Bismillah hir Rehman nir Raheem
"AND MOST OF THEM BELEIVE NOT IN ALLAH EXCEPT THAT THEY ATTRIBUTE PARTNERS UNTO HIM"(V.12:106)
Shirk means to ascribe partners with Allah the Almighty. It also includes observing worshipping signs and manners in front of any other than Allah, signs of worship which are solely specified for Allah the Almighty.
Thus shirk doesn't only mean associating another god with Him, but even if one come to think that the qualities of Allah also reside in any of His creation is merely shirk.
Lets take an example of a few acts such as prostration, sacrificing animals, vowing etc all these are specified with Allah the Almighty only. Not even a prophet, saint, jinn, Satan, ghost, fairies, and angels can be treated equally in any of His matter. Thus who ever considers these qualities in other beings that is to believe that they have divine powers has definitely committed shirk.
It is not necessary that only the idolaters are considered as polytheist but all those who believe that prophets or saints share Allah subhanallahu tallah attributes commits an act of shirk.
A person who commits an act of shirk is known as MUSHRIK (the one who associates partners with Allah the Almighty)
Allah the Almighty stated in the Holy Quran:
"WHEN MUSA SAID TO HIS PEOPLE:"MY PEOPLE, YOU HAVE WRONGED YOURSELVES BY YOUR TAKING THE CALF (AS GOD). SO TURN IN REPENTANCE TO YOUR CREATOR, AND SLAY YOURSELVES. THAT WILL BE BETTER FOR YOU IN THE SIGHT OF YOUR CREATOR". THEN HE ACCEPTED YOUR REPENTACE. INDEED HE IS THE MOST-RELENTING, THEY VERY-MERCIFUL." (V.2:54)
The people of Prophet Moses Alaih salam worshipped the calf so they were sentenced to death as a way of repentance according to the rules and regulations of that time. Therefore the act of worshipping the calf had been taken as shirk.
The Christians and Jews although did not worshipped the idols, and they considered Allah as their Lord yet they associated few beings with His attributes, such as Jesus was believed to be the son sent by Allah the Almighty, and the Jews considered Ezra as Allah's son. (May Allah forbid)
Allah stated in the Holy Quran:
"THEY (Jews AND CHRISTIANS) TOOK THEIR RABBIS AND THEIR MONKS TO BE THEIR LORDS BESIDES ALLAH, ( BY OBEYING THEM IN THINGS WHICH THEY MADE LAWFUL OR UNLAWFUL ACCORDING TO THEIR OWN DESIRES WITHOUT BEING ORDERED BY ALLAH) AND (THEY ALSO TOOK AS THEIR LORD) MESIAH, SON OF MARY, WHILE THEY (Jews AND CHRISTIANS) WERE COMMANDED (IN THE TORAH AND THE GOSPEL) TO WORSHIP NONE BUT ONE (ALLAH) NONE HAS THE RIGHT TO BE WORSHIPPED BUT HE. PRAISE AND GLORY TO HIM, (FAR ABOVE IS HE) FROM HAVING THE PARTNERS THEY ASSOCIATE WITH HIM" (V.9:31)
And then there are some who ascribe idols with female names with Allah the Almighty. Verily Allah stated in the Holy Quran:
"SURELY ALLAH DOES NOT FORGIVE THAT A PARTNER IS ASCRIBED TO HIM, AD FORGIVES ANYTHING SHORT OF THAT FOR WHOMSOEVER HE WILLS. WHOEVER ASCRIBES A PARTNER TO ALLAH HAS INDEED GONE FAR ASTRAY.
THEY INVOKE NONE, BESIDES HIM, BUT FEMININE OBJECTS AND THEY INVOKE NONE BUT SATAN, THE REBEL."(V.4:116-117)
This means that Allah may forgive any sin, even without repentance if He wills, except the sin of ascribing partners to Him, which cannot be forgiven unless one repents as well as believes in monotheism.
And yet there are some who believe that angels are daughters of Allah. Even the arab pagans believed the same, they also believed that satan was Allah's brother who created evil and Allah created only good, and that angels were Allah's daughters, their mothers were queens from Jinns, meaning that these Jinns were God's wives (GOD FORBID!) Therefore Allah stated:
"SO ASK THEM, "DOES YOUR LORD HAVE DAUGHTERS WHILE THEY HAVE SONS?"
OR, HAD WE CREATED ANGELS AS FEMALES WHILE THEY WERE WITNESSING?
BEWARE! THEY ARE THE ONES WHO BY THE WAY OF A LIE OF THEIRS (HAVE THE AUDACITY) TO SAY.
"ALLAH HAS CHILDREN"- AND THEY ARE ABSOLUTE LIARS." (V.37:149-152)
"AND THEY HAVE MADE UP BETWEEN HIM AND THE JINNS SOME KINSHIP, WHILE THE JINNS ALREADY KNOW THAT THEY ARE BOUND TO BE SEIZED" (V.37:158)
Therefore every prophet, saint, jinn, angel, they are nothing but creations of Allah they do not equal to His qualities. And every creation of Allah is a slave unto Him. Therefore a master does not share His authority with His slaves, they are just ordered, while they carry it out.
Shirk is an unforgivable sin committed by any person, unless and until he repents with a pure heart and vow not to return back to these practices.
In taqwiyyatul iman by Shah Ismail Shaheed
Shirk has been categorized in four types :
1. shirk in knowledge
2. shirk in disposing
3. shirk in worship
4. shirk in daily routine.
InshAllah I will post articles on each of these four categories seperately more elaborately with the knowledge that i have of, through the guidance and help of Allah. Meanwhile this was just a mere glimpse of polythiesm, proving how senseless the concepts of polytheinsm is. May Allah always guide us on the right path, and protect us from every evil and sin that resides in this world. And may He forgive our mistakes!