Tawhid is the Most Trustworthy Handhold

Allah's statement,

﴿ فَمَن يَكۡفُرۡ بِٱلطَّـٰغُوتِ وَيُؤۡمِنۢ بِٱللَّهِ فَقَدِ ٱسۡتَمۡسَكَ بِٱلۡعُرۡوَةِ ٱلۡوُثۡقَىٰ لَا ٱنفِصَامَ لَهَا‌ۗ وَٱللَّهُ سَمِيعٌ عَلِيمٌ

(Whoever disbelieves in Taghut and believes in Allah, then he has grasped the most trustworthy handhold that will never break. And Allah is All-Hearer, All-Knower) is in reference to, "Whoever shuns the rivals of Allah, the idols, and those that Shaytan calls to be worshipped besides Allah, whoever believes in Allah's Oneness, worships Him alone and testifies that there is no deity worthy of worship except Him, then

﴿ فَقَدِ ٱسۡتَمۡسَكَ بِٱلۡعُرۡوَةِ ٱلۡوُثۡقَىٰ

(then he has grasped the most trustworthy handhold.)

Therefore, this person will have acquired firmness )in the religion( and proceeded on the correct way and the straight path. Abu Al-Qasim Al-Baghawi recorded that `Umar said, "Jibt means magic, and Taghut means Shaytan. Verily, courage and cowardice are two instincts that appear in men, the courageous fights for those whom he does not know and the coward runs away from defending his own mother. Man's honor resides with his religion and his status is based upon his character, even if he was Persian or Nabatian.'' `Umar's statement that Taghut is Shaytan is very sound, for this meaning includes every type of evil that the ignorant people of Jahiliyyah (pre Islamic era of ignorance) fell into, such as worshipping idols, referring to them for judgment, and invoking them for victory.

Allah's statement,

﴿ فَقَدِ ٱسۡتَمۡسَكَ بِٱلۡعُرۡوَةِ ٱلۡوُثۡقَىٰ لَا ٱنفِصَامَ لَهَا‌ۗ

(then he has grasped the most trustworthy handhold that will never break) means, "He will have hold of the true religion with the strongest grasp.'' Allah equated this adherence to the firm handhold that never breaks because it is built solid and because its handle is firmly connected. This is why Allah said here,

﴿ فَقَدِ ٱسۡتَمۡسَكَ بِٱلۡعُرۡوَةِ ٱلۡوُثۡقَىٰ لَا ٱنفِصَامَ لَهَا‌ۗ

(then he has grasped the most trustworthy handhold that will never break.)

Mujahid said, "The most trustworthy handhold is Iman (faith).'' As-Suddi said that it refers to Islam. Imam Ahmad recorded that Qays bin `Abbad said, "I was in the Masjid when a man whose face showed signs of humbleness came and prayed two Rak`ahs that were modest in length. The people said, `This is a man from among the people of Paradise.' When he left, I followed him until he entered his house, and I entered it after him and spoke with him. When he felt at ease, I said to him, `When you entered the Masjid, the people said such and such things.' He said, `All praise is due to Allah! No one should say what he has no knowledge of. I will tell you why they said that. I saw a vision during the time of the Messenger of Allah, and I narrated it to him. I saw that I was in a green garden, ' and he described the garden's plants and spaciousness, `and there was an iron pole in the middle of the garden affixed in the earth and its tip reached the sky. On its tip, there was a handle, and I was told to ascend the pole. I said, `I cannot.' Then a helper came and raised my robe from behind and said to me, `Ascend.' I ascended until I grasped the handle and he said to me, `Hold on to the handle.' I awoke from that dream with the handle in my hand. I went to the Messenger of Allah and told him about the vision and he said,

« أَمَّا الرَّوْضَةُ فَرَوْضَةُ الْإِسْلَامِ، وَأَمَّا الْعَمُودُ فَعَمُودُ الْإِسْلَامِ، وَأَمَّا الْعُرْوَةُ فَهِيَ الْعُرْوَةُ الْوُثْقَى، أَنْتَ عَلَى الْإِسْلَامِ حَتَّى تَمُوت »

(As for the garden, it represents Islam; as for the pole, it represents the pillar of Islam; and the handle represents the most trustworthy handhold. You shall remain Muslim until you die.)

This Companion was `Abdullah bin Salam.''

This Hadith was also collected in the Two Sahihs; and Al-Bukhari also recorded it with another chain of narration.

﴿ ٱللَّهُ وَلِىُّ ٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُواْ يُخۡرِجُهُم مِّنَ ٱلظُّلُمَـٰتِ إِلَى ٱلنُّورِ‌ۖ وَٱلَّذِينَ كَفَرُوٓاْ أَوۡلِيَآؤُهُمُ ٱلطَّـٰغُوتُ يُخۡرِجُونَهُم مِّنَ ٱلنُّورِ إِلَى ٱلظُّلُمَـٰتِ‌ۗ أُوْلَـٰٓٮِٕكَ أَصۡحَـٰبُ ٱلنَّارِ‌ۖ هُمۡ فِيہَا خَـٰلِدُونَ

(257. Allah is the Wali (Protector or Guardian) of those who believe. He brings them out from darknesses into light. But as for those who disbelieve, their Awliya' (supporters and helpers) are Taghut (false deities and false leaders), they bring them out from light into darknesses. Those are the dwellers of the Fire, and they will abide therein forever.)

Allah stated that whoever follows what pleases Him, He will guide him to the paths of peace, that is Islam, or Paradise. Verily, Allah delivers His believing servants from the darkness of disbelief, doubt and hesitation, to the light of the plain, clear, explained, easy and unequivocal truth. He also stated that Shaytan is the supporter of the disbelievers who beautifies the paths of ignorance and misguidance that they follow, thus causing them to deviate from the true path into disbelief and wickedness.

﴿ وَأُوْلَـٰٓٮِٕكَ أَصۡحَـٰبُ ٱلنَّارِ‌ۖ هُمۡ فِيهَا خَـٰلِدُونَ

(Those are the dwellers of the Fire, and they will abide therein forever.)

This is why Allah mentioned the light in the singular while mentioned the darkness in the plural, because truth is one, while disbelief comes as several types, all of which are false. Similarly, Allah said,

﴿ وَأَنَّ هَـٰذَا صِرَٲطِى مُسۡتَقِيمً۬ا فَٱتَّبِعُوهُ‌ۖ وَلَا تَتَّبِعُواْ ٱلسُّبُلَ فَتَفَرَّقَ بِكُمۡ عَن سَبِيلِهِۦ‌ۚ ذَٲلِكُمۡ وَصَّٮٰكُم بِهِۦ لَعَلَّڪُمۡ تَتَّقُونَ

(And verily, this is my straight path, so follow it, and follow not (other) paths, for they will separate you away from His path. This He has ordained for you that you may have Taqwa) (6:153),

﴿ وَجَعَلَ ٱلظُّلُمَـٰتِ وَٱلنُّورَ‌ۖ

(And originated the darknesses and the light) (6:1), and,

﴿ ظِلَـٰلُهُ ۥ عَنِ ٱلۡيَمِينِ

(to the right and to the lefts) (16: 48)

There are many other Ayat on the subject that mention the truth in the singular and falsehood in the plural, because of falsehood's many divisions and branches.

﴿ أَلَمۡ تَرَ إِلَى ٱلَّذِى حَآجَّ إِبۡرَٲهِـۧمَ فِى رَبِّهِۦۤ أَنۡ ءَاتَٮٰهُ ٱللَّهُ ٱلۡمُلۡكَ إِذۡ قَالَ إِبۡرَٲهِـۧمُ رَبِّىَ ٱلَّذِى يُحۡىِۦ وَيُمِيتُ قَالَ أَنَا۟ أُحۡىِۦ وَأُمِيتُ‌ۖ قَالَ إِبۡرَٲهِـۧمُ فَإِنَّ ٱللَّهَ يَأۡتِى بِٱلشَّمۡسِ مِنَ ٱلۡمَشۡرِقِ فَأۡتِ بِہَا مِنَ ٱلۡمَغۡرِبِ فَبُهِتَ ٱلَّذِى كَفَرَ‌ۗ وَٱللَّهُ لَا يَہۡدِى ٱلۡقَوۡمَ ٱلظَّـٰلِمِينَ

(258. Have you not looked at him who disputed with Ibrahim about his Lord (Allah), because Allah had given him the kingdom When Ibrahim said (to him): "My Lord is He Who gives life and causes death.'' He said, "I give life and cause death.'' Ibrahim said, "Verily, Allah brings the sun from the east; then bring it you from the west.'' So the disbeliever was utterly defeated. And Allah guides not the people, who are wrongdoers.)

The Debate Between Ibrahim Al-Khalil and King Nimrod

The king who disputed with Ibrahim was King Nimrod, son of Canaan, son of Kush, son of Sam, son of Noah, as Mujahid stated. It was also said that he was Nimrod, son of Falikh, son of `Abir, son of Shalikh, son of Arfakhshand, son of Sam, son of Noah. Mujahid said, "The kings who ruled the eastern and western parts of the world are four, two believers and two disbelievers. As for the two believing kings, they were Sulayman bin Dawud and Dhul-Qarnayn. As for the two disbelieving kings, they were Nimrod and Nebuchadnezzar.'' Allah knows best.

Allah said,

﴿ أَلَمۡ تَرَ

(Have you not looked) meaning, "With your heart, O Muhammad!''

﴿ إِلَى ٱلَّذِى حَآجَّ إِبۡرَٲهِـۧمَ فِى رَبِّهِۦۤ

(at him who disputed with Ibrahim about his Lord) meaning, about the existence of Allah. Nimrod denied the existence of a god other than himself, as he claimed, just as Fir`awn said later to his people,

﴿ مَا عَلِمۡتُ لَڪُم مِّنۡ إِلَـٰهٍ غَيۡرِى

(I know not that you have a god other than me))28:38(.

What made Nimrod commit this transgression, utter disbelief and arrant rebellion was his tyranny and the fact that he ruled for a long time. This is why the Ayah continued,

﴿ أَنۡ ءَاتَٮٰهُ ٱللَّهُ ٱلۡمُلۡكَ

(Because Allah had given him the kingdom.)

It appears that Nimrod asked Ibrahim to produce proof that Allah exists. Ibrahim replied,

﴿ رَبِّىَ ٱلَّذِى يُحۡىِۦ وَيُمِيتُ

(My Lord is He Who gives life and causes death) meaning, "The proof of Allah's existence is the creations that exist after they were nothing and perish after they had existed. This only proves the existence of the Creator, Who does what He wills, for these things could not have occurred on their own without a Creator who created them, and He is the Lord that I call to for worship, Alone without a partner.''

This is when Nimrod said,

﴿ أَنَا۟ أُحۡىِۦ وَأُمِيتُ‌ۖ

(I give life and cause death.)

Qatadah, Muhammad bin Ishaq and As-Suddi said that he meant, "Two men who deserved execution were to be brought before me, and I would command that one of them be killed, and he would be killed. I would command that the second man be pardoned, and he would be pardoned. This is how I bring life and death.'' However, it appears that since Nimrod did not deny the existence of a Creator, his statement did not mean what Qatadah said it meant. This explanation does not provide an answer to what Ibrahim said. Nimrod arrogantly and defiantly claimed that he was the creator and pretended that it was he who brings life and death. Later on, Fir`awn imitated him and announced,

﴿ مَا عَلِمۡتُ لَڪُم مِّنۡ إِلَـٰهٍ غَيۡرِى

(I know not that you have a god other than me))28: 38(.

This is why Ibrahim said to Nimrod,

﴿ فَإِنَّ ٱللَّهَ يَأۡتِى بِٱلشَّمۡسِ مِنَ ٱلۡمَشۡرِقِ فَأۡتِ بِہَا مِنَ ٱلۡمَغۡرِبِ

(Verily, Allah brings the sun from the east; then bring it you from the west.)

This Ayah means, "You claim that it is you who brings life and death. He who brings life and death controls the existence and creates whatever is in it, including controlling its planets and their movements. For instance, the sun rises everyday from the east. Therefore, if you were god, as you claimed, bringing life and death, then bring the sun from the west.'' Since the king was aware of his weakness, inadequacy and that he was not able to reply to Ibrahim's request, he was idle, silent and unable to comment. Therefore, the proof was established against him. Allah said,

﴿ وَٱللَّهُ لَا يَهۡدِى ٱلۡقَوۡمَ ٱلظَّـٰلِمِينَ

(And Allah guides not the people, who are wrongdoers) meaning, Allah deprives the unjust people of any valid proof or argument. Furthermore, their false proof and arguments are annulled by their Lord, and they have earned His anger and will suffer severe torment.

The meaning that we provided is better than the meaning that some philosophers offered, claiming that Ibrahim used the second argument because it was clearer than the first one. Rather, our explanation asserts that Ibrahim refuted both claims of Nimrod, all praise is due to Allah.

As-Suddi stated that the debate between Ibrahim and Nimrod occurred after Ibrahim was thrown in the fire, for Ibrahim did not meet the king before that day.

﴿ أَوۡ كَٱلَّذِى مَرَّ عَلَىٰ قَرۡيَةٍ۬ وَهِىَ خَاوِيَةٌ عَلَىٰ عُرُوشِهَا قَالَ أَنَّىٰ يُحۡىِۦ هَـٰذِهِ ٱللَّهُ بَعۡدَ مَوۡتِهَا‌ۖ فَأَمَاتَهُ ٱللَّهُ مِاْئَةَ عَامٍ۬ ثُمَّ بَعَثَهُ ۥ‌ۖ قَالَ ڪَمۡ لَبِثۡتَ‌ۖ قَالَ لَبِثۡتُ يَوۡمًا أَوۡ بَعۡضَ يَوۡمٍ۬‌ۖ قَالَ بَل لَّبِثۡتَ مِاْئَةَ عَامٍ۬ فَٱنظُرۡ إِلَىٰ طَعَامِكَ وَشَرَابِكَ لَمۡ يَتَسَنَّهۡ‌ۖ وَٱنظُرۡ إِلَىٰ حِمَارِكَ وَلِنَجۡعَلَكَ ءَايَةً۬ لِّلنَّاسِ‌ۖ وَٱنظُرۡ إِلَى ٱلۡعِظَامِ ڪَيۡفَ نُنشِزُهَا ثُمَّ نَكۡسُوهَا لَحۡمً۬ا‌ۚ فَلَمَّا تَبَيَّنَ لَهُ ۥ قَالَ أَعۡلَمُ أَنَّ ٱللَّهَ عَلَىٰ ڪُلِّ شَىۡءٍ۬ قَدِيرٌ۬

(259. Or like the one who passed by a town in ruin up to its roofs. He said: "How will Allah ever bring it to life after its death'' So Allah caused him to die for a hundred years, then raised him up (again). He said: "How long did you remain (dead)'' He (the man) said: "(Perhaps) I remained (dead) a day or part of a day.'' He said: "Nay, you have remained (dead) for a hundred years, look at your food and your drink, they show no change; and look at your donkey! And thus We have made of you a sign for the people. Look at the bones, how We bring them together and clothe them with flesh.'' When this was clearly shown to him, he said, "I know (now) that Allah is able to do all things.'')