The Origins of Shirk – Muhammad Nâsirud-Dîn al-Albânî

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By the Shaykh – the Scholar of Hadîth – Muhammad Nâsirud-Dîn al-Albânî [1]

From that which has been established in the Sharî’ah (prescribed law) is that mankind was – in the beginning – a single nation upon true Tawhîd, then Shirk (directing any part or form of worship, or anything else that is solely the right of Allâh, to other than Allâh) gradually overcame them. The basis for this is the saying of Allâh – the Most Blessed, the Most High:


“Mankind was one Ummah, then Allâh sent prophets bringing good news and warnings.” (Sûrah Baqarah 2:213)


Ibn ’Abbâs – radiallâhu ’anhu – said:


“Between Nûh (Noah) and Âdam were ten generations, all of them were upon Sharî’ah (law) of the truth, then they differed. So Allâh sent prophets as bringers of good news and as warners.” [2]


Ibn ’Urwah al-Hanbalî (d.837H) said: “This saying refutes those historians from the People of the Book who claim that Qâbil (Cain) and his sons were fire-worshippers.” [3]


I say: In it is also a refutation of some of the philosophers and atheists who claim that the (natural) basis of man is Shirk, and that Tawhîd evolved in man! The preceding âyah (verse) falsifies this claim, as do the two following authentic ahadîth:


Firstly: His sallallâhu ’alayhi wa sallam’s saying that he related from his Lord: “I created all my servants upon the true Religion (upon Tawhîd, free from Shirk). Then the devils came to them and led them astray from their true Religion. They made unlawful to people that which I had made lawful for them, and they commanded them to associate in worship with Me, that which I had sent down no authority.” [4]


Secondly: His sallallâhu ’alayhi wa sallam’s saying: “Every child is born upon the Fitrah [5] but his parents make him a Jew or a Christian or a Magian. It is like the way an animal gives birth to a natural offspring. have you noticed any born mutilated, before you mutilate them.” Abû Hurayrah said: Recite if you wish: “Allâh’s fitrah with which He created mankind. There is to be no change to the creation (Religion) of Allâh.” (Sûrah ar-Rûm 30:30) [6]


After this clear explanation, it is of the utmost importance for the Muslim to know how Shirk spread amongst the believers, after they were muwahhidîn (people upon Tawhîd). Concerning the saying of Allâh – the Most Perfect – about the people of Nûh:


And they have said : You shall not forsake your gods, nor shall you forsake Wadd, nor Suwâ’, nor Yaghûth, nor Ya’ûq, nor Nasr.” (Sûrah Nûh 71:23)


It has been related by a group from the Salaf (Pious Predecessors), in many narrations, that these five deities were righteous worshippers. However, when they died, Shaytân whispered into their people to retreat and sit at their graves. Then Shaytân whispered to those who came after them that they should take them as idols, beautifying to them the idea that you will be reminded of them and thereby follow them in righteous conduct. Then Shaytân suggested to the third generation that they should worship these idols besides Allâh – the Most High – and he whispered to them that this is what their forefathers used to do! So Allâh sent to them Nûh ’alayhis-salâm, commanding them to worship Allâh alone. However none responded to his call except a few. Allâh – the Mighty and Majestic – related this whole incident in Sûrah Nûh.


Ibn ’Abbas relates: “Indeed these five names of righteous men from the people of Nûh. When they died Shaytân whispered to their people to make statues of them and to place these statues in their places of gathering as a reminder of them, so they did this. However, none from amongst them worshipped these statues, until when they died and the purpose of the statues was forgotten. Then (the next generation) began to worship them.”[7]

The likes of this has also been related by Ibn Jarîr at-Tabarî and others, from a number of the Salaf (Pious Predecessors) – radiallâhu ’anhum.


In ad-Durral-Manthûr (6/269):


’Abdullâh ibn Humaid relates from Abû Muttahar, who said: Yazîd ibn al-Muhallab was mentioned to Abû Ja’far al-Bâqir (d.11H), so he said: He was killed at the place where another besides Allâh was first worshipped. Then he mentioned Wadd and said: “Wadd was a Muslim man who was loved by his people. When he died, the people began to gather around his grave in the land of Bâbil (Babel), lamenting and mourning. So when Iblîs (Satan) saw them mourning and lamenting over him, he took the form of a man and came to them, saying : I see that you are mourning and lamenting over him. So why don’t you make a picture of him (i.e. a statue) and place it in your places of gatherings so that you maybe reminded of him. So they said: Yes, and they made a picture of him and put in their place of gathering; which reminded them of him. When Iblîs saw how they were (excessively) remembering him, he said : Why doesn’t every man amongst you make a similar picture to keep in your own houses, so that you can be (constantly) reminded of him. So they all said: Yes. So each household made a picture of him, which they adored and venerated and which constantly reminded them of him. Abû Ja’far said: Those from the later generation saw what the (previous generation) had done and considered that … to the extent that they took him as an ilâh (deity) to be worshipped besides Allâh. He then said: This was the first idol worshipped other than Allâh, and they called this idol Wadd.” [8]

Thus the wisdom of Allâh – the Blessed, the Most High – was fulfilled, when he sent Muhammed sallallâhu ’alayhi wa sallam as the final prophet and made his Sharî’ah the completion of all divinely Prescribed Laws, in that He prohibited all means and avenues by which people may fall into Shirk – which is the greatest of sins. For this reason, building shrines over graves and intending to specifically travel to them, taking them as places of festivity and gathering and swearing an oath by the inmate of a grave; have all been prohibited. All of these lead to excessiveness and lead to the worship of other than Allâh – the Most High.


This being the case even more so in an age in which knowledge is diminishing, ignorance is increasing, there are few sincere advisors (to the truth) and Shaytân is co-operating with men and jinn to misguide mankind and to take them away from the worship of Allâh alone – the Blessed, the Most High.



1. Tahdhîrus-Sâjid min Ittikhâdhil-Qubûri Masâjid (pp.101-106).
2. Related by Ibn Jarîr at-Tabarî in his Tafsîr (4/275) and al-Hâkim (2/546) who said: “It is authentic according to the criterion of al-Bukhârî.” Adh-Dhahabî also agreed.
3. Al-Khawâkibud-Durârî fî Tartîb Musnadul-Imâm Ahmad’alâ Abwâbil-Bukhârî (6/212/1), still in manuscript form.
4. Related by Muslim (8/159) and Ahmad (4/162) from ’Iyâdh ibn Himâr al-Mujâshi’î radiallâhu ’anhu.
5. [From the Editors] Ibn al-Athîr said in an-Nihâyah (3/457): “Al-Fitr: means to begin and create, and al-Fitrah is the condition resulting from it. The meaning is that mankind were born upon a disposition and a nature which is ready to accept the true Religion. So if he were to be left upon this, then he would continue upon it. However, those who deviate from this do so due to following human weaknesses and blind following of others … ” Al-Hâfidh Ibn Hajar said in Al-Fath (3/248): “The people differ concerning what is meant by al-Fitrah and the most famous saying is that it means Islâm. Ibn ’Abdul-Barr said: That is what was well known with most of the Salaf (pious predecessors), and the scholars of Tafsîr are agreed that what is meant by the saying of Allâh – the Most High – “Allâh’s fitrah with which He created mankind.” is Islâm.
6. Related by al-Bukhârî (11/418) and Muslim (18/52).
7. Related by al-Bukhârî (8/534).
8. Related by Ibn Abî Hâtim also, as is in al-Kawâkibud-Durârî (6/112/2) of Ibn ’Urwah al-Hanbalî, along with an isnâd which is Hasan, up to Abû Muttahar. However, no biography could be found for him, neither in ad-Dawlâbî’s al-Kunâ wal-Asmâ, nor Muslim’s al-Kunâ, nor any one else’s. And the hidden defect here is that he is from the Shî’ah, but his biography is not included in at-Tûsî’s al-Kunâ – from the index of Shî’ah narrators.

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