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Islam for non-Muslims
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Ron Webb
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Quote Ron Webb Replybullet Topic: What is Shirk?
    Posted: 23 April 2008 at 6:37pm

The one unforgivable sin in Islam is something that the Quran describes as "setting up partners with Allah":
"Verily, Allaah forgives not that partners should be set up with Him (in worship), but He forgives except that (anything else) to whom He wills; and whoever sets up partners with Allaah in worship, he has indeed invented a tremendous sin." [an-Nisaa’ 4:48]

This sin is given the name shirk, which I believe comes from an Arabic root meaning "to share".

But what, exactly, is shirk?  I have heard it applied to everything from idolatry to polytheism to atheism to paganism (whatever that is) to greed (worshipping wealth) and a whole lot more.  It seems like shirk is treated as a catch-all for just about any wrong belief.  It also seems to me that that can't be right.  Surely Allah must have had something very specific in mind for so grievous a sin that it could never be forgiven.

I'd like to hear what Muslims think the phrase "setting up partners with Allah" means.  I have my own idea, which you may have already read on another discussion, but I'll try to keep my own (non-Muslim) thoughts out of this at least to begin with.

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seekshidayath
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Quote seekshidayath Replybullet Posted: 23 April 2008 at 7:15pm

When we say La ilalaha illal la - There is no God but Allah, then all our worships {Ibadahs} shud be for Him alone. When we do believe in that there is only one God, then why is there any need to ascirbe partners to Him ? When He is our Creator, why shud we associate any other false ones.

 Anyways, shirk is to associate partners with Allah swt. It may be any form. Even if we hold any object higher than Allah swt, it is a shirk. Invoking any other besides Allah, to love anyone more than Allah, to trust any others rather than on Allah swt --- these are all shirks. Just to worship Allah alone, seek Only his help , trust Only Him are the requirements of tawheed. Definitely, if everyone tries to follow one’s own desires, there will be nothing but chaos and corruption, for each one’s desires will conflict with the desires of others. And when there will be conflict, there cannot be peace and tranquility in the world. This was the reason that Allah describes Shirk as the biggest crimes.’Verily Shirk is the biggest crime.’ (31:13) Shirk does not mean merely worshipping idols. God cannot be so narrow that He would feel offended by merely prostrating before inanimate objects like pieces of stone and bronze. God is much more above these petty considerations. In fact, He is against the mean mentality that works behind worshipping these inanimate objects.

 
Can u just share with us your idea again. I did not read it.


Edited by seekshidayath - 23 April 2008 at 7:29pm
Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: “All the descendants of Adam are sinners, and the best of sinners are those who repent."
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Ron Webb
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Quote Ron Webb Replybullet Posted: 23 April 2008 at 7:46pm
Originally posted by seekshidayath

Can u just share with us your idea again. I did not read it.
Thank you for your reply.  I have sent you a private message with the link to my message in another discussion that touched on this subject.  However, for right now I would like to keep my own thoughts out of this discussion.  I am more interested to hear what Muslims think.
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honeto
 
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Quote honeto Replybullet Posted: 24 April 2008 at 12:50pm
Hi, I think, Seekshidayath's description of what shirk is speaks for most of us.
In short, shirk is to deny God's Oness by serving and worshipping others as god(s) or lords.
Hasan 
39:64 Proclaim: Is it some one other than God that you order me to worship, O you ignorant ones?"
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Ron Webb
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Quote Ron Webb Replybullet Posted: 24 April 2008 at 4:37pm
Originally posted by seekshidayath

Anyways, shirk is to associate partners with Allah swt. It may be any form. Even if we hold any object higher than Allah swt, it is a shirk. Invoking any other besides Allah, to love anyone more than Allah, to trust any others rather than on Allah swt --- these are all shirks.
 
I'm not sure what any of this has to do with "associating partners".  Just because I love money more than Allah does not mean I think of money as a partner to Allah.  On the contrary, if I choose money over Allah, then money is a competitor, not a partner, isn't it?  It is wrong, of course, but I don't see why it is shirk.
 
Originally posted by honeto

Hi, I think, Seekshidayath's description of what shirk is speaks for most of us.
In short, shirk is to deny God's Oness by serving and worshipping others as god(s) or lords.
Hasan 
 
So if I am a Hindu, am I committing shirk by worshipping the Hindu pantheon of gods?  But Hindus don't even believe in Allah.  How can they be said to be associating partners with a being they don't even think exists?


Edited by Ron Webb - 24 April 2008 at 4:38pm
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abuzaid
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Quote abuzaid Replybullet Posted: 25 April 2008 at 11:10am
Greed by itself has never been considered shirk in Islam. But, if love of money increases to such an extent that the person becomes extremely careless about all the orders of Allah SW, then he/she actually is keeping his desire in the place of Allah. Thus constituting shirk.
 
Read this hadith.
Abu Hurayra (Radhiallaahu Anhu) narrates that Rasulullah (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam) said, ‘May the slave of Dinar (gold coin) and the slave of Dirham (silver coin) be cursed.
The Arabic word used here for slave is Abd, which also means worshipper.
However, keep in mind that shirk can also be used in general term.
There is something called Major shirk and minor shirk.
 
It is only Major shirk that throws a person out of fold of Islam.
If a person perform prayer to show off, this is minor shirk because he is praying for people instead of Allah.
 
But, if a person pray to anybody beside Allah SW, he is making major shirk that throws him out of fold of Islam.
 
As per hindu, what made you to think that they Don't believe in Allah? Agreed that they worship many dieties but they do believe in a Lord who is creator of Heaven and earth. He is called Eshwar or parmatama in hinduism.
However if a person does not believe in a Lord who is creator of heaven and earth, he/she will find something, an object or an ideology around which his/her life shall revolve. thus making it his/her god.
45:23 Then seest thou such a one as takes as his god his own vain desire?
Read this..
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Quote abuzaid Replybullet Posted: 25 April 2008 at 11:35am
Originally posted by Ron Webb

 
I'm not sure what any of this has to do with "associating partners".  Just because I love money more than Allah does not mean I think of money as a partner to Allah.  On the contrary, if I choose money over Allah, then money is a competitor, not a partner, isn't it?  It is wrong, of course, but I don't see why it is shirk.
Well, our belief about Allah is that, He is Lord and Master of heaven and earth. He has knowledge and power of each and verything that exists.
Second aspect of believing Allah is that, He alone deseve our worship, which also includes supplication, prayer, extent of love and attachment which constitutes worship, fasting etc
Have a look at dictionary meaning of Ilah (god)
Dictionary Meanings
The root of this word consists of the three letters, alif, lam, and ha and the connotations of various derivations, as one finds in lexicons are as follows:
bullet Became confused or perplexed.
bullet Achieved peace and mental calm by seeking refuge with someone or establishing relations with him.
bullet Became frightened of some impending mishap or disaster, and someone gave him the necessary shelter.
bullet Turned to another eagerly, due to the intensity of his feelings for him.
bullet The lost offspring of the she-camel rushed to snuggle up to its mother on finding it. Became hidden, or concealed. Also, got elevated.
bullet Adored, offered worship to.
 
If we reflect upon these original meanings, we can gain the necessary idea of how the verb came to mean the act of worship and the noun to denote the object of worship. There are four considerations to bear in mind in this connection:
  1. Foremost among the factors which engender a sentiment of some degree of adoration for some one is a person's own state of being in distress or need. He cannot even conceive of worshiping someone unless he has reason to believe that someone to be in a position to remove his distress, to fulfil his needs, to give him shelter and protect him in time of danger, and soothe his troubled heart.
  2. It goes without saying that the above belief is accompanied by a belief also in the superiority of the other in status, power, and strength.
  3. It is also a matter of fact that where any of the needs of a human being are met under the ordinary process of give and take, which takes place perceptibly before one's own eyes, it leads to no sense of reverence, much less of adoration, for the other. For example, if I should be in need of money and, having applied for, and been given a job, am paid for it, since the whole transaction would take place within the full ken of my senses, and I would be fully aware of the circumstances or the reason for giving me the money, I would experience not the slightest desire to offer my employer any adoration. That sentiment arises only when there is some element of mystery surrounding the personality, the power, or the ability of the other to fulfil peoples' needs or to influence events. That is why the word chosen to denote an object of worship includes in its meanings the senses of mystery, perplexity, and superiority in status, etc.
  4. Lastly, it is only natural that if one believes another to be in a position to fulfill one's needs, to provide shelter and protection, to soothe a disturbed heart and fill it with peace and calm, one turns eagerly to that person as a matter of course.
 
The above passage for the dictionary meaning of Ilah (godship) is taken from
here
 
 
Now, my point is that it is not possible for a person to believe that somebody else other than Allah is god(ilah) in all respect. People can take other gods only partially not in full. That is the reason "associating partner"  is used instead of "associating competitior".
 
Now, look at the word what bible says, just for comparision.
You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God
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Ron Webb
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Quote Ron Webb Replybullet Posted: 25 April 2008 at 8:40pm

Originally posted by abuzaid

As per hindu, what made you to think that they Don't believe in Allah? Agreed that they worship many dieties but they do believe in a Lord who is creator of Heaven and earth. He is called Eshwar or parmatama in hinduism.

I think you mean Brahma, and beyond being the Creator he bears little or no resemblance to Allah.  Frankly, I think it's absurd to equate the two.  Brahma is only the creative aspect of the Hindu trinity, along with Vishnu (the Preserver) and Shiva (the Destroyer).  You might be closer to compare Allah with Brahman, which encompasses all three aspects and represents the whole Universe; or Atman, the spirit form of Brahman which exists within all of us.

But I think if you suggested to a Hindu that any of these is Allah, they would just laugh.  The god described in the Quran is nothing like any of them.

Now, my point is that it is not possible for a person to believe that somebody else other than Allah is god(ilah) in all respect.

If that is your point, then I don't think we can discuss it further.  I'm sure you would be offended if a Hindu were to tell you that it is not possible for you to believe what you believe.

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