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All false worship and false religion is based upon certain underlying assumptions and beliefs, on the basis of which, servitude, devotion and enslavement is shown to deities besides the sole originator and creator of the heavens and Earth, which is Allaah. Ibn al-Qayyim (rahimahullaah) has written on this subject, and he has explained that Allaah has invalidated all the roots of shirk in this passage:
قُلِ ادْعُوا الَّذِينَ زَعَمْتُم مِّن دُونِ اللَّهِ لَا يَمْلِكُونَ مِثْقَالَ ذَرَّةٍ فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَلَا فِي الْأَرْضِ وَمَا لَهُمْ فِيهِمَا مِن شِرْكٍ وَمَا لَهُ مِنْهُم مِّن ظَهِير. وَلَا تَنفَعُ الشَّفَاعَةُ عِندَهُ إِلَّا لِمَنْ أَذِنَ لَهُ حَتَّى إِذَا فُزِّعَ عَن قُلُوبِهِمْ قَالُوا مَاذَا قَالَ رَبُّكُمْ قَالُوا الْحَقَّ وَهُوَ الْعَلِيُّ الْكَبِيرٍُ
Say: "Call upon those whom you assert (to be associate gods) besides Allaah, they do not possess even the weight of an atom, either in the heavens or on the earth, nor have they any share in either, nor is there for Him any supporter from among them. And no intercession profits with Him except for him whom He permits. (Saba' 34:22-23)
Ibn al-Qayyim has nicely summed this up in his commentary on the verses as occurs in Madaarij us-Saalikeen (1/351):
Thus, the Mushrik (worshipper of others besides or alongside Allaah), he takes something as his object of worship on account of what he believes that on account of it he will attain some benefit. And benefit cannot be brought about except from one who has any of these four characteristics:
Hence, there is a rejection of the claim of there being the right of worship for any god or gods upon the (false belief) of them owning something, independently, from the creation. This is a refutation of the foundation of the shirk (paganism) of certain cultures, civilizations and nations, historically and present.
Then there is the negation of the claim of the right of worship for deities upon the (false belief) that they share in the ownership of something in the creation (along with Allaah). This is also a refutation of another level of the paganism of certain cultures, civilizations and nations, historically and present.
Then there is the negation of the claim of the right of worship for deities upon the (false belief) that they aid and help Allaah in the regulation and management of His creation. This is a refutation of yet another level of the paganism of certain cultures, civilizations and nations, historically and present.
Finally, there is the negation of the claim of the right of worship for deities upon the (false belief) that they are able to effect intercession independently, in their own right, without the permission of Allaah (for them to intercede) and secondly (what is found in other verses), without their knowledge of Allaah's pleasure with the one for whom they are interceding for. This is a refutation of a further level of the shirk that is found amongst many civilizations, religions and cultures, and is also found amongst those ascribing to Islam.
The Books were revealed and Prophets and Messengers were sent to call the people to the worship of Allaah alone, and that is the upright religion, and the truth for which the heavens and the earth were created.
You should also note that, if we reverse the order of these four levels, then the first level opens up the door to the greater and more grave levels of shirk (associationism):
It is for this reason that you find amongst gnostic, esoteric Sufis that they start of with the issue of seeking intercession, and eventually they are led to affirming qualities of Ruboobiyyah for those (living or dead) whom they take as deities besides Allaah, such as the belief that they have power over benefit and harm, sharing with Allaah in that, or Allaah having granted them that power, as they claim. So with this verse, Allaah has cut off the roots of all false religion and false worship.
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