Friday, October 28, 2022

Expression of Reverence for Saints is not Shirk (Associating Others with God)

By S. Arshad, New Age Islam 28 October 2022 Symbols of God Must Be Revered Main Points: 1. Venerating symbols of God is an expression of piety. 2. Sacrificial animals are one of the symbols of God. 3. Respecting symbols of God is not shirk. 4. There may be another symbols of God. ----- There is much debate among the Islamic scholars over what is Shirk and what does not constitute Shirk. Shirk (associating partners with God) is the greatest sin according to the Quran. The holy Quran has clearly stated what constitutes Shirk. It states that worshipping any other deity along with God is shirk. Therefore, idol worship is shirk. Then worshipping natural objects like the sun, the moon, trees, snakes, rivers as gods along with the Supreme God is also shirk. Again worshipping saints and priests as God also constitutes shirk. Quran warns against acts of shirk in harsh words: "And one who associated partners with Allah was misled and fell far away."(Al Nisa: 116) "And they associate djinns with God though He has created them and they attribute sons and daughters among djinns with God out of ignorance."(Al Anam: 100) "They have accepted their priests and saints and Jesus son of Mary as their God and they had been enjoined to worship only one God, there is no one to be worshipped except Him. He is free from what they associate with Him."(Taubah: 31) "Indeed God does not forgive the one who associates partner with Him and forgives sins lesser than it of anyone He wills and whoever associates partner with Him invites grave torment."(Al Nisa: 48) In light of these verses on shirk, Ulema and exegetes have formed a very rigid concept of shirk. This has divided the Muslims in two sects. The Quranic concept of shirk is that if a Muslim worships a human being or a natural object attributing powers to him or it and turns to him or it for help and favours, he commits shirk. The polytheists of Makkah or Arab believed in Allah but also worshipped deities or idols as intercessors. Therefore, believing in the godly powers of a non -God is shirk. But showing reverence to symbols of God is not shirk but in fact it is described as piety of the heart by the Quran. Here are the verses of the Quran on the issue. "Be upright in devotion to Allah, associating none with Him in worship. For whoever associates others with Allah is like someone who has falken from the sky and is either snatched away by birds or swept by the wind to a remote place. That is so. And whoever honours the symbols of Allah, it is certainly out of the piety of the heart."(Hajj: 31-32) In the verse 31, the Quran states what shirk is. And in the next verses it states that honouring or expressing reverence to the symbols of God (Sha’airallah) is piety of the heart (not shirk). That the Quran states that expressing reverence to symbols of God is piety of the heart immediately after describing shirk indicates that the Quran draws a line between shirk and reverence. Expressing reverence to symbols of God is piety of the heart and not shirk. Again, in verse 36 of surah Hajj, the Quran says that sacrificial animals are one of the symbols of God. "We have sacrificial camels and cattle among the symbols of Allah in which there is much good for you". (Hajj: 36) Therefore, we can infer that Hajar-e-Aswad, mosques, religious flags, religious symbols, the holy Quran, religious books, rosary, prayer mat, skull cap and other similar symbols of religious importance are symbols of God. Kissing Hajar-e-Aswad is not considered shirk. Among the Muslims there is one section which is very cautious in expressing reverence to religious symbols for the fear that it may be considered shirk while the other section is very liberal in this regard. In fact both the sect go overboard in expressing reverence and in observing caution. The former does not even show reverence to the symbols of God which is, actualy enjoined by the Quran and the latter shows exaggeration in showing reverence to the symbols of God coming near the boundaries of shirk. The Quran allows expression of reverence rather enjoins on i as piety of the heart. That is, if a believer does not show reverence to the symbols of God, he may be considered not showing piety. On the other hand, if the believer shows undue reverence to the symbols of God and attributes godly powers to them, he may come near shirk. Therefore, it is clear from the Quranic verses that worshipping and expressing reverence are not the same and the believers should have a balanced concept of the two ideas. Islam is a moderate path. ----- S. Arshad is a columnist with URL: New Age Islam, Islam Online, Islamic Website, African Muslim News, Arab World News, South Asia News, Indian Muslim News, World Muslim News, Women in Islam, Islamic Feminism, Arab Women, Women In Arab, Islamophobia in America, Muslim Women in West, Islam Women and Feminism

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