Allah forgiveth not (The sin of) joining other gods with Him; but He forgiveth whom He pleaseth other sins than this: one who joins other gods with Allah, Hath strayed far, far away (from the right).
(The Pagans), leaving Him, call but upon female deities: They call but upon satan the persistent rebel!
Allah did curse him, but he said: “I will take of Thy servants a portion Marked off;
“I will mislead them, and I will create in them false desires; I will order them to slit the ears of cattle, and to deface the (fair) nature created by Allah.” Whoever, forsaking Allah, takes satan for a friend, hath of a surety suffered a loss that is manifest.
Satan makes them promises, and creates in them false desires; but satan’s promises are nothing but deception.
They (his dupes) will have their dwelling in Hell, and from it they will find no way of escape
The first verse (116) (Surely, Allah does not forgive the ascribing of a partner to Him and forgives
anything short of that for whomsoever He wills …) has appeared
earlier (48) in Surah al-Nisa’ in the same words except for the words at
their ends. In verse 48 appearing earlier, the words at the end are: (And whoever ascribes a partner to Allah has
designed a great sin) while the words at the end of verse 116 before us
are: (And whoever ascribes a partner to Allah has indeed gone far astray). As explained by master exegetes, the reason for this difference is that the addressees of the earlier verse (48) were the Jewish people of the Book who knew all about the truth of
Tauhid (Allah’s oneness), the falsity of Shirk (ascribing of a partner to
Allah) and the veracity of the mission of the noble Prophet (S), through the Torah. Despite that, they got involved in Shirk. Thus,
through their own conduct, they pretended that it was the very
teaching of the Torah which is total forgery and false accusation. That is why it was said: ( … has designed a great sin) at the
end of verse 48. As for the verse before us (116), the addressees were the
pagans of Makkah who did not have the background of any Book or
Prophet before that time, but the rational arguments in support of the
Oneness of Allah were all too clear. Taking stones crafted with their
own hands as their objects of worship was something ineffectual, false
and erroneous even in the sight of someone with ordinary common sense. Therefore, here it was said: ( … has indeed gone far astray).
The eternal Punishment of Shirk and Kufr:
Some people express doubt at this point. They think that punishment should be proportionate to the deed. The crime of disbelieving
and of ascribing partners to Allah committed by the Kafir and the
Mushrik was comitted within the limited time frame of a given life.
Why would its punishment be limitless and permanent? The answer is
that the doer of Kufr and Shirk simply does not regard what he does as
crime. This is, on the contrary, taken as something good and proper,
worth one’s while. Therefore, his line of action is accompanied by his
firm intention that he will always be like that. Now, if such a Kafir or
Mushrik adheres to this position right through the last breath, he has
committed a permanent crime to the extent of his choice and volition,
therefore, the punishment for it has to be permanent.
There are three kinds of Zulm (injustice):
- That which Allah will never forgive.
- That which could be forgiven.
- That which meets retribution from Allah.
The first kind of injustice is Shirk, the ascribing of a partner to
Allah; the second kind of injustice is falling short in fulfilling the rights of Allah, known as Huququllah; and the third kind of injustice is the contravention of the rights of Allah’s created beings against each other, known as Huququl-‘Ibad. (Ibn Kathir vide Musnad Bazar)
What is the reality of Shirk?
To consider any created being other than Allah equal to Allah in
worship, or in love and reverence, is what Shirk really is. The Holy
Qur’an has reported the words of the disbelievers they shall utter on
arrival into the Jahannam:
By Allah, we were in obvious error when we had equated you
with Allah, the Lord of all the worlds. (26:97,98)
It is evident that even the polytheists did not believe that the idols
of their making were the Creator and the Master of the universe. It
was, rather, under other erroneous assumptions that they had taken
to regarding their idols equal to Allah in worship or in love and reverence. This was the Shirk which caused their being in Jahannam (Fath al-Mulhim).
In short , taking any created being as equal to Allah in His particular attributes – such as, the Creator, the Provider, the Absolute Master, the Knower of the Seen and the Unseen – is Shirk.
Shafi, Muhammad (2008). Maariful Quran. (Vol .2 surah 4 verse 116-121). English-MaarifulQuran-MuftiShafiUsmaniRA-Vol-2.pdf (islamicweblibrary.com)