Devoting our life and worship to God alone has been God's only one message to humanity that has been delivered through all His messengers and scriptures.
One God/One Message/One Religion [21:25] We did not send any messenger before you except with the inspiration: "There is no god except Me; you shall worship Me alone."
Idol worship (Shirk in Arabic), which defies the belief in and worship of God alone, is to consider an entity besides God as a source of guidance or laws; an entity besides God takes part or participates in issuing religious laws in addition to or instead of what God has issued for us. When our actions and choices are not entirely based on and conforming with the judgment of the Quran, we are instantly praising another idol and upholding another source hence our devotion to the One God shatters (14:30, 7:149 21:98). Another perspective of idol worship is when an entity or something consumes our mind so we become devoted worshipers to this entity or thing rather than God (3:191, 7:190, 13:33, 38:30-34).
The abomination of idol worship (22:30) is unforgivable and leads us to an eternal Hell since it represents a concrete opposition of God's monotheistic path decreed by Him.. Logically speaking, it nullifies all the righteous deeds. Why would righteous deeds be of any benefit to our souls if we are destined to Hell any way through polytheism? This explains the sufficient warnings by God against this practice.
Idol Worship Nullifies All Work [39:65] It has been revealed to you, and to those before you that if you ever commit idol worship, all your works will be nullified, and you will be with the losers.
The Unforgivable Sin [4:48] GOD does not forgive idolatry,* but He forgives lesser offenses for whomever He wills. Anyone who sets up idols beside GOD, has forged a horrendous offense.
God has defined and exposed the idol worshipers in the Quran through a detailed description of their behavior and confessions. In doing that, the Most Gracious has labeled and identified them as "idol worshipers", "disbelievers", and "dividers".
How do the idol worshipers perceive monotheism? Do they truly believe Quran is the ultimate truth? How do they behave, divide, and act towards the believers? We should heed the guidance in the following demonstrations. The idol worshipers CONFESS their idolatry in the following verses. Their behavior is unique. These are just a few of their characteristics. They speak for themselves:
The Greatest Criterion [39:45] When GOD ALONE is mentioned, the hearts of those who do not believe in the Hereafter shrink with aversion. But when others are mentioned beside Him, they become satisfied.
Quran: The ONLY Source [17:46] We place shields around their minds, to prevent them from understanding it, and deafness in their ears. And when you preach your Lord, using the Quran alone,* they run away in aversion.
The Idols as Mediators
A Common Myth [39:3] Absolutely, the religion shall be devoted to GOD alone. Those who set up idols beside Him say, "We idolize them only to bring us closer to GOD; for they are in a better position!" GOD will judge them regarding their disputes. GOD does not guide such liars, disbelievers.
[98:1] Those who disbelieved among the people of the scripture, as well as the idol worshipers, insist on their ways, despite the proof given to them.*
[45:7] Woe to every fabricator, guilty.
[45:8] The one who hears GOD's revelations recited to him, then insists arrogantly on his way, as if he never heard them. Promise him a painful retribution.
[45:9] When he learns anything about our revelations, he mocks them. These have incurred a shameful retribution.
[45:10] Awaiting them is Gehenna. Their earnings will not help them, nor the idols they had set up beside GOD. They have incurred a terrible retribution.
[4:60] Have you noted those who claim that they believe in what was revealed to you, and in what was revealed before you, then uphold the unjust laws of their idols? They were commanded to reject such laws. Indeed, it is the devil's wish to lead them far astray.
[30:31] You shall submit to Him, reverence Him, observe the Contact Prayers (Salat), and - whatever you do - do not ever fall into idol worship. [30:32] (Do not fall in idol worship,) like those who divide their religion into sects; each party rejoicing with what they have.
[7:70] They said, "Did you come to make us worship GOD alone, and abandon what our parents used to worship? We challenge you to bring the doom you threaten us with, if you are truthful."
[10:18] They worship beside GOD idols that possess no power to harm them or benefit them, and they say, "These are our intercessors at GOD!" Say, "Are you informing GOD of something He does not know in the heavens or the earth?" Be He glorified. He is the Most High; far above needing partners.
[2:105] Neither the disbelievers among the followers of the scripture, nor the idol worshipers, wish to see any blessings come down to you from your Lord. However, GOD showers His blessings upon whomever He chooses. GOD possesses infinite grace.
[3:186] You will certainly be tested, through your money and your lives, and you will hear from those who received the scripture, and from the idol worshipers, a lot of insult. If you steadfastly persevere and lead a righteous life, this will prove the strength of your faith.
Idol Worship: The Mother of All Evil [14:30] They set up rivals to rank with GOD and to divert others from His path. Say, "Enjoy for awhile; your final destiny is Hell."
Here is how God has labeled them and condemned them:
[9:28] O you who believe, the idol worshipers are polluted; they shall not be permitted to approach the Sacred Masjid after this year. If you fear loss of income, GOD will shower you with His provisions, in accordance with His will. GOD is Omniscient, Most Wise.
[5:60] Say, "Let me tell you who are worse in the sight of GOD: those who are condemned by GOD after incurring His wrath until He made them (as despicable as) monkeys and pigs, and the idol worshipers. These are far worse, and farther from the right path."
[98:6] Those who disbelieved among the people of the scripture, and the idol worshipers, have incurred the fire of Gehenna forever. They are the worst creatures.
[5:82] You will find that the worst enemies of the believers are the Jews and the idol worshipers. And you will find that the closest people in friendship to the believers are those who say, "We are Christian." This is because they have priests and monks among them, and they are not arrogant.
[22:30] Those who reverence the rites decreed by GOD have deserved a good reward at their Lord. All livestock is made lawful for your food, except for those specifically prohibited for you. You shall avoid the abomination of idol worship, and avoid bearing false witness.
[9:3] A proclamation is herein issued from GOD and His messenger to all the people on the great day of pilgrimage, that GOD has disowned the idol worshipers, and so did His messenger. Thus, if you repent, it would be better for you. But if you turn away, then know that you can never escape from GOD. Promise those who disbelieve a painful retribution.
Reflecting on all the above, it can be seen that idol worship is a threat for our salvation if maintained until death - there is not even a glimpse of hope. This is a serious matter. A matter of eternal bliss or eternal hell. The intelligent ones would analyze these details and heed the guidance. The ignorant ones, egoistically, would play with fire and jeopardize their destiny everyday without perceiving. On the day of Judgment, they will swear they were never idol worshipers ( 6:23 - Their disastrous response will be, "By GOD our Lord, we never were idol worshipers."* - *6:23 Now and forever, the idol worshipers vehemently deny that they are idolaters.). They will be disowned by God, His messengers, and all of their idols (9:3, 25:30, 2:165).
We can also see that the characterization and the label of "idol worshipers" that God has used in the Quran is for a wisdom that can not be ignored, questioned, or challenged. God has stated their CONFESSIONS whether they are utterances or typical behavioral patterns so we distinguish them in order to be able to apply certain verses and obey certain commands regarding them. Once confessions are made, and when we must judge in order to choose God's recommendations and support His truth, the claim that we are not to use the label of "idol worshipers" to pin point the idol worshiping proposals and views becomes trifling and worthless. In the following verse, the label is used by God for those who confess their idol worship, which is again a form of disbelief:
[9:17] The idol worshipers are not to frequent the masjids of GOD, while confessing their disbelief. These have nullified their works, and they will abide forever in Hell.
If we are not to take the idol worshipers as allies (3:28, 58:22) , we are to judge them based on their confessions, label them, and warn others against them. If we to disregard them (6:106, 15:94), we have to judge them based on their confessions, label them in order to disregard them. If we are not to worship with them (9:107-110), we must judge them based on their confessions, label them to refrain from worshiping with them. If we are to be stern with them (5:54), we have to judge them based on their confessions, label them to be stern with them. If we are not to marry from them (2:221), we have to judge them based on their confessions, label them and avoid marrying from them. If we are not supposed to ask God for their forgiveness (9:113) or stand on their graves (9:84), we have to judge them based on their confessions, label them, so we adhere to God's commands. More important, if we have to denounce and disown their proposals and promote the truth (9:3, 60:4-6), we have to judge them based on their confessions, label them to denounce their idol worshiping proposals.
In this sense, labeling is not a bad approach, bad behavior, or bad language as fabricated by some. It is an automatic step of judging, and dealing with the idol worshipers. It serves as a wake up call and a reminder. It is an essential procedure in validating the truth and disowning idolatry. Whether the idol worshipers are going through a permanent or temporary phase is irrelevant and a knowledge that belongs to God. What matters is that there is no other way around - they are, at certain moment, idol worshipers committing the act of idol worship, and would be labeled by God as that - there is no legitimacy in claiming that we shouldn't use the same label. All God's messengers denounced idol worshipers and their idol worshiping acts by identifying them as "idol worshipers". There is no other label for them.
Even though we are all born with the natural instinct of monotheism, keeping up with the straight path of monotheism is against our human egoistic and argumentative nature (12:106). We have no choice but to strive to kill any traces of idolatry within us, hoping to die on the straight monotheistic path (2:132, 3:102), promoting the only divine and authenticated truth, and denouncing all the idol worshiping acts proposed by idol worshipers.
[2:250] "Our Lord, grant us steadfastness, strengthen our foothold, and support us against the disbelieving people."
[3:8] "Our Lord, let not our hearts waver, now that You have guided us. Shower us with Your mercy; You are the Grantor.
[3:193] "Our Lord, we have heard a caller calling to faith and proclaiming: `You shall believe in your Lord,' and we have believed. Our Lord, forgive us our transgressions, remit our sins, and let us die as righteous believers.
Peaceful Friday, salaam, and God bless.