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The Truth of Shirck (Ploytheism)

حقيقة الشرك بالله


What is shirck (polytheism)?

Shirck (Polytheism) is to worship other than Almighty Allah (God), which is a very major mistake to leave the Creator and worship creation.                                                         

Belief in the existence of many gods, unfortunately, it has been widespread in human cultures, past and present, and has taken many forms. Natural forces and objects—celestial, atmospheric, and earthly (such as stars, stones, people, rain, mountains, and fire)—have often been identified with divinities.

Fabricated gods have also been worshipped in the form of vegetation (especially trees and cultivated plants) and animals (for instance, the monkey in India and the hummingbird among the Aztecs). The assumption of human forms and characteristics by divine beings (anthropomorphism), as in the emphatically human passions and behavior of the Greek and Roman gods, is virtually a universal feature of polytheism

According to the teaching of Islam, worshipping other than Almighty Allah is considered a major sin and oppression. God said in the Quran:

(وَحَاجَّهُ قَومُهُ قَالَ أَتُحَاجُّونِي فِي اللَّهِ وَقَد هَدَانِي وَلاَ أَخَافُ مَا تُشرِكُونَ بِهِ إِلاَّ أَن يَشَاءَ رَبِّي شَيئًا وَسِعَ رَبِّي كُلَّ شَيءٍ عِلمًا أَفَلاَ تَتَذَكَّرُونَ (80) وَكَيفَ أَخَافُ مَا أَشرَكتُم وَلاَ تَخَافُونَ أَنَّكُم أَشرَكتُم بِاللَّهِ مَا لَم يُنَزِّل بِهِ عَلَيكُم سُلطَانًا فَأَيُّ الفَرِيقَينِ أَحَقُّ بِالأَمنِ إِن كُنتُم تَعلَمُونَ (81) الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَلَم يَلبِسُوا إِيمَانَهُم بِظُلمٍ أُولَئِكَ لَهُم الأَمنُ وَهُم مُهتَدُونَ) سورة الأنعام

His people disputed with him. He said: "Do you dispute with me concerning Almighty Allah, while He has guided me? I fear not what you associate Him unless my Lord should will something. My Lord encompasses all things in knowledge; then will you not remember? How should I fear what you associate while you do not fear that you have associated with Almighty Allah that He has not sent down to you any authority? So which of the two parties has more right to security, if you should know? Those who believe and do not mix their belief with injustice – those will have security, and they are guided." 6:80-82

Also Allah said:  ( وَإِذ قَالَ لُقمَانُ لابنِهِ وَهُوَ يَعِظُهُ يَا بُنَيَّ لاَ تُشرِك بِاللَّهِ إِنَّ الشِّركَ لَظُلمٌ عَظِيمٌ) سورة لقمان آيه (13)

"Behold, Luqman said to his son by way of instruction: O my son! Join not in worship (others) with Almighty Allah. For false worship is indeed the highest wrong-doing."31-13

Shirck can be done in two ways. It is not just worshipping of some other deity than Almighty Allah. Rather it is more than that. Shirck is either elevating someone or something so high that it becomes equal in attributes and qualities with Almighty Allah. For example, it is a fact that Almighty Allah Alone Who Blesses with offspring, but if someone starts praising some cleric or someone or something else, even a medicine, saying that it was the source of the birth of the offspring, the person is doing shirck by elevating that thing or person to the Status of Almighty Allah.

The second way is to lower Almighty Almighty Allah to the level of some human, deity or just lowering Him in Attributes.

The nature of Shirck is as following:

  1. It is a sin that is unpardonable unless Tawbah (repenting) is done. It is mentioned in the Quran:

(إِنَّ اللَّهَ لاَ يَغفِرُ أَن يُشرَكَ بِهِ وَيَغفِرُ مَا دُونَ ذَلِكَ لِمَن يَشَاءُ وَمَن يُشرِك بِاللَّهِ فَقَد افتَرَى إِثمًا عَظِيمًا) سورة النساء آية (48)

 "Indeed, Allah does not forgive association with Him, but He forgives what is less than that for whom He wills. And he, who associates others with Allah, has certainly fabricated tremendous sin".  4:48

2.       For a person who commits Shirck, paradise is forbidden for them as mentioned

(لَقَد كَفَرَ الَّذِينَ قَالُوا إِنَّ اللَّهَ هُوَ المَسِيحُ ابنُ مَريَمَ وَقَالَ المَسِيحُ يَا بَنِي إِسرَائِيلَ اعبُدُوا اللَّهَ رَبِّي وَرَبَّكُم إِنَّهُ مَن يُشرِك بِاللَّهِ فَقَد حَرَّمَ اللَّهُ عَلَيهِ الجَنَّةَ وَمَأوَاهُ النَّارُ وَمَا لِلظَّالِمِينَ مِن أَنصَارٍ) سورة المائدة آية  (72)

"They certainly disbelieved who say: "(Almighty Allah) is the Messiah, the son of Mary." While the messiah has said: "O Children of Israel worship Almighty Allah, my Lord and your Lord." Indeed, whoever joins other gods with Allah, - Allah has forbidden him paradise, and his refuge is the fire. And there are not for the wrongdoers any helpers". 5:72

Different kinds of Shircks (polytheism)

There are four major divisions of Shirck; each division consists of two or more than two types of Shirck. They are as following:

Division one: the visible and prominent Shirck and the hidden Shirck.

Division two: Shirck of ideology and Shirck of actions, deeds etc.

Division three: Shirck of Names and Attributes of Almighty Allah and Shirck of intention

Division four: Shirck of Nature of God, Shirck of Attributes and Shirck of Creation.

[Defined by Imaam Ibn Taymiyah]

It is Shirck when a person either accepts someone or something other than Almighty Allah as his god. It is a prominent type of Shirck as the person would openly worship that being, etc. Christians who consider Jesus Christ (PBUH) as the son of God commit this Shirck. It is mentioned in the Quran:

(وَقَالَت اليَهُودُ عُزَيرٌ ابنُ اللَّهِ وَقَالَت النَّصَارَى المَسِيحُ ابنُ اللَّهِ ذَلِكَ قَولُهُم بِأَفوَاهِهِم يُضَاهِئُونَ قَولَ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا مِن قَبلُ قَاتَلَهُم اللَّهُ أَنَّى يُؤفَكُونَ (30) اتَّخَذُوا أَحبَارَهُم وَرُهبَانَهُم أَربَابًا مِن دُونِ اللَّهِ وَالمَسِيحَ ابنَ مَريَمَ وَمَا أُمِرُوا إِلاَّ لِيَعبُدُوا إِلَهًا وَاحِدًا لاَ إِلَهَ إِلاَّ هُوَ سُبحَانَهُ عَمَّا يُشرِكُونَ (31) يُرِيدُونَ أَن يُطفِئُوا نُورَ اللَّهِ بِأَفوَاهِهِم وَيَأبَى اللَّهُ إِلاَّ أَن يُتِمَّ نُورَهُ وَلَو كَرِهَ الكَافِرُونَ (32) هُوَ الَّذِي أَرسَلَ رَسُولَهُ بِالهُدَى وَدِينِ الحَقِّ لِيُظهِرَهُ عَلَى الدِّينِ كُلِّهِ وَلَو كَرِهَ المُشرِكُونَ (33) يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا إِنَّ كَثِيرًا مِن الأَحبَارِ وَالرُّهبَانِ لَيَأكُلُونَ أَموَالَ النَّاسِ بِالبَاطِلِ وَيَصُدُّونَ عَن سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ وَالَّذِينَ يَكنِزُونَ الذَّهَبَ وَالفِضَّةَ وَلاَ يُنفِقُونَهَا فِي سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ فَبَشِّرهُم بِعَذَابٍ أَلِيمٍ)  (34) سورة التوبة

"The Jews say 'Ezra is the son of Allah' and the Christians say The Messiah is the son of Allah. That is a saying from their mouths; they imitate the saying of those who disbelieved before them. May Allah destroy them; how are they deluded away from the truth! They have taken their scholars and monks as lords besides Allah, and also The Messiah, the son of Marry. And they were not commanded except to worship one God; there is no deity except Him. Exalted is He above whatever they associate with Him. They want to extinguish the light of Allah with their mouths, but Allah refuses except to perfect His light, although the disbelievers dislike it.   It is He who has sent His messenger with guidance and the religion of truth to manifest it over all religion, although they who associate others with Allah dislike it. O who have believed, indeed many of the scholars and monks devour the wealth of people unjustly and avert from the way of Allah" 9:30-34

Shirck by philosophical religions and by their followers

1-Pantheism: Everything is God.

2-The trinity that God can exist in three Shapes, the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost.

3-Incarnation of God: God can acquire the shape of man to know the feelings of man.

Shirck of attributes

This Shirck is the result of some Attributes of Almighty Allah and men are common but not the same.

1. All attributes of Almighty Allah are with Almighty Allah and He Owns them while a man can have a good quality like generosity but it is a Blessing unto him by Almighty Allah. Almighty Allah Did Not Contract His Attributes by anyone or anything.

2. A man can be generous to a measurable degree while Almighty Allah's Attributes are infinite and immeasurable.

3. A man can develop some attribute and even then it will not last forever, whereas Almighty Allah's attributes last forever and will always be there.

There are six Attributes of Almighty Allah from which all the other Attributes are derived. They are:

1. Intention or Plan: Almighty Allah Also Plans and intends, and He is the Best of the Planners. Man also plans but his planning is nothing compared to Almighty Allah's.

2. Knowledge: Almighty Allah Possesses knowledge and that knowledge is infinite. Man also has some knowledge but it is not even sufficient to predict his death. Almighty Allah Also Holds the key to the knowledge of unseen while a man doesn't and can't.

3. Almighty Allah Has Power over things and man too. But man's power is finite and limited.

4. Liveliness or Life: Almighty Allah is Alive as well, and man can be alive too. But Almighty Allah has been there since ever and will be there forever. A man on the other hand can die and is a mortal being.

5. Shape: Almighty Allah Also Has an Image as well as man. But Almighty Allah's Image is uncomprehendable while a man's image can be imagined. Man can not know of the Image of Almighty Allah because no man has seen Almighty Allah. Allah will be seen in paradise only.

Another type of Shirck is that a person starts believing in the powers of matter. For example, if I have to go to some other place, and I say, "I have the car in which I will go, I have an alarm clock that would wake me up at the exact time and I have ironed my clothes, now I am all ready to go and nothing can stop me as I have all the necessary requirements." I have committed Shirck by depending on matter and attributing matter with the power to take me there. It is said that even the bite you take of food is ordained by Almighty Allah, so every thing is under the will of Almighty Allah.

Shirck of the created things

In this type, Shirck is committed during worship only. It is a hidden Shirck. For example, when you pray for Allah then you notice someone looking at you, so you extend and enhance your prayer due to the observation of someone on you, which is type of hypocrisy to show off.

Shirck of supplication

( قُل أَفَغَيرَ اللَّهِ تَأمُرُونِي أَعبُدُ أَيُّهَا الجَاهِلُونَ (64) وَلَقَد أُوحِيَ إِلَيكَ وَإِلَى الَّذِينَ مِن قَبلِكَ لَئِن أَشرَكتَ لَيَحبَطَنَّ عَمَلُكَ وَلَتَكُونَنَّ مِن الخَاسِرِينَ (65) بَل اللَّهَ فَاعبُد وَكُن مِن الشَّاكِرِينَ) (66) سورة الزمر

Say, [O Muhammad], "Is it other than Allah that you order me to worship, O ignorant ones?" And it was already revealed to you and to those before you that if you should associate [any thing] with Allah, your work would surely become worthless, and you would surely be among the losers. Rather, worship [only] Allah and be among the grateful." 39:64-66

When supplicating, if you call upon any creation or someone else other than Almighty Allah, you have committed Shirck, regardless of who ever that person you are calling, A Prophet, saint or any righteous person, alive or dead. So people who call upon Prophet Jesus, Mary, Prophet Muhammad and saints or go to graves to call and supplicate to saints, have committed a very major sin which is Shirck, and shirck leads to hellfire unless if they repent before death and go back to Almighty Allah to worship Him alone without any association

Collected and Revised
Hamadi Al-Aslani
Manager of Editing and Translation
B.A. Islamic studies
B.A. English language
Jeddah Dawah Center
With the compliments of


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