Allah (swt) says:
''And of Humankind are some who take (in obedience), others besides Allah (swt) as rivals (Andaad); they love them as they love Allah (swt). When those who are followed disown those who followed them, and they see their torment. And all their relations will be cut off from them. And those who followed will say, 'If only we had one more chance to return (to the worldly life), we would disown them as they have disowned us'. Thus Allah (swt) will show their deeds as regret for them. And they will never be able to get out of the Fire'' [ Surah al-Baqarah 165-167]
On the authority of Imam Bukhhari, 'Abdullah (ra) narrated: ''A man said, 'O Allah's Messenger! Which is the greatest sin in Allah's (swt) sight?' The Prophet (saw) said, 'To set up a rival unto Allah though He alone created you.' The man said, 'What is next?' The Prophet (saw) said, 'To kill your son lest he should share your food with you.' The man said, 'What is next?' The Prophet (saw) said, 'To commit illegal intercourse with your neighbour's wife'. ''
Despite such a severe chastisement, there are many people who insist on taking rivals (Andaad) to Allah (swt). Such people do not necessarily reject Allah (swt), for these verses do not state that they actually worship them as they worship Allah (swt). Rather these verses state that these people love the Andaad as they love Allah (swt). Therefore such people could believe in Allah (swt) or disbelieve in Him (swt). The mufasiroon (Qur'anic commentators) elaborated the nature of these rivals. The Andaad are described as humans. Assadi says,
''The rivals are people or men whom they obey as they obey Allah (swt), even they obey them whilst disobeying Allah (swt)''.
Fath al-Qadeer says, ''The rivals here are the leaders''.
So, Andaad are humans, for the reference to 'love' is in the context of humans, not idols. This is further clarified by the fact that the Andaad will dissociate themselves from their followers on the Day of Judgement, which is not possible for idols.
It is to be expected that the disbelievers will love others besides Allah (swt). For example, the Christians love 'Isa (as) as they love Allah. In fact they refer to 'Isa (as) with more emphasis and reverence than Allah (swt). The munafiqoon (hypocrites) are also guilty of this crime. For they hide Kufr in their hearts, whilst pretending to be Muslim. They love and continue to obey human rivals more than they obey Allah (swt).
It is the true believer alone that loves Allah (swt) without any partner. Love which is real love, together with respect, obedience, supplication to Him (swt) and tawakkul (dependence) on Him (swt) and Him (swt) alone. However today many Muslims, whilst believing in Allah (swt), set up rivals in love to Him (swt), such as the present rulers in Islamic Lands or parties or 'sheikhs'. They obey them even though their commands are against the commands of Allah (swt).
So when these rivals act against the order of Allah (swt), they will defend their actions rather than accounting them. Furthermore they will try to prevent others from accounting them, saying, ''He is our leader'' or ''He is our Sheikh''.
Allaah (swt) has likened it to following another God besides Allaah (swt) i.e. Shirk (the association of partners with Allaah). Allaah (swt) has said,
'They took their Rabbis and their Monks to be their Lords and Legislators besides Allaah (swt) ' [9:30-31]
Although we know that the Jews and Christians do not prostrate, nor bow down to their priests or rabbis, they followed them and agreed with them when matters that Allaah (swt) had declared forbidden, they would declare allowed; and matters declared allowed, their priests would declare forbidden?
In fact the above ayah was revealed in the following circumstances. It has been reported by Hudhayfah in Ahmad, Tirmidhi and Ibn Jareer that the Messenger Muhammad (saw) was reciting the above verse and Udayy (ra) said to Him (saw),
'Oh Rasool Allaah, they do not worship the Rabbis and the Monks' .
To which He (saw) replied: 'The Rabbis and Monks make that which is lawful unlawful and that which is unlawful lawful and they i.e. the people, follow them, and by doing so they worship them'
Our discussions should focus on ISSUES that we face, and how to understand these issues from the Islamic perspective. Once you bring the name of a group, or a particular figurehead, then loyalties will be strengthened, people will begin to discuss based on their loyalties, they will insult those who threaten or undermine their loyalty, and we can forget about having an objective discussion based on Islam.
More importantly, we must stick to the Qur'an and the Sunnah, because that is our reference point. Even if we work with a group, our loyalty remains to the Islamic text (the Qur'an and the Sunnah) and not to the group. The purpose of the group is to discharge an Islamic obligation (or obligations); therefore, if the group goes in one direction, but the Islamic text points in another direction, we should follow what the text says.