Important Lessons for Every Muslim

Last week we looked at the different types of Shirk; Akbar, Asghar and Khafee. We focused on Shirk Al Akbar and learnt that this type of Shirk necessitates nullification of a person’s deeds and entering of the hellfire forever for the one that dies upon this without repenting.

The second type is Shirk Al Ashgar and we have come to know of this category of Shirk via the Quran & Sunnah. It is the Quran and the Sunnah that have defined and described these actions as Shirk. Examples of this include swearing by other than Allah, showing off in some acts of worship and saying “If Allah and Fulaan (such & such) wills. Shirk Al Ashgar is a major sin and from the most dangerous of them.

Swearing by other than Allah is an example of Shirk Al Asghar. We know that this type of Shirk is of a lesser type because when this was done in the presence of the Prophet salalaahu alayhi wasalaam, he did not request the people who fell into this to re-take their Shahaadah or mention anything about the nullification of their Islam. However, if someone swears by other than Allah, intending by this to glorify this person/thing etc, then this is Shirk Al Akbar. However, if this is not what is intended then this is Shirk Al Asghar. Abdullah Ibn Masood RadiyAllahu anhu used to say “swearing by Allah and lying is more beloved to me than swearing by other than Allah and being truthful” – showing the seriousness of this affair and its dangers.

The scholars have differed upon the affair of the one who dies upon Shirk Al Asghar. Some mention that they are not like those who have died upon Tawheed but with major sins (without repenting). Those whom are under the will of Allah, he may forgive them from his Mercy if he wills or punishes them with his justice. They mention that the person who dies upon Shirk Al Asghar without repenting will be punished, but the difference here is that they will not remain therein forever.

Shirk Al Khafee (hidden) is the third type of Shirk, but is more of a description than a separate category and applies to both Shirk Al Akbar and Shirk Al Asghar. This is understood when we break both Shirk Al Akbar and Shirk Al Asghar into two types, that which is openly clear and that which is hidden. An example of the openly clear type of Shirk Al Akbar is to worship the dead. An example of the hidden type of Shirk Al Akbar is that Shirk of the Munafiqeen (hypocrites). An example of that which is openly clear in relation to Shirk Al Asghar is someone swearing by other than Allah. An example of the hidden type of Shirk Al Asghar is Riyaa (showing off) in some of one’s actions. This type of Shirk was mentioned in the Sunnah, wherein the Prophet salalaahu alayhi wasalaam mentioned that he feared this type of Shirk more for them (the Sahaabah) than the coming of the Dajjal. He described it as someone beautifying their prayer, intending to show off (due to someone watching).