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A Mushrik(مشرك) is a person who believes in another deity together with Allaah The Almighty, and who demonstrates this by dedicating acts of worship, such as kneeling, prostration, supplication, slaughtering or any other act of worship, to a being other than Allaah The Almighty. [1]


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The translation of the Arabic term MUSHRIK in the English language would be polytheist. A mushrik is one who associates, invokes or worships beings other than or with Allah Subhanahtala; or shares any of Allah Subhanah wa tala Noble Attributes with anyone else.


The Holy Quran uses the term mushrik to denote those people who used to invoke and worship others with Allah Subhana wa tala; or share any of Allah’s Attributes with anyone else.


Disbelief of a Mushrik

Shirk (associating others with Allah Subhanah) is the exact opposite of the term Tawheed (Belief in Oneness of Allah). Thus, whatever the Mushriks believe in other than the One All Mighty Lord (Allah), or associate with, or invoke, or worship, or share any of Allah’s Attributes with their idols, or graves, or stars, or sun, or moon, or man, or any other object or being, then they will be committing shirk. [2]


Prohibition of marrying a Mushrik

“And do not marry polytheistic women until they believe. And a believing slave woman is better than a polytheist, even though she might please you. And do not marry polytheistic men [to your women] until they believe. And a believing slave is better than a polytheist, even though he might please you. Those invite [you] to the Fire, but Allah invites to Paradise and to forgiveness, by His permission. And He makes clear His verses to the people that perhaps they may remember.” Surah Al Baqarah 2:221


Difference between a Kafir and a Mushrik

The kaafir is the one who denies and conceals the truth. The basic meaning of the word kufr in Arabic is concealment. Shirk means devoting worship to anyone or anything other than Allaah. Kufr may take the form of denying and rejecting, but the mushrik may also believe in Allaah. This is the difference between the mushrik and the kaafir.


Each word may also carry the meaning of the other, so the word kufr may be used in the sense of shirk, and the word shirk may be used in the sense of kufr.


Shaykh ‘Abd al-‘Azeez ibn Baaz (may Allaah have mercy on him) said:

Kufr is denial and concealment of the truth, such as one who denies that prayer is obligatory, or that zakaah is obligatory, or that fasting Ramadaan is obligatory, or that doing Hajj when one is able to is obligatory, or that honouring one's parents is obligatory, and so on, or one who denies that zina is haraam, or that drinking intoxicants is haraam, or that disobeying one’s parents is haraam, and so on.


Shirk is devoting acts of worship to something or someone other than Allaah, such as one who seeks the help of the dead, those who are absent, the jinn, idols, the stars, and so on, or who offers sacrifices to them, or makes vows to them. A kaafir may be called a mushrik and a mushrik may be called a kaafir. [3]


Shaykh al-Albani (may Allaah have mercy on him) answers when asked that “Is every mushrik (one who associates partners with Allaah) a kaafir(disbeliever), but not every kaafir is a mushrik? Or are they the same?”:


“This is the established understanding in people’s minds, except few of them. I will explain that with an example: a man bears witness that none has the right to be worshiped but Allaah and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allaah, and he prays, fasts and so on, but he rejects an aayah from the Qur’aan. This (man) has disbelieved or not disbelieved? He has disbelieved. Has he associated partners with Allaah? That which is correct is that he has associated partners with Allaah. Every kaafir is a mushrik and every mushrik is a kaafir; there is absolutely no difference between the two words…


Whoever disbelieves has associated partners with Allaah, and whoever associates partners with Allaah has disbelieved; there is no confusion about that. The evidence for this is if we remember the conversation of the believer and the disbeliever in Surat ul-Kahf: {And put forward to them the example of two men: unto one of them We had given two gardens of grapes, and We had surrounded both with date-palms; and had put between them green crops (cultivated fields) / Each of those two gardens brought forth its produce, and failed not in the least therein, and We caused a river to gush forth in the midst of them / And he had property (or fruit) and he said to his companion, in the course of mutual talk: ‘I am more than you in wealth and stronger in respect of men’}Surah Al Kahf 18:32-34 – pay attention now – {And he went into his garden while in a state (of pride and disbelief) unjust to himself. He said: ‘I think not that this will ever perish / And I think not the Hour will ever come-}.Surah Al Kahf 18:35-36 According to your wrong understanding, this (man) has disbelieved but not associated partners with Allaah and he (only) denied the Resurrection. He (then) said: {-and if indeed I am brought back to my Lord, (on the Day of Resurrection), I surely shall find better than this when I return to Him’ / His companion said to him during the talk with him:-} Surat ul-Kahf, 18:36-37


{-‘If you see me less than you in wealth, and children, / It may be that my Lord will give me something better than your garden, and will send on it Husbaan (torment, bolt) from the sky, then it will be a barren slippery earth / Or the water thereof (of the gardens) becomes deep-sunken (underground) so that you will never be able to seek it’ / So his fruits were encircled (with ruin). And he remained clapping his hands (with sorrow) over what he had spent upon it, while it was all destroyed on its trellises, and he could only say: ‘Would that I had ascribed no partners to my Lord!’} Surat ul-Kahf, 18:39-42


Therefore, when he denied the Resurrection, he associated partners with Allaah. So, whoever disbelieves in something that has come in the Book (Qur’aan) or the Sunnah, then he is (also) a mushrik during his state of disbelief; this is with respect to the Qur’aanic text. So what is the intellectual reason (for this)? The answer is that (Allaah), the Most High, said: {Have you seen him who takes his own lust (vain desires) as his Ilah (god)?} Surat ul-Jaathiyah, 45:23


Therefore, whoever disbelieves with any type of disbelief is (also) a mushrik, because he himself made his logic to be a partner with His Lord, the Blessed and Most High. Thus, do not differentiate between kufr (disbelief) and shirk (associating partners with Allaah)…


Likewise, another hadeeth (mentions): ‘Whoever swears by other than Allaah has disbelieved’ and ‘whoever swears by other than Allaah has associated partners with Him.’ Saheeh at-Tirmithee 1535


He has committed kufr, he has committed shirk. He has committed shirk, he has committed kufr. There is no difference between the two words with regard to terminology in the Islamic legislation.


With regard to linguistic terminology, there is a difference no doubt, but the Islamic legislation opens our insight, thinking and understanding. Why is everyone who disbelieves in Allaah, the Mighty and Majestic, with any type of disbelief (also) a mushrik? Because he has made his logic to be a partner with His Lord, the Mighty and Majestic. [4]


See Also

Tawheed; Shirk; Kafir; Concept of Polytheism; Idol worship;







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