This treatise was written by Shaykh Muhammad ibn ‘Abdul-Wahhab (rahimahullah) in which he explains five important issues it is obligatory upon the Muslim to know. From this short treatise one can appreciate the Shaykh’s understanding of the fundamentals and foundations of the Religion of Islaam, Tawheed, and its opposite, Shirk. Moreover, he knew fully well the nature of Shirk, its people and their misguidance, and how they are deluded and lead others astray. The Shaykh also provides several examples, to help illustrate the points he is making and to aid in understanding the subject matters discussed, In sha’ Allah.
The Five Maxims
It is obligatory on you to know five issues:
When Allah sent Muhammad (صلى الله عليه وسلم) with guidance and the religion of truth [from al-Tawbah (9):33], the first statement that He enjoined upon him was,
“You who are enveloped in your cloak! Arise and warn…” [al-Muddaththir (74):1-2]
The meaning of, “and warn,” is to warn against associating partners with Allah. The polytheists had made shirk part of their religion by which they would seek to draw closer to Allah, Most High. They would also knowingly commit an untold number of lewd acts and wrongs. When one fully grasps this and then realises that Allah ordered him (صلى الله عليه وسلم) to warn against their religion through which they sought to draw closer to Allah before warning them against fornication and incestuous relationships, and one grasps the actual form of the shirk they would commit, some astonishing things will come to light. He will soon realise that the shirk committed by many people today is worse than what they practised. Allah, Most High, says:
“When harm touches man he calls upon his Lord, turning to Him in repentance. Then when He grants him a blessing from Him, he forgets what he was calling for before and ascribes rivals to Allah, so as to misguide others from His Way. Say, ‘Enjoy your disbelief for a little while; you are among the Companions of the Fire.'”[al-Zumar (39):8]
Alongside warning them against shirk, he enjoined them to Tawhid. Tawhid is to make the religion sincerely for Allah, Most High, and this is what is meant by the words,
“…and magnify your Lord.” [al-Muddaththir (74):3]
i.e. magnify Him through sincerity. What is not meant by this verse is the takbir for the call of prayer or the likes since this was legislated in Madinah.
When a person realises that abandoning shirk is of no benefit unless and until it is accompanied with donning the raiment of sincerity, and he truly grasps what sincerity means, he will understand the false concept of sincerity held by many people. He will also appreciate the falsity of the belief that abandoning supplication to the righteous is to detract from their status. Look at the Christians: they accused Muhammad (صلى الله عليه وسلم) of demeaning ‘Isa when he stated that he was a servant of Allah and His Messenger, and that he should not be worshipped alongside Allah, Most High.
Whoever understands all of this will realise the strangeness of Islam. The point will strike home when he sees how those who claim to be scholars oppose this issue and how they rule those who hold the belief (of sincerity), who strive against them and those who worship the shrine of Abu Talib and al-Kuwaz, to be disbelievers. They have passed religious edicts that our blood and property is lawful for them because we have left what they follow.
These two issues will only truly be realised when you bring to mind how they deal with the people of sincerity and compare that to how they deal with the polytheists. You will then apprehend the fact that Islam is not just knowledge; Iblis and Pharaoh knew it, and the People of the Book knew him as they knew their own sons. Islam is (to know and then) to act, it is to love, to hate, and to abandon allegiance to parents and sons for its sake.
You must believe with all your heart that Allah, Glorious is He, sent the Messenger to be believed and followed. He did not send him to be denied and disobeyed. Now, turn to those who claim to be scholars and consider their acknowledgement of Tawhid, their profession that this was the religion of Allah and His Messenger, and contrast it to their assertion that whoever accepts and follows Tawhid is one of the Khawarij whose blood and property becomes lawful. Moreover, contrast this to their vindication of those who hate Tawhid, abuse it and turn people away from it, stating that they are upon the truth! Now, consider their acknowledgement of (the evil of) shirk and contrast this to the claim that they have no shrines which they worship.
When a person understands this third issue as is fitting, he will know that these stances are self-contradictory and incompatible with each other. They are mere folly. How can one accept that Tawhid is the religion of Allah and His Messenger yet, at the same time, hate it and oppose it! How can one think that grave worship is shirk, yet not state that what people do at the shrines is shirk, arguing instead that they are the Largest Group (ar. al-sawad al-a’zam) and therefore upon the truth! Astonishingly, one would think that these contradictory beliefs would not coexist in the heart for a single day, yet some people have been living with them for more than twenty years!
This issue will then highlight the wonder of Allah’s power (and how He changes hearts), and it will lead a person to become acquainted with Allah and with his own self. Whoever knows his self and knows his Lord has perfected his affair.
You must know that Allah revealed to His Messenger,
“It has been revealed to you and those before you: ‘If you associate others with Allah, your actions will come to nothing and you will be among the losers.’ No! Worship Allah and be among the thankful.” [al-Zumar (39):65-66]
He said this because they had attempted to elicit one word, or one deed of shirk out of him, promising him that they would then accept Islam. If the master of the Sincere, the one with the most righteous deeds, was to say one word of shirk, all the while hating it, so that others would be guided to Islam, his deeds would come to nothing and he would be one of the losers. What then of a person who shows himself to be one of them, who says hundreds of such words so that his trade be profitable, or, when the people of Tawhid were barred from performing Hajj, articulates them so that he can perform it?! Look to the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) who was barred from performing Hajj until Allah allowed him to conquer Mecca.
When a person fully grasps this, he will realise the magnitude of Tawhid with Allah, Mighty and Magnificent, and the severity of shirk. Even if it takes you four years to learn this, you will have greatly benefited. I mean learning it as you know that a single drop of urine released annuls the state of ritual ablution, wudu’, even if this was done without your volition.
The Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه وسلم) obligated belief in all that he came with without differentiating one part from another. Anyone who believes in one part and disbelieves in another is a disbeliever. One must believe in the entire Book.
Some people pray and fast and abandon many proscribed acts, but they do not bequeath women, thinking that this is the path that should be followed. Indeed, if a person did bequeath a woman, the hearts of those around him would reject this act. Some of them reject that a woman should spend her prescribed waiting period, ‘iddah, in her husband’s house despite knowing that Allah, Most High, has said,
“Do not evict them from their homes, nor should they leave, unless they commit an outright indecency.” [al-Talaq (65):1]
They think that her staying in her husband’s house is unbefitting and that she should be evicted. Other people reject the fact that the greeting should be with the salam, knowing full well that Allah has legislated it, preferring instead the greetings of Jahiliyyah simply because they are accustomed to them. Such people have all disbelieved because they have believed in a part and disbelieved in another. This is not the case with people who commit a sin or leave an obligation, for example, committing fornication or leaving good treatment of parents while knowing that they are mistaken, and that what Allah has ordered is correct.
I have given these three examples so that you may follow and extrapolate from them. There are many such examples where people are opposing the limits set by Allah in the Qur’an. It is their customs which they now regard to be the good, and if a person was to do something that Allah has mentioned, or leave their customs; they would object and deride him. Again, this is not the same as someone who does something wrong, or leaves something that must be done, while knowing that he is in the wrong and believes in what Allah has said.
Know that these five issues are incredibly important for people to learn, especially so in our times where Islam has become something strange. Allah knows best.
 cf. the author’s Kitab al-Tawhid, chpt. 19
 i.e the first group of people knowingly preferred custom to the laws of Allah. The second group did what they did believing it to be bad.
 ‘Abdullah ibn Muhammad ibn ‘Abdul-Wahhab, Fi ‘Aqa’id al-Islam min Rasa’il al-Shaykh Muhammad ibn ‘Abdu’l-Wahhab, pp. 9-12. cf. ‘Abdu’l-Rahman ibn al-Qasim, al-Durar al-Saniyyah, vol. 1, pp. 166-167
Source: from the book, The Foundations of Islam, being a collection of four treatises by Shaykh Muhammad ibn ‘Abdul-Wahhab, Translation & Notes by Abu Rumaysah. Dar as-Sunnah Publishers, pp. 88-94.
Important note: Issue 5 needs to be read carefully and understood correctly as some may misunderstand or misinterpret what the Shaykh was trying to convey. These people who perform acts of Kufr or believe things that amount to Kufr may have the excuse of ignorance for example. However, those who reject parts of the Qur’an (or even a single verse), especially the clear and unambigious verses, whilst knowing in their heart what the verse(s) means and command or prohibit with, and hold the opposite to be true (e.g. halaal to be haraam or haraam to be halaal) whilst believing they aren’t committing a sin or being disobedient, are in a different situation. It is up to the grounded scholars and those in authority to examine the affairs of such people. Refer to these elucidating articles for tafseel:
Summary of principles concerning Takfir of a specific individual:
A Treatise on Ruling by Other than What Allaah has Revealed: