The Definition of Shirk – Shaykh Fawzan | Dawud Burbank [Audio|En]

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Sharh-ul-Usool-ith-Thalaathah : Lesson 15 Part A
Shaykh Saalih al-Fawzan | Dawud Burbank [Audio|English]

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Previous Class: The Most Serious Thing Which Allaah Forbade is Shirk


Imaam Muhammad ibn ‘Abdil-Wahhaab (rahimahullaah) said: 

And the most serious thing which He forbade is shirk

وهو دعوةُ غيرهِ معهُ

And it is to call upon other than Him along with Him.19


[19]: Shaykh Fawzan’s Explanation

This is the definition of shirk: it is to call upon other than Him along with Him – meaning that something from ‘ibaadah (worship) is directed to other than Allaah, whether it be (to) an angel from the angels or a prophet from the prophets or a righteous person from the righteous people or a building from the buildings or other than that from all the created beings. So whoever directs anything from worship to other than Allaah, then this is the greatest thing that Allaah has forbidden. This is shirk.

So know the explanation of tawheed and the explanation of shirk because there are from the people those who explain tawheed with other than its true explanation and those who explain shirk with other than its true explanation.

From the people are those who say, “Shirk is shirk with regards to Haakimiyyah (judgement and legislation)”. And this has appeared now unfortunately. Al-Hukm bi ghayri ma anzal Allaah  (judging by other than that which Allaah sent down) is a type from the types of shirk called shirk-ut-Taa‘ah (shirk of obedience). There is no doubt that obeying a created being in declaring lawful that which Allaah has made forbidden or in declaring forbidden that which Allaah has made lawful, this is a type of shirk  – however there is that which is more serious than it and it is worshipping other than Allaah by slaughtering and making vows and performing tawaaf (circumambulation) and calling for rescue. So what is obligatory is to warn against all shirk, not to take up something from it and to leave aside that which is worse and more dangerous than it. So shirk is not to be explained as being only shirk-ul-Haakimiyyah or shirk in political affairs. And (these people) say: “Shirk of the graves, this is just simple shirk”, meaning it is something easy. This is insolence towards Allaah, the Perfect and Most High. Shirk is the worst thing that Allaah has forbidden and it is to call upon something else besides Him along with Him. This is shirk.

And from them are those who say that, “Shirk is to have love of the dunyaa (worldly life) and to have love of wealth.”

Wealth is something which Allaah has made beloved (to people) with their natural love. 

وَتُحِبُّونَ الْمَالَ حُبًّا جَمًّا

And you love wealth with immense love. [89:20]

وَإِنَّهُ لِحُبِّ الْخَيْرِ لَشَدِيدٌ

And indeed he (man) is certainly fervent in love of khayr [100:8]

Meaning: (of) wealth.

قُلْ إِن كَانَ آبَاؤُكُمْ وَأَبْنَاؤُكُمْ وَإِخْوَانُكُمْ وَأَزْوَاجُكُمْ وَعَشِيرَتُكُمْ وَأَمْوَالٌ اقْتَرَفْتُمُوهَا وَتِجَارَةٌ تَخْشَوْنَ كَسَادَهَا وَمَسَاكِنُ تَرْضَوْنَهَا أَحَبَّ إِلَيْكُم مِّنَ اللَّهِ وَرَسُولِهِ وَجِهَادٍ فِي سَبِيلِهِ فَتَرَبَّصُوا حَتَّىٰ يَأْتِيَ اللَّهُ بِأَمْرِهِ ۗ وَاللَّهُ لَا يَهْدِي الْقَوْمَ الْفَاسِقِينَ

Say: If your fathers and your children… 

Up to His statement:

.. أَحَبَّ إِلَيْكُم

are more beloved to you. [9:24]

He said: ‘are more beloved to you’, and He did not criticize them for loving them (their fathers, their children, etc). Rather He criticized them for giving precedence to love of them over the love of Allaah. Love of wealth is not shirk because it is a natural love. The people have need of wealth and they love it; love of wealth is not shirk because it is (a case) of love of things which are beneficial through which the people derive benefit. However those people who say these sayings  (that shirk is love of wealth) – either they are ignorant people who do not know tawheed and shirk – or otherwise they are people who deliberately turn away, wishing to turn the people away from these realities towards things which they want and purposes which they desire . And Allaah knows best about people’s intentions and goals.

So what is important is that this is not shirk; shirk is to call upon other than Allaah along with Him or to direct anything from the types of worship to other than Allaah  – such as sacrifice, and making vows, and supplicating and calling for rescue and seeking aid and turning for refuge and fear and hope and other than that – this is shirk which is the greatest of sins, calling upon other than Him along with Him, He the Perfect and Most High, because ad-Du‘aa (supplication) is the greatest type of worship, just as He, the One free of all imperfections, said:

لَهُ دَعْوَةُ الْحَقِّ ۖ وَالَّذِينَ يَدْعُونَ مِن دُونِهِ لَا يَسْتَجِيبُونَ لَهُم بِشَيْءٍ

The True Call is that which is for Allaah; and those whom they call upon besides Him cannot respond to them with anything. [13:14]

And He said:

فَادْعُوا اللَّهَ مُخْلِصِينَ لَهُ الدِّينَ وَلَوْ كَرِهَ الْكَافِرُونَ

So call upon Allaah, making the religion purely and sincerely for Him even though the disbelievers detest it. [40:14]

So supplicating to other than Allaah is the shirk which Allaah and His Messenger made forbidden. As for these lesser matters which they declare shirk to be then that is not the case. However it is to be said: some of them are a part of shirk; however there is that which is more dangerous than it and more important than it because shirk is of levels, some of them are worse than others. And Allaah’s refuge is sought.


Imaam Muhammad ibn ‘Abdil-Wahhaab (rahimahullaah) said: 

And the proof is His saying, the Most High:

وَاعْبُدُوا اللَّهَ وَلَا تُشْرِكُوا بِهِ شَيْئًا

And worship Allaah, and do not associate anything along with Him [4:36] 20


[20]:  Shaykh Fawzan’s Explanation

His saying, “And the proof is His saying, the Most High:

وَاعْبُدُوا اللَّهَ وَلَا تُشْرِكُوا بِهِ شَيْئًا

And worship Allaah, and do not associate anything along with Him. [4:36]”: 

We have said that the proof that the greatest thing that Allaah has commanded is tawheed is His saying:

وَاعْبُدُوا اللَّهَ وَلَا تُشْرِكُوا بِهِ شَيْئًا

And worship Allaah, and do not associate anything along with Him. [4:36]

Then he mentioned the rest of the rights (in the rest of the above ayah). So the fact that He began with tawheed and with the prohibition of shirk, this is a proof that tawheed is the greatest thing which Allaah has commanded because He said:

وَاعْبُدُوا اللَّهَ

And worship Allaah.. 

And He followed it with His saying:

وَلَا تُشْرِكُوا بِهِ شَيْئًا

and do not associate anything along with Him. [4:36] 

So this is a prohibition. He began with the command for tawheed and the prohibition from shirk. So this proves that the greatest thing that Allaah has commanded is tawheed and the worst thing that He has forbidden is shirk, because Allaah began with that. And He, the Perfect, does not begin except with the most important thing and then what is next in importance. This is the way in which the aayah is a proof.

Sharh-ul-Usool-ith-Thalaathah. Explanation of the Three Fundamental Principles of Imaam Muhammad ibn ‘Abdil-Wahhaab by Shaykh Saalih ibn Fowzaan al-Fowzaan hafizahullaah. Translated by  Daawood  Burbank, rahimahullaah

Posted with kind permission from Dawud Burbank rahimahullaah

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Sharh Usool-ith-Thalaathah – Shaykh Fawzan | Dawud Burbank

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