What is Shirk (Polytheism) and its manifestations (in Islam)?




What is Shirk?

Shirk basically is polytheism, i.e. the worship of others along withAllah. It also implies attributing divine attributes to any other besides Allah. It particularly implies associating partners in worship with Allah or to believe that the source of power, harm or blessings is from others besides Allah.

Types of Shirk

There are three types of Shirk, namely:

(1) Ash-Shirk-al-Akbar, i.e. major Shirk

(2) Ash-Shirk-al-Asghar, i.e. minor Shirk

(3) Ash-Shirk-al-Khafi, i.e. inconspicuous Shirk.

Ash-Shirk-al-Akbar (The major Shirk):

The major and serious polytheistic form, it has four aspects:

(a) Shirk-ad-Du’â, i.e. invocation.This aspect implies invoking, supplicating or praying to other deities besides Allah.

Almighty Allah says:

islam on What is Shirk (Polytheism) and its manifestations (in Islam)?

"And when they embark on a ships they invoke Allah, making their Faith pure for Him only, but when He brings them safely to land, behold, they give a share of their worship to others," (Quran – V.29:65)

(b) Shirk-al-Niyyah wal-Iradah wal-Qasd. This aspect implies intentions, purpose and determination in acts of worship or religious deeds not for the sake of Allah but directed towards other deities.

(c) Shirk-at-Tâ’a. This aspect implies rendering obedience to any authority against the Order of Allah.

Almighty Allah says:

islam on What is Shirk (Polytheism) and its manifestations (in Islam)?

"They (Jews and Christians) took their Rabbis and their monks to be their lords besides Allah (by obeying them in things which they made lawful or unlawful according to their own desires without being ordered by Allah), and (they also took as their lord) Messiah, son of Maryam (Mary), while they (Jews and Christians) were commanded (in the Torah and the Gospel) to worship none but One Ilâh (God i.e., Allah), Lâ ilâha illâ Huwa (none has the right to be worshipped but He). Praise and Glory be to Him, (far above is He) from having the partners they associate (with Him)." (Quran – V.9:31).

Once, while Allah’s Messenger (SAW) was reciting the above Verse, ‘Adi bin Hatim said, "O Allah’s Prophet! They do not worship them (rabbis and monks)." Allah’s Messenger said, "They certainly do. They (i.e. Rabbis and monks) made legal things illegal, and illegal things legal, and they (i.e. Jews and Christians) followed them; and by doing so they really worshipped them."(Narrated by Ahmad, At-Tirmidhi, andIbn Jarir). (Tafsir At-Tabari, Vol.10, Page No. 114).

(d) Shirk-al-Mahabbah. This implies showing the love which is due to Allah Alone, to others than Him.

Almighty Allah says:

islam on What is Shirk (Polytheism) and its manifestations (in Islam)?

"And of mankind are some who take (for worship) others besides Allah as rivals (to Allah). They love them as they love Allah. But those who believe, love Allah more (than anything else). If only those who do wrong could see, when they will see the torment, that all power belongs to Allah and that Allah is Severe in punishment." (Quran – V. 2:165)

(2) Ash-Shirk-al-Asghar Ar-Riyâ’ (The minor Shirk, i.e. acts performed to show off)

Any act of worship or any religious deed done in order to gain praise, fame or for worldly purposes, falls under this minor form.

Almighty Allah says:

islam on What is Shirk (Polytheism) and its manifestations (in Islam)?

"Say (O Muhammad SAW ) : ‘I am only a man like you, it has been inspired to me that your Ilâh (God) is One Ilâh (God i.e Allah). So whoever hopes for the meeting with his Lord, let him work righteousness and associate none as a partner in the worship of his Lord.’ " (Quran – V. 18:110)

(3) Ash-Shirk-al-Khafi (The inconspicuous Shirk).

This type implies being inwardly dissatisfied with the inevitable condition that has been ordained for one by Allah; conscientiously lamenting that had you done or not done such and such or had you approached such and such you would have had a better status, etc.

The Noble Prophet Muhammad SAW said:

"Ash-Shirk-al-Khafi in the Muslim nation is more inconspicuous than the creeping of black ant on black rock in the pitch-darkness of the night." And this inconspicuous Shirk is expiated by saying thrice the following sentences within a day and a night: "O Allah! I take Your refuge from that I should ascribe anything as partner in Your worship, being conscious of that, and I beg Your pardon for that sin which I am not aware of."

Major and Minor Shirk – A Clarification

The texts of the Quran and Sunnah indicate that shirk and the ascribing of rivals to Allah 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 Allah something that belongs only to Allah, such as Lordship (ruboobiyyah), divinity (uloohiyyah) and the divine names and attributes (al-asma’ wa’l-sifaat).


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 Allah.

Or the belief that there is someone else who must be obeyed absolutely besides Allah, 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 Allah in love and veneration, by loving a created being as they love Allah. This is the kind of shirk that Allah does not forgive.

Or the belief that there are those who know the Unseen as well as Allah. It is also shirk to believe that there is someone who bestows mercy in a manner that is befitting only for Allah, so he shows mercy as Allah does and forgives sins and overlooks the bad deeds of his worshippers. 


Such as those who make dua or pray to someone other than Allah, or seek his help or seek refuge with him with regard to matters over which no one has control except Allah, 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 Allah to His creation, or say that there is another creator, provider or controller besides Allah. All of these are major shirk and a grave sin that is not forgiven.


Such as one who sacrifices, prays or prostrates to something other than Allah, or who promulgates laws to replace the rulings of Allah.

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 Allah has not given permission, such as hanging up “hands”, turquoise beads, amulets, etc on the grounds that they offer protection or that they ward off the evil eye. But Allah has not made them the means of such protection, either according to shareeah or according to the laws of the universe.

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 Allah, or saying, “Were it not for Allah 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 Allah 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 Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said:“The thing that I fear most for you is minor shirk.” They said: “O Messenger of Allah, what is minor shirk?” He said: “Showing off, for Allah 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 Quran 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.

(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 (after the prophet) concerning the religion of Allah, and the most knowledgeable as to the intent of the Lawgiver. For example, Abu Dawood (3910) narrated from Ibn Mas’ood (may Allah be pleased with him) that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah 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 Allah will rid him of it by means of tawakkul (putting his trust in Allah). 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 Allah 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 there from.

(iv) – If the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah 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 Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) led the morning prayer for us at al-Hudaybiyah following rainfall during the night. When the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) finished, he turned to face the people and said to them: “Do you know what your Lord has said?” They said: “Allah 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.’” 

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.


Such as the belief that something may be a cause of bringing benefit or warding off harm, when Allah has not made it so; or believing that there is barakah (blessing) in a thing, when Allah has not made it so.


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 Allah, without believing in venerating the thing sworn by or regarding it as equal with Allah; or saying, “Whatever Allah wills and you will,” and so on.


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 Allah has not made it so either according to sharee’ah or according to the laws of the universe, has associated something with Allah. This also applies to one who touches a thing seeking its barakah (blessing), when Allah 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.

Soruce and References:

1. Dr. M. Taqi-ud-Din al-Hilali, Ph.D., Dr. Muhammad Muhsin Khan -  Islamic University, Al-Madinah Al-Munawwara. Source: Noble Quran – English Translation of the meanings and commentary

2. Islamqa.info






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Sci-Tech Encyclopedia:



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In common usage the word science is applied to a variety of disciplines or intellectual activities which have certain features in common. Usually a science is characterized by the possibility of making precise statements which are susceptible of some sort of check or proof. This often implies that the situations with which the special science is concerned can be made to recur in order to submit themselves to check, although this is by no means always the case. There are observational sciences such as astronomy or geology in which repetition of a situation at will is intrinsically impossible, and the possible precision is limited to precision of description.

A common method of classifying sciences is to refer to them as either exact sciences or descriptive sciences. Examples of the former are physics and, to a lesser degree, chemistry; and of the latter, taxonomical botany orzoology. The exact sciences are in general characterized by the possibility of exact measurement. One of the most important tasks of a descriptive science is to develop a method of description or classification that will permit precision of reference to the subject matter. See also Physical science.

The cult of scientism


The cults of skepticism, presentism, scientism, and anti-intellectualism will lead us to despair, not merely of education, but also of society.


Scientism divides all thought into two categories: scientific thought and nonsense.” The cult of scientism


scientific method are never certain, science is never complete, and scientists can never legitimately claim absolute knowledge.





Cosmology is the study of the universe and humanity’s place in it. In the last few hundred years, cosmology has been dominated by physics and astrophysics, primarily being based on religion prior to that. Seeking to give humanity answers to “Big Questions,” religion and mythology have offered various answers to the origin of the universe and its arrangement since prehistory, but these explanations are replaced by contemporary scientific observations and theories.

However, one should not assume that the current scientific conception of cosmology is correct. Although the general picture has remained the same since the 1920s, the specifics are often revised based on new observations and theories. Most notably in the history of cosmology, in 1964 the cosmic microwavebackground radiation was detected.




Evolution is not a science and certainly not a fact, but illusion.

Darwins Evolution vs. Intelligent Design, ...



"The Darwinian theory of descent has not a single fact to confirm it in the realm of nature. It is not the result of scientific research, but purely the product of imagination."—*Dr. Fleischman [Erlangen zoologist].http://www.pathlights.com/ce_encyclopedia/Encyclopedia/01-evol1.htm



"And they say: "What is there but our life in this world? We shall die and we live, and nothing but time can destroy us." But of that they have no knowledge: they merely conjecture:"

(Quran, 45:24)

"....follow nothing but conjecture and what their own souls desire!- Even though there has already come to them Guidance from their Lord!"

(Quran, 53:23)





Note: We know science is not perfect, always expanding in knowledge. So learn  a truth about The Almighty One God and His Messengers and their Message.


The Qur’an calls upon Muslims to look around them and study the physical world, so that they might appreciate the majesty of Allah’s creation.  “Behold! in the creation of the heavens and the earth; in the alternation of the night and the day; in the sailing of the ships through the ocean for the benefit of mankind; in the rain which Allah Sends down from the skies, and the life which He gives therewith to an earth that is dead; in the beasts of all kinds that He scatters through the earth; in the change of the winds, and the clouds which they trail like their slaves between the sky and the earth — (Here) indeed are Signs for a people that are wise.” (Surah Al-Baqarah 2:164)

And the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) told Muslims to “seek knowledge, even if it be in China.”  (Meaning ’seek knowledge wherever it may be found.‘)

Throughout Islamic history, that is exactly what Muslims have done.   Particularly in the 7th-13th centuries C.E., the Islamic world was in the midst of its “Golden Age,” paving the way for the growth of modern sciences.  Rather than stifling science, the religion of Islam encouraged its study.  Scientific inquiry was widespread, and some of the greatest scholars and scientists of the world made wondrous discoveries and inventions.  Muslims led the world in the study of medicine, astronomy, mathematics, geography, chemistry, botany, and physics.  They transmitted their studies to the West, where their work was built upon and further disseminated.

For Further Study:

Contributions of Islam to Medicine - excellent article by Ezzat Abouleish , M. D.

How Islam Influenced Science - overview from the Islamic Herald

Islam in Medieval History - links from About.com’s Medieval History Guide

Islamic Medicine - overview of Muslim contributions to the field of medicine

Medieval Science - another resource from About.com’s Guide to Medieval History

Muslim Scientists and Scholars - biographies of the well-known and lesser-known

Science and Islam - overview of the many fields Muslims studied

Scientific Contributions of Muslims - in English and Arabic.

Setting the Record Straight - Westerners take credit for many discoveries that were actually made by Muslim scientists.

Timeline of Muslim Scientists - includes names and dates, but no biographical

( ) BISMILLAHI RAHMANI RAHEEM: "In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful." Mostly used at the beginning of things.

(  or ) ASSALAAMU'ALAIKUM: This is the greeting Muslims use with one another. It means "peace be upon you," and is often shortened to "salaam" or "peace."

WA 'ALAIKUMUS SALAM: This is an expression that a Muslim is to say as an answer for the above greeting. When a person greets another with a salutation of peace, the answer for the greeting is an answer of peace. The meaning of this statement is: "And upon you is the peace." The other expressions are: "Wa Alaikums Salam Wa Rahmatullah" and, "Wa 'Alaikums Salam Wa Rahmatullahi Wa Barakatuh."

( ) MASHA ALLAH: "Whatever Allah wants" or, "Whatever Allah wants to give, He gives." This is an expression that Muslims say whenever they are excited or surprised or pleased. When they wish to express their happiness, they use such an expression. This means that whenever Allah gives something good to someone, blesses him, honors him, and opens the door of success in business, a Muslim says this statement of "Masha Allah." It is a sign of thanks and appreciation from the person to Almighty Allah for whatever he was blessed with.

( ) IN SHA' ALLAH: "If Allah wills." When a person wishes to plan for the future, when he promises, when he makes resolutions, and when he makes a pledge, he makes them with permission and the will of Allah. For this reason, a Muslim uses the Qur'anic instructions by saying "In Sha ' Allah." Muslims are to strive hard and to put their trusts with Allah. They leave the results in the hands of Allah. 

( ) JAZAKALLAHU KHAYRAN: "May Allah reward you for the good." This is a statement of thanks and appreciation to be said to the person who does a favor. Instead of saying "thanks" (shukran), the Islamic statement of thanks is to say this phrase. It is understood that human beings can't repay one another enough. Hence, it is better to request Almighty Allah to reward the person who did a favor and to give him the best. 

LA HAWLA WA LA QUWWATA ILLA BILLAH: The meaning of this expression is: "There is no power and no strength save in Allah." This expression is read by a Muslim when he is struck by a calamity, or is taken over by a situation beyond his control. A Muslim puts his trust in the hands of Allah, and submits himself to Allah. 

INNA LILLAHI WA INNA ILAHI RAJI'UN: "We are from Allah and to Him we are returning." When a Muslim is struck with a calamity, when he loses one of his loved ones, or when he has gone bankrupt, he should be patient and say this statement. Muslims believe that Allah is the One who gives and it is He takes away. He is testing us. Hence, a Muslim submits himself to Allah. He is grateful and thankful to Allah for whatever he gets. On the other hand, he is patient and says this expression in times of turmoil and calamity.

 ) ALHAMDULILLAH: "All Praise is to Allah." Used at all times.

LA ILAHA ILLALLAH: "There is no lord worthy of worship except Allah." This expression is the most important one in Islam. It is the creed that every person has to say to be considered a Muslim. It is part of the first pillar of Islam. The second part of this first pillar is to say: "Muhammadun Rasul Allah," which means: "Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah." 

MUHAMMADUN RASULULLAH: This statement is the second part of the first pillar of Islam. The meaning of this part is that Prophet Muhammad is the last and final Prophet and Messenger of Allah to mankind. He is the culmination, summation, purification of the previous prophets of Allah to humanity. 

 ) SALLALLAHU 'ALAIHI WA SALLAM: When the name of Prophet Muhammad (saw) is mentioned or written, a Muslim is to respect him and invoke this statement of peace upon him. The meaning of it is: "May the blessings and the peace of Allah be upon him (Muhammad)." Another expression that is alternatively used is: "Alaihissalatu Wassalam." This expression means: "On Him (Muhammad) are the blessings and the peace of Allah." Allah has ordered Muslims, in the Qur'an, to say such an expression. Muslims are informed that if they proclaim such a statement once, Allah will reward them ten times. S.A.W. These letters are abbreviations for the words "Salla Allahu 'Alaihi Wa Sallam". 

P.B.U.H.: These letters are abbreviations for the words "Peace Be Upon Him" which are the meaning of the Arabic expression "'Alaihis Salam", which is an expression that is said when the name of a prophet is mentioned. This expression is widely used by English speaking Muslims. It is to be noticed here that this expression does not give the full meaning of "Salla Allahu 'Alaihi Wa Sallam." Therefore it is recommended that people do not use (p.b.u.h.) after the name of Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.); they should use "Salla Allahu 'Alaihi Wa Sallam" instead, or they may use the abbreviated form of (s.a.w) in writing.

RADHIALLAHU 'ANHU (RA): This is an expression to be used by Muslims whenever a name of a companion of the Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.) is mentioned or used in writing. The meaning of this statement is: "May Allah be pleased with him." Muslims are taught to be respectful to the elderly and to those who contributed to the spread and success in Islam. They are to be grateful to the companions of the Prophet (s.a.w.) for their sacrifices, their leadership, and their contributions. Muslims are advised to use this phrase when such names are mentioned or written. 

This abbreviation has many variations depending on the gender and how many companions are being talked about. For example, (RA) meaning, "Radiy Allahu Anha" means: "May Allah be pleased with her."

) SUBHANAHU WA TA'ALA: "Allah is pure and exalted." This is an expression that Muslims use whenever the name of Allah is pronounced or written. Muslims believe that Allah is the only God, the Creator of the Universe. He does not have partners or children. Sometimes Muslims use other expressions when the name of Allah is written or pronounced. Some of which are: "'Azza Wa Jall": "He is the Mighty and the Majestic"; "Jalla Jalaluh": "He is the exalted Majestic." 

SADAQALLAHUL 'AZIM: "Allah says the truth." This is a statement of truth that a Muslim says after reading any amount of verses from the Qur'an. The Qur'an is the exact words of Allah in verbatim. When Allah speaks, He says the truth; and when the Qur'an is being recited, a Muslim is reciting the words of truth of Allah. Hence, he says: "Sadaqallahul 'Azim."