Most people know that idolatry is a grave sin, but never think that it could have anything to do with them. They imagine that idolaters, defined as those who ascribe equals to Allah (God), are merely people who worship totems carved out of stone or wood, like the primitive pre-Islamic Arab pagans who worshipped idols in the Ka`bah (The Sacred House). However, idolatry is far subtler and is actually widespread in many societies today.
In reality, idolatry comprises everything that people set up as a goal that does not involve seeking Allah's approval, in who or which they place their hopes or desire for approval, or every entity regarded as possessing true power and control other than Allah. Given the subtlety of this definition, idolatry needs to be considered as something that may be very close at hand.
Ascribing equals to Allah is a most dangerous sin, one that cannot be forgiven and therefore will lead people to Hell. Thus, those who fear and respect Allah and hope for His Paradise must be on their guard against this threat. But people cannot do this if they do not know what idolatry is and what things fall under its scope.
This book has been written to illustrate how idolatry, as set out in the Qur'an, exists in contemporary society. We hope that it will achieve this aim, help people renounce all of their idols, and turn sincerely to and serve only Almighty Allah, the true Creator of all things.
In addition, idolatry heads the list of sins to be avoided, for those who ascribe equals to Allah are guilty of committing a grave sin against Him. In the Qur'an, Allah reveals that He will not forgive such a serious slander, a sin, and an act out of respect. That is why Allah tells that He will forgive anything but ascribing equals to Him and that this act is a grave perversion:
This is where the importance of avoiding idolatry lies. As Allah will never forgive such a major sin, He calls upon Muslims to avoid it at all costs by refusing to ascribe equals to Him. For example, Allah reveals in the Qur'an about Hazrat Luqman (peace be upon him) advise to his son:
Another reason to avoid this mistake is that it causes all of a person's efforts to become vain and inflicts a terrible disappointment upon those who have gone astray. Allah reveals in the Qur'an:
Clearly, ascribing equals to Allah is a grievous sin that can drag a person down to Hell. Therefore, anyone who fears and respects Allah and hopes for His Paradise must guard against it.
This book has been written in the hope that having a clear understanding of the Qur'anic concept of idolatry will help the readers realize that much of what some people consider to be perfectly normal and regular behavior is, in fact, nothing more than idolatry. May it achieve this aim and may it be a means whereby this people will renounce their mistaken beliefs and worldview and serve only Almighty Allah, the Creator of all things.
Readers must also be informed that this danger may not be something that existed only a long time ago or in primitive societies. It is probably far closer to them than they think it is, and thus should be of great concern to them. Those who feel no need to reflect on this matter will fail to benefit from what is said herein. In other words, if they are idolaters they will remain so and face Allah after death in a state of great sin. No Muslim wants to meet the Lord in such a state.
Therefore, read this book in all sincerity, as if it had been written just for you. Reflect on it honestly and consider the examples and the verses in the Qur'an carefully, and then determine if your beliefs and actions are based on idolatry in any way. Since all people are helpless and prone to error, the important thing is to recognize one's errors and abandon them immediately.