheed into categories to understand it systematically and in detail. It was never divided into categories to understand in which sense the Mushrikeen were/are Muwahideen. The divisions of Tawheed should not be employed to establish Tawheed of Mushrikeen because Tawheed is composed of all components and it cannot be believed in parts. Negation of one component of Tawheed is negation of all components of Tawheed.[1] In the context of discussion; the polytheists believed their gods possess attributes of Rububiyyah and that too after affirming belief of Ilahiyyah. Which by default negates belief of Tawheed al-Rububiyyah and this is true even when Ism (i.e. name) of Rububiyyah is not affirmed/believed for their gods.

Fourth Argument -: Polytheists Are Muslim In Tawaf:

It is documented in authentic Ahadith that polytheists of Arabia performed Tawaf around the Kabah. Would it correct to say: Polytheists were Muslims when it came to Tawaf around the Kabah? Muslim-ness isn’t defined by Tawaf around the Kabah there is whole lot of package which cements belief in Islam. Just like previous example Tawheed isn’t defined by believing Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) manages the affairs of creation (i.e. Rububiyyah). Its fundamental components are mentioned in Surah Ikhlas and negation of gods, worship of gods beside Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) is part of believing in Tawheed.

Fifth Argument -: Tawheed al-Rububiyyah Of Muslims:

Tawheed al-Rububiyyah is construct of Tawheed (i.e. Oneness) and Rububiyyah (i.e. Lordship). When Tawheed is negated by believing in gods beside Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) then the foundation of Rububiyyah is by default refuted. In other words from Islamic perspective the foundation of Tawheed al-Rububiyyah is Tawheed al-Zaat (i.e. Essence). When a Zaat beside Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) is attributed with Ilahiyyah and is believed to possess some, or few, or all attributes of Rububiyyah, in equal/unequal sense in comparison to Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala), then Tawheed al-Rububiyyah cannot be established, and will never be established according to Islamic teaching.

2.0 - The Matter Of Blame/Sin Or No Blame:

The blame upon those who believe polytheists believed in Tawheed al-Rububiyyah is of Kufr if I was being extremely judicial in my judgment because to establish a teaching clearly against Quran is Kufr. Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) says they are Mushrikeen even after believing in Rububiyyah of Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala). Shaykh says they are Muwahid in Tawheed al-Rububiyyah even though they associate with Him partners in His Lordship – which is established from textual proofs of Quran. Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa aalihi was’sallam) is reported to have said: "One who innovates something in this matter of ours that is not of it will have it rejected.” [Ref: Bukhari, B49, H861] “He who acted any action not from our affair that is rejected.” [Ref: Muslim, B18, H4267] And there is no proof for Tawheed of polytheists and therefore this teaching of Najdi Shuyukh is rejected. And one who adheres to this rejected type of innovation they should take note of following words of RasoolAllah (sallallahu alayhi wa aalihi was’sallam): “And he who introduced some evil Sunnah in Islam which had been followed subsequently, he would be required to bear the burden like that of one who followed this without theirs being diminished in any respect.” [Ref: Muslim, B34, H6466] "And whoever starts an erroneous Biddah with which Allah is not pleased nor His Messenger then he shall receive sins similar to whoever acts upon it without that diminishing anything from the sins of the people.” [Ref: Tirmadhi, B29, H2677] In light of these Ahadith generous judgment in this regard is that one who believes Mushrikeen believed in Tawheed al-Rububiyyah, like Shuyukh of Najd teach, then person has fallen into heretical/sinful innovation and tradition. The innovator and the actors/followers are all equally responsible.

2.1 - Judgment Of Kufr For Whom And Judgment Of Innovation For Whom:

A qualified Aalim/Shaykh, if after evidences of Quran and Sunnah have been presented, and arguments of Islam have been clearly explained, and despite this believes in heretical notion then hokum of Kufr is warranted. A jahil, following the Shuyukh of Najd adheres to it, with little understanding of subject, such a person is heretic and sinful, but Takfir is to be held back until all means of Sharia are exhausted. But anyone believes Mushrikeen did not commit Shirk in Ilahiyyah and Asma/Sifaat such a person is Kafir, no quarter given.

Email Received After Unpolished Version Of Above Response Was Sent:

“Salam. I eagerly anticipated your response and this morning Fajr time I checked and it was inboxed. It was bit nerving to read but I got through without heart attack. Even though I do sympathise with them [Salafi Shuyukh] but the strength of your arguments is compelling enough to reject their teaching. I officially renounce my belief [that polytheists believed in Tawheed al-Rububiyyah]. Mushrikeen as Muslim in Tawaf just brought smile to my face. If someone presented this notion from your side on my side of the border. They will definitely banned him with Takfir. I laughed hysterically how you alluded to same. I still can’t get it out of my head. I am thinking … lets poison the peaceful atmosphere in here by saying polytheists were Muslim in Hajj. lol! Just one more thing and this is more to do with curiosity then anything of substance. Was dispute over Tawheed ar-Rububiyyah part of reasons which resulted in you leaving Salafiyyah?(4) With regards to your desire of publishing this on IslamiMehfil. It is your content so do as you please but I would appreciate if my details aren’t shared. Otherwise I will get mugged by zealous army patrolling borders of Minhaj as-Salafiyyah waiting to evict anyone not holding their understanding. It would be an unwanted stress which I rather not deal with. I had totally given up hope on brothers following Barelwi Minhaj but meeting you has made me realize my ignorance was self imposed. Hand on my heart … with some embarrassment … I acknowledge ... you have greatly increased my respect for scholarship of Barelwi Minhaj. I will try to go through the articles you suggested on Tawheed and Shirk before attempting to read your discussion [on subject of Istighathah]. If I had something to say or ask I will do then. May Allah reward you for time and effort.”

Conclusion:

The notion that Polytheists believed in Tawheed al-Rububiyyah is completely without warrant. A principled study of dispute with  textual evidences from Quran establishes clearly that polytheists did not believe in Tawheed al-Rububiyyah. They merely affirmed Rububiyyah of Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) in major affairs like of which are mentioned in the verses commonly employed by Wahhabis to establish their belief. But they believed in minor matters their gods/lords exercise authority also. Please refer to linked articles to get complete picture of subject. There is indeed blame of innovation and Kufr upon one who believes in polytheists being Muwahideen in al-Rububiyyah. May Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) guide and protect us all. Ameen.

Wama alayna ilal balalghul mubeen.
Muhammed Ali Razavi

Footnotes:

- [1] “He it is Who conveys you yusayyirukum a variant reading has yanshurukum across the land and the sea until when you are in ships and they sail with them there is a shift of address from second to third person with a fair gentle breeze and they rejoice therein there comes upon them a stormy wind blowing violently destroying everything and waves come on them from every side and they think that they are overwhelmed that is that they shall perish they call upon God secure in their faith their supplication only to Him ‘If la-in the lām is for oaths You deliver us from these terrors we shall verily be of the thankful’ of those who affirm Your Oneness. Yet when He has delivered them behold they are insolent in the earth wrongfully. By associating others with God. O mankind your insolence wrongdoing is only against yourselves since the sin thereof shall fall against them; it is but the enjoyment of the life of this world which you will enjoy for a short while then to Us is your return after death and We shall inform you of what you used to do and then requite you for it a variant reading for nominative matā‘u has accusative matā‘a ‘an enjoyment’ in other words read as with an omitted verb such as tatamatta‘ūna ‘one which you shall enjoy’.” [Ref: Tafsir Al Jalalayn, 10:22/23]

- [2] “(Say) O Muhammad to the disbelievers of Mecca: (Who delivereth you from the darkness) from the hardships and tumults (of the land and the sea? Ye call upon Him humbly and in secret) openly and in secret, ((saying): If we are delivered from this) from these hardships and tumults (we truly will be of the thankful) of the believers. (Say) to them, O Muhammad: (Allah delivereth you from this) from the hardships of the sea and the land (and from all afflictions) from all grief and turmoil. (Yet ye) people of Mecca (attribute partners) idols (unto Him).” [Ref: Tafsir Ibn al-Abbas, 6:63/64] “Say O Muhammad s to the people of Mecca ‘Who delivers you from the darkness of the land and the sea from their terrors during your journeys? When you call upon Him openly and secretly saying “Verily if la-in the lām is for oaths You God deliver us anjaytanā is also read anjānā ‘if He delivers us’ from this darkness and hardship we shall truly be among the thankful”’ the believers. Say to them ‘God delivers you read yunjīkum or yunajjīkum from that and from every distress from every other anxiety. Yet you associate others with Him.” [Ref: Tafsir Al Jalalayn, 6:63/64]

- [3] It would be better to explain this statement. Essence and attributes compose a sentient being. Essence and attributes of Harry make-up Harry. If one believes in attributes of Harry exist but the very foundation on which the attributes are built (i.e. essence) never existed. Has one truly believed in existence of Harry? No! If someone believed there was/is in essence a twin of Harry but not in attributes. Has that individual believed in oneness/uniqueness of Harry? No! Following is an example more closely relevant to discussion: Someone believed Harry was a unique individual in his essence but in some attributes of are shared equally/unequally by Thomas. Has that person believed Harry is truly unique in his existence? No! Tawheed is belief that Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) is truly and absolutely unique and nothing compares to Him. If someone believed in Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) as His God and Lord. And believed there are other gods beside Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) and unequally affirmed for them some attributes essential for Rububiyyah. Does he truly believe Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) is the only Lord [and God] beside whom there is none? No! For simple fact that he affirmed Ilahiyyah and believed other gods beside Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) unequally/unequally – in comparison to themselves and in comparison to Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) - possess attributes of Rububiyyah.

- [4] No! During my Salafi and Deobandi days I didn’t think there was problem with notion; polytheists believed in Tawheed al-Rububiyyah. I had heard murmurs that Asharis/Sufis challenge this notion but I had never really paid much attention and ignored it. After joined the ranks of Ahlus Sunnah attempt was made to learn Tawheed and Shirk and methodology of determining Shirk. After these two topics were naturalised I started to study in light of Ahlus Sunnahs definition issues which Salafi/Wahhabi accuse Muslims of committing Shirk in. These topics gave me opportunity to exercise the learnt methodology. Even then I never paid attention to the topic until I bumped into, hornofsatan, website. This happened while I was searching for material critical of Qawaid al-Arba, by Shaykh Muhammad Bin Abdul Wahhab. And in the first principle polytheists believing in Rububiyyah of Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) is mentioned and Sunni brother refuting it wrote extensively refuting the notion, here. While writing refutation to Qawaid al-Arba’s. I had to grapple with the issue polytheists believing in Rububiyyah of Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala). And as a footnote[11] I commented on Tawheed al-Rububiyyah part. It was the first (in 2013) time I had to actually think deeply about the topic in light of orthodox understanding of Shirk and principles of determining Shirk. This was roughly 9/10 years after leaving Salafism/Wahhabism. And more I delved into the topic clearer its deviation came to.

Edited by MuhammedAli
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