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Tawheed (Arabic: توحيد), is the belief in the oneness and unshared divinity of God,[1]and is the most fundamental belief of Shias and, all Muslims at large. It is the worshiping of Allah (swt) as the sole deity worthy of worship. In Shi’ite sources, a special emphasis has been placed on the incomparability of God to humans or any other entity and, therefore, Shias reject notions such as anthropomorphism.

The belief of Tawheed suggests that Allah is One, Alone), Peerless, Eternal, without Beginning or End; He is the First and the Last. He is the All-Knowing, the Wise , the Just, the Living, the Omnipotent, Independent of all things), the All-Hearing, the All-Seeing. He is not to be likened to His creatures, therefore He has neither body nor appearance nor substance nor form; He is neither heavy nor light, neither moving nor motionless; He has no place nor any time, and no-one can point to Him as there is no thing like Him. Nothing is equal to Him, nor has He any opposite. He has no wife, no child, no partner and there is none comparable to Him. Vision does not perceive Him, yet He perceives everything.[2]



Main article: Allah

The Muslims, mostly refer to God as Allah. In the Arabic language, the word Allah does not have any plural or female equivalent and therefore pertains to a God who: alone is worthy of worship; cannot be classified as a male or female and does not have plurals or sub-units, in contrast to the word Ilah which also means God but has a female equivalent and also a plural form. Since the literary meaning of the word Allah is such, it is hailed as the best word to describe the One, Islamic God as the word encompasses the basic concepts of Islamic monotheism.

Therefore, the testimony of Islam - لااِلهَاِلاالله – symbolically means there is no God but The God which is One, who neither has any plurals nor can be divided, who is neither male nor female and is the Sole Being worthy of worship rather than just meaning ‘there is no God but God’.

Types of Tawheed

Tawheed can, primarily, be classified into four types, namely, Tawheed al-Sifati, Tawheed al-Afa’ali, Tawheed al-Dhati and Tawhid al-Ibadi[3].

Tawheed al-Dhati

Tawheed al-Dhati pertains to the belief that the Essence of God is One and Unique with no match or comparison. All other beings are lesser than Him and, in fact, cannot even be compared to Him. This idea is referred to by the following verses of The Qur'an:

This differs from, for example, the beliefs of Zoroastrians who believe that there are two forces in the universe, one being good while the other being evil and both are equal and eternal. According to Islam, only He is eternal and, except God, neither can any other entity be eternal nor can there be more than one Ever-Existing Being since this would entail that the two beings possess an Attribute which can only be possessed by God and, therefore, would be against the Islamic concept of Monotheism.

Tawhid al-Sifaati

This concerns the belief that The Attributes of Allah are not apart from His Essence and neither are the individual Attributes so as can be seen by the following saying of Imam Ali ibn Abi Talib:

“The perfection of His purity is to deny Him attributes, because every attribute is a proof that it is different from that to which it is attributed, and everything to which something is attributed is different from the attribute. Thus, whoever attaches attributes to Allah recognizes His like, and whoever recognizes His like regards Him as two, and whoever regards Him as two recognizes parts for Him, and whoever recognizes parts for Him has mistaken Him. [4]"

Tawhid al-Afa’ali

This refers to the belief that all actions (including human actions) exist by the Will of God; He is the cause of all phenomena, perceptible or imperceptible. The belief insists that neither any action nor any phenomenon is self-existent and everything depends on Him and His Will. This, in turn, means that just as He is One in Essence, He is also peerless in His Works.

Tawhid al-Ibadi

This refers to the doctrine that none but Allah is worthy of worship. This is a belief that Muslims profess everyday in their prayers by pronouncing the following words of the Holy Quran:


Main article: Shirk

Shirk - the antonym of Tawheed – is, commonly, defined as associating partners to Allah (swt) and worshiping deities other than Allah. Just as Tawheed is of four types, Shirk can also be – as a result of breaching the four types of Tawheed – divided into different types. : believing in two or more sources which are eternal and yet independent of each other; giving His Attributes to another; considering any phenomenon or action to have its source in anything other than Him or to be independent of His Will; belief in any entity, other than Allah, to have created; belief in the plurality of the Divine Attributes; a belief that His Attributes are either external to Him or are separate from one another; believing that He is a compound of His Attributes and the worship of any entity other than Allah.

Polytheism (Shirk) is the greatest of the major sins and is unforgivable in Islam, as can be seen by the following verses of the Qur'an:


  1. Al Tawhid and its Social Implications by Ayatollah Sayyid Ali Khamene’i, under the chapter ‘The Essence of Tawhid’
  2. The Faith of Shia Islam by Muhammad Ridha al Muzaffar
  3. An Introduction to 'Ilm al-Kalam by Murtada Mutahhari
  4. Nahjul Balagha, Sermon 1
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