An Article by Ahle-Sunnah Alim on Shirk
Today, some people, who obviously have no fear of Allah, accuse the simple Muslim of Shirk. This is in spite of the fact that Islam and Shirk are 2 opposing and mutually exclusive phenomenon - Islam came to seek out the roots of Shirk! Further, just as committing Shirk is a major crime, falsely accusing a Muslim of Shirk is also a severe crime.
The Prophet said "Verily, I fear about a man from you who will read the Qur'an so much that his face will become enlightened and he will come to personify Islam. This will continue until Allah desires. Then these things will be taken away from him when he will disregard them by putting them all behind him and will attack his neighbour with the sword accusing him of Shirk. The Prophet was asked - which of the two was commuting Shirk - the attacker or the attacked. The prophet replied - the attacker (the one accusing the other of Shirk).
The classification of this Hadith is Jayyid. (Tafseer ibn Kathir; Vol. 2 p265, Amjid Academy, Lahore Pakistan)
With the grace of Allah, the aforementioned hadith proves that accusing the Ahl-e-Sunnah wal Jamaat of Shirk over every little matter is baseless. In the light of this hadith the judgement issued against us, rather than fitting us, returns back to the accusers and rests with them.
What is Shirk?
It seems appropriate to define Shirk in the light of the Qur'an and Sunnah. There are 3 types of Shirk - Shirk in Worship, Shirk in Personality and Shirk in Attributes.
Shirk in Worship - accepting anyone/ thing other than Allah, as being worthy of worship.
Shirk in Personality - considering any other being equivalent to Allah.
Shirk in Attributes - considering another's attributes similar to the attributes of Allah.
In prohibiting Shirk in worship Allah warns:
"So whoever hopes for the meeting with his Lord, let him work righteousness and associate none as a partner in the worship of his Lord"
Qur'an, Surah Al-Kahf, verse 110
"And your Lord has decreed that you worship none but Him"
Qur'an, Surah Bani Israel, verse 23
In negating Shirk in personally and attributes Allah states:
< to comparable or co-equal none is there>
Qur'an, Surah Al-lkhlaas, verse 4
When Allah will throw the mushrikeen and their deities (idols) into hell, the mushrikeen will cry out to their idols
"By Allah we were truly in a manifest error, When we held you (idols) as equals with the lord of all the worlds"
Qur'an, Surah As-Shu'raa, verse 97 & 98
These verse clearly show that Shirk in Worship, Shirk in personality and Shirk in Attributes are grave crimes. Allah states that Shirk is a major travesty.
"Verily Shirk is a great wrong"
Qur'an, Surah Luqman, verse 3
By Allah! We (Ahle Sunnah) do not commit Shirk in either the worship of Allah nor in His personality and nor in His Attributes.
What is Worship?
It seems necessary to allay any suspicions and confusions by establishing 3 definition of Worship.
Imam Baghwi defines worship as - submitting with humility and humbleness.
Mualim-ut- Tanzeel p.22 vol 1
Allama Alousi writes - `The highest rank of humility is worship'
Ruh-ul-Ma'ani vol 1 p86
Qazi Baidaawi writes - "Worship is the end limit of humility and humbleness."
Baidaawt vol 1 p9
Abu Hayyaan Andlousi writes- "Humbleness is lbadah"
Al Bahr ul Muheet vol 1 p23
Numerous other Mufassireen have provided a similar definition that lbadah is to express the utmost humility in front of someone."
However the heart does not find contentment from such a definition for the following reasons.
1. The companions expressed the utmost humility before the Prophet. It is difficult to envisage any greater humility or humbleness This relationship between the companions and the Prophet can be understood through the following famous incident (which is presented in the words of a Wahabi Scholar Safee-ur-Rehman Mubaarakpuri).
"After this Urwa came to ascertain the relationship of the Prophet and his Companions. After returning to his colleagues he said "Oh people, I have both been seen the Caesars of Rome and kings such as Negus, (but) I have not seen the Romans show the amount of respect to any of their emperors which the companions of Muhammad show to Muhammad. By God, whenever he would wash (the water) would land into one of their hands and they would rub it over their faces and bodies and whenever he would command anything they would all run to fulfil it. When he spoke they kept their voices muted and through respect they refrain from looking directly at him.
Ar Raheeq-ul-Makhtoom p.s40, Maktaba Salafia Lahore
2. Standing with folded arms in the prayer constitutes ibaadah and so too does standing after Ruku with open arms. However, similar expressions of humility before the Prophet were deemed respect and not worship. Clearly rubbing saliva on the face is a greater expression of humility than simply standing with folded arms.
3. Qiyaam (standing) in prayer is ibaadah, so too is ruku, sajdah and sitting upon two thighs. All of these actions are expressions of humility, but when compared to sajdah, they are lesser expressions of humility. Thus if worship was only the utmost degree of humility, then qiyaam, ruku and sitting would not be considered ibaadah for they are not the ultimate levels of humility.
4. The mushrikeen of Makkah in explaining their rationale for worshipping idols pleaded:
"We worship them only that they may bring us close near to Allah"
Qur'an, Surah Az-Zumar, verse 3
This verse reveals that although the mushrikeen showed humility before idols, it was not the utmost level of humility. This, they reserved for Allah.
Thus, explaining ibaadah as only the ultimate level of humility leads to difficulty. We must conclude in the light of the above that worship is not simply humility and submission. Rather, worship is to display humility and respect for an entity whilst believing it to be absolute and self existent"
If humility is displayed for someone, if respect is shown for someone whilst considering him not absolute and self-existent - but rather as creation and non-absolute - then this humility is reverence and not worship.
To clarify this further, a number of examples are presented:
In prayer, we stand with our arms folded in decorum. Whilst recognising Allah as absolute and self-existent our standing with folded arms is regarded as worship.
However, when we stand with arms folded in respect before our father, teacher or master, recognising them as creation and dependant, this action is considered not worship but respect.
After performing the ruku in prayer, we stand with open arms in decorum, regarding Allah as absolute and self existent such as stance in prayer is deemed as worship. However, for example, during the national anthem, people also stand with arms at their side, but this action is not seen as worship but is considered respect.
The Angels prostrate before Allah considering Him absolute and self-existent and such a prostration is rightly recognised as worship. However, these same angels prostrated before Hazrat Adam, but not whilst considering him as a deity but as a creation and the beloved of Allah. Instead of him being absolute and self-existent, they recognised him as a dependent. Thus this prostration of theirs was a sign of respect and not worship.
Thus worship is not simply humility and submission or the utmost level of humility but it is the respecting and submitting to an entity considered as absolute and self-existent.
Note: In Islamic Shariah, a prostration of respect is not permitted.
Taken from Abqaat p154, Idara Hifz-e-Muaarif-e-Islami, Shah Alam Market Lahore