Explanation of the Four Rules Regarding Shirk | Shaykh Sālih bin Muhammad Al-Luhaydān
Explanation of the Four Rules Regarding Shirk Of Imām Muhammad bin ‘Abdul Wahāb By Shaykh Sālih bin Muhammad Al-Luhaydān
Translation adapted from Al-Ibaanah Book Publishing
All praise is due for Allāh. We praise Him, we seek His assistance and ask for His forgiveness. And we seek refuge with Allāh from the evils of ourselves and the evils of our actions. Whoever Allāh guides, there is no one that can lead him astray, and whoever is led astray, there is no guide for him.
I bear witness that there is no deity that has the right to be worshipped except Allāh alone and with no partner. And I bear witness that Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم is His slave, close friend and Messenger. He was the most sincere of creation towards Allāh’s creatures and the most pious of them in every statement and action. May Allāh send His peace and praises upon him, his family, his Companions and those who follow them in goodness until the Day of Resurrection.
We Ask Allāh by His Names and Attributes to make us all from those who follow him صلى الله عليه وسلم sincerely and love him and his Companions, and ask that He grant us benefit due to this in this worldly life as well as in the Hereafter. All praise is for Allāh the Lord of the Ālamīn.
The Imām, the Reviver Imām Muhammad ibn ‘Abdul-Wahāb – May Allāh have mercy on him – said: “With the Name of Allāh, the Most-Gracious the Most-Merciful. I ask Allāh, the Most-Generous, Lord of the Great Throne to protect you in this world and the Hereafter, and to make you blessed wherever you may be. And (I ask) that He make you from those who when they are given they are thankful; when they are tested they are patient; and when they sin, they seek forgiveness (from Allāh). For Indeed these three characteristics are the true signs of prosperity.”
With the Name of Allāh, the Most-Gracious the Most-Merciful. This is a supplication from the Shaykh ul-Islām and reviver of the Call, which is due to the Grace of Allāh جل وعلا and then his efforts in propagating; the first country upon a Salafi Creed was formed in the Arab Peninsula. As I indicated previously, there was never a day whether in the times of the Days of Ignorance or after Islām that there existed an independent country in the area of Najd. Instead, during the time of the rightly-guided caliphates, control of it was connected to Madīnah and during the rule of ‘Alī there was no real stability there, even though it was under the Caliphate. Afterward, control of it was passed onto Basrah or to the ruler of ‘Irāq since Al-Hajāj held authority over Al-Yamāmah and all the regions that it covered.
But due to this pure Call, which invites to the Way of the Salaf, a country was established that called to Tawhīd and taught people to worship Allāh alone. This came at a time when Shirk was widespread throughout the Arabian Peninsula since people would seek blessings from graves and ask false gods besides Allāh to fulfil their requests in many instances. This was when Allāh saved Najd and the whole Arabian Peninsula in general.
Afterward, this blessed Call was conveyed to areas outside of the Arabian Peninsula. So it reached India, Shām, ‘Irāq and the far West (i.e. Morocco and Spain) and it had a great effect on them. And all praise is for Allāh, the impact of this Call continued to have an effect in these regions. Every time a ruler would leave and his dynasty would dwindle or disappear, even if for a short while, such that there would be no ruler for this country of Tawhīd, the effect if the Creed would continue to remain within the rural and urban areas of the Peninsula. So the Shaykh, Imām, reviver, may Allāh have mercy on him, had a great effect.
In his introduction to these four rules he asks his Lord to make the student of knowledge from among those who when they are given something are thankful. Being thankful for one’s blessing leads to the continuity of these blessings and the receipt of more of them, while it’s opposite, which is being ungrateful for one’s blessings, leads to their termination. Allāh says, “And remember when your Lord proclaimed: ‘If you give thanks (by accepting Faith and worshipping none but Allāh), I will give you more. But if you are ungrateful, verily My punishment is indeed severe’.” [Surah Ibrāhīm: 14:7].
The author mentions three traits and they are (1) being grateful for one’s blessings, (2) patient during times of tribulation, and (3) seeking forgiveness for one’s sins. And he asks Allāh to grant you these three characteristics.
If Allāh blesses someone with a healthy body or removes a hardship from him or gives him some provision, offspring, marriage or any other desirable thing that is permissible, he should know that it comes from Allāh’s bounty and generosity and rush to thank and praise Him for having blessed him. This is since no one brings about good except for Him and no one repels evil except for Him and no one repels evil except for Him. So he should give thanks to his Lord.
Gratitude is expressed through speech and action. One can show thanks through speech by praising and thanking Allāh for what He has given him, and through action by giving away money if he has it, hoping that it will increase his wealth since charity does not decrease one’s wealth.
And if the blessing he has is knowledge, he should teach people good things, hoping that Allāh will reward him for it. He should pass on to others the good that he enjoys since a person does not truly believe until he loves for his brother what he loves for himself.
If the blessing he has comes in the form of a healthy body, he should spend his free time doing good things that Allāh loves and is pleased with. This is so that he will not be from among those who take their blessings for granted. The Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم said, “Free time and good health are two blessings (from Allāh) that many people take for granted.” [Bukhārī: 6412]
So when a servant praises and thanks his Lord, he will be blessed in what Allāh gives him from wealth, knowledge, health, family and children. When his sins, he knows that he will be held accountable for it and that he has a Lord that will Judge him for his sins, so he rushes to Him and seeks His forgiveness. And what comes in the [Qudsī] Hadīth [Allāh says], “My servant commits a sin and knows that he has a Lord that will recompense the sin, so he seeks His forgiveness & He forgives him.” [Bukhārī: 7507 and Muslim: 2758]
Forgiveness is one of the greatest things a servant can achieve. No person sits in a gathering which ends in seeking forgiveness for one’s sins except that it serves as expiation for his sins. That is if that gathering was for a social occasion, but if the gathering was a gathering of good this seeking of forgiveness at the end serves as a seal, which is stamped upon him to the point that there will be no harm upon him. So when he sins, he seeks forgiveness.
Look at the example of the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم. Even though Allāh forgave his past and future sins, the Companions estimated that he صلى الله عليه وسلم would seek Allāh’s forgiveness and repent to Him a hundred times in one sitting. [Reported by At-Tirmithī: 3434, Ibn Mājah: 3814 and Shaykh Al-Albānī said it was authentic].
If a person is tested by some predicament, calamity or misfortune befalling him, he should know that this is due to Allāh’s Divine Decree and Pre-Ordainment. And he should know that no one can remove this trial except Allāh. He must acknowledge that he belongs to Allāh and thus humble himself with patience, and speak with words that Allāh will reward with good, such as: “Verily, we belong to Allāh and to Him we shall return” and “We are part of His creation and dominion and the Owner whose dominion is unrestricted is not to be asked concerning what He does with His dominion. To him belongs the administration of the affairs of this dominion.”
The dominion and ownership of human beings is limited. People do not own and control something unrestrictedly. It is restricted, similar to a slave. A slave owns his food so that he can eat it, but this ownership is limited. As for the creation, all of them are slaves of Allāh. And as for His dominion and what He owns, He is not to be asked about what He does, whereas His servants will be questioned. However, Allāh is the All-Wise, the One whose administration and management of the affairs of His creation is not haphazard and arbitrary, but rather, based on profound wisdom and knowledge that encompasses everything.
Shaykh al-Islām says,”…when they are tested they are patient; and when they sin they seek forgiveness (from Allāh).” These things will allow you to achieve complete happiness and prosperity. So we ask Allāh, the Most Generous, that all of us may be from those who Allāh relieves from trials and tribulations and from those who He gives to. We ask Allāh to grant us the ability to be grateful for what He has given us. And we ask Him to grant us the ability to continuously seek His forgiveness so that we may achieve what He has prepared for those who seek His forgiveness.
“Know, may Allāh direct you to His obedience, that the pure and upright religion of Ibrāhīm is that you worship Allāh alone, making the Religion sincere for only Him, as Allāh says, “And I (Allāh) did not create the Jinn and Mankind except to worship Me (Alone).” [Surah Adh-Dhāriyāt: 51:56]
The pure and upright religion of Ibrāhīm (Hanīfiyyah) is that which has not deviation in it. It is an open Hanīfiyyah, which means that people worship their Lord alone without associating any partners with Him.
So Hanīfiyyah means to worship Allāh alone and not associate partners with Him, since whoever associates partners with Allāh whilst performing a deed, Allāh abandons him and his Shirk. As He says in a (Qudsī) Hadīth: “I am the most free of all partners from Shirk (polytheism). Whoever performs a deed in which he associates Me with others, I abandon him and his Shirk.” [Muslim: 2985].
Furthermore, Shirk poses a great danger as it is a sin that is not forgiven unless one repents to his Lord for it before he dies. If one dies upon major Shirk there is no hope that he will be forgiven; he will reside in Hell forever. It is possible for every sin to be forgiven except Shirk. [Allāh says,] “Verily Allāh does not forgive that partners be set up with Him (in worship), but He forgives what is less than that to whom He Wills.” [Surah An-Nisā’: 4:48].
[And He says,] “Verily, whoever sets up partners (in worship) with Allāh, Allāh has forbidden Paradise to him, and the Fire will be his abode. And the wrongdoers will have no supporters.” [Surah al-Mā’idah: 5:72].
No Messenger was sent during any period of time in which human beings existed except that he ordered the people to worship Allāh alone and forbade them from Shirk, ever since the time of (Prophet) Nūh, since Shirk only came about after Ādam and lasted for as long as Allāh willed. So when the people fell upon Shirk, Allāh sent Nūh to call them to Allāh’s Religion. The story of Nūh (as mentioned in the Qur’ān) constantly mentions how he called his people to the point where he lost hope in them and supplicated to his Lord not to leave any disbeliever on earth. (Refer to Surah Nūh: 71: 5-9, 21-22, and 26-27).
“So when you come to realise that Allāh created you in order to worship Him, then know that worship is not called worship unless it is accompanied by Tawhīd (Islamic Monotheism), just as prayer is not called that unless it is accompanied by (ritual) purity.”
Worship, which consists of prayer and all of the other acts done seeking nearness to Allāh in compliance with His command and hoping for His reward and protection from punishment, should not be considered worship in and of itself. This is since there are many acts of worship performed by those who worship idols, jinn and angels and stars but these acts are not considered worship as they are not acts based on Tawhīd, i.e. they are not done specifically for Allāh alone without partners.
This means that no part of worship can be directed to someone else as He is the only One that deserves and has the right to be worshipped since He is the One who created the servants and everything they need in their daily and nightly affairs. He protected them from everything except for what He ordained for them. So this “worship” is not to be regarded worship (if it contains Shirk).
Shaykh al-Islām is referring to the beneficial type of worship since he was well-aware that there existed people who would worship the jinn, some would worship trees, others would worship flowing streams of water, and individuals that would make idols with their own hands and then worship them. The Arabs acknowledged that they were performing worship, as is evident in the statement they made about their idols, “We only worship them so that they may bring us closer to Allāh.” [Surah Az-Zumar: 39:3].
So they acknowledged that they would worship them, but claimed that they only did this so that it would bring them closer to Allāh.
“So if Shirk enters into one’s worship, it ruins it, just like impurity when it enters into the (ritual) purity.”
Shaykh Al-Islām uses the prayer as an example to explain his point, which is that worship is not considered worship unless it is directed solely to Allāh. This is since everyone knows that prayer is not valid if a person is not in a ritual state of purity until he first purifies himself (through ghusl or wudū) or performs tayammum. If he prays without these, it cannot be called prayer. Rather it is only considered useless movements. The same applies to the word “worship” in the sense that it can only be applied to one who worships Allāh alone, i.e. who singles Him out for worship and does not associate any partners with Him in worship.
“So when you come to realise that Shirk – when mixed into one’s worship – spoils it, invalidates one’s actions, and makes the person who possesses it into one who will reside eternally in the Hell-Fire, you will know that the most important thing that is binding upon you is to gain knowledge of that, so that perhaps Allāh may absolve you from this trap, which is ascribing partners to Allāh (i.e. Shirk) about which Allāh said, “Verily Allāh does not forgive that partners be ascribed to Him in worship, but He forgives what is less than that to whom He Wills.” [Surah an-Nisā’: 4:48].”
The Prophets and Messengers were only sent to take people out, by Allāh’s leave, from darkness to light. The destructive darkness in which one cannot see his path clearly refers to Shirk or associating partners with Allāh in worship, since no deed will be of benefit to one who associates partners with Allāh if he dies upon this state.
No matter what acts of benevolence and assistance a person does, it is all dependant on a critical factor. If the deed comes from a monotheist, it will benefit him tremendously, but if it does not come from a monotheist it will not benefit him. So for example, if someone were to extract water for people, distribute funds to the poor, and gather together doctors to treat the sick, but did not make this worship sincerely for Allāh alone, doing all of these things will be of no benefit to him.
Allāh says, “And We shall turn to whatever deeds they did and make such deeds as scattered floating particles of dust.” [Surah Al-Furqān: 25:23].
And He says, “If you join others in worship with Allāh, then surely all your deeds will be in vain.” [Surah Az-Zumar: 39:65].
No matter what deed a person does, if he commits Shirk, this deed of his becomes invalidated. But if he repents and makes his deed solely for Allāh’s sake, Allāh is able to give him back the deeds he lost due to this Shirk.
A person is in need of repenting and seeking refuge with Allāh in all situations in order for Allāh to protect and reinforce him. A person does not remain upon the truth due to the firmness of his conviction and steadfast intellect since these things are only beneficial if Allāh makes them beneficial.
There is a saying that states, “The firmness of (my) conviction has preserved me from idle chatter, and the adornment of virtue has beautified me in the face of destitution.” [This statement was made by Mu’īd-ud-Dīn At-Taghrā’ī d.513H].
You will not be able to achieve these things unless Allāh grants you the ability and success to achieve that. If Allāh did not envelop many of the intellectuals who have deep insight with His Generosity they would be lost. This is the case with many heretics since the thing that led them to heresy was the fact that their intellects would guide them in judging in matters, hidden and apparent.
“This can be achieved by knowing Four Rules that Allāh has mentioned in His Book. The First Rule: You must know that the disbelievers whom the Messenger of Allāh fought against agreed that Allāh was the Creator and the Administrator. But this (belief) did not cause them to enter into the fold of Islām. The proof for this is Allāh’s saying, “Say (O Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم): “Who provides for you from the sky and from the earth? Or who owns hearing and sight? And who brings out the living from the dead and brings out the dead from the living? And who disposes the affairs?” They will say: “Allāh.” Say: “Will you not then be afraid of Allah’s Punishment (for setting up rivals in worship with Allāh)?” [Surah Yūnus: 10:31].”
This is the first rule. The Arabs whom the Messenger of Allāh صلى الله عليه وسلم was sent to affirmed and acknowledged that Allāh was the Creator and He brought out the living from the dead. Allāh says, ” If you were to ask them: “Who has created the heavens and the earth and subjected the sun and the moon?” They will surely reply: “Allāh”.” [Surah Al-‘Ankabūt: 29:61].
If they were to be asked who created this mighty and accurate creation and who brought into existence this earth, which the people walk upon, plant upon, and build upon, raise their cattle upon, and eat from its produce, they would say Allāh.
They would never on any day say that the one who brings forth vegetation, yields produce and livestock, and brings into existence all these things was Al-Lāt, Al-‘Uzzā or Manāt! This was because they affirmed Allāh’s Lordship and claimed that they only worshipped these false gods to bring them closer to Allāh. So they would only direct their worship to them, hoping to achieve nearness to Allāh, and seeking the results of this nearness.
But even though they affirmed this, it did not benefit them since they are required to worship the One who brought all these things into existence. They must particularise Him and single Him out for worship, “…Making the worship sincerely to Him alone.” [Surah Az-Zumar: 39:2].
If they do not do this then Allāh has no need for them and their worship.
Human beings need collaboration since their desired results in most cases cannot be achieved without some of them assisting others. This is especially the case since people do not possess complete control and intrinsic knowledge over all things. But as for Allāh, the Creator and All-Knowing, He is the Owner of the dominion, Creator of everything that exists, and Administrator of all affairs. He does not need anyone. He only created His servants so that they may worship Him. He created the jinn and mankind to worship Him.
So it does not harm Him if they disobey Him nor does it benefit Him if they worship Him. This is just something that Allāh Willed. So if the servants wish to benefit themselves, they should make their worship sincerely for Him and not associate anything (in worship) with Him, and they should be aware of their worship being a cause for them to enter the Hell-Fire.
“The Second Rule: They (the disbelievers) said, “We did not invoke them nor turn towards them except to seek nearness (to Allāh) and (their) intercession. The proof for their seeking nearness (to Allāh) is His saying, “And those who take Auliya’ (protectors and helpers) besides Him (say): “We worship them only that they may bring us near to Allāh.” Verily, Allāh will judge between them concerning that wherein they differ. Truly, Allāh guides not him who is a liar, and a disbeliever.” [Surah Az-Zumar: 39:3].”
The disbelievers did not deny that they worshipped their (false) gods. Rather, they openly proclaimed that these (false gods) could neither create nor provide. However, they believed that they had a special standing with Allāh, which is why they sought nearness to them, i.e. so that they may bring them closer to Allāh! But in reality there is no one that can bring us closer to Allāh. This is why Allāh says, “And when My slaves ask you (O Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم) concerning Me, then (answer them), I am indeed near (to them by My Knowledge). I respond to the invocations of the supplicant when he calls on Me (without any mediator or intercessor).” [Surah Al-Baqarah: 2:186].
The Scholars of Tafsīr have noted that Allāh did not say “Say to them: ‘I am indeed near’.” Rather He directed His Speech and answer directly to them, saying, “I am indeed Near” This is so that every person i.e. every worshipper could know that there is no intermediary between him and Allāh when worshipping Him and asking Him. All he has to do is ask his Lord directly without using any intermediary – neither an angel brought close nor a Prophet that was sent.
“The proof for their seeking intercession is Allāh’s saying, “And they worship besides Allāh things that hurt them not, nor profit them, and they say: “These are our intercessors with Allāh.” [Surah Yūnus: 10:18].”
This statement is similar to their other statement, “We only worship them so that they may bring us closer to Allāh.” [Surah Az-Zumar: 39:3].
This (type of) intercession which has pre-occupied the people greatly and given them baseless notions has caused a large amount of them to go astray. And this is such that Major Shirk has become shrouded under the cloak of intercession.
Allāh has clarified that no one can intercede before Him unless He is pleased with the one being interceded for. Allāh says, “Who is it that can intercede with Him except by His permission” [Surah Al-Baqarah: 2:255].
And He says, “…And they cannot intercede except on behalf of one whom He approves.” [Surah Al-‘Anbiyā’: 21:28].
As for those He is not pleased with, no intercession can benefit them. Furthermore, no one can dare attempt to intercede for someone before Allāh unless He permits them to do that.
The way intercession works in the worldly life is that the intercessor, due to his position, intercedes in the presence of the one who authorises him to intercede. This person will, for the most part, agree to his request because he wants the intercessor to be pleased with him as perhaps he may need him for assistance in matters he needs help with.
But as for Allāh, the All-Rich and Powerful, He grants the intercessor permission to intercede as a means of honouring them. This is based on two conditions:
1. Allāh must be pleased with the statements and actions of the one being interceded for, and
2. The one interceding can only attempt to intercede after He has received Allāh’s permission.
Nor even the most noble of mankind, our Prophet Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم, will initiate his major intercession that will help all people on the Day of Judgement on his own. The account of how the major intercession will take place is well-known. On the Day of Judgement, when the grief becomes intense and the circumstances become hard and difficult upon the people in every aspect to the point that they are no longer to bear the agony, they will turn to the father of mankind (i.e. Ādam) then to Nūh, then Ibrāhīm, then Mūsā and then ‘Esā, and all of them will throw the responsibility of intercession upon the next person.
They will all make excuses for themselves and state the reason why they are excused, except for ‘Esā as he will not mention any justification. He will only say, “I am not qualified.” This will be when they turn to Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم, but he will not commence interceding for them; rather he will prostrate to His Lord in the manner of a subservient slave and not begin interceding until it is said, “O Muhammad, lift up your head. Ask (what you want) for you will be given it and intercede for you will be allowed to intercede.” [Al-Bukhārī: 7510 and Muslim: 193].
So no one will intercede in the presence of Allāh unless He permits him to do so. This is different from human beings where intercession in the presence of some people is allowed to take place out of fear for the one interceding. But as for the intercession that takes place between Allāh and His servants, then no intercession will be granted except for one with whom Allāh is pleased.
“Intercession is of two types: Intercession that is negated and intercession that is affirmed. The negated intercession is that which is sought from someone other than Allāh in matters that no one has the ability to carry out except Allāh. The proof for this is Allāh’s saying, “O you who have believed, spend from that which We have provided for you before there comes a Day in which there is no exchange and no friendship and no intercession. And the disbelievers – they are the wrongdoers.” [Surah Al-Baqarah: 2:254].”
Intercession is when a wish is linked to another wish. So instead of the wish being an individual request it becomes petitioned by an intercessor. The negated intercession is that in which the one being interceded for is someone whose statements and actions Allāh is not pleased with or it is when the intercessor is not honoured by being put forth to intercede. In His statement in the verse, “… there is no exchange/bargaining…” Allāh begins by mentioning the strongest situation that one has control over, which is bargains and transactions.
If a person is in charge of his own transactions, i.e. buying and selling, he will have control over all his other affairs. The next thing the verse mentions is “friendship.” This refers to love. If a person is profound in his love for others, his main goal is to attach himself to the one he loves in order to achieve his objective. Intercession is the third thing mentioned here, and it refers to the negated type of intercession.
“The Affirmed Intercession is that which is sought from Allāh. The intercessor is one who is granted the honour of being able to intercede (by Allāh), while the one who is interceded for is the one whom Allāh is pleased with his statements and actions. (All of these occur) after Allāh’s permission is granted, as Allāh says, “”Who is it that can intercede with Him except by His permission” [Surah Al-Baqarah: 2:255].”
This refers to the Affirmed Intercession that Allāh permits as a way of honouring the one interceding. Allāh will honour Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم in front of all the creation by allowing him to alleviate the anxieties of the Day of Judgement even if He is not pleased with the actions of all of those present since they will consist of some of whose actions Allāh is pleased with and some actions Allāh is not pleased with.
Then there is the intercession on which certain people will be forgiven and taken out of the Hell-Fire. Allāh will permit Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم to intercede for whomsoever He wills from amongst the monotheists.
As for the people who commit major polytheism (Shirk), Allāh will not permit Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم or anyone else to intercede for them. So no intercession that they receive from anyone will be able to help them.
“The Third Rule: The Prophet was sent to people that differed from one another in their worship. Among them were those who worshipped angels. And among them were those who worshipped Prophets and righteous people. And among them were those who worshipped trees and stones. And among them were those who worshipped the sun and the moon. However, the Messenger of Allāh fought against (all of) them and did not differentiate between any of them. The proof for this is Allāh’s statement, ” And fight them until there is no more Fitnah (disbelief and polytheism: i.e. worshipping others besides Allah) and the religion (worship) will all be for Allah Alone [in the whole of the world].” [Surah Al-‘Anfāl: 8:39].”
Allāh sent Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم at a time when there was a lapse in Messengers. “For the Tribe of Isrā’īl, it was such that whenever a Prophet died, Allāh would send (another) Prophet to teach the people.” [Bukhārī: 3455 and Muslim: 1842]. Matters had come to the final stages and Allāh had intended to end things with a universal comprehensive message and a Messenger to all of mankind. As a result, this interval, which was free of Prophets, took place, and the revealed scriptures that were with people became altered and distorted. They took it in vein that they were the ones who were entrusted to safeguard it, and Allāh did not give any guarantees that He would protect what He had revealed. So they changed and altered it.
Allāh chose a location for this comprehensive message that had not been polluted by civilizations and influenced by philosophies and fabricated terminologies.
Instead, He chose an area that was pure and which had the best location on the face of the earth and the best language fit to receive this comprehensive revelation that was revealed to both jinn and mankind. So Allāh sent Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم.
The Arabs at the time had many religious beliefs that were idolatrous. It was very rare to find someone who still followed the pure monotheistic faith of Ibrāhīm, which was the religion of the Arabs in the Days of Ignorance before the animals were let loose (for idols), statues became widespread, and people called to their worship. Their religion was that of the pure monotheistic faith of Ibrāhīm.
When the conditions and beliefs had become corrupt, Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم was sent with this pure Creed, which has no intricacy, bonds, or shackles in it, but rather is at harmony with people’s natures and corresponds to the mindsets and dispositions that Allāh fashioned them with. And hence there came this Religion (of Islām).
The Arabs in the Days of Ignorance performed various types of worship. Amongst them were those who made statues and then worshipped them as can be found in the story of a man who I don’t remember right now if he was from the tribe of Aws or from the tribe of Khazraj [he was from the tribe Sulaim and his name was Ghāwī bin ‘Abdil-‘Uzzā, when he became Muslim the Messenger صلى الله عليه وسلم changed his name to Rāshid bin ‘Abdu Rabbihi] who has an idol. His relatives had accepted Islām but he didn’t, so they tried their best to persuade him. They took his idol and threw it in the garbage receptacle. He later found it, took it out, washed it, scented it, and put it back in its place. His relatives came back another time to visit him, and this time they tied it to a fox, which ended up urinating on it. When he saw this and reflected on it, he uttered the famous poetic lines:
“Would a god have a fox urinate upon its head? Whoever has foxes urinate on them is insignificant.”
Upon this he accepted Islām and testified that no deity has the right to be worshipped except Allāh (alone).
The Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم was sent to Makkah and its neighbouring areas. There were many idols found in the Ka’bah at the time, almost 360. But the greatest idol was that of the tribe of Quraish, which was called Hubal. This was the idol that after the battle of Uhud, when the Muslims suffered defeat, Abu Sufyān called out to, saying, “O Hubal, be high!” So the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم asked his Companions, “Why don’t you respond to him?” They asked, “What should we say?” He صلى الله عليه وسلم said, “‘Say, ‘Allāh is Higher and more Sublime’.” So Abu Sufyān then said, “We have (the idol) ‘Uzzā and you have no ‘Uzzā!” The Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم said, “Say Allāh is our Protector and you have no protector.” [Bukhārī: 3039].
Some of them would even create gods by themselves as it is reported that ‘Umar (may Allāh be pleased with him) (before he became Muslim) used to have his own specific form of worship that differed from that of Quraish and exceeded it. They had bizarre approaches in what they would choose (to worship). But there is nothing bizarre in the fact that when the eyesight becomes obscure, the pathways become constricted, as was the case with many of the man-made religions that have no basis to them.
So the pagan Arabs in the Days of Ignorance would worship the sun, the moon and the jinn amongst other things. This is why Allāh brought this pure monotheistic Religion (of Islām) to them. The Arabs at that time were the smallest and weakest of nations in comparison to their neighbours. They did not hold great status amongst their neighbours. They did not hold great status amongst their peers, which is why the Persians and the Romans would look down upon them. However, Allāh prepared the foreground before the Prophet’s advent, which was manifested on the day the battle took place between the tribe of Shaibān and the Persians. The greatest empires closest to the Arabian Peninsula at that time were the Persians and the Romans.
The Arabs did not have any one act of worship that would unite them. The scholars that studied the ethics of history, such as Ibn Khaldūn, stated, they did not have one centralised belief system that they would join forces under and abide by. In the Days of Ignorance, their beliefs consisted of biased support of certain tribes apart from others. There was fighting and killing going on between the various tribes, so Allāh brought this pure monotheistic Religion to them and their hearts absorbed it.
So it mixed into the framework of their hearts. This was similar to Heraclius when he asked Abu Sufyān, “Does anyone amongst those who embrace his Religion become displeased and renounce the Religion afterwards?” He replied, “No.” When he intended to respond to him, Heraclius said, “Such is (the true sign of) Faith, when it is mixed into the framework of the hearts” [Bukhārī: 7 and Muslim: 1773].
These were the corrupt acts of worship that were directed to the sun, moon, stones, and stars. They would also give credit to the stars for many of Allāh’s doings as can be found in the story about the morning of the Day of Hudaibiyah, when the people woke up to a rainy day. The Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم said, “Do you know what your Lord has said?” They said, “Allāh and His Messenger know best.” He صلى الله عليه وسلم said, “He (Allāh) said, “In the morning, some of My slaves remained true believers and some became unbelievers. Whoever said that the rain came down due to the Blessings and Mercy of Allāh is the one who believes in Me and disbelieves in the stars. And whoever said that it rained because of a particular star disbelieves in Me and believes in the Stars”. “[Bukhārī: 846 and Muslim: 71].
“The proof of them worshipping the sun and the moon is Allāh’s saying, “And from among His Signs are the night and the day, and the sun and the moon. Prostrate not to the sun nor to the moon, but prostrate to Allāh Who created them, if you (really) worship Him.” [Surah Fussilat: 41:37].”
Allāh tells us the story of how the people of Ma’rib (in Yemen), who were the subjects of Bilqais, would prostrate to the sun. It also includes the story of Sulaimān when the bird was missing for a while and, later came back to inform Sulaimān, “I found a woman ruling over them, and she has been given all things that could be possessed by any ruler of the earth, and she has a great throne. I found her and her people worshipping the sun instead of Allāh…” [Surah An-Naml: 27:23-24].
They would prostrate to the sun. Allāh knows best but perhaps this worship of the sun was passed onto the Arabs from their Persian neighbours during the Days of Ignorance before Islām since people are usually affected by their neighbours if there is nothing available to protect them from that.
The worship of stars was also prevalent in the north of ‘Irāq before Islām for a long period of time.
It is well-known that the Arabs would mix and intermingle with other nations, adopting things from them and exporting things to them. One of the things that they adopted from other nations was the worship of idols. The Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم informed us that the first person to let animals loose for idols (reported by Al-Bukhārī: 3521) and bring the worship of idols (into Arabia) was ‘Amr bin Luhay Al-Khuzā’ī. When he saw that many different gods were being worshipped in Shām, he strove to bring that to the Arabs and spread it amongst them. So it spread because the people did not have any sciences or disciplines amongst them.
The Arabs were an illiterate nation. They did not have any books with them (at that time). This was such that they had even memorised the teachings of Ismā’īl that were passed down to them. These teachings were memorised and not recorded in books. So they were illiterate and this is what Allāh called them when He said, “unlettered ones.” [Surah Al-Jumu’ah: 62:2].
When the issue of the month was presented to the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم, he said, “We are an illiterate nation. We neither read nor write. A month is like this and like this and like this.” One time he gestured with ten fingers thrice and another time he gestured with ten fingers twice whilst putting down one finger upon the third time, thus holding up nine fingers indicating the number twenty-nine. [Reported by Abū Dawūd: 2319 & an-Nasā’ī: 2140 and 2141, Al-Albānī declared it authentic].
No doubt, illiterateness has come to an end for the most part even though its traces can still be found. The proof from the Noble Qur’ān is, “Prostrate not to the sun nor to the moon, but prostrate to Allāh Who created them, if you (really) worship Him.” [Surah Fussilat: 41:37].
The only reason they were forbidden from this here is because there still existed some people who would worship it. Today some remnants of these beliefs that were passed down continue to remain in the Arab Peninsula in some outskirts where people talk to the moon.
In some tribes and this is not something strange, when the moon eclipses they cry out to the moon to come out of its position and sometimes they make certain requests to it. This is the closest in similarity that there is to useless practices, but regardless they are remnants of the aforementioned things. This is similar to certain practices that were found at the time of the Companions which had been passed down, such as the Prophet’s صلى الله عليه وسلم saying, “He will succeed, by his father” [Muslim: 11] and other statements which did not carry the intended meaning.
“The proof that they worshipped angels is Allāh’s saying, “Nor would he order you to take angels and Prophets for lords (besides Allāh)” [Surah ‘Āli-‘Imrān: 3:80].”
The only reason Allāh forbade them from doing that was because people used to worship them. With regards to angels, there still remained some temples that had been built for them. For example, the famous poet Ad-Dhibyānī would praise An-Nu’mān, king of ‘Irāq with certain poetic verses indicating things had remained with the Arabs, which were passed onto them from their neighbours.
Part of the people’s worship is that they follow the Prophets – even if they may prostrate to them – in what they order them to do. The Prophets do not order anything but the truth and they do not forbid anything except falsehood. The Christians said that ‘Esā is the son of God and that he is part of a trinity!
“And the Jews say: ‘Uzair (Ezra) is the son of Allāh” [Surah At-Tawbah: 9:30].
The Jews are not worse than the Christians in terms of the number of gods they took (besides Allāh), but in spite of that they are more wicked. So Allāh’s forbidding the people from worshipping angels and prophets is a proof that these things were done by those people whom Allāh’s Messenger was sent to. As for taking rabbis and monks as gods besides Allāh, this was done by making the unlawful lawful and the lawful unlawful, as the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم informed ‘Adī bin Hātim – may Allāh be pleased with him – [Reported by At-Tirmithī: 3095, Al-Albānī graded it hasan].
“The proof that they worshipped Prophets is Allāh’s saying, “And (remember) when Allāh will say (on the Day of Resurrection): “O ‘Esā (Jesus), son of Maryam (Mary)! Did you say unto men: ‘Worship me and my mother as two gods besides Allāh?’ “He will say: “Glory be to You! It was not for me to say what I had no right (to say). Had I said such a thing, You would surely have known it. You know what is in my inner-self though I do not know what is in Yours, truly, You, only You, are the All-Knower of all that is hidden and unseen” [Surah Al-Mā’idah: 5:116].”
It is known that the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم was sent to all people. He was sent to the Jews, non-Arabs and all other types of people. The Arabs in the Arabian Peninsula would not worship ‘Esā unless they were Christians, such as those found in Najrān for they were upon Christianity. There were also Christians of the tribe of Taghlab who were said to have adhered to Christianity except for a period of time that they wanted. The Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم was sent to all people. Allāh mentions what He will say to those who used to worship the Messiah, “Did you say unto men: ‘Worship me and my mother as two gods besides Allāh?'” So his (‘Esā’s) response will be that he only said what Allāh commanded him to say and that Allāh knows what is in himself not to mention what he may have said, while he doesn’t know what is in Allāh’s self.
“The proof that they worshipped righteous people is Allāh’s saying, “Those whom they call upon [like ‘Esā (Jesus) – son of Maryam (Mary), ‘Uzair (Ezra), angel, etc.] desire (for themselves) means of access to their Lord (Allāh), as to which of them should be the nearest and they [‘Esā (Jesus), ‘Uzair (Ezra), angels, etc.] hope for His Mercy and fear His Torment. [Surah Al-‘Isrā: 17:57].”
The Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم has clarified that those who came before us would worship righteous people. The names of Wadd, Yagūth, Ya’ūq and Nasr have been mentioned in the Qur’ān. These were names of righteous people during the time of Nūh. When they died, the people made images of them so that they could remember them. Then they began to worship them [Reported by Bukhārī: 4920]. These names then became widespread amongst the Arabs to the point that there could be found Arabs with the name ‘the slave of Yagūth’ during the Days of Ignorance, as was the case with one of the leaders of a Yemeni tribe who was taken prisoner in the Kilāb War and killed. […] So they would use the name ‘Abdu Yagūth and in the regions of Makkah they would use the names ‘Abdul-‘Uzzā, ‘Abdul-Lāt and ‘Abdu Manāt, which were names of trees, stones and jinn.
“The proof that they worshipped trees and stones is Allāh the Most-High’s saying, “Have you then considered Al-Lāt, and Al-‘Uzzā (two idols of the pagan Arabs). And Manāt (another idol of the pagan Arabs), the other third?” [Surah An-Najm: 53:19-20]”
It is said that the word “Lāt” comes from “Ilāh” (god) and that “‘Uzzā” comes from “azīz” (mighty). Manāt was a stone that used to be worshipped by the tribe of Hudhail. And Al-Lāt was a man that would knead dough for people, but they later glorified him for his kindness and began to worship him in the place where he used to reside. As for Al-‘Uzzā, it was a tree close to Makkah on the road to Jeddah, which was the tree that the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم sent Khālid bin Walīd – may Allāh be pleased with him – to cut down.
[…] In recent times, when the Call of Shaykh Al-Islām Muhammad bin ‘Abdil-Wahāb took effect; people in the heart of the Arabian Peninsula would devote themselves to trees. And women would turn to certain date-palm trees hoping to achieve pregnancy and other things from them. It is also said, and Allāh knows best, that one part of the date-palm tree helps men become fertile and procreate, and Allāh knows best.
“And the Hadīth of Abū Wāqid Al-Laythī (may Allāh be pleased with him) who said, “We went out with Allāh’s Messenger to (the Battle of) Hunain, and we had just recently came out of Kufr (Disbelief). The polytheists used to have a lote-tree, which they would organise by and hang their swords on (seeking blessings from it); it was called Dhāt Anwāt. So we passed a lote-tree and said, “O Messenger of Allāh! Make for us a Dhāt Anwāt just as they have a Dhāt Anwāt…” [Reported by At-Tirmithī: 2180, authenticated by Al-Albānī].”
This was a tree in the Days of Ignorance that the polytheists would hang their swords on for blessings in order to give them victory in battle! Abū Wāqid Al-Laythī (may Allāh be pleased with him) states that they passed by and saw this tree and the things being done around it. They had just recently come out of the Days of Ignorance, meaning it was not long since they had left off worshipping idols and seeking blessings from trees. This tree was called Dhāt Anwāt. So they told Allāh’s Messenger صلى الله عليه وسلم, “Make us a Dhāt Anwāt.” The Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم said, “These are indeed the ways! You have just said, by the One in whose Hand is my soul, the same as what the tribe of Isrā’īl said to Mūsā, “Make for us an ilahan (a god) as they have aliha (gods).” He said: “Verily, you are a people that are ignorant.” [Surah Al-A’rāf: 7:138].
This event occurred when the tribe of Isrā’īl had crossed the sea after Allāh commanded Mūsā to strike it with his staff, causing the sea to split into twelve paths and the water from each part of it to become like a towering mountain. Then they were saved and, “And We brought the Children of Isrā’īl (with safety) across the sea, and they came upon a people devoted to some of their idols (in worship). They said: “O Mūsā (Moses)! Make for us an ilahan (a god) as they have aliha (gods).” He said: “Verily, you are a people that are ignorant.” [Musa (Moses) added:] “Verily, these people will be destroyed for that which they are engaged in (idols-worship). And all that they are doing is in vain.” [Surah Al-A’rāf: 7:138-139].
When the Companions made this statement to the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم he responded, “These are indeed the ways.” In another Hadīth he صلى الله عليه وسلم said, “You will indeed follow the ways of those who came before you in exactly the same manner such that if they were to enter a lizard’s hole, you would enter a lizard’s hole, you would also enter it.” [Bukhārī 7330 and Muslim 2269, the wording here: “exactly the same manner” is not found in the two Sahīh collections but are in other collections, see As-Sahīhah 3312]
This means that the deviations that occurred amongst the previous nations will also befall the Ummah of Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم. Many of these things have occurred already and perhaps other things will come to pass, which we never heard of or saw before. We ask Allāh to guide all of His servants.
“The Fourth Rule: The polytheists in our era are more severe in their (committing of) shirk than the earlier polytheists (during the Prophet’s time). This was since the earlier polytheists used to ascribe partners to Allāh at times of ease and worship Him sincerely during times of hardship. However, the polytheists in our era constantly commit shirk in times of ease as well as in times of hardship.”
May Allāh have mercy on the author, for in these current times, if a fire occurs or some other huge catastrophe happens, they raise their voices to supplicate to those whom they believe will remove this evil from them. So they call out to other than Allāh.
However, during the Days of Ignorance, when some harm touched the Arabs, they would leave off those whom they called unto besides Allāh and turn to Allāh alone for help. But after being saved from their ordeal, they would go back to (worshipping) their false gods.
Those whom the Shaykh (May Allāh’s Mercy be upon him) intends here are the ones (in his time) who when detestable circumstances or dire situation befell them, they would hasten to those jinn and so on, whom they glorified. This is why he, may Allāh have mercy on him, made this statement – that the former polytheists would turn to Allāh in times of hardship.
But as for these people during times of hardship, they turn to those who cannot repel harm or ward off evil. This is why Allāh placed tremendous blessing in this Call.
“The proof for this is Allāh’s statement, ” And when they embark on a ship, they invoke Allah, making their Faith purely for Him only, but when He brings them safely to land, behold, they give a share of their worship to others.” [Surah Al-‘Ankabūt: 29:65].”
In the days of ignorance, when the Arabs and those similar to them would ride out in the sea, in a boat or on a ship, and violent winds would push them about, causing them to realise that their gods has no power to subjugate the waves or remove the ship from its position, they would turn to the One who had power over everything i.e. the One who could calm the winds and save whom He wished to save.
So, when these woes and anxieties would occur, they would hasten to Allāh. But then when He would save them from their predicament, they would go back to committing shirk. This is the nature of human beings. Allāh says about those who wish to go back, “But if they were returned (to the world), they would certainly revert to that which they were forbidden.” [Surah Al-An’ām: 6:28].
So if they were to return back from their graves and death to the worldly life, these people who wish to go back in order to do good, if given the chance, would go back to doing what they were forbidden from doing. This shows that the nature of humans is to be unjust, as Allāh says, “But man bore it. Verily, he was unjust (to himself) and ignorant (of its results).” [Surah Al-‘Ahzāb: 33:72].
“This completes the treatise. May the peace and praises of Allāh be on Muhammad, his family, and Companions.”
We ask Allāh to benefit us with what we heard and rectify our affairs. And we ask Him to guide us all in our matters and grant us the ability to achieve what He is pleased with, and to be good to ourselves and our Muslim brothers.
We ask Him to give us the ability to supplicate for ourselves, our ummah, and our brothers for Allāh to guide our lost ones, teach our ignorant ones, aid our oppressed ones, suppress our enemies, preserve our country’s safety, and spread security throughout the rest of the Muslim lands under the banner of ruling by Allāh’s Legislation, worshipping Him alone, and preparing to meet the forthcoming days and what they contain. Verily, He is Able to do all things.