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The Importance of Tawheed and how Ikhwanul Muslimeen neglect Tawheed

Ikhwaanul-MuslimeenBismillaah al-Hamdulillaah wa salatu wa salaamu ‘ala rasulullaah
Amma ba’d

1- I first invite you to read this brief article by Shaikh Saalih al-Fawzaan:  The True Meaning of The Statement of Tawheed

2- Then – if you read Arabic – go through this: A site of Shaikh Muhammad Sa’eed Raslaan [Website of Shaikh Muhammad Sa’eed Raslaan, a genuine scholar who used to be an Ikhwanee before Allaah guided him to the correct Islam and then to be a Shaikh, maa shaa Allaah; may Allaah preserve him and make him a means of Allaah guiding many Ikhwanees to Salafiyah (following the Prophet, salallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, and his sahaabah in ‘aqidah, manhaj, manner of worship, and character; and understanding each ayah and each hadeeth in the manner the Messenger taught the sahaabah). Ameen.]

3- And then feel free to benefit from the following notes taken from a manhaj class last year, notes read to us from the work of Shaikh Ahmad an-Najmee (rahimahullaah) regarding the errors/deviance of the Ikhwanul Muslimeen or “Ikhwanees”:

Allaah says in Surat al-Kahf (ayat 103-105):

Say (O Muhammad): Shall We tell you the greatest losers in respect of (their) deeds? “Those whose efforts have been wasted in this life while they thought that they were acquiring good by their deeds! “They are those who deny the Ayat (proofs, evidences, verses, lessons, signs, revelations, etc.) of their Lord and the Meeting with Him (in the Hereafter). So their works are in vain, and on the Day of Resurrection, We shall not give them any weight.

Who are the greatest losers?
Those who are lost, thinking they’re upon good. The one who does not meet Allaah with Tawheed; he does not know the Islamic religion. The Sufis think they can make du’aa to the creation, or that awliya can perform kiramat (miracles). The one who grows up among the Sufis, do you think they will be safe from these bid’ah and shirk? No, except he whom Allaah saves.

Ikhwanees have neglected Tawheed. [The deviant] Hasan al-Banna was brought up with Sufis (proof can be found on pg. 27 of his own book – Al Ikhwan Al Muslimun, Ihdaf sana’at Tarikh), and used to attend a nest of shirk that is the Mashhad (shrine) of Zainab. In Damna Hur, he met with the people of the Sufi order, and took from them that path. (pg. 28 of his own book).

This Jama’ah of Ikhwanul Muslimeen is rooted in Sufi Order. Why do you [Ikhwanees] not look at the ‘aqidah of Tawheed and read a single aya? [Allaah says:]
And the mosques are for Allaah (Alone), so invoke not anyone along with Allaah.(Al-Jinn:18)

And they call to Wahdat ul-Wujud (the deviant belief that everything is Divine, that Allaah is everywhere, and that He is in His creation, and that Allaah’s presence is the only presence.) [The Hindus and Budhists believe the same thing.] (pg. 70-71, again of al-Bannah’s own book)

Hasan’s brother said: “After ‘Isha, my brother [Hassan al-Bannah] used to sit with the Hasafia…”

At the shrine of Zainab (daughter of the Prophet, salallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam), people would make tawaff and make du’aa to it; al-Bannah gave khutbas there. Al-Bannah did not forbid shirk that happened right around him, refusing to deal with this (shirk such as du’aa to Zainab, tawaaf of shrine).

The Ikhwanees observe shirk around the graves – du’aa to the dead, tawaaf, ruku’ – and don’t put forth any effort to remove this shirk. And al-Bannah called himself a da’ee (caller).

Shaikh Ahmad An-Najmee said:
It is obligatory that if you call to Allaah, and witness shirk [being committed with Allaah], that you call them to Tawheed and refute shirk. Al-Bannah went to the graves and gave lectures, giving the impression to the regular people that this was alright. [This created a problem for people who held al-Bannah in high esteem.]

Al-Bannah himself wrote in his own book (pg. 33, Al-Ikhwan Al Muslimun, Ihdaf sana’at Tarikh) that after fajr on Friday, he and his people used to walk three hours [20 KM] to the grave of Zainab [the shrine] inside the masjid, pray Jumu’ah, eat lunch and relax, pray ‘asr and then go home.

They used to go the graves, specifically to either make du’aa (bid’ah in this situation, because he specifically traveled to the grave and specifically to make du’aa there) or pray:

Shaikh Ahmad An-Najmee (rahimahullaah) made the following observations about Hassan al-Bannah, founder of Ikhwanul Muslimeen:

1- al-Bannah diluted these people (by going to these shrines) into believing that du’aa to the grave, or tawaaf around the grave, or sacrifice, or vowing to other than Allaah is from Islam.

2- al-Bannah gave power to the grave-worshippers.

3- al-Bannah accepted the mushrikun, even though their ‘aqidah may have been that of the Rafidah, who believe their imams are mistake-free. [Only Allaah is Perfect!] Never did al-Bannah tell the Shi’a, or Qadariah, or Mu’tazila to leave their ‘aqidah. [Note: Prophets are mistake-free regarding sins and in (conveying) the religion]

4- al-Bannah called the Shi’a his “brothers”, even though they call their imam “perfect”, even though they say that Angel Jibril (‘alaihi salaam) erred in sending the Qur’an to the Prophet, even though they curse Abu Bakr and ‘Umar and ‘Uthman, also calling them “kufar”, even though they call ‘Aisha an adultress (despite Allaah exonerating her in the Qur`an], even though they say the Qur`an is incomplete…

5 – al-Bannah tried to bring the Muslims together regardless of ‘aqidah, instead of trying to bring them together upon correctness, upon the correct ‘aqidah, upon the truth. [al-Bannah] said: “The Shi’a and Sunni are Muslimun. They are united upon the banner of la illaha il Allaah.”  [The deviant al-Bannah of Ikhwan al-Muslimeen] also said: “Our problems with the Jews is not religious, because the Qur`an encourages us to be with them, and Allaah has praised the Jews. And every time, the Qur`an deals with them, it deals with them on an economical level.”

6- al-Banna’s erroneous beliefs that tawassul is not from ‘aqidah. His 15th Principal from his book of 20 principals is: if du’aa is attached to tawassul, then this is from the brances of the deen and not from ‘aqidah.”  [Nadharat fi Risalit Ta’lim]

[Note: Legislated Tawassul are three:
a- asking righteous people to make du’aa to Allaah for you;
b- asking by Allaah’s Names and Attributes; and
c- to ask by virtue of one’s good deeds.

If it was legislated to make tawassul through the Prophet (salallaahu ‘alaihi wasallam) after his death, ‘Umar would not have asked ‘Abbaas to make du’aa to Allaah for rain. Ibn Taymiyyaah said: The sahaba used to make tawassul through the du’aa of the Prophet when he was ALIVE, but when he died, they sought tawassul with the du’aa of ‘Abbas…Du’aa is an act of ‘ibaada, and has to be done according to the Sunnah (and du’aa to other than Allaah is Major Shirk).]

7- al-Bannah attached himself to a Sufi ‘Aqidah, in the Hisafia tariqa. He admitted this and admitted (pg. 28 and pg. 29) to sitting with them [Jamiati Al Hisafia]. He actually started a Sufi order. And he was chosen as their secretary. The leaders of the Ikhwanees had an Ash’aree ‘aqidah, distorting Allaah’s attributes. They make the Attributes like a puzzle and a riddle, but Allaah’s religion is clear (bayinah).

Ten Points Regarding the Manhaj of Ikhwaanul-Muslimeen

by the Muftee of Jeezaan, Shaykh Ahmad ibn Yahyaa an-Najmee (rahimahullaah)

From his book: Al-Fataawa al-Jaliyyah ‘anil-manaahij ad-Da’wiyyah (pgs 102-104)

The noble Shaykh (rahimahullaah) said:

The definition of Ikhwaanul-Muslimeen is: they are those who follow and attach (themselves) to Hasan al-Banaa, and there are some observations upon their manhaj, the most important of which follow:

1) Carelessness and neglect in regards to Tawheed al-‘Ibaadah, which is the most important thing in Islaam, and the servant’s Islaam is not correct except by it.

2) Their silence and approval of the people being upon Shirk al-Akbar (major Shirk), from du’aa to other than Allaah, and circumambulation (tawaaf) of the graves, and swearing oaths to their inhabitants, and sacrificing by their names, and what is similar to that.

3) That verily the founder of this manhaj is soofee; he has a connection to the Soofiyyah, taking the bay’ah from ‘Abdul-Wahhaab al-Hasaafee upon his Hasaafiyyah ash-Shaadhiliyyah Tareeqah (soofee order).

4) The presence of innovation amongst them, and their establishing worship by it; rather it is the basis of their manhaj. They attest that the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhee wa salaam) attends their sittings of dhikr and forgives them for what has proceeded from their sins, in their saying:

“The Ilaah sent prayers upon the noor [i.e. the Prophet] which appeared
for the ‘aalameen (all that which exists), and outshined the sun and the moon, this is the beloved [i.e. the Prophet] attending with the beloved and has forgiven for all that which has passed and taken place.”

5) Their call to (establishing) the khilaafah, and this is a bid’ah, for verily the Messengers and those who followed them were not commanded except with the call to at-Tawheed. The Most High said:

And verily, We have sent among every Ummah a Messenger (proclaiming): “Worship Allaah (Alone), and avoid at-Taaghoot (all false deities and objects of worship).” An-Nahl (16):36

6) The non-existence of al-walaa` wal-baraa` amongst them or its weakness. And they make that clear through their da’wah to closeness between [those upon] the Sunnah and the Shee’ah, and the saying of their founder: “We cooperate [with each other] in that which we agree upon, and we excuse each other in that which we disagree in.”

7) Their hatred for Ahlut-Tawheed, and the people [who traverse] the path of Salafiyyah, and their loathing of them and they make that plain in their statements regarding the country of Saudi Arabia, which was established upon at-Tawheed, and teaches at-Tawheed in its schools and in its institutions and universities; and from the murder of Jameel ar-Rahmaan al-Afghaanee because he was calling to at-Tawheed, and he was one who had schools in which he taught at-Tawheed.

8.) Their scrutiny and pursuit of the mistakes of the rulers, and searching for their shortcomings, whether it is true or a lie, and spreading them amongst the inexperienced youth so as to cause them to hate and loathe them [the rulers] and to fill their hearts with hostility towards them.

9) The foul disgusting hizbiyyah (blind partisanship and bigotry) which they ascribe to. So they support and have closeness on account of this hizb (party), and show enmity and oppose on account of it.

10) Taking the bay’ah (oath of allegiance) to work for the Ikhwaanee manhaj with the ten conditions which its founder mentioned, and there are other observations to be made which it is possible that we take them later.

TN: These ten conditions or pillars of the bay’ah of Ikhwaanul-Muslimeen are mentioned in al-Banaa’s Majmoo’atur-Risaa’il (p.268), where he said: “O you brothers who are truthful! The pillars of our bay’ah are ten, so memorize and hold on to them:
(1) Understanding
(2) Sincerity
(3) Action
(4) al-Jihaad
(5) self-sacrifice
(6) Obedience
(7) firmness and strength
(8) Impartiality
(9) Brotherhood
(10) Trust.”

Translated by Aboo Sufyaan ‘Uthmaan Beecher

Is wearing amulet or talisman shirk?


As-Salamu `alaykum. Some people believe that wearing an amulet (ta`wiz) will make them safe. Is wearing amulets bearing some Qur’anic verses allowed in Islam? Did the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) recommend his followers to indulge in such a habit?




Wa `alaykum As-Salamu wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuh.

In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.

All praise and thanks are due to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger.

Dear sister in Islam, thank you very much for having confidence in us and we hope our efforts, which are purely for Allah’s Sake, qualify to be a stepping stone along the path of truth.

Muslim scholars unanimously maintain that it is haram (unlawful) to wear amulets that contain anything other than Qur’anic verses, but they differed as regards those which do contain verses or surahs of the Qur’an. Some of them say that wearing amulets containing Qur’anic verses or chapters is permissible, while others consider them impermissible.

The view which is deemed to be the most correct is that wearing such amulets is not permitted because of the general meaning of the hadiths speaking about amulets, and in order to prevent any means that might lead to shirk (associating partners with Allah or polytheism).

To shed more light on the issue of wearing amulets especially those containing verses from the Glorious Qur’an, here is the Fatwa issued by Sheikh M. S. Al-Munajjid, a prominent Saudi Muslim lecturer and author; it goes as follows:

“Amulets (tamimah, pl. tama’im) are things made from pearls or bones and worn on the necks of children or adults or hung up in houses or cars, in order to ward off evil – especially the evil eye – or to bring some benefits.

Zaynab, the wife of `Abdullah ibn Mas`ud, reported that `Abdullah ibn Mas`ud (may Allah be pleased with him) stated that he heard the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) saying: “Spells, amulets and love-charms are (forms of) shirk.” `Abdullah said, “Why do you say this? By Allah, when I was weeping eczema, I kept going to so and so, the Jew, who did a spell for me and made the thing calm down.” `Abdullah said: “That was just the work of Satan, who was picking it with his hand, and when (the Jew) uttered the spell, he stopped. All you needed to do was to say as the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) used to say: Adh-hib al-ba’s Rabb an-Nas ishfi anta ash-Shafi la shifa’a illa shifa’uka shifa’an la yughadiru saqaman (Remove the harm, O Lord of mankind, and heal, You are the Healer. There is no healing but Yours, a healing which leaves no disease behind.’” (Reported by Abu Dawud and Ibn Majah)

`Uqbah ibn `Amir Al-Juhani (may Allah be pleased with him) reported that a group came to the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) to pledge their allegiance (bay`ah) to him. He accepted the allegiance of nine of them but not of one of them. They said, “O Messenger of Allah, you accepted the allegiance of nine but not of this one.” He (the Prophet) said, “He is wearing an amulet.” The man put his hand (in his shirt) and took it off, then the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) accepted his allegiance. He (peace and blessings be upon him) then said, “Whoever wears an amulet has committed shirk.” (Reported by Ahmad)

These are the comments of the scholars on the various kinds of amulets and the rulings that govern each kind. These comments contain important and useful points.

Sheikh Sulayman ibn `Abd Al-Wahhab states:

“The Companions of the Prophet, their successors, and those who came after them have differed as to whether it is permissible to wear amulets which only contain words from the Qur’an or those that contains Allah’s Names and Attributes.

The first group including `Abdullah ibn `Amr ibn Al-`As (may Allah be pleased with him) and other Companions said that having amulets is permissible. This group backed their view by citing the aforementioned hadith. Imam Ibn Al-Qayyim adheres to this view.

Another group of scholars maintain that wearing amulets is not permissible. This was the view of Ibn Mas`ud and Ibn `Abbas, and is the apparent meaning of the view of Hudhayfah. This was also the view of a group of the Tabi`un (successors), including the Companions of Ibn Mas`ud and Ahmad, according to one report which was chosen by most of his companions. It was also the view of the later scholars, who quoted this and similar hadiths as a supporting evidence for their view.

This opinion appears to be in favor of prohibition of amulets in general; whether they contain Qur’anic verses or not.

Abu Dawud reported that `Isa ibn Hamzah said: “I entered upon ‘Abdullah ibn `Akim and his face was red due to high fever. I said, ‘Why don’t you wear an amulet?’ He said, ‘We seek refuge with Allah from that. Allah’s Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) states: “Whoever wears anything (meaning an amulet) will be entrusted to its care…” (Reported by Abu-Dawud)

Amulets containing Qur’anic verses:

Concerning amulets that contain clearly-written verses from the Qur’an or authentic hadiths, there is a difference among the Companions of the Prophet, their successors and those who follow them, which maybe clarified as follows:

Some of them state that it is not allowed, but rather reprehensible (Makruh). This is the opinion of `Abdullah ibn `Amr, `Uqbah ibn `Amir, and `Abdullah ibn Mas`ud and his companions such as Al-Aswad and `Alqamah, and those who came after them such as Ibrahim An-Nakh`i and others (may Allah be pleased with them all).

Undoubtedly not allowing that acts as a precautionary measure to prevent means that lead to wrong beliefs, especially in our own times. If most of the Sahabah (Prophet’s Companions) and Tabi`un (their successors) regarded it as Makruh in those noble times when the faith in their hearts was greater than a mountain, then regarding it as Makruh in these times of trials and tribulations is more appropriate and is more on the safe side. So how about when this concession has led people to things which are purely unlawful and they have made it a means to those things? For example, they take amulets as a means of seeking refuge, as they make them contain some verses from the Qur’an or surah, then underneath it they put some devilish mumbo-jumbo, the meaning of which no one knows except one who has read their books.

Part of the negative effects of amulets is that they divert the hearts of the common folk from putting their trust in Allah and make them dependent on the things that they have written, and most of them make people live in constant fear of what may or may not happen.

It’s the habit of a sorcerer or a fraudulent man to come to the person he wants to trick out of his money, knowing that the person is of weak faith, and say to him: “Such and such is going to happen to your family or your wealth or to you,” He may also say, “You have a qarin (constant companion) from among the jinn,” then go on describing things to him and telling him things about himself that the Satan whispers to him, to make him think that he has true insight and that he cares about him and wants to bring him some benefit.

When the heart of the ignorant fool is filled with fear of what he has been told, he turns away from his Lord and turns to this charlatan with all his heart and soul; he puts his trust in him and relies on him instead of Allah, and says to him, “What is the way out from the things that you have described? What is the means of warding them off?” It is as if he (the charlatan) has control over benefit and harm, at which point his hopes are raised and he becomes more greedy, wondering how much he will be able to take. So he tells him, “If you give me such and such, I will write an amulet for that which will be this long and this wide” – he describes it and speaks to him in a nice manner. Then he hangs up this amulet to protect him from such and such diseases. Do you think, after all that we have mentioned, that this belief is a form of minor shirk? It means that one is ascribing to Allah someone else in worship, putting one’s trust in someone other than Him, turning to someone other than Him, relying on the deeds of created beings and trying to divert people from their religion. Can the Satan do any of these tricks except with the help of his devilish brethren among mankind?

Allah Almighty says: “Say: ‘Who can guard and protect you in the night or in the day from the (punishment of the) Most Gracious (Allah)?’ Nay, but they turn away from the remembrance of their Lord.” (Al-Anbiya’: 42)

Then along with the devilish mumbo-jumbo, he writes on the amulet something from the Qur’an, and hangs it up when he maybe in a state of impurity, in a state of minor or major impurity, and he never shows any respect towards it or keeps it away from other things.

The Qur’an was revealed to be recited and followed; its commandments to be obeyed and its prohibitions heeded, its information to be believed and its limits to be adhered to, its parables and stories to serve as lessons.

And if they (amulets) contain nothing but the two revelations (i.e. Qur’an and authentic hadiths) then this is shirk without a doubt, and is more akin to the azlam (arrows used during the pre-Islamic period of ignorance for seeking luck or help in decision making) in being far-removed from the characteristics of Islam.

However, if amulets contain anything other than the two revelations and instead contain mumbo-jumbo from the Jews or worshippers of temples, stars or angels, or those who use the services of the jinn, etc., or they are made of pearls, strings, iron rings, etc., then this is shirk, i.e., hanging them up or wearing them is shirk, beyond a doubt, because they are not among the permissible means or known forms of treating disease.”

Sheikh Al-Albani, may Allah have mercy on him, said:

“This deviance and misguidance is still widespread among the Bedouin, peasants and some of the city-dwellers. Examples include the pearls, which some drivers put in their cars, hanging them from the rear-view mirror. Some of them hang an old shoe on the front or back of the car; some hang a horseshoe on the front of their house or shop. All of that is to ward off the evil eye, or so they claim. And there are other things which are widespread because of ignorance of (pure) Monotheism and the things which nullify it; such as actions of shirk and idolatry which the Messengers were only sent and the Books were only revealed to put an end to.

In conclusion, those who believe in pure Monotheism (tawhid) should keep as far away as possible from such things. The faith in their hearts is too great to permit anything of this sort to enter their hearts. Their status is too high and their certainty of faith is too strong for them to put their trust in anyone other than Allah or to seek the protection of anyone other than Him.”

Excerpted, with slight modifications, from:

May Allah guide us all to the straight path and direct all of us to that which pleases Him, Ameen.


It was narrated from ‘Uqbah ibn ‘Aamir al-Juhani that a group came to the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) [to swear their allegiance (bay’ah) to him]. He accepted the bay’ah of nine of them but not of one of …them. They said, “O Messenger of Allaah, you accepted the bay’ah of nine but not of this one.” He said, “He is wearing an amulet.” The man put his hand (in his shirt) and took it off, then he (the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him)) accepted his bay’ah. He said, ‘Whoever wears an amulet has committed shirk.”

(Narrated by Ahmad, 16969)

This hadeeth was classed as saheeh by Shaykh al-Albaani in al-Silsilah al-Saheehah, 492.


Allah Almighty knows best.

What is the true meaning of shirk and what are its types?

I often read that “this action is major shirk” and “this is minor shirk”. Could you explain to me the difference between the two?.

Praise be to Allaah.
One of the most important obligations is to know the meaning of shirk, its seriousness and its different types, so that our Tawheed (belief in the Oneness of Allaah) and our Islam may be complete, and our faith may be sound. We say – And Allaah is the Source of strength and true guidance comes from Him:
Know – may Allaah guide you – that the word shirk in Arabic means taking a partner, i.e., regarding someone as the partner of another. It is said [in Arabic]: ashraka baynahuma (he joined them together) when he regarded them as two of equal status; or ashraka fi amrihi ghayrahu (he introduced another into his affair) when he made two people involved in it.
In terms of sharee’ah or Islamic terminology, shirk means ascribing a partner or rival to Allaah in Lordship (ruboobiyyah), worship or in His names and attributes.
A rival is a peer or counterpart. Hence Allaah forbids setting up rivals with Him and he condemns those who take them (rivals) as gods instead of  or besides Allaah in many verses of the Qur’aan. Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“Then do not set up rivals unto Allaah (in worship) while you know (that He Alone has the right to be worshipped)”
[al-Baqarah 2:222]

“And they set up rivals to Allaah, to mislead (men) from His path! Say: ‘Enjoy (your brief life)! But certainly, your destination is the (Hell) Fire!’”
[Ibraaheem 14:30]

In the hadeeth it is narrated that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Whoever dies claiming that Allaah has a rival, will enter Hell.”
Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 4497; Muslim, 92.

The types of shirk:
The texts of the Qur’aan and Sunnah indicate that shirk and the ascribing of rivals to Allaah sometimes puts a person beyond the pale of Islam and sometimes does not. Hence the scholars divided shirk into two types which they call shirk akbar (major shirk) and shirk asghar (minor shirk). There follows a brief description of each type:
1 – Major shirk
This means ascribing to someone other than Allaah something that belongs only to Allaah, such as Lordship (ruboobiyyah), divinity (uloohiyyah) and the divine names and attributes (al-asma’ wa’l-sifaat).
This kind of shirk may sometimes be outward, such as the shirk of those who worship idols and graves, or the dead or absent.
Or it may sometimes be hidden, such as those who put their trust in other gods besides Allaah, or the shirk and kufr of the hypocrites. For even though  their (hypocrites’) shirk puts them beyond the pale of Islam and means that they will abide  forever in Hell, it is a hidden shirk, because they make an outward display of Islam and conceal their kufr and shirk, so they are inwardly mushriks but not outwardly.
Shirk may sometimes take the form of beliefs:
Such as the belief that there is someone else who creates, gives life and death, reigns or controls the affairs of the universe along with Allaah.
Or the belief that there is someone else who must be obeyed absolutely besides Allaah, so they follow him in regarding as permissible or forbidden whatever he wants, even if that goes against the religion of the Messengers.
Or they may associate others with Allaah in love and veneration, by loving a created being as they love Allaah. This is the kind of shirk that Allaah does not forgive, and it is the shirk of which Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“And of mankind are some who take (for worship) others besides Allaah as rivals (to Allaah). They love them as they love Allaah”
[al-Baqarah 2:165]

Or the belief that there are those who know the Unseen as well as Allaah. This is very common among some of the deviant sects such as the Raafidis (Shi’ah), extreme Sufis, and Baatinis (esoteric sects) in general. The Raafidis believe that their imams have knowledge of the unseen, and the Baatinis and Sufis believe similar things about their awliya’ (“saints”), and so on. It is also shirk to believe that there is someone who bestows mercy in a manner that is befitting only for Allaah, so he shows mercy as Allaah does and forgives sins and overlooks the bad deeds of his worshippers.
Shirk may sometimes take the form of words:
Such as those who make du’aa’ or pray to someone other than Allaah, or seek his help or seek refuge with him with regard to matters over which no one has control except Allaah, whether the person called upon is a Prophet, a wali (“saint”), an angel or a jinn, or some other created being. This is a kind of major shirk which puts one beyond the pale of Islam.
Or such as those who make fun of religion or who liken Allaah to His creation, or say that there is another creator, provider or controller besides Allaah. All of these are major shirk and a grave sin that is not forgiven.
Shirk may sometimes take the form of actions:
Such as one who sacrifices, prays or prostrates to something other than Allaah, or who promulgates laws to replace the rulings of Allaah and makes that the law to which people are obliged to refer for judgement; or one who supports the kaafirs and helps them against the believers, and other acts that go against the basic meaning of faith and put the one who does them beyond the pale of Islam. We ask Allaah to keep us safe and sound.
2 – Minor shirk
This includes everything that may lead to major shirk, or which is described in the texts as being shirk, but does not reach the extent of being major shirk.
This is usually of two types:
1 – Being emotionally attached to some means which have no basis and  for which Allaah has not given permission, such as hanging up “hands”, turquoise beads etc on the grounds that they offer protection or that they ward off the evil eye. But Allaah has not made them the means of such protection, either according to sharee’ah or according to the laws of the universe.
[Translator’s note: the “hands” referred to are objects made of metal, pottery etc, usually blue or turquoise in colour, that some people hang up to ward off the evil eye, according to their mistaken belief]
2 – Venerating some people or things in a way that does not go so far as ascribing lordship to them, such as swearing by something other than Allaah, or saying, “Were it not for Allaah and So and so,” etc.
The scholars have stipulated guidelines to distinguish major shirk from minor shirk when shirk is mentioned in the texts of sharee’ah. These guidelines include the following:
(i) – When the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) states clearly that this action is minor shirk, such as in al-Musnad (27742) where it is narrated that Mahmoud ibn Labeed said: The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “The thing that I fear most for you is minor shirk.” They said: “O Messenger of Allaah, what is minor shirk?” He said: “Showing off, for Allaah will say on the Day when people are recompensed for their actions: ‘Go to those for whom you were showing off with your deeds in the world, and see what reward you find with them.’” Classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in al-Silsilah al-Saheehah, 951.
(ii) – When the word shirk is used in the texts of the Qur’aan and Sunnah in the indefinite form [without the definite article al-]. This usually refers to minor shirk, and there are many examples of this, such as when the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Incantations, amulets and love spells are shirk.”
Narrated by Abu Dawood, 3883; classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in al-Silsilah al-Saheehah, 331.
What is meant by shirk here is minor shirk, not major shirk.
Amulets are things that are hung on children such as turquoise beads and the like, which they claim will protect them from the evil eye.
Love spells are something that they do, claiming that it will make a woman beloved to her husband and a man beloved to his wife.
(iii) – If the Sahaabah understood from the texts of sharee’ah that what was meant by shirk here was minor shirk, not major. Undoubtedly the understanding of the Sahaabah carries weight, because they are the most knowledgeable of the people concerning the religion of Allaah, and the most knowledgeable as to the intent of the Lawgiver. For example, Abu Dawood (3910) narrated from Ibn Mas’ood (may Allaah be pleased with him) that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Tiyarah (superstitious belief in omens) is shirk, tiyarah is shirk,” three times, and there is no one among us but (will have some of that) but Allaah will rid him of it by means of tawakkul (putting his trust in Allaah). The words “there is no one among us…” are the words of Ibn Mas’ood, as was explained by the prominent scholars of hadeeth. This indicates that Ibn Mas’ood (may Allaah be pleased with him) understood that this was minor shirk, because he could not have said, “There is no one among us…” referring to major shirk. Moreover, major shirk cannot be eliminated by means of tawakkul, rather it is essential to repent therefrom.
(iv) – If the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) interpreted the words shirk or kufr in a manner which indicates that what is meant is a minor form thereof and not the major form. For example al-Bukhaari (1038) and Muslim (74) narrated from Zayd ibn Khaalid al-Juhani that he said: The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) led the morning prayer for us at al-Hudaybiyah following rainfall during the night. When the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) finished, he turned to face the people and said to them: “Do you know what your Lord has said?” They said: “Allaah and his Messenger know best.” He said: “This morning one of My slaves became a believer in Me and one a disbeliever. As for him who said: ‘We have been given rain by the grace of Allaah and His mercy,’ that one is a believer in Me, a disbeliever in the stars; and as for him who said: ‘We have been given rain by such-and-such a star, that one is a disbeliever in Me, a believer in the stars.’”

The interpretation of the word kufr here is given in another report narrated from Abu Hurayrah who said: The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Do you not know what your Lord said? ‘I do not send any blessing upon My slaves but a group among them become kaafirs thereby because they refer to the stars and attribute things to the stars. This explains that if a person attributes rainfall to the stars by believing that they caused it to fall – when in fact Allaah has not made the stars a means of causing rainfall – his kufr is a kind of ingratitude for the blessing of Allaah. It is well known that ingratitude for the blessing of Allaah is minor kufr. But if a person believes that the stars are controlling the universe and they are the ones that cause the rain to fall, then this is major shirk.

Minor shirk may sometimes take the form of outward actions, such as wearing talismans, strings, amulets and the like, and other words and deeds. And sometimes it may be hidden, like a little bit of showing off.
It may also take the form of beliefs:
Such as the belief that something may be a cause of bringing benefit or warding off harm, when Allaah has not made it so; or believing that there is barakah (blessing) in a thing, when Allaah has not made it so.
It sometimes takes the form of words:
Such as when they said, “We have been given rain by such and such a star,” without believing that that the stars could independently cause rain to fall; or swearing by something other than Allaah, without believing in venerating the thing sworn by or regarding it as equal with Allaah; or saying, “Whatever Allaah wills and you will,” and so on.
It sometimes takes the form of actions:
Such as hanging up amulets or wearing a talisman or string to dispel or ward off calamity, because everyone who attribute powers to a thing when Allaah has not made it so either according to sharee’ah or according to the laws of the universe, has associated something with Allaah. This also applies to one who touches a thing seeking its barakah (blessing), when Allaah has not created any barakah in it, such as kissing the doors of the mosques, touching their thresholds, seeking healing from their dust, and other such actions.
This is a brief look at the division of shirk into major and minor. We cannot go into great detail in this short answer.
What the Muslim must do is to avoid shirk in both its minor and major forms. The greatest sin is shirk and transgression against the unique rights of Allaah, which are to be worshipped and obeyed alone, with no partner or associate.
Hence Allaah has decreed that the mushrikeen will abide forever in Hell and has told us that He will not forgive them, and He has forbidden Paradise to them, as He says (interpretation of the meaning):
“Verily, Allaah forgives not that partners should be set up with Him (in worship), but He forgives except that (anything else) to whom He wills; and whoever sets up partners with Allaah in worship, he has indeed invented a tremendous sin”
[al-Nisa’ 4:48]

“Verily, whosoever sets up partners (in worship) with Allaah, then Allaah has forbidden Paradise to him, and the Fire will be his abode. And for the Zaalimoon (polytheists and wrongdoers) there are no helpers”
[al-Maa’idah 5:72]

Every wise and religiously-committed person should fear shirk for himself and should turn to his Lord, asking Him to help him avoid shirk, as al-Khaleel [Ibraaheem – peace be upon him] said:
“and keep me and my sons away from worshipping idols”
[Ibraaheem 14:35 – interpretation of the meaning]
One of the salaf said: “Who can claim to be safe from this after Ibraaheem?”
So the sincere believer’s fear of shirk should increase as should his desire for his for his Lord to keep him away from it, and he should say the great du’aa’ which the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) taught to his companions when he said to them: “Shirk among you will be more subtle than the footsteps of an ant, but I will teach you something which, if you do it, both minor and major shirk will be kept away from you. Say: Allaahumma inni a’oodhu bika an ushrika bika wa ana a’lam wa astaghfiruka lima la a’lam (O Allaah, I seek refuge with You from associating anything with You knowingly, and I seek Your forgiveness for that of which I am unaware).”
Classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in Saheeh al-Jaami’, 3731
The above refers to the difference between major and minor shirk, defining each and describing its types.
With regard to the difference between them as far as the ruling is concerned:
Major shirk puts a person beyond the pale of Islam, so the one who does that is judged to be out of Islam and to have apostatized therefrom, so he is a kaafir and an apostate.
Minor shirk does not put a person beyond the pale of Islam, rather it may be done by a Muslim but he still remains in Islam; but the one who does that is in great danger because minor shirk is a major sin. Ibn Mas’ood (may Allaah be pleased with him) said: “If I were to swear by Allaah falsely, that is better for me than if I were to swear by something other than Him sincerely.” So he regarded swearing by something other than Allaah (which is minor shirk) as being worse than swearing by Allaah falsely, and it is well known that swearing by Allaah falsely is a major sin.
We ask Allaah to make our hearts steadfast in adhering to His religion until we meet Him, and we seek refuge in His Might – may He be glorified – from going astray, for He is the Ever-Living Who never dies, but the jinn and mankind will die. And Allaah knows best and is most wise, and to Him is the final return of all.
Courtesy: Islam Q&A
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