The word Ma'siyah literally means transgression or disobedience. Anything that violates the commands of Allah is transgression or sin.
It is bad to commit sin. Sin attracts Allah’s wrath, displeasure and punishment. Unbelief and polytheism are the biggest among all sins, Unbelievers and polytheists shall have Hell as their permanent abode Nobody will intercede on behalf of an unbeliever or polytheist. Allah has said in the Holy Quran that He will never forgive a polytheist.
Unbelief And Polytheism (Kufr and Shirk)
Unbelief means refusal to believe in anyone of the things necessary to be believed. For instance, those who refuse to believe in Allah or His Attributes or believes in more than One God (two or three), or refuses to believe in angels or in anyone of Allah's Books and Prophets, or Destiny or the Day of Judgment or anyone of Allah's clear commands, or disbelieves any fact or tiding conveyed by the Prophet of Allah, will be considered an unbeliever.
Polytheism, similarly, means to believe in any other object or person besides Allah to be His compeer in Being or Attributes.
It is polytheism to ascribe Allah's Attributes to some other being. No other creature whether it be an angel, a prophet, a saint, a martyr, a spiritual head or an Imam can have Attributes special to Allah.
Forms of Polytheism
It could take many forms. We discuss below a few of them.
(1) Partnership in Powers Exclusive to Allah:
This is like believing that some prophets, spiritual heads or martyrs etc., have the power to send down rains, grant son or daughter or other boons to anyone, provide livelihood, give life to or snatch it from anyone or cause good or harm to anyone. This is one form of polytheism.
(2) Partnership in Knowledge:
It consists in believing that someone besides Allah, a prophet or spiritual head has knowledge of the Unseen, knows everything big or small or is aware of what is happening to us or has knowledge of all things, far and near.
(3) Partnership in the Attribute of hearing and seeing:
It means believing someone besides Allah (a prophet or spiritual leader) to have the power to hear all that we say from far and near or see us and all our actions from anywhere.
(4) Partnership in Sovereignty:
It consists in considering someone besides Allah the master like unto Him and obey his dictates even as one would carry out the dictates of Allah. For example, it is also a kind of polytheism to carry out the command of one's spiritual head to chant a certain formula before the 'Asr prayer for such a long time that it would delay or even cause to miss the prayer prescribed by Allah.
(5) Partnership in worship:
It consists in considering someone besides Allah worthy of worship. Acts like falling prostrate before some holy man, or fasting in the name of some prophet, saint or Imam asking boons from objects and persons other than Allah or going round some grave or the residence of a holy man even as one would go round the holy Ka'bah - are all forms of polytheism in worship.
Acts that smack of polytheism
There are great many other acts that smack of polytheism. They all must be avoided. The following acts, for example, fall under this category: consulting astrologers about the future, consulting a palmist, asking someone to draw lots, avoiding a patient of small pox or some other disease because of the supposed communicable nature of the disease, making effigies of martyrs, raising banners to commemorate the death of martyrs making offerings on the graves of martyrs and saints, swearing by someone besides Allah, drawing images or giving respect to them, invoking some saint or holy man as if he would answer our prayers, keeping tufts of hair for invoking the blessings of some saint or holy man, parading as beggars in the name of martyrs on certain occasions, organizing assemblies and fairs on the graves, and so on.
By: Shaykh Mufti Kifayatullah