In The Name of Allaah, The Most Merciful, The Bestower of Mercy.
يَـٰٓأَيُّہَا ٱلنَّاسُ ٱعۡبُدُواْ رَبَّكُمُ ٱلَّذِى خَلَقَكُمۡ وَٱلَّذِينَ مِن قَبۡلِكُمۡ لَعَلَّكُمۡ تَتَّقُونَ
ٱلَّذِى جَعَلَ لَكُمُ ٱلۡأَرۡضَ فِرَشً۬ا وَٱلسَّمَآءَ بِنَآءً۬ وَأَنزَلَ مِنَ ٱلسَّمَآءِ مَآءً۬ فَأَخۡرَجَ بِهِۦ مِنَ ٱلثَّمَرَٲتِ رِزۡقً۬ا لَّكُمۡۖ فَلَا تَجۡعَلُواْ لِلَّهِ أَندَادً۬ا وَأَنتُمۡ تَعۡلَمُونَ
O mankind! Worship your Lord (Allah), Who created you and those who were before you so that you may become Al-Muttaqun (the pious) – Who has made the earth a resting place for you, and the sky as a canopy, and sent down water (rain) from the sky and brought forth therewith fruits as a provision for you. Then do not set up rivals unto Allah (in worship) while you know (that He Alone has the right to be worshipped). [Surah Al-Baqarah’ Aayaat 21-22]
The statement ‘There is no deity worthy of worship except Allaah’ necessitates ‘negation’ and ‘affirmation’. Negating every other thing worshipped besides Allaah because they are not worthy of worship, and affirming that Allaah alone is the true deity worthy of worship. The religion of Tawheed is founded upon these two foundations, just as Allaah stated that Ibraaheem [alayhis salaam] said to his people:
وَإِذۡ قَالَ إِبۡرَٲهِيمُ لِأَبِيهِ وَقَوۡمِهِۦۤ إِنَّنِى بَرَآءٌ۬ مِّمَّا تَعۡبُدُونَ
إِلَّا ٱلَّذِى فَطَرَنِى فَإِنَّهُ ۥ سَيَہۡدِينِ
And (remember) when Ibrahim (Abraham) said to his father and his people: “Verily, I am innocent of what you worship; Except Him (i.e. I worship none but Allah Alone) Who did create me, and verily, He will guide me.” [Surah Az-Zukhruf’ Aayaat 26-27]
This was the path of every Messenger sent by Allaah [to the people]. Allaah [The Most High] said:
وَلَقَدۡ بَعَثۡنَا فِى ڪُلِّ أُمَّةٍ۬ رَّسُولاً أَنِ ٱعۡبُدُواْ ٱللَّهَ وَٱجۡتَنِبُواْ ٱلطَّـٰغُوتَۖ
And verily, We have sent among every Ummah (community, nation) a Messenger (proclaiming): “Worship Allah (Alone), and avoid (or keep away from) Taghut (all false deities, etc. i.e. do not worship Taghut besides Allah).” [Surah An-Nahl’ Aayah 36]
Allaah [The Most High] said:
فَمَن يَكۡفُرۡ بِٱلطَّـٰغُوتِ وَيُؤۡمِنۢ بِٱللَّهِ فَقَدِ ٱسۡتَمۡسَكَ بِٱلۡعُرۡوَةِ ٱلۡوُثۡقَىٰ لَا ٱنفِصَامَ لَهَاۗ
Whoever disbelieves in Taghut and believes in Allah, then he has grasped the most trustworthy handhold that will never break. [Surah Al-Baqarah’ Aayah 256]
Whoever says that ‘There is no deity worthy of worship except Allaah’ has indeed declared his freedom from every other thing worshipped besides Allaah and obligated on himself [or herself] to worship Allaah [alone]. This is a covenant obligated by a person on himself [or herself]. [Allaah (The Most High) said]:
فَمَن نَّكَثَ فَإِنَّمَا يَنكُثُ عَلَىٰ نَفۡسِهِۦۖ وَمَنۡ أَوۡفَىٰ بِمَا عَـٰهَدَ عَلَيۡهُ ٱللَّهَ فَسَيُؤۡتِيهِ أَجۡرًا عَظِيمً۬ا
Then whosoever breaks his pledge, breaks only to his own harm, and whosoever fulfills what he has covenanted with Allah, He will bestow on him a great reward. [Surah Al-Fath’ Aayah 10]
Laa Ilaaha Ilal laah – There is no deity worthy of worship except Allaah – is a declaration of Tawheed Al-Ibaadah [i.e. to single Allaah out in worship]. Therefore, whoever says this statement, knows its meaning, acts upon what it necessitates by negating shirk and affirming that Allaah alone is the true deity worthy of worship and believes in that, then he [or she] is a true Muslim.
And whoever says this statement and acts upon what it necessitates – outwardly; but does not believe in it -in his heart, then he [or she] is a hypocrite. And whoever says this statement, but acts in opposition to it by committing shirk [Ref 7]-negating what it necessitates, he is a disbeliever, even if he repeats this statement many times. [Ref 8] [NB: Reader must refer to footnotes 7 and 8 at the end of this article regarding types of Shirk and Al-Udhr Bil-Jahl (the excuse of ignorance)].
This is the state of the grave worshippers of today – those who say this statement, but neither do they understand its meaning nor does it have any effect on their acts of worship; so, you see one of them saying, “There is no deity worthy of worship except Allaah”, but then he also says, “O Abdul Qaadir [i.e. Abdul Qaadir Jaylaani]! Grant me aid and assistance. O Badawi! O such and such.” He appeals to the dead people and seeks their help when faced with afflictions. [Ref 9]
Indeed, the polytheists of the earlier era had a better understanding of Laa ilaaha ilal laah than these people [i.e. the grave worshippers of our era], because when the Messenger [sallal laahu alayhi wasallam] said to them, “Say (i.e. testify) that ”There is no deity worthy of worship except Allaah”, they knew that he was commanding them to abandon idol worship and to worship Allaah alone; so, this why -as Allaah informed us- they said: [أَجَعَلَ ٱلۡأَلِهَةَ إِلَـٰهً۬ا وَٲحِدًاۖ إِنَّ هَـٰذَا لَشَىۡءٌ عُجَابٌ۬ – Has he (i.e. Muhammad) made the aliha (gods) (all) into One Ilah (God – Allah). Verily, this is a curious thing!” [Surah Saad’ Aayah 5]
And [Allaah informed us that the] people of Hud said: أَجِئۡتَنَا لِنَعۡبُدَ ٱللَّهَ وَحۡدَهُ ۥ وَنَذَرَ مَا ڪَانَ يَعۡبُدُ ءَابَآؤُنَاۖ- You have come to us that we should worship Allah Alone and forsake that which our fathers used to worship. [Surah Al- A’raaf’ Aayah 70]
And [Allaah informed us that the people of Saaleh] said: [أَتَنۡهَٮٰنَآ أَن نَّعۡبُدَ مَا يَعۡبُدُ ءَابَآؤُنَا – Do you (now) forbid us the worship of what our fathers have worshipped? [Surah Hud’ Aayah 62]
And [Allaah informed us that] the people of Nuh said:
وَقَالُواْ لَا تَذَرُنَّ ءَالِهَتَكُمۡ وَلَا تَذَرُنَّ وَدًّ۬ا وَلَا سُوَاعً۬ا وَلَا يَغُوثَ وَيَعُوقَ وَنَسۡرً۬ا
“And they have said: ‘You shall not leave your gods, nor shall you leave Wadd, nor Suwa’, nor Yaghuth, nor Ya’uq, nor Nasr (names of the idols). [Surah Nuh’ Aayah 23]
So, this is how the disbelievers of old understood Laa ilaaha illal laah – that it necessitates the abandonment of idol worship and that Allaah alone is to be worshipped. And because of this, they refused to utter it because it can’t be in harmony with worshipping laat, uzzaa and manaat. The grave worshippers of today do not realise this contradiction, so they say Laa ilaaha illal laah whist worshipping the dead. [Source: An Excerpt from ‘Muhaadaraat Fil Aqeedah Wad-Da’wah’ by Shaikh Saaleh Al-Fawzaan (hafidhahullaah) 1/7-17]
Ref 1: Tafseer ibn katheer 1/251.
Ref 2: Ighaathatul Lahfaan 2/201
Ref 3: Surah Nuh Ayah 23
Ref 4: Bukhaari 6/4920
Refs 5 & 6: see article for further detail: http://www.salafipublications.com/sps/sp.cfm?subsecID=MNJ07&articleID=MNJ070003&articlePages=1
Ref 8: Takfeer [i.e. declaring a specific individual to be outside the fold of Islaam is carried out by the scholars based on clear principles. See links about Takfeer and excuse of ignorance by Shaikh Saaleh Al-Fawzaan]: