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The opposite of Tawheed is Shirk which means in Islamic terminology – the act of associating a partner with Allah.

There are three types of Shirk.

Shirk [Polytheism] and its categories

[Ash-Shirk Al-Akbar (Major Polytheism)]

Major polytheism is to devote any form of worship to anyone other than Allah. Allah will never forgive it, nor will He accept with it any good deeds as Allah the Almighty said in [Qur'an – 4:116]: ''Verily, Allah forgives not (the sin of) setting up partners (in worship) with Him, but He forgives whom He wills sins other than that. And whoever sets up partners in worship with Allah, has indeed strayed far away.''

The Almighty also said in [Qur'an – 5:72]: ''And the Messiah (Jesus) said: 'O Children of Israel! Worship Allah, my Lord and your Lord.' Verily, whosoever sets up partners (in worship) with Allah, then Allah has forbidden Paradise to him and the Fire will be his abode. And for the Zalimun (wrongdoers and polytheists) there are no helpers.''

He, the Almighty, further said in [Qur'an – 25:23]: ''And We shall turn to whatever deed they (disbelievers, polytheists, sinners etc) did, and We shall make such deeds as scattered floating particles of dust.''

The Almighty further said in [Qur'an – 39:65]: ''If you join others in worship with Allah, (then) surely, (all) your deeds will be in vain, and you will certainly be among the losers.''
He, the Almighty, also said in [Qur'an – 6:88]:''And if they had joined in worship others with Allah, all that they used to do would have been of no benefit to them.''
Shirk [Polytheism] and its categories

[The major polytheism (Shirk Al-Akbar) has four sub categories]

  • Polytheism in invocation (i.e. supplicating to other than Allah), as He the Almighty said in [Qur'an – 29:65]: ''And when they embark on a ship, they invoke Allah, making their Faith pure for Him only; but when He brings them safely to land, behold, they give a share of their worship to others.''

  • Polytheism in intention, will and purpose, as it states in [Qur'an – 11:15, 16]:''Whosoever desires the life of the world and its glitter, to them We shall pay in full (the wages of) their deeds therein and they will have no diminution therein. They are those for whom there is nothing in the Hereafter but the Fire, and vain are the deeds they did therein. And of no effect is that which they used to do.''

  • Polytheism in obedience (i.e. showing readiness to comply with the orders of others in disobedience to Allah): Evidence is Allah's Statement in [Qur'an – 9:31]: ''They (Jews and Christians) took their rabbis and their monks to be their lords besides Allah, (by obeying them in things that 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 Mary, while they (Jews and Christians) were commanded (in the Torah and the Gospel) to worship none but One Ilah (God – Allah), none has the right to be worshipped but He. Glorified is He (far above is He) from having the partners they associate.''Its interpretation undoubtedly refers to the obedience of religious scholars (Ulama) and other people of knowledge in disobedience to Allah, and not supplicating to them. As the Prophet (Sall Allahu Alayhi Wasalam) explained to Adi Ibn Hatim (R.A) that worship here meant obedience to them in their sinful acts.

  • Polytheism in love (i.e. showing love to others which is due to Allah alone), as Allah said in [Qur'an – 2:165]: ''And of mankind are some who take (for worship) others besides Allah as rivals (to Allah); they love them as they love Allah.''

[Ash-Shirk Al-Asghar (minor polytheism)]

Shirk [Polytheism] and its categories
The minor polytheism is Riya' (showing off), as Allah says in [Qur'an – 18:110]: ''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.''

[Ash-Shirk Al-Khafi (invisible polytheism)]

The invisible polytheism was explained by the Prophet (Sall Allahu Alayhi Wasalam): ''The invisible polytheism in this Ummah is more hidden than the track of a black ant on a black stone in a dark night.''

Its expiation according to the Prophet's saying is: ''O Allah! Verily I seek refuge with You against ascribing partners to You knowingly; and I beg Your forgiveness for the sin which I do not know.''

May Allah the Almighty protect us all from associating partners with Him.

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