Q; What is the meaning of idol worship?
A simple definition of idol worship is to believe that anything beside ALLAH can help us, or to hold something as more important to us than Him. Thus if we hold our property (for example) as more important than God /or give our jobs more time and attention than God – we are committing idol worship.
Unfortunately, the majority of people who believe in God commit this gross offense without even realizing it.
If you ask them, “Who is your god?“, they will be outraged to hear this question. “What do you mean, `Who is your god?’ they will ask, `My god is the Creator of the heavens and the earth.’ ” And most of these people will be shocked to find out that their proclamation that their god is the Creator of the heavens and the earth is no more than lip service, and that they are in fact destined for Hell.
“..And most of them believe not in Allah except while they associate others with Him…” (Yusuf 12;106)
Idol worship is a gross injustice, the violation of the first commandment in all the scriptures of God, and is an unforgivable sin if maintained until death.
Allah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“In the name of Allah, the Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful. All praises and thanks be to Allaah, the Lord of the ‘Aalameen (mankind, jinns and all that exists), the Most Beneficient, the Most Merciful, the Only Owner (and the Only Ruling Judge) of the Day of Recompense (i.e., the Day of Resurrection). You (Alone) we worship, and You (alone) we ask for help (for each and every thing).” [al-Faatihah 1:1-5]
“O mankind! Worship your Lord (Allah), Who has created you and those before you so that you may become al-muttaqoon (the pious).” [al-Baqarah 2:21]
“Such is Allah, your Lord! None has the right to be worshipped but He, the Creator of all things. So worship Him (Alone), and He is the Wakeel (Trustee, Disposer of affairs, Guardian) over all things.” [al-An’aam 6:102]
ALLAH tells us that idol worship nullifies all work
Any work we do, if not devoted absolutely to God, does not serve to grow our souls. On the day of Resurrection, if our souls have not grown strong enough to withstand the presence of God – we will have to forsake God’s kingdom on our own volition. Everything we have done in this world will be nullified.
[39:65] It has been revealed to you, and to those before you that if you ever commit idol worship, all your works will be nullified, and you will be with the losers.
The natural instinct of monotheism that God has placed in us ( 30:30; to make it easier for us to choose the right path) commands us to dedicate our worship to God Alone, and not associate anything with God. All places of worship should be dedicated to God Alone. Belief in God includes the understanding that He alone is worthy of worship.
Types of Idols
Idol worship is not just restricted to worship of any statues or picture frames, etc. The Quran cites many forms of idol worship.
- Calf, statues as idols.
[2:51] Yet, when we summoned Moses for forty nights, you worshiped the calf in his absence, and turned wicked.*
[21:51-53] Before that, we granted Abraham his guidance and understanding, for we were fully aware of him.* He said to his father and his people, “What are these statues to which you are devoting yourselves?” They said, “We found our parents worshiping them.”
- Worshipping other gods (is worshipping the devil).
[4:117] They even worship female gods besides Him; as a matter of fact, they only worship a rebellious devil.
- Jesus as idol.
[5:72] Pagans indeed are those who say that GOD is the Messiah, son of Mary. The Messiah himself said, “O Children of Israel, you shall worship GOD; my Lord* and your Lord.” Anyone who sets up any idol beside GOD, GOD has forbidden Paradise for him, and his destiny is Hell. The wicked have no helpers.
- Jinns as idols.
[6:100] Yet, they set up beside GOD idols from among the jinns, though He is the One who created them. They even attribute to Him sons and daughters, without any knowledge. Be He glorified. He is the Most High, far above their claims.
- Children as idols.
[7:190] But when He gives them a good baby, they turn His gift into an idol that rivals Him. GOD be exalted, far above any partnership.
- Humans as idols.
[7:194] The idols you invoke besides GOD are creatures like you. Go ahead and call upon them; let them respond to you, if you are right.
- “Intercessors” as Idols. From the Quran, it is obvious – there is no intercession by anyone on the Day of Judgment.
[10:18] They worship beside GOD idols that possess no power to harm them or benefit them, and they say, “These are our intercessors at GOD!” Say, “Are you informing GOD of something He does not know in the heavens or the earth?” Be He glorified. He is the Most High; far above needing partners.
- Satan as an idol.
[14:22] And the devil will say, after the judgment had been issued, “GOD has promised you the truthful promise, and I promised you, but I broke my promise. I had no power over you; I simply invited you, and you accepted my invitation. Therefore, do not blame me, and blame only yourselves. My complaining cannot help you, nor can your complaining help me. I have disbelieved in your idolizing me. The transgressors have incurred a painful retribution.”
- Property as an idol.
[18:32-36] Cite for them the example of two men: we gave one of them two gardens of grapes, surrounded by date palms, and placed other crops between them. Both gardens produced their crops on time, and generously, for we caused a river to run through them. Once, after harvesting, he boastfully told his friend: “I am far more prosperous than you, and I command more respect from the people.” When he entered his garden, he wronged his soul by saying, “I do not think that this will ever end. “Moreover, I think this is it; I do not think that the Hour (the Hereafter) will ever come to pass. Even if I am returned to my Lord, I will (be clever enough to) possess an even better one over there.”
[18:42] Indeed, his crops were wiped out, and he ended up sorrowful, lamenting what he had spent on it in vain, as his property lay barren. He finally said, “I wish I never set up my property as a god beside my Lord.”
- The dead prophets, messengers and saints as idols.
[16:20-21] As for the idols they set up beside GOD, they do not create anything; they themselves were created. They are dead, not alive, and they have no idea how or when they will be resurrected.
[3:79] Never would a human being whom GOD blessed with the scripture and prophethood say to the people, “Idolize me beside GOD.” Instead, (he would say), “Devote yourselves absolutely to your Lord alone,” according to the scripture you preach and the teachings you learn.
- God’s servants as idols.
[18:102] Do those who disbelieve think that they can get away with setting up My servants as gods beside Me? We have prepared for the disbelievers Hell as an eternal abode.
The idol need not be an image in front of you.
- Ego as an idol.
This is a common form of idolatry. Most humans, because of their ego cannot bring themselves to worship God, nor can they make their opinion subordinate to God’s opinion spelled out in the Quran because of their ego. If we disobey God and His messenger, we are committing idol worship even though there is no image in front of us. This is because we would be giving our opinion more importance than God’s words.
[25:43] Have you seen the one whose god is his own ego? Will you be his advocate?
[45:23] Have you noted the one whose god is his ego? Consequently, GOD sends him astray, despite his knowledge, seals his hearing and his mind, and places a veil on his eyes. Who then can guide him, after such a decision by GOD? Would you not take heed?
- Upholding religious Sources other than God’s words, as an idol
As a Submitter (Muslim) if we follow a source other than Quran for religious guidance it would be idolatry. The following verse makes it clear that the Quran is God’s Testimony. Following any other source is defined as idolatry. Worshipping God is to obey His words only (Quran) and not the words of humans (scholars, religious leaders, mullahs, etc.).
[6:19] Say, “Whose testimony is the greatest?” Say, “GOD’s. He is the witness between me and you that this Quran* has been inspired to me, to preach it to you and whomever it reaches. Indeed, you bear witness that there are other gods* beside GOD.” Say, “I do not testify as you do; there is only one god, and I disown your idolatry.”
Footnote: *6:19 This verse proclaims the Quran as the only source of religious guidance. Those who uphold additional sources, such as Hadith & Sunna (lies attributed to the Prophet), are defined as idolaters.
- Religious leaders and scholars as idols.
(sub-title) Upholding the Teachings of Religious Leaders, Instead of God’s Teachings
[9:31] They have set up their religious leaders and scholars as lords,* instead of GOD. Others deified the Messiah, son of Mary. They were all commanded to worship only one god. There is no god except He. Be He glorified, high above having any partners.
Footnote: *9:31 If you consult the “Muslim scholars” about worshiping God alone, and upholding the word of God alone, as taught in this proven scripture, they will advise you against it. If you consult the Pope about the identity of Jesus, he will advise you to uphold a trinity. If you obey the “Muslim scholars” whose advice is contrary to God’s teachings, or if you take the Pope’s advice instead of God’s, you have set up these religious leaders as gods instead of God.
- Creating sects in religion is idol worship.
The Quran forbids dividing ourselves into sects. Those who divide into sects are termed as idol worshippers.
[30:31-32] You shall submit to Him, reverence Him, observe the Contact Prayers (Salat), and – whatever you do – do not ever fall into idol worship. (Do not fall in idol worship,) like those who divide their religion into sects; each party rejoicing with what they have.
- Dividing believers and providing comfort to those who oppose God and His messengers is practicing idol worship.
[9:107] There are those who abuse the masjid by practicing idol worship, dividing the believers, and providing comfort to those who oppose GOD and His messenger. They solemnly swear: “Our intentions are honorable!” GOD bears witness that they are liars.
Footnote: *9:107 Any masjid where the practices are not devoted absolutely to God ALONE belongs to Satan, not God. For example, mentioning the names of Abraham, Muhammad, and/or Ali in the Azan and/or the Salat prayers violates God’s commandments in 2:136, 2:285, 3:84, & 72:18. Unfortunately, this is a common idolatrous practice throughout the corrupted Muslim world.
We learn from the Quran that idols cannot judge (40:20), idols cannot create anything and are powerless (13:16, 46:4) and idols do not bring us closer to God (39:3). We learn that idolaters follow conjecture (6:148) and that idolaters deny idol worship – now & on the Day of Judgment (6:22-24).
God grants perfect security and happiness for believers who are devoted to Him alone without committing idol worship.
[6:82] Those who believe, and do not pollute their belief with idol worship, have deserved the perfect security, and they are truly guided.
[39:17] As for those who discard the worship of all idols, and devote themselves totally to GOD alone, they have deserved happiness. Give good news to My servants.