This information I am sharing with you today, regarding "shirk" is coming from the book I've been reading, "50 New Righteous and Humane Aspects Brought by Muhammad (SAW)."
"Shirk" basically means a form of polytheism. But, in Islam, this comes in many forms, and many things can be considered shirk and we may not even realize it. A lot of it has to do with our "Americanized" way of thinking. For example, in Islam, men are not really supposed to wear gold because it can make someone too proud, and it's like they are showing off...almost like making themselves into a minor "god," ...like saying "look at me, look what I have." In Islam, that is a form of shirk. So, this is just one example.
However, I really want to focus on Christianity and how Christians really practice "shirk" and don't realize it, and which is why Islam is truly Monotheistic.
Here's what the book says....
The Old Testament rejects idol and image worship and commands that they should be completely destroyed. Here are two examples of the Old Testament forbidding the worship of images:
First: "3. Thou shalt have no other gods before me. 4. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. 5. Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God" (Exodus 20:3-5).
Second: "But thus shall ye deal with them; ye shall destroy their alters, and break down their images, and cut down their groves, and burn their gaven images with fire" (Deut. 7:5).
The New Testament rejects idol and image worship as well:
First: "Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolators, nor adulterers, nor effinate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind" (1 Corinthians 6:9).
Yet, Christians worship images: Catholic and Orthodox Christians who have historically and still currently comprise the vast majority of Christians, erect statues in their churches, worship images and pray to icons, including that of Mary, calling her "The Mother of God."
Prophet Muhammad (SAW) once recited this ayah (verse) in the presence of 'Adi Ibn 'Hatim, who used to be Christian:
"They (Jews and Christians) took their rabbis and their monks to be their lords besides Allah, and (they also took as their Lord) Messiah, son of Maryam (Mary), while they were commanded (in the Torah and Gospel) to worship none but One God, none has the right to be worshiped but He. Praise and glory be to Him (far above is He) from having the partners they associate with Him" (Qur'an 9:31).
'Adi Ibn 'Hatim said, "O Allah's Messenger! They do not worship them (i.e rabbis and monks)." Prophet Muhammad (SAW) responded with:
"When they (rabbis and monks) made unlawful things as lawful, they (Jews and Christians) followed them, and when they (rabbis and monks) made lawful things as unlawful, they (Jews and Christians) followed them." (A Hasan hadith, Sahih at-Tirmidhi 3095).
What this means is that instead of following Allah's commands, they (the Jews and Christians) instead followed what the rabbis and monks said, as if they (the rabbis and monks) superceded Allah's commands!
The book continues...
Praying to the image of Mary is an inferior type of worship, so we are told. "We should pay to the angels and saints an inferior honor or worship, for this is due to them as the servants and special friends of God" (from The Catholic Encyclopedia vol VII, pg 670-672).
'Thou shalt not' became 'Thou shalt': 'Thou shalt not make thyself any graven image,' became "We should give to relics, crucifixes and holy pictures a relative honor; worship by no means implies only the supreme adoration that may be given only to God; we honor the prototype by honoring the sign; the figure of the sacred and life-giving Cross, as also the venerable and holy images...are to be placed suitably in the holy churches of God, on sacred vessels and vestments, on walls and pictures, in houses and by roads" (from The Catholic Encyclopedia).
Something must truly be said about Catholic principles concerning the worship of images: If, "Worship by no means implies only supreme adoration that mab be givein only to God. It is a general word denoting some more or less high degree of reverence and honor, an acknowledgment of worth. ...We do not pray to relics or images, for they can neither see nor hear nor help us." Then, why worship them at all since they can neither hear nor help?? Why not pray directly to and worship ONLY He Who Created them and everything else?
Idol-worshipers of earlier and latter generations give similar justification for their idol-worshiping: They claim that they worship the image because it reminds them of God, or of honorable or righteous persons. They claim that worshiping these objects also helps them draw close to the Creator.
The Catholic Church's rationale for erecting and worshiping images is strikingly similar to the rationale Arab idol-worshipers gave for erecting and worshiping idols: "The sign in itself is nothing, but it shares the honor of its prototype...we honor the prototype by honoring the sign. In this case all the outward marks of reverence, visibly directed towards the sign, turn in intention towards the real object of our reverence - the thing signified. The sign is only put UP as a visible direction for our reverence, because the real thing is not physically present. ... It is this relative worship that is to be paid to the cross, images of Christ and the saints, while the intention directs it all really to the persons these things represent" (The Catholic Encyclopedia).
A seemingly harmless innovation leads to utter polytheism: Arab idolaters from the past started with the idea of honoring righteous people by erecting idols depicting theirm images, under the pretext of remembering righteousness by looking at the images. instead, they ended up worshiping, praying to, adoring, serving and revering the images they erected.
Likewise, the vast majority of Christians erects images and pictures in their places of worship, streets and homes to remind them of the protoype, so they claim, but end up worshiping, adoring and praying to the images, relics and icons.
For instance, Christians (Catholics) pray to and invoke the image of Mary in their Holy Rosary, "Hail, Holy Queen, Mother of Mercy, our life, our sweetness, and our hope. To you do we cry poor banished children of Eve. To you do we send up our sighs, mourning and weeping in this valley of tears. Turn then, O most gracious advocate, your eyes of mercy toward us and after this our exile show unto us the blessed fruit of your womb, Jesus. O clement! O loving ! O sweet Virgin Mary! Pray for us, O Holy Mother of God. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ."
Allah (SWT) sent Prophet Muhammad (SAW) to convey to mankind the news that polytheism, including image and idol worship, is the greatest injustice, the gravest of all sins.
"And verily, if you ask them: 'Who created the heavens and the earth?' Surely, they will say: 'Allah.' Say: 'Tell me then, the things that you invoke besides Allah-- if Allah intended some harm for me, could they remove His harm? Or if He intended some mercy for me, could they withhold His Mercy?' Say: 'Sufficient for me is Allah, in Him those who trust, must put their trust" (Qur'an 39:38).
"Surely, the religion (the worship, the adoration, the obedience) is for Allah only. And those who take Auliya (protectors, helpers, lords, gods) besides Him say: 'We worship them only that they may bring us near to Allah.' Verily, Allah will judge between them concerning that wherein they differ. Truly, Allah guides not him who is a liar and a disbeliever" (Qur'an 39:3).
"And remember Abraham when he said to his people: 'Worship Allah Alone, and fear Him: that is better for you if you did but know. You worship besides Allah only idols, and you only invent falsehood. Verily, those whom you worship besides Allah have no power to give you provision, so seek your provision from Allah, and worship Him (Alone), and be grateful to Him. To Him (Alone) you will be brought back" (Qur'an 29:16-17).
Insh'Allah, this has been beneficial in some way to those that have read it. Please leave feedback....ask q's or suggest other topics you may want to learn about, insh'Allah.