[By: Maulana Shah Ismail Shaheed (rahimahullah)]
Shirk does not only imply that an entity be equated with Allah or be reckoned as His counterpart, but it goes much further to include the things and manners which Allah has peculiarized to His Qualities and that represent the signs of worshipping and obeisance which He has specified for his slaves to observe for Him Alone. In case, someone observes those signs and exhibits them in front of any other entity whatsoever other than Allah, such a practice also lies within the definition of Shirk: this practice includes making prostrations, sacrificing an animal in the Name of Allah, making vows, calling upon Him in distress, considering Allah to be Himself present everywhere, and maintaining that the others do have a role to play in the matters of one’s fate and destiny. All the above are different shapes and varieties of Shirk. Prostration is particularized to be performed for the sake of Allah only, animal sacrifice is done for Him Alone, vows are made to Him Alone, He is the One, Who, in times of distress (situations), is called upon. He is the Omnipotent and All-Powerful and He is the Supreme Authority over everything. If any of these qualities are ascribed to any other entity other than Allah, it is known as Shirk, even if such an entity is regarded as inferior to Allah or is reckoned to be a creature or slave of Allah.
All such beings and entities like a Prophet, saint, jinn, Satan, ghost, apparition and fairy shall all be treated equally in this matter and whoever considers them as having Divine powers commits an act of Shirk and the doer of such a thing will become a Mushrik (the one who associates partners with Allah). Hence Allah has brought down His wrath on the Jews and Christians too even though they did not practice idolatry, but treated their Prophets and saints in a similar manner (i.e. they attributed to them the qualities which are purely Divine in nature) as Allah has stated in the following Qur’anic verse:
They (Jews and Christians) took their rabbis and their monks to be their lords besides Allah, (by obeying them in things which they made lawful or unlawful according to their own desires without being ordered by Allah) and (they also took as their lord) Messiah, son of Mary, while they (Jews and Christians) were commanded (in the Torah and the Gospel) to worship none but One (God-Allah) La ilaha ilia Huwa (none has the right to be worshipped but He). Praise and glory is to Him, (far above is He) from having the partners they associate (with Him). (Qur’an 9:31)
It means that even though they considered Allah as the Most Supreme Lord, but besides that, they also gave their recognition to other mini-lords, which are their priests and monks. These people were never instructed to commit such acts of Shirk. Allah is all Alone worthy of being worshipped. He has no partners. Everyone, whether big or small, are none but His helpless slaves. Allah states in one of the verses of the Noble Qur’an:
There is none in the heavens and the earth but comes unto the Most Beneficent (Allah) as a slave. Verily, He knows each one of them, and has counted them a full counting. And everyone of them will come to Him alone on the Day of Resurrection (without any helper, or protector or defender). (Qur’an 19:93-95)
It means that regardless whether a creature happens to be an angel or a human being, it carries a status of no more than being a slave before Allah. A slave lies under an absolute hegemony of Allah and therefore, is completely helpless and powerless. Everything lies under Allah’s control. He gives nobody under anyone’s control. Everyone shall have to appear in His Presence to account for his deeds. No one will advocate for anyone there nor one could lend his support to anyone else. There are hundreds of verses mentioned in this regard in the Noble Qur’an whereas only we, as a specimen, have made a mention of a few of them. Whosoever understands them clearly, shall have a clear understanding of the concept of Shirk and Tauhid. In sha ‘Allah
CATEGORIES AND ASPECTS OF SHIRK
It is necessary to gain knowledge about the characteristics which Allah has peculiarised for Himself so that none of them be attributed to any other else. Such things are countless. We, on our part, shall be mentioning some of those things and prove them in the background of Qur’an and Hadith so that the people may understand the other pertinent things also with their help.
1. Shirk in knowledge:
The first thing is that Allah is present everywhere by His Knowledge which means that His Knowledge encompasses everything. This is why He has a complete cognizance of everything, every time, whether a thing happens to be far or near, hidden or apparent, up in the heavens or inside the earth, on the tops of the mountains or at the bottom of an ocean. This magnificence belongs to none but Allah. If a person calls upon someone (by invoking his name) other than Allah, while doing his everyday routine chores, so that the one called upon may help him obviate his distress, or attacks an enemy by invoking his name, or keeps pronouncing his name on the beads of a rosary, or makes a vow in his name or conjures up his picture in his imagination by nursing a faith that whenever he invokes his name, or think of him vividly in his mind or contemplate on his grave, he gains cognizance of him; none of his affairs is hidden from him, and whatever circumstances he goes through, namely, sickness and good health, abundance and distress, life and death, sadness and happiness etc., are all known to him; any word which his mouth utters is heard by him and he knows about his thoughts and imaginations. All the above things and acts prove the presence of the elements of Shirk. This is called a Shirk in knowledge which means one is trying to prove that someone other than Allah possesses a similar kind of knowledge which is only the prerogative of Allah.
By nursing this kind of faith, a man undoubtedly turns into a Mushrik (polytheist) whether he nurses such a faith in regard to an honorable human being or any of the exalted angels, or whether such a knowledge which is attributed to him, happens to be a personal one or granted by Allah. Whatever the situation may be, this is an absolutely polytheistic faith.
2. Shirk in disposing:
Disposing the matters of the universe with intention, exercising authority, killing at will and resuscitating, awarding abundance and giving distress, giving healthiness and sickness, giving victory and defeat, succeeding and preceding, fulfillment of one’s desires, obviating calamities, providing help in distress situations and whenever one stands in need of it, are all attributed to Allah and none but Him Alone. None but Allah can have this magnificence. A human being or an angel, despite acquiring great ranks, may never have these characteristics. A person who seeks to prove that an entity other than Allah may have an authority of this nature, makes vows to this entity or makes an animal sacrifice for the purpose of fulfillment of his wishes, and invokes it’s name in distress so that it can obviate his troubles, such a person is called ‘Mushrik‘ and this kind of act is called ‘Shirk in authority’ or disposing. It means that cherishing a belief that any entity other than Allah may have this authority, whether as the one granted by Allah or as one of it’s personal traits, is a polytheistic faith anyway.
3. Shirk in worship:
Allah has particularised all acts of worship for Him Alone which are defined as Ibadat like prostrating, bowing, standing with folded hands, giving charity in the Name of Allah, fasting in His Name and undertaking long journeys to visit His Sacred House by putting on such a clothing that the people may distinguish them as the visitors of His Sanctified House, invoking Allah’s Name on the way, avoiding indecent talk and hunting, circumambulating His House with an utmost caution, making prostrations in its direction, carrying the animals of sacrifice towards it, making vows there, putting a covering on Ka’bah, making supplications while standing on the threshold of Ka’bah, asking for the virtuosities in the religious as well as worldly matters, kissing of the Black-Stone, touching the walls of Ka’bah by one’s mouth and chest, making supplications by getting hold of the fringes of its covering, illuminating its surroundings, taking up residence there as one of its servants, sweeping and cleaning it, offer drinking water to the pilgrims, providing water for Wudu (ablution) and bathing, partaking of Zamzam water by considering it as a sanctified act, getting oneself drenched with it, drinking it to one’s heart content, distributing it among themselves, carrying it to be presented to one’s relatives, venerating the forest surrounding it, to refrain from hunting there, not to cut trees there, not to pullout grass from there, not to graze animals there: these are acts which Allah has prescribed for Muslims to be observed as His worship.
Now, if a person makes a bow or prostration before the grave of a Prophet, saint, ghost, apparition, jinn, fairy or any of the real or fake graves or a specified place inside a tomb, or a certain sign or house, or a Eucharist and coffin; observes fast in their names; stands in front of them with folded hands; makes offerings to them or hoisting a flag in their name or walking backwards (with a reverse motion of feet); kisses a grave or undertakes a long journey to visit graves and other places; lights earthen lamps there or makes arrangements for illuminating them; or puts coverings on their walls or offers a sheet as a covering on the grave, manually fanning the air by hand (by using a Morchhal, a fanning contrivance); erects a tent there; kisses it’s threshold; offers supplications there with folded hands; asks for the fulfillment of wishes there; serves the shrine by becoming its servant and venerates the forest around it: anyone doing any of the above acts commits a clear and manifest Shirk.
In brief, all the above acts and the alike, are called “Shirk in worship.” It implies paying one’s respect to an entity other than Allah in a manner which is prescribed for Allah Alone either by believing that this particular entity is personally entitled to such a veneration or by believing that Allah becomes pleased if any of these entities are held in high esteem or with the blessing of their veneration, troubles are warded off and done away with. Whatever may be the case, such faith is purely polytheistic in its nature.
4. Shirk in one’s daily routine chores:
Allah the Exalted has taught His slaves the norms of respect to the effect that they should remember Allah while performing their everyday worldly chores and pay Him their tributes for the enhancement of their Faith and to secure Allah’s blessing in day-to-day assignments. These norms include: (1) making vows to Allah and calling upon Him Alone whenever a catastrophe befalls his slave; (2) invoking His Name for His blessing whenever commencing an assignment; (3) slaughtering animals to express one’s gratitude to Allah in the case of having been blessed with a child; (4) giving one’s children such names as Abdullah, Abdur-Rahman, Ilahi Bakhsh, Allah Diya, Amatullah, Allah Di etc.; (5) taking out a small portion of the crop produce and giving it away in the Name of Allah; (6) apportioning some of the fruits to His name out of the total produce; (7) specifying some of the animals and allocating them for the purpose of sacrifice in the Name of Allah; (8) treating the animals which are carried to the House of Allah with due respect by neither riding them nor mounting any load on them; (9) observing Divine Instructions in the manners concerning food and dress; (10) restricting oneself to the use of permissible things only and avoiding the ones that are not allowed; (11) considering that all the different conditions and situations which one comes across in this world, like expensive and inexpensive rates and prices, health and sickness, victory and defeat, succeeding and preceding, sadness and happiness, are all commanded by Allah; (12) pronouncing a standard formula of In Sha’ Allah while making an intention to perform an assignment; (13) pronouncing the Name of Allah the Exalted One in such a manner that His Greatness is conspicuously highlighted and one’s slavery is clearly exhibited, by using such words like, our Rabb, our Master, our Creator or Ma’bud (the object of our worship) etc.; (14) in case a need arises on a certain occasion to administer an oath at all, undertaking an oath only in the Name of Allah.
These and the other similar things have been singled out by Allah as His own and personal prerogative for the sake of His veneration and magnificence. Anybody showing such kind of respect to an entity other than Allah, commits Shirk; as for example: making a vow to it with the intention of facilitating a difficult assignment; giving one’s children names like AbdunNabi, Imam Bakhsh, Peer Bakhsh etc.; apportioning part of the produce of one’s farm or orchard to it’s name; separating part of the fruits and keeping them aside (in the name of a deity) immediately after they are picked up from trees and then only putting the rest to, one’s use; dedicating some animals from among the whole herd to a deity and then treating those animals with respect by not removing them from the fodder and water and not to strike them with stick or stone; observing customs and traditions in terms of dress and food to the effect that a specified group of people should not eat such and such food and should not wear such and such dress; attributing the virtues and evils of the world to them by making such statements that as long as that particular person has been cursed by that particular deity, he has gone mad or that certain person has turned into a handicapped person due to the fact that he was driven away by that deity or by saying that as long as that person was blessed by a certain saint, he is now on a flood tide of success; or that famine was wrought by that star or by observing that this assignment was not accomplished as long as the same was commenced at a certain time and on a certain date or by observing that if Allah and His Prophet will it, one would be coming; or by saying that it will happen if one’s religious mentor wishes it to take place or using such adjectives like, the Sustainer, Independent, Lord of lords, the Master of the universe or the King of kings etc.; the undertaking of an oath in the name of the Prophet or the Qur’an or Ali (radhiyallahu anhu) or an Imam, or a religious mentor or their graves or one’s own self etc. All the above practices generate Shirk which is called a ‘Shirk in day-to-day chores’, which implies paying one’s respect to an entity other than Allah exactly in the same manner as the one prescribed for Allah.