The Fourth Lesson
The right of Allah (Glory be to Him) (4)
Warning against polytheism
All praise be to Allah, the King and the Manifest Truth. I praise and thank Him. He singled out Himself with lordship and divinity over His Creatures. I bear witness that there is no god but Allah alone who has no partner with Him in worship. He is Allah, no god but He, so worship Him alone with sincerity. I bear witness that our master and Prophet, Muhammad, is His Servant and Messenger who was sent with the pure religion of Abraham, which he proclaimed and explained, and refuted the claims of the atheists and polytheists. May peace and blessings be upon him, his family, all his Companions, and those who follow them righteously until the Day of Recompense. We have spoken in our previous lessons about the right of Allah (Glory be to Him); mainly, unifying Him in His Divinity, Lordship, Names, and Attributes. We also have spoken briefly about the related issues of this great unification and explained in general what should a person do toward his Lord (Glory be to Him). Because things are identified by their opposites and evil is identified to be avoided, we shall speak in this lesson about the opposite of monotheism which is Shirk (associating partners with Allah (Glory be to Him) in worship) because monotheism was never mentioned in the Book of Allah (Glory be to Him) nor in the Sunnah of the Messenger (peace be upon him) but correlated with warning against its opposite which is polytheism, either implicit or explicit.
Dear Muslim brother, Shirk is the gravest, the ugliest, and the boldest of all sins, as it is darknesses one above the other because it makes a person a slave to other creatures and by which the truth turns to be falsehood and vice-versa.
It is of two types: A major Shirk that drives a person out of Islam; and this kind of Shirk is ascertained when a person associates others with Allah in divinity, lordship, names, attributes, or in judgment.
Therefore, Shirk in Lordship is of two kinds:
One of which is Shirk of disabling which is the ugliest type of polytheism such as the Shirk of the Pharaoh who said: “And what is the Lord of the 'Alamîn (mankind, jinn and all that exists)?” and Shirk of atheists who do not recognize a creator, a lord, or even a god.
The second type is: the Shirk of those who associate another god with Allah. Of this type the belief that there is a partner with Allah in creation, kingdom, and management such as the Shirk of the Christians who made Allah (Exalted be He) as one of three gods; Exalted be Allah of what they claim.
One of the types of Shirk is: Shirk in the unification of names and attributes which is like the one who compares the Creator to His Creatures as those who say: a hand like my hand, a hearing like my hearing, and a sight like my sight; and this is the Shirk of Al Mushabbihah (a Muslim sect used to compare Allah to His Creatures).
Allah (Exalted be He) says: “And (all) the Most Beautiful Names belong to Allâh, so call on Him by them, and leave the company of those who belie or deny (or utter impious speech against) His Names. They will be requited for what they used to do." Ibn `Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him) said: “The meaning of "Yulhidun fi Asma'ih (belie or deny His Names)" is to deny them."
One of the types of Shirk is: Shirk in oneness of worship and the acts of worship; this is the major Shirk. The meaning of this Shirk is to assign a partner with Allah in any act of worship which is due solely for Him by directing any of the acts of worship to other than Allah such as invoking other than Allah, seeking intercession from anyone but Him, hoping for something from others, loving others as they love Allah, or fearing others as they fear Allah.
In general, to worship other than Allah as they worship Allah. This kind of Shirk is prohibited as Allah (Glory be to Him) says: “Worship Allâh and join none with Him (in worship)." Allah (Glory be to him) says: “And verily, We have sent among every Ummah (community, nation) a Messenger (proclaiming): Worship Allâh (Alone), and avoid (or keep away from) Tâghût (all false deities i.e. do not worship Tâghût besides Allâh)." And Allah (Glory be to Him) says: “And they worship besides Allâh things that harm 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 is He above all that which they associate as partners (with Him)!" And Allah (Glory be to Him) says: “Allâh it is He Who has created the heavens and the earth, and all that is between them in six Days. Then He rose over (Istawâ) the Throne (in a manner that suits His Majesty). You (mankind) have none, besides Him, as a Walî (protector or helper) or an intercessor. Will you not then remember (or receive admonition)?" Moreover, the Ayahs that were revealed in the incorrectness of Shirk and warning against it are numerous.
Of the examples of this Shirk, which many people were afflicted with throughout history is: Invoking other than Allah (Exalted be He), such as invoking the sun, the moon, a king, a prophet or a pious person to reveal a distress or to fulfill a demand that no one but Allah can fulfill. The same ruling goes to circumambulating graves, seeking help from the dead and graves, and calling the dead besides Allah. Another example is associating others with Allah in enactment by accepting the rulings of other than Allah. Allah (Exalted be He) says: “They (Jews and Christians) took their rabbis and their monks to be their lords besides Allâh (by obeying them in things which they made lawful or unlawful according to their own desires without being ordered by Allâh), and (they also took as their Lord) Messiah, son of Maryam (Mary), while they (Jews and Christians) were commanded [in the Taurât (Torah) and the Injeel (Gospel)] to worship none but One Ilâh (God / Allâh) Lâ ilâha illa Huwa (none has the right to be worshipped but He). Glorified is He (far above is He) from having the partners they associate (with Him)."
Dear Muslim brother, those were examples of the major Shirk which drives a person out of Islam. However, there is another type of Shirk which is the minor Shirk. Calling it minor does not mean its punishment will be lighter, but it is one of the major sins which their doers deserve punishment and retribution. Some scholars defined it by: everything that the Shari`ah prohibits because it will or may lead to the major Shirk. There are several texts to name some sins as Shirk, such as minor hypocrisy, mannerism, and not showing sincerity to Allah in worship by doing an act for self-benefit one time, another time for the world, and a third time for prestige and reputation before people, so a person shall give a share to Allah of his actions as he gives others. Here are some detailed examples of this type:
1- Making an oath by other than Allah.
Imam Ahmad, At-Tirmidhy, and Al Hakim reported with good chain of narration that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “He who swears by anyone but Allah will be a disbeliever or a polytheist." Likewise is the one who swears by the prophet, by life, or by others.
2- More examples: The saying of "What Allah and you willed" or “Except for Allah and you." The Prophet (peace be upon him) prohibited that and guided the people to say: “What Allah alone willed" or “What Allah willed then what you willed" in order to remove any doubt of polytheism that people may think that the Prophet is a partner with Allah in causing things to happen.
3- More examples: The saying of "I put my trust in Allah and in you" or “Except for such and such, that would not have taken place" without referring the whole matter to Allah.
4- More examples also: Minor hypocrisy in the acts and sayings of worship which make a person longing his Salah so that the people would see him or spending money so that people may praise him or to teaching people the book of Allah in order to be said: how perfect is he! How perfect his recitation is! And how perfect his memorization is! This insinuation is easy for the Satan in order to mislead the people and make them commit other mistakes in `Aqidah (creed) by directing their intentions to other than Allah (Exalted be He) in their actions, sayings, spending, and efforts.
Minor Shirk is hidden and barely noticed and the Messenger (peace be upon him) warned the people against that type in particular because the people always neglect it. Imam Ahmad, At-Tabarany, and others reported from the Messenger (peace be upon him) that he said: “The worst thing I fear that you commit is the minor Shirk."
Dear Muslim brother, verily, adhering to unification with its three types and avoiding Shirk with its types is the sole right of Allah (Exalted be He) which was mentioned in the Hadith of Mu`adh ibn Jabal (may Allah be pleased with him) who said: The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said to me: “O Mu'adh! Do you know what Allah's Right upon His slaves is?" and what is the right of people upon Allah? I said: “Allah and His Messenger know best." He said: The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, "To worship Him (Allah) Alone and to join none in worship with Him (Allah). Do you know what their right upon Him is?" I replied, "Allah and His Messenger know best." The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, "Not to punish them (if they do so)." According to the short brief which we mentioned in this lesson and in the previous lessons, whoever maintains this right deserves —by the bounty and the mercy of Allah— the second part of the Hadith which is the Prophet’s saying: “And people's right on Allah is that He shall never torture those who worship none besides Him.” The Shaykh of Islam Ibn Taymiyah (may Allah bestow mercy on his soul) referred to that right by saying: “The obedient people will deserve the best reward as bounty and favor from Allah, but it is not a reward entitled by their actions." This a good note.
O honorable Muslims, I commend myself as well as every Muslim to pay attention to that right which we all should single out Allah with, let us all renew our belief in the oneness of Allah, and get rid of Shirk and its means. May Allah make you and me from those who always remember, learn the lesson, and those who deserve what Allah ordained upon Himself by His Favor and Generosity, for He is All-Hearing, All-Responding, and the only One to be implored.