Ilah is that which the heart is bound by love. Meaning an object which the hearts are bound to with such; love, fear, hope, tawakkul, help, pray, sacrifice, votive, prostration and with all hidden types of ibadah. Ilah means ma’luh meaning mabud- the one who is worshipped. All linguistic scholars described the meaning of ilah in such manner.
The Ulama of the tafsir, hadith and fiqh interpreted the word Ilah as mabud. But some people of kalam interpreted the term ilah just as the one who only is able to contrive and create; this is a great error and a huge mistake. Anyone, who thinks somewhat about it, will immediately understand that this is batil (reasoning). The individual, who maintains such a thing, seems that he does not have notion, of what Allah Almighty says in His book about the Mushrikun and that the Arab Mushrikun were Mushrik, although they said that Allah Almighty has power to invent and to create.
Abu Abbas said: ‘Ilah does not only mean that, the one who possesses to invent and to create’. The ahlu’l-kalam believed that uluhiyyah is only to have power to invent things.’ Whereas this is also accepted by the Mushrikun. Thus Allah Almighty commands:
“Say: To whom belong the earth and all beings therein? (say) if ye know!’ They will say, ‘To Allah’!” ( Muminun 23:84-85)
“If thou ask them, who it is that created the heavens and the earth. They will certainly say, ‘Allah’.” ( Luqman 31:25)
“And most of them believe not in Allah without associating (other as partners) with Him!” ( Yusuf 12:106)
Ibn Abbas said: ‘If you ask them, ‘Who created the sky and the earth?’ They answer: ‘Allah!’; however they still pray to others beside Allah Almighty.’
This is something that is accepted absolutely by everyone. But those, who commit the major of the sins which Allah Almighty had informed of never being forgiven; shirk, will not be considered to be saved by the fact that they accept this. It is because at the same time all the forms of ibadah have to be directed solely to Allah. Only then the deen is, all alone for Allah Almighty. In the Qur’an it is completely and openly explained, what the word ilah means.
Allah The Glorious said:
“Behold! Ibrahim said to his father and his people: ‘I do indeed clear myself of what ye worship. (I worship) only Him Who made me, and He will certainly guide me.’ And he left it as a Word to endure among those who came after him, that they may turn back (to Allah).” (Zukhruf 43:26-28)
The scholars of tafsir said: ‘a Word to endure’ here is ‘IlahaillaAllah’ which is the statement of the kalimat tawhid. This word becomes an eternal word after Ibrahim (peace and blessings be upon him) in his descendants.’
Qatada said: ‘Those, who are from his descendants even today makes tawhid in ibadah to Allah. ‘a Word to endure’ which is mentioned here is used for informing the following; befriending only Allah Almighty and keeping distant from others. Befriending Allah Almighty can only be by directing all the ibadah solely to Him and cutting all the connections and relationships off with all other idols which are worshipped other than Him. So ‘this word’ will constantly continue among the descendants of Ibrahim (peace and blessings be upon him). The prophets (peace be upon them) and those, who follow them, carry this word on as inheritance.
Shirk is prescribed as haraam, because it is ugly. It is because (in shirk) there is insult to Allah Almighty, attributing errors to Him The Most High and comparing Him with His creatures.
This matter of truth must never be forgotten from one’s mind: Whoever performs love, reverence, honor, fear, hope, dua, tawakkul, sacrifice, votive and similar ibadah to someone else than Allah Almighty; or someone else beside Allah the Most High; will associate that person as partner to Allah and make him ilah to himself. No matter what name he gives it, he is a mushrik.
Everyone with a sound mind will know that by changing the name of something it does not change that something. For example if people give other names to zina (fornication), riba (interest), khamr (drink); this so-called names will not change the fact that it is still zina, riba or khamr. The only difference is the names.
Even RasulAllah (peace be upon him) said: A group from my ummah will try to give the name trade to riba, and a different name for khamr to make it halaal. RasulAllah (peace be upon him) blamed them for this reason. If the judgment were only over the names of these things, and not the reality of it then this blame would be meaningless. So this is one of the traps, which the shaytan has been trying to set up for humankind since the beginning. Shaytan presents shirk not as shirk, but such as things; as respect to the salih (righteous), tawassul, expecting shafaa and (with this) fools mankind.
It is only Allah Amlighty that leads to the right path.