A Message Clarifying the Meaning of Taaghout
By Imaam Muhammad bin Abdul Wahhab (d. 1206 AH)
Know (be aware) – may Allah have mercy upon you – that the first duty Allah has obliged upon the son of Aadam is al-kufr bit-taaghout (the rejection of false deities), and belief in Allah. And the evidence [for this] is the saying of the Exalted:
“And verily, We have sent among every ummah (community, people) a Messenger [proclaiming]: ‘Worship Allah [Alone] and keep away from taaghout.’” [EMQ an-Nahl, 16:36]
As for the explanation of al-kufr bit-taaghout, it is to believe that anything [or anyone] that is worshipped instead of Allah is falsehood, and [one must] desert it and detest it, and make tafkeer to its people [those who worship it, i.e. the disbelievers] and to take them as enemies.
As for the meaning of al-Eemaanu Billaah, it is to believe that Allah is the Worshipped Lord – exclusively besides anything else – and to be sincere in all types of ‘ibaadah (worship) to Allah, and to nullify it [one’s worship] to any other ma’bood (false god), and to love the people of ikhlaas [i.e. the Muslims] and to have alliance with them. And [al-Eemaanu Billaah entails] hating the people of shirk and taking them as enemies.
And this [the aforementioned] is the Millah (ideology, or religion) of Ibraaheem (Abraham), which only the fool rebels against, and it is [also] the uswah (best example) which Allah has informed us about through His saying:
“Indeed there has been an excellent example for you in Ibraaheem (Abraham) and those with him, when they said to their people: ‘Verily, we are free from you and whatever you worship besides Allah, we have rejected you, and there has started between us and you, animosity and hatred forever, until you believe in Allah Alone.’” [EMQ al-Mumtahanah, 60:4]
As for the taaghout, it includes anything [or anybody] that is worshipped instead of Allah and consents to being worshipped, or followed or obeyed – outside the obedience of Allah and His Messenger. Indeed he/it is taaghout.
And the tawaagheet [plural for taaghout] are many, and their heads are five:
1. The first: Ash-Shaytaan – the one who calls to the worship of others besides Allah. And the daleel (evidence) [for this] is His (SWT) saying:
“Did I not ordain for you, O Children of Adam, that you should not worship Shaytaan (Satan)? Verily, he is a plain enemy to you.” [EMQ Yaa Seen, 36:60]
2. The second: The tyrant ruler who changes the ahkaam (laws or rulings) of Allah. And the evidence is His (SWT) saying:
“Have you seen those [hypocrites] who claim that they believe in that which has been sent down to you, and that which was sent down before you, and they wish to arbitrate [go for judgement in their disputes] to the taaghout [false judges, etc.] while they have been ordered to reject them. But Shaytaan [Satan] wishes to lead them far astray.” [EMQ an-Nisaa’, 4:60]
3. The third: The one who rules (or judges) by other than what Allah has revealed. And the evidence is His (SWT) saying:
“…And whosoever does not rule [or judge] by what Allah has revealed, such are the Kaafiroon.” [EMQ al-Maa’idah, 5:44]
4. The forth: The one who claims that he has knowledge the Ghayb (Unseen) – which Allah has not informed [us] of. And the evidence is His (SWT) saying:
“[He Alone] the All-Knower of the Ghayb (Unseen), and He reveals to none His Ghayb [Unseen].” Except to a Messenger [from mankind] whom He has chosen [He informs him of Unseen as much as He likes], and then He makes a band of watching guards [angels] to march before him and behind him.” [EMQ al-Jinn, 72:26–27]
And the Exalted [also] said:
“And with Him are the keys of the Ghayb [all that is hidden], none knows them but He. And He knows whatever there is in [or on] the earth and in the sea; not a leaf falls, but he knows it. There is not a grain in the darkness of the earth nor anything fresh or dry, but is written in a Clear Record.” [EMQ al-An’aam, 6:59]
5. The fifth: The one who is being worshipped instead of Allah and he is pleased with being worshipped. And the evidence is His (SWT) saying:
“And if any of them should say: ‘Verily, I am an ilaah [god] besides Him [Allah],’ such a one We should recompense with Hell. Thus, We recompense the Zaalimoon.” [EMQ al-Anbiyaa’, 21:29]
And know [be aware] that a man will never become a believer in Allah except by al-kufr bit-taaghout. And the evidence is His saying:
“There is no compulsion in religion. Verily, ar-Rushd (the Right Path) has become distinct from al-Ghay (the wrong path). Whosoever rejects taaghout and [then] believes in Allah, he has grasped al-‘Urwat ul-Wuthqaa (the most trustworthy Knot of Islam). And He is the All-Hearer, the All-Knower.” [EMQ al-Baqarah, 2:256]
Ar-Rushd is the Deen (religion) of Muhammad (SAW); and al-Ghay is the deen of Abu Jahl; and al-’Urwat ul-Wuthqaa is the testimony Laa ilaaha ilallaah (there is none worthy of worship but Allah) – which includes nullification and affirmation. It [Laa ilaaha illallah] nullifies all types of ‘ibaadah (worship) to other than Allah and affirms all the types of ‘ibaadah for Allah exclusively, Who has no partners.