To clarify the meaning of this testification: it means that one does not take a god besides Allah. A god is one who is obeyed, and not disobeyed, by way of awe, magnification, love, fear, hope, resilience, asking him, and supplicating to him. All of this is only allowed for Allah, Mighty and Magnificent. Whoever associates partners with Allah in any of these matters, which are all from the specificity of godhood, has sullied the sincerity with which he articulated the testification, and has dismissed his Tawhid. Such a person has worshipped an object of creation proportionately to the amount he has directed any of these affairs to him to it, and all of this is from the branches of shirk.
It is for this reason that many of the sins which violate any of the areas mentioned above have been referred to simply as ‘shirk‘ or ‘kufr‘ in many texts. The ahadith mention showing off, swearing by other than Allah, putting ones trust in other than Allah, equating Allah and another in will such as by saying, ‘Whatever Allah and you willed,’ or ‘All I have is Allah and you’; as being shirk. The same applies to those matters that sully Tawhid and the Oneness of Allah with regards to bringing about harm and benefit such as: seeking omens, reprehensible ruqya, and going to fortune tellers and believing what they say.
Moreover, following ones desires and thereby breaching the prohibitions of Allah also serves to sully and diminish Tawhid. It is for this reason that one find many sins that result from following desires being referred to as ‘shirk‘ and ‘kufr‘. Examples are: killing a Muslim, having conjugal relations with a woman in her rear passage, and drinking alcohol the fourth time; even though these sins do not serve to eject a person from the realm of Islam altogether. This is why the salaf would say when explaining these ahadith, ‘A kufr less than kufr‘ and ‘A shirk less than shirk‘.
Allah, Exalted is He, has called desires that are followed a god in His saying: “Have you seen him who takes his whims and desires to be his god…” (Surah al-Jathiyah 45:23) al-Hasan said, ‘This person who does whatever his soul desires, and follows whatever it lusts after. Neither scrupulousness nor taqwa prevent him from this.’
Another hadith mentions,
“The testification that ‘None has the right to be worshipped save Allah,’ continuously defends those who say it until they give preference to the world over the religion. When they do this, it will be rejected of them and it will be said to them, ‘You have lied’. (Recorded in Bazzar no.2944)
This is born testimony by the authentic hadith in which the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, said,
“May the servant of the dinar perish, may the servant of the dirham perish, may the servant of bordered silk clothes perish, may the servant of luxurious cloaks perish; may he perish and meet with failure, and if he is pricked with a thorn, may it never come out!” (Recorded in Bukhari no. 2877)
This proves that whoever loves something and follows it, making it his goal and objective, basing his allegiance and enmity on it, has worshipped it. Allah has also called the obedience of Shaytan in disobedience to Him, worship of him, “Did I not make a contract with you, tribe of Adam, not to worship Shaytan, who truly is an outright enemy to you?” (Surah Ya Sin 36:60)
Allah, Exalted is He, quotes His beloved Ibrahim as saying to his father, “Father, do not worship Shaytan. Shaytan was disobedient to the All-Merciful.” (Surah Maryam 19:44)
Whoever has not actualised the worship of the All-Merciful and His obedience will worship Shaytan through obeying him. A person cannot free himself of the worship of Shaytan except by making his worship sincere and wholly for the All-Merciful. The latter are the people about whom He said, “You have no authority over any of My slaves except for the misled who follow you.” (Surah al-Hijr 15:42)
These are the people who have actualised, ‘None has the right to be worshipped save Allah’: those who were sincere in articulating it and their deeds testified to the truth of their words. These are people who have not turned to any other besides Allah in their love, hope, fear, obedience and resilience. These are people who remained true to their testification: these are the true servants of Allah.
As regards the person who testifies that none has the right to be worshipped save Allah, a testimony of the tongue, but then obeys Shaytan and his desires in disobedience to Allah, his deeds prove the lie of his testimony and his Tawhid is diminished according to the extent of his sin. “And who could be further astray than someone who follows his whims and desires without any guidance from Allah?” (Surah al-Qasas 28:50) “…and do not follow your whims and desires, letting them misguide you from the way of Allah.” (Surah Sad 38:26)
So be a servant of Allah and do not be a servant to your desires for desires throw a person into the Fire, “…are many lords better, or Allah, the only One, the Conqueror?” (Surah Yusuf 12:39)
May the servant of the dirham perish! May the servant of the dinar perish! By Allah, none shall be saved from the punishments of Allah tomorrow except the one who actualises his servitude to Allah Alone and is not duped into following empty desires. Whoever knows that his God and object of worship is one, let him single out Him alone for worship and to associate anything in the worship of his Lord.
The Key to Paradise by Ibn Rajab Al-Hanbali p40-46