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Shirk in al-Asmaa was-Sifaat
Shirk in this category includes both the common pagan practise of giving Allaah the attributes of His creation as well as the act of giving created beings Allaah's names and attributes.
(A) Shirk by Humanization
In this aspect of Shirk in al-Asmaa was-Sifaat, Allaah is given the form and qualities of human beings and animals. Due to man's superiority over animals, the human form is more commonly used by idolaters to represent God in creation. Consequently, the image of the Creator is often painted, moulded or carved in the shape of human beings possessing the physical features of those who worship them. For example, Hindus and Buddhists worship countless idols in the likeness of Asian men and consider them manifestations of God in creation. Modern day Christian belief that Prophet Jesus was God incarnate; that the Creator became His creation, is another good example of this type of Shirk. There have been many so-called great Christian painters like Michaelangelo (d. 1565), who painted pictures of God as a naked old European man with long flowing white hair and beard on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican. These pictures have in turn, been held by the Christian world in the highest of esteem.
(B) Shirk by Deification
This form of Shirk in al-Asmaa was-Sifaat relates to cases where created beings or things are given or claim Allaah's names or His attributes. For example, it was the practice of the ancient Arabs to worship idols whose names were derived from the names of Allaah. Their main three idols were: al-Laat taken from Allaah's name al-Elaah, al-'Uzza taken from al-'Azeez and al-Manaat taken from al-Mannaan. During the Prophet Muhammad's era there was also a false prophet in a region of Arabia called Yamaamah, who took the name Rahmaan which only belongs to Allaah.
Among the Shi'ite sects is the Nusayreeyah of Syria, who believe that the Prophet Muhammad's cousin and son-in-law, 'Alee ibn Abee Taalib, was a manifestation of Allaah and give him many of Allaah's qualities. Among them is also the Ismai'ils also know as Agha Khanis who consider their leader, the Agha Khan, to be God incarnate. Also included in this category are the Druze of Lebanon who believe that the Faatimid Caliph al-Haakim bi Amrillaah, was the last manifestation of Allaah among mankind.
Claims of Sufis (muslim mystics) like al-Hallaaj that they have become one with God and as such exist as manifestations of the Creator within His creation may also be included in this aspect of Shirk in al-Asmaa was-sifaat. Modern-day spiritualists and mediums like Shirley Maclaine, J.Z. Knight, etc., often claim divinity for themselves as well as mankind in general. Einstein's Theory of Relativity (E = mc2, Energy is equal to mass times the square of the speed of light) taught in all schools is in fact an expression of Shirk in al-Asmaa was-Sifaat. The theory states that energy can neither be created nor destroyed; it merely transforms into matter and vice versa. However, both matter and energy are created entities and they both will be destroyed as Allaah clearly states:
"Allaah is the creator of all things..."80
"Everything in (the world) will perish..."81
The theory also implies that mass and energy are eternal having no beginning or end since they are supposed to be uncreated and transform into each other. However, this attribute belongs only to Allaah who alone is without beginning or end.
[MSA-USC Editor's note: Understand that the author is pointing out a flaw in an informal part of the theory of relativity, that is, that matter and energy are eternal. The author is not arguing against the mathematical relationship between these two, but rather against their independence from Allaah's all-encompassing power - both creative and destructive.]
Darwin's theory of evolution is also an attempt to explain the evolution of life and its forms from lifeless matter without the intervention of God. One of the leading Darwinists of this century, Sir Aldous Huxley expressed this thought as follows:
"Darwinism removed the whole idea of God as the creator of organisms from the sphere of national discussion."82
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