|Sharaka is the Arabic verb 'to share' (he shared)
|Shirk means polytheism, or 'sharing the attributes of God with others'. As explained in detail in our definition of tawhid glossary entry, tawhid (monotheism) in Islam means that certain attributes and prerogatives apply only to Allah.
|It is for this reason that Islam views the Christian Trinity (Father, Son and Holy Ghost), which implies that Jesus has attributes of God, as polytheism. In addition, extreme interpretations (so-called neo-tawhid) see certain traditional Muslim practices as polytheistic innovation from the righteous path.
|A mushrik (plural mushrikin or mushrikeen) is a polytheist - one who shares the exclusive attributes of Allah with those other than Allah.
|Because Islam is a monotheistic religion, whose 'formula of faith' (shahada) is "There is no God but Allah and Muhammad is his Messenger", mushrik is almost a synonym for infidel (kaffir).
|Most Sunni Muslims through the ages have been cautious about condemning their fellow Muslims for shirk. A type of action or behaviour may abstractly be described as shirk, but a traditional Muslim who calls another Muslim a mushrik is pre-empting Allah's judgement and may therefore consider himself to be guilty of shirk. (An exception may apply when a highly qualified scholar passes judgement in a particularly egregious case). However, some radical scholars, particularly those who have drawn upon the legacy of Ibn Taymiyya, have become more willing to accuse fellow Muslims of shirk.
The author makes no claim to be a qualified religious scholar.
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Trevor Stanley, Definition: Sharaka - Shirk - Mushrik, Perspectives on World History and Current Events, July 2005. URL: http://www.pwhce.org/shirk.html Downloaded:
|Tawhid, takfir, Islamism, Ibn Taymiyya