O Shaykh what is the difference between Major Shirk and Minor Shirk?
And are Tawhīd and Major Disbelief negating opposites?
Tawhīd and Major Disbelief are (نقيضان) two opposites, and (النقيضان) is a type of two opposites which:
لا يجتمعان ولا يرتفعان
[Don’t combine nor ascend.]
“Don’t combine” meaning:
They are two things which can not come together in the same place at the same time.
So Tawhīd can not be combined with Major Disbelief in one person at the same exact time.
A person is either a Muwahhid, however little his share of Tawhīd was, or a disbeliever.
Due to the statement of Allaah, the Most High:
(هُوَ ٱلَّذِى خَلَقَكُمْ فَمِنكُمْ كَافِرٌ وَمِنكُم مُّؤْمِنٌ)
“He it is Who created you, then some of you are disbelievers and some of you are believers.”
And the statement of the Most High:
(فَمَاذَا بَعْدَ ٱلْحَقِّ إِلَّا ٱلضَّلَٰلُ)
“So after the truth, what else can there be, save error?”
“Nor ascend” meaning:
A person is either a Muwahhid or a disbeliever; it’s a must that only one of the two attribute remains, either a Muwahhid or a Kāfir.
And there are a number of differences between Major Shirk & Minor Shirk, from them is:
➖1- Major Shirk does not land a person under what is classed as the Will of Allah, and his Shirk is not forgiven except through repentance before the pangs of death.
As for the Minor Shirk then there is some differing on it falling under the Will of Allah; from the people of knowledge are those that have included it in the generality of the statement of the Most High:
(إِنَّ ٱللَّهَ لَا يَغْفِرُ أَن يُشْرَكَ بِهِۦ وَيَغْفِرُ مَا دُونَ ذَٰلِكَ لِمَن يَشَآءُ)
“Verily! Allah forgives not (the sin of) setting up partners in worship with Him, but He forgives whom he pleases sins other than that”
Due to the root word which is construed by the (إن) alongside the addition of (يشرك) being an indefinite noun: i.e إشراكا [shirk].
And the preceding of the (لا) makes it general [i.e does not forgive shirk]:
Thus both Major and Minor Shirk fall under this.
And from the people of knowledge are those who have said it’s from the affairs which are general with something specific being intended with it, [i.e] Major Shirk, and that Minor Shirk falls under the Will of Allah, due to the generality of the statement of the Most High:
(وَيَغْفِرُ مَا دُونَ ذَٰلِكَ لِمَن يَشَآءُ)
“but He forgives whom he pleases sins other than that”
➖2- Major Shirk brings about eternal damnation in the fire, as for Minor Shirk – upon the position in the lack of it falling under the Will of Allah – it’s perpetrator will be punished upon the amount of his Shirk found with him, then will have his end result be in Paradise due to his Tawhīd.
Allah, the Most High, said:
(إِنَّهُۥ مَن يُشْرِكْ بِٱللَّهِ فَقَدْ حَرَّمَ ٱللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ ٱلْجَنَّةَ وَمَأْوَىٰهُ ٱلنَّارُ ۖ وَمَا لِلظَّٰلِمِينَ مِنْ أَنصَارٍ)
“Verily, whosoever sets up partners in worship with Allaah, then Allaah has forbidden Paradise for him, and the Fire will be his abode. And for the Zalimun (polytheists and wrong-doers) there are no helpers.”
And the forbiddance mentioned in the legislative texts are:
➖Either eternal, and this is for the perpetrators of Major Shirk.
➖Or for a duration, so it will be for a period of time then it’s perpetrator will leave the fire.
And this is for those people of Major Sin that Allah intends to punish.
➖3- Major Shirk nullifies all the actions.
Due to the statement of the Most High, after He mentioned a number of the Prophets:
(وَلَوْ أَشْرَكُوا۟ لَحَبِطَ عَنْهُم مَّا كَانُوا۟ يَعْمَلُونَ)
“But if they had joined in worship others with Allaah, all that they used to do would have been of no benefit to them.”
And the statement of the Most High to His Prophet:
(لَئِنْ أَشْرَكْتَ لَيَحْبَطَنَّ عَمَلُكَ وَلَتَكُونَنَّ مِنَ ٱلْخَٰسِرِينَ)
“If you join others in worship with Allah, (then) surely (all) your deeds will be in vain, and you will certainly be among the losers.”
Contrary to Minor Shirk, for it only renders the action which it took place in false, due to the hadīth Qudsi:
(من عمل عملا أشرك في معي غيري تركته وشركه)
“He who does a thing for the sake of someone else beside Me, I will leave him and his Shirk..”
➖4- Major Shirk permits a person’s blood and wealth, contrary to minor shirk, which does not permit it.
Due to his ﷺ statement:
(أمرت أن أقاتل الناس حتى يشهدوا أن لا إله إلا الله وأن محمدًا رسول الله، ويقيموا الصلاة ويؤتوا الزكاة، فإذا فعلوا ذلك، عصموا مني دماءهم وأموالهم إلا بحق الإسلام، وحسابهم على الله)
“I have been commanded to fight the people till they testify La ilaha illAllah (There is none worthy of worship in truth except Allah alone) and that Muhammad (ﷺ) is His slave and Messenger, and to establish the prayer, and to pay Zakat; and if they do this, then their blood and property are secured except by the rights of Islam, and their accountability is left to Allah.”
➖5- Major Shirk expels from the fold of the religion, contrary to Minor Shirk, which its perpetrator is still a Muslim due to having with him the basis of Tawhīd.
Answered by: Shaykh Abu Hatim Yusuf Al-‘Inaabi Al-Jazaa’iree – may Allah preserve him.
Answered on: 21th, Rabee’ Al-Awwal, 1438H.
Abu ‘Abdirrahman ‘Abdullaah bin Ahmed Ash-Shingaani.