Shirk is to associate with Allah in his names, attributes or functions. The type of shirk that most people commit today is shirk ul-uluhiyyah. Tawheed ul uluhiyyah is the absolute right of Allah to be worshipped, elevated, obeyed, and for all ritual acts to be offered for his sake alone. All ritual acts should not be offered to anybody but Allah e.g. Salat, du’a, tahaakum (arbitration), Jihad, da’wah, commanding good and forbidding evil, fasting etc. Therefore for a person to commit shirk ul-uluhiyyah does not mean that he does not believe in Allah (swt), rather it is when a person offers ritual acts to Allah and somebody else e.g. he obeys Allah and kufr law, or prays to Allah and Krishna etc.
Verses in the Qur’an that speak about the attributes or functions of Allah are Tawheed ar-rububiyyah. Rububiyyah is from the word Rabb, which means Lord. Those who commit shirk rububiyyah are those who do not believe in Allah’s names and attributes. Even the Kuffar usually believe in Allah, that he is the Creator, the provider and the Judge, therefore most shirk is committed in shirk ul-uluhiyyah.
The verses in the Qur’an that command obedience, worship and submission are verses of Tawheed ul-uluhiyyah. For example, when Allah (swt) says in the Qur’an: ‘Al-Humdulillahi Rabbil ‘aalameen (praise be to Allah the Lord of the world).’ (EMQ Al-Faatihah, 1: 1)
This verse is Tawheed ar-rububiyyah as Allah speaks about his attribute of being Ar-Rabb (the Lord). Whereas when Allah (swt) says in the Qur’an:
‘O you who believe! Do not take the Jews and the Christians as auliyah…’ (EMQ Al-Maaida, 5: 51)
This verse is Tawheed ul-uluhiyyah as Allah is commanding us not to take the disbelievers as auliyah (friends, supporters, allies etc.).
Therefore there are two types of shirk:
1. Ash-Shirk al-akbar – major shirk (takes out of the fold of Islam) 2. Ash-Shirk al-asghar – small shirk
Ash-Shirk al-akbar – major shirk
Surely, they have disbelieved who say: "Allâh is the Messiah ['Isa (Jesus)], son of Maryam (Mary)." But the Messiah ['Isa (Jesus)] said: "O Children of Israel! Worship Allâh exclusively...” (EMQ Soorah Al-Maaida, 5: 72)
This verse is evidence that those who associate with Allah (swt) are kuffar and commit shirk akbar.
If a person dies (committing shirk akbar) and never repents for it, he will be a permanent resident in hell-fire.
And they worship besides Allâh things that hurt them not, nor profit them, and they say: "These are our intercessors with Allâh." Say: "Do you inform Allâh of that which He knows not in the heavens and on the earth?" Glorified and Exalted be He above all that which they associate as partners with Him! (EMQ Soorah Yunus, 10: 18)
Also Allah (swt) says: Verily, Allâh forgives not that partners should be set up with him in worship, but He forgives except that (anything else) to whom He pleases, and whoever sets up partners with Allâh in worship, he has indeed invented a tremendous sin. (EMQ Soorah An-Nisa’, 4: 48)
And: Hunafâ' Lillâh (i.e. to worship none but Allâh), not associating partners (in worship, etc.) unto Him and whoever assigns partners to Allâh, it is as if he had fallen from the sky, and the birds had snatched him, or the wind had thrown him to a far off place. (EMQ Al-Hajj, 22: 31)
Therefore dear brothers and sisters, be Muwahhid for the sake of Allah and do not associate anybody with Allah as he (swt) will never forgive those who commit shirk akbar, but will do so for anything less (if he wills).
Ash-Shirk al-asghar or shirk douna shirk – shirk lesser than shirk
Shirk asghar is a form of shirk that does not take one outside the fold of Islam though it could lead to shirk akbar. Examples of shirk asghar are below:
Ar-Riyaa – showing off
It is narrated in the Musnad of Imam Ahmed and At-Tabarani that the messenger Muhammad (saw) said: ‘The thing I fear most for my Ummah is ash-shirk al-khafi (the hidden shirk). The Sahabah then asked him: What is the hidden shirk? He (saw) said: Ar-Riyaa (showing off).’
The Shaytaan works actively with the Qurraa’ (those who are good at reciting). Shaytaan will approach him and tell him to show off with his recitation. Rather to lead the salaat for reward or to please Allah, he will lead to show of with his recitation.
A person must never show off with prayers or da’wah i.e. to show off and impress others rather than to fulfill obligations, and any actions that are done out of showing-off will never be rewarded for.
Work for your dunya as if you are going to die tomorrow and work for your aakhira as if you are going to live forever.
Other forms of Shirk asghar are:
1. Performing Hajj for money
2. Making adhaan for people to hear his voice
Unfortunately there are some people who make adhaan (call to prayer) in order to let people hear his voice or to show off, rather than intending to have a long neck in paradise and for his adhaan to be heard across Jannah.
3. The one who leads the prayer for money or takes money for du’a
4. Performing Jihad for the sake of making money or taking booty
This can be seen in many fake Jihaadis who are only concerned about taking sabis (women) and how to make money e.g. by taking out prohibited loans from the bank, working and signing-on, stealing credit cards, selling stolen cars etc…all in the name of making money for the Mujahideen. The messenger Muhammad (saw) emphasized that only the purest of money should go to Jihad, and not that which is earned in haraam (mortgages, credit cards etc.).
The one who is always concerned about money worships it, and the messenger Muhammad (saw) doomed the one who worships the dirham, dinar (money) and women etc.
5. The one who makes oath by other than Allah
To swear by other than Allah is shirk asghar, for example to say: ‘I swear by my mother’ or ‘I swear by my child’ etc.
The difference between shirk akbar and shirk asghar
1. The fundamental differences between shirk akbar and asghar is that the first takes one outside the fold of Islam, whereas the second does not. The way we can avoid committing shirk is by studying the ritual acts of Islam (sha’aa-ir ul Islam); by doing so you will know not to do them for anyone but Allah, such as prayer, fasting, da’wah, slaughtering etc.
2. The one who commits shirk akbar will be in hellfire forever, whereas the one who commits shirk asghar will be punished in Hell-fire, but if Allah wishes he may take him out (maybe after thousands of years) or even leave him there forever.
3. Shirk akbar abolishes all good deeds whereas shirk asghar does not.
4. If a person commits shirk akbar his life and wealth become halaal to take.
Those who commit shirk akbar violate their marriage contract(s) and his children will no longer be attributed to him. Some apostates will not even be allowed to take inheritance from his father, and if he does not repent he will be buried with the animals and not with the Muslims. This is not the case for a person who commits shirk asghar.
How is shirk the greatest sin?
Shirk is the greatest sin a person can commit for the following reasons:
1. Allah curses those who associate with him, whether they direct (shirk sarf) his attributes to somebody else e.g. to say Tony Blair is the legislator, or they combine (shirk ‘ataf) any of his almighty names and attributes to somebody else e.g. to say Allah and Tony Blair are the legislators.
2. Allah informs us he will never forgive those who commit shirk
Allah (swt) says: Verily, Allâh forgives not that partners should be set up with him in worship, but He forgives except that (anything else) to whom He pleases, and whoever sets up partners with Allâh in worship, he has indeed invented a tremendous sin. (EMQ Soorah An-Nisa’, 4: 48)
3. Jannah is forbidden upon the one who commits shirk
Allah (swt) says: Verily, whosoever sets up partners in worship with Allâh, then Allâh has forbidden Paradise for him, and the Fire will be his abode… (EMQ Al-Maaida, 5: 72)
4. Shirk (akbar) abolishes all the good deeds
…But if they had joined in worship others with Allâh, all that they used to do would have been of no benefit to them. (EMQ Al-An’aam, 6: 88)
"If you join others in worship with Allâh, (then) surely (all) your deeds will be in vain, and you will certainly be among the losers." (EMQ Az-Zumar, 39: 65)
5. There is no sanctity for the Mushrik
…then kill the Mushrikûn wherever you find them, and capture them and besiege them, and prepare for them each and every ambush… (EMQ At-Tawbah, 9: 5)
Narrated by Ibn ‘Umar (ra), Allah’s Messenger said: “I have been ordered to fight against the people until they testify ‘none has the right to be worshipped but Allah and that Muhammad [saw] is the Messenger of Allah’, and establish Salat, and give Zakaat; if they perform all that, then they save their lives and properties from me except for Islamic laws and then their reckoning will be with Allah.” (Sahih Bukhaari, kitaab ul Imaan, hadith number 24)
This hadith indicates that the Mushrikoun and all other disbelievers have no sanctity for their lives, except if they embrace Islam, pray and pay Zakaat and f they choose not to then they must live by the laws of Islam. If they refuse to do either, they must be killed as they have no sanctity for their lives. The apostate must either repent or face death.
The Prohibited Actions, which could be kufr, shirk or haram etc…
Muslims must avoid committing any of the actions mentioned below or anything similar as they could lead to one’s exit out of Islam:
1. Anyone who makes Tabarruk (makes barakah) with the Ka’bah, such as to touch the cloth, go to the cave or take any step that the Prophet stood e.g. in Badr, except what is mentioned
2. Hanging ta’weez, whether in the clothes in the car or in the home to prevent harm or the evil eye or hasad, whether stones or ayat (decoration is different – but is best if we avoid it). Imam Malik said that it is forbidden to write any ayah or hadith on the wall. The Jumhour of the ‘Ulama said that it is not allowed. Those who used to do so did so not because as decoration not to remember to read it
3. To wear ear-rings or strings.
4. Intercession by any person is not allowed.
5. Any allegiance to a tribe, country or people instead of Allah (swt) is haraam and could lead to kufr akbar
6. Doing any party which Islam forbids whether to imitate kuffar or to get reward e.g. to celebrate the Hijrah or birthday of the Prophet, the new year Christian or Muslim calendar or night of Isra and Mi’raj or shabbe-baraat or to celebrate on the 27th of Ramadhaan (as opposed to seeking the night of Al-Qadr) hence we have the last 10 nights, because people start to celebrate this night.
7. To do dhikr by any instrument or to do dhikr collectively for ‘more reward’
8. Imitating the kuffar e.g. looking to the Jews as examples.
9. Establishing idols or photographs or hanging any photos of living beings.
10. To be pessimistic - to expect harm or calamity without tangible evidence or Shari’ah evidence.
11. Doubting Allah.
12. Following any Sufi tareeqah (method).
13. To doubt or have bad thinking about Allah e.g. that he will not forgive you etc…
14. To distribute any leaflets that say ‘pass this on to 10 people’
15. Selling alcohol.
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