It is common to hear certain Muslims denounce well-established Islamic practices such as Tawassul, building graves, Ziyaarah of graves as Shirk. While this is not the occasion to delve into the permissibility of these practices as we have already established it in several articles on the website, we turn to whether it is permissible for Muslims to define Tauheed and Shirk in the first place.

Who is to define Tauheed?

A common error these so-called Muslims have been making is that they consider it their self-imposed duty to define Tauheed and ensure that the Muslim world adheres to it. Their fallacy over here is that they have failed to appreciate that Muslims don’t define Tauheed, Tauheed defines the Muslim. Muslims are not higher than Tauheed that they can define Tauheed, Tauheed is higher than them and hence defines the Muslims.

Dangerous consequences of misinterpreting Tauheed

Making one’s definition of Tauheed is fraught with dangerous consequences for Islam and Muslims. For instance, if some misguided Muslims take the graves as God, can we re-define Tauheed because of these Muslims and go about leveling the graves? Do we have the authority, mandate and capability to define Tauheed? Tauheed is too high to be determined by humans. Satan attempted to define Tauheed and was relegated from the ranks of angels to the last layer of hell which is reserved for the most disgraceful of Allah’s Creatures. Apparently Satan was right when he claimed that how can a creature prostrate to another creature and abandon Tauheed? But in Allah’s scheme of things – this was perfect Tauheed and NOT prostrating was Shirk.

Who other than Allah can determine where His Tauheed lies?

If we go about defining Tauheed like these so-called Muslims, then there would be complete chaos in the world resulting even in the killing of Prophets (a.s.). If demolishing graves is permitted since they were worshipped by the people, then Allah would also have made it permissible to kill Prophets Esa (a.s.) and Ozair (a.s.) under the verse:

وَقَالَتِ الْيَهُودُ عُزَيْرٌ ابْنُ اللَّهِ وَقَالَتِ النَّصَارَى الْمَسِيحُ ابْنُ اللَّهِ

“And the Jews say: Uzair is the son of Allah; and the Christians say: The Messiah is the son of Allah…”
(Surah Taubah (9): Verse 30)

Or if some Muslims take the Kaabah as God – as some non-Muslims already accuse the Muslims of doing, do we destroy the Holy Kaabah? Or is it more rational to counsel the misguided ones ?

Or when some Muslim men were taking their wives as their mothers, did Allah order the punishment of the wives or did He penalize the husbands?

وَالَّذِينَ يُظَاهِرُونَ مِن نِّسَائِهِمْ ثُمَّ يَعُودُونَ لِمَا قَالُوا فَتَحْرِيرُ رَقَبَةٍ مِّن قَبْلِ أَن يَتَمَاسَّا ۚ ذَٰلِكُمْ تُوعَظُونَ بِهِ ۚ وَاللَّهُ بِمَا تَعْمَلُونَ خَبِيرٌ

And (as for) those who put away their wives by likening their backs to the backs of their mothers then would recall what they said, they should free a captive before they touch each other; to that you are admonished (to conform); and Allah is Aware of what you do.
(Surah Mujadilah (58): Verse 3)

And if these Muslims are really the flagbearers of Tauheed that they claim to be – will they accept being punished with death for obeying their vain desires and taking them as God – after all they have certainly obeyed their vain desires at least once.

أَرَأَيْتَ مَنِ اتَّخَذَ إِلَٰهَهُ هَوَاهُ

Have you seen him who takes his low desires for his god?
(Surah Furqan (25): Verse 43)

أَفَرَأَيْتَ مَنِ اتَّخَذَ إِلَٰهَهُ هَوَاهُ وَأَضَلَّهُ اللَّهُ عَلَىٰ عِلْمٍ وَخَتَمَ عَلَىٰ سَمْعِهِ وَقَلْبِهِ وَجَعَلَ عَلَىٰ بَصَرِهِ غِشَاوَةً فَمَن يَهْدِيهِ مِن بَعْدِ اللَّهِ ۚ أَفَلَا تَذَكَّرُونَ

Have you then considered him who takes his low desire for his god, and Allah has made him err having knowledge and has set a seal upon his ear and his heart and put a covering upon his eye. Who can then guide him after Allah? Will you not then be mindful?
(Surah Jaasiyyah (45): Verse 23)

In all these cases, the misguided party is penalized with the clear aim to reform him rather than taking the misguided step of penalizing the wronged or oppressed party or as an extreme step eliminating it altogether.

It is a classic case of throwing out the baby along with the tub!