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The Three Fundamental Principles

Shaykh al-Islām Muḥammad ibn ʿAbd al-Wahhāb

The three questions which you will be asked in your grave. Who is your Lord? What is your Religion? Who is your Prophet?

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The Third Principle: Knowledge Of The Prophet ﷺ

The third principle is knowing your Prophet Muḥammad (ﷺ). He is Muḥammad the son of ‘Abdullāh, the son of ‘Abdul-Muttalib, the son of Hāshim. Hāshim is from the tribe of Quraish, and the Quraish are from the Arabs, and the Arabs are from the offspring of Ismāʾīl, the son of Ibrāhīm Al-Khaleel (عليه السلام), the one Allāh chose as a close friend, may the excellent peace and blessings be upon him and upon our Prophet.

He (ﷺ) lived for sixty-three years, forty of those years were before his Prophethood and twenty-three years were as a Prophet and Messenger. He was appointed as a Prophet with the Quranic verse beginning with, ‘Read (iqraʿ)’ and he was appointed as a Messenger with the Quranic chapter: ‘The one wrapped in garments (Al-Mudaththir).’ He (ﷺ) was from the city of Makkah.

He (ﷺ) was sent to warn against polytheism (shirk) and call to Tawḥīd , the worship of Allāh alone. The proof for this is in the saying of Allāh, the Most High:

يَا أَيُّهَا الْمُدَّثِّرُ ‎﴿١﴾‏ قُمْ فَأَنذِرْ ‎﴿٢﴾‏ وَرَبَّكَ فَكَبِّرْ ‎﴿٣﴾‏ وَثِيَابَكَ فَطَهِّرْ ‎﴿٤﴾‏ وَالرُّجْزَ فَاهْجُرْ ‎﴿٥﴾‏ وَلَا تَمْنُن تَسْتَكْثِرُ ‎﴿٦﴾‏ وَلِرَبِّكَ فَاصْبِرْ ‎﴿٧﴾

O Prophet, you who is wrapped in garments! Arise and warn the people! Magnify your Lord, purify your garments, and shun the idols! And do not give a thing in order to get more in return. And be patient for the sake of your Lord.
[al-Mudaththir, 74:1-7]

The meaning of ‘Arise and warn the people’ is that he must warn against polytheism and call the people to worship Allāh alone.

The meaning of ‘Magnify your Lord’ is to extol and exalt Allāh by the worship of Him alone.

‘Purify your garments’ means: purify your deeds from shirk, i.e. from polytheism.

‘Shun the rujz’. Rujz are the idols. To shun the idols is to leave them and disassociate from them and those who worship them.

He remained upon this for ten years, calling to Tawḥīd . Then after ten years he was carried into the heavens, and the five daily Prayers were obligated upon him. He prayed in Makkah for three years, and thereafter he was commanded with migration to Madīnah. Migration (Al-Hijrah) is to move from the land of polytheism to the land of Islām.

Migration from the land of polytheism to the land of Islām is an obligation upon this Ummah, and it remains as such until the Hour is established.

The proof for this is in the saying of Allāh, the Most High:

إِنَّ الَّذِينَ تَوَفَّاهُمُ الْمَلَائِكَةُ ظَالِمِي أَنفُسِهِمْ قَالُوا فِيمَ كُنتُمْ ۖ قَالُوا كُنَّا مُسْتَضْعَفِينَ فِي الْأَرْضِ ۚ قَالُوا أَلَمْ تَكُنْ أَرْضُ اللَّهِ وَاسِعَةً فَتُهَاجِرُوا فِيهَا ۚ فَأُولَٰئِكَ مَأْوَاهُمْ جَهَنَّمُ ۖ وَسَاءَتْ مَصِيرًا ‎﴿٩٧﴾‏ إِلَّا الْمُسْتَضْعَفِينَ مِنَ الرِّجَالِ وَالنِّسَاءِ وَالْوِلْدَانِ لَا يَسْتَطِيعُونَ حِيلَةً وَلَا يَهْتَدُونَ سَبِيلًا ‎﴿٩٨﴾‏ فَأُولَٰئِكَ عَسَى اللَّهُ أَن يَعْفُوَ عَنْهُمْ ۚ وَكَانَ اللَّهُ عَفُوًّا غَفُورًا ‎﴿٩٩﴾

Verily! As for those whom the Angels take in death while they are wronging themselves, the Angels say to them: “In what condition were you?” They reply: “We were weak and oppressed on Earth.” The Angels say: “Was not the Earth of Allāh spacious enough for you to emigrate therein?” Such will find their abode in Hell, and what an evil destination! Except the weak ones among men, women and children who cannot devise a plan, nor are they able to direct their own way. For these there is hope that Allāh will forgive them, and Allāh is ever Oft-Pardoning, Oft-Forgiving.
[Sūrah al-Nisāʾ, 4:97-99]

Also the saying of the Most High:

يَا عِبَادِيَ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا إِنَّ أَرْضِي وَاسِعَةٌ فَإِيَّايَ فَاعْبُدُونِ ‎﴿٥٦﴾‏

O My servants who believe! Certainly, spacious is My earth, so worship Me.
[al- ʿAnkabūt, 29:56]

Al-Baghawī (may Allah’s mercy be upon him) said: “The reason behind the revelation of this verse was because of the Muslims who were in Makkah and yet they did not migrate. 13 Allāh addressed them with the title of Imān.”

The proof for migrating (Al-Hijrah) from the Sunnah is in the saying of the Messenger of Allāh (ﷺ): “Hijrah will not end until repentance comes to an end, and repentance will not end until the Sun rises from the West.” 14

Once he had settled in Madīnah, he was commanded with the rest of the legislations of Islām, such as the Zakāt, Fasting, Hajj, Jihād, the call to Prayer (Adhān), enjoining the good and forbidding the evil, and other than these from the Islāmic Legislation. He established that over the period of ten years. Then he passed away, may the blessings of Allāh, His praise and His peace be upon him―but his Religion remains, and this is his Religion.

There is not a goodness except that he (ﷺ) directed his Ummah towards it, and there is not an evil except that he warned his Ummah from it. The good that he directed the Ummah towards is Tawḥīd and everything that Allāh loves and is pleased with. And the evil that he warned from is shirk (polytheism) and every thing that Allāh hates and rejects. Allāh sent him to all the people in totality, and He obligated the Jinn and Humankind to show obedience to him (ﷺ). The proof for that is in the saying of Allāh, the Most High:

قُلْ يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ إِنِّي رَسُولُ اللَّهِ إِلَيْكُمْ جَمِيعًا ‎﴿١٥٨﴾

Say: O People, I am the Messenger of Allāh to you all.
[al-Aʿrāf, 7:158]

Allāh (ﷺ) completed the Religion for him (ﷺ). The proof for that is His saying, the Most High:

الْيَوْمَ أَكْمَلْتُ لَكُمْ دِينَكُمْ وَأَتْمَمْتُ عَلَيْكُمْ نِعْمَتِي وَرَضِيتُ لَكُمُ الْإِسْلَامَ دِينًا ۚ ‎﴿٣﴾

This day, I have perfected your religion for you, completed My favour upon you, and have chosen for you Islām as your religion.
[al-Māʾidah, 5:3]

The proof of the Prophet’s (ﷺ) death is in the saying of Allāh, the Most High:

إِنَّكَ مَيِّتٌ وَإِنَّهُم مَّيِّتُونَ ‎﴿٣٠﴾‏ ثُمَّ إِنَّكُمْ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ عِندَ رَبِّكُمْ تَخْتَصِمُونَ ‎﴿٣١﴾‏

Verily you, O Prophet, will die, and verily they too will die. Then, on the Day of Resurrection, you will be disputing before your Lord.
[al-Zumar, 39:30-31]

Once the people have died, they shall be resurrected. The proof is in the saying of Allāh, the Most High:

مِنْهَا خَلَقْنَاكُمْ وَفِيهَا نُعِيدُكُمْ وَمِنْهَا نُخْرِجُكُمْ تَارَةً أُخْرَىٰ ‎﴿٥٥﴾

From the earth We created you, and into it We shall return you, and from it We shall bring you out once again.
[Ṭāhā, 20:55]

Also in the saying of the Most High:

وَاللَّهُ أَنبَتَكُم مِّنَ الْأَرْضِ نَبَاتًا ‎﴿١٧﴾‏ ثُمَّ يُعِيدُكُمْ فِيهَا وَيُخْرِجُكُمْ إِخْرَاجًا ‎﴿١٨﴾

And Allāh has brought you forth from the dust of the earth. And then He will return you into it, and bring you forth again.
[Nūḥ, 71:17-18]

After the resurrection, they will be taken to account and recompensed according to their deeds. The proof for that is in the saying of Allāh, the Most High:

وَلِلَّهِ مَا فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَمَا فِي الْأَرْضِ لِيَجْزِيَ الَّذِينَ أَسَاءُوا بِمَا عَمِلُوا وَيَجْزِيَ الَّذِينَ أَحْسَنُوا بِالْحُسْنَى ‎﴿٣١﴾

And to Allāh belongs all that is in the heavens and all that is in the earth, that He may recompense those who do evil for that which they have done, and reward those who do good, with what is best (i.e. Paradise).
[al-Najm, 53:31]

Whoever denies the Resurrection has disbelieved. The proof is in the saying of Allāh, the Most High:

زَعَمَ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا أَن لَّن يُبْعَثُوا ۚ قُلْ بَلَىٰ وَرَبِّي لَتُبْعَثُنَّ ثُمَّ لَتُنَبَّؤُنَّ بِمَا عَمِلْتُمْ ۚ وَذَٰلِكَ عَلَى اللَّهِ يَسِيرٌ ‎﴿٧﴾

The disbelievers pretend that they will never be resurrected. Say to them: “Yes! By my Lord, you shall certainly be resurrected, then you will be informed of what you did, and that is easy for Allāh.”
[al-Taghābun, 64:7]

Allāh sent all the Messengers as bringers of glad tidings and as warners. The proof for that is in the saying of Allāh, the Most High:

رُّسُلًا مُّبَشِّرِينَ وَمُنذِرِينَ لِئَلَّا يَكُونَ لِلنَّاسِ عَلَى اللَّهِ حُجَّةٌ بَعْدَ الرُّسُلِ ۚ ‎﴿١٦٥﴾

Messengers as bearers of glad tidings as well as warning in order that mankind should have no plea against Allāh after the Messengers.
[al-Nisāʾ, 4:165]

The first of the Messengers was Nūḥ (عليه السلام), and the last of them was Muḥammad (ﷺ), and he is the seal of the Prophets. There is no Prophet after him. The proof for that is in the saying of Allāh, the Most High:

مَّا كَانَ مُحَمَّدٌ أَبَا أَحَدٍ مِّن رِّجَالِكُمْ وَلَٰكِن رَّسُولَ اللَّهِ وَخَاتَمَ النَّبِيِّينَ ۗ ‎﴿٤٠﴾

Muḥammad is not the father of any man among you, but he is the Messenger of Allāh and the last of the Prophets.
[al-Aḥzāb, 33:40]

The proof that Nūḥ (عليه السلام) is the first of the Messengers is in the saying of Allāh, the Most High:

إِنَّا أَوْحَيْنَا إِلَيْكَ كَمَا أَوْحَيْنَا إِلَىٰ نُوحٍ وَالنَّبِيِّينَ مِن بَعْدِهِ ۚ ‎﴿١٦٣﴾‏

Verily, We have inspired you, O Muḥammad, as We inspired Nūḥ and the Prophets after him.
[al-Nisāʾ, 4:163]

Allāh sent to every nation a Messenger, from Nūḥ (عليه السلام) to Muḥammad (ﷺ) commanding them to worship Allāh alone, without associating partners with Him in worship, and warning them from the worship of the false deities (ṭāghūt). The proof for that is in the saying of Allāh, the Most High:

وَلَقَدْ بَعَثْنَا فِي كُلِّ أُمَّةٍ رَّسُولًا أَنِ اعْبُدُوا اللَّهَ وَاجْتَنِبُوا الطَّاغُوتَ ۖ ‎﴿٣٦﴾‏

And verily, We have sent among every nation a Messenger proclaiming: “Worship Allāh alone, and keep away from all false deities.”
[al-Naḥl, 16:36]

To Disbelieve In The Ṭāghūt (the False Deities)

Allāh obligated upon all the servants to disbelieve in the false deities and to believe in Allāh, the Most High.

Ibn al-Qayyim (رحمه الله) stated: “The meaning of ṭāghūt is that thing by way of which the servant goes beyond bounds, with something that is: worshipped or followed or obeyed.” 15

And the tawāghīt are numerous but their heads are five: 16 (1) Iblīs, may Allāh’s curse be upon him, (2) one who is worshipped and is pleased with that, (3) one who claims to have something of the knowledge of the unseen, (4) the one who calls the people to worship him, (5) and the one who judges by other than what Allāh has revealed. The proof is in the saying of Allāh, the Most High:

لَا إِكْرَاهَ فِي الدِّينِ ۖ قَد تَّبَيَّنَ الرُّشْدُ مِنَ الْغَيِّ ۚ فَمَن يَكْفُرْ بِالطَّاغُوتِ وَيُؤْمِن بِاللَّهِ فَقَدِ اسْتَمْسَكَ بِالْعُرْوَةِ الْوُثْقَىٰ لَا انفِصَامَ لَهَا ۗ وَاللَّهُ سَمِيعٌ عَلِيمٌ ‎﴿٢٥٦﴾‏

There is no compulsion in religion. Verily, the Right Path has become distinct from the wrong path. Whoever disbelieves in the taghūt and believes in Allāh, then he has grasped the most trustworthy handhold that will never break. And Allāh is All-Hearer, All-Knower.
[al-Baqarah, 2:256]

And this is the meaning of lā ilāha illallāh. There is a Hadīth which states: “The head of the affair is Islām, its pillar is the Prayer, and the uppermost part of its hump is Jihād in Allāh’s cause.” 17

And Allāh knows best, the One free of all imperfections and the Most High. May Allāh extol our leader, Muḥammad, and send His peace and blessings upon him, upon his family and all his Companions. That is the completion of the Three Fundamental Principles, all praise is due to Allāh, Lord of all that exists.

Adapted from: “The Three Fundamental Principles of Islam and their Proofs” by Shaykh Abū Khadījah.


  1. This is an addition found in an original manuscript of the treatise, and is an important introduction to the work by the Shaykh himself.
  2. Allāh here swears by a tremendous affair, i.e. Time, so as to show the great importance what what is to follow.
  3. Ṣaḥīḥ Al-Bukhārī in Kitābul-ʿIlm, 11.
  4. Narrated from Ibn Kathīr from his Tafsīr (1/194) in meaning, and not word for word.
  5. Submission and obedience to Allāh.
  6. Belief, speech and action.
  7. Striving to attain perfection in worship.
  8. i.e. that duʿāʾ (supplication and invocation) is worship that must be directed to Allāh alone.
  9. Reported by At-Tirmidhī, no. 3771 and declared weak by Al-Albānī in Al-Mishkāt (2231). In another report Nu’mān Ibn Bashīr (رضي الله عنه) said:Allāh’s Messenger (ﷺ) said: “Indeed duʿāʾ is worship.” Then he () recited: «Your Lord said: Call upon Me and I will answer you.» [Sūrah Ghāfir: 60] Reported by Bukhārī in Al-Adab Al-Mufrad (714), Abu Dāwūd (1479), Ibn Mājah (3828), and declared sahīh by Al-Albānī in Sahīh Abī Dāwūd (1329).
  10. Reported by Ahmad, no. 2669, and At-Tirmidhī, no. 2516, and declared sahīh by Al-Albānī in Al-Mishkāt, no. 5312. The wording of AtTirmidhī reads: Ibn ‘Abbās (رضي الله عنه) narrated: I was behind the Prophet (ﷺ) one day when he said: “Young boy, let me teach you some words: Be mindful of Allāh and He will protect you. Be mindful of Allāh and you will find Him before you. When you ask, ask Allāh, and when you seek aid, seek Allāh’s aid. Know that if the entire creation were to gather together to do something to benefit you, they could not benefit you except with that which Allāh had already written for you. And if they were to gather to do something to harm you, they could not harm you except with that which Allāh had already written for you. The pens are lifted and the pages have dried.”
  11. Reported by Muslim, no. 1978, from Abu At-Tufayl that ‘Alī (رضي الله عنه) was asked: “Did Allāh’s Messenger (ﷺ) single you out with any special knowledge?” ‘Alī (رضي الله عنه) responded: “Allāh’s Messenger (ﷺ) did not single us out with the disclosure of anything which he did not make public, except with which lies in the sheath of my sword.” He drew out the written document contained in it and on that was written: “Allāh has cursed the one who sacrifices to other than Allāh. Allāh has cursed the one who steals the signposts demarcating the boundary lines of a land. Allāh has cursed the one who curses his father. Allāh has cursed the one who shelters a person who innovates in the Religion.”
  12. Reported by Muslim (no. 8) from Yahyā Ibn Ya‘mar (رحمه الله) who said: “The first to speak about the [denial of] Pre-Decree in Basrah was Ma’bad Al-Juhanī. So myself and Humaid Ibn ‘Abdur-Rahmān AlHimyarī embarked to perform Hajj or ‘Umrah. So we said: ‘If we meet any one of the Companions of Allāh’s Messenger (ﷺ), we shall ask him about what these people are saying concerning the PreDecree.’ Then we were guided to come across ‘Abdullāh Ibn ʿUmar ibn Al-Khattāb (رضي الله عنه), while he was entering the mosque. My companion and I surrounded him, one of us stood on his right and the other stood on his left. I expected that my companion would leave it to me to speak. So I said: ‘Abu Abdur-Rahmān, there have appeared some people in our land who recite the Qur’ān and pursue knowledge…’ After mentioning more of their affairs, he continued: ‘These people claim that there is no such thing as Divine Decree (Qadr) and events are not predestined.’ ‘Abdullah Ibn ʿUmar (رضي الله عنه) said: ‘If you happen to meet them, inform them that I have nothing to do with them and they have nothing to do with me. By the One whom ‘Abdullāh Ibn ʿUmar swears by, if any one of them had gold equal to the size of the mountain of Uhud and he spent it in charity, Allāh would not accept it unless he affirmed his faith in Divine Decree.’ Then he said: ‘My father, ʿUmar Ibn al-Khattāb, narrated to me saying: ‘Whilst we were sitting with the Prophet (ﷺ) a man entered upon us.’…” Then he narrated this hadīth of Jibrīl.
  13. Shaikh Muḥammad Ibn ‘Abdul-Wahhāb (رحمه الله) cited from AlBaghawī (رحمه الله) in meaning. Al-Baghawī stated, regarding the reasons for the revelation of this verse in Ma’ālim At-Tanzīl (6/251) that Maqātil and Al-Kalbī said: “It was revealed concerning the weak Muslims of Makkah.” He also said (6/252) that it was revealed concerning those who held back from migrating and remained in Makkah: “They said: ‘If we migrate, we are afraid that we’ll go hungry and lead a constrained life.’ So Allāh revealed this verse and did not give them an excuse not to leave.”
  14. Reported by Ahmad in Al-Musnad (no. 16906), Abu Dāwūd (2479) from Mu‘āwiyah (رضي الله عنه). Authenticated by Al-Albānī in Al-Irwā (1208).
  15. Ibn Al-Qayyim said in I’lām Al-Muwaqi‘īn (1/40): “At-ṭāghūt: is everything by way of which the servant goes beyond bounds, whether it be something worshipped or followed or obeyed. So the ṭāghūt of any people is the one who they refer to for judgement besides Allāh and His Messenger (ﷺ), or that which they worship besides Allāh, or the one who they follow without knowledge and guidance from Allāh, or the one they obey not knowing whether it is in obedience to Allāh. So these are the tawāghīt (plural of ṭāghūt) of the world if you were to ponder over them.” Ibn Taymiyyah (رحمه الله) stated in Al-Majmū’ (16/565): “It is a generic term, and it includes, the devil, the idol, the soothsayer, the silver dirham, the gold dīnār, and other than that.”
  16. The author, Shaikh Muḥammad Ibn ‘Abdul-Wahhāb (رحمه الله) stated as occurs in Ad-Durar As-Saniyyah (1/125): “And the tawāghīt are numerous and from them are five that are clear to us: (1) first of them is the Devil, (2) the tyrannical ruler, (3) the one who takes bribes, (4) the one who is worshipped and is pleased with that, (5) and the one who acts without knowledge.” This and what has preceded clarifies that the description of someone being a ṭāghūt does not necessitate that he is to be declared an unbeliever. From the scholars are those who apply the label of ṭāghūt to some of the sinners and the disobedient ones, just as Shaikh Muḥammad Ibn ‘AbdulWahhāb has done here. If the title of ṭāghūt necessitated takfīr (declaring a Muslim to be an unbeliever) then that would necessitate that the Shaikh has performed takfīr of those who fall into sins, and that is clearly not the case as he himself stated in his Risālah ilā ahlilQasīm: “I do not accuse anyone from the Muslims of being an unbeliever due to a sin, and neither do I expel them from the fold of Islām.” (See Sharh ‘Aqīdatil-Imām Muḥammad Ibn ‘Abdul-Wahhāb of Shaikh Sālih Al-Fawzān, p.116)
  17. Reported by At-Tirmidhī (no. 2616) from Mu‘ādh Ibn Jabal (رضي الله عنه) wherein the Prophet (ﷺ) said: “Shall I not inform you about the head of the affair, and its pillar, and the uppermost part of its hump?” I said: “Of course, O Messenger of Allāh!” He said: “The head of the affair is Islām, its pillar is the Prayer, and the uppermost part of its hump is Jihād in Allāh’s cause.” Then he said: “Shall I not inform you about what governs all of that?” I said: “Of course O Prophet of Allāh!” He grabbed his tongue and then said: “Restrain this.” I said: “O Prophet of Allāh! Will we be taken to account for what we say?” He said: “May your mother grieve your loss O Mu’ādh! Are the people tossed into the Fire upon their faces, or upon their noses, except because of what their tongues have wrought?” AtTirmidhī said: “This hadīth is hasan-sahīh.” And Al-Albānī declared it to be sahīh.
Published: November 27, 2021
Edited: January 6, 2022


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