𝐈𝐝𝐨𝐥𝐚𝐭𝐫𝐲 𝐢𝐬 𝐏𝐫𝐨𝐡𝐢𝐛𝐢𝐭 𝐢𝐧 𝐈𝐬𝐥𝐚𝐦
Mohamad Mostafa Nassar
Idolatry is the worship of an idol or a physical object as a representation of a god. In all the Abrahamic religions idolatry is strongly forbidden.
In Islam in particular, idolatry is shirk. Shirk is often translated into the English term polytheism. To understand “shirk” we need to take a step back to the root meaning of the word. Shirk comes from the Arabic root word Š-R-K (ش ر ك) which means “to share”. Hence, in the context of the Quran and Sunnah, “shirk” is to “attributing a partner to Allah Exalted He.”
Shirk is an unforgiveable crime. Allah swt may forgive a sin except for committing shirk. Shirk extents to and means the deification of anyone or anything other than one God. Literally, it means ascribing or the establishment of “partners” placed beside Allah.
The Quran states: “Recall that Luqmaan said to his son, as he enlightened him, “O my son, do not set up any idols beside Allah; idolatry is a gross injustice.” Quran [31:13]
I ask you – how will you feel if you took care of a child, gave him the best education, and prepared him for life, only to see him thank someone else? Thus is idolatry, injustice.
The natural instinct of monotheism that God has placed in us commands us to dedicate our worship to God Alone, and not associate anything with Allah. All places of worship should be dedicated to God Alone. Belief in God includes the understanding that He alone is worthy of worship.
The Quran states “The places of worship belong to Allah; do not call on anyone else beside GOD.” Quran [72:18]
Polytheism and idol worship was the most prominent feature of the religion of pre-Islamic Arabia, although all Arabs were decedents of Ismaeel (as) from Abraham (as) and practiced monotheism. Each tribe had its own deities and its own idols. Idol worship in Islam is considered as the most ignorant thing you can do.
The conception of the entity that is the Creator cannot be described by the created – this is the God that Islam seeks its adherents to believe in. The Only Being worthy of worship in Islam is the One Who created everything from nothing.
When it is reduced to a form, whether an idol manifested or a thought in the restricted boundaries of the mind, it is the creation of a created being, and hence limited. Limitations cannot be applied to Allah (except where the attributes are negative – injustice, falsehood, change, matter, and such).
The Glorious Quran states:
“[And] when he (Abraham) said to his father and his people, “What do you worship? Is it falsehood [as] gods other than Allah you desire? Then what is your thought about the Lord of the worlds?” And he cast a look at the stars and said, “Indeed, I am [about to be] ill.” So they turned away from him, departing. Then he turned to their gods (idols) and said, “Do you not eat? What is [wrong] with you that you do not speak?” And he turned upon them a blow with [his] right hand (destroying the idols). Then the people came toward him, hastening. He said, “Do you worship that which you [yourselves] carve, While Allah created you and that which you do?” Quran [37:85-96]
What is meant by Idolatry
Praise be to Allah.
What is meant by idolatry is the worship of idols and being attached to them. This term refers to man-made religions that worship idols, such as the polytheists of ancient Arabia, India, Japan and so on, in contrast to the people of the book, the Jews and Christians.
In the Qur’an and the hadiths of the Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) it is forbidden to worship idols, and it is enjoined to worship Allah only.
Allah, may He be exalted, says (interpretation of the meaning):
“So, avoid the uncleanliness [rijs] of idols and avoid false statement”
“And uncleanliness [rujz] avoid” Quran (74:5).
Abu Salamah said:
Rujz refers to idols. This was narrated by al-Bukhari in a mu‘allaq report in the chapter on the verse “And uncleanliness [rujz] avoid” Quran (74:5), in Kitaab at-Tafseer in his Sahih.
And Allah, may He be exalted, says (interpretation of the meaning:
“And [We sent] Abraham, when he said to his people, Worship Allah and fear Him. That is best for you, if you should know.
You only worship, besides Allah, idols, and you produce a falsehood. Indeed, those you worship besides Allah do not possess for you [the power of] provision. So, seek from Allah provision and worship Him and be grateful to Him. To Him you will be returned”
“And [Abraham] said, you have only taken, other than Allah, idols as [a bond of] affection among you in worldly life. Then on the Day of Resurrection you will deny one another and curse one another, and your refuge will be the Fire, and you will not have any helpers.”
In the story of Heraclius and Abu Sufyaan, -Bukhari (7) narrated that Heraclius said:
I asked you what he enjoins upon you, and you said that he enjoins you to worship Allah and not to associate anything else with Him, and he forbids you to worship idols, and he enjoins you to pray, give charity and remain chaste. If what you say is true, then he will gain surely dominion over the place where these two feet of mine are standing.
Abu Daawood (4252) and at-Tirmidhi (2219) narrated that Thawbaan said: The Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) said: “Allah drew the ends of the earth together for me to see, and I saw its eastern and western lands, and the dominion of my ummah will reach as far as that which was drawn together for me to see. And I have been given two treasures, the red and the white. … The Hour will not begin until some tribes of my ummah join the polytheists and some tribes of my ummah worship idols.”
This hadith was classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in Saheeh Abi Dawood.
Al-Bukhari included in his Saheeh a chapter entitled Baab Taghyeer az-Zamaan hatta tu‘bad al-awthaan [Chapter: Things will change with the passage of time until idols are worshipped], in which he quoted the hadith of Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him), according to which the Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) said:
“The Hour will not begin until the backsides of the women of Daws wobble (as they go) around Dhu’l-Khalasah.” Dhu’l-Khalasah was a false god of Daws that they used to worship during the Jaahiliyya=pre-Islam ignorance period.
Narrated by al-Bukhari (7116).
Idolatry, which is the worship of idols, was widespread in the Arabian Peninsula, and still exists now in some countries, such as India, Japan, and some African countries.
In the hadith it states that this practice will return to the Arabian Peninsula at the end of time before the onset of the Hour.
And Allah knows best.