Shirk, or ascribing partners to God (الشرک), is the opposite of tawhid and one of the grave sins. Muslim scholars have divided shirk into shirk in God's essence, attributes, and actions, and shirk in worship. From another perspective, shirk is divided into two categories: "manifest" (jali) and "hidden" (khafi). Manifest shirk is usually discussed in theology and hidden shirk in ethics.
Following the desires, materialism, and ignorance are counted among the factors that have led to the development of shirk. The Qur'an counts the Ihbat (cancellation of the reward of obedience and good deeds), exclusion from God's forgiveness, deprivation of Paradise, and entering hell among the consequences of shirk.
Ibn Taymiyya and his Wahhabi followers accuse Shiites and other Muslims who do tawassul of shirk. However, Shiites emphasize that tawassul is shirk only if it is accompanied by worshipping and believing in the divinity of the one who is implored.
Shirk is defined as ascribing partners to God in what is exclusive to Him, such as necessity of existence, divinity, worship, and lordship. Shirk stands against tawhid, but some scholars maintain that shirk is the opposite of faith and that it may accompany faith, since shirk is applied in the Qur'an not only to idolaters but also to the People of the Book and sometimes to Muslims as well.
Mushrik is the one who ascribes partners to God—the one who believes that a being other than God has His exclusive attributes, that the control over a part of creation is delegated to someone other than God, or that someone other than God deserves to be worshipped or independently obeyed.
Types of Shirk
Similar to tawhid, shirk has the following types:
- Shirk in God's essence, which is to believe that there are several gods (polytheism) or that God's essence consists of two or more components.
- Shirk in God's attributes, or the belief that God's essence is ontologically distinct from His attributes.
- Shirk in God's actions, which stands against tawhid in action and is divided similarly to different types such as shirk in creation and shirk in lordship.
- Shirk in creation is the belief in two or more independent creators such that none of them is inferior to the other ones. The belief in a creator for good and a creator for evil in some faith traditions is an example of this type of shirk.
- Shirk in lordship has two types:
- Shirk in cosmological lordship: the belief that God created the world but delegated its regulation an