Who is polytheist?
Written by: Abdulmajeed Umar
It is common attitude among the Wahabist to declare those people who are not in line with their ideology as a polytheists (known as Mushrikeen in Arabic terminology). This act has caused a great havoc not only to the Islamic communities but to the world at large. In fact, the extremism and terrorism in the world today which have led to the killing of innocent souls and loss of properties are direct products of this wrong ideology. We shall in this article briefly explain the real meaning of oneness of God (Tawheed) which will serve as a platform for us to clarify this misconception of the meaning of polytheism (Shirk).
In Arabic terminology, the unity or oneness of God means Tawheed. It entails discussions on the existence and oneness of a Supreme Being, Who created the Universe for a purpose and controlled everything therein based on principles and rules. This concept firstly addresses the existence of God and later treats other issues concerning His existence.
To know where the issue of polytheism arises, we must firstly differentiate between the acknowledgement of the existence of God and other attributes of God like His lordship and … .Thereafter, we shall establish whether polytheism arises through the acknowledgement of the existence of God or through His other attributes.
God creates human according to a specific nature, he submits and responds to the calling of his nature; amongst his nature is the acknowledgment of the existence of a Supreme Being popularly called "God". It is natural for human to acknowledge that above him is a Supreme Being, who is responsible for his being and everything surrounding him. For this reason alone, Quran doesn't talk much about the acknowledgement of the existence of God because it is an innate knowledge in human being which does not need learning.
In the Quran, it is only one verse that talks about the existence of God, and the objective of the verse is to serve as a reminder human- as human tends to forget his nature due to some distractions. For instance, is natural for one to feel hungry but sometimes, as a result of engagement in one thing or the others, man tends to forget that he hasn't eaten; the same thing applicable when human sometimes forgets his nature to acknowledge the existence of God.
In Qur’an 14: Verse 10, Allah says:
"Is there doubt about Allah, the maker of heavens and the earth".
The above verse emphasizes the existence of God.
From the early stage of creation till present time, the problem of human is not about the acknowledgement of the existence of God but the attributes of God. Besides the above verse, all other verses that discussed oneness of God (Tawheed) emphasize on the attributes of God.
There are two main sources through which human acquire knowledge, comprehend and understand things. Human either understands through his sense or through his nature. The sense of human through which he reasons and thus understand most things depends on some organs. Human sees his surroundings and discovered that surrounding are many things amongst which are plants, mostly greenish in colour and his sense evaluates this fact that is transmitted to it through hearing and thus human understands that in his environment there are plants, the same way he feels the scorching of the furious sun and understands that the Sun, aside providing light, it is also hot. The sense or reasoning depends on the facts collected from the material world, and thus it can only explain the things that have direct contact with the material world.
The second source that human acquire his knowledge from is his nature. In this aspect, human doesn't need those facts that are transmitted to the sense through the sense organs, which are collected from the material world. Thus through his nature he understands those things that have no direct connection with his material world. For example, human knows his essence without having to see it, smell it, feel it or perceive, in another, he doesn't need the sense and it's organs to know his essence.
Since God has no direct connection with the material world, and since the sense could only comprehend those things that are directly connected to the material world in one way or the other, human naturally knows that God exists.
Since human is inseparable from his nature, then he is inseparable from acknowledging the existence of God. Base on this fact that human naturally acknowledge God, the says:
"Then set your face upright for religion in the right state - the nature made by Allah in which he has made men".
Sometimes we see human being professing or confessing the existence of God on unconsciously. Dr. Wafa Sultan, Syrian medical Doctor Who now lives in American with her husband and children, she is known for her criticism of Islam and religion generally. In program TV titled "Woman in Islam" anchored by a well-known antis Islamist al-Akh al-Rasheed, she said unconsciously while talking about her achievements that she is given *mental prowess by God*.despite her stand against religion, she still acknowledged it that her mental capacity was a gift from God. The same thing applicable with human when he encounters difficulties and it becomes obvious that al the doors of hope are closed. He naturally returns back to God.
But we could ask that: why is human not always obedient to God since he acknowledges His existence?
In responding to this question, we say that there is different between acknowledging something and being obedient to it. Just the way human gets distracted by other things he considered important from his other nature like not knowing that he hasn't eaten until when it becomes hard on him, the same way he is distracted from acknowledging God by some material factors or positive factors until it becomes obvious and sometimes until he gets to the end of the road just like the case of Pharaoh. This lack of consciousness or reflection of his knowledge of God in his actions and life does not mean he doesn't have knowledge rather, it means that he is weak.
Then we could say that there is no polytheism in the acknowledgment of God, and no one could be a polytheist because he doesn't acknowledge God, but the issue of polytheist when he intentionally associate partner to God in his lordship or attributes. Thus we looked at those people who are declared polytheists by the Wahabists and see if they associate partner to God in his lordship or attributes, and if they didn't, then we ask where have they become polytheists- as one become a polytheist in the fundamental of religion and not on ideology.
And also we learnt that, God is outside the frame of the sense and cannot be reached by sense or reasoning and that it is human nature to acknowledge that he exists.
 Qur’an 30: Verse 30