What is Shirk in Islam | A Forbidden Sin

Islamic theology is wide and intricate. Tawheed—the belief in Allah’s oneness—is often emphasized. Every Muslim has to understand and avoid Shirk, which contrasts with Islam. This article explores Shirk, its forms, its effects, and how to prevent it.

 What is Shirk | The Definition and Its Consequences

Shirk in Islam refers to associating others with Allah, which directly opposes Tawheed, the fundamental core of Islam. It represents multiple gods, the opposite of the Islamic religious system, which defends Allah’s singularity and uniqueness.

 If the individual dies without seeking repentance, this grievous transgression violates Quranic injunctions, making it an “unforgivable sin” (Surah An-Nisa, 4:48). As a result, any Muslim wanting to retain the purity of their faith must be cautious against Shirk and understand its various forms.

 Types of Shirk and Their Examples 

Shirk is divided into two types based on its manifestations: Ash-Shirk al-Akbar (Major Shirk) and Ash-Shirk Al-Asghar (Minor Shirk). 

Major Shirk is more visible and clear, comprising apparent acts of equating partners with Allah.

 Minor Shirk, on the other hand, is subtle and sometimes buried inside actions or intentions, making it more difficult to recognize and avoid. To acquire a thorough understanding, exploring these types of Shirk, their ramifications, and examples is necessary.

 Ash-Shirk al-Akbar (Major Shirk)

Major Shirk refers to obvious acts of associating partners with Allah, such as idol worship and attributing divine traits to creatures other than Allah. It entails bestowing upon others a status that Islam reserves solely for Allah. 

  • Shirk-ur-Roboobiyyah (attributing divine characteristics or the creator’s role to others), 
  • Shirk-in-Ibadah (directing worship towards entities other than Allah), and
  •  Shirk in Al-Asmaa Was-Sifat (attributing Allah’s names or attributes to others or humanizing Allah) are all major Shirk

 Ash-Shirk Al-Asghar (Minor Shirk) 

Minor Shirk, often known as “hidden shirk,” is less visible than Major Shirk but equally detrimental to one’s faith. It entails behaviors or ideas that quietly attribute Allah’s involvement.

 This might manifest in various ways, including boasting in worship (Riya), placing undue weight on omens, and seeking favors from people other than Allah. Recognizing and comprehending these subtle forms is critical to protect one’s beliefs.

 Hidden Ways of Committing Shirk 

Shirk can easily invade a believer’s life. It can be subliminal regard for society standards above Islamic directives or unconscious awe of people or things. Showing off during worship (Riya) is one example of hidden Shirk.

  • You are giving too much weight to societal opinion above Allah’s instructions.
  • I fear people over Allah.
  • Good deeds are done for social recognition rather than Allah’s pleasure.

Recognizing and comprehending these hidden types of Shirk is critical for Muslims to protect their religion.

How to Avoid Shirk? 

Avoiding Shirk is a lifelong process requiring complete knowledge of the concept, continual self-evaluation, and unwavering faith in Allah’s oneness. For Muslims, the remedy to Shirk is to increase their Islamic knowledge, cultivate sincerity in worship, seek Allah’s direction through Quran recitation regularly, and seek sanctuary from Shaitan’s deceitful whispering. 

Maintaining Tawheed and avoiding Shirk necessitates ongoing attention and awareness and a real desire to please Allah first and foremost.


What is Shirk in Islam?

Shirk in Islam refers to associating partners with Allah, contradicting the principle of Tawheed, which upholds Allah’s oneness.

What are the consequences of committing Shirk?

Committing Shirk is considered the gravest sin in Islam. The Quran states it is an unforgivable sin if one dies without repenting.

What are the two types of Shirk?

Shirk is divided into Major Shirk (Ash-Shirk al-Akbar) and Minor Shirk (Ash-Shirk Al-Asghar).

What is Major Shirk?

Major Shirk involves explicitly associating partners with Allah, such as idol worship or attributing divine qualities to others.

What is Minor Shirk?

Minor Shirk, also known as “hidden Shirk,” involves subtle actions or beliefs that ascribe partnership to Allah, such as showing off during worship or giving undue importance to omens.

What are some hidden ways of committing Shirk?

Hidden ways of committing Shirk include:

  • Showing off during worship.
  • Fearing people more than Allah.
  • Giving undue importance to societal opinion over Allah’s commands.
  • Performing good deeds for social recognition rather than for Allah’s pleasure.

How can one avoid committing Shirk?

Avoiding Shirk involves:

  • Increasing one’s Islamic knowledge.
  • Maintaining sincerity in worship.
  • Frequently reciting the Quran.
  • Seeking Allah’s refuge from the whispers of Shaitan.
  • Regular self-evaluation.

Is neglecting prayer a form of Shirk?

Yes, neglecting prayer out of fear of criticism from people, thereby giving their opinion precedence over Allah’s command, is a form of Shirk.

Is seeking blessings from individuals other than Allah considered Shirk?

Yes, seeking blessings from individuals other than Allah falls under Minor Shirk as it subtly associates partnership with Allah.


To maintain the sanctity of one’s faith, one must understand Shirk and its various forms. Although the concept may appear overwhelming initially, the journey towards maintaining Tawheed and avoiding Shirk is rewarding, reinforcing a believer’s relationship with Allah. The path requires continuous learning, reflection, and spiritual growth to foster a deeper connection with Islam and its principles.

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