“Shirk” basically is “Polytheism”, i.e., the worship of others along with Allah. It also implies attributing divine attributes to any other besides Allah. It is the belief that the source of power, harm, or blessing is from others besides Allah. The word ‘Shirk’ comes from the Arabic root (S-R-K) with the general meaning “to share”.
In Islam, whoever dies as a polytheist, there is no chance of his salvation, although Allah (S.W.T) may forgive those who have committed any other sin. ‘Mushrik’ (Polytheist) is the opposite of ‘Muwahhid’ (Monotheist). Tawhid is the primary pillar of faith. It has various aspects in the same way Shirk consists of different types. In a theological context, one commits shirk by associating some lesser being with Allah. Most Muslims know that shirk – associating partners with Allah –is the greatest sin one can commit. There are numerous verses in the Quran that attest to this. What is less well understood is that there are different forms of shirk. Idol-worship is only one form. Shirk is widely practised, even among Muslims, without many being aware of it. We need to identify these forms at both the individual and social levels.
Types of Shirk
There are three types of Shirk: 1. The Major shirks (Ash-Shirk al-Akbar) 2. Minor shirks (Ash-Shirk al-Asghar) and 3. Inconspicuous Shirk (Ash-Shirk al-Khafi).
Major Shirks: The major and serious polytheistic form has four aspects:
i. Shirk-ad-Du’a (the invocation): This aspect implies invoking or praying to other (deities) besides Allah. Almighty Allah says: “And when they embark on ships they invoke Allah, making their faith pure for him only, but when he brings them safely to land, behold, they give a share to their worship to others (29:65).”
ii. Shirk-ad-Niyyahwal-iradahwal-Qasd: This aspect implies intentions and determination in acts of worship or religious deeds not for the sake of Allah but directed towards other deities.
iii. Shirk-ad-Ta’ah: This aspect implies rendering obedience to any authority against the order of Allah. Almighty Allah says, “They (Jews & Christians) took their rabbis and their monks to be their lords besides (Allah) by obeying them in things which they made lawfully or unlawfully according to their desires without being ordered by Allah and they also took their lord (Messiah) son of (Maryam) while they were commanded (in the Torah & Gospel) to worship none but one (Allah).”
‘Kufr’ is disbelief in any of the articles of faith in Islam, which are belief in Allah, His angels, His messengers, His revealed book, The day of resurrection, and Al-Qaeda Qadar (what Allah has ordained). There are two aspects of disbelief. The major aspect, Al-Kufr al-Akbar, excludes one completely from the fold of Islam.
The minor shirks include acts performed to simply show off, or acts done to gain praise and fame. Almighty Allah says: “Say (O Mohammad), I am only a man like you, it has been revealed to me that your Allah is one Allah, so whosoever hopes for the meeting with his Lord let him do righteousness and associate none as a partner in the worship of his Lord. (V:18:110)”
Shirk al-Khafi or Inconspicuous Shirk
This type implies being inwardly dissatisfied with the inevitable condition that has been ordained for one by Allah, lamenting that had you done or not done such and such, or had you approached such and such, you would have been in a better status, etc. Prophet Mohammad (pbuh) said: “Ash-Shirk al-Khafi in the Muslim nation is more inconspicuous than the creeping of the black ant on a black rock in the pitch darkness of the night”. This inconspicuous shirk is expiated by saying thrice the following sentences everyday: “O Allah, I take your refuge from that I should ascribe anything in the partner in your worship, being conscious of that, and I beg your pardon for that sin which I am not aware.”
The writer is a research scholar in Education. firstname.lastname@example.org. The views expressed are the writer’s and not Kashmir Reader’s.