What is Shirk?
To understand the meaning of shirk should be the foremost duty of the Muslims. To complete the Islam, Muslims should know all about shirk, its solemnity and its types. The word shirk is derived from Arabic and its literal meaning is to share In terminology of Islam or shariah, shirk means worshipping others as well as Allah. Shirk is also known as polytheism. Allah does not forgive anyone who do shirk, as alone ALLAH is the only one who has the right to be worshipped, ALONE. Shirk is widely rehearsed by Muslims without having knowledge about it. There is need at this hour that Muslims must have knowledge about it at both social and individual levels.
You may also like to learn; Education in Islam.
Types of shirk
In the light of Quran and Hadiths the penalizing of shirk sometimes gets someone outside of Islam and sometimes it does not do so. So Islamic scholars have listed the three types of shirk, the first one is Major shirk, shirk e Akbar. Second one is minor shirk, shirk e Asghar and third one is inconspicuous Shirk (Ash-Shirk al-Khafi).
Major shirk (Shirk e Akbar)
Shirk e Akbar means assigning of those tasks to someone else that are only linked to Allah such as sanctitude and domination. This type of shirk is sometimes practiced my non-Muslims such as those human beings who worship idols, something that does not exist or it can by someone that is dead. This type of worship can be something that is hidden like worshiping something that is not visible and worshipers put their trust on Gods except ALLAH. By performing this type of shirk, they can put themselves outside the boundary of Islam meaning that they will live in hell forever. It is that type of shirk that is hidden and people who practice it are hypocrites as they pretend that they are Muslims but deep inside they worship someone else and satisfy shaitan. So, they are internally non-Muslims or mushriks but externally they call themselves Muslims.
Types of shirk e Akbar
Shirk e Akbar is divided into three different categories.
There is a strong belief that no one except Allah can make any things happen. Whereas in shirk ur rububiyah, there is a belief that there is someone else who is present to make the great changes to the world.
Shirk al Ibadah
When people worship something other than Allah, then they are following shirk al ibadah. Islam does not allow Muslims to do worship of anyone other than ALLAH. It clearly presents the clearest type of idolatry for which Allah sent the prophets to restrain people. Asking for forgiveness, making dua to go to paradise from someone other than ALLAH are some examples of shirk al ibadah. These are those things that only ALLAH can provide. There is no one else there present to do it.
Shirk Al-Asma wa’s-Sifat
Shirk in this type includes praising ALLAH for his creation and giving created beings ALLAHs name and ascribing. There are other two types of shirk al asma was sifat as:
Shirk by humanization
In this type of shirk the image of ALLAH is sometimes being painted, sketched or carved in the shape of human. Usually, it can be in the type of those physical traits who are obeying to them. for example, Hindus obey idols that have similarity of Asian people and they consider it God.
Shirk by deification
This type of shirk belongs to the situations in which humans or other things are given or they claim the Qualities of ALLAH or his name. For example, in the old times it was practiced that they derived the name of their idols from the names of ALLAH. AL-MANAT (derived from Al-MANAT), AL-Lat (ALLAHs name as ELAH) and AL-uzza (AL-AZIZ) where their main 3 deities.
Minor shirk (Shirk e Asghar)
Minor shirk or shirk e Asghar means that being Muslim outwardly but being a hidden polytheism. A Muslim shows to other people that he is a pure Muslim who doesn’t believe in other gods, but his actions and his thoughts do not support his words. He simply shows off his Islam or he wants to get attention and fame. But this is forbidden by ALLAH SWT very strictly. Minor shirk affects the external actions like wearing lucky charm, a thread or casting spells. It can be sometimes hidden also such as little bit of pretending to be a good Muslim or showing off.
inconspicuous Shirk (Ash-Shirk al-Khafi)
This type of shirk depends on the area of shirk that is committed. Sometimes it can be major or sometimes it can be minor one. Hidden shirk is one of the most threatening one as other people dont know about it and they cant guide someone who is doing it. Sometimes it can be the situation that a person who is dissatisfied with the circumstances he is facing and questioning the commands of ALLAH. It can be the loss of money, loss of a loved one which may lead someone to the state of dissatisfaction from ALLAH SWT and turning his way from ISLAM.
Guidelines for Muslims to avoid shirk:
Going against to the distinctive right of ALLAH, that is to worship Him alone without relating any partner to Him, is no doubt a great sin. Muslims should avoid shirk whether it is shirk e Akbar or shirk E Asghar. As ALLAH clearly defines the limits that if anyone will do shirk then his permanent residency will be in hell and there is no forgiveness for him. Every sagacious person who practices Islam truly should fear the shirk not only for himself but also for his loved ones. You can protect yourself and others from shirk by making this Dua:
اللّهُـمَّ إِنّـي أَعـوذُبِكَ أَنْ أُشْـرِكَ بِكَ وَأَنا أَعْـلَمْ، وَأَسْتَـغْفِرُكَ لِما لا أَعْـلَم
O Allah, I seek refuge in You lest I associate anything with You knowingly, and I seek Your forgiveness for what I know not.
We should make our connection strong with ALLAH SWT. Whatever happens in our lives is according to the will of ALLAH. If something bad happens in our life then we should not blame anyone for it. Muslims should continue to seek knowledge about Islam to know more about Islam in depth by maintaining a relation from the heart with ALLAH SWT. One should keep strong relation with other Muslims, should stay united with them to support against the Shirk. One should be consistent with his beliefs about Islam as shaitan frequently try to manipulate beliefs and thoughts of human beings. If any one commits the sin of shirk then he should seek forgiveness from ALLAH by doing Dua and by praying nawafal. He should keep his relation with pious people who can constantly reminds him of the oneness of ALLAH. You can read Histories of Different Scholars, staunch Muslims who can help you to increase your knowledge about Islam. You should keep distance from everything that reminds you of sin weather it is a place or people. Generally speaking, you can increase your faith by praying heartedly and doing worship and by keeping yourself away from haram things. And regarding the rest, ALLAH knows the Best.