The scholars have categorized shirk into different types: ash shirk ul akbar (major shirk), ash shirk ul asghar (minor shirk) and ash-shirk ul khaafee (hidden shirk). This is a very broad topic and requires study, however, for quick enlightenment, we will look at some common daily life examples of shirk so you can learn how to avoid them.
#1. “Let me ask this peer or saint to help me …”
Some people believe that other people are able to bestow mercy, forgive sins, overlook bad deeds, and give blessings like Allah does. Such people are sometimes called peers, saints, or awliyaa and their followers sometimes even invoke them. This is a form of major shirk and means you are ascribing to someone other than Allah something that only belongs to Allah, like Lordship, the sole right to be worshipped, and the divine names and attributes. Only Allah is the source of mercy, forgiveness, and blessings.
#2.“Who says you should wear Hijaab? I mean it’s not a law here…”
Obedience to any authority against the order from Allah is a type of major shirk and is called shirk-at-Taa’a. An example is a state that makes it illegal to wear the Hijaab or have a beard. Allah says:
They (Jews and Christians) took their Rabbis and their monks to be their lords besides Allah…. (Ch 9:31)
The Prophet (Salalahu Alaihi Wa Salam) said: They (i.e. Rabbis and monks) made legal things illegal, and illegal things legal and they (i.e. Jews and Christians) followed them; and by doing so they worshipped them. [ Ahmad, At- Tirmidhi, Ibn Jarir] How many Muslims nowadays have an aversion against the sharee’ah?
#3.“He is my idol!”
With numerous TV programs cultivating pop stars, people start admiring, looking up to and loving singers and actors calling them their idols. Shirk-al mahabbah means that you show the love which is due to Allah alone, to others than Him. This type of shirk also means loving those who Allah hates or hating those who Allah loves. Allah says:
And of mankind are some who take (for worship) others besides Allah as rivals (to Allah). They love them as they love Allah. But those who believe love Allah more (than anything else)… [Quran, 2:165] Saying ‘He is my idol!’ might seem innocent, but it is a huge error and a big problem in the Ummah when you see Muslims preferring listening to music over prayer and loving and imitating singers and actors who disobey Allah!
#4. “I swear on my mum’s life!”
Venerating people or things in a way that does not go as far as ascribing lordship to them, is an example of minor shirk. Minor shirk includes everything that may lead to major shirk, or that is described in the Sunnah as shirk but doesn’t reach the extent of major shirk. An example is minor shirk in words or statements. How many people say: “ I swear on my mum, I wasn’t there!”
The Prophet (Salalahu Alaihi Wa Salam) said: Do not swear by your fathers, or by your mothers, or by rivals to Allah; and swear by Allah only, and swear by Allah only when you are speaking the truth [Abu Dawood] How many people swear as a habit?
Stay away from swearing on people or things and gently advise others to do the same!
#5. “If it hadn’t been for him I wouldn’t have made it! “
Another common mistake people make is saying: ‘Had it not been for him, I wouldn’t have been here’. Or ‘If Allah wills and she will’ and ‘Had it not been for Allah and you, this wouldn’t have happened’ or ‘ Had it not been for the dogs, we would have been robbed as well’ In the first, you are not even mentioning Allah ‘azza wa jall and in the second two you are gathering the Creator and the creation in an affair. Rather say: ‘As Allah wills, and then you will’ or ‘Had it not been for Allah and then for you.’
If you any of these acts whiling believing in them with your heart, then you have committed major shirk! However, if you didn’t intend it and it only flowed from your lips, and then it is a form of minor shirk and you need to repent from it.
Allah knows best.