The Principle for distinguishing between Major Shirk and Minor Shirk Shaikh Ibn al-‘Uthaymeen

Question: Oh virtuous Shaikh! What is the principle for Major Shirk(Shirk Akbar) and what is the principle for Minor Shirk(Shirk Asghar)? Is disobedience considered from Shirk knowing that the love for desire and disobedience overcomes the love of Allah?

Answer:   The principle for Major Shirk is that it is what expels one out the religion. This returns to [the principle] that if you find in any Hadith this [particular action] is Shirk, look at the principles of Shariah for other texts. So if something like it expels one out of the religion, then it is Major Shirk. If it does not expel one out of the religion, then it is Minor Shirk.It is necessary that if a text comes mentioning that this [action] is Shirk that we return this text to the general principles of the Shariah, if the texts report Shirk, however with the requisite that the general principles of Shariah do not expel [this person] from Islaam.  It is then Minor Shirk  like his (ﷺ) statement:

من حلف بغير الله فقد كفر أو أشرك

“Whoever swears by other than Allah then he has committed disbelief or Shirk”

[Saheeh Tirmidhi no. 1535]

As in regards to all of disobedience being from Shirk, then yes, in the general meaning because disobedience is only caused by desires. Allah called the one who follows his desires as one who takes it as a God. So he said:

أَفَرَأَيْتَ مَنِ اتَّخَذَ إِلَهَهُ هَوَاهُ وَأَضَلَّهُ اللَّهُ عَلَى عِلْمٍ وَخَتَمَ عَلَى سَمْعِهِ وَقَلْبِهِ وَجَعَلَ عَلَى بَصَرِهِ غِشَاوَةً فَمَنْ يَهْدِيهِ مِنْ بَعْدِ اللَّهِ 

Have you seen him who takes his own lust (vain desires) as his ilah (god), and Allah knowing (him as such), left him astray, and sealed his hearing and his heart, and put a cover on his sight. Who then will guide him after Allah? [45:23]

So then with us are three things:  the general framework that every disobedience is a type of Shirk because it is caused by desires. Allah has made whoever takes his desires as a God as one who as adopted it as a God.

Second: If Shirk is generalized, do we carry it to mean Major Shirk or Minor Shirk? So we say: we look at the general principles of Shariah, if it requires that he is outside of Islaam, then it is Major. Otherwise it is not.

[Taken from Liqaa al-Baab ul-Maftooh no. 192 found here:  https://audio.islamweb.net/audio/index.php?page=FullContent&audioid=112024 ]

Translated by Faisal ibn Abdul Qaadir ibn Hassan

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