Monday, 18 May 2009

Worshipping idols and dead people

QUESTION: Why is it that we find people worshipping the idols that they have in their room or in their temples, when it is obvious that a piece of stone cannot do anything for them?

ANSWER: One of the scholars from several hundred years ago called ibn ul Qayyim explained this phenomenon. He mentioned in his book Ighaathatul lahfaan (2/220):

“The setting up of an idol was originally in the form of an object of worship which was hidden. So (the people) made the idol in its image, set it up and shaped it, so that it could be a representation of the hidden deity and take its place (ie the place of the hidden god).”

The idols that people have are supposed to be representations of god or gods that people cannot see or sense – so they make a physical form of their deity in order to have something tangible to direct their worship to. Muslims do not accept this idea, and idols are strictly forbidden in Islam (as indeed they are in the Bible, although we still see certain branches of Christianity encouraging statues of saints and of Jesus).

Muslims believe that they should direct their worship to Allah alone without needing any tangible representation of Allah to do so. To make a statue and direct any worship towards it constitutes an act of shirk (polytheism) which is the gravest sin in Islam.

QUESTION: Similarly, what excuse do people give for worshipping dead people who are lying in graves, when they cannot help or harm them?

ANSWER: This practice is found in many countries of the world in some way shape or form. It was also a common practice in the time of Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him). The Quran mentions the answer that the people give when they are asked why they do this worship of the dead:

“And they worship besides Allah (those things or people) which can neither hurt them nor benefit them – and they say “These are our intercessors with Allah!” Surah Yunus (the 10th chapter) ayah 18 “We worship them only so that they can bring us closer to Allah!” Surah Zumar (the 39th chapter) ayah 3.

People think that these dead people can ask Allah for things on the living people’s behalf. Islam completely rejects this idea and says that Muslims should call on Allah directly. Allah says in the Quran: Call on Me, I will answer you. Surah Ghafir (the 40th chapter) ayah 60 Despite this, sadly we see some Muslims calling on dead ‘saints’ and dead relatives if they have a need to be fulfilled e.g a serious illness to be cured. This also constitutes an act of shirk in Islamic law and as such is a very serious matter.


CareMuslimah said...

Salaam alaykum sister!

I'm a revert and I was raised catholic. I'm still a very new muslim, so new that I haven't told my parents yet.
When I talk on the phone with my mom she always tells me to pray. "Pray to st.(addnamehere)" she says, and I never understood why people do that. I always tell her, mom don't say that, pray to God, He'll always listen. And she answers "God has a lot of things to do, so saints help Him with the job". I really don't know how to make her understand how crazy that is!

When I was preparing to take my first communion I asked one of the tutors why do we have all this saints and virgins around us?, Why Jesus on the cross?, if we're supposed to pray to God and only God, then why do we have images like that? She said "We don't pray to the images, that's a sin, we pray to God". That never made sense to me :S. Because what was the point? God is almighty, He doesn't need any help!, He always listens and He always sees us.

This is a very difficult thing to understand to me. I'd like to know how it all started for catholicism to end up this way. How some of the Christians got so lost and started creating all of these things. That way I'd be able to explain to my parents my decision. May Allah guide me Inch'allah.

Very interesting post mashallah!

Umm Saaliha said...


Asalamualaikum sis
Pray you are well inshaAllah

Please visit and make a donation for the SWAT Pakistan appeal

and if possible let me know and I will send you the code for the button to place on your site too inshaAllah.

Umm Khadijah said...

Wa alaykum assalam sis, Welcome!
Thanks for your comment, alhamdulillaah Allaah guided you to Islam, it's such a blessing Masha'Allaah.

I understand your in a difficult situation, may Allaah make it easy for you, and guide your parents to Islam also ameen.

I don't really have knowledge on the history of christianity,how things went wrong, but maybe what you need to point out to your mum is that Jesus, alayhis salaam, came with the same message that ALL the prophets came with, and that was to worship God 'alone' without partners, really it is underestimating the power and greatness of God when ppl say he needs helpers, masha'Allaah you understand that, and yes it can be very frustrating when others don't, even amongst muslims, this is a very common practice, where they will worship graves, call upon dead people, and it's wrong, subhanAllaah. They feel Allaah will answer that du'a because it is through a person who was very pious etc..but it's wrong.

To help you research how all these things came about, these sites may be of help insha Allaah,
The site is run by Yusuf Estes, a former christian preacher and minister, you can also find him on youtube giving talks, his story on how he came into Islam is very interesting, masha'Allaah.

Also sis, check out this article entitled 'How did Christianity become?'

masha'Allaah it contains alot of useful info, which may help insha Allaah.

Also, if u visit , and type in the keyword 'christianity' at the top, you will find alot of articles insha Allaah.

I hope this information will be helpful, I want to give thanks to my sister Umm Travis who I did email to ask if she could give any help, masha'Allaah she provided the links I've posted. You can find her at , and

Umm Khadijah said...

Wa alaykum assalam sis, will take a look later insha Allaah, yeh I'll put the button on :)