Shirk: to set up or accept an authority equal or to rival God;

to make or accept laws, decrees or doctrines as equal to the Quran.

Mushrik (singular), mushrikeen (plural): those who commit shirk.


God is the One who created and directed the laws of the universe, and He is sustainer of the heavens and the earth and all that is between. He is the sovereign and needs no partner or ally in His domain. He is over and above all that they ascribe to Him and ultimately all will be held accountable to Him.


Once this statement has been accepted, it becomes insupportable to accept any other authority as equal or to rival God. Of course, this does not mean that there can be no other authority besides Him; we need governments and administrators to implement and enforce the laws and values that God has given us. Also, we need legislators to make by-laws, within the parameters of the Quranic injunctions, to suit the needs and situations of the time.


While sovereignty of nations can be, and is often, shared, as in the United Nations, European Union etc. and in dealings amongst such organisations, and under other situations that require cooperation. However, God’s sovereignty cannot be shared under any circumstances.[1] We therefore should not assent to or accept any laws that conflict with Quranic decrees as given by God, the Sovereign lawmaker. Should we do this, then we would commit shirk: high treason; the unforgivable offence. Not only this, the Quran states that mushrikeen who actively fight against muslims and Deen-Islam should be killed. Why is this?


Are mushrikeen idol worshippers?


First we need to understand the meaning of ‘mushrik’. To translate the word ‘mushrikeen’ (plural of mushrik) as idol-worshippers or polytheists is like calling a gang of marauding Vikings a group of beach revellers. A mushrik is a person who commits ‘shirk’, the act of giving someone (or a body) authority to equal or to compete with God. This also means obeying the laws and values that conflict with the laws of God as enshrined in the Quran. People generally label polytheists, idolaters or pagans as mushrikeen, but this is not entirely correct. Anyone who accepts any law or value that is in conflict with God’s law is a mushrik, such as those who give equal authority to others as God which is the same as associating partners with God. Also those who accept others as lawgivers; those who attempt to seize a share in God’s sovereignty such as legislators, leaders, priests etc. who make laws in contradiction to God’s laws are mushrikeen. In fact, any person who threatens the peace and security of muslims, is a mushrik. A mushrik is an active enemy, a traitor, and a person who commits high treason. And what happened to such traitors in Britain?


Under the law of the United Kingdom, high treason is the crime of disloyalty to the crown. Offences constituting high treason include plotting the murder of the sovereign; committing adultery with the sovereign’s consort, with the sovereign’s eldest unmarried daughter, or with the wife of the heir to the throne; levying war against the sovereign and adhering to the sovereign’s enemies, giving them aid or comfort; and attempting to undermine the lawfully established line of succession. Several other crimes have historically been categorised as high treason, including counterfeiting money and being a Catholic priest. High treason is today often referred to simply as treason. Considered to be the most serious of offences, high treason was often met with extraordinary punishment, because it threatened the security of the state. Hanging, drawing and quartering was often employed. The last treason trial was that of William Joyce, who was executed in 1946.


Traitors may no longer be hanged, but 1946 was not exactly a million years ago. In fact, it’s recent history. Under English law even someone having sex with the King’s wife or the wife of the heir was considered to be treason and could be killed. Giving help of any sort to the enemy of the Crown is treason; giving them comfort is treason; being a Catholic priest was treasonous – and treason was punishable by death: being hanged, drawn and quartered. So why is it considered strange when the Quran advocates that people actively fighting against the muslims, those threatening their peace and security, should be killed? Why is it thought too brutal when muslims are commanded to kill traitors (the mushrikeen) acting against God and His just laws?


Even today English law does not require its leaders to wait for an attack before retaliating. In fact, controversially in September 2015, British Prime Minister David Cameron authorised the killing of two British men in Syria who the government believed were a threat to the United Kingdom. All this was carried out without any due legal process.


Also in 1985, in Philadelphia USA, the police (presumably with government authorisation) bombed a house inhabited by an African American liberation group. They destroyed the area devastating the lives of 250 people, killing 11, including 5 children. All because they were believed to be a threat. What threat the children could have posed is still an unanswered question.


Every community and every nation defends itself against those who threaten their way of life, but it is in the Quran that aggression is forbidden and justice advocated.[2]


The exposition of verses 9:5-6 gives a clear picture of the position that should be taken in order to bring about peace and security:


“Once the restricted months of the treaty are over and the mushrikeen still refuse to make peace, you may slay them wherever you encounter them; overcome and punish them and watch them carefully at every place. If they repent and observe their agreed commitments and keep them pure, then you shall give them freedom to move around. God is Protector, Most Merciful. If any of these seek help from you, you shall protect them, so that they can hear the guidance of God, then send them back to their place of safety. That is because they are people who do not know.”

Verses 9:5-6. Read verses 9:1-7 for a more complete picture.


The killing and the besieging is only of mushrikeen who are enemies, traitors and actively fighting against muslims. The Quran advocates protection and safe passage for the mushrikeen who seek help, and there is not a hint of forced conversion to be a muslim. Simply, because Islam is a social order, people living under it would be subject to the laws of that system, that is, the laws of God as stated in the Quran. Anyone who commits treachery would be dealt with appropriately, as they would be in any country.


Deen-Islam is established for the peace and security of people and those who, like the mushrikeen, cause displacement by creating fear and turmoil, must be punished, as would happen in any law-abiding country with the will and the power to enforce their laws.


It is a duty of muslims to apply and enforce God’s law – as found in the Quran – and not according to the priest or politician, or those who legislate for their own self-interest. However, this should be done by consensus: elect people into administration who apply God’s law and are prepared to implement it and live and act according to it.



Freedom of belief is a right of every individual.Apostasy is to abandon one’s faith or religion. Since Islam is not a religion there is no punishment for apostasy described in the Quran, instead God states that He will not protect nor guide the people who disbelieve after believing. Those who abandon or revert from God’s guidance and accept an authority to rival God are traitors (Arabic: mushrik, mushrikeen). People who are not guided are already on the road to turmoil and will face retribution through God’s ordinance. Freedom of belief is a right of every individual, and God allows this. Muslims are instructed to be tolerant and understanding. See verses 2:217; 4:137; 9:6; 13:40; 16:125; 18:29; 41:34; 60:8; 73:10.


[1]Some people erroneously consider man as ‘God’s representative on Earth’ – see verse and footnote 2:30.

[2]When interviewed by Emily Maitlis on BBC’s Newsnight and talking about the insurgent group ISIS. Gen John Allen said: ‘We should attack ISIS wherever we find it’. General John Allen, was a commander of US forces in Afghanistan and President Obama’s special envoy to the counter-ISIS coalition. (February 2016).