The Meaning of At-Tāghūt
Having presented the evidence indicating how declaring disbelief in the Tāghūt is a fundamental condition for the correctness of one’s Eemān, we must now study what the definition of Tāghūt is so that we know what is included as Tāghūt and what is not. And we also need to study the characteristics of how to declare disbelief in Tāghūt so that we know how to distinguish between a person who truly declares disbelief in Tāghūt amongst those who do not.
The definition of at-Tāghūt is as follows,
‘All things that are worshipped besides Allah (swt) even from a single aspect of worship, and he is accepting of that status is a Tāghūt.’
The specification of, ‘…is accepting…’ is to exclude the Prophets (as), the Angels and the Sāliheen, those who the people may worship besides Allah (swt), them from being described as Tāghūt as they obviously reject being worshipped besides Allah (swt) and prohibited people for doing such.
We can conclude from the above definition that whatever is worshipped from the angle of being prostrated to (sujood) or bowed towards (rukou’) is a Tāghūt. Whoever is worshipped from the angle of Du’a and requesting (talab) besides Allah (swt) is a Tāghūt. Whoever is worshipped from the angle of fear (khouf) and hope (rajā’) besides Allah (swt) is a Tāghūt. Whoever is worshipped from the angle of obedience (ta’ah) and arbitration (tahākum) besides Allah (swt) is a Tāghūt. Whoever is worshipped from the angle of love (mahaba), allegiance (wala’a) and disassociation (bara’a) besides Allah (swt) is a Tāghūt.
Everything that is worshipped for its own sake is Tāghūt and under this definition comes the rulers, the priests and monks, scholars, leaders of political parties amongst others. The one who follows such peoples for their own sake are worshipping Tawagheet besides Allah (swt) knowingly or unknowingly.
Similarly everything that is loved for its own sake instead of Allah (swt) is a Tāghūt. The object which is loved for its own sake will specify who you should make allegiance to and whom you should hate without caring for what Allah (swt) has ordered; nor whether such requests agree with truth or falsehood.
Shaykh Ibn Taymiyyah commented,
“If a person who is worshipped besides Allah (swt) does not reject such a status he becomes Tāghūt. And the Prophet (saw) called the idols Tawagheet in a Saheeh hadith when he (saw) said, ‘The one who follows the worshippers of Tawagheet are themselves Tawagheet.’ The one who is obeyed in transgressing Allah’s (swt) order, or the one who is obeyed in a matter which is not based upon the guidance but acceptable to the people, if it contravenes the order of Allah (swt) then he is a Tāghūt. For this reason those people who arbitrate to other than the Qur’an are called Tāghūt. And Allah (swt) called Firaoun and the people of Ā’d Tughāt.” [Ibn Taymiyah, Fatwa Vol 28 Pg 200.]
Ibn Qayyim said,
“The Tāghūt are all things that go beyond their boundaries in terms of being worshipped, followed or obeyed. Therefore, the Tāghūt are everyone that the people go to arbitrate instead of Allah (swt) or His Prophet (saw), or they worship besides Allah (swt), or their follow upon guidance other than from Allah (swt), or they follow them blindly even in matters which are obedience to Allah (swt). These are examples of Tawagheet of the world. If you think about the situation of the people of this time, you would find that most of them have left the worship of Allah (swt) to worship these Tawagheet; and have left the arbitration to Allah (swt) and His Prophet (saw) to arbitrate to the Tāghūt; as well as leaving following and obeying the Prophet (saw) to obey the Tawagheet and their followers.”
If this was the situation at the time of Ibn Qayyim what about the current times we live in? The various types and forms of Tawagheet have increased manifest fold. The divine texts from the Sunnah indicate that there is not a generation except that the one following it is worse. We ask Allah (swt) to protect us and give us a good ending!
Shaykh Muhammad bin Abdul Wahab commented,
“Tāghūt generally is anything that is worshipped besides Allah (swt) and is happy with such worship including the one who is worshipped, followed or obeyed besides Allah (swt); these are all Tāghūt.”
And Sayyid Qutb said in ‘The Shade of the Qur’an’ regarding the verse, ‘some He transformed into apes and swine and those who worshipped Tāghūt’ [5:60],
“The Tāghūt is any authority that contravenes the ruling of Allah (swt); and any judgement that is not based upon the Shari’ah of Allah (swt). Any assault against the Ulouhiyyah (divinity) or Hākimiyyah (right to rule and judge) of Allah (swt) is the worst type of assault and the most evil Tughyān. Such type of action fully enters under Tāghūt by word and meaning. The Jews and Christians (Ahl Kitāb) never physically worshipped their Priests and Monks; however they followed their judgements and laws, instead of the law of Allah (swt) yet Allah (swt) called them Mushrikeen (associators). They are worshippers of Tāghūt meaning that they are following an authority that went beyond its boundaries. They do not worship it by the meaning of making prostration or bowing to it; however they are worshipping them by the meaning of following and obedience. Such type of actions removes one from the worship of Allah (swt) and subsequently even from the Deen of Allah (swt).”
So be careful O servant of Allah from being a worshipper of Tāghūt, or from their helpers, knowingly or unknowingly as it would destroy your deeds and make you loose whatever you have in this life and the hereafter!