< <
3 / total: 9

Categories of Idolaters
in the Qur'an

Idolatry is referred from many points of view in the Qur'an. Although the general logic is the same, there are several ways of ascribing equals to Allah. Examining the relevant verses reveal that all idolaters share the trait of adopting false deities (e.g., spiritual guides, law-givers, organizers, friends, and helpers) other than Allah. But idolaters can also be classified according to the things they adopt as their supposed deities. The main varieties of idolaters are described below.

Those who falsely deify "powerful" people

The clearest example on this subject is the people of Pharaoh. Since, in their heedlessness they ascribed a false divine status to him. The idolatrous system established by Pharaoh's court and people, as well as its features, is a universal model that can be seen in all ages and in all societies. Pharaoh declared himself to be a god (Surely Allah is beyond that), and his people submitted to that. Allah reveals the perverse mentality of Pharaoh in the Qur'an:

But then he rallied and called out, saying: "I am your Lord Most High!" (Surat al-Nazi'at: 23-24)

Pharaoh's principal followers and supporters were the members of his court. As we can see from his words, "O Council, I do not know of any other deity for you apart from me. Haman, kindle a fire for me over the clay and build me a lofty tower so that perhaps I may be able to climb up to Moses' God! I consider him a blatant liar" (Surat al-Qasas: 38), Pharaoh established complete control over Egypt's leading people and forced them to accept his so-called divinity. Since they enjoyed popular respect, they imagined that this perverse system could benefit them and be made to work to their advantage. This is why they accepted his so-called divine status (Surely Allah is beyond that). However, this approach was doomed to eventual disappointment because they faced a terrible retribution in this world and eternal chastisement in the Hereafter. Allah describes the position and fate of these leading figures in the Qur'an:

(We sent Moses) to Pharaoh and his ruling circle. They followed Pharaoh's command, but Pharaoh's command was not rightly guided. He (Pharaoh) will go ahead of his people on the Day of Rising and lead them down into the Fire. What an evil place to be led to! They are pursued by a curse in this world and on the Day of Rising. What an evil gift to be given! That is some of the news of the cities that We relate to you. Some of them are still standing, while others are now just rubble. We did not wrong them; rather, they wronged themselves. The deities they called upon besides Allah did not help them at all when Allah's command came upon them. They did nothing but increase their ruin. (Surah Hud: 97-101)

Egypt's army and people also bowed to Pharaoh; those who were poor, weak, and needy submitted to his command. Allah reveals in the Qur'an:

Pharaoh called to his people, saying: "O my people, does the kingdom of Egypt not belong to me? Do not all these rivers flow under my control? Do you not then see?" (Surat al-Zukhruf: 51 )

… In that way, he swayed his people and they succumbed to him. They were a people who had gone astray (Surat al-Zukhruf: 54)

A large part of the Israelite captives in Egypt at that time also existed in a state of fear and oppression stemming from idolatry. Like the Egyptians, they thought that Pharaoh possessed power independently of Allah (Surely Allah is beyond that) and feared him in the same way that they feared Allah (Surely Allah is beyond that). Thus, they mindlessly preferred to submit to Pharaoh rather than believe in the true faith that is revealed to them through His Prophets and Messengers:

No one believed in Moses, except some youths from among his people, out of fear that Pharaoh and the elders would persecute them. Pharaoh was high and mighty in the land. He was one of the profligate. (Surah Yunus: 83)

As revealed in the verse only a few youths followed the Prophet Moses (pbuh) due to the oppressive and cruel system of the Pharaoh. Most of the Egyptians wrongfully deified Pharaoh (Surely Allah is beyond that) for a variety of worldly reasons: oppression, cowardice, ignorance, and the desire to protect their own interests at whatever price. As a result, they preferred the perverse system of Pharaoh to Allah's revelations and descended into idolatry by either forgetting or conveniently ignoring that Allah is the Only God and that He alone is worthy of their fear and respect. Given this fact, they should have placed all of their faith and trust in Allah and followed the paths revealed to humanity through His Prophets and Messengers in order to gain His approval. If they had realized that only Allah has real power, they would not have feared Pharaoh and his wrath.

Had they understood that Pharaoh was no more than a helpless entity completely under Allah's control, they might not have submitted to him. Since they failed to understand that all of Pharaoh's wealth and riches, glory, and military strength actually belonged to Allah, they could not evaluate His might properly and thus were deceived by Pharaoh's apparent power. Had they known that Allah could have taken away all that Pharaoh possessed whenever He willed, they would not have displayed such idolatrous moral values and suffered such humiliation. Indeed, Allah revealed His ability to do just that when He drowned Pharaoh at the very moment He willed to do so. This example, a source of deep disgrace for those who unwisely deified Pharaoh (Surely Allah is beyond that), remains an excellent example of the idolatrous model that has been – and continues to be – widespread among humanity.

 

Those who worship idols

Previous sections have defined idol as any animate or inanimate object set up as an equal to Allah. In this section, we shall use this word in its classic sense: statues carved out of the stone, metal and wood and worshipped by people. At first sight, a person might think that worshipping idols was a custom of very ancient societies or of certain primitive tribes who have not yet been reached by modern-day science and technology. But such an assumption would be incorrect, because at the heart of this kind of idolatry lie the concepts that these totems represent. Therefore, idol worshippers generally adopt the concept represented by their idols, rather than the idols themselves. In other words, they try wrongfully to immortalize the entities they regard as equal to Allah (e.g., guides, law-givers, protectors, or saviors) by making statues of them there is a perverse logic behind this activity.

Aware that such statues represent the entity or concept regarded as Allah's equal, they are shown the respect and adoration to which He alone is entitled. What is actually being put forward as an equal of Allah is the meaning and mentality the idol in question represents. Allah mentions in the Qur'an about the Prophet Abraham's (pbuh) people in this context:

When he asked his father and his people: "What are these statues to which you are clinging?" they replied: "We found our fathers worshipping them." (Surat al-Anbiya': 52-53)

As can be seen from these verses, such forms of worship are an ancestral legacy. No matter how illogical it may be, idol worship may become a form of "correct" and "rational" behavior in even the most modern societies due to the worldview with which people are raised from childhood.

One characteristic of carved statues is that they gradually come to be equated with the concept that they represented. For example, the Buddha was first deified wrongfully as an individual in many countries of Eastern Asia (Surely Allah is beyond that). Statues representing him were then made to keep his memory and thoughts alive. Today, these statues have been made as false deities and have become idols that people worship and respect, to which they pray, and from which they seek help. Other forms of idol worship are based on a similar logic.

Historical records and the Qur'an refer to the Arabs of the Prophet's (May Allah bless him and grant him peace) time as having a wide variety of idols. When we examine the relevant historical documents, we clearly see that these idols actually represented specific concepts and had a symbolic nature. In other words, these Arabs did not actually worship shapes or statues made from stone or wood; rather, they worshipped the significance embodied in them in an unwise way (e.g., power, money, women, or abundance). Given this reality, those idols are not so very different to the values worshipped in our own day and preferred falsely over Allah's religion by many people. Thus, it is mistaken to think of ancient tribes or people when referring to idolaters or idol worshippers, for their counterparts are alive and well today. Those people were aware of Allah's existence, but had descended into idolatry because they had wrongfully deified various concepts by attaching greater importance to them (Surely Allah is beyond that) than they did to Allah.

Another example concerns some of the Israelites. Freed from Pharaoh's control, they encountered an idol-worshipping people on their journey and some of them asked the Prophet Moses (pbuh) to make one for them. In the Qur'an Allah reveals:

We conveyed the tribe of Israel across the sea, and they came upon some people who were devoting themselves to some idols that they had. They said: "O Moses, give us a deity just as these people have deities." He said: "You are indeed an ignorant people. What these people are doing is destined for destruction. What they are doing is in vain." (Surat al-A'raf: 138-139)

Such ignorant behavior shows that this group of Israelites could not appreciate and comprehend Allah's might. Instead, they wanted a false deity that they could see with their own eyes, bow down to, and perhaps "persuade" to fulfill their desires with showy rituals. Although the Prophet Moses (pbuh) explained the truth to them, they immediately adopted their own supposed deities once he had left for Mt. Sinai. In the Qur'an Allah states that they later regretted this heinous sin:

After he left, Moses' people adopted a calf made from their ornaments, a form that made a lowing sound. Did they not see that it could not speak to them or guide them to any way? They adopted it and so they were wrongdoers. When they took full stock of what they had done and saw they had been misled, they said: "If our Lord does not have mercy on us and forgive us, we will certainly be among the lost." (Surat al-A'raf: 148-149)

However, Allah reveals in the Qur'an about the people falsely adopting a calf as a so called deity:

As for those who adopted the calf [as their Lord], anger from their Lord will overtake them, together with abasement, in the life of this world. That is how We repay the purveyors of falsehood. But as for those who do evil actions and then subsequently repent and believe, in that case your Lord is Ever-Forgiving, Most Merciful. (Surat al-A'raf: 152-153)

As is stated in the verse, when He wills, Allah does not forgive those who associate partners to Him. Given the evident fact that Allah is the One and Only, they take false deities for themselves and thus fabricate lies. Devoting themselves to these false deities, on the other hand, is a very wicked crime committed against Allah.

 

Those who worship jinns

People sometimes consider jinns as equals to Allah (Surely Allah is beyond that). These beings were created out of fire, not out of earth like humanity (Surat al-Rahman: 15). Since they are invisible and possess different powers and attributes than humanity, some misguided people who have dealings with them begin to magnify them and place their hopes in them. They imagine that the jinns' existence and powers are somehow independent of Allah (Surely Allah is beyond that). In short, they foolishly seek their help and power instead of Allah's (Surely Allah is beyond that). In the Qur'an Allah reveals:

Certain men from among mankind used to seek refuge with certain men from among the jinn but they (jinns) only increased them (people) in wickedness. (Surat al-Jinn: 6)

Yet they make the jinn co-partners with Allah when He created them! And they attribute sons and daughters to Him without any knowledge. Glory be to Him! He is far above what they describe! (Surat al-An'am: 100)

In reality, however, jinns are the same as every other member of Creation in the sense that they are Allah's servants and have no power or knowledge apart from what He has bestowed upon them. As with human beings, they may be believers or unbelievers, are tested in this world, and sent to Paradise or Hell based on what they have earned for themselves. Several verses contain important information about them, such as:

I only created jinn and humanity to worship Me. (Surat al-Dhariyat: 56)

Since jinns were created to serve and worship Allah, they owe their existence to Him and thus stand in need of Him at every moment. Given this, how can anyone wrongfully deify and obey them by falling under the spell of one or more of their physical attributes? And yet many people do just that and end up considering them as Allah's equals and thereby seek to satisfy their own arrogance. However, those who impute an independent power and identity to them, as well as those who regard them as equal to Allah, will suffer terrible disappointment when the jinns fail to answer their prayers. In the Hereafter, they will realize that they were, in reality, idolaters. Allah reveals in the Qur'an:

They claim that there is a blood-tie between Him and the jinns, but the jinns know very well that they will be arraigned. Glory be to Allah, [Who is far] above what they describe. (Surat al-Saffat: 158-159)

In the Qur'an Allah reveals both the situations of the jinns who are unbeliever and the people whom they cause to pick the wrong path:

On the Day We gather them all together [He will say]: "O Company of jinn, you gained many followers among humanity." And their friends among humanity will say: "Our Lord, we benefited from one another, and now we have reached the term that You determined for us." He will say: "The Fire is your home. You will be in it timelessly, forever, except as Allah wills. Your Lord is All-Wise, All-Knowing." (Surat al-An'am: 128)

 

Those who unwisely deify their own fancies

People also ignorantly deify (Surely Allah is beyond that) their own fancies, defined as one's passions, desires, whims, and caprices. Placing their own worldly wishes above Allah's commands and wishes by worshipping statues, jinns, or other people or entities, their final goal is to satisfy their own caprices and desires. Such people are very numerous in society.

As worldly desires are unlimited, these people seek to satisfy all of them. As a result, they find themselves compelled to exceed the bounds Allah has established for humanity and to violate His commands and prohibitions. In the Qur'an Allah reveals the Prophet Joseph's (pbuh) speaking about this:

"I do not say that my self was free from blame, for indeed the self commands to evil acts – except for those on which my Lord has mercy. My Lord, He is Forgiving, Merciful." (Surah Yusuf: 53)

Worldly desires may be a wish for wealth, boundless property, and fortune. To achieve their desires, many people resort to improper means (e.g., theft and fraud) if lawful and legitimate ones are not available. Even though Allah has forbidden such actions, worldly desires encourage people to ignore acts of observance such as taking care of others and giving alms in order to purify their wealth. Believers abide by Allah's commands and avoid what He has forbidden. On the other hand, those who unwisely deify their own desires obey their worldly cravings and so violate the commands and prohibitions of Allah.

Lust is a major worldly desire and passion. Those who follow their desires see no harm in adultery and even encourage people to indulge in it, although Allah has forbidden it. Some people who deliberately go ahead in the full knowledge that Allah has forbidden it, who see no harm and feel no regret in such activity, and who do not repent sincerely have clearly and ignorantly deified their desires and thus ascribe equals to Allah. By definition, they are idolaters. Allah reveals in the Qur'an:

A man who has fornicated may only marry a woman who has fornicated or a woman of the idolaters. A woman who has fornicated may only marry a man who has fornicated or a man of the idolaters. Doing such a thing is forbidden for the believers. (Surat al-Nur: 3)

There is no end to worldly desires. Thus, if people are driven by their desires and do nothing to free themselves from their control, these desires can lead them to exceed the bounds set by Allah for humanity. In other words, in a great perversity such people will deify their desires and become idolaters, for they will forget about pleasing Allah. It means that he worships his false deity, that is his lower-self, complies with whatever it demands and does not step out of its commands. As in the case of other idolaters, some time later such a person loses his wisdom and foresight and blunts his conscience due to being a slave to his lower-self. Their reason and foresight will gradually disappear, their conscience will atrophy, and soon they will find themselves in a position lower than the animals. Allah reveals the situation of these people ignorantly worshipping their own desires in the Qur'an:

Have you seen the one who has taken his whims and desires to be his deities? Will you then be his guardian? Do you suppose that most of them hear or understand? They are just like cattle. Indeed, they are even more astray! (Surat al-Furqan: 43-44)

This is the most widespread form of idolatry in present-day societies. Today, many societies around the world involve individuals who are largely unaware of Allah and religious moral values. As a result, and unaware of any bounds when it comes to satisfying their passions, desires, and wants, they spend a large part of their lives pursuing that which they think will make them happy: social rank and status and the wealth accruing from the acquisition of a great deal of money and property. While possessing material and wealth is not an evil in itself, we must be aware of the following fact: in order to fulfill their craving and passion, people often make concessions when confronted with what Allah requires of them. In other words, they become idolaters because they prefer to satisfy their earthly desires over adhering to Allah's commands and prohibitions. It is as if there were a veil over their eyes that somehow prevents them from thinking about our Creator, why they have been created, or the Hereafter. Allah reveals this truth in the Qur'an:

Have you seen the one who takes his whims and desires to be his deity – whom Allah has misguided knowingly, sealing up his hearing and his heart and placing a blindfold over his eyes? Who then will guide him after Allah? So will you not pay heed? (Surat al-Jathiyyah: 23)

Since idolaters do not use their reason and conscience, they cannot make sound judgments about certain fundamental truths. Their insensitivity to Allah's might and the existence of the Hereafter resembles that of the orchard owner described in Surat al-Kahf. This account is a very significant example of the idolaters' weakness of mind and logic at all times. In the Qur'an Allah reveals:

Make an example for them of two men. To one of them We gave two gardens of grape-vines and surrounded them with date-palms, putting between them some cultivated land. Both gardens yielded their crops and did not suffer any loss, and We made a river flow right through the middle of them. He was a man of wealth and property. He said to his companion, debating with him: "I have more wealth than you and more people under me." He entered his garden and wronged himself by saying: "I do not think that this will ever end. I do not think the Hour will ever come. But if I should be sent back to my Lord, I will definitely get something better in return." (Surat al-Kahf: 32-36)

This is a very accurate portrayal of people who have strayed far from religious moral values, fail to appreciate Allah as they ought, and do not believe in the Hereafter. When faced with the terrible mistake of ceasing to exist for all eternity, such people console themselves by admitting the possibility of a Hereafter in which they hope to be happy and contented although they do not believe it in a certain way. Yet since they do not truly believe in life after death, that is Hereafter, they make no preparations for it. It is useful to mention one important effect here: All people, whether believers or unbelievers, have unlimited worldly desires and passions, for Allah uses them to test people and reveal their true nature. Those who are faithful to Him control their passions and observe only His commands and prohibitions; those who are faithful only to their whims and desires wrongfully ignore the bounds established by Him for humanity so that they can satisfy their desires. Since the members of the latter group prefer their desires over His approval, they will be condemned to eternal punishment. Allah reveals their situation in the Surat al-Ahqaf:

On the Day when those who did not believe are exposed to the Fire [He will say]: "You dissipated the good things you had in your worldly life and enjoyed yourself in it. So today you are being repaid with the punishment of humiliation for being arrogant in the land without any right, and for being deviators." (Surat al-Ahqaf: 20)

In the Hereafter, the believers who do not obey their worldly desires and do value Allah's commands above anything will attain both His mercy and His Paradise, where they will be able to satisfy all their desires in a legitimate manner. Allah states this good news in the Qur'an:

Platters and cups of gold will be passed around among them, and they will have there all that their hearts desire and in which their eyes find delight. You will remain in it timelessly, forever. (Surat al-Zukhruf: 71)

Those who foolishly deify themselves

Another unwise and common form of idolatry is self-deification. One might imagine at first glance that such a model would be quite rare. However, this is not the case. Many people do not, perhaps, name this dangerous state in which they live, but when evaluated in a sincere manner, such a diagnosis proves to be quite accurate.

For example, most people believe that their successes, superior features, intelligence, attractiveness, lineage, wealth, property, rank, station, and many similar things are the result of their own work. As a result, they become proud. If they have more than one of these features, their pride increases even further. Convinced that all of these things originate in themselves and that they are the source of their own success, they may belittle or underestimate other people and regard themselves superior to them.

Such people draw attention to themselves by arrogance. This is, in essence, a sin against Allah, because only He can endow a person with anything. For example, beauty is a manifestation of Allah. Thus, since beauty belongs to Him, He is the One Who should be praised for having it. We all know that only the artist of a painting deserves to be praised for its beauty, since the painting did not come into being of its own accord.

Property and assets should be considered in exactly the same way, for all assets really belong to Allah and He can easily take them back whenever He wills. It is, therefore, a grave error for people to boast of, and thus take pride in, possessing something that does not actually belong to them. Rather, they should understand that all of their assets, whether physical or otherwise, belong to Allah and thank Him accordingly. For example, Allah reveals in the Qur'an the Prophet Solomon's (pbuh) love for his horses and possessions:

We gave David [a son,] Solomon. What an excellent servant! He truly turned to his Lord. When swift horses, champing at the bit, were displayed before him in the afternoon, he (Solomon) said: "Truly do I love the love of good, with a view to the glory of my Lord" until (the Sun) disappeared behind its veil. (Surah Sad: 30-32)

Dhu'l Qarnayn (pbuh), upon whom Allah bestowed power, means, and blessings, helped a people against the threat from Gog and Magog. Although he achieved something very difficult and prevented the spread of corruption, he asked nothing for himself. On the contrary, he turned to Allah. In the Qur'an Allah reveals:

He (Dhu'l Qarnayn) said: "This is a mercy from my Lord. But when my Lord's promise comes about, He will crush it (the barrier) flat. The promise of my Lord is surely true." (Surat al-Kahf: 98)

Clearly, such submission to Allah is a living model of the believers' attitude, for they are always turning to Him due to their knowledge that they are completely helpless before Him and that all things belong to Him.

Based on what has been said above, thinking of idolatry solely in terms of prostrating before hand-made statues is a very narrow and superficial perspective. Only idolaters themselves employ such logic in order to rid themselves of any guilt. Such people imagine that the concept of idolatry disappeared forever after the Prophet (May Allah bless him and grant him peace) destroyed the idols in the Ka`bah. The fact is, however, that many verses describe idolatry in great detail and strongly warn believers against it. And since the Qur'an's provisions apply for all times these verses have been revealed to impart wisdom.

In the Qur'an Allah also refers to the idolaters who imposed provisions, rules, prohibitions, and injunctions upon their people on the grounds that they are part of His religion.

 

 

3 / total 9
You can read Harun Yahya's book The Worst Slander: Idolatry online, share it on social networks such as Facebook and Twitter, download it to your computer, use it in your homework and theses, and publish, copy or reproduce it on your own web sites or blogs without paying any copyright fee, so long as you acknowledge this site as the reference.
Harun Yahya's Influences | Presentations | Audio Books | Interactive CDs | Conferences| About this site | Make your homepage | Add to favorites | RSS Feed
All materials can be copied, printed and distributed by referring to this site.
(c) All publication rights of the personal photos of Mr. Adnan Oktar that are present in our website and in all other Harun Yahya works belong to Global Publication Ltd. Co. They cannot be used or published without prior consent even if used partially.
© 1994 Harun Yahya. www.harunyahya.com - info@harunyahya.com
page_top