Know, may Allaah have mercy upon you, that the first thing that Allaah obligated on the Son of Aadam is to reject the Taaghoot and believe in Allaah. The proof for this is Allaah’s saying:

And We have indeed sent to every nation a Messenger (saying to his people): ‘Worship Allaah alone and avoid the Taaghoot (false deities).’” [Soorah an-Nahl: 36.]

As for the description of Rejecting the Taaghoot, then it is that you believe in the futility of worshipping other than Allaah, and that you abandon doing so and hate it, and that you reject and make enmity with those who do it. And as for the meaning of Believing in Allaah, then it is that you believe that Allaah is the only true God who deserves to be worshipped alone, apart from everything else besides Him. And it is that you make all types of worship – every act – sincerely for Allaah alone, while negating and rejecting that from everything else that is worshipped besides Him.

It also entails that you love and show friendship to the people of Ikhlaas, while hating and showing enmity to the people of Shirk. This is the religion of Ibraaheem (alayhis salaam), of which those that turn away from it only fool themselves. And this is the good example that Allaah informs us in His saying:

“There indeed has been an excellent example for you in Ibraaheem and those with him, when they said to their people: ‘Verily, we are free from you and whatever you worship besides Allaah. We have rejected you and there has commenced between us and you, enmity and hatred forever, until you believe in Allaah alone.’” [Sooratul-Mumtahanah: 4.]

The word Taaghoot is general. So everything that is worshipped besides Allaah, while being pleased with this worship – whether it is something worshipped, someone followed, or someone obeye in the absence of obedience to Allaah and His Messenger (sal-Allaahu alayhe wa sallaaam), then that is considered Taaghoot. The Tawaagheet (plural of Taaghoot) are many, but their heads are five:

The First: The Devil who calls the people to worship other than Allaah. The proof for this is Allaah’s saying:

“Did I not command you O children of Aadam, that you should not worship the Devil. Verily, he is a plain enemy to you.” [Soorah YaaSeen: 60.]

The Second: The tyrannical and oppressive ruler who changes Allaah’s rulings. The proof for this is Allaah’s saying:

“Have you not seen those (hypocrites) who claim to believe in that which has been revealed to you, and that which was revealed before you, and they wish to go for judgement (in their disputes) to the Taaghoot, when they have been ordered to reject them? But the Devil wishes to lead them far astray.” Soorah an-Nisaa: 60.]

The Third: The one who judges by other than what Allaah has revealed, and the proof for this is Allaah’s saying:

“And whoever does not judge by what Allaah has revealed, then they are the disbelievers.” [Soorah al-Maa’idah: 44.]

The Fourth: The one who claims to have knowledge of the Unseen, apart from Allaah. The proof for this is Allaah’s saying:

“He alone is the All-Knower of the Unseen, and He does not disclose His Unseen matters to anyone.” [Sooratul-Jinn: 26-27.]

And He says:

“And with Him lie the keys to the Unseen, no one knows them but He. And He knows whatever there is in the land and in the sea; not a leaf falls except that He knows about it. There is not a grain in the darkness of the earth, nor anything fresh or dry, but that it is written in a Clear Record.” [Sooratul-An’aam: 59.]

The Fifth: The one who is worshipped apart from Allaah, while being pleased with being worshipped. The proof for this is Allaah’s saying:

“And whoever amongst them says: ‘Verily, I am a God besides Him (Allaah)’, then this persons recompense will be the Hellfire. That is the way We recompense the wrongdoers.” [Sooratul-Anbiyaa: 29.]

And know that man will never become a believer in Allaah unless he rejects and disbelieves in the Taaghoot. The proof for this is Allaah’s saying:

“There is no compulsion in the Religion. Verily, the right path has become distinct from the wrong path. So whoever disbelieves in the Taaghoot and believes in Allaah, then he has taken hold of the firmest handhold, that will never break. And Allaah is the All-Hearer, the All-Knower.” [Sooratul-Baqaraah: 256.]

The “right path” here refers to the Religion of Muhammad (sal-Allaahu alayhe wa sallaam), while the “wrong path” refers to the Religion of Aboo Jahl. The “firmest handhold” refers to the testimony that there is no deity worthy of worship except Allaah [Laa Ilaaha Ill Allaah]. This testimony consists of a negation and an affirmation. It negates all types of worship from those worshipped besides Allaah, while affirming all types of worship done for Allaah alone, free from any partner.

And the success is from Allaah.

by Shaykhul-Islaam Muhammad ibn Abdul-Wahhaab
From his short treatise, “Ma’anaa at-Taaghoot wa Ru’oos Anwaa’ihi”