The Beginning…of Shirk

Bismillah. This is a continuation of our Prophets’ series. So far we’ve done Adam, the story of the two brothers Qabil and Habil, Sheeth and Idrees.

Now, generations later, we see the beginnings of shirk. This is before the time of Nuh (Noah). We are going to mention how the evil of shirk began.

Ten Qarn

In a hadith narrated by Ibn ‘Abbaas, the Prophet (S) said: “There were ten Qarn between Adam and Noah, all living according to Islam.” A qarn is a period of time. It can either mean a century or a generation. If it is ten centuries, then we know that is 1,000 years, or a millenium. If it means ten generations, then that amount of time could be much more than a 1,000 years, because we know that at that time people’s life spans were much longer.

So between Adam and Nuh, ten qarn were Muslim, and then disbelief slowly crept in.

How did it happen? Ibn ‘Abbaas says (and this is his opinion mentioned in Bukhaari), the descendants of Adam started to slowly lose their religion and began committing sins, but they still believed in tawheed – the unity of Allah. Ignorance was spreading amongst them. And the righteous amongst them were few.

Shaytaan came to them and said, “When these righteous men pass away, you will have no one to remind you of Allah subhaana wa ta’aala and about ‘ibaadah. You will have no one to give you naseehah and advice. So how about, when they pass away, you erect some statues in their memorial to remind you about ‘ibaadah?” Because these righteous men used to give them naseehah and advice. They followed the advice of shaytaan, thinking that it was good advice. They erected these idols.

Then, shaytaan left them alone. Look at how patient he is with his plan. He left them until they forgot why these statues were built. Generation after generation came and the people forgot why these were erected. Shaytaan came to them and told them, “Why don’t you worship these statues?” And that is how shirk started.

Allah talks about these 5 idols in the Qur’an: wadd, suwa’, yaghuth, ya’ooq and nasr. (see 71:23) Ibn ‘Abbaas says that these were righteous men, whom the people of Nuh started to worship as their idols.

To Remember Him

In the Stories of the Prophets, there is a story mentioning how shirk first began. It says that Wadd was a pious man, loved by his people. But when he died, the people converged around his grave in Babylon and were overwhelmed by grief. When Iblis saw their sorrow caused by his death, he came to them disguised as a man and said: “I have seen your grief on the death of this man, so shall I make a statue like him which could be erected in your place of assembly, thus you may remember him by it?” They said, “Yes.” So he made a statue like him. They erected it up in their assembly, and so they remembered him.

When Iblis observed their keenness to remmber him, he suggetsed, “Shall I build a statue of him in th ehomes of eveyrone of you, so that each one of you could remember him in his home?” They agreed. So he made a statue like him for every family. Then, they accepted this and began to remember him by it.

The generation of their children saw what their fathers did with it (for their remembrance). However, the children’s children came and they had no idea of how their fathers remembered them, and so gradually they took it as a god, worshipping it instead of Allah. So the first one to be worhipped instead of Allah was wadd.

Look at the tactics of shaytaan. He didn’t come directly to the people after the righteous died and say, “Oh, look, those pious men are dead, so you can worship idols now.” He had a very long term master evil-plan. He was patient, and look at how his patience paid off.

Personal reflection — we can learn from this that we too should think long term. We shouldn’t be satisfied with our children carrying on the bare minimum of Islam. We should want them to know more than we know inshaAllah. The best defense is a good offense 🙂

Also, something else that occurred to me – we often don’t see the wisdom in why Allah forbade us certain things or why we should avoid doubtful matters. That is because our vision is very limited to the now of our own lives.

The First Messenger

Nuh was the first messenger of Allah to the people of the world. And this is mentioned in the authentic hadith of Shafa’a. [see Bukhaari , 6/60/3 and there are many others in Bukhaari and in Muslim as well.] People will go to Nuh and tell him, “You are the first messenger of Allah to the people of the world.” We will inshaAllah begin his story next time.

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2 Responses to The Beginning…of Shirk

  1. Please give the references of ahadith, it will be more handy. JazakAllah khairan.

    • ummibraheem says:

      yes, I agree, having everything cited is much more helpful. I actually don’t give much importance to anything Islamic that isn’t cited on the internet. I wish I had time to go back and cite everything, but I homeschool all of my kids and am quite strapped for time. But for the Prophet’s series, you can find most of the citations in Ibn Kathir’s story of the Prophets and also searching the hadith on sunnah.com

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