بسم لله الرحمان الرحيم
In the name of Almighty God, the All-Merciful, the All-Beneficent.
A couple weeks ago I noticed that the History Channel was doing a week long documentary special on the "Seven Deadly Sins", of Christianity. A friend of mine who also saw this asked me if we as Muslims have anything like this in our faith. At first my answer was no, but then I thought about it. We do have something like that, but they would be narrowed down to three rather than seven. These are shirk, kufr, and nifaaq. These three things are sins that are considered extremely dire sins and it is important that we all, from time to time, remind ourselves of these things, and of how easy they sometimes can be to fall into.
The first of these sins is shirk. This concept can be summed up in a riddle a good friend of mine once told me, and I'll share it with you today. What is it that a common man sees all the time, a king sees every once in a while, and God never sees, and God sees all?...........................jeopardy song....................................give up? The answer is, rivalry. God never experiences rivalry because their are no gods except Him, and shirk is to associate ANYTHING else, with God. It is the very foundation of all of Islamic doctrine and spirituality. La ilaha illa Allah, "There is no god, but God"; the utterance of this statement, along with Muhammadun Rasoolullah "Muhammad is the messenger of God", is what makes someone Muslim. To worship anything besides God, to associate any kind of partner with God is shirk. This sin is considered the greatest sin of all, because it is the only sin in which God says that it will NOT be forgiven. God says in the Qur'an,
"Verily, Allah forgives not that partners be ascribed to Him, but He forgives anything except that; and whoever sets up partners with Allah in worship, has indeed invented a tremendous sin". (Qur'an 4:48)
God Almighty also says,
"Then when the trumpet is blown, there will be no kinship among them on that day, nor will they ask of one another.
Then those whose scales (of good deeds) are heavy, these! they are the successful.
The fire will burn their faces, and therein they will grin with disfigured lips.
Were not My verses recited to you and then you used to deny them?
They will say 'Our Lord, our wretchedness overcame us and we were an erring people.
Our Lord, bring us out of this. If we ever return to evil, then indeed we shall be wrongdoers.'
He (Allah) will say, 'Remain you in this with ignominy! And speak not to me!'
Then again Allah says,
"And whoever invokes something in worship besides Allah, any other god of whom he has no proof, then his reckoning is only with his Lord. Surely, those who disbelieve will not be successful. (Qur'an 23:117)
Shirk is most commonly associated with polytheistic religions such as Hinduism or ancient Greek or Roman religions. It can also be seen in religions like Buddhism were people may pray to or invoke the presence of the Buddha. Even amongst the Ahl al Kitab, or the "People of the Book" it can be found. Even though the Bible recounts the ten commandments of Moses (pbuh), the first of which is "thou shall have no other gods but Me", still many Christians, not all but some, fall into the trap of calling Jesus Christ (pbuh) God! God talks about the Christians calling Jesus His son in the Qur'an. However many Christians will take it a step further and actually say that Jesus was "God in human form". This is also shirk. Also you can see it in the Nation of Islam. Don't let the name fool you, their beliefs are not Islam. You can go to the Nation's website and see very plainly there the continuation of the teachings of Elijah Muhammad who said that Allah had come to Earth in human form, in the person of Wallace Fard, that Elijah Muhammad was a prophet of Allah, and that the "white man" is the direct physical descendant of Iblis and is fundamentally evil.
There are a couple different manifestations of shirk that we can see demonstrate both in scripture and in present day situations.
SHIRK AL AKBAR (The Major Shirk)
This is the most severe and deadliest shirk, and by deadly I don't mean physically but spiritually. For an example this we can turn to the Qur'an in 29:65.
"And when they embark on a ship, 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".
This verse reminds me of the saying, "there are no atheists in fox holes". In other words, when people are starring down the prospect of death at any moment, they will turn to God, and say "Oh God please save me!", but then when God does save them, they will turn back to their old ways; showing absolutely no gratitude to God for being sparred.
Also another way that this form of Shirk is manifested is when people render "complete" authority to anything but God. Again when we look to the Qur'an, in 9:31,
"They took their rabbis and their monks to be their lords besides Allah, and also the Messiah, the son of Mary, while they were commanded (in the Torah and the Gospels) to worship none but one God. There is none worthy of worship but Him. Glorified is He from having the partners that they associate with Him."
In this particular case, God is talking about the Ahl al Kitab or the "People of the Book" (i.e. the Jews and Christians). In addition to the worship of Jesus Christ (pbuh), God mentions the rabbis and the monks. This is to say the establishment of a priesthood. This is one of the most beautiful things about Islam, is that there is no concept of priesthood. Every human being is equal to God in terms of their ability to understand his commands and discern right from wrong. However, in Muslim history, a type of "priesthood" has been set up in many ways by both Sunni and Shia groups. Many people will say "I'm a Hanafi" or "I'm a Shafi'i", and they take their religion from these imams, and no one else, even though these imam's themselves never said that they ought to be followed blindly. In fact all of them were quoted as to saying that if anything they say contradicts what can be proven of the Sunnah (way of prophet Muhammad 'pbuh') then we are to disregard it. Being a scholar of Islam means that you have memorized the Qur'an and/or memorized entire collections of hadith, or have mastered one or more of the sciences of Islam, and this is a tremendous accomplishment that should not be downplayed in any way, shape or form. However, none of this necessarily makes you more capable of "reasoning" then any other human being. I have often found that sometimes a major problem with very "educated" people is that they over-think things. God Almighty told us in the Qur'an, that this book has been given to us in plain Arabic, or plain language. Likewise the prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said that he left us two things, The Qur'an and his Sunnah. This means that these two things are all we really need in to be successful in this life and the next. So we must be careful that we do not fall into the same trap that our Jewish and Christian brethren did, by taking our imams as lords, or "authorities" besides God.
SHIRK AL ASGHAR (The Minor Shirk)
This is to perform any act of worship, simply for gaining benefit or praise in this world. This is much more common than folks think. Many people when praying on their own will pray "sloppy". They may rush through it, just "going through the motions". However, when they are with people, they are very serious and hold themselves very confidently and piously during prayer. Why, because they want those other people to think that they are a good religious person. In some cases they may not even pray at all when they are alone. So, this is performing acts of worship that are designed for God alone, for the "entertainment" of others.
The next major/deadly sin, is the sin of kufr. In pre-Islamic Arabia, the word kufr was often used to refer to a farmer, who would plant a seed in the ground and then "cover" in up with earth. This "covering" was called kufr. When the Qur'an came, God Almighty used the word kufr to refer to those who had heard the message of Islam and the message of Muhammad (pbuh), refused to accept it, and "covered" it with their backward sense of reasoning.
One major problem that Muslims have now-a-days, is that many of us are in the habit of using this label, calling someone a kafr, far too lightly. Many Muslims automatically call anyone other than Muslims kafrs. Horribly, some will even call other Muslims kafrs if they don't believe in or practice Islam exactly how they do. This is very bad, both for the Muslim calling people that as well as for the entire Ummah (Muslim people's of the world).
To clarify, kufr, is to "knowingly" disbelieve and/or reject any of the six pillars of faith. which are:
-Believe in God
-Believe in Angels
-Believe in ALL the prophets (Adam, Moses, Jesus Christ, Muhammad, etc)
-Believe in God's revelations (Torah, Psalms, Gospel, & Qur'an)
-Believe in the Day of Judgment
-Believe in Divine Pre-Destination (God knows past, present, future).
Anyone who rejects or disbelieves in these things, who fully and completely understand them is a kafr. If they don't fully understand them, or don't have any knowledge of them at all, they are not a kafr, they are jahil or "ignorant". Remember, in order to "cover" the truth as the kufar (plural of kafr) do, they must first "have" the truth. There are several different manifestations of kufr, just as there are with shirk.
KUFR AL TAKDHEEB- This is to reject or "invent a lie" against any of the fundamental tenants of faith. God says in the Qur'an,
"Then who does more wrong than one who utters a lie against Allah, and denies the truth when it comes to him! Is there not in Hell, an abode for the disbelievers". (Qur'an, 39:32)
KUFR OF ARROGANCE- This is to refuse to obey God's commands when they have been made apparent to you, as Iblis (Satan) did when God created the first man, Adam. God says in the Qur'an,
"And remember when We said to the angels, 'Prostrate yourselves before Adam'. And the prostrated except Iblis, he refused and was proud and was one of the disbelievers." (Qur'an 2:34)
As the prophet Muhammad said, Satan has given up misleading you in large things, so beware the small things. Most of us don't go so far as to deny the obligation of the salah (five daily prayers), or of the obligation to fast, however many Muslims will try to find ways around many of the other commands of God. For example you'll see many Muslim shop owners who sell alcohol and liquor, and when you ask them why do you do this when you know it's haram they say, "well we have to be able to compete with other stores". Or, when you see sisters going without their hijab, they say that "they don't want to stand out", or "they don't want to be harassed". Sometimes they "sheikh shop" for imams or so-called scholars who will say that it's not obligatory. Sometimes Muslims engage in partying, gambling, fornication, and other sorts of activities and when you remind them of their duty to God, they just kind of shrug it off, as if they may live forever and never face God for the things they did in this life. This is arrogance in the face of God, and it to is a form kufr. Not necessarily the kind that completely excludes you from Islam, but nonetheless it is a form of kufr.
One more form of kufr is Kufr an Nifaaq. This is hypocritical disbelief. God Almighty says in the Qur'an,
"They have made their oaths a screen. Thus they hinder people from the path of Allah. Verily, evil is what they used to do. That is because they believed, and then disbelieved, therefore their hearts are sealed, so they understand not." (Qur'an 16:112)
This form of kufr implies being a hypocrite. Saying that you are a believer only to gain worldly gains, while inwardly still maintaining your disbelief, and this will lead us into the next "deadly sin", nifaaq or hypocrisy, which, God willing, I will continue with next week.
......And Allah Knows Best......