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Ramadan 2011 (Seeking The Truth)


Understanding Shirk

Shirk is to associate somebody or something with Allah (S.W.T)’s inherent nature or in any of His (S.W.T) attributes. This is the greatest of all crimes according to Allah (S.W.T), as the Quran States;

Surely, Allah does not forgive that anything is associated with Him but shall forgive apart from that whom He Wills. Whoso associates anything with Allah he goes on the wrong path, far away. (Surah Un-Nisaa, Ayah 116)

This fact is sufficient to warn us of the magnitude of this crime.

Allah (S.W.T) says in the Holy Quran; "la hawla wa la quwwatha illa billah" (there is no power other than the one with Allah). Yes, no one can act on their own, whatever their status, except with the power and help of Allah (S.W.T). It is Allah (S.W.T) who is helping us to act; even the smallest movement of our fingers is due to Allah (S.W.T) providing us His power.

The Mu'jizas and Karamath's (miracles) of the Prophet's (A.S) and Awliya Allah are but the manifestation of Allah (S.W.T)'s power through them. If anyone thought that they did it on their own, he falls in Shirk.

The Quranic Scholar Allama Qurtubi (d. 673 A.H./1273 C.E.) offers a detailed definition of Shirk in his Tafsir, al-Jami' li Ahkam al-Quran. He writes that there are three different stages or forms of Shirk, and all three are forbidden (Haram).

(i) To consider a being other than Allah (S.W.T) (a tree, idol, person, jinn etc.) worthy of Worship. This is the major form of Shirk, and the type of Shirk committed by the people of the Jahiliyya (Ignorance) period.

(ii) To consider another being other than Allah (S.W.T) can perform and create certain actions independently (without Allah (S.W.T)), even if the person does not believe that, that person/being is an Allah.

(iii) Lastly, Shirk in Worship (i.e. engaging in Worship, just to look pious in peoples eyes) and this is Riya (showing off). This too is a form of Shirk.

From this we can appreciate that Shirk is when someone (i) ascribes a partner to Allah (S.W.T) in His essence or attributes (ii) with the knowledge and belief that this being/object is worthy of such accolade and that it can be done independently of Allah (S.W.T).