Examples of Minor Shirk – Shaykh Saalih al-Fawzaan
A person should not underestimate Shirk (polytheism; associating partners with Allaah in worship) and say: "This is [only] minor Shirk."
What are examples of Minor Shirk? For example swearing by other than Allaah. Like swearing by the Prophet, swearing by so-and-so and swearing by the amaanah (trust). He - sallal-Laahu 'alayhi wa sallam - said:
من حلف بغير الله فقد كفر أو أشرك
"Whoever swears by other than Allaah, has disbelieved or commited Shirk."
He - 'alayhi assalaatu was-salaam - said:
لا تحلفوا بآبائكم، من كان حالفا فليحلف بالله أو ليصمت
“Do not swear by your fathers. Whoever wants to swear, let him swear by Allaah or be silent.”
So it is not permissible to swear by other than Allaah, the Mighty and Majestic. And this flows on the tongue of many people, making use of habits and blindfollowing. So it is obligatory to repent from this and to beware of it! A person should not swear except by Allaah, the Mighty and Majestic. If he wants to swear, then let him swear by Allaah or be silent.
Also, from the types of Minor Shirk, is a small amount of riyaa' (showing off). Like a person praying while loving that the people praise him [for doing this], or giving charity while loving that the people praise him. He does righteous deeds while loving that the people praise him (for it); this is riyaa'! This nullifies the deed in which it took place. If he performs a deed that has riyaa' in it, then it is nullified and he receives no reward for it. But it does not nullify the other deeds like Major Shirk does. Rather it only nullifies the deed in which it took place. So the one who shows off his deeds, has associated partners with Allaah - the Mighty and Majestic - in that deed, but it is Minor Shirk. It nullifies his deed and he receives no reward for it. And when it happens a lot and it becomes a habit in all of his deeds, it becomes Major Shirk, like the riyaa' of the munaafiqoon (hypocrites). The munaafiqoon are in the lowest depths of the Hellfire because they do good deeds only to be seen (by people). All of their deeds are riyaa'! They do not intend the Face of Allaah with their deeds. They only want the praise of the people for them and to hide behind Islaam while their hearts are disbelieving. This is Major Nifaaq (hypocrisy) and Major Riyaa'.
إِنَّ ٱلْمُنَافِقِينَ يُخَادِعُونَ ٱللَّهَ وَهُوَ خَادِعُهُمْ وَإِذَا قَامُوۤاْ إِلَى ٱلصَّلاَةِ قَامُواْ كُسَالَىٰ يُرَآءُونَ ٱلنَّاسَ وَلاَ يَذْكُرُونَ ٱللَّهَ إِلاَّ قَلِيلاً
“Verily, the hypocrites seek to deceive Allaah, but it is He Who deceives them. And when they stand up for As-Salaah (the prayer), they stand with laziness and to be seen of men, and they do not remember Allaah but little.”
So riyaa' is of two types. The first type is Major Shirk, and this is the riyaa' of the munaafiqoon, those who have no Eemaan (faith, belief) in their heart at all. The second type is the riyaa' of the believers, those who have Eemaan and Tawheed in their hearts. But Shaytaan beautifies for them the love for praise and the love for sum‘ah (performing good deeds [like reciting Qur'aan] in order to be heard). This doesn't make them exit the religion, but it prevents them from receiving a reward for their deeds in which riyaa' took place.
So a person should be afraid [of falling into this]! This is why he - sallal-Laahu 'alayhi wa sallam - said to his Companions:
أخوف ما أخاف عليكم الشرك الأصغر
“That which I fear the most for you is Minor Shirk.”
Then when he was asked about it, he said:
A person stands up, prays and beautifies his prayer, because he sees someone looking at him. The Messenger - sallal-Laahu 'alayhi wa sallam - feared this for his Companions, so how about other than them? So this is dangerous aswell! One should not have a relaxed attitude towards it.
And from Minor Shirk, is Shirk in statements. Like saying: “Had it not been for Allaah and you, this and that wouldn't have happened.” This is not permissible. This is Shirk in statements. And if he believes this with his heart, it becomes Major Shirk! But if he didn't intend it and it only flowed on his tongue, then this is Minor Shirk. And that which is obligatory to say is: “Had it not been for Allaah and then for you...”, “As Allaah wills, and then you will.” Because a man said to the Prophet - sallal-Laahu 'alayhi wa sallam -: “As Allaah and you will.” Then he (the Prophet) said:
أجعلتني لله ندا؟ قل: ما شاء الله وحده
“Have you set me up as a rival to Allaah? Say: “As Allaah alone wills.””
So it is not permissible for you to gather the Creator and the creation together in any affair with the letter و (and); [for example by saying:] “As Allaah wills and you will,” “Had it not been for Allaah and you...” Rather you should use ثم (then): “As Allaah wills, and then you will,” “Had it not been for Allaah, and then for you...” Because ثم (then) is used for tarteeb (order) and ta‘qeeb (sequence). As for و (and) then it is used to gather (two or more affairs) unrestrictedly, it does not imply tarteeb or ta‘qeeb. This is why you shouldn't use the و (and). And this is what 'Abdullaah ibn 'Abbaas - may Allaah be pleased with both of them - explained the Statement of Allaah - the Most High - with:
فَلاَ تَجْعَلُواْ لِلَّهِ أَندَاداً وَأَنْتُمْ تَعْلَمُونَ
“Then do not set up rivals unto Allaah (in worship) while you know (that He Alone has the right to be worshipped).”
He ('Abdullaah ibn 'Abbaas) said that this refers to someone saying: “Had it not been for Allaah and you...” “Had it not been for the dogs, then the thieves would have come to us.” “Had it not been for the duck in the house, the thieves would have come to us.” Ascribing affairs to other than Allaah, this is Minor Shirk. And it is obligatory for you to beware of this.
Translated by: Yâsîn Abû Ibrâhîm
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