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.

But when the truth came to them, they said, “This is magic, and indeed we are, concerning it, disbelievers.”

Surah Az-Zukhruf Chapter 43 Verse 30

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.

…So do not attribute to Allah equals while you know [that there is nothing similar to Him]

Al-Baqarah Chapter 2 Verse 22

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.

“….And whoever of you reverts from his religion [to disbelief] and dies while he is a disbeliever – for those, their deeds have become worthless in this world and the Hereafter, and those are the companions of the Fire, they will abide therein eternally.”

Al-Baqarah Chapter 2 Verse 217

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.

“…And those who take protectors besides Him [say], “We only worship them that they may bring us nearer to Allah in position.” Indeed, Allah will judge between them concerning that over which they differ. Indeed, Allah does not guide he who is a liar and [confirmed] disbeliever.”

Surah Az-Zumar, Chapter 39 Verse 3

And they worship other than Allah that which neither harms them nor benefits them, and they say, “These are our intercessors with Allah” Say, “Do you inform Allah of something He does not know in the heavens or on the earth?” Exalted is He and high above what they associate with Him

Surah Yunus Chapter 10 Verse 18

The Prophet Muhammed (PBUH) also warned us about grave worship

Jundub reported,

“Beware of those who preceded you and used to take the graves of their prophets and righteous men as places of worship, but you must not take graves as mosques; I forbid you to do that.”

Sahih Muslim 532

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

“Whoever hangs up an amulet has committed shirk.”

Narrated by Ahmad, 16969.
Amulets - Islamic Vibe
Amulets – Islamic Vibe

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.

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 a tremendous sin

An Nisa Chapter 04 Verse 48

Read the full article on the importance of salah here

And Allah Knows Best

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