What are kufr and shirk?
Not believing in any one of the important articles of faith is Kufr. For example, one who does not believe in Allâh or His qualities; one who believes in two or three gods; denies the existence of angels; denies any one of Allâh’s Books; does not believe in any prophet, in Fate, in the Day of Judgment; denies any of Allâh’s absolute orders and treats any information given by the Holy Prophet (صلی اللہ علیہ وسلم) as false: such a person will be kaafir.
Shirk is to make somebody share in Allâh’s qualities or in His person.
What is the sharing of Allâh’s qualities in person?
Associating someone else in Allâh’s Person is to believe in two or more gods. The Christians are mushrik as they believe in three gods. Fire worshippers are mushrik as they believe in two gods. Hindus, by believing in many gods, become mushrik.
What is sharing in qualities?
It is to attribute Allâh’s qualities to someone else. This is shirk because Allâh’s qualities are unequalled by any of His creatures- be they angels, prophets, awliyaa, martyrs, imaam, or any other devoted persons. Their qualities cannot match the qualities of Allâh.
In what ways can the Divine qualities be shared?
Many. Here we shall mention some of them:
(1) Shirk fil-Qudrat. To attribute Allâh’s quality of Power to anybody else. For example, to believe that a certain prophet or wali or martyr can bring about rains or cause the birth of babies or fulfil desires or give food or kill or bring anything into life or bring benefit or damage. All these things are shirk.
(2) Shirk fil-‘Ilm. To attribute Allâh’s power of Knowledge to others. For example, to say that a prophet or a pious man has the knowledge of the unseen, or knows about everything, of is aware of all of our affairs, or can tell what is happening far and near. All this is Shirk fil-‘Ilm.
(3) Shirk fis-Sam’a wal-Basar. To attribute Allâh’s power of Seeing and Hearing to others. For example, to believe that a certain prophet or a pious person could hear things far and near, or could see all of our own acts.
(4) Shirk fil-Hukm. To accept any other person as superior and obey him like Allâh. For example, if a pious person has told one to say certain prayers before ‘Asr and one takes it as necessary and does that and even delays the ‘Asr prayer and performs it at the makrooh time, it will be shirk.
(5) Shirk fil-‘Ibaadah is to accept any other person as worthy of worship like Allâh. For example, to do sajdah (prostration) or rukuu’ (bow) before a grave or a pious person, or doing rukuu’ likewise, or to keep fast, in the name of a prophet, wali or imaam, or to give nadhr (oath or vow) or to promise an offering like that, etc., or to go around a house or grave like one goes around the Ka’bah (tawaaf): all these are Shirk fil-‘Ibaadah.
Are there any more acts of Shirk?
Yes, there are many acts of shirk which must be avoided. Some of these are: to ask about heavenly secrets from astrologers; to show hands to a palmist to know about the future; to ask others for faal (which is another way of trying to know the future from omens); to treat diseases like smallpox, etc. as contagious and infectious which can be contracted without Allâh’s permission; to make Ta’aziyas (floats or models of tombs) and ‘Alams (banners); to offer as sacrifice sweets, flowers, etc. on graves; to swear in the name of someone other than Allâh; to put pictures and pay respects to them; to call any pious person one’s rescuer or savior; to grow hair in the name of a wali; or to turn faqeer (beggars) in Muharram in the name of an imaam.