Chapter 3: The Fear of Falling into Shirk (Idolatry, Polytheism and Paganism): Ahmad an-Najmi’s explanation of Kitāb At-Tawheed

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“Ash-Sharh al-Moojaz al-Mumahhad li Tawheed al-Khaaliq al-Mumajjad alladhi allafahu Shaikhul-Islaam Muhammad” (The Concise, Simple and Straight-forward Explanation of the Tawheed of the Exalted Creator – which was Authored by the Shaikhul-Islaam Muhammad b. Abdul-Wahhaab)This is an explanation of Kitaab at-Tawheed of Shaikhul-Islaam Muhammad b. Abdul-Wahhaab (d. 1206H, rahimahullaah) by ash-Shaikh al-Allaamah Ahmad b. Yahyaa an-Najmee (rahimahullaah).

So Shaikhul-Islaam Muhammad b. Abdul-Wahhaab (rahimahullaah) said:

Chapter 3: Fear of Falling into Shirk

The saying of Allaah, the Mighty and Majestic:

إِنَّ اللَّهَ لَا يَغْفِرُ أَن يُشْرَكَ بِهِ وَيَغْفِرُ مَا دُونَ ذَٰلِكَ لِمَن يَشَاءُ ۚوَمَن يُشْرِكْ بِاللَّهِ فَقَدْ ضَلَّ ضَلَالًا بَعِيدًا

“Indeed, Allah does not forgive that partners are associated with Him in worship, but He forgives what is less than that for whom He wills.” [an-Nisaa: 48,116]

And al-Khaleel [Ibraaheem], alaihi salaam, said:

وَاجْنُبْنِي وَبَنِيَّ أَن نَّعْبُدَ الْأَصْنَامَ

“And keep me and my sons away from worshipping idols.” [Ibraaheem: 35]

And in a hadeeth:

“That which I fear for you the most is the Minor Shirk.” He was asked concerning it, so he replied: “It is ar-Riyaa’ (to perform acts of worship so as to be seen and praised).”

[Reported by Imaam Ahmad in “al-Musnad” (no. 27742), and there occurs in it the wording: Abdullaah said: I found this hadeeth in a book of my father in his handwriting: Is-haaq b. ‘Eesaa narrated to us that, ‘Abdur-Rahmaan b. Abee Zinaad narrated to us from ‘Amr b. Abee ‘Amr, from ‘Aasim b. Abee ‘Amr b. Qataadah, from Mahmood b. Labeed, who said: Allaah’s Messenger (salallaahu ‘alaihi wassallam) said: “That which I fear for you the most is the Minor Shirk.” They asked: “O Allaah’s Messenger! What is Minor Shirk?” He replied: “It is ar-Riyaa’. Allaah will say on the Day when He will recompense the servants in accordance to their deeds: Go to the ones for who whom you showed-off these deeds, desiring to be seen by them in the world. Look and see, do you find with them a reward?”

Shaikh al-Albaanee in “Saheeh al-Jaami'” (1/323, no. 1555), refer to “Silsilatus-Saheehah” (no. 951), “Saheeh at-Targheeb” (29), Ibn Hajr declared it hasan in “Bulooghul-Maraam”; It is reported by at-Tabaraanee in “al-Mu’jam al-Kabeer” (4/253, no. 4301)]

Narrated Ibn Mas’ood (radiyallaahu ‘anhu) that Allaah’s Messenger (salallaahu ‘alahi wassallam) said:

“Whoever dies whilst calling upon other than Allaah as a rival will enter the Fire.” Reported by al-Bukhaaree.

[Al-Bukhaaree in the Book: Commentary of the Qur’aan, Chapter: The Saying of Allaah, the Most High: ‘And from the people there are those who take other than Allaah as rivals.’ Also in the Book of Imaan and Vows, Chapter: If one says: ‘By Allaah, I will not speak today,’ yet he prays, or recites, or says SubhaanAllaah, or Allaahu Akbar, or Al-Hamdulillaah, or Laa ilaaha illallaah, he still remain upon his intent.’]

Muslim reports from Jaabir (radiyallaahu ‘anhu) that Allaah’s Messenger (salallaahu alaihi wassallam) said:

“Whoever meets Allaah whilst not having associated any partner with Him in worship will enter Jannah. And whoever meets Him having associated something with Him in worship will enter the Fire.”

[Muslim, Book of Imaan.]

Important Issues In This Chapter:

1. Fear from falling into Shirk.

2. Ar-Riyaa’ (performing acts of worship to show-off) is from Shirk.

3. Ar-Riyaa’ is considered as Minor Shirk.

4. Ar-Riyaa’ is most feared affair for the people of righteousness.

5. The nearness of Paradise and Hellfire.

6. The nearness of Paradise and Hell combined in a single hadeeth.

7. That the one who meets Allaah whilst not having associated partners with Him, will enter Paradise; and the one who meets Him whilst having associated partners with Him, will enter the Fire, even if he was from the most ardent of worshippers.

8. A tremendous affair: The supplication of al-Khaleel (Ibraaheem) for himself and his children that they be protected from worshipping idols.

9. Ibraaheem (‘alaihi salaam) making consideration of the situation in which most people live (i.e. committing Shirk), due to his saying: 

رَبِّ إِنَّهُنَّ أَضْلَلْنَ كَثِيرًا مِّنَ النَّاسِ ۖ

“My Lord, indeed they have led astray many among the people.” [Ibraaheem: 36]

10. In this is the tafseer of the words, “Laa ilaaha illallaah” (There is none who has the right to be worshipped except Allaah), just as al-Bukhaaree has stated.

11. The excellence of the one who is saved from Shirk.

The Explanation of the Chapter:

Ash-Shaikh al-Allaamah Ahmad b. Yahyaa an-Najmee (rahimahullaah) said:

The purpose of the title of the Chapter: is that Shirk is an affair that is not forgiven – and we seek refuge with Allaah from Shirk. And the reality of Shirk is: that you make a rival unto Allaah, that you believe this rival can bring about benefit, or prevent harm, and this is the Major Shirk (Major Polytheism) which Allaah will not forgive. For this reason one fears from falling into Shirk, and is cautious from what it leads to of disastrous, wicked punishments.

So with respect to Major Shirk (ash-Shirk al-Akbar), then their is no differing [amongst the scholars] in the fact that Allaah will not forgive the one who is guilty of it, and he will not remove him from the Fire. However their is a difference of opinion regarding the one who falls into Minor Shirk (ash-Shirk al-Asghar), such: swearing by other than Allaah, or ar-Riyaa, which is to do an act of worship seeking the praise of the people. Does such a person fall under the intent of this verse: “Indeed, Allah does not forgive that partners are associated with Him in worship”? And if one does fall under the intent of this verse, then the ruling upon him is the ruling of a major sin, i.e. that such a person is punished, then removed from the Fire and entered into Paradise. However, Minor Shirk does differ from Major Sin in that it is not forgiven, rather the one who is guilty of it is punished with Hell [and then removed from it]. And this is the view of a group from the Scholars.

Other scholars have said: The ruling on Minor Shirk is exactly the same as the ruling on the Major Sins (i.e. that such a person is under the will of Allaah; He may punish him if He wills, or pardon him if He wills).

Perhaps the hadeeth of Jaabir (radiyallaahu ‘anhu) supports the first opinion, that being that Minor Shirk is not forgiven – and that Allaah will punish the one who is guilty of it, then remove him from the Fire, and enter him into Paradise, due to what is clear in the saying of the Prophet (salallaahu ‘alaihi wassallam):

“Whoever meets Him whilst committing Shirk with Him, will enter the Hellfire.”

The saying of Allaah, the Most High, wherein Ibraaheem (‘alaihi salaam) said:

وَاجْنُبْنِي وَبَنِيَّ أَن نَّعْبُدَ الْأَصْنَامَ

“And keep me and my sons away from worshipping idols.”

If it was the case with al-Khaleel Ibraaheem (‘alaihi salaam), the one who smashed the idols, and he was thrown into a fire due to that – and yet even he feared for himself, and he feared for his children the worship of idols, such that he supplicated to Allaah to keep him away from that – then, there is no doubt that others should fear that even more so!

There occurs in a hadeeth that the Messenger (salallaahu ‘alaihi wassallam) said:

“What I fear for you the most is the Minor Shirk.” So he was asked regarding what that was, so he (salallaahu ‘alaihi wassallam) replied: “Ar-Riyaa’.”

I say: Ar-Riyaa’ is dangerous. Only a few from the worshippers are safe from it – and especially so from unintentional acts [of showing-off] – and bearing in mind that ar-Riyaa’ falls into two categories:

The First: Ar-Riyaa’ (i.e. desiring to be seen in an act of worship) that is counted as Major Shirk, and that is when Riyaa’ is the motivation behind the actions. That is like the Riyaa’ of the hypocrites (al-Munaafiqeen). Allaah, the Most High, has stated:

إِنَّ الْمُنَافِقِينَ يُخَادِعُونَ اللَّهَ وَهُوَ خَادِعُهُمْ وَإِذَا قَامُوا إِلَى الصَّلَاةِ قَامُوا كُسَالَىٰ يُرَاءُونَ النَّاسَ وَلَا يَذْكُرُونَ اللَّهَ إِلَّا قَلِيلًا

“Indeed, the hypocrites [think to] deceive Allah, but He is deceiving them. And when they stand for prayer, they stand lazily, [for the purpose of] showing-off the people and not remembering Allah except a little.” [an-Nisaa: 142]

So when being seen by others is the sole motivation of ones deeds, so that the one being seen does not act except to be seen by others (i.e. only due to ar-Riyaa’), then this is Major Shirk that necessitates eternity in the Hellfire. This is like the person who prays when he is with the Muslims, yet he does not pray when he is alone or in a situation or location where no one is able to see him. So him being seen is sole motivation behind his actions. And, as I have stated, this is Major Shirk.

The Second: However if the motivation behind the action is Imaan (Faith in Allaah), and during the course of preforming the act of worship he changes his intention, making it now for another person, so that he loves to be mentioned, i.e. that he loves to be praised by people, [then this is Minor Shirk]. This is like a person who stands to pray, and if he notices a person watching him, he beautifies his prayer further. So this beautification of the prayer is considered to be temporary Riyaa’ so as to be seen by others in worship. And this Riyaa’ is in accordance to particular situations: so it is sometimes such that a person persists in it and thus his act of worship in nullified; and sometimes it maybe such that a person seeks refuge with Allaah from the Shaytaan, thus purifying his intention once again, so his action, therefore, contains defect in accordance to what it contains of Riyaa’, and refuge is sought with Allaah.

Also from Minor Shirk: there is Shirkul-Isnaad, the Shirk of attribution or entrustment. This is like the saying of a person: “Were it not for the dog, the robbers would have taken us,” or, “were it not for so-and-so, such-and-such would have taken place.” And likewise the saying of the people: “The appearance of this star has brought a copious amount of rain,” and that is meant to be something generous, because much rain is brought with it, and other such statements.

So this is Minor Shirk that does not exit one from Islaam, and it does not cause the one guilty of it to enter into [Major] Kufr (Unbelief). The question, however is: Is he eligible for forgiveness or not? This is the point of investigation as mentioned earlier. Amongst the scholars there are two schools, as I have explained.

It was narrated from Ibn Mas’ood (radiyallaahu ‘anhu) that Allaah’s Messenger (salallaahu ‘alaihi) said:

“Whoever dies whilst he calls upon other than Allaah as a rival will enter the Fire.”

Meaning, that he calls upon the creation, making it a rival unto Allaah: To seek forgiveness of sins, relief from grief and affliction, or to attain something desired – so what is called upon is made as an equal to Allaah. And for this reason the one guilty of this is cast into the Fire forever – and the one who associates partners with Allaah in worship, the Mushrik Polytheist, then all of his good deeds are nullified.  So his good and righteous deeds are not accepted and his sins are not forgiven.

Allaah, the Most High, said:

وَلَقَدْ أُوحِيَ إِلَيْكَ وَإِلَى الَّذِينَ مِن قَبْلِكَ لَئِنْ أَشْرَكْتَ لَيَحْبَطَنَّ عَمَلُكَ وَلَتَكُونَنَّ مِنَ الْخَاسِرِينَ

“And it was already revealed to you and to those before you that if you should associate [anything] with Allah, your work would surely become worthless, and you would surely be among the losers.” [az-Zumar: 65]

And Allaah, the Most High, stated regarding the Prophets (‘alahimus-Salaam) that he mentioned in Sooratul-An’aam of the Qur’aan:

ذَٰلِكَ هُدَى اللَّهِ يَهْدِي بِهِ مَن يَشَاءُ مِنْ عِبَادِهِ ۚ وَلَوْ أَشْرَكُوا لَحَبِطَ عَنْهُم مَّا كَانُوا يَعْمَلُونَ

“That is the guidance of Allah by which He guides whomever He wills of His servants. But if they had associated others with Allah, then worthless for them would be whatever they were doing.” [al-An’aam: 88]

There occurs in the hadeeth of Jaabir (radiyallaahi ‘anhu) collected by Muslim wherein the Prophet (salallaahu ‘alaihi wassallam) said:

“Whoever meets Allaah whilst associating none in worship with him will enter Paradise, and whoever meets Allaah whilst associating with him partners in worship will enter the Fire.”

The two affairs mentioned here are: That whoever dies whilst not associating any partners with Allaah in worship enters Paradise, regardless of whether it is preceded by punishment or not preceded by punishment – then his final abode is Paradise. As for the one who meets Allaah whilst associating partners with Him; then the Fire is obligatory for him, and eternity in the Fire is written for him – and Paradise is forbidden for him if he was guilty of Major Shirk.

As for Minor Shirk, then speech concerning it has already preceded – and the evidence for Major Shirk is the statement of Allaah concerning ‘Eesaa b. Maryam (‘alaihi salaam):

وَقَالَ الْمَسِيحُ يَا بَنِي إِسْرَائِيلَ اعْبُدُوا اللَّهَ رَبِّي وَرَبَّكُمْ ۖ إِنَّهُ مَن يُشْرِكْ بِاللَّهِ فَقَدْ حَرَّمَ اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ الْجَنَّةَ وَمَأْوَاهُ النَّارُ ۖ وَمَا لِلظَّالِمِينَ مِنْ أَنصَارٍ

The Messiah has said, “O Children of Israel, worship Allah, my Lord and your Lord.” Indeed, he who associates others with Allah – Allah has forbidden him Paradise, and his refuge is the Fire. And there are not for the wrongdoers any helpers. [al-Maa’idah: 72]

– End of the Chapter –