As to the detailed answer, it will have to follow each particular objection the enemies of Allah marshall for misguiding men away from Allah. These objections and their answers follow.
1. They say, "We do not associate anyone with Allah. We witness that He alone is Creator and Provider, that He is the Source of our good and evil, that He has no partners; that Muhammad -- Salla salllahu 'alayhi wa sallam -- can by himself give us neither good nor evil, not to mention 'Abdul Qadir or others. But I am a sinner; and the righteous have a sake with Allah. I only ask of Him through them." Answer as before; Those whom the Prophet had fought had equally acknowledged all these facts. They realized that their idols were by themselves devoid of power, but that they used their favor and intercession. Recite to him the verses Allah has revealed in this connection and explain them to him.
2. If he argues: "These verses came to condemn idol-worshippers. How can you equate the saints with the idols?" Answer him, as before, since he distinguishes between the two, knowing that the idol-worshippers acknowledged the creatorship of Allah: "The idol-worshippers too claimed to call on the saints, idols and the righteous of whom Allah said:
"'Those unto whom they pray [i.e., the saints] themselves seek avenue to their Lord's mercy, compete in coming closer to Allah and fear His punishment,' Qur'an 17:57
The unbelievers also pray to Jesus, and his mother Mary, but Allah said:
"Isa, son of Maryam, is only a Prophet, like so many others that came and passed before him. His mother was a saintly woman. Both of them ate food like all humans do, See how We make the revelations clear for them, and see how they turn away!" Qur'an 5:78
Recite to him the verses:
"The day when We shall assemble them all and ask the angels, 'Are these the persons who used to worship you?' On that day they will answer: 'Praised be Allah! He is our Lord, not they. But before then, most of them would even worship the jinn" Qur'an 34:41
"And when Allah asked 'Isa, son of Maryam, 'O 'Isa! Did you ask the people to take you and your mother as gods beside Allah,' he answered: 'Praised be Allah! How can I claim what is not mine to claim?" Qur'an 5:119
Answer him therefore that Allah had declared unbelievers those who prayed to the idols as well as to the righteous, that the Prophet -- Salla Allahu 'alayhi wa sallam -- has fought them.
3. He may object that in fighting them, the Prophet sought only the unbelievers among them. He may even say: "I witness that Allah is the source of our good and ill, the Ruler of the universe Whom alone I solicit; that the righteous predecessors are powerless; that I appeal to them merely to intercede with Allah on my behalf." The answer is that he and the unbelievers stand on a par. Recite to him the verses,
"As to those beings other than Allah whom we have taken as friends, we do not worship them except that they may draw us closer to Him;" Qur'an 39:3
"Those are only our intercessors with Allah." Qur'an 10:18
Know that these three false counter-arguments are the most conclusive. All of them have been anticipated by Allah in His Book. If you understand them well, the rest is easily refutable.
4. If the associationist objects: "I do not worship aught but Allah. My recourse to the righteous and my soliciting of them is not worship," then answerer, "You admit that Allah has commanded you to worship Him alone, that this is your duty to Him. What then is this exclusive worship of Allah which is your duty to Him?" For apparently this man knows neither the nature of worship nor its various forms. Explain it to him.
Tell him that Allah said:
"Pray to Allah humbly and in secret." Qur'an 7:54
If he concedes that that is an imposition of worship, for prayer is the heart of worship, then give him the rest of the argument. If it is granted that calling upon somebody in day or night, out of fear or in solicitation, is worship, and you have called upon a prophet or other to fulfill your need, wouldn't that be an instance of worship? Likewise, if you acted in accordance with a commandment of Allah,
"Pray unto Allah and sacrifice unto Him," Qur'an 108:2
wouldn't your action be worship? This cannot be denied, Reason then with him that if he were to sacrifice to a prophet, a jinn or any other creature, that would be a worship addressed to other than Allah, and hence, shirk. This conclusion is unavoidable. Tell him, in addition, that the unbelievers whom the revelation of the Qur'an addressed worshipped the angels, the righteous, al Lat and other beings. They worshipped their gods by praying, sacrificing and recoursing to them, while at the same time these gods acknowledged themselves as creatures of Allah standing under His dominion. The associationists recognized Allah as sole Ruler, but they recoursed to other beings for intercession on account of their favor with Allah. Another objection is that genuine tawhid denies the intercession of the Prophet -- Salla Allahu 'alayhi wa sallam. The answer to it is that, on the contrary, we do not deny it at all. The Prophet -- Salla Allahu'alayhi wa sallam -- is indeed the appointed intercessionary. But intercession is all to Allah, as He Himself has revealed:
"Say, 0 Muhammad, all intercession belongs to Allah." Qur'an 39:4
It can not be entered into by anyone without His permission, just as He said,
"No one may intercede with Him without His permission," Qur'an 2:255
Surely the Prophet would not intercede on behalf of anyone without permission. Allah Himself said:
"They will not intercede but for those with whom Allah is pleased." Qur'an 21:
We do know that He will not be pleased except with tawhid, since it was He Who revealed:
"Whoever seeks a religion other than Islam, it will not be accepted from him." Qur'an 3:85
If, therefore, intercession all belongs to Allah, that it cannot take place except by His leave, and that He will not permit it except on behalf of the adherents of tawhid, it follows that intercession belongs to Him and must be solicited directly from Him. Our prayer therefore should be: "0 Allah, do not deprive us of Muhammad's intercession. 0 Allah, permit him to intercede on our behalf," etc.
5. In case it is objected that the Prophet -- Salla Allahu 'alayhi wa sallam -- has been granted the power to intercede, and that it may therefore be asked of him to do what he had already been given the privilege to do, the answer is that, whereas Allah did grant him that privilege, He commanded you not to ask it of him. Allah said:
"Do not call unto anyone beside Him." Qur'an 72: 18
Intercession has equally been granted to other beings beside the Prophet -- Salla Allahu 'alayhi wa sallam -- namely, to the angels, the leaders and saints. Would you then say the same of them, that Allah has granted them the power to intercede and that you may ask them therefor? If you do, you have relapsed back to your original situation described by Allah in His Book. If you do not, then your claim that you may ask the Prophet for his intercession because he was given that privilege is false.
6. If it is objected that one does not at all associate anything with Allah, and that recourse to the righteous is not associationism, then give the following answer: "You realize that Allah has forbidden shirk more strongly than He forbade adultery, that He will not forgive this offence. He cannot plead ignorance of the nature of that which Allah has so emphatically forbidden. Allah could not forbid us that which He did not clarify."
7. There is another objection. That is the claim that shirk is itself idol- worship, whereas none of us nowadays worship idols. This is answered by pointing to the meaning of idol-worship. Everyone knows that the associationists of pre-Islam did not believe that the wooden and stone idols created, provided, ruled or responded to their worshipper. Such is belied by the Qur'an itself:
"Ask them, 0 Muhammad, who sends down for you your provision from the sky and who grows it out from the earth?" Qur'an 10:31
If, moreover, the objector holds that shirk is to visit the wooden or stone idol, shrine or other holy object, to sacrifice and call unto it in the hope that it will bring him closer to Allah and protect him from evil with its grace, then tell him that that is precisely what the associationists of today do. He would then admit that associationism is idol-worship. But so is recourse to the righteous, any calling upon them. This is proven by Allah's treating as unbelief any devotion addressed to the angels, to Jesus and the righteous ancestors.
The crux of the matter is, of course, his denial of associationism. You must ask him to define it. If he defines it as idol-worship, press him for further clarification. He must present an explanation of what he means by 'I worship naught but Allah,' and you should press him for it until he defines worship in Qur'anic terms. Again, he cannot plead ignorance, for he does make a claim. If he defines the relevant terms differently, then inform him of their definitions as they came in the clear verses revealed by Allah. Tell him that what the modern associationists do is identically the same as that done by their ancestors. What is objected to in our restriction of worship and devotion to Allah is the same as was opposed to the Prophet, namely,
"Did he make all gods into One? That is certainly something astounding!" Qur'an 38:5
In fact, what the modern associationists call the monotheistic creed is the same associationism which the Qur'an has come to refute, and which the Prophet has fought. The aberration of antiquity is even a lighter offence than that of modern times. First, the ancients did not call upon the angels, the saints and the idols except in prosperity. Whenever they were in distress, they sincerely worshipped Allah alone. Allah said of them,
"In adversity on the high seas, all those to whom you pray will fail you, not Allah. When He brings you safely to shore, you turn away. Man is ever thankless." Qur'an 17:67
"Say: Would you, if punishment from Allah were to befall you, or the last hour were to seize you, call to any being other than Allah for help? No! But unto Him alone will you call if you are truthful. He will expose what you have prayed to and you will forget the partners you ascribed to Him." Qur'an 6:4l
"And when adversity strikes man, he turns to his Lord in prayer and repentance." Qur'an 39:8
"Say, you may enjoy your unbelief for a short while. But you are doomed to the Fire." Ibid
"And if the waves of the sea cover them like awnings, then do they call on Allah, dedicating all their devotion to Him." Qur'an 3l:32
Whoever understands this problem clearly will realize the difference which separates the modern associationists from their older predecessors. The former, who were fought by the Prophet -- Salla Allahu 'alayhi wa sallam -- called unto Allah and other beings in prosperity only; but in time of distress they called upon Allah alone, declared He had no partners, and forsook their previous lords.
The second point is that whereas the ancients have called unto other beings beside Allah -- namely prophets, saints, angels, and other beings close to Him, trees and rocks which conform to His divine pattern and never disobey for, the associationists of our times do so to some of the most corrupt people. Their so-called "patrons" are precisely those about whom they report all kinds of sins, adultery, theft, neglect of salat and other crimes. To believe in that which is incapable of disobedience, like wood and stone, is better than to do so in beings whose corruption and immorality are for everyone to witness. We may hence conclude that those associationists whom the Prophet -- Salla Allahu 'alayhi wa sallam -- fought in his days were more rational and their crime lighter than that of the modern ones.
8. The moderns have another defence, no less fallacious than what we have already seen, but far more beguiling and misleading. They hald that the unbelieving contemporaries of the Prophet against whom the Qur'an launched its arguments did not witness that there is no God but Allah, unlike themselves who do. The ancients belied the Prophet and charged him with witchcraft, denied the resurrection of the body and the Qur'anic revelation. Hence, they were radically different fram the modern associationists who witness that there is no God but Allah and Muhammad is the Prophet of Allah; who accept the Qur'an as true, believe in the resurrection, hold the salat and observe the fast. How then, runs their argument, can the two be comparable to each other?
The answer is that the 'ulama' [Muslim men of knowledge] universally agree that to believe the Prophet of Allah -- Salla Allahu 'alayhi wa sallam -- in part of his revelation, and to belie him in the other part, is to commit unbelief, to stand outside the pale of Islam. Such is the case of the person who accepts tawhid but denies the obligation to hold salat, or accepts both these and denies the zakat, or the fasting, or the pilgrimage. It was for the benefit of those who accepted everything that was revealed to the Prophet before, but refused to be led by him to the pilgrimage that the verse was revealed:
"And to Allah is due from mankind the observance of pilgrimage to the House by everyone capable of it. Whoever disbelieves must know that Allah stands in no need of men." Qur'an 3:97
The 'ulama' are agreed that whoever accepts all this but denies the resurrection of the body has committed unbelief and rendered himself liable to capital punishment and his property to confiscation. Allah said:
"Those who disbelieve in Allah and His prophets, who discriminate between them, who believe in some and disbelieve in others, seeking a way in between, are the real unbelievers. To them We have prepared a humiliating punishment." Qur'an 4:149
Since Allah Himself has so clearly condemned the person who believes in part of the revelation and disbelieves in the other part, their defence falls to the ground. Such was the defence of those who wrote to us from al Ahsa'.
It is also possible to argue the case from another angle. We have seen that where there is belief in everything the Prophet had brought from Allah but disbelief in the salat, the consequence is kufr (unbelief), deserving of capital punishment. Likewise, when one accepts everything in the revelation as true except the resurrection of the body, or the fasting of Ramadan. The juristic schools do not disagree on this matter, and we have seen that the Qur'an itself gives the same judgment. It is known that tawhid is the most important task the Prophet -- Salla Allahu 'alayhi wa sallam -- brought to us, more important than salar, zakal, fasting or pilgrimage. Certainly, to compromise tawhid is to commit unbelief, even if such compromising is accompanied by the strictest observance of all other duties imposed by the Prophet. Otherwise, unbelief would have been predicated of him who rejects the lesser but not of him who rejects the greater part, which is absurd.
The companions of the Prophet -- Salla Allahu 'alayhi wa sallam -- fought Banu Hanifah despite the fact that that tribe adopted Islam immediately from the Prophet, witnessed that there is no God but Allah, that Muhammad is the Prophet of Allah, recited the adhan (call to salat) and held the salat. If it is objected that they also held Musayli- mah to be a prophet, we argue: If raising a man to the position of prophet is committing unbelief and deserving capital punishment, raising Shamsan, Yusuf, a companion of the Prophet, or a prophet, to the position of the Almighty of Heaven and Earth must be so a fortiori. Can they be so ignorant?
"So Allah seals the hearts of the ignorant." Qur'an 30:59
Those whom 'Ali ibn Abu Talib had destroyed by fire were all pretenders of Islam. They were 'Ali's own companions and have been taught by no less than the companions of the Prophet. But they exaggerated their faith in 'Ali just as others had done with Yusuf, Shamsan and others. How then did the Prophet's companions unanimously agree to destroy them? Did they do so in vain? Or is belief in Ta~ and his like a lesser crime than belief in 'Ali ibn Abu Talib?
The same is true of Banu 'Ubayd al Qaddah which ruled the Maghrib and Egypt during the 'Abbasi period. All of them witnessed that there is no C'od but Allah and that Muhammad is the Prophet of Allah. They called themselves Muslims, observed the congregational prayer and held the Friday salat. When they diverted from the shari'ah in matters much less important than these, the 'ulama' unanimously resolved to declare them heretics and to fight them. The 'ulama'called the provinces the heretics ruled "Land of War," fought them successfully, and rescued those provinces and peoples from their dominion,
9. If it is objected that these ancients were not guilty of unbelief on that account alone, but because they have combined associationism with belying the Prophet and the Qur'an, denying the resurrection of the body or another part of the faith, why then did the 'ulama'assign a chapter in the shari'ah for heresy, the act of unbelief by the Muslim? The 'ulna' took pains to mention in this part of the shari'ah many varieties of heresies, all of which deserved its subject capital punishment and confiscation of his property. They even ascribed it to much lesser acts of disbelief, such as a word spoken verbally but not meant, a word spoken in jest.
Those of whom Allah said:
"They swear by Allah that they did not say the word of unbelief; but they did say it after their entry into Islam," Qur'an 9: 75
were declared heretics by Allah despite the fact that they were contemporaries of the Prophet, praying with him, observing the zakat, the pilgrimage, tawhid, and fighting on his side. Likewise was the case of those of whom the Qur'an said:
"And if you ask them to justify their claim, 0 Muhammad, they will say; 'We did but talk in jest.' Then say, 'Was it at Allah, His signs and His Prophet that you scoffed? Make no excuse. You have disbelieved after your confession of faith." Qur'an 9:66-67
Allah has called them disbelievers after their confession of faith in front of the Prophet -- Salla Allahu 'alayhi wa sallam -- during the campaign of Tabuk, Their crime was a word of ridicule they claimed they said as a piece of jest. Consider if these were to object, like our contemporaries: Do you declare heretic Muslims who witness that there is no God but Allah, who hold the salat and fast? Consider also the answer Allah has given them!
Another evidence is what Allah reported to us of Banu Isra'il. Despite their piety and righteousness at that time, they asked Musa (Moses),
"Let us have a god, even as they have gods!" Qur'an 7:137
just as some companions of the Prophet asked him, "Let us too have a tree like Dhat Anwat." The Prophet -- Salla Allahu 'alayhi wa saliam -- swore that the two requests were of the same nature.
Faced with these annals of Islamic history, the modern associationists argue that neither Banu Isra'il nor the Prophet's companions in question had actually achieved their requests, another god in one case, another Dhat Anwat in the second. Hence they did not actually commit unbelief. It is certainly true that neither of them got what they wanted; that had they obtained what they sought, their unbelief would have been confirmed in the deed. These anecdotes teach us that the Muslim, even if he were steeped in knowledge, might well fall into shirk inadvertantly. They have the merit of reminding us not to take tawhid simplistically. Self-conceit in such matters constitutes great ignorance and greater temptation. Should the Muslim pronounce words compromising to tawhid, he should be so told; and he should repent and withdraw his words, just as the Prophet's companions did.
Just so, however, he has deserved some chastening as the Prophet did to his companions.