Islamic Hikayatein

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What is Shirk in Islam?


Islam is a true Deen of ALLAH (S.W.T.), and thus it is important to know what is Shirk in Islam? Every Prophet from Adam (A.S.) to MUHAMMAD (S.A.W.) was sent with the message of Tawheed (Oneness of God). Every Prophet and Messenger of ALLAH (S.W.T.) came with one message i.e. to worship only one GOD without associating any other fake God, or Demigod.

In this article, we will look into the concept of Shirk i.e. What is Shirk in Islam?

We will discuss everything from scratch related to Shirk, its types, and the ways to avoid Shirk.


When we talk about ‘Shirk’, the simple meaning of it is worshipping other Gods besides the one true GOD i.e. ALLAH (S.W.T.).

However, there are other in-depth definitions and meanings for this term. To understand this term in a detailed manner, let us first look at what Qur’an says about Shirk,

إِنَّ ٱللَّهَ لَا يَغْفِرُ أَن يُشْرَكَ بِهِۦ وَيَغْفِرُ مَا دُونَ ذَٰلِكَ لِمَن يَشَآءُ ۚ وَمَن يُشْرِكْ بِٱللَّهِ فَقَدْ ضَلَّ ضَلَـٰلًۢا بَعِيدًا

Indeed, Allah does not forgive association with Him, but He forgives what is less than that for whom He wills. And he who associates others with Allah has certainly gone far astray.

Al Qur’an (Ch4, v116)

The above verse from ‘Surah Nisa’ tells us another definition of Shirk. Besides worshipping other Gods than the one true GOD (ALLAH), Shirk has other dimensions and types as well.

“Worshipping ALLAH (S.W.T.) along with the association of other Gods to Him is also considered Shirk”.

Let us understand this in a detailed manner.

The Christians also believe in the same GOD that the Jews and Muslims believe in. However, they consider Isa (A.S.) i.e. Jesus as the son of GOD (Naudhubilah). Also, Christians believe in the concept of the Trinity i.e. God, Son, and the Holy Spirit. Thus, along with the worship of one true GOD, the same attributes of GOD are associated with Jesus and the Holy Spirit.

This is also considered Shirk, and the Qur’an has cleared this misconception in various verses in it.

وَمَا يَنۢبَغِى لِلرَّحْمَـٰنِ أَن يَتَّخِذَ وَلَدًا

And it is not appropriate for the Most Merciful that He should take a son.

إِن كُلُّ مَن فِى ٱلسَّمَـٰوَٰتِ وَٱلْأَرْضِ إِلَّآ ءَاتِى ٱلرَّحْمَـٰنِ عَبْدًۭا

There is no one in the heavens and earth but that he comes to the Most Merciful as a servant

– Al Qur’an (Ch19, v92-93)

The Arabs before MUHAMMAD (S.A.W.) used to worship around 360 Gods of which the four main deities were Lat, Manat and Uzza.

The Arabs in those days used to consider Lat and Manat as the daughters of ALLAH (S.W.T).

ALLAH (S.W.T.) has rebuked the pagans of Arabs in Surah Najm (verses 19-23)

أَفَرَءَيْتُمُ ٱللَّـٰتَ وَٱلْعُزَّىٰ

So have you considered al-Lat and al-‘Uzza?

وَمَنَوٰةَ ٱلثَّالِثَةَ ٱلْأُخْرَىٰٓ

And Manat, the third – the other one?

أَلَكُمُ ٱلذَّكَرُ وَلَهُ ٱلْأُنثَىٰ

Is the male for you and for Him the female?

تِلْكَ إِذًۭا قِسْمَةٌۭ ضِيزَىٰٓ

That, then, is an unjust division.

إِنْ هِىَ إِلَّآ أَسْمَآءٌۭ سَمَّيْتُمُوهَآ أَنتُمْ وَءَابَآؤُكُم مَّآ أَنزَلَ ٱللَّهُ بِهَا مِن سُلْطَـٰنٍ ۚ إِن يَتَّبِعُونَ إِلَّا ٱلظَّنَّ وَمَا تَهْوَى ٱلْأَنفُسُ ۖ وَلَقَدْ جَآءَهُم مِّن رَّبِّهِمُ ٱلْهُدَىٰٓ

They are not but [mere] names you have named them – you and your forefathers – for which Allah has sent down no authority. They follow not except assumption and what [their] souls desire, and there has already come to them from their Lord guidance.

Al Qur’an (Ch53, v19-23)

The Christian concept of ALLAH (S.W.T.) having a son is the contradiction of the true attribute of GOD according to the previous heavenly books (Torah and Bible) as well. According to Torah and Bible, the real GOD is without any limitations and He has no partner. Thus, the Christian concept of trinity serves as the rejection of the attribute of Oneness and the powerful nature of ALLAH (S.W.T.). The same applies to the ancient Arabs who used to worship 360 idols.

Also, associating any particular attribute of the one True GOD i.e. ALLAH (S.W.T.) to any other identity is also counted as Shirk.

In the early pagan cultures like Greek and ancient Mesopotamia and Rome, people used to associate particular attributes of ALLAH (S.W.T.) with their Gods that they themselves created out of nowhere. Many ancient paganistic cultures used to worship separate GOD for separate things. Like in Ancient Greek, the Greek pagans used to worship Zeus (God of Sky), Ares (God of Battle), and so on. There were hundreds of Gods having separate attributes who were worshipped separately on separate occasions.

Even today, other pagan cultures exist that worship different Gods. The Qur’an has clearly labelled all of this as Shirk.

The Qur’an has clearly said that the great personalities people associate with ALLAH were just the simple creation of ALLAH (S.W.T.) and were ordinary persons like them.

إِنَّ ٱلَّذِينَ تَدْعُونَ مِن دُونِ ٱللَّهِ عِبَادٌ أَمْثَالُكُمْ ۖ فَٱدْعُوهُمْ فَلْيَسْتَجِيبُوا۟ لَكُمْ إِن كُنتُمْ صَـٰدِقِينَ

Indeed, those you [polytheists] call upon besides Allah are servants like you. So call upon them and let them respond to you, if you should be truthful.

– Al Qur’an (Ch7, v194)

Thus, ‘Shirk’ is a wide and in-depth concept and needs to be understood with clarity. The recognition of Shirk is very difficult and one needs to have proper clarity, understanding and knowledge about Shirk. The association of fake Gods or any of the attributes of the real GOD worthy of worship to the other identities is a major sinful act and thus must be avoided.


يَـٰٓأَيُّهَا ٱلنَّاسُ ٱذْكُرُوا۟ نِعْمَتَ ٱللَّهِ عَلَيْكُمْ ۚ هَلْ مِنْ خَـٰلِقٍ غَيْرُ ٱللَّهِ يَرْزُقُكُم مِّنَ ٱلسَّمَآءِ وَٱلْأَرْضِ ۚ لَآ إِلَـٰهَ إِلَّا هُوَ ۖ فَأَنَّىٰ تُؤْفَكُونَ

O mankind, remember the favor of Allah upon you. Is there any creator other than Allah who provides for you from the heaven and earth? There is no deity except Him, so how are you deluded?

– Al Qur’an (Ch35, v3)

قَالَ لَهُۥ صَاحِبُهُۥ وَهُوَ يُحَاوِرُهُۥٓ أَكَفَرۡتَ بِٱلَّذِي خَلَقَكَ مِن تُرَابٖ ثُمَّ مِن نُّطۡفَةٖ ثُمَّ سَوَّىٰكَ رَجُلٗا

His companion said to him while he was conversing with him, “Have you disbelieved in He who created you from dust and then from a sperm-drop and then proportioned you [as] a man?

– Al Qur’an (Ch18, v37)

ٱلَّذِى جَعَلَ لَكُمُ ٱلْأَرْضَ مَهْدًۭا وَسَلَكَ لَكُمْ فِيهَا سُبُلًۭا وَأَنزَلَ مِنَ ٱلسَّمَآءِ مَآءًۭ فَأَخْرَجْنَا بِهِۦٓ أَزْوَٰجًۭا مِّن نَّبَاتٍۢ شَتَّىٰ

[It is He] who has made for you the earth as a bed [spread out] and inserted therein for you roadways and sent down from the sky, rain and produced thereby categories of various plants.

– Al Qur’an (Ch20, v53)

أَمَّنْ خَلَقَ ٱلسَّمَـٰوَٰتِ وَٱلْأَرْضَ وَأَنزَلَ لَكُم مِّنَ ٱلسَّمَآءِ مَآءًۭ فَأَنۢبَتْنَا بِهِۦ حَدَآئِقَ ذَاتَ بَهْجَةٍۢ مَّا كَانَ لَكُمْ أَن تُنۢبِتُوا۟ شَجَرَهَآ ۗ أَءِلَـٰهٌۭ مَّعَ ٱللَّهِ ۚ بَلْ هُمْ قَوْمٌۭ يَعْدِلُونَ

[More precisely], is He [not best] who created the heavens and the earth and sent down for you rain from the sky, causing to grow thereby gardens of joyful beauty which you could not [otherwise] have grown the trees thereof? Is there a deity with Allah? [No], but they are a people who ascribe equals [to Him].

– Al Qur’an (Ch27, v60)

The verses from the Qur’an cited above clearly warn the believers to stay away from the sin of Shirk. Also, the above verses in the Qur’an address the unbelievers to quit their evil doings and stop comparing or associating false deities to ALLAH (S.W.T.).

ALLAH (S.W.T.) commands mankind in the Qur’an to use their logic and reasoning in understanding Him and His attributes. Instead of directly addressing and commanding mankind to worship Him, ALLAH (S.W.T.) gives valid proofs and reasons that make Him worthy of worship. He asks mankind to look around and observe everything created by Him.

When one observes the creation of ALLAH (S.W.T.), there is no fallacy or any kind of mistake in the creation of Heaven and Earth. Heaven and the Earth have been created in such a perfect manner that there is not even a slight imperfection in it. The Qur’an addresses the atheists and the agnostics too in the above verses and commands them to remove the veil of the doubts from which they have covered their eyes.

The perfection with which the Universe is created gives us valid proof that there is a creator above all, and the formation of the Universe is not an accidental thing. Rather, the formation of the Universe happened at the will of ALLAH (S.W.T.), and He created the angels, Jinns and Humans to worship him only. Thus, worshipping others, or associating someone with ALLAH (S.W.T.) in worship is Gunah Qabira (Major Sin).

وَمَا خَلَقْتُ ٱلْجِنَّ وَٱلْإِنسَ إِلَّا لِيَعْبُدُونِ

And I did not create the jinn and mankind except to worship Me.

– Al Qur’an (Ch51, v56)

Also, the Qur’an asks mankind to have a glimpse of themselves too. ALLAH (S.W.T.) created them from a drop of impure sperm, and mankind must be grateful to ALLAH (S.W.T.) for giving them life. Thus, mankind has no reason to deny ALLAH (S.W.T.) and associate any false or imperfect God with Him. Such comparison is obviously a wrong comparison and a dishonest comparison too.

Many verses in the Qur’an also directly serve as valid proof of Shirk as one of the major sins that ALLAH (S.W.T.) cannot forgive. Qur’an as the guidance and truth from ALLAH (S.W.T.) is solid proof for all of us. Following verse in the Qur’an talks about Shirk and its punishment;

إِنَّ ٱللَّهَ لَا يَغْفِرُ أَن يُشْرَكَ بِهِۦ وَيَغْفِرُ مَا دُونَ ذَٰلِكَ لِمَن يَشَآءُ ۚ وَمَن يُشْرِكْ بِٱللَّهِ فَقَدِ ٱفْتَرَىٰٓ إِثْمًا عَظِيمًا

Indeed, Allah does not forgive association with Him, but He forgives what is less than that for whom He wills. And he who associates others with Allah has certainly fabricated a tremendous sin.

– Al Qur’an (Ch4, v48)

Apart from this, various authentic (Sahih) Hadith give valid proof to us that Shirk is an unforgivable sin.

حَدَّثَنَا مُحَمَّدُ بْنُ عَبْدِ الأَعْلَى الصَّنْعَانِيُّ، حَدَّثَنَا خَالِدُ بْنُ الْحَارِثِ، عَنْ شُعْبَةَ، حَدَّثَنَا عُبَيْدُ اللَّهِ بْنُ أَبِي بَكْرِ بْنِ أَنَسٍ، عَنْ أَنَسٍ، عَنِ النَّبِيِّ صلى الله عليه وسلم فِي الْكَبَائِرِ قَالَ ‏ “‏ الشِّرْكُ بِاللَّهِ وَعُقُوقُ الْوَالِدَيْنِ وَقَتْلُ النَّفْسِ وَقَوْلُ الزُّورِ ‏”‏ ‏.‏ قَالَ أَبُو عِيسَى هَذَا حَدِيثٌ حَسَنٌ غَرِيبٌ صَحِيحٌ ‏.‏ وَرَوَاهُ رَوْحُ بْنُ عُبَادَةَ عَنْ شُعْبَةَوَقَالَ عَنْ عَبْدِ اللَّهِ بْنِ أَبِي بَكْرٍ وَلاَ يَصِحُّ .‏

Narrated ‘Ubaidullah bin Abi Bakr [bin Anas]: from Anas bin Malik, that the Prophet (ﷺ) [said] about the major sins: “Shirk with Allah, disobeying the parents, taking the life, and false statement.”

– Jami’ at Tirmidhi (3018)

The authentic chain of other narrators has also narrated the same Hadith making it Sahih (Authentic).

Thus, without any doubt or confusion, Shirk is a major unforgivable sin, and repentance (Tauba) is the only way ALLAH (S.W.T.) can forgive the major sin of Shirk by an individual.


Sins committed by an individual are of two types: Gunah Qabira (Major Sins) and Gunah Saghira (Minor Sins). ‘Shirk’ as already discussed is the unforgivable sin by ALLAH (S.W.T.) and thus it automatically qualifies itself in the category of ‘Gunah Qabira’.

وَحَدَّثَنَا مُحَمَّدُ بْنُ الْوَلِيدِ بْنِ عَبْدِ الْحَمِيدِ، حَدَّثَنَا مُحَمَّدُ بْنُ جَعْفَرٍ، حَدَّثَنَا شُعْبَةُ، قَالَ حَدَّثَنِي عُبَيْدُ اللَّهِ بْنُ أَبِي بَكْرٍ، قَالَ سَمِعْتُ أَنَسَ بْنَ مَالِكٍ، قَالَ ذَكَرَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم الْكَبَائِرَ – أَوْ سُئِلَ عَنِ الْكَبَائِرِ – فَقَالَ ‏”‏ الشِّرْكُ بِاللَّهِ وَقَتْلُ النَّفْسِ وَعُقُوقُ الْوَالِدَيْنِ ‏”‏ ‏.‏ وَقَالَ ‏”‏ أَلاَ أُنَبِّئُكُمْ بِأَكْبَرِ الْكَبَائِرِ ‏”‏ ‏.‏ قَالَ ‏”‏ قَوْلُ الزُّورِ ‏”‏ ‏.‏ أَوْ قَالَ ‏”‏ شَهَادَةُ الزُّورِ ‏”‏ ‏.‏ قَالَ شُعْبَةُ وَأَكْبَرُ ظَنِّي أَنَّهُ شَهَادَةُ الزُّورِ ‏.‏

Ubaidullah b. Abu Bakr said: I heard Anas b. Malik saying: The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) talked about the major sins, or he was asked about the major sins. Upon this, he observed: Associating anyone with Allah (Shirk), killing a person, and disobedience to parents. He (the Prophet further) said: Should I not inform you about the gravest of the major sins, and (in this connection) observed: False utterance or false testimony. Shu’ba said. It was most probably” false testimony”.

– Sahih Muslim (88b)

However, the question builds up, is ‘Shirk’ really an unforgivable sin?

‘Ar Rahman’ and ‘Ar Rahim’ are one of the attributes of ALLAH (S.W.T.). So, How ALLAH does not forgive the person who commits a ‘Shirk’. Does this condition apply to all people? Will ALLAH (S.W.T.) throw every individual into Hell for committing shirk even once in their lifetime?

These all questions get created automatically in our minds and most people get confused about these questions. A lot of Waswasas come into the minds of our fellow Muslim brothers and Sisters, and these waswasas are common to the new Muslims learning Islam from the beginning. However, the answer to these questions is simple. The gates of forgiveness are open for every Muslim. No matter how big the sin a Muslim commits, if He/she repents to ALLAH (S.W.T.) wholeheartedly and promises Him to never commit the same act again, then being ‘Ar Rahman’ and ‘Ar Rahim’, ALLAH (S.W.T.) will definitely forgive that person.

‘Shirk’ is a major sin and comes in the category of ‘Gunah Qabira (Major Sins)’. According to the Qur’an, authentic Hadith and the great scholars of Islam, the only way ‘Gunah Qabira’ could be forgiven by ALLAH (S.W.T.) is through sincere repentance to ALLAH (S.W.T.). This issue is also addressed in Surah Furqan of the Holy Qur’an according to which,

وَٱلَّذِينَ لَا يَدْعُونَ مَعَ ٱللَّهِ إِلَـٰهًا ءَاخَرَ وَلَا يَقْتُلُونَ ٱلنَّفْسَ ٱلَّتِى حَرَّمَ ٱللَّهُ إِلَّا بِٱلْحَقِّ وَلَا يَزْنُونَ ۚ وَمَن يَفْعَلْ ذَٰلِكَ يَلْقَ أَثَامًۭا

And those who do not invoke with Allah another deity or kill the soul which Allah has forbidden [to be killed], except by right, and do not commit unlawful sexual intercourse. And whoever should do that will meet a penalty.

يُضَـٰعَفْ لَهُ ٱلْعَذَابُ يَوْمَ ٱلْقِيَـٰمَةِ وَيَخْلُدْ فِيهِۦ مُهَانًا

Multiplied for him is the punishment on the Day of Resurrection, and he will abide therein humiliated.

إِلَّا مَن تَابَ وَءَامَنَ وَعَمِلَ عَمَلًۭا صَـٰلِحًۭا فَأُو۟لَـٰٓئِكَ يُبَدِّلُ ٱللَّهُ سَيِّـَٔاتِهِمْ حَسَنَـٰتٍۢ ۗ وَكَانَ ٱللَّهُ غَفُورًۭا رَّحِيمًۭا

Except for those who repent, believe and do righteous work. For them, Allah will replace their evil deeds with good. And ever is Allah Forgiving and Merciful.

– Al Qur’an (Ch25, v68-70)

Thus, ALLAH (S.W.T.) has opened the gate of forgiveness till the last breath of the individual. ALLAH (S.W.T.) loves his slaves so much that if any of the slaves of ALLAH (S.W.T.) wholeheartedly repent and promises Him to never commit the same sin again, ALLAH (S.W.T.) will without any doubt forgive the sinner, as He is ‘Ar-Rahman’ and ‘Ar Rahim’. Also, He has promised the believers in the Qur’an to forgive the major sins, and Shirk being one of them will also be forgiven.

Ibn `Umar narrated that the Prophet (ﷺ) said: “Indeed Allah accepts the repentance of a slave as long as (his soul does not reach his throat).”

– Jami’ at-Tirmidhi (3537)

A believer must never lose hope in ALLAH (S.W.T.) and must seek continuous repentance of the sins committed. We as Human beings have been created weak by ALLAH (S.W.T.) and thus are prone to make mistakes. Continuous repentance (Tau’ba) is the only way to attain high ranks of spirituality and nearness to ALLAH (S.W.T.)


As already discussed, ‘Shirk has a broader definition’. We cannot categorise or label Shirk into major (big) or minor (small). Shirk is shirk and is the most hated thing by ALLAH (S.W.T.). However, for ease of understanding, we have labelled ‘Shirk’ as ‘Major Shirk’ and ‘Minor Shirk’. The first Pillar of Islam, or we can say the basic pillar of Islam is Tawheed (Oneness and Uniqueness of ALLAH). Shirk (association of false Gods to ALLAH, or association of any of the power of ALLAH to the false GOD) destroys the basic Pillar of Islam, thus making an individual an unbeliever.

The main Shahadah (testament of faith) of a Muslim starts with,

أشهدُ أنْ لا إلهَ إلاَّ اللهُ وأشهدُ أنَّ محمّداً رسولُ الله

“I bear witness that there is no deity (none truly to be worshipped) but, Allah, and I bear witness that Muhammad is the messenger of Allah”

– Kalma Shahadah

If we analyse the above Shahadah carefully, the shahadah first involves the rejection of all the false deities and then accepts ALLAH (S.W.T.) as the only real living and all-powerful GOD.

Thus, shirk is shirk without any confusion or an element of doubt. However, for better understanding, the scholars of Islam have categorised Shirk into two types i.e. Major Shirk (Shirk Akbar) and Minor Shirk (Shirk Asghar). Each type of shirk also consists of different domains according to the different sins that people commit making them unbelievers.


  • WORSHIPPING THE CREATION OTHER THAN THE REAL CREATOR: This is one of the biggest sins, as the only one that is worthy of worship is the real creator all-powerful GOD of the Universe i.e. ALLAH (S.W.T.). Worshipping any other deity made up of stones or wood is a Shirk and the most hated sin by ALLAH (S.W.T.). Also, various Pantheistic religions worship natural elements like air, water, fire, trees, soil, land, mountains, stars, sun, moon, and other planets. One such example of the pantheistic religion that worships Fire is the Zoroastrians. Other examples include some of the sects of Hinduism and Tengrism. Thus, when someone asks you in short, what is Shirk in Islam, you just have to tell them that worshipping the creation other than creator is the ‘Shirk’. These all sets of beliefs are also acts of shirk, as ALLAH (S.W.T.) has created all these elements, and worshipping creation instead of the real Creator is an act of Shirk.
  • ASSOCIATING ANY OF THE ATTRIBUTES/POWER OF ALLAH (S.W.T.) TO THE FALSE DEITIES: ALLAH (S.W.T.), the real living and all-powerful GOD of the universe has unique attributes that can neither be changed nor could be copied by any other person/identity. In the past, many kings have declared themselves as the all-powerful GOD (e.g. Nimrod, Fir’aun). There are many fake Gurus all over the Earth that call themselves to have certain spiritual powers. These all are the acts of Shirk, as the real and all-powerful one is none other than ALLAH (S.W.T.) and He is the only one having the power to do impossible that no one can do.
  •  REJECTION OF THE ATTRIBUTES OF ALLAH (S.W.T.): While some unbelievers associate some of the attributes of ALLAH (S.W.T.) with their self-made deities/idols, there are other unbelievers as well who reject some of the attributes of ALLAH (S.W.T). We know very well that ALLAH (S.W.T.) has no partner (wife/sibling/daughter/son) however many pagan religions and some religions who call themselves monotheists (e.g. Christians) associate son and daughters to ALLAH (S.W.T.). The Christians say that Isa (A.S.) is the only son of Holy GOD (Naudhubillah). Religions like Hinduism and other pagan traditions consider God to have sons as well as daughters. The Arabs before MUHAMMAD (S.A.W.) used to worship and consider ‘Lat’, ‘Manat’, and ‘Uzza’ as the daughters of ALLAH (S.W.T.). The above beliefs of certain religions are clear examples of the rejection of one of the attributes of ALLAH (S.W.T.) i.e. the attribute that He has no partners in creation. Thus, this is another act of Shirk, which the unbelievers overlook.
  • ATHEISM AND AGNOSTICISM: Atheism and Agnosticism have been successful in persuading people to accept themselves as one of the religions. However, atheism and agnosticism render people to commit acts of Shirk and Unbelief. Often ignored by many, atheism is the direct rejection of the all-powerful creator, which is straightforwardly an act of Shirk. Also, agnosticism is the adherence to doubt i.e. there may be a real creator, however one is not sure. This is also another act of Shirk, as there can be no doubt logically about the existence of the all-powerful creator. As we have discussed so far, rejection of any of the attributes knowingly/unknowingly is an act of Shirk/Kufr, the atheists reject the existence of an all-powerful real creator of the Universe.


Shirk Asghar (Minor Shirks) is the category that consists of the small sins that when done take the form of major Shirks later. Some of the forms of Shirk Asghar (Minor Shirk) are:

  • SWEARING AN OATH OTHER THAN ALLAH: This is an act of minor Shirk, as ALLAH states clearly at various places in the Qur’an about this.

وعن ابن عمر رضي الله عنهما أنه سمع رجلا يقول‏:‏ لا والكعبة، قال ابن عمر‏:‏ لا تحلف بغير الله، فإني سمعت رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم يقول‏:‏ ‏”‏من حلف بغير الله، فقد كفر أو أشرك‏”‏‏.‏‏(‏‏(‏ رواه الترمذي وقال حديث حسن‏)‏‏)‏ وفسر بعض العلماء قوله‏:‏ ‏”‏كفر أو أشرك‏”‏ على التغليظ، كما روي أن النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم قال‏:‏ ‏”‏الرياء شرك‏”‏‏.‏

Ibn ‘Umar (May Allah be pleased with them) said: I heard a man saying: “No, by the Ka’bah.” I admonished him: “Do not swear by anything besides Allah, for I heard the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) saying, ‘He who swears by anyone or anything other than Allah, has indeed committed an act of Kufr or Shirk’.” [At- Tirmidhi]. [Some ‘Ulama’ are of the opinion that the words of the Prophet (ﷺ) that “He who swears by anyone or anything other than Allah has indeed committed an act of Kufr or Shirk,” are in the nature of extreme admonition. And in fact, it is not Shirk. The same applies to the saying of the Prophet (ﷺ), who said, “showing off is Shirk.”]

– Riyad As Salihin (1711)

Thus, these are some of the domains of Shirk, and a large section of the population living on the planet does not know about these domains of Shirk. Shirk is something that is really very difficult to recognise. Even the person living the life of a Muslim is also prone to committing shirk unknowingly. Thus, it becomes essential to know the real meaning of Shirk and pray to ALLAH (S.W.T.) to save us from this act of Kufr (unbelief).

  • WEARING AMULETS, TALISMANS, LUCKY CHARMS AND RINGS: The scholars in this holds different views. While according to some scholars of Islam, wearing Amulets, Talismans, and other Lucky Charms is an act of Shirk, some Islamic Scholars justify it, as ong as the Talisman invokes the help of ALLAH (S.W.T.) and the verses written on it are Qur’anic verses. There are some narrations of Rasool ALLAH (S.A.W.) where he is forbidding the Ummah to tie knots and blow on it, or wear an amulet.

It was narrated that Abu Hurairah said: “The Messenger of Allah [SAW] said: ‘Whoever ties a know and blows on it, he has practiced magic; and whoever practices magic, he has committed Shirk; and whoever hangs up something (as an amulet) will be entrusted to it.'”

– Sunan an-Nasa’i (4079)

There are other Hadith as well in which Rasool ALLAH (S.A.W.) has strictly disallowed the use of amulets and lucky charms.


‘Shirk’, as clear from the above discussion is one of the major unforgivable sins, and recognition of it is indeed a very typical thing.

As Muslims however, our prime responsibility is to keep ourselves stick to the main pillar of Islam i.e. ‘Tawheed’.

Once we understand what ‘Tawheed’ is, what is Shirk in Islam, and how one can stay away from committing Shirk, the fragrance of paradise then can be felt from a little distance. ‘Shaytan’ will try his level best and use all His army to deviate the Muslims from the right path of Tawheed. Till the day of Judgement, ‘Shaytan’ will use all his might to persuade Muslims to follow the wrong path, as He has promised this to ALLAH (S.W.T.). However, the true slave of ALLAH (S.W.T.) will never believe in his waswasas (thoughts).

قَالَ رَبِّ فَأَنظِرْنِىٓ إِلَىٰ يَوْمِ يُبْعَثُونَ

He said, “My Lord, then reprieve me until the Day they are resurrected.”

– Al Qur’an (Ch15, v36)

قَالَ رَبِّ بِمَآ أَغْوَيْتَنِى لَأُزَيِّنَنَّ لَهُمْ فِى ٱلْأَرْضِ وَلَأُغْوِيَنَّهُمْ أَجْمَعِينَ

[Iblees] said, “My Lord, because You have put me in error, I will surely make [disobedience] attractive to them on earth, and I will mislead them all

– Al Qur’an (C15, v39)

إِنَّ عِبَادِى لَيْسَ لَكَ عَلَيْهِمْ سُلْطَـٰنٌ إِلَّا مَنِ ٱتَّبَعَكَ مِنَ ٱلْغَاوِينَ

Indeed, My servants – no authority will you have over them, except those who follow you of the deviators.

– Al Qur’an (Ch15, v42)

Indeed it is our responsibility to follow the path of Guidance and stay away from the path of Shaytan (the accursed).

The followings steps we can follow to stay away from evil thoughts by Shaytan and keep ourselves right on the track of Tawheed:

  • READING QUR’AN REGULARLY: The Qur’an is the guidance for the whole of Humanity. It will not only tell us what is Shirk in Islam, but also will guide us on other parameters. The Qur’an itself is truth and talks about truth by directly addressing mankind. Qur’an has the spiritualistic power that makes the reader a rationalistic being. It opens the eyes of the believer and stops the person from falling into the trap set by ‘Shaytan’.

According to Imam Ghazali,

“the person who does not read Qur’an for three continuous days will have a seal on his heart and becomes highly prone to the attacks of Shaytan”.

– Imam Ghazali
Qur'an on Shirk in Islam

Thus, the Qur’an being a Holy book of Muslims is not the book to put inside the showcase. Rather, it is a book for the guidance of Humanity. Reading it will not only protect us from committing Shirk and other evil sins, but also it will improve our lifestyle as well.

ذَٰلِكَ ٱلۡكِتَٰبُ لَا رَيۡبَۛ فِيهِۛ هُدٗى لِّلۡمُتَّقِينَ

This is the Book about which there is no doubt, a guidance for those conscious of Allah“

– Al Qur’an (Ch2, v2)
  • OFFERING REGULAR PRAYERS: ‘Prayer’ is the second pillar of Islam after ‘Tawheed’. Once, an individual accepts Islam, it becomes his duty to follow all the rest four Pillars i.e. Prayers, Zak’at, Sawm (Fasting), and Hajj (the annual Pilgrimage). Thus, there is a reason for the prayers to be the second pillar of Islam, as it stops people from doing acts of immorality and stops people from committing sins.

ٱتْلُ مَآ أُوحِىَ إِلَيْكَ مِنَ ٱلْكِتَـٰبِ وَأَقِمِ ٱلصَّلَوٰةَ ۖ إِنَّ ٱلصَّلَوٰةَ تَنْهَىٰ عَنِ ٱلْفَحْشَآءِ وَٱلْمُنكَرِ ۗ وَلَذِكْرُ ٱللَّهِ أَكْبَرُ ۗ وَٱللَّهُ يَعْلَمُ مَا تَصْنَعُونَ

Recite, [O Muhammad], what has been revealed to you of the Book and establish prayer. Indeed, prayer prohibits immorality and wrongdoing, and the remembrance of Allah is greater. And Allah knows that which you do.

– Al Qur’an (Ch29, v45)

Thus, prayer is a weapon of a Momin and establishing the five obligatory prayers will benefit the believer and allow him to pass the test of Judgement day with ease.

  • RECITING DAILY ADHKARS: There are some daily ‘Adhkars’ that have reached us through authentic narrations. MUHAMMAD (S.A.W.) used to recite some of the ‘Adhkars’ along with other ‘Sahabas’ and those Adhkars have reached us through authentic narrations. The narrations of several ‘Adhkars’ of Rasool ALLAH protect the believers from committing Shirk. The messenger of ‘ALLAH’ has recited various ‘Adhkars’ on various occasions and in times of difficulties to seek the help and guidance of ALLAH (S.W.T.).
  • STAYING AWAY FROM WATCHING HARAM AND LUSTFUL THINGS: The Haram and lustful things these days are now a common medium of entertainment. The Haram and Lustful things reaching the people through televisions ads, Mobiles, Magazines and Posters are nothing but the tools of Shaytan by which He and his army attack the believers and drag them into the dungeons of hell. ALLAH (S.W.T.) has designed Humans amazingly and most scientifically. By looking at the Non-Mahrams, Haram, and Lustful things, the amount of Lust in the believers will obviously increase that will in the end compel them to commit sins. When a person commits small sins, later these small sins take the form of big sins. Thus, a believer must stay away from doing Haram and looking at Haram.
  •  KEEPING ONESELF IN THE STATE OF WUDU (ABLUTION): Wudu (Ablution) also protects the believers from the Waswasas of Shaytan. The Scholars of Islam advise the Ummah to always be in the state of Wudu (Ablution). The ablution not only has scientific and medical advantages but spiritual and Roohani advantages as well. According to a Sahih Hadith, ALLAH (S.W.T.) forgives the minor sins committed by the believer when he/she performs ablution. Also, the ablution (Wudu) raises the spiritual ranks of the believer according to many Sahih traditions.
  • SEEKING CONTINUOUS REPENTANCE FROM ALLAH (S.W.T.): Although ‘Shirk’ is one of the most hated and unforgivable sins by ALLAH (S.W.T.) and comes on the list of Gunah Qabira (Major Sins), still ALLAH (S.W.T.) hasn’t closed his gates of Mercy for us. As long as a believer is alive, He/She can repent to ALLAH (S.W.T.), if the believer realises that the sin of Shirk is committed by mistake. Till we have our last breath left in us, the gates of forgiveness are opened for us, and thus a believer must always bow his head in repentance to ALLAH (S.W.T.). The continuous repentance will expiate the major as well as minor sins. Also, seeking continuous repentance will safeguard the believer from the evil thoughts (Waswasas) of ‘Shaytan’.


The motive of the discussion of this often ignored topic was to raise awareness and increase the knowledge of the believer regarding ‘Tawheed’ and ‘Shirk’. The main motive was to raise the awareness about the Topic, “What is Shirk in Islam?”

‘Tawheed’ being one of the first pillars of Islam is the foundation and basic pillar. The whole Islam and all the Prophets that came before MUHAMMAD (S.A.W.) came with the message of ‘Tawheed’ and guided mankind to stay away from ‘Shirk’. ‘Shirk’ creates confusion in the minds of Humanity regarding the worship of one Universal Creator. As Shaytan, according to the Qur’an is our open enemy, the main motive and mission that Shaytan is to deviate mankind from worshipping the true Universal creator. He wants to deviate mankind in enmity from receiving the infinite love of ALLAH (S.W.T.).

Dragging people into the area of ‘Shirk’ is one of the best and easiest ways for ‘Shaytan’ to make us humiliate ourselves in front of our real creator on the Day of Judgement. Shaytan will try his best to not let us know what is Shirk in Islam, however, it is our responsibility to look and pray for the guidance. ‘Shirk’ is the only sin that will be unforgivable on the day of judgment. Thus, we must always repent and ask for the help of ALLAH (S.W.T.) to protect us from the evil thoughts (Waswasas) whispered to us. May ALLAH (S.W.T.) increase our knowledge about Islam and its teachings, and may ALLAH (S.W.T.) help us to act on the path of guidance that came to us through the Qur’an and Sahih Hadith.

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