Quburiyyun (grave worshippers)

Question: It is said that the early Mushriks (those who associate others with Allah in His Divinity or worship) admitted that they worshipped their gods only to bring them near to Allah. They were in fact idol worshippers, so how can you declare those you call Quburiyyun i.e. grave worshippers, to be Mushriks although they do not worship idols or claim that the dead should be worshipped, but they only seek blessings through them? 1


Worship is not defined through people’s views but it is determined through Allah’s Judgment (Glorified and Exalted be He). The early Mushriks are divided into different categories, such as those who worshipped idols, those who worshipped prophets, those who worshipped righteous people, those who worshipped trees, those who worshipped stones, and those who worshipped other things. Thus, they are not on an equal level. However, Allah declared them all to be disbelievers until they enter His Religion and worship Him Alone. He (Exalted be He) says: “Nor would he order you to take angels and Prophets for lords (gods). Would he order you to disbelieve after you have submitted to Allâh’s Will? (Tafsir At-Tabarî).” [Aal Imran: 80]

Thus, He declared those who worship the prophets and angels disbelievers if they do not submit to what is right. Moreover, it is well known that the people of Al-Ta’if worshipped Al-Lat, who was a righteous man. However, Allah declared them to be disbelievers until they entered Islam. Likewise, the Christians would worship the Messiah (Jesus) and his mother, while he was a Prophet and his mother was a Siddiqah [i.e. she believed in the Words of Allah and His Books], and in turn they (Christians) were declared disbelievers. The same applies to the Jews who worshipped their rabbis and their monks and worshipped ‘Uzayr (Ezra) claiming that he was the son of the Lord, and in turn they became disbelievers.

Allah (Glorified and Exalted be He) says in the Qur’an: “Say (O Muhammad صلى الله عليه و سلم): “Call upon those - besides Him - whom you pretend [to be gods like angels, ‘Isâ (Jesus), ‘Uzair (Ezra), and others.]. They have neither the power to remove the adversity from you nor even to shift it from you to another person.” Those whom they call upon [like ‘Isâ (Jesus) - son of Maryam (Mary), ‘Uzair (Ezra), angel] desire (for themselves) means of access to their Lord (Allâh), as to which of them should be the nearest; and they [‘Isâ (Jesus), ‘Uzair (Ezra), angels and others] hope for His Mercy and fear His Torment.” [Al-Isra: 56-57]

Moreover, Allah (Exalted be He) informed us about some Mushriks saying that they would worship righteous persons seeking for themselves a means to approach their Lord, hoping for His Mercy, and fearing His Torment. He (Exalted be He) condemned their worship of other than Him, and indicated that they (those worshipped) had neither the power to remove the adversity from those who worshipped them, nor to transfer it to someone else.

Moreover, scholar of Tafsir (exegesis of the meanings of the Qur’an) commented on this Ayah (Qur’anic verse) saying that it was revealed regarding the Messiah, his mother and ‘Uzair, and also regarding every prophet or righteous person. In addition, Ibn Mas’ud (may Allah be pleased with him) said that it was revealed regarding human beings who would worship individuals from the Jinn. The Jinn embraced Islam but those humans kept worshipping them.

In short, it was revealed regarding righteous persons and prophets, as Allah declared those who worship them to be disbelievers and informed that they have neither the power to remove adversity from those who worship them, nor to shift it from them to other persons.

Allah (Exalted be He) says: “Such is Allâh, your Lord; His is the kingdom. And those, whom you invoke or call upon instead of Him, own not even a Qitmîr (the thin membrane over the date-stone). If you invoke (or call upon) them, they hear not your call; and if (in case) they were to hear, they could not grant it (your request) to you. And on the Day of Resurrection, they will disown your worshipping them.” [Fatir: 13-14]

Hence, Allah described their invocation as Shirk although they invoked them only because they thought them to be intercessors, and not because they believed they had the power to remove adversity, bring a benefit, create, or sustain anything. Rather, Allah (Exalted be He) relates about them that they admittedly said: “We worship them only that they may bring us near to Allâh.” [Al-Zumar: 3] And: “These are our intercessors with Allâh.” [Yunus: 18] Yet, Allah declared them to be disbelievers because of such worship, even though they believed only that they (those worshipped) were intercessors and were close to Allah, without alleging that they could create, sustain, benefit, or harm.

Furthermore, Allah (Exalted be He) says: “And whoever invokes (or worships), besides Allâh, any other ilâh (god), of whom he has no proof; then his reckoning is only with his Lord. Surely! Al-Kâfirûn (the disbelievers in Allâh and in the Oneness of Allâh, polytheists, pagans, idolaters) will not be successful.” [Al-Mu’minun: 117] Thus, He (Exalted be He) called them disbelievers even though they worshipped them not because they could benefit, harm, or independently bring benefit or remove harm, or create, but because they - such worshippers alleged - could bring them nearer to Allah and intercede with Him on their behalf.

Allah (Glorified and Exalted be He) says: “And who is more astray than one who calls on (invokes) besides Allâh, such as will not answer him till the Day of Resurrection, and who are (even) unaware of their calls (invocations) to them? And when mankind are gathered (on the Day of Resurrection), they (false deities) will become their enemies and will deny their worshipping.” [Al-Ahqaf: 5-6] This generally applies to prophets, righteous persons, and others.

It means that all scholars have unanimously agreed that whoever worships other than Allah (Exalted be He), whether it is an idol, a prophet, a righteous person, a jinni or anything else, is a disbeliever, even if the worshipped being is a prophet or a righteous person. Indeed, this unanimity covers all scholars, and the evidence of this (judgment) from the Words of Allah (Glorified and Exalted be He) and His Prophet (peace be upon him) are manifest, some of which are mentioned above. Allah (Glorified and Exalted be He) is undoubtedly the Guide to success.

Question: What about the questioner’s saying that such worshippers claimed that they worshipped them only to bring them near to Allah, thus acknowledging their worship of them, while the latter (group) claimed that they did not worship them but only sought their blessings? 2


Consideration is given to facts and meaning and not to words. Thus, if they say that they do not worship them but rather seek their blessings, it would not avail them as long as they perform the practices of the Mushriks preceding them, even if they do not call it worship (as they call it seeking their intercession or blessings). Seeking other than Allah and invoking the dead, the prophets, and the righteous, and offering sacrifices to them, prostrating to or calling for their help - are all acts of worship, even if they call it service or anything else, since what count are facts and not names, as explained above.

An example of this is the saying of the group who went out with the Prophet (peace be upon him) to Hunayn, when they saw the Mushriks hanging their weapons on a lotus tree (which they believed to bring blessings): “O Messenger of Allah, assign for us a Dhat Anwat (something like that tree) as they (the disbelievers) have a Dhat Anwat.” In response, the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “Allah is the Greatest! By the One in Whose Hand is my soul, you have said exactly as the Children of Israel said to Musa (Moses), ‘Make for us a god as they have gods.’3

Thus, the Prophet (peace be upon him) regarded the two statements equal to each other even though the latter said: “Assign for us a Dhat Anwat”, comparing their saying to that of the Children of Israel, since what counts is the meaning and essence, not just the words.

  1. Fatawa Shaykh Ibn Baz p.3/136 

  2. Fatawa Shaykh Ibn Baz p.3/139 

  3. Al-Tirmidhi, Sunan, Book on trials, no. 2180; and Ahmad ibn Hanbal, Musnad, vol. 5, p. 218.