Shirk can also encompass any object that a person may hold in regard higher than Allah. It is the most severe of sins and will not be forgiven.
‘I am so self-sufficient that I am in no need of having an associate. Thus he who does an action for someone else’s sake as well as mine will have that action renounced by Me to him whom he associated with Me’. Hadith - Qudsi
Shirk is Unforgivable
Verily, Allâh forgives not that partners should be set up with him in worship, but He forgives except that (anything else) to whom He pleases, and whoever sets up partners with Allâh in worship, he has indeed invented a tremendous sin. [4:48]
The Qur’an stresses in many verses that God does not share his powers with any partner (sharik). It warns those who believe their idols will intercede for them that they, together with the idols, will become fuel for hellfire on the Day of Judgment.
The Arabic term shirk (polytheism), derived from the root Sharik which conveys the notion of “sharing” or “partnerships.” The word Sharik (plural shurakaa) means “partner” or “associate.” It encompasses far more than the more blatant forms of idolatry and denial of Allah’s Unity. The term Shirk means associating partners with Allah, and the related term mushrik is applied to someone guilty of such polytheistic association.
Allah says in the Noble Qur‘an, that Shirk is the greatest sin. (S 31: 14). He also says that He will forgive all other sins if He wishes, except Shirk (S 4: 49). Muslims must understand the term Shirk (polytheism) and be conceptually and practically clear that it is diametrically opposed to, Tawheed, the affirmation to the Oneness of Allah.
The Reality of Shirk
The purpose of our creation is outlined in the Qu’ran when Allah says: “I did not create the Jinn and mankind except to worship Me.” (Surah Ad-Dhariyat 51:56)
Our very existence on this earth is to worship Allah alone. By committing shirk; a person ends up denying this very purpose of our creation. To Allah, this is the gravest of sins and thus unforgivable.
“Surely Allah will not forgive the association of partners (shirk) with Him, but He forgives (sins) less then that to whomever He wishes.” (Surah An-Nisa 4:48)
This means that everything can be forgiven except shirk. However we should not misunderstand this into thinking that those who commit shirk are totally doomed. Allah calls himself by al-Gaffoor (The Most Forgiving), and truly he is the Most Forgiving. If a person commits shirk and then wishes to make repentance, Allah accepts his repentance and wipes the slate clean. But if the person does not make repentance during his lifetime, then Allah will not forgive this person on the day of judgement. Hellfire will be made eternal and he/she will never come out. It must also be remembered that Allah through his justice, has not discriminated in the punishment of this crime. If a Muslim commits shirk during his lifetime, and does not make repentance, he too will face the eternal fury of the Hellfire. It is this thought which helps Muslims from becoming too complacent and arrogant like some of the previous nations.
Forms of Shirk: Major Shirk Includes
Shirk ad Du’a - invoking or supplicating to a false deity besides Allah
Shirk al-Niyah wa Iraada wal Qasd - having the intention and determination to deliberately worship a deity other then Allah.
Shirk at-Ta’a - obeying any created being against the command of Allah.
Shirk al-Muhabbah - loving a created being or an object more than Allah
Hidden Shirk as: Shirk al-khafi means the hidden, or covert, association of partners with Allah, the One and Only God. This is an insidious form of Shirk.
Minor forms of Shirk as:
Shirk ar- rea-carrying out religious acts for worldly gain, e.g. showing off.
Shirk at-Tasmee- swearing by other then Allah.
Mahmood bin Lubayd reported that Allah’s Messenger (Pbuh) said: ‘The thing that I fear for you the most is minor shirk’. The companions asked: ‘O’ Messenger of Allah, what is minor shirk? He replied: Showing off (ar-riya), for verily Allah will say on the day of resurrection when people are receiving their rewards, “Go to those whom you were showing off too in the world and see if you can find any reward from them.”
When doing righteous deeds our intentions should be to please the one who sustains and keeps us alive. It should not be to please those who have done nothing in comparison to what the Creator has done. Showing off has become a disease amongst humans, and tears away at any sincerity which may be present inside a person. Thus Islam is probably the only way of life which regulates this minor action, and places its danger in a proper context.