Associating sanctified creatures with God is idolatry, the gravest offense in Islam

(Reason 12 of ‘22 serious reasons shahada should contain no name except God’s’)

Associating sanctified creatures with God

 
Most people find it difficult to imagine the unperceivable, unportrayable God (6:103) without associating Him with something that is perceivable and portrayable (12:106). This is due to an intrinsic limitation in human minds that like to see and hear. Even great prophets like Moses went through this mental struggle1 (7:143).

Because of this sensory-cognitive limitation, mortals throughout the ages have invented numerous idols besides God in order to worship Him in conjunction with creatures that look like them or things that are tangible and conceivable. They have usually failed to appreciate the unique existence of God, however overwhelmingly evidenced, without setting associates (12:106; cf. 39:43-45, 40:12, 39:36).

While highlighting this polytheistic affinity in humans, the Quran cites examples of endless IDOLS worshipped by them (19:81): they include other names besides God’s (19:65, 39:45, 40:12), pagan gods and goddesses (53:19-20, 71:23), statues for veneration (7:138-139), astronomical objects like sun and moon (27:24, 41:37), natural forces and extra-terrestrials (3:80, 17:55-57), dead prophets and saints (2:135-136, 3:64-65, 79-80, 16:20-21, 35:14, 46:5-6), celebrities, cult figures, spiritual leaders and religious scholars (9:31), secondary authorities like hadiths (6:106-115, 7:2-3, 9:31), sects (30:31-32, 42:13-21), ancient images, icons and shrines (35:13-14, 7:194), the Scripture (6:19), golden calf (7:148-150), money, wealth and children (18:42, 7:190), own ego and selfish desire (25:43), uncontrolled libido (24:3), wishful thinking (45:23), destructive urges in psyche (14:22) and so on …

No wonder most people on Earth carve idols from dead prophets, saints, cult leaders, historical and legendary heroes and founding fathers and so on. Like their pagan ancestors who venerated various natural forces as deities (53:25-27), they idolize Buddha, Ezra, Jesus, Mary, Muhammad, Ali, numerous prophets, saints, rabbis, imams, living fakirs, monks, clerics etc, and seek help from them, despite that all their idols whom they implore are unable to hear them and are themselves powerless like them (2:165-167, 13:14, 17:56, 18:51, 18:102, 35:13-14, 7:194). The living leaders of polytheistic societies gain more power and authority by exploiting the fictional power of dead idols that are monopolized and used as the trademark of a particular ruling class (25:3).

Interestingly, most people, though idol-worshipping, generally remain unable to admit their polytheism as they fail to acknowledge that all these idols are illusionary by-products of their own sensory-cognitive experience dwelling in the subconscious (2:93, 6:23, 6:148, 16:35). To many of them, God’s absolute oneness without attribution to a quasi-divine status to various idols appears even weird as a concept (38:5).

Hindus worship Rama and Krishna and many others as divine incarnations (avatars). Buddhists, who initially revered ‘Buddha’ as an enlightened holy man, eventually transformed his image into the Divinity itself. In many Talmud-based Jewish sects there is a trend of ascribing divinity to Ezra, rabbis, saints and doctors of law. Christians, influenced by St Paul, turned Jesus into a divine sacrifice and an agency between human and God (1, Timothy 2:5-6). After exalting him to the sanctified status of the Son of God and our Lord, the churches gradually introduced into Christianity the doctrine of Trinity, dogmas of original sin and vicarious atonement, Papal infallibility, divinity of Mary and numerous saints and the ritual of praying to them while considering them as divine intermediaries and intercessors (cf. 6:164, 9:31, 17:15, 35:18, 39:7, 53:38).

Now, in line with this same idolatrous trend common in the psychology of religions, many earlier Muslims also found it difficult to imagine the unperceivable, unportrayable God without associating Him with something that is perceivable and portrayable. They felt the strong urge to see a sanctified human figure besides God. A demigod that would mediate and negotiate with God on their behalf! And they easily found it in an idolized Muhammad.

So they imagined Muhammad as the mediator between human and God in this life and as the intercessor in the hereafter, an anti-Quranic speculation that eventually led to the rigid assertion that, without accepting Muhammad, none can attain salvation (39:36). In defiance of The Quran, which doesn’t authorize any added name in shahada, they added Muhammad’s name next to God’s – while illegitimately singling him out from all other messengers in the most repeated declaration of faith. With this association of Muhammad’s name with God’s in shahada, Muhammadans of earlier generations somehow perceived God + Muhammad as two reciprocal halves/mates/counterparts of a divine pair. They failed to notice that, this coupling of a mere mortal with God violates the holistic awareness about God and so is itself a blatant manifestation of shirk.

Moreover, they felt it necessary to ‘supplement’ the ‘apparently incomplete’ Quran with various human annexes. These annexes, though often dictated by the selfish motives and the demands of various interest groups especially the powerful and the clergy, needed to look ‘divine’ and therefore needed to be ascribed on a genuine authority. And again that was Muhammad.

Then, through this unauthorized import of secondary sources to Islam, Muhammad-worshipers eventually transmuted their cult leader into a divine incarnation and associate. They substituted the previous Meccan icons like Laat, Manat and Uzza with their new effigy. They simply replaced one idol with another and repeated the usual polytheistic course of regression (40:12)2 that happened with other religions.

Since their disjointed pagan mindset lacked the holistic reading essential to understand God’s absolute oneness (16:20-22, 17:45-46, 39:45, 53:25-27, 70:33-34), their idolization of the messenger secondarily triggered a gradual idolization of all his followers and then the followers of the followers and so on. Thus one idol branched out into many idols. As a result, Islamic monotheism became redefined by the Muhammadans as a Limited Partnership where numerous ‘partners’, i.e. a whole hierarchy of idols, are accepted and venerated. The most common set-up3 for such partnership is: the Quran (God) + hadiths and sunnah (messenger) + the practice of the messenger’s companions + the practice of the companions of the companions + the opinions of Imams (qiyas and ijtihad) + consensus of “ulama” in a particular sect (ijma’) + the comments and opinions of their students + the comments and opinions of early “ulama” + the comments and opinions of later “ulama” + the fatwas of living “ulama.”

This is how they associated various sanctified creatures with God. This polytheistic splitting of their thoughts by multiple authorities prevented them from understanding Islamic monotheism that calls not to associate anyone or anything with God (4:36, 18:110). And this is how they fell into the new trap of shirk or association, the only unforgivable offense in Islam4 (4:48; cf. 4:116, 39:65, 6:88).

Summary

Associating sanctified creatures with God is idolatry, the gravest offense in Islam

Most people find it difficult to imagine the ‘abstract’ God (6:103) without associating Him with something that is ‘real’ to their perception (12:106). This is due to an intrinsic limitation in human minds that like to see and hear. Even great prophets like Moses went through this mental struggle (7:143).

Because of this sensory-cognitive limitation, mortals throughout the ages have invented numerous idols besides God in order to worship Him in conjunction with creatures that look like them or things that are tangible and conceivable (12:106; cf. 39:43-45, 40:12, 39:36). While highlighting this polytheistic affinity in humans, the Quran cites examples of endless IDOLS worshipped by them (19:81): from gods and goddesses to saints and celebrities, to wealth and children, to ego and desire, and so on …

Now, in line with this same idolatrous trend, many earlier Muslims also felt the strong urge to see a sanctified human figure besides God. A demigod that would mediate and negotiate with God on their behalf! And they easily found it in an idolized Muhammad. Moreover, they felt it necessary to ‘supplement’ the ‘apparently incomplete’ Quran with various human annexes that needed to look ‘divine’ and therefore needed to be ascribed on a genuine authority. And again that was Muhammad.

Then, through this unauthorized import of secondary sources to Islam, Muhammad-worshipers eventually transmuted their cult leader into a divine incarnation and associate. They substituted the previous Meccan icons like Laat, Manat and Uzza with their new effigy. They simply replaced one idol with another and repeated the usual polytheistic course of regression (40:12) that happened with other religions.

Since their disjointed pagan mindset lacked the holistic reading essential to understand God’s absolute oneness (16:20-22, 17:45-46, 39:45, 53:25-27, 70:33-34), their idolization of the messenger secondarily triggered a gradual idolization of all his followers and then the followers of the followers and so on. Thus one idol branched out into many idols. As a result, Islamic monotheism became redefined by the Muhammadans as a Limited Partnership where numerous ‘partners’, i.e. a whole hierarchy of idols, are accepted and venerated. The most common set-up for such partnership is: the Quran (God) + hadiths and sunnah (messenger) + the practice of the messenger’s companions + the practice of the companions of the companions + the opinions of Imams (qiyas and ijtihad) + consensus of “ulama” in a particular sect (ijma’) + the comments and opinions of their students + the comments and opinions of early “ulama” + the comments and opinions of later “ulama” + the fatwas of living “ulama.”

This is how they associated various sanctified creatures with God. And this is how they fell into the new trap of shirk or association, the only unforgivable offense in Islam (4:48; cf. 4:116, 39:65, 6:88).

A final word. Associating other authorities with God creates polytheistic splitting of thoughts. This disjointed mindset or shirk is the toxic root of all evil acts and so the gravest offense in Islam.

 

________________________

1 Most people struggle to accept God’s unique existence without associating Him with things they can perceive with their sense (The majority of them will not acknowledge God without setting up associates. 12:106). Even great prophets like Moses went through this mental struggle: He said: O my Sustainer! Let me look upon You! He said: Never can you see Me. 7:143.

2 The Quran mentions the cause of the dire fate that has befallen the Muhammad-worshippers: This is because when God Alone was mentioned, you rejected, but when associates were included besides Him, you acknowledged. 40:12

3https://www.free-minds.org/salat-edip

4Indeed, God does not pardon that anything should be associated with Him, but He pardons all besides that, for whom He wills. And whoever associates with God anything has certainly devised an offense tremendous. 4:48 (cf. 4:116, 39:65, 6:88).