From the requirements of laa ilaaha illallaah is to affirm the Names (asmaa) and Attributes (sifaat) of Allaah; those that He called and described Himself with, or those that His Messenger sallallahu alaihi wasallam called and described Him with. Allaah the Exalted said: “To Allaah belong the most Beautiful Names, so call upon Him by them. And leave those who reject and twist (ilhaad) His Names, they will be requited for what they used to do.” [Soorah al-A’raaf7:180].
It is stated in Fathul-Majeed: “The root meaning of ilhaad in the language of the Arabs implies: Turning away from the objective, swerving away, deviating ... All of the Names of the Lord, the Exalted, are Names and Attributes by which He acquainted His worshippers and which point towards His perfection. Ibn al-Qayyim, rahimahullaah, said: “Ilhaad [of the Divine Names and Attributes] occurs through either: a complete denial and rejection of them; rejecting them by divesting them of their true meanings; distorting them by means of figurative interpretations (ta’weelaat); or by giving the Names of Allaah to His creation, such as the deviation of the people who believe in experiencing union with Allaah (ahlul-ittihaad), for they give these Names to worldly things, whether [they] are praiseworthy or blameworthy. (1)(2)
So whoever commits ilhaad in Allaah’s Names and Attributes, either by divesting them of their correct meaning (ta’teel), by figurative interpretation (ta‘weel) or by out rightly rejecting them (rafd) - as has been done by the Jahmiyyah, the Mu’tazilah and the Ash’arees - have actually contravened what laa ilaaha illallaah signifies. This is because the true deity So whoever commits ilhaad in Allaah’s Names and Attributes, either by divesting them of their correct meaning (ta’teel), by figurative interpretation (ta‘weel) or by out rightly rejecting them (rafd) - as has been done by the Jahmiyyah, the Mu’tazilah and the Ash’arees - have actually contravened what laa ilaaha illallaah signifies. This is because the true deity deserving of worship is He with Whom nearness is sought (yatawassalu) by calling upon Him with His Names and Attributes.
Allaah the Most High said about this: “So call upon Him by them.” (Soorah aI-A’raaf 7:180).
So that which has no names, nor any attributes, then how can it be a deity? How will you call upon that deity? What will you call upon that deity with? (3)
1) Badaa’i’ul-Fawaa’id (1/169).
2) Fathud-Majeed (2/742-743).
3) Imaam as-Sa’dee, rahimahullah, said in al-Qawlus-Sadeed (pp. 161-163), whilst explaining the above verse: “The foundation of tawheed is affirming whatever Allaah affirmed for Himself, or whatever His Messenger affirmed for Him, as regards His beautiful Names; being aware of what they encompass as regards their majestic and beautiful meanings, worshipping Allaah by them and calling upon Him with them. So everything that the worshipper seeks from his Lord - whether regarding his worldly or religious affairs - then he seeks it by calling upon Him with an appropriate Name from amongst the beautiful Names of Allaah.
So whoever calls upon Him requiring provisions and sustenance, should ask Him by His Name ar-Razzaaq (the Provider). Whoever requires mercy and forgiveness [should call upon Him with His Name] ar-Rahmaan (the Most Merciful), ar-Raheem (the Bestower of Mercy), al-Birr (the Most Kind). al-Kareem (the Most Generous), al-Afu (the Pardoner). ul-Glaafoor (the Oft-Forgiving), at-Tawwaab (the One Who accepts repentance). and their like. What is better than this is that calling upon Him by His Names and Attributes is an act of worship providing that the meanings of His beautiful Names are acquired by the hearts, such that hearts are affected by what they signify and are filled with this awareness. So, for example, the Names [signifying] greatness, pride. Magnificence and dread, should fill hearts with awe of Allaah and reverence to Him. The Names [signifying] beauty, goodness, kindness, compassion and munificence should fill the heart with love of Allaah, a yearning for Him, praise of Him and gratitude to Him. The Names [signifying] might, wisdom, knowledge and power should fill the heart with submissiveness to Allaah, fear of Him and humility to Him. The Names that [signify] knowledge, being informed, omnipresence, watchfulness and witnessing, should fill the heart with an awareness that Allah watches over every movement and moment of stillness, and thus makes one guard against having evil thoughts and corrupt intentions. The Names signifying self-sufficiency, richness and beneficence should fill the heart with a realization of being dependant and in great need of Him, turning to Him at all times and under all circumstances”.