Wednesday 27 November 2019

Selected Verses from Quran: The Sin of Shirk - Associating Partners with God

Shirk " شرك " an Arabic word meaning "the deification or worship of anyone or anything besides One True God."  Shirk is polytheism, the outright negation of monotheism. It is for this reason, shirk is the most disliked thing by the Almighty Allah, despite He being the Most Merciful and immensely Forgiving.

In the Qur'an, there are many verses that very clearly state that God does not share His powers with any partner and warns those who believe their idols or worldly deities will intercede for them that they, together with the worldly deities, will become fuel for hellfire on the Day of Judgment. In the following verse 33 taken from Surah 13 Ra'ad, the man has been cautioned against committing shirk:

اَفَمَنۡ هُوَ قَآئِمٌ عَلٰى كُلِّ نَفۡسٍۢ بِمَا كَسَبَتۡ​ۚ وَجَعَلُوۡالِلّٰهِ شُرَكَآءَ ؕ قُلۡ سَمُّوۡهُمۡ​ؕ اَمۡ تُنَـبِّـئُـوْنَهٗ بِمَا لَا يَعۡلَمُ فِى الۡاَرۡضِ اَمۡ بِظَاهِرٍ مِّنَ الۡقَوۡلِؕ بَلۡ زُيِّنَ لِلَّذِيۡنَ كَفَرُوۡا مَكۡرُهُمۡ وَصُدُّوۡا عَنِ السَّبِيۡلِ​ؕ وَمَنۡ يُّضۡلِلِ اللّٰهُ فَمَا لَهٗ مِنۡ هَادٍ‏ 
"Is it, then, in regard to Him Who watches over the deeds of every person that they are acting blasphemously by setting up His associates? Tell them: "Name those associates (if Allah Himself has made them His associates)! Or are you informing Allah of something the existence of which He does not even know?" Or do people arbitrarily utter empty words? Indeed, their foul contriving has been made to seem fair to the unbelievers and they have been barred from finding the Right Way. Whomsoever Allah lets go astray will have none to guide him."
That is, the disbelievers are so audacious that they set up partners with Allah Whose knowledge is All-Comprehensive and Who is aware of even the minutest details of the good and bad actions of each individual.

These are the audacious things they do. They ascribe partners and equals to Him. They believe that some of His creatures are a part and parcel of His Being, and have attributes and rights like Him. They presume that they shall not be called to account for whatever they do, even though they live in His kingdom.

You give empty names to the partners you ascribe to Him for you have no real knowledge about them. For you could get this knowledge only in one of the three following ways.
  • First, you might have received some authentic information that Allah had made such and such people as His partners in His attributes, powers and rights. If it is so, let us also know their names and the source of your information.
  • Second, the possibility that Allah might have remained ignorant that some beings have become His partners. Therefore you are going to inform Him about this. If it is so, say it clearly in so many words so that it may be decided whether there are some foolish people who can believe in such a nonsensical claim.
  • Third, obviously the above two suppositions are absurd. Therefore the only alternative is that, you are ascribing partners to Him without any rhyme or reason, and you, without any knowledge, make one the relative of God, another the hearer of supplications, and still another the helper and fulfiller of certain needs and the ruler of a certain region etc.
Shirk has been called fraud because none of the angels, spirits, saints, heavenly bodies, to whom they ascribe divine attributes and powers or render divine rights, ever claimed to possess these attributes or powers. Neither did they ever demand these rights from the people nor told the people that they would fulfill their desires and wants if they would perform some rituals of worship before them. As a matter of fact, some clever people invented these gods in order to practice willful deception and dishonesty so that they might wield powerful influence over the common people and exploit them and deprive them of a part of their hard earned possessions. Accordingly, they made the common people credulous followers of the gods of their inventions and set themselves up as their representatives to get money, etc. from them by this fraud.

The second reason why shirk has been called fraud is that a worldly man pretends to believe in it not because he wants to believe in it but in order to free himself from all moral restraints to enable him to lead an irresponsible life of greed and lust.

In Surah 12. Yusuf, verse 40 Allah warns yet again:
'You have but to name your false gods, and you will see that they are nothing but names. There is no reality behind them, whereas Allah is the One great Reality. He penetrates everything through and through and knows all things. Do you dare to tell Him of something on earth that He does not know? Or is it just a trick or a show of words?
All pretenses and fancies seem attractive to their inventors, but alas! They are a great obstruction to the Path of Religion and Truth. However, if by their contumacy, they have cut themselves off from Allah's grace, who can guide them or reclaim them from their errors?

Here in the verse 36 of Surah Ar'ad, the mention is made of the people who were earlier given Divine Scriptures and yet they associated others with God not only as partners and associates but as equals:
( 36 )   And [the believers among] those to whom We have given the [previous] Scripture rejoice at what has been revealed to you, [O Muhammad], but among the [opposing] factions are those who deny part of it. Say, "I have only been commanded to worship Allah and not associate [anything] with Him. To Him I invite, and to Him is my return."
This is in reply to a specific objection which was then raised by the disbelievers. They would say: If he has brought the same message that was brought by the Messengers before him (as he claims), why don’t the Jews and the Christians who are the followers of the former Prophets come forward and welcome it? The verse answers the objection and says that the true followers of the former Prophets really rejoice in the message of the Quran, but the false ones have been offended by it. Then it asks the Prophet (peace be upon him) not to worry at all about this, saying: O Prophet, you should not mind at all whether they are pleased or offended by it. Tell them plainly that this is the guidance I have received from my Lord and I will follow it at all costs.

Among all sections of the people there are persons who would receive a portion of Allah's truth but reject whatever does not suit them or fall in with their selfish aims or vain desires. The proper answer to them is: Surely, Allah's command is universal,-to worship and serve Him and refuse to bend the knee to any other; the man of God finds his staff and support in it; but he must invite all to share in its blessings; it came from Allah, and to Allah shall we all return.

In Surah 9 At Tauba, verse 31, a more specific mention of people is made who associate others with Allah:

اِتَّخَذُوۡۤا اَحۡبَارَهُمۡ وَرُهۡبَانَهُمۡ اَرۡبَابًا مِّنۡ دُوۡنِ اللّٰهِ وَالۡمَسِيۡحَ ابۡنَ مَرۡيَمَ​ ۚ وَمَاۤ اُمِرُوۡۤا اِلَّا لِيَـعۡبُدُوۡۤا اِلٰهًا وَّاحِدًا​ ۚ لَاۤ اِلٰهَ اِلَّا هُوَ​ ؕ سُبۡحٰنَهٗ عَمَّا يُشۡرِكُوۡنَ‏ 
“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 Maryam (Mary), while they (Jews and Christians) were commanded (in the Torah and the Gospel) to worship none but One Ilâh (God i.e., Allah), Lâ ilâha illâ Huwa (none has the right to be worshiped but He). Praise and Glory be to Him, (far above is He) from having the partners they associate (with Him).”
“They have taken their rabbis and monks as their lords”. The Prophet (peace be upon him) himself explained its true significance. According to a tradition, when Adi bin Hatim (may Allah be pleased with him), who was formerly a Christian, came to the Prophet (peace be upon him) with the intention of understanding Islam, he asked several questions in order to remove his doubts. One of these was: “This verse accuses us of taking our scholars and monks as our lords. What is its real meaning. For we do not take them as our lords.”

As a reply to this, the Prophet (peace be upon him) put him a counter question: “Is it not a fact that you accept as unlawful what they declare to be unlawful, and lawful what they declare to be lawful?” Adi confessed, “Yes, it is so.” The Prophet (peace be upon him) replied, “This amounts to making them your lords.” Incidentally, this tradition shows that those who themselves set limits to the lawful and the unlawful without the authority of Allah’s Book, assume for themselves the rank of godhead, and those who acknowledge their right of making laws take them as their lords.

It should be noted that they have been charged with (a) attributing sons to Allah, and (b) giving the right of making laws to others than Allah. These are to prove that their claim that they believed in Allah is false, even though they should believe in His existence. But such a wrong conception of Allah makes their belief in Allah meaningless.

And here comes the plain warning:

اِنَّ اللّٰهَ لَا يَغۡفِرُ اَنۡ يُّشۡرَكَ بِهٖ وَيَغۡفِرُ مَا دُوۡنَ ذٰ لِكَ لِمَنۡ يَّشَآءُ​ ۚ وَمَنۡ يُّشۡرِكۡ بِاللّٰهِ فَقَدِ افۡتَـرٰۤى اِثۡمًا عَظِيۡمًا‏  
"Surely Allah does not forgive that a partner be ascribed to Him, although He forgives any other sins for whomever He wills. He who associates anyone with Allah in His divinity has indeed forged a mighty lie and committed an awesome sin." (4:48) 
Shirk thus is  the most unforgivable crime if it remains unpardoned before death: Allah may forgive any sin if one dies in that state except for committing shirk. Owing to the gravity of associating partners with Allah, shirk became legally equivalent to kufr (unbelief ) in fiqh (Islāmic jurisprudence), Those Muslims who profess it are considered outlaws who should be ousted from the Muslim community; all their legal rights are suspended until they denounce their polytheistic beliefs.
May Allah help us understand Qur'an and help us to act upon the commandments of Allah contained therein. Aameen.

For more Selected Verses, please refer to our reference page: Selected Verses from the Qur'an

You may also refer to our Reference Pages for knowing more about Islam and Quran.
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Reading the Holy Quran should be a daily obligation of a Muslim - Reading it with translation will make it meaningful. But reading its Exegesis / Tafsir will make you understand it fully.

An effort has been made to gather explanation / exegesis of the Sūrahs of the Holy Qur'an from authentic sources and then present a least possible condensed explanation of the surah. In that:
  • The plain translation has been taken from the Holy Quran officially published by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. 
  • The exegesis of the chapters of the Holy Quran is mainly based on the "Tafhim al-Qur'an - The Meaning of the Qur'an" by one of the most enlightened scholars of the Muslim World Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi. 
In order to augment and add more explanation as already provided, additional input has been interjected from following sources: 
In addition the references of  other sources which have been explored have also been given in each page. Those desirous of detailed explanations and tafsir (exegesis), may refer to these sites.

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