Strengthening of the Faith


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  • Strengthening of the Faith


  • Chapter Three

    The Vices of Polytheism---

    The Virtues of Monotheism

     

    The polytheism cannot be forgiven:

     

    {Verily! Allah forgives not (the sin of) setting up partners in worship with Him, but He forgives whom He pleases, sins other than that, and whoever sets up partners in worship with Allah, has indeed strayed far away.}(V.4:l16)

     

    The one who does not discriminate between the permissible and the forbidden, commits theft, idles away his time doing nothing, shuns his prayers and fasting, does not give his wife and children their due rights and becomes incumbent on disobeying his parents -has indeed strayed from the path of Allah, but the one who gets strangled in the quagmire of Shirk has strayed very much far away by getting involved in such a sinful act as shall never be forgiven by Allah except by showing repentance. As far as other sins are concerned, Allah may perhaps forgive them even without repentance (on the part of the slave). It becomes thus known that Shirk is an unpardonable crime and the person who commits it is bound to be punished. If an act of Shirk, thus committed, is of such an extreme kind which turns a person into a polytheist, then the penalty thus incurred by the person is an eternal Hell-fire, for he will neither be ever released from it, nor shall get any rest and peace whatsoever therein. As to the acts of minor degree of Shirk[1]their doers are bound to be penalized according to the penalties which are apportioned for them by Allah the Exalted.

    As far as the penalties which have been specified by Allah in regard to other sinful acts are concerned, they mainly depend on the Will of Allah. (Depending on His Will, He may forgive them or, He may punish the doer).

    Explaining Shirk:

    We thus understand that Shirk is the biggest of all sins (i.e. and no sin surpasses it in terms of gravity, severity and enormity). It can be explained by the following example:

    Let us suppose that a king has a specific penal code for his subjects comprising all kinds of penalties for different kinds of offences like, theft, robbery, sleeping while being on duty as a guard, a delayed arrival at the king's court, fleeing from the battlefield and delaying the payment of government revenues etc. are all crimes deserving specific punishments. The king, depending on his will, can either duly punish the offenders or forgive them, but there are a few crimes whose commission clearly indicates a rebellion, like an act of coronating and enthroning a nobleman, a minister, a fief, a chieftain, a sweeper or a shoe-maker and declaring anyone of the above as a king in the presence of the king himself. Such an act shall be considered as a mutiny. Or similarly, if a throne or a crown is made for any of the above categories of people or anyone of them is called with such title as 'Your Excellency' or 'His Highness' or 'His Majesty' or is treated with the observance of a royal protocol or a certain day is specified for him as a gala festival or a certain vow is made to him after a royal fashion, is what constitutes the greatest of all crimes which must never go unpunished. A monarch who overlooks giving out punishments on such crimes, is bound to have a weak and staggering empire and the wise people shall libel such a monarch as incapable and unworthy of ruling an empire. Dear friends! Let us fear from the Master of the universe, the Sovereign who has a great sense of honor and an unlimited power. How can such a Lord let the polytheists go unpunished! May Allah bless all the Muslims with His mercy and save them from such dangerous calamities as Shirk. Amin!

    Shirk, the greatest of all vices:

    Allah the Exalted One says in one of His verses:

     

    {And (remember) when Luqman said to his son when he was advising him: 'Join not in worship others with Allah. Verily! Joining others in worship with Allah is a great Zulm (wrong) indeed.}(V.3l:13)

    It means that Allah had awarded clairvoyance to Luqman {May Allah have mercy on him} By utilizing his mental faculties, he understood that giving away someone's right to someone else is an act of great injustice. The one who gives away Allah's Right to someone else among His creatures is similar to a person who gives away something to the meanest one, what in fact is due to be given to the greatest one. As long as Allah is the Greatest of all and all His creatures rank no more than a slave before Him, what injustice should be greater than putting a royal crown on the head of a shoe-maker! We must understand that anyone whether one of the most eminent human beings or any of the angels dearest and nearest to Allah does not carry the status of even a shoe-maker in terms of frivolity and disgrace, while facing the magnificence of Divinity. Thus it becomes clear that as Shari'ah has regarded Shirk to be an extremely enormous sinful act, one's wisdom and common intellect also recognizes Shirk to be as such. It is the greatest of all vices which is a fact, because the greatest of all inequities to be found in a man is that he should disrespect his elders. Who else is bigger than Allah in greatness! Committing an act of Shirk verily amounts to being disrespectful towards Him.

    Tauhid (Monotheism) is the only way out:

    Allah has said in one of the verses of the Noble Qur'an:

     

    {And we did not send any Messenger before you (O Muhammad {peace be upon Him}but We inspired him (saying): La ilaha ilIa Ana [none has the right to be worshipped but I (Allah)], so worship Me (Alone and none else).} (V.2l:25)

     

    It means that all the Messengers were sent by Allah with exactly the same commandment that none but Allah should be worshipped and only Allah is worthy of being worshipped. We thus understand that the commandment in regard to the recognition of Oneness of Allah and the prohibition concerning the joining of others in worship with Him is a matter which is a common constituent of all the previous revealed doctrines, and hence this is the only way out for one's salvation. The rest of all the other creeds are in error.

    Allah is disgusted with Shirk:

    It is reported by Abu Hurairah {May Allah have mercy on him} that Allah's Messenger {Peace be upon Him} said: Allah has made the following statement:

    "I am most dispensed with the action of joining others in worship with Me. Whosoever does an act in which he joins others in worship with Me, I shun him and his partners and become disgusted with him."

    It means that unlike others who divide their shared goods among themselves, I do not do so because I stand in need of no one. Whoever performs a virtuous deed for Me by giving Me a partner in it, I do not even take My share and leave the whole of it for others and become disgusted with him. It thus becomes known to us that whoever does an act for Allah, and does the same act for an entity other than Allah, he has indeed committed Shirk and it further elaborates that any act of worship which is dedicated to Allah by the polytheists is unacceptable. Allah is disgusted with such acts and such people.

    Affirming the Oneness of Allah prior to the dawn of time itself:

    Allah the Exalted says:

     

    {And (remember) when your Lord brought forth from the children of Adam, from their loins, their seed (or from Adam's loin his offspring) and made them testify as to themselves (saying): 'Am I not your Lord?' They said: 'Yes! We testify,' lest you should say on the Day of Resurrection: 'Verily, we have been unaware of this. Or lest you should say: 'It was only our fathers aforetime who took others as partners in worship along with Allah, and we were (merely their) descendants after them; will You then destroy us because of the deeds of men who practiced Al-Batil (i.e. polytheism and committing crimes and sins, invoking and worshipping others besides Allah)?}(V.7:172,173)

     

    It has been reported by Ahmad on the authority of Ubai bin {May Allah have mercy on him} in regard to the interpretation of the verse (regarding the time when Allah made the offspring of Adam testify) saying that Allah gathered all the progeny of Adam, formed them in pairs, then made their facial features and shapes, then gave them the power of speech. When they began to speak, He took a covenant from them by asking them, "Am I not your Rabb?" They answered, "Verily, You are our Rabb!”[2] Allah then stated, "I hereby make all the seven strata of heavens and earth as well as your father Adam a witness unto you lest you should employ an excuse of being unaware of it on the Day of Resurrection. Be certain that none is worthy of being worshipped except Me and none but Me is your Rabb. Do not associate partners with Me in worshipping. I shall keep sending my Messengers unto you who will in turn continue to remind you of this covenant of yours with Me and I shall reveal my Books unto you." All of them answered, "We hereby testify that You are our Rabb and You are the object of our worship. None but You is our Lord and none but You is worthy of our worship.

     

    Shirk cannot be presented as an authority:

     

    Ubai bin Ka'b{May Allah have mercy on him}, while interpreting the above verse said that Allah gathered all the offspring of Adam at one place, formed them into groups, for instance, He separated the Prophets, saints, martyrs, pious people, obedient ones, disobedient ones into different groups. Similarly, He segregated the Jews, the Christians, the polytheists and the followers of every religion. Then whatever facial features and shapes one had to be given in this world, Allah made them appear exactly in the same manner there accordingly. Someone was made to appear as good-looking, someone as bad-looking, someone as conversant, someone as dumb, and someone as a lame person. Then all of them were given the faculty of speech and then asked, "Am I not your Rabb?" All of them acknowledged the lordship of Allah and then Allah took a pledge from all of them to the effect that they shall not take anyone as their ruler and master except Him Alone and shall not consider anyone worthy of being worshipped except Him Alone. Then Allah made all the seven strata of heavens and earth as witnesses and said that the Prophets shall be sent unto you to remind you of this pledge of yours and they shall bring with them the heavenly scriptures. Everyone has individually affirmed the Oneness of Allah and rejected associating partners with Him in an era prior to the dawn of time itself and therefore, no one may be presented as an evidence in the matter of Shirk (i.e. a preceptor, a mendicant, a sheikh, a father, a grandfather, a king, a religious scholar or a saint).

     

    The excuse of forgetfulness shall not be accepted:

    If someone thinks that after being in this world, we no longer remember the said pledge and in case we commit an act of Shirk now, we shall not be punished as there is no questioning in forgetfulness. The answer to this notion of theirs is that there are many things a man does not remember but once reminded by a creditable and authentic person, it all comes back to his memory. For instance, no one remembers his date of birth, but once he hears about it from people, he has no qualms about saying it with certainty that I was born on such and such date, in such and such year and at such and such hour. He only recognizes his parents upon hearing from people. He does not consider anyone else as his mother. In case one does not perform his obligations towards his mother and proclaims someone else as his mother, the people are bound to ridicule and censure him. In response to their chidings, if he postulates that as long as I do not remember my birth, why should I consider this woman as my mother? People have no reason to castigate me about it! Once this person blurts out such a statement, people shall definitely regard him to be a perfect moron and a rude person. It thus becomes known to us that since a man believes in many a thing to the extent of certitude on the basis of hearing them merely from people, how is it that he should disbelieve the teachings of the Prophets who are the people of a great status and magnificent caliber!

    The basic teachings of the Prophets and the (Divine) Scriptures:

    Thus we understand that every one has been individually inculcated and stressed upon in the realms of the spirits to adopt and adhere to the concept of Tauhid[3](Monotheism) and shun Shirk (polytheism), i.e. associating partners with Allah in the acts belonging to Him. All the Prophets have been sent to this world for the sole purpose of reminding people of this covenant and its renewal. The instructions of more than one hundred and twenty-four thousand Messengers of Allah and the central knowledge contained in all the Divine Scriptures concentrate on just one point, "Beware! the concept of Tauhid (Monotheism) should not be tampered with and do not even think of associating partners with Allah! Do not consider anyone as an absolute sovereign and a disposer (of the affairs) except Allah! Do not resort to anyone for the fulfillment of your wishes and making vows except Allah!"

    Once we are informed about the following Hadith, there is no room left whatsoever for an excuse to commit an act of Shirk by anybody. This is how the Hadith goes:

    It is narrated by Mu'adh bin Jabal {May Allah have mercy on him} that he was instructed by the Prophet {Peace be upon Him} to the effect that:

    "You must not join others as partners with Allah even if you are murdered or burnt to death." (Musnad Ahmad)

    This means that we must not consider anyone else other than Allah as worthy of being worshipped and do not care for being molested by a jinn or devil. As the Muslims must patiently bear the brunt of the external calamities, without jeopardizing their Faith, they must also bear the internal inflictions (i.e., molestations on the part of jinns, ghosts and other such beings) with patience without perverting their Faith out of their fright. They should hold the belief that everything whether an affliction or comfort is directly governed by Allah. Allah sometimes puts

    his faithful believers on trial. A believer is tested according to the strength of his Faith. Sometime pious people are subjected to chastisement on the part of the wicked persons so that a distinction may be established between the sincere and the hypocrite. As the pious are apparently molested by the disobedient ones and the Muslims by the disbelievers (through the Will of Allah) and they continue to bear with it with perseverance and patience without perverting their Faith due to being disgruntled with the trials, similarly the pious are sometimes subjected to trouble on the part of jinns and Satans through the Will of Allah. So one should bear with it steadfastly and patiently without yielding to their hegemony out of the fear of their oppression. Thus it becomes known to us that if a person denies a deity (false deity other than Allah) out of being averse to Shirk, repudiates and condemns making vows and offerings to it, removes the erroneous and unjustified customs associated with it; and in the process of doing it, if such a person incurs either a loss of life or a loss in terms of finances, or should Satan happen to chastise him in the name of a preceptor or a martyr (by making such fake appearances), he must understand that Allah is testing his Faith which he must humbly bear with and should hold on to his Faith steadfastly. We must remember that Allah tightens His grip on the oppressors after giving them  plenty of rope and liberates the oppressed from their talons, similarly He shall grab on to the oppressors among the jinn in due course of time and shall release the adherents to the concept of Oneness of Allah (the monotheists upholding the cause of 'Tauhid') from their tyranny.

    It has been narrated by Ibn Mas'ud {May Allah have mercy on him}:

     

    "A person enquired of the Prophet {Peace be upon Him} as to which is the biggest of all sins. He said that it is to call upon someone else other than Allah, thinking of him as similar to Allah, even though Allah has created you." (Al-Bukhari-Muslim)

    It means that as Allah (on account of His Knowledge and Capability), is believed to be the Omnipresent and the Conductor of the whole universe, and is called upon in times of distress, similarly calling upon some other entity other than Allah believing in it to be characterized by the same qualities is the greatest of all sinful acts. Because none has the capability to solve the problems of creatures except Allah. Furthermore, as long as our Rabb is Allah, we must call upon Him Alone in distress situations as we have no link with any other entity. For example, if someone becomes a slave to a king, he is bound to approach his king for the fulfillment of all his needs. Not to speak of a shoe-maker or a sweeper, he will not even approach other kings (for his personal needs). Since there is no entity at all, whatsoever, who could be considered a counterpart of Allah, is it not a folly to approach any other entity for the fulfillment of one's needs?

    Tauhid (Monotheism) and forgiveness:

    It has been narrated by Anas {May Allah have mercy on him} that the Prophet {Peace be upon Him} said:

     

    "Allah the Exalted states to the posterity of Adam that if you happen to meet Me with the sinful acts of the entire world, I shall meet you with an equal amount of mercy provided you have not joined partners with Me."

     

    It means that there had been many delinquent and sinful people in the world including Pharaoh and Haman etc. as well as Satan, who also is to be found in this world. All these sinners have been committing sins and shall continue committing them till Doomsday. Now, if a person supposedly commits all these sins collectively to his sole account individually, chances are that Allah shall bestow on him an equal amount of mercy and forgiveness, provided he has not committed Shirk. Thus it becomes known to us that with the blessing of Tauhid, all the sins are forgiven[4] exactly in the same manner as the virtuous deeds are destroyed by the evil of Shirk. This is also a fact that when a man is completely cleansed off the impurities of Shirk and shall uphold a faith that none but Allah is his Master, and there is no place to flee His Rule, none offers shelter to the ones who disobey Him, all are helpless before Him, none can deter His Commandment, none can intercede with Him on behalf of someone else and no one can make a recommendation before Him for someone without His Permission, -on nursing this set of beliefs -the possibility of sins which might be committed by him could be only either due to his inherent human weaknesses or his forgetfulness. And then such a person shall have been groaning under the burden of these sins, shall be utterly disgusted and shall not be able to raise his head (out of a sense of shame and remorse). This type of person is undoubtedly blessed with the mercy of Allah. As the amount of sins increases, so increases the intensity of his remorse and the more his remorse becomes intense, so does the mercy of Allah.

    We must remember the point that the sin of a devout monotheist can do what a virtuous deed of a polytheist cannot. A delinquent monotheist is a thousand times better than an observant and pious polytheist exactly in a similar manner as a criminal subject is a thousand times preferable to a toady mutineer, because the former is remorseful on his sin, and the latter proud and callous.

     

    [1] Whether a 'Shirk' is of a monstrous nature or of a minor degree, is forbidden anyway and is contrary to the concept of Islamic Monotheism.

     

    [2] Rabb means among other things, the Creator, the Sustainer, the Provider and the One in Whose hand is the disposal of all affairs.[I] Thus they confirmed to it. Then Allah elevated Adam (to a certain height) who could see all of them. he saw that there rich among them as well as poor, beautiful as well as ugly. Upon sighting this, Adam enquired of Allah, "O our Rabb! Why didn't You create all of them as equals?" He answered, "I like to be offered thanks." Then A dam {Peace be upon Him} sighted among them the Prophets {Peace be upon Them} too whose faces were glowing like lamps and who had an aura of illumination surrounding their faces. Then Allah the Exalted took also an acknowledgement from all the Prophets in regard to their Prophethood. It alludes to that pledge which is mentioned in the Qur'an with the following statement: (And there was also a time) when We took a pledge from the Prophets. These Prophets include you (Prophet Muhammad {Peace be upon Him} , Noah, Abraham, Moses and Jesus the son of Mary).

    [3] It means declaring Allah to be the only God Who deserves to be worshipped in truth and confirming all attributes with which He has gratified Himself or that are attributed to Him by His Messenger {Peace be upon Him} .

     

    [4] The purpose of mentioning this Hadith here is to clarify that committing an act of Shirk is an extremely obnoxious and abominable thing. One should not however, deduce that as long as one is free from Shirk, the commission of other sinful acts are in any way justifiable. In regard to the forgiveness of sins, one should take into consideration the general rule of Shari'ah (i.e., seeking Allah's forgiveness and becoming repentant).

     

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