The Author (Shaykh Muhammad bin ‘Abdil-Wahhab, may Allah have mercy on him) said,
“The Fourth Principle: That the Mushriks (Polytheists) of our time are more severe in their Shirk than [those Mushriks] that came before, for verily those that came before would commit Shirk in times of ease, whilst dedicating [their worship] solely to Allah in times of difficulty, whereas the Shirk of the Mushriks of our time is constant, in ease and in difficulty. The proof is the statement of the Most High:
‘And when they embark on a ship, they invoke Allâh, making their Faith pure for Him only: but when He brings them safely to land, behold, they give a share of their worship to others.’ [Al-Ankabut, 29:65]“
The Explainer (Shaykh Salih Al-‘Usaymi, may Allah grant him success) said,
“And the objective of this Principle is: To clarify the severity of the Shirk of the people during the time of the author, and whoever is after them is from the latecomers (Muta’akhirin), and verily they are more severe in Shirk than the ones that came before (Al-Awwalin).
And the benefit of establishing its severity is: Realising that that the state they (i.e., the Mushriks of our time) is more worthy of Takfir (excommunication) and fighting than the Mushriks that came before, and this was declared by the author in another book of his, ‘Kashf Ash-Shubuhat’, and the Mushrikun were mentioned with the disbelief with which they were described previously in the initial statement of the author, ‘Verily the disbelievers whom the Messenger of Allah ﷺ fought…’¹, so they disbelieved by Shirk.
And a collection of Shari’i (legislative) evidences and events which have occurred due to the Divine Decree indicate that the Shirk of the later Mushriks is more severe than the Shirk of the earlier Mushriks in ten aspects:
The First Aspect: ‘For verily those that came before would commit Shirk in times of ease, whilst dedicating [their worship] solely to Allah in times of difficulty.’
As for the later Mushriks, then they commit Shirk in times of ease and difficulty alike. The author mentioned this aspect here in ‘Qawa’id Al-Arba’ and additionally in ‘Kashf Ash-Shubuhat’, and he used the aforementioned Ayah as evidence from Surah Al-Ankabut, for travelling in the ocean on ‘Al-Fulk’ – i.e., a ship – is a time of difficulty, for their hearts would be filled with fear and they would call on Allah alone sincerely. Then, when they would set foot on land and be in a state of ease, due to their safety from the harm which they had feared, they would return to their Shirk, calling upon other than Allah, and a group [of scholars] after the time of the author mentioned this, from them: his grandsons Sulayman bin ‘Abdillah and ‘Abdur-Rahman bin Hasan, and ‘Abdullah Aba Butayn, and Sulayman bin Sahman.
The aforementioned Ayah clarifies the state of the earlier Mushriks between times of difficulty and ease, as for the state of the latecomers, then they are continuous in their Shirk, rather they increase in it when calamities befall them and when their fear intensifies! So the matter has been clarified by those that have witnessed their condition, and the writings of their pens attest to their (i.e., the Mushriks of our era) precedence over the [earlier Mushriks] in Ash-Shirk with the Rabb of Al-‘Alamin. Meaning: That the Ayat are evidence regarding the reality of the condition of the [earlier Mushriks]; For verily they would commit Shirk in times of ease whilst dedicating [their worship] solely to Allah in times of difficulty.
As for the latecomers, then if you wish to know their reality with regards to them committing Shirk in both times of ease and difficulty, then upon you is to witness their condition if you are from the countries which have been afflicted with this [i.e., widespread Shirk], or to read into what has been written regarding them, and you will find their Shirk in every case, whether in ease or in difficulty.
The Second Aspect: That the earlier Mushriks would call upon the Muqarrabun (those brought near to Allah) from the Prophets, Angels and Righteous besides Allah, or they would call upon trees or stones that are not sinful, and these later Mushriks call upon the Fussaq (wicked evildoers) and Fujjar (criminals) besides Allah. The author mentioned this aspect separately in ‘Kashf Ash-Shubuhat’ as well, and Muhammad bin Isma’il As-San’ani attested to the actualisation of these events during his time in ‘Tathir Al-I’tiqad.’²
The root cause of their supplications, whilst witnessing their sins, is fear of their evil, for verily they believe they have influence and control [over the creation] such that they can cause harm to them, despite them being in such a repulsive condition.
The Third Aspect: That the earlier Mushriks affirmed that what they were upon was in opposition to the call of the Prophets and Messengers, for verily they said,
‘Has he made the âlihah (gods) (all) into One Ilâh (God – Allâh). Verily, this is a curious thing!’ [Surah Sad, 38:5]
As for the later Mushriks, then verily they claim that their actions are in accordance to the call of the Prophets and Messengers, and ‘Abdul-Latif bin Abdur-Rahman mentioned this by meaning in his refutation on Dawud bin Jarjis, and likewise his student, Sulayman bin Sahman, mentioned it.
So the earlier Mushriks denied the statement, ‘La ilaaha illAllah’, whereas the later Mushriks claimed to be from its people and did not deny its statement, so the earlier Mushrikun rejected it by wording and meaning, whereas the later Mushriks affirm its wording whilst rejecting its meaning. ‘Abdur-Rahman bin Hasan brought this benefit in ‘Fath Al-Majid’, and Ibn Qasim in ‘Hashiyah Kitab At-Tawhid’.
The Fourth Aspect: That the earlier Mushriks would not commit Shirk with Allah in anything from the Dominion, nor in a completely unrestricted ability to dispose of affairs (At-Tasarruf Al-Kulli Al-‘Am), rather they would say in their Talbiyah, ‘Labbayk Allahumma Labbayk! (Here I am Allah, Here I am), Labbayk La Sharika Labbayk (Here I am, you have no partner), Except the partner that You have, You control him and that which he controls.’
As for the later Mushriks, then they ascribed complete sovereignty and disposal of affairs of the cosmos to those whom they venerate, and they invoke them due [to their belief] that they have control of the creation and that which occurs in it, and this is Shirk which was not known in the time of Al-Jahiliyyah (Ignorance). ‘Abdullah bin Faysal bin Su’ud mentioned this aspect.
The Fifth Aspect: That many of the later Mushriks invoke their objects of worship besides Allah whilst believing they are independent (i.e., not dependent on Allah). As for the earlier Mushriks, then they would invoke their objects of worship in order to seek nearness to Allah, and they believed them to be intercessors and intermediaries, as opposed to many of those Mushriks that came after – even if they claim otherwise.
The Sixth Aspect: That, generally, the Shirk of the earlier Mushriks was restricted [generally] to Al-Uluhiyyah (Worship), and would rarely occur in other than it. As for the later Mushriks, then their Shirk is much, in ‘Uluhiyyah, Rububiyyah (Allah’s actions), and Asma’ w’as-Sifat (Allah’s Names and Attributes). Rather, Sulayman bin Sahman declared [this] to be one of the differences between the Mushriks of our times who are in a far more evil state than the Mushriks of Al-Jahiliyyah; that the earlier Mushriks affirmed Tawheed of Rububiyyah, for verily their Shirk was only in Al-Uluhiyyah, and this confirms what we mentioned previously.³
The Seventh Aspect: That the later Mushriks claim that intending [acts of worship], invoking, and devoting [acts of worship] towards the Righteous is from their rights, and to abandon this is to loathe and disregard them, and the earlier Mushriks did not mention this.
The Eighth Aspect: That the earlier Mushriks used to affirm their Shirk, just as was mentioned previously in their Talbiyyah, and they used to call their Raghbah (Fervent Desire) towards those that they venerated ‘Ibadah (Worship)’.
As for the later Mushriks, then they claim that they do not commit Shirk with their Rabb, and they call their Raghbah towards those that they venerate ‘Mahabbah (Love)’, and they are liars in this claim of theirs.
The Ninth Aspect: That the earlier Mushriks would only ask their false-deities to fulfil their worldly needs, such as returning a missing person, and they would not take them as preparation for the Day of Judgement (Yawm Al-Din), due to their rejection of the Resurrection, or due to their belief that they will be rewarded with wealth and children after the Resurrection on account of their favour with Allah.
As for the later Mushriks, then they desired from their objects of veneration fulfilment of their needs in this world, and in the Hereafter. Hamad bin Basir bin Mu’ammar mentioned this aspect, may Allah have mercy on him.
The Tenth Aspect: That the earlier Mushriks would venerate Allah and His symbols, so they would venerate oaths taken by Allah, and they would protect those that sought refuge by Allah and His House (i.e., the Ka’ba), and they would believe that Al-Bayt Al-Haram is greater than the houses of their idols.
As for the later Mushriks, then verily one of them may take an oath by Allah, truthfully or falsely, whilst he would not dare to falsely take an oath by the one he takes as an object of worship and veneration, nor would he protect the one that seeks refuge by Allah and his House, whilst protecting the one who seeks refuge by the one whom they venerate, or by his grave, and they believe that staying at the tombs of the saints is greater than staying in the Masjid. The majority of them believe that Istighatha (seeking aid) by their false-deities, by their graves, is more beneficial and more successful than Istigatha with Allah in the Masjid! And this aspect was derived from the various speech of Sulayman bin ‘Abdullah in ‘Taysir Al-‘Aziz Al-Hamid’, and some of it from the speech of Ibn Taymiyyah, the grandson (Taqi’uddin), and the author [himself], and As-San’ani, and Hamad bin Nasir bin Mu’ammar, and ‘Abdul-‘Aziz Al-Husayyin, and ‘Abdul-Latif bin ‘Abdur-Rahman bin Hasan, from the scholars of the Rectifying Da’wah, may Allah have mercy on them.”
(Sharh Qawa’id Al-Arba’ of Shaykh Salih Al-‘Usaymi, may Allah preserve him, p.29-33,
Transcribed from his lesson on the 29th of Rabi’ Al-Awwal, 1436H, in Masjid An-Nabawi)
[TN: The Shaykh, may Allah preserve him, added two more aspects in his lesson the following year:]
“The Eleventh Aspect: That the earlier Mushriks would not seek from their false-deities everything which they sought from Ar-Rahman, for they had requests which they would seek from their false-deities, and requests they would seek from none other than Allah, out of veneration for Allah (Perfect and Exalted He is), so they made the most lofty requests specifically for Allah.
As for the later Mushriks, then they would seek from their false-deities that which they do not [even] seek from Allah, and made their greatest requests for those that they deify, and would not seek them from Allah, Ibn Taymiyyah, the grandson, mentioned this aspect.
The Twelfth Aspect: That within the later Mushriks are those that claim that Allah manifests in the image of their objects of worship from the creation, so they worship them for verily [they believe] that Allah manifests in them, and not a single one from the earlier Mushriks believed that Allah manifests in an image other than His Self from the creation. Ibn Taymiyyah, the grandson, also mentioned this in meaning. His companion, Ibn Al-Qayyim, relayed this from him in ‘Rawdhatul Muhibbin’.”
¹ [TN:] The Author, may Allah have mercy on him, said, “The First Principle: That you know that verily the disbelievers whom the Messenger of Allah ﷺ fought would affirm that Allah, Exalted is He, is the Creator and the One who controls all affairs, and that [this belief] did not enter them into Islam.” (Al-Qawa’id Al-Arba’)
² [TN:] Imam Amir As-San’ani, may Allah have mercy on him, said, “Rather, it has reached such a state that they flee to the graves of the oppressors…” (Tathir Al-I’tiqad p.99, Matkabah Al-Wadi’i edn.)
Shaykh Salih Al-Fawzan expained, “When oppression and injustice occurs from the rulers or other than them, they would seek refuge with [the occupants of] these graves to spare them from the injustice and oppression, so this is seeking refuge with other than Allah, to the extent that a poet said:
‘O those who fear the Tatar, seek protection by the grave of Abi ‘Umar
Seek refuge by the grave of Abi ‘Umar, he will save you from harm.'”
(Sabil Ar-Rashad fi Sharh Tathir Al-I’tiqad p.191)
³ [TN:] Allah, Most High, says,
“Say (O Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم): “Who provides for you from the sky and the earth? Or who owns hearing and sight? And who brings out the living from the dead and brings out the dead from the living? And who disposes the affairs?” They will say: “Allâh.” Say: “Will you not then be afraid of Allâh’s punishment (for setting up rivals in worship with Allâh)?””
(Surah Yunus, 10:31)