Sunday, 10 December 2006

Protection From Shirk

Mahmud ibn Lubayd RA reports that Rasulullah SAW said:

"The thing I fear for you the most is ash-Shirk al-Asghar (minor shirk)." The Companions (RA) asked, "Oh! messenger of Allah, what is minor Shirk?" He replied "Ar-Riyaa (showing off), for verily Allah will say on the Day of Resurrection when people are receiving their rewards, 'Go to those for whom you were showing off in the material world and see if you can find any reward from them.'" (Riwayat Tabrani & Baihaqi)

Mahmud ibn Lubayd RA also said:

"The Prophet (SAW) came out and announced, 'O people, beware of secret Shirk!' The people asked, 'O messenger of Allah, what is secret Shirk?' He replied, 'When a man gets up to pray and strives to beautify his prayer because people are looking at him; that is secret Shirk.'" (Riwayat Ibn Khuzaimah)

Riyaa is the practise of performing any of the various forms of worship in order to be seen and praised by people. This sin destroys all the benefits that lie in righteous deeds and brings on the one who commits it a serious punishment. It is particularly dangerous, because it is natural for man to desire and enjoy the praise of his fellow men.

Doing religious acts to impress people or in order to be praised by them is, therefore, an evil which deserves man's utmost caution. This danger is really significant to the believers whose goal is to make all of the acts of their lives religious acts dedicated to Allah. In fact, the likelihood that knowledgeable true believers would commit ash-Shirk al-Akbar is small, since its pitfalls are so obvious. But, for the true believer like everyone else, the chance of committing Riyaa is great because it is so hidden. It only involves the simple act of changing one's intention. The motivating forces behind it are also very strong, since it comes from man's inner nature.

Abdullah Ibn Abbas RA alluded to this reality when he said:

"Shirk is more hidden than a black ant creeping on a black stone in the middle of a moonless night."

Thus, great care has to be taken to ensure that one's intentions begin pure and remain pure whenever righteous deeds are being done. In order to ensure this, the saying of Allah's name is enjoined in Islam before all acts of importance. A series of Du'as have also been prescribed by the Prophet SAW before and after all natural habits like eating, drinking, sleeping, coitus, and even going to the toilet, in order to turn these everyday habits into acts of worship and develop in Muslims a keen awareness of Allaah. It is this awareness, called Taqwa, which ultimately insures that intentions remain pure.

The Prophet Muhammad SAW also provided protection against the inevitable acts of Shirk by teaching certain specific prayers which may be said anytime.

Abu Musa RA said: "One day Allah's Messenger (SAW) delivered a sermon saying: 'O people, fear Shirk for it is more hidden than the creeping of an ant.' Those whom Alaah wished asked, 'And how do we avoid it when it is more hidden than the creeping of an ant, O Messenger of Allah (SAW)? '

He (SAW) replied: 'Say: Allaahumma Innaa na'uudhu bika an nushrika bika shay'an na'lamuh, wa nastaghfiruka limaa laa na'lamuh. (O Allaah, we seek refuge in you from knowingly committing shirk with you and we ask your forgiveness for what we do not know about).' "

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