Islam Question and Answer – When does obedience to a created being become shirk akbar?



When does
obedience to a created being become shirk akbar?
At what point does obedience to the
creation in disobedience to Allaah, become shirk? For example if my parents tell me to
shave my beard, and I listen, am I then committing shirk? When is it considered to be


Praise be to Allaah.

Obedience to a created being becomes shirk in situations such as
obeying that person in matters where what is forbidden is deemed to be allowed, and vice
versa, or when that person issues rules and regulations, or laws, that go against the laws
of Allaah, and the follower believes that these laws are more complete and better than the
laws of Allaah, or as good as His laws, or that the laws of Allaah are better but it is
permissible to follow these man-made laws. The evidence for this is the aayah
(interpretation of the meaning): “They (Jews and Christians) took their rabbis and
their monks to be their Lords besides Allaah (by obeying then in things which they made
lawful or unlawful according to their own desires without being ordered by
Allaah)…” [al-Tawbah 9:31]. ‘Adiyy ibn Haatim said: “O Messenger
of Allaah, we do not worship them.” [He was a Christian who became a Muslim –
Translator]. The Messenger of Allaah
(peace and blessings of Allaah be
upon him) said: “Do they not allow you that which Allaah has forbidden and forbid
what Allaah has allowed?” He said, “Yes.” He said, “This is a kind of
worship.” The Christians’ obedience of their priests in sin and in accepting
what they say about what is lawful or unlawful is a form of worshipping something other
than Allaah, which is a kind of shirk akbar (major shirk), that contradicts Tawheed (true

With regard to your question, if the person who obeys his parents in
sin believes that it is in fact a sin, but he does what he does because of his own desires
or because he is afraid of his parents’ punishment, but it is not the matter of being
forced to do so, then he is a sinner who has gone against the words of the Prophet
and blessings of Allaah be upon him), There is no obedience to a created being if it
involves disobedience of the Creator” (reported by Ahmad, 1041; a saheeh
hadeeth) – but he is not considered to be guilty of shirk akbar. But
if the son believes that what his parents say overrules what Allaah says about halaal and
haraam, then he is guilty of shirk akbar. The Muslim has to strive against himself to
bring his desires in line with what the Prophet
(peace and blessings of Allaah be upon
him) taught, and so that he gives precedence to obeying Allaah and His Messenger over
obeying anyone else, and so that Allaah and His Messenger are more beloved to him than
anyone else. The Prophet
(peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “None of
you truly believes until I am more beloved to him than his son, his father, and all the
people.” (Reported by al-Bukhaari, 63). And Allaah is the Guide
to the Straight Path.

Islam Q&A
Sheikh Muhammed Salih Al-Munajjid


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