Shirk in Islam is the greatest of all sins. It is the act of glorifying and worshipping someone or something other than Allah. Its literal definition is ‘to associate’, and its Arabic meaning is ‘to share’.
To give Allah’s divine attributes to something or someone shows the imprudence of humankind even though the truth is revealed to them. They are oblivious to it. The Quran mentions this weakness in humanity.
The practice of Shirk (Polytheism) defies Tawheed (Belief in the Oneness of Allah), and its seriousness is grave; hence Allah condemns setting Him with an emulate, invoking His anger.
Therefore, for those who deny the Oneness of Allah awaits a grave punishment, for Allah does not forgive anyone who draws one’s last breath with disbelief or polytheism and all his deeds go in vain.
Types of Shirk
The scholars have commonly divided Shirk into two groups based on the severity of polytheism in its acts, and they are,
Major Shirk (Ash-shirk al-Akbar)
This is to worship any other than Allah or to ascribe any of His attributes to anyone else. The gravity of this act takes the highest place of disloyalty in Islam.
Minor Shirk (Ash-Shirk al-Asghur)
Minor Shirk is any act that prompts someone to indulge in Major Shirk without themselves realizing it, but it doesn’t take them away from the fold of Islam. Especially the practice of displaying one’s good deeds to acquire someone’s praise other than our Almighty Lord Allah is considered Minor Shirk and it’s something that the Prophet Muhammed (PBUH) feared for us.
Unfortunately, most of us lose sight of the truth and give way to falsehood which surprisingly does include not only the disbelievers but also the Mass of Muslim community all around the world. Such a Muslim community exists in Sri Lanka as well. Sri Lanka is a multicultural country that has its share of Muslim minority where such polytheistic beliefs exist.
Two polytheistic beliefs among the Sri Lankan Muslim Community
Worshipping of Graves
A group of people in our society consider themselves Muslims but oversight by worshipping graves of people regarded as ‘Awliyas’ or seeking their assistance in fulfilling their duas by praying to the graves of these people instead of directly asking Allah. They go to the extent of building mosques containing graves within it.
This practice is a sin of polytheism, and one who indulges himself in such practices has committed Major Shirk. By worshipping and praying to the graves of these people, he is defying Allah’s commandments.
The Prophet Muhammed (PBUH) also warned us about grave worship
Thus, engaging in these practices cause people to sway in their belief. Allah is the only One worthy of worship. Therefore, one who seeks assistance or prays to someone other than Allah has worshipped a mere mortal hence falling into committing Major Shirk.
Use of Amulets
It’s a common practice to hang amulets with Quranic verses in it or to tie such an item around the waist or hand for protection. People practising this would be heedless to the fact that they are committing Shirk, assuming such an innocent act would be harmless. Still, indeed they have committed Shirk because the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said
The use of amulets opens the pathway for disbelief in Allah. Also, to place trust and belief in something other than Allah to avert harm gives notion to Allah’s competence being limited, which goes against the teachings of Islam. To believe such a trifling article is more powerful than Allah is an act of insanity; thus, this belief leads the way for one to commit Shirk.
Therefore, we as practising Muslims must be mindful of all kinds of involvement in any shirk as it causes someone to fall in Major sin and leads them on the pathway to hell because Allah forgives anyone except the one who commits Shirk.
Read the full article on the importance of salah here
And Allah Knows Best