Definition of shirk (lesser shirk) .lesson 3

[The forms of lesser shirk ]In this lesson, we will discuss the definition of lesser shirk, forms of lesser shirk and differences between greater and lesser shirk.

Definition of Lesser Shirk

Lesser Shirk is what has been specifically called shirk in the Quran and Sunnah, but does not reach the level of greater shirk.

Also, lesser shirk is said to lead to greater shirk.

Some scholars have said lesser shirk is so vast that it is difficult to define it precisely.

The most important examples of lesser shirk are:

Charms & Omens Wearing charms, talismans, and amulets for protection against the evil eye, bad luck and the like thinking that Allah has placed these powers in them constitute lesser shirk.

This is discussed in more detail here.

Swearing an Oath in the Name of Other than Allah

Taking an oath, or swearing, in the name of someone other than Allah is a type of lesser shirk given that a person does not intend to venerate the one in whose name the oath is being taken, else it turns into greater shirk.

The Messenger of Allah, may the mercy and blessings of Allah be upon him, said, “The one who takes an oath in the name of other than Allah commits disbelief or shirk.”


Riyaa (Showing-Off)


The Messenger of Allah said: “The thing that I fear most for you is lesser shirk.”They said: “O Messenger of Allah, what is lesser shirk?” He said: “Riyaa (showing off), for Allah will say on the Day when people are recompensed for their actions: ‘Go to those for whom you were showing off with your deeds in the world, and see what reward you find with them.’” (Ahmad)Riyaa is to perform worship in order to be seen and praised by people.

Riyaa renders a deed void; the person earns sin instead of reward from Allah, and it exposes him to punishment.Human beings, by nature like to be praised, are not fond of criticism, and do not like to be seen deficient in any way.

Islam views doing religious acts to impress others instead of pleasing Allah – what should have been done for Allah is done for people – as shirk.

The Messenger of Allah said: “Allah (glorified and exalted be He) said: ‘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.’” (Saheeh Muslim)There is a good chance of a believer falling into riyaa because it is hidden, it sits in the heart, pollutes the intention, and a person has to be extremely vigilant to correct it. Ibn Abbas, one of the Prophet’s companions, said, “Shirk in the Muslim nation is more hidden than a black ant crawling on a black stone in the middle of a moonless night.”Intention is a simple matter, but sometimes changing it can be difficult.

A person has to listen to their heart and see what motivates a certain action.

A Muslim has to carefully watch his intention to keep it pure whenever he performs a good deed like salah (ritual prayer), giving charity, fasting, serving his parents, or even smiling. Perhaps this is why the saying of Allah’s Name has been prescribed before all acts of importance in daily life – eating, drinking, sleeping, going to the toilet, waking up, and going to sleep.

Remembering Allah keeps the heart aware of Allah and the intention pure.In the next lesson, we will continue our discussion about Riyaa.Till next time, I hope you are enjoying learning about Islam