The study of Tawheed cannot be considered complete without a careful analysis of its opposite, Shirk. Some mention of Shirk has already been made in the Tawheed page and examples of it have been given to illustrate how Tawheed may be obliterated. However, in this Page Shirk will be looked at as a separate topic whose grave importance Allaah has attested to in the Qur'aan,
Shirk in Ruboobeeyah
"Surely Allaah will not forgive the association of partners (Shirk) with Him, but He forgives (sins) less than that of whomever He wishes."1
Because the sin of Shirk denies the very purpose of man's creation, it is to God the gravest of sins; the unforgivable sin.
Shirk literally means partnership, sharing or associating,2 but Islamically it refers to the act of assigning partners to Allaah in whatever form it may take. The following analysis of Shirk is according to the three broad categories developed in the study of Tawheed. Hence, we will first look at the main ways in which Shirk can occur in the area of Ruboobeeyah (Lordship), then Asmaa was-Sifaat (Divine ****s and Attributes) and finally in 'Ebaadah (Worship).
(A) Shirk by Association
This category of Shirk refers to either the belief that others share Allaah's Lordship over creation as His equal or near equal, or to the belief that there exists no Lord over creation at all. Most religious systems fall into the first aspect of Shirk in Ruboobeeyah while it is the philosophers and their man-made philosophies who tend to fill the second aspect.
Beliefs which fall under this sub-category are ones in which a main God or Supreme Being over creation is recognized, however His dominion is shared by other lesser gods, spirits, mortals, heavenly bodies or earthly ******s. Such belief systems are commonly referred to by theologians and philosophers as either monotheistic (having one God) or polytheistic (having more than one God). According to Islaam, all of these systems are polytheistic and many represent various degrees in the degeneration of divinely revealed religious systems all of which were originally ****d on Tawheed.
Within Hinduism, the Supreme Being Brahman is conceived as in dwelling, all-pervading, unchangeable and eternal, the abstract impersonal Absolute, in which all things have their origin and end. While the god Brahma is the personified creator of the universe who forms a trinity with the preserver god, Vishnu and the destroyer god, Shiva.3 Thus, Shirk in Ruboobeeyah is expressed in Hinduism by the delegation of God's creative, destructive and preservative powers to other gods.
Christian belief states that the one God reveals himself in the three persons of Father, Son (Jesus Christ) and Holy Spirit. These three persons are nevertheless regarded as a unity, sharing one 'substance'.4 Prophet Jesus is elevated to divinity, sits on the right hand of God and judges the world. The Holy Spirit, who in the Hebrew Bible is the means by which God exercises his creative power, in Christian thought becomes a part of the God-head. Paul made the Holy Spirit the alter ego of Christ, the guide and help of Christians, first manifesting itself on the day of Penecost.5 Consequently, Shirk in Ruboobeeyah occurs in the Christian belief that Jesus and the Holy Spirit are God's partners in all of His dominion, in their belief that Jesus alone pronounces judgement on the world and in their belief that Christians are helped and guided by the Holy Spirit.
Zoroastrians (Parsis) conceive of God, Ahura Mazda, as being the creator of all that is good, and is alone worthy of absolute worship. Fire is one of the seven creations of Ahura Mazda and is considered his son or representative. But they also commit Shirk in Ruboobeeyah by conceiving of evil, violence and death as being the creation of another god called Angra Mainyu whom they represent by the symbol darkness.6 Hence, God's sovereignty over all creation (i.e. His Ruboobeeyah) is shared with an evil spirit elevated to the level of an opposing god due to man's desire to not attribute evil to God.
In the Yoruba religion, followed by over 10 million people in West Africa (mainly Nigeria), there is one supreme God, Olorius (Lord of Heaven) or Olodumare. Nevertheless, modern Yoruba religion is characterized by a multitude of Orisha worship, so that Yoruba religion appears as strict polytheism.7 Consequently, Yorubas commit Shirk in Ruboobeeyah by turning over all of God's functions to minor gods and spirits.
The Zulus of South Africa believe in one God, Unkulunkulu, meaning the ancient, the first, the most revered one. The principal specific titles for God are; Nkosi yaphezulu (Lord-of-the-Sky) and uMvelingqanqi (the first to appear). Their Supreme Being is represented as a male, who, along with the earth female, bring forth the human world. Thunder and Lightening are in Zulu religion acts of God, whereas sickness and other troubles in life may be caused by the ancestors, the "Idlozi" or "abaphansi" (those under the earth). The ancestors also protect the living, ask for food, are pleased with ritual and sacrifice, punish neglect and take possession of fortune tellers (inyanga).8 Thus, Shirk in Ruboobeeyah takes place in the Zulu religion not only in their concept of the creation of the human world but also their attribution of good and evil in human life to the work of ancestral spirits.
Among some Muslim people, Shirk in Ruboobeeyah is manifested in their belief that the souls of saints and other righteous humans can affect the affairs of this world, even after their deaths. Their souls, it is believed, can fulfill one's needs, remove calamities and aid whoever calls on them. Therefore, grave worshippers assign to human souls the divine ability to cause events in this life which in fact only Allaah can cause.
Common among many Sufis (Muslim mystics) is the belief in "Rijaal al-Ghayb"9, chief of whom occupies the station called "Qutub" from which the affairs of this world are governed.10