Another very large group of people comprises those ignorant and foolish people who indulge in the curse of polytheism. They ascribe partners to Allah-SWT in His-SWT Attributes, or else obey others than Allah the way only He-SWT deserves to be obeyed. These were the three groups who did not accept the faith: the Jewish scholars and the Christians, the hypocrites who claimed to having embraced Islam but in their hearts they had not, and the polytheists of Makkah and Arabia. The population of the world could at that time and can still be divided into these three categories on the basis of religion. The darkness of the modern age has given birth to a fourth group of atheists, who outrightly deny the very existence of Allah-SWT . On one hand Allah-SWT Commands that justice must be upheld in the society, and on the other, He-SWT highlights the administrative framework for its security. At the same time, He-SWT has enjoined Jihad. He-SWT then addresses the questions about the rules of Jihad, and identifies the types of people against whom it must be waged.
In this context, the hypocrites are exposed first, who claim to be Muslims but shirk away from Jihad. The argument now moves on to non-believers and polytheists. Polytheism is such a grave sin that the one who breathes his last as a polytheist, will never be pardoned. Other than it, even if a person commits the severest of offences and dies without repenting, there is still hope that Allah-SWT's Mercy will cover him and he may be forgiven, for His-SWT Mercy knows no bounds. But the one who dies as a polytheist without repenting shall never be forgiven. He shall dwell in Hell forever, as belief is eternal and permanent. Whoever willingly adopts disbelief and polytheism as his way of life and prefers to live his whole life by it shall be punished eternally for he has indeed chosen a very wrong path and has drifted grossly away from the truth.
The Forms of Polytheism
There are many kinds of polytheism.
(1) The first kind is that when patrons are ascribed to the very Being of Allah-SWT , or when one believes and worships two or three deities or gods. This form of polytheism is not very common except in Christians, who believe in the trinity-in-unity and unity-in-trinity. Or the Shi’ites sect 'Haluliah', who believe in the transmigration or incarnation of Rabb into their Imam or leader. The Ismailies are also a branch of the Haluliah Sect.
(2) The second form of polytheism is the development of such feeling, which leads to idealize certain creations. Although such revered entities are not taken as god, but as specially privileged by Allah-SWT who can do as they please. It is believed that if they are pleased with someone and ask Allah-SWT for a favour, He never refuses, or that Allah-SWT has delegated them the authority to run the world. This is the status the Hindus typically attribute to their deities. In the Shi’ites, the sect Mafoodha also has similar beliefs. That is why they work so hard on satisfying T'azia (religious monument) as if it will intercede on their behalf before Allah-SWT .
(3) The third and the most lethal form of polytheism is when a person starts to idolize one's own self. Such a person exerts all his energies on the fulfillment of his desires even if it clashes with the Commands of Allah-SWT . He ignores the limits set by Allah-SWT on what is lawful and what is not permissible, and spends money only for fame and the satisfaction of his ego. He contests elections, offers Salat, observes fast, does good or bad deeds only for the satisfaction of personal desires. It is for such people that the Quran has said that they have made their vain desires their Rabb. May Allah-SWT protect us against this, as it is very difficult to diagnose! If, Allah-SWT forbid, one dies on such polytheism, there is no hope for salvation. Once the signs and symptoms of death begin to set in and scenes from the Hereafter are unveiled, the time to repent over disbelief and polytheism is gone although for a Muslim there is yet time for repenting over sins. Allah-SWT points out the sheer ignorance of polytheists, who make and worship idols of goddesses and call out to them in their hour of need. They even declare the Angels to be daughters of Allah-SWT . To worship in fact means to obey someone believing in him or her as a benefactor or a deliverer from sufferings or harm. A true servant of Allah-SWT will never dare to prove his own worth opposing Allah-SWT . He will only try to convey the Message of Allah-SWT and His-SWT Prophet-SW . Obeying such a person will amount to Allah-SWT ’s worship. But if someone preaches beliefs, which clash with Allah-SWT's Commands, those who obey such a person in Allah-SWT's defiance will be expelled from Islam. Similarly, calling someone or something for help believing it to be Allah-SWT's equal, vowing before such deities; begging or crying before them, whether such deities have a tangible existence or are imaginary, amounts to disbelief, polytheism, and worshiping others than Allah-SWT .
The people of Makkah did not even consider women as human beings, and treated them as mere objects of amusement. They could not even imagine that a woman could run her household. If some rich women in Makkah were running the business that too was done under the guidance of elderly male relatives and through male servants. Such cases were very rare since mostly the widows were divided alongwith the inheritance of the deceased. Allah-SWT asks how can these people who do not even deem women worthy of managing a household believe them to be capable of running the entire universe, and make idols with feminine names to worship! Indeed these are all tricks of the Satan. Whenever one worships entities other than Allah-SWT , no matter with what name they are called, he in fact calls out only to Satan. The polytheists too, call out to the rebel Satan who was accursed because of his disobedience to Allah-SWT . When he was being reproached he vowed: I have been punished for not accepting the greatness of man, but I will make him accept my superiority. I will lead them astray and take away a considerable amount of their good deeds. I will remind them of engagements at the time of Salat; I will intimidate them away from paying Zakat by awakening in them the fear of poverty; I will make them abstain from Jihad by instilling in their hearts greed and avarice for wealth, power and fame and mislead them. I will keep them in false hopes, and they will slit the ears of camels and other animals dedicating to their gods and goddesses. They will alter the appearance given by Allah-SWT , for instance women cutting their hair, eyebrows or dressing up like men, and the men shaving off their beards or keeping long hair and dressing up like women. All this is not allowed and the Holy Prophet'-SW has cursed such people. It must be remembered that beautification and make up is allowed to women but altering their outlook by cutting their hair or dressing up is not permitted. The above actions are a result of friendship with Satan. If someone strays further away, it is very unfortunate indeed. Whoever so befriends Satan indeed forsakes Allah-SWT , for it is impossible to maintain friendship with both simultaneously. Whoever trusts Satan's friendship and forgets Allah has indeed wronged himself grievously. Satan will keep on making false promises to such people invoking high hopes. Since there is no truth in any of his promises, he will ultimately lead people to Hell, from where there is no escape. Compared to who have been blessed with faith and their deeds bear witness to it: the relationship between faith and actions is the same as that between a claim and the witness. Faith is a claim and actions are the witness. The righteousness of deeds determines the validity of faith, and only that deed can be considered virtuous which is in accordance with the teachings of the Holy Prophet.-SW Such people will be admitted to the Gardens beneath which streams flow. In this world gardens are planted keeping in mind the supply of water, but the Gardens of Eden have their own principles. These Gardens dictate the availability of streams or irrigation water. These people will live in the Paradise forever; not a single person admitted there will ever fear expulsion. This is Allah-SWT's Promise, which is even true. The promises made by Satan are a sham whereas Allah-SWT ’s promise is true and will stand forever; and who can be more truthful than Allah-SWT ? It is important to note that mere affiliation to any religion is not enough for one's salvation, like the People of the Book hope that they shall be forgiven for being People of the Book. This is definitely not the case. Whoever errs shall have to face the music, and no one can save him from the retribution but Allah-SWT as there can be no other helper!
It would be relevant to quote here the explanation of a Hadith. At the revelation of this Ayah, the Companions"-RAU felt awfully alarmed, so much so that Hadhrat Abu Bakr-RAU was seen walking with his hands on his back. The Holy Prophet"-SW inquired what the matter was. He replied that this Ayah had broken his back, for none is so pure as not to make any mistakes, which meant that no one could escape Hell. The Holy Prophet"-SW said that this Ayah does not pronounce the punishment of condemnation to Hell for all that is apportioned for the non-believers only. For the believer, whenever he falls ill or faces hardships in life, even if a thorn pricks his foot, it serves as an atonement for his mistakes and a compensation for his punishment. Hadhrat 'Ayeshah Siddiqah-RAU says that when a believer searches for something in his pocket, does not find it, gets worried and looks for it in the other pocket and finds it, the ordeal that he goes through serves as an atonement for his mistakes.
What is Piety?
First of all the adherence to Shari'ah is binding on both man and woman. Although certain obligations and their fulfillment varies due to some reasons, but there is no difference in the accountability before Allah-SWT for either sex. The rewards and punishments are unaffected by gender. Except Prophethood, any level of excellence, which can be attained by a man is also attainable by a woman. A person's greatest achievement is the Companionship of the Holy Prophet-SW just as men became Companions''-RAU women, too, acquired that title. There is no office or status of Suluk which is forbidden for women. Yes there is only one condition: whether man or woman, they must do noble deeds as taught by the Holy Prophet-SW , with the right beliefs. Rituals and customs must not be given the status of Din. Only that which can be traced back to Holy Prophet"-SW should be acceptable, in beliefs and in practical life. Such men and women who strive in the right direction shall be admitted to Paradise. Not even a speck of their endeavors shall be wasted and they shall be rewarded many times more than their struggle.
What is the Excellence of Din?
The beauty and excellence of Din is to submit willingly to whatever Allah-SWT has said, which means to work hard for practically adopting the conduct which is necessary for Allah-SWT's obedience. One should struggle in this pursuit and should bear all hardships courageously. This is as far as the outward appearance of Allah-SWT ’s obedience is concerned, while deep inside too, he should be extremely sincere and his heart must be overflowing with purity. This state has been defined by the Holy Prophet"-SW in Hadith-e-Ehsan, in which it is said that one should worship Allah-SWT as if one is seeing Him-SWT , and if this level is not attained one should at least believe that Allah-SWT is seeing him. This is the very foundation of Suluk. As long as the heart of a person, man or a woman, does not remember Allah-SWT continuously and does not receive spiritual attention and Divine Lights, it can never accompany him or her in worship. Rather, the heart remains entangled in the market in the business or in thoughts of friends. To behold Allah-SWT or achieve the feeling that He-SWT is seeing the worshipper is out of question in such a situation.
Thus the excellence of a person's faith is that he acts righteously. Before the Holy Prophet-SW was sent as Allah-SWT's Messenger-SW
,the righteousness of the people of the Book meant the obedience of Hadhrat Musa-AS. Nevertheless, the innovations which they introduced in their religion amounted to blatant disobedience; and, therefore, could not be termed as righteous. The standard of excellence of one's faith is that the actions are in accordance with Sunnah, and are backed by sincere devotion of heart. Keeping this standard in mind, everyone of us can determine the beauty of his deeds. Din is the name of People of Ibrahim-AS who were absolutely straight. The meaning of Millat-e-Ibrahim-AS has thus been clearly described here which means to tread the path of righteousness as unwaveringly as Hadhrat Ibrahim”-AS did, who was the most upright, devoted and sincere servant of Allah-SWT . He-SWT surrendered his entire self to Allah-SWT , was obedient to Him-SWT and never even tried to question orders he received from Allah-SWT . Thus the excellence of Islam means to strive in action, with sincerity of the heart and to submit totally like Hadhrat lbrahim-AS did. That is why Allah-SWT chose him as His-SWT friend and gave him the title of Khalil (close friend).
Whatever, lies between the heavens and the earth belongs to Allah-SWT , but choosing someone personally and making him special is altogether a different matter. Allah-SWT encompasses the whole universe except for His-SWT Own Self, whereas this earth and the heavens are an infinitely small fraction of the universe.