Polytheism and its various Manifestations Ash-Shirk 

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

Types: 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.

Manifestations: (1) Ash-Shirk al-Akbar (The major Shirk):
The major and serious polytheistic form, has four aspects:

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

Almighty Allâh says:

“And when they embark on a ship they invoke Allâh,
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,” (V.29:65)

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

Almighty Allâh says:

“Whosoever desires the life of the world and its glitter,
to them We shall pay in full (the wages of) their deeds therein, and they will
have no diminution therein. They are those for whom there is nothing in the
Hereafter but Fire, and vain are the deeds they did therein. And of no effect
is that which they used to do.” (V. 11:15,16)

(c) Shirk at-Tâ‘ah. This aspect implies rendering
obedience to any authority against the Order of Allâh. Almighty Allâh says:

“They (Jews and Christians) took their
Rabbis and their monks to be their lords besides Allâh (by obeying them in
things which they made lawful or unlawful according to their own desires
without being ordered by Allâh), 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., Allâh), Lâ ilâha
illâ Huwa (none has the right to be worshipped but He) Glorified is He (far
above is He) from having the partners they associate (with Him) (V: 9:31)

Once while Allah’s Messenger ay wall was reciting the
above Verse, “Adi ibn Matim said, “Allah’s Prophet! They do not
worship them (rabbis and monks) Allah’s Messenger said, “They certainly
do. They (ie 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 Ahmed Anwidhi and Ibn Jarp) (Tafsir
Al-Tabari, Vol. 10, Page No. 114).

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

Almighty Allah says:

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

(2) Ash-Shirk al Asghar 

Ar-Riya’ (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 benefit, falls under this category.

Almighty Allâh says:

“Say (O Muhammad PBUH): ‘I am only a man like you,
it has been revealed to me that your Ilah (God) is One Ilah (God-ie. Allâh). 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.'” (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 Allâh; 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 PBUH said:

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