In The Name of Allaah, The Most Merciful, The Bestower of Mercy
Laa Ilaaha Ilal laah – There is no deity worthy of worship except Allaah – is a declaration of Tawheed Al-Ibaadah [i.e. to single Allaah out in worship]. Therefore, whoever says this statement, knows its meaning, acts upon what it necessitates by negating shirk and affirming that Allaah alone is the true deity worthy of worship and believes in that, then he [or she] is a true Muslim.
And whoever says this statement and acts upon what it necessitates – outwardly; but does not believe in it -in his heart, then he [or she] is a hypocrite.
And whoever says this statement, but acts in opposition to it by committing shirk [Ref 1]– negating what it necessitates, he [or she] is a disbeliever, even if he [or she] repeats this statement many times. [Ref 2] [NB: Before continuing, the reader must bear in mind that the statements in [references 1 and 2 above] requires elaboration, therefore the reader must refer to their links at the end of this article].
This is the state of the grave worshippers of today – those who say this statement, but neither do they understand its meaning nor does it have any effect on their acts of worship; so, you see one of them saying, “There is no deity worthy of worship except Allaah”, but then he also says, “O Abdul Qaadir [i.e. Abdul Qaadir Jaylaani]! Grant me aid and assistance. O Badawi! O such and such.” He appeals to the dead people and seeks their help when faced with afflictions. [Ref 3]
Indeed, the polytheists of the earlier era had a better understanding of Laa ilaaha ilal laah than these people [i.e. the grave worshippers of our era], because when the Messenger [sallal laahu alayhi wasallam] said to them, “Say (i.e. testify) that ”There is no deity worthy of worship except Allaah”, they knew that he was commanding them to abandon idol worship and to worship Allaah alone; so, this why -as Allaah informed us- they said:
[أَجَعَلَ ٱلۡأَلِهَةَ إِلَـٰهً۬ا وَٲحِدًاۖ إِنَّ هَـٰذَا لَشَىۡءٌ عُجَابٌ۬ – Has he (i.e. Muhammad) made the aliha (gods) (all) into One Ilah (God – Allah). Verily, this is a curious thing!” [Surah Saad’ Aayah 5]
And [Allaah informed us that the] people of Hud said: أَجِئۡتَنَا لِنَعۡبُدَ ٱللَّهَ وَحۡدَهُ ۥ وَنَذَرَ مَا ڪَانَ يَعۡبُدُ ءَابَآؤُنَاۖ- You have come to us that we should worship Allah Alone and forsake that which our fathers used to worship. [Surah Al- A’raaf’ Aayah 70]
And [Allaah informed us that the people of Saaleh] said: [أَتَنۡهَٮٰنَآ أَن نَّعۡبُدَ مَا يَعۡبُدُ ءَابَآؤُنَا – Do you (now) forbid us the worship of what our fathers have worshipped? [Surah Hud’ Aayah 62]
And [Allaah informed us that] the people of Nuh said:
وَقَالُواْ لَا تَذَرُنَّ ءَالِهَتَكُمۡ وَلَا تَذَرُنَّ وَدًّ۬ا وَلَا سُوَاعً۬ا وَلَا يَغُوثَ وَيَعُوقَ وَنَسۡرً۬ا
“And they have said: ‘You shall not leave your gods, nor shall you leave Wadd, nor Suwa’, nor Yaghuth, nor Ya’uq, nor Nasr (names of the idols). [Surah Nuh’ Aayah 23]
So, this is how the disbelievers of old understood Laa ilaaha illal laah – that it necessitates the abandonment of idol worship and that Allaah alone is to be worshipped. And because of this, they refused to utter it because it can’t be in harmony with worshipping laat, uzzaa and manaat. The grave worshippers of today do not realise this contradiction, so they say Laa ilaaha illal laah whist worshipping the dead.
[Source: Muhaadaraat Fil Aqeedah Wad-Da’wah’ 1/16-17. Abridged & slightly paraphrased]
Ref1: Types of shirk: http://www.abukhadeejah.com/ahmad-an-najmees-kitaab-at-tawheed-chapter-3-fear-of-falling-into-shirk/
Ref2: Takfeer [i.e. declaring a specific individual to be outside the fold of Islaam is carried out by the scholars based on clear principles. See links about Takfeer and excuse of ignorance by Shaikh Saaleh Al-Fawzaan]: