Not All Polytheism Is the Same: Categorizing the Types of Polytheism and Their Deities

Shirk, translated loosely as polytheism, is of varying categories and types. This discussion pertaining to these types is to make the reader aware of the plots of Shayṭān. Shayṭān uses various ruses and excuses to take people away from the worship of Allāh Ta’ālā.

As we shall see from the division detailed hereunder, polytheism is a serious problem that affects millions of people. In the Noble Qur’ān, Allāh Ta’ālā refutes polytheism in very serious terms and it is an unpardonable sin in His sight.

May Allāh Ta’ālā save all the Muslims from falling into Shirk, and may He bless all the polytheists with guidance so that they may see the light of Islām.

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There are a significant number of converts that explain how Tawḥīd (belief in, and worship of, one Allāh) was the motivating factor behind their turning to and embracing Islām. We desire goodness for humanity and seek protection with Allāh Ta’ālā from every evil for any human being.

Types and Groups of Polytheists

There are various groups amongst the polytheists. Those who ascribe partners to Allāh Ta’ālā ascribe a partner to Him that either has a body or does not have a body.

As for those who ascribe a physical or bodily partner to Allāh Ta’ālā, they are divided into two categories: they believe either the body is earthly, or it is heavenly.

As for heavenly bodies, this refers to those bodies that people have taken as deities; such as the sun, the moon, the stars and so on. These people ascribe goodness, evil, good fortune and calamity to these heavenly bodies.

Earthly bodies are either simple or complex.

As for the complex, they are either from the ground; or they are botanical; or they are animals; or they are human.

Those who ascribe partners to Allāh Ta’ālā which consist of earthly materials take idols made either from stone, or from gold, or silver, and they worship them.

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There are others who worship bodies that are of plant origin. They may take, for example, a specific tree as a deity.

Then there are others who take animals as deities; like those who worship the calf, the goat, and so on.

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The polytheists who take human beings as deities are those who say:

‘Uzayr is the son of Allāh.

Or:

Masīḥ, i.e., Sayyidunā ‘Isā ‘alayhi as-salām is the son of Allāh.

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The simple bodies taken as deities are objects such as fire, e.g., the fire worshiping Magians and Zoroastrians.

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Those who establish a partner for Allāh Ta’ālā which does not have a body are also of a few types:

Type One:

Those who say that the planner and administrator of the universe are light and darkness. They subscribe to Manichaeism and Dualism.

Type Two:

Those who say that the angels refer to the souls of the universe, and that for each area there is a specific soul from the universal souls that arranges and plans its affairs. Those who subscribe to this form of polytheism make up a form, figure, and shape for these souls and they worship them. They are said to be worshippers of the angels.

Type Three:

These polytheists say that there are two deities for the universe. One is in charge of good and the other is in charge of evil. They say:

‘The administrator of the world is Allāh and Iblīs. They are brothers. Whatever goodness happens in the world, it is from Allāh Ta’ālā and whatever evil there is, it is from Iblīs.’

Notes

Source: Al-Qawl Al-Jamīl fī Bayān Sawā As-Sabīl, Shah Waliullāh Aḥmad Ibn ‘Abdur-Raḥīm Ad-Dihlawī raḥimahullāh, Ad-Dār Al-Karaz, Cairo, pp.44-45, 2010

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A K

Assalamu alaikum Please also do one referring to the Hadith of the Prophet SAW about he feared for us not the obvious type of Shirk but the other one that is hard to notice, like a black ant on a black rock in a dark night – and how the Shirk of the people of the Book was their allegiance to rulers who made Halal Haram and Haram Halal. And referring to the Ayah of people making their desires their gods.

A K

And also how the above forms are lurking in the western education system with their “Mother” Nature etc

Abdullah

There is also a form of polytheism where they acknowledge Singular Creator God but also believe in the necessity of intercessors. Because they are not faithful enough that The God in question capable of reaching average worshippers and these lesser beings are being used as intermediary. Often they saw nothing bad about asking these beings because they are being commanded by One God to provide help.

There is also a form of polytheism where people make idols that are symbols to One God aspects.