Shirk ihtekaadi’ is shirk in one’s belief whereas ‘shirk firli’ is shirk in one’s actions.
What is ‘shirk ihtekaadi’?
‘Shirk ihtekaadi’ means ‘shirk’ in one’s ‘aquidah’, that is, ‘shirk’ in one’s belief or conviction.
A muslim believes that only Allaah should be worshipped. And that is He alone who is All Powerful and All Great. And that nobody and nothing should be associated with Allah Ta’alah.
The ‘aquidah’ (belief or faith) of a muslim is that he must not commit ‘shirk’ in whatever forms it takes.
The holy Qur’aan has stressed a lot on ‘shirk ihtekaadi’ (that is ‘shirk’ in one’s belief or faith). It is taught in the holy Qur’aan that ‘shirk’ is a deadly danger and that it has been rejected.
To explain in detail what ‘Tawheed’ is, the holy Qur’an has explained the meaning of ‘shirk ihtekaadi’ (shirk in one’s belief and faith’. In other words, Allaah has taught people what their belief and faith should be and that they should not let it get mixed up or corrupted with ‘shirk’.
What is ‘shirk Firli’?
‘Shirk firli’ is ‘shirk’ in one’s actions or deeds and its examples are found in many different nations and in many different eras (periods of time) in the world.
The holy Qur’an talks very little about ‘shirk Firli’.
Question : For what reason does the Qur’an mention only a little about ‘shirk firli’ (shirk in one’s deeds or actions)?
Answer : If the Qur’an was to mention all the different forms of ‘shirk’ of so many different nations of so many different periods of times (so many eras), it would have been a much voluminous Qur’an, perhaps a 100 times its actual size. This is because ‘shirk’ is so numerous that it varies greatly from one nation to another. And if these examples of ‘shirk’ of these gone-by nations were to be mentioned or listed, they would have been numbered in thousands.
However, ‘shirk Firli’ is more popular than ‘shirk ihtekaadi’ which means that there are more forms ‘shirk Firli’ than ‘shirk ihtekaadi’.
‘Shirk Ihtekaadi’ (shirk in one’s belief and faith) is the root, foundation and base for ‘shirk firli’, that is ‘shirk’ in one’s actions. In other words, ‘shirk ihtekaadi’ which is the root of corrupted beliefs, gives birth to forms or acts of ‘shirk’ that is ‘shirk firli’, that is, ‘shirk’ practised by people.
It is precisely for this reason, that the holy Qur’an has emphasised the rejection of ‘shirk ihtekaadi’. When people’s belief or faith will be purified from ‘shirk ihtekaadi’, they will automatically stop practising ‘shirk firli’.
Reality of Shirk
Many Muslims believe that people in such and such religions are the ones who commit ‘shirk’ because they worship statues and idols or even their prophets.
However, what we do not realise is that if that we Muslims are not careful, we can fall prey to the practice of ‘shirk’. Nobody is safe from ‘shirk’ regardless of being the least or the most knowledgeable in religion.
That is why is very important to know the reality of ‘shirk’. Those who practise ‘shirk’ do also believe in Allaah and do good deeds. Yet why is it that Allaah has condemned them? Let us look at the answer:
Did the ‘mushrik’ (idolaters) of the time of the prophet Muhammad (sal lal laahu alaihi wa sal lam) believe in Allaah?
In the verses of the holy Qur’an, Allaah shows us the condition of the ‘mushrikines’ (those who commit or practice shirk) of the time of the beloved prophet Muhammad (sal lal laahu alaihi wa sal lam)
The question is why is it that they still believe and worship other divinities when they in fact accept that Allaah is their Rabb (God)? This does not make sense!!
Say: ‘See you then? The thing that you invoke besides Allaah, – can they, if Allaah wills some affliction? Or if He wills some Mercy for me, can they keep back His mercy? ‘Say: ‘Sufficient is Allaah for me! In Him trust those who put their trust.'(Surah 39 Az-Zumar, verse 38)
In spite of their believing in Allaah so much, the above verses show that Allaah still labelled them as ‘mushrikines’.
Did the ‘mushrikines’ of the time of Prophet Muhammad (sal lal laahu alaihi wa sa lam) used to do good deeds?
So the ‘mushrikines’ used to allocate a share to Allaah and another share to those ‘partners’ (such as their idols, tombs, saints, etcetera) that they used to associate with Allaah.
So the ‘mushrikines’ used to assist pilgrims who were going to perform ‘hajj’ and also they used to carry out the maintenance of Masjid Haraam (The Sacred Mosque of Makkah).
When the ‘mushrikines’ would write a letter they used to write the following as their first line:
Bi-ismik-Allaah hoummah, that is, they would begin by writing, in the name of Allaah Ta’alah.
Even though the Muslims were not doing these good deeds since they were not yet revealed, they used to be labelled as Muslims. This is because the principle and criteria that Allaah has established is to ‘believe in the oneness of Allah’ and accept the Prophet Muhammad (sal lal laahu alaihi wa sal lam) as Allaah’s messenger and do not associate anything or any partners to Allaah.
They were labelled as ‘mushrikines’ because they used to practise ‘shirk’ in spite of their belief in Allaah and their good deeds.
- (1) Those ‘mushrikines’ were invoking, worshipping and seeking assistance from other deities other than Allaah’
- (2) They believed that the tombs, idols, saints etc that they were worshipping had some of Allaah’s powers.
- (3) They ascribed partners to Allaah.
Allaah has ordered all His prophets (alaihimous salaam) (some 124, 000 prophets that He has sent to mankind) to proclaim this main message: ‘There is no god worthy of worship except Allaah only’.
The Muslims and the ‘mushrikines’ used to disagree with each other on the issue of ascribing partners to Allaah.
Did the ‘mushrikines’ believe in the absolute power of Allaah?
In the time of Prophet Muhammad (sal lal laahu alaihi wa sal lam), the ‘mushrikines’ used to invoke and worship other gods that they ascribed to Allaah because they believed that those gods had certain powers.
In the above verse we see that the ‘mushrikines’ used to invoke partners that they ascribed to Allaah so that they would come closer to Allaah through them. Those ‘mushrikines’ would take it that they could not worship Allaah directly and therefore had to go through partners that they associated with Him. In our local dialect we use the expression ‘to get to the minister you need to go through his secretary.’
‘Shirk’ that are practised nowadays are worse and more serious than in the old days
Those who practise ‘shirk’ today practise the kind of ‘shirk’ that is far more worse and serious than the ‘shirk’ that were practised by the ‘mushrikines’ in the old days.
Those ‘mushrikines’ would normally worship their gods and ask of them, but in times of difficulties they would call upon Allaah only.
Today’s ‘mushrikines’ are totally the opposite. They are immersed in ‘shirk’ 24 by 24 hours and 7 over 7 days a week. Whether in good or bad times they are constantly worshipping and seeking help from those partners that they have associated with Allaah. In fact, this thing about ascribing partners to Allaah has become a crucial part of their belief in their daily life.
Do not ascribe anything to Allaah Ta’alah
In the holy Qur’an and ‘hadiths’ (narrations) totally reject ‘shirk’ in all its forms and possibilities.
In the holy Qur’an Allaah uses the word ‘shai-oon’ to reject shirk completely. ‘Shai-oon’ means: nothing, nothing and not even a thing. Whatever the thing is, it must not be associated with Allaah.
‘Serve Allaah and join not any partners with Him…’ (Surah 4 An-Nisaa, verse 36)
If a person has been told not touch anything in a room – it is clear that nothing must be touched. That means ‘nothing’ not even a small thing can be touched by that person because he has been ordered not to touch ‘anything’.
Similarly, when Allaah tells people: ‘do not associate anything with Me’ – it is clear then that nothing must be invoked, called upon, worshipped, prayed to or asked of, except Allaah only. It is forbidden to ask for provisions, health, to have children, work, etcetera from a pious person who has passed away or from a tomb…etc
The ‘mushrikines’ used to categorize different practices as permissible and as forbidden according to their fancies. So, Allaah Ta’alah has addressed Prophet Muhammad (sal lal laahu alaihi wa sal lam) as follows:
There are many places in the holy Qur’an where Allaah Ta’alah has severely warned the ‘mushrikines’ against the practice of ‘shirk’ that is asking and worshipping others besides Him. It is clear that whoever asks of or worship anything besides Allaah, is committing ‘shirk’.
In the hadiths and in the holy Qur’an, the words are clear as crystal that ‘shirk’ is completely forbidden in whatever forms it takes (praying to, worshipping, asking, invoking an object, a person alive or dead, any object is absolutely forbidden).
There are about 10 verses in the holy Qur’an where Allaah Ta’alah says: do not associate anything with Me.
There are about 30 ‘hadiths’ (narrations) where the beloved prophet Muhammad (sal lal laahu alaihi wa sal lam) told us: ‘do not associate anything with Allaah Ta’alah.
Do not ask any person but Allaah Ta’alah
In the Arabic language the word ‘ahad’ is used to indicate a person or someone. It is also used to indicate a human or an angel or a jinn (a spirit).
There are many places in the holy Qur’an where the word ‘ahad’ has been used to totally reject ‘shirk’ in whatever forms it takes.
Do not associate any humans or angels or jinn with Allaah. ‘Shirk’ whether it is praying, or invoking or asking or calling upon a living or a dead ‘being’ is completely forbidden and totally rejected.
If we say that nobody is allowed to enter a room, it is clear that nobody, no one or anyone is allowed to enter that room.
The holy Qur’an Allaah clearly says: do not ask, invoke, call upon, worship, pray to any person, being or thing.
From the above verses it is crystal clear that there is no need to look for double meaning about ‘shirk’. ‘Shirk’ in all its forms (worship, or pray to, or call upon or ask any living or dead person or any object besides Allaah) has been totally rejected.
There are about 10 verses in the holy Qur’an where Allaah Ta’alah says: do not associate anything or anyone with Me.
And there are many more hadiths where the prophet Muhammad (sal lal laahu alaihi wa sal lam) has said to us not to associate anything with Him.