Qur’an and Sunnah rulings on polytheism and idols
﴾ بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم ﴿
Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) says:
“Indeed, Allah does not forgive association with Him, but He forgives what is less than that for whom He wills. And he who associates others with Allah has certainly fabricated a tremendous sin.” [An-Nisā’ 48]
And Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) says:
“Verily, the one who mixes partners in worship with Allah (i.e. Shirk), then Paradise has been made forbidden for him and his final abode will be the Hell fire. And the wrongdoers will not have any helpers (in Hell).” [Al-Mā’idah 72]
Idol-worship is severely rebuked in the Qur’an. This formed the basis of the message of all the Prophets from Nuh (عليه السلام) to Muhammad (صلى الله تعالیٰ عليه وعلی آلہ وصحبہ وبارک وسلم), because idol worship only started during the time of Nuh (عليه السلام). Allah mentions in the Qur’an,
“So shun the abomination of idols, and shun the word that is false.” [Al-Ĥaj 30]
The Qur’an relates how Ibrahim (عليه السلام) waged war against the idols, which were worshiped in his time. Ibrahim (عليه السلام) called his people in Mesopotamia to worship Allah alone and to stop worshiping the idols, which could neither bring them benefit nor cause harm to them. He wanted to free his people from idol-worship and rid them of myths and legends. He asked his people about these idols, as Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) tells us:
“And recite to them the story of Ibrahim. When he said to his father and his people: ‘What do you worship?’ They said: ‘We worship idols, and to them we are ever devoted.’ He said: ‘Do they hear you, when you call on (them)? Or do they benefit you or do they harm (you)?’ They said: ‘(Nay) but we found our fathers doing so.’ ” [Ash-Shu`arā’ 69-74]
The part of the story which is directly relevant in the context of this discussion is the determination of Ibrahim (عليه السلام) to destroy these idols, as is related in the Qur’an:
“And by Allah, I will certainly plan against your idols – after you go away and turn your backs.”
[Al ‘Anbyā’ 57]
And then he broke the idols: “Then he cast a glance at the stars, And he said: ‘Verily, I am sick (with plague). [He did this trick to remain in their temple of idols to destroy them and not to accompany them to the pagan feast)].’ So they turned away from him, and departed (for fear of the disease). Then he turned to their aalihah (gods) and said:
“Will you not eat (of the offering before you)? What is the matter with you that you speak not?’ Then he turned upon them, striking (them) with (his) right hand.” [Aş-Şāffāt 91-93]
Just as Allah commanded Ibrahim (عليه السلام) to destroy the idols, He also commanded the Prophet Muhammad (صلى الله تعالیٰ عليه وعلی آلہ وصحبہ وبارک وسلم) to do the same, as we shall see from the Ahadith that follow.
“And whoever amongst you takes them (i.e., the disbelievers) as allies and protectors then he is indeed from among them. Verily, Allah does not guide a wrong-doing people.” [Al-Mā’idah 51]
Turning away from Allah’s Religion, not learning it or implementing it is an act of disbelief . The proof for this is Allah (سبحانه و تعالى)’s Saying:
“And who does more wrong than he who is reminded of the ayat (signs/verses) of his Lord, then turns away from them. Verily, We shall extract retribution from the criminals.” [As-Sajdah 22]
“Truly, the religion with Allah is Islam.” [‘Āli `Imrān 19]
Years after the demise of Ibrahim (عليه السلام), the Arabs had again begun to pollute the teachings of their forefather with the worship of idols. Encouraged by a man called Amr bin Luhay, they filled the Kabah and its surroundings with various idols. When Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) sent the Prophet Muhammad (صلى الله تعالیٰ عليه وعلی آلہ وصحبہ وبارک وسلم) to mankind, part of his mission was to destroy these idols, as is clearly indicated by the following Hadith:
Muslim (832) narrated from ‘Urwah ibn ‘Abasah (رضي الله عنه) that he said to the Prophet (صلىالله تعالیٰ عليه وعلی آلہ وصحبہ وبارک وسلم):
“With what were you sent?” He (صلى الله تعالیٰ عليه وعلی آلہ وصحبہ وبارک وسلم) said,
“I was sent to uphold the ties of kinship, to break the idols, and so that Allah would be worshipped alone with no partner or associate.” [Bukhari 1812]
This Hadith makes it clear that breaking idols has been issued as a separate statement from proclaiming the worship of Allah alone. Hence the message that the Prophet (صلىالله تعالیٰ عليه وعلی آلہ وصحبہ وبارک وسلم) was sent with was not just to worship Allah alone, but also to break all idols, which he (صلى الله تعالیٰ عليه وعلی آلہ وصحبہ وبارک وسلم) did. Islam does not just prevent an evil, but all paths that may lead to evil. So in this case, the evil would be the worship of idols instead of Allah. The path to this evil would be the presence of idols.
Also, in a Hadith related by Ahmad, the Prophet (صلى الله تعالیٰ عليه وعلی آلہ وصحبہ وبارک وسلم) said,
“Verily, Allah sent me as a mercy to mankind and my Lord commanded me to smash the idols.”
In his chapter on the removal of idols from the vicinity of Makkah, Imam Bukhari (2346) and Imam Muslim (1781) relate the following Hadith- Narrated Abdullah bin Masud (رضي الله عنه):
“Allah’s Apostle entered Makkah (in the year of the Conquest) and there were three-hundred and sixty idols around the Ka’ba. He then started hitting them with a stick in his hand and say:
‘Truth (i.e. Islam) has come and falsehood (disbelief) vanished. Truly falsehood (disbelief) is ever bound to vanish.’ [Al-‘Isrā’ 81]
‘Truth has come and falsehood (Iblis) cannot create anything.’ [Saba’ 49]”.
Why would the Prophet (صلى الله تعالیٰ عليه وعلی آلہ وصحبہ وبارک وسلم) destroy these idols? After all, they were not going to be worshiped anymore, since the Muslims had authority in the land, and most of the Makkans had embraced Islam. Even if they had not, no one would dare to go and worship these idols if the Muslims were in command. Why did the Prophet (صلىالله تعالیٰ عليه وعلی آلہ وصحبہ وبارک وسلم) not preserve these idols as ‘cultural heritage’? The answer to this is the clear Hadith in which the Prophet (صلى الله تعالیٰ عليه وعلی آلہ وصحبہ وبارک وسلم) stated that part of his message was to destroy the idols.
Skeptics may now say that since this was a special case, and owing to the sanctity of the holy city of Makkah, no idols should be present there. Wrong, because it is well known that the Prophet (صلى الله تعالیٰ عليه وعلی آلہ وصحبہ وبارک وسلم) sent Khalid ibn al-Waleed (رضي الله عنه) on a campaign to destroy Uzza. And he sent Sa’d ibn Zayd al-Ashhali (رضي الله عنه) on a campaign to destroy Manaat. And he sent ‘Amr ibn al-‘Aas (رضي الله عنه) on a campaign to destroy Suwaa’. All of that happened after the Conquest of Makkah.
Al-Bukhari (3020) and Muslim (2476) narrated that Jareer ibn ‘Abd-Allah al-Bajali (رضي الله عنه) said: The Messenger of Allah (صلى الله تعالیٰ عليه وعلی آلہ وصحبہ وبارک وسلم) said to me: “O Jareer, will you not relieve me of Dhu’l-Khalsah?” That was a house (in Yemen) belonging to the (tribe of) Khath’am, which was called Ka’bat al-Yamaaniyyah. I set out with one hundred and fifty horsemen. I used not to sit firm on horses and I mentioned that to the Messenger of Allah (صلى الله تعالیٰ عليه وعلی آلہ وصحبہ وبارک وسلم). He struck me on my chest with his hand and said,
‘O Allah! Make him firm and make him one who guides others and is guided on the right path.’
So Jareer (رضي الله عنه) went and burned it with fire, then Jareer (رضي الله عنه) sent a man called Abu Artaat (رضي الله عنه) to the Messenger of Allah (صلى الله تعالیٰ عليه وعلی آلہ وصحبہ وبارک وسلم). He said, “I did not come to you until we had left it like a scabby camel.” Then the Messenger of Allah (صلى الله تعالیٰ عليه وعلی آلہ وصحبہ وبارک وسلم) blessed the horses of (the tribe of) Ahmas and their men five times.
It is reported from Tariq Ibn Shihab (رضي الله عنه) that the Prophet (صلى الله تعالیٰ عليه وعلی آلہ وصحبہ وبارک وسلم) said:
“A man entered Paradise because of a fly, while another entered the Fire because of a fly.”
They asked: “How was that possible, O Messenger of Allah (صلى الله تعالیٰ عليه وعلی آلہ وصحبہ وبارک وسلم)?” He replied: “Two men passed by a people who had an idol, which it was not permissible for anyone to pass without making a sacrifice to it. They (the people) said to the first man: “Sacrifice (something).” He said: “I have nothing with which to do so.” They said: “Sacrifice something, even if it were only a fly,” and so he did so, and they allowed him to continue on his way and so he entered the Hell fire. Then they said to the second man: “Sacrifice (something).” But he said: “I will not sacrifice anything unless it be to Allah , the Almighty, the All-powerful,” so they struck his neck (and he died) and entered Paradise.”
Allah, The Most High, Says:
“And let there be [arising] from you a nation inviting to [all that is] good, enjoining what is right and forbidding what is wrong, and those will be the successful.” [‘Āli `Imrān 104]
The Messenger of Allah (صلى الله تعالیٰ عليه وعلی آلہ وصحبہ وبارک وسلم) said if there were people committing sins and people who had the power to stop them but did not do so, then Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) would punish both parties before their death. The Prophet (صلى الله تعالیٰ عليه وعلی آلہ وصحبہ وبارک وسلم) also said there would be people in his Ummah who would not consider an evil doer an oppressor. He (صلىالله تعالیٰ عليه وعلی آلہ وصحبہ وبارک وسلم) advised that when someone sees such people, he/she should keep away from them and not to sit in their company. The Messenger of Allah (صلى الله تعالیٰ عليه وعلی آلہوصحبہ وبارک وسلم) said that a person who did not command the good and forbid the evil was not of his company. The Messenger of Allah (صلى الله تعالیٰ عليه وعلی آلہ وصحبہ وبارک وسلم) said that Allah (سبحانه وتعالى) commanded Jibreel (عليه السلام) to destroy a city because of the evildoers therein. Jibreel (عليهالسلام) said,
“O Allah, there is a person in the city who has never disobeyed you.”
Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) Says,
“Destroy him as well, because he was not offended by their evildoing.”
These Hadeeth are mentioned in Muslim, Tirmidhi, Ibn Majah and Baihaqi .
Abdullah ibn Mas’ud (رضي الله عنه) said,
“He is destroyed who does not enjoin good and forbid evil.” [Hilyat Al-Awliya 426]
Thus, it is not permissible for a Muslim who possesses knowledge to remain silent concerning deviant beliefs without clarifying it for the people. This is because if he remains silent, the people will use him as an argument, saying, ‘if this was impermissible or prohibited, then the so and so would not have remained silent about it while he sees it.’
Allah, The Most High, Says:
“Those who conceal the clear (Signs) We have sent down, and the Guidance, after We have made it clear for the people in the Book,-on them shall be Allah’s curse, and the curse of those entitled to curse,-Except those who repent and make amends and openly declare (the Truth): To them I turn; for I am Oft-returning, Most Merciful.” [Al-Baqarah 159-160]
Thus, it is obligatory upon those who have knowledge to clarify the false matters. And they must prohibit and warn against the deviant sects, and not remain silent as remaining silent is considered concealing the truth.
It is related that Sa`id ibn Abu Al-Hasan (رضي الله عنه) said: I heard the Messenger of Allah (صلى الله تعالیٰعليه وعلی آلہ وصحبہ وبارک وسلم) saying,
“Every idol maker will enter the Fire and a soul will be given to every idol they made so that it would torment them in the Fire”. [Muslim]
Abu’l-Hiyaaj al-Asadi said: ‘Ali ibn Abi Taalib (رضي الله عنه) said to me:
“Shall I not send you on the same basis as the Messenger of Allah sent me? Do not leave any statue without destroying it, and do not leave any built-up grave without razing it to the ground.” [Muslim 969].
This clearly demonstrates that destroying idols is wajib because the Prophet (صلى الله تعالیٰ عليه وعلی آلہوصحبہ وبارک وسلم) himself ordered it. When Persia was conquered, the Companions came across a large number of Persian books on the history and knowledge of Persia. The Companions wrote to the Caliph, Umar bin Al-Khattab (رضي الله عنه), asking him what to do with the books. Umar (رضي اللهعنه) replied by saying that if there was any good in the books, then they already had the good of the Qur’an. And if there was any evil in the books, then Allah would protect them from the evil. He then ordered the books to be burned or thrown in the river.
Umar (رضي الله عنه) even had the tree at Ridwan [under which the Companions made the pledge to the Prophet (صلى الله تعالیٰ عليه وعلی آلہ وصحبہ وبارک وسلم)] chopped down because some people had started to pray their Salaah there, due to the value they attached to the place. Umar (رضي اللهعنه) had it removed, because he knew that a time might come when people would start worshiping the tree, as has been the case throughout history (and as was obviously the case with Buddhism).
When Qutaibah bin Saeed conquered Samarqand, the people in the city told him of the presence of an idol, upon which was a curse – anyone who wanted to destroy the idol would himself be destroyed. Qutaibah asked to be shown this idol; he then walked towards it shouting the Takbeer and destroyed it himself.
Ibn Kathir (رضي الله عنه) in his book Al-Bidayah wan-Nihayah relates that Mahmoud bin Subikteen Al-Ghazni, a great Mujahid of the 6th century, destroyed an idol called Al-Bud (the Buddha) who was worshipped in one of the cities. When Salahuddin Al-Ayubi conquered Jerusalem, Richard the Lion-Heart, as he was called, asked him to return to the Christians the True Cross, which was in the city at that time. Salahuddin replied that there was great reward in breaking in the cross, and that this constituted an act of great piety, which Muslims should not abandon.
Ibn Abbas (رضي الله عنه) said:
“The idols of the people of Nuh (عليه السلام) were names of righteous men from them. When they died, the Shaytan inspired their people to set up idols in the places where they had used to sit, and to call those idols by their names. They did that but they did not worship them, but after those people died and knowledge had been forgotten, then they started to worship them.” [Bukhari: 4636]
It is related by Abu Dawud on the authority of Jabir (رضي الله عنه) that the Prophet (صلى الله تعالیٰ عليه وعلی آلہ وصحبہ وبارک وسلم) ordered `Umaribn Al-Khattab (رضي الله عنه) during the time of the Conquest of Makkah while he was in Al-Bat-ha’ to go to the Kabah and efface every idol in it. The Prophet (صلى الله تعالیٰ عليه وعلی آلہ وصحبہ وبارک وسلم) only entered it when all idols were effaced [Muslim]
Also, Al-Khattaby (رضي الله عنه) said,
“In fact, the punishment of idol makers is made severe because idols were worshiped besides Allah. Furthermore, looking at them may become a sort of Fitnah (temptation) and some people might be attached to them.”
Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) Says,
“And do not eat of that upon which the name of Allah has not been mentioned, for indeed, it is grave disobedience. And indeed do the devils inspire their allies [among men] to dispute with you. And if you were to obey them, indeed, you would be associators [of others with Him].” [Al-‘An`ām 121]
“It is not for such as join gods with Allah, to visit or maintain the mosques of Allah while they witness against their own souls to infidelity. The works of such bear no fruit: In Fire shall they dwell.” [At-Tawbah 17]
Narrated Abu Tha’laba Al-Khushni (رضي الله عنه): I said, “O Allah’s Messenger (صلى الله تعالیٰ عليه وعلی آلہوصحبہ وبارک وسلم)! We are living in a land inhabited by the people of the Scriptures, can we take our meals in their utensils?” He said,
“If you can get utensils other than theirs, do not eat in theirs but if you cannot get other than theirs, wash them and eat in them.”
This Hadith makes it clear that if the utensils from a Muslim are available then the utensils of a non-Muslim should not be used for eating, drinking or cooking. If it is certain about a non-Muslim that he does not eat something unlawful or prohibited, then his utensils may be used, but even then one should be careful.
It is not permissible to donate to a temple or church or any place in which anyone or anything other than Allah is worshiped, because that is helping in evil and in the greatest of evils. Allah (سبحانه وتعالى) Says :
“Help you one another in Al-Birr and At-Taqwa (virtue, righteousness and piety); but do not help one another in sin and transgression. And fear Allah. Verily, Allah is Severe in punishment”. [Al-Mā’idah 2]
In these temples shirk and idolatry are practiced, so how can a Muslim think of donating to them? Can that be anything other than helping and contributing to the support of shirk and those who believe in it?
What you have to do is refuse to give these donations, even if it means that you have to leave your job in this factory, because the believer cannot sell his religion for worldly gain. Work is not one of the things that make this great evil permissible, and the one who gives up something for the sake of Allah, Allah will compensate him with something better than it.
Aisha (رضي الله عنها) narrated that she heard the Messenger of Allah (صلى الله تعالیٰ عليه وعلی آلہ وصحبہ وبارک وسلم) said,
“Whoever gains the Pleasure of Allah by the anger of the people (i.e. thereby gains their anger), Allah suffices him of the peoples troubles. And whoever gains the pleasure of the people by the Anger of Allah (i.e. in the process he gains His Anger), then Allah leaves him to the people.” [Tirmidhi]
Whoever does not hold the polytheists to be disbelievers, or has doubts about their disbelief or considers their ways and beliefs to be correct, has committed disbelief.
Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) Says :
“But no, by your Lord, they will not [truly] believe until they make you, [O Muhammad], judge concerning that over which they dispute among themselves and then find within themselves no discomfort from what you have judged and submit in [full, willing] submission.” [An-Nisā’ 65]
“It is not fitting for a Believer, man or woman, when a matter has been decided by Allah and His Messenger to have any option about their decision: if any one disobeys Allah and His Messenger, he is indeed on a clearly wrong Path.” [Al-‘Aĥzāb 36]
Whoever believes that some guidance other than that of the Prophet (صلى الله تعالیٰ عليه وعلی آلہ وصحبہ وبارک وسلم)’s is more complete than his guidance and that someone else’s judgment is better than his judgment, such as the one who prefers the judgment of the Tawageeth over his judgment, then he is a disbeliever.
“The only saying of the faithful believers, when they are called to Allah (His Words, the Qur’an) and His Messenger, to judge between them, is that they say: ‘We hear and we obey.’ And such are the successful (who will live forever in Paradise)”. [An-Nūr 51]
We ask Allah to help the Muslims to do that which He loves and which pleased Him.
And Allah knows best.
﴾ والحمد للّٰہ اوّلًا وآخراًً ﴿