In The Name of Allaah, The Most Merciful, The Bestower of Mercy.
Allaah [The Most High] says:
وَإِلَـٰهُكُمۡ إِلَـٰهٌ۬ وَٲحِدٌ۬ۖ لَّآ إِلَـٰهَ إِلَّا هُوَ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنُ ٱلرَّحِيمُ
And your Ilah (God) is One Ilah (God – Allah), La ilaha illa Huwa (there is none who has the right to be worshipped but He), the Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful. [Surah Al-Baqarah Ayah 163]
Allaah [The Most High] informs (us) – and He is The Most Truthful- that He is The One True God; Meaning- Allaah alone is singled out in His Essence, in His Names and Attributes, and Actions. Neither does Allaah have a partner nor a co-equal; neither is anything [or anyone] similar to Allaah nor can there be any likeness to Allaah; neither is there a Creator [Who created and originated the universe] besides Allaah nor anyone who has absolute control over the affairs of the universe besides Allaah. Therefore, when this is the case, then Allaah alone has the right to be deified, and He alone has the right to be worshipped through all acts of Worship [i.e. the acts of worship He has ordained and commanded the Messenger Muhammad (sallal-laahu-alayhi-wasallam) to show us the manner in which they are to be performed].
And Allaah is The Most Beneficent, The Most Merciful – the One with tremendous mercy, whose Mercy has no similarity to that of anyone else, for indeed Allaah’s Mercy encompasses everything and is extended to every living thing. And due to His Mercy, the entire creation has been created; all types of virtue conferred on them and all types of calamities repelled from them. And due to His Mercy, He made Himself known to His creation by way of His Perfect Attributes and by way of the blessings He has bestowed on them. He clarified everything they need – in their religious and worldly affairs- through His Messengers and divine Books. Therefore, when it becomes manifest that all the things possessed by the slaves of Allaah [i.e. mankind and Jinn] are a blessing from Allaah and that none amongst His creation can benefit anyone else –[i.e. due to fact that Allaah alone is the source of all bounties, the one in control of everything in the universe, the one with perfect Names and Attributes, the Creator of everything]- then it also becomes manifest that Allaah alone has the right to be worshipped. Allaah alone has the right to be loved, feared, exalted, relied upon [in a manner in which no one else is to be loved, feared, exalted, relied upon etc] [Ref 1]
And the greatest type of all injustice and the most repugnant of all repugnant deeds is to turn away from worshipping Allaah alone, whilst worshipping His slaves – those whom Allaah [The Most High] created from soil; or worshipping a created thing that is dependent on other created beings or things, and turning away from worshipping Allaah alone – The Creator and Maker of Everything, The one who disposes all the affairs in the Universe; The Fully Able One, The One Perfect In Strength, The Invincible Subduer, and The Overwhelming Subduer, Who is never overcome. This Ayah [i.e. Ayah 163 Surah Al-Baqarah] establishes the Oneness of Allaah and His divinity, and that none amongst Allaah’s creatures [in the entire universe] is in possession of that.
Then in the ayah that follows [i.e. Ayah 164 Surah Al-Baqarah], Allaah [The Most High] gives more detail, saying:
إِنَّ فِى خَلۡقِ ٱلسَّمَـٰوَٲتِ وَٱلۡأَرۡضِ وَٱخۡتِلَـٰفِ ٱلَّيۡلِ وَٱلنَّهَارِ وَٱلۡفُلۡكِ ٱلَّتِى تَجۡرِى فِى ٱلۡبَحۡرِ بِمَا يَنفَعُ ٱلنَّاسَ وَمَآ أَنزَلَ ٱللَّهُ مِنَ ٱلسَّمَآءِ مِن مَّآءٍ۬ فَأَحۡيَا بِهِ ٱلۡأَرۡضَ بَعۡدَ مَوۡتِہَا وَبَثَّ فِيہَا مِن ڪُلِّ دَآبَّةٍ۬ وَتَصۡرِيفِ ٱلرِّيَـٰحِ وَٱلسَّحَابِ ٱلۡمُسَخَّرِ بَيۡنَ ٱلسَّمَآءِ وَٱلۡأَرۡضِ لَأَيَـٰتٍ۬ لِّقَوۡمٍ۬ يَعۡقِلُونَ
Verily! In the creation of the heavens and the earth, and in the alternation of night and day, and the ships which sail through the sea with that which is of use to mankind, and the water (rain) which Allah sends down from the sky and makes the earth alive therewith after its death, and the moving (living) creatures of all kinds that He has scattered therein, and in the veering of winds and clouds which are held between the sky and the earth, are indeed Ayat (proofs, evidences, signs, etc.) for people of understanding. [Ref 2]
[Ref 1] Love, Fear, Hope, Reliance are acts of worship. Imaam Muhammad Ibn Saaleh al-Uthaymeen (rahimahullaah) said: Ibn Katheer [rahimahullaah] said: “The creator of these things (i.e. the heavens, the earth, the night, the day, the sun, moon, stars etc) is the One Who deserves to be worshipped.” All the types of worship which Allaah commanded – like Islaam (submission and obedience to Allaah), Eemaan (true Belief comprising belief of the heart, speech of the tongue and action of the limbs), and ihsaan (perfection of worship), and from that is invocation/supplication (du’aa), reverential fear (khawf), hope and longing (rajaa), trust and reliance (tawakkul), fervent desire (raghbah), dread (rahbah), reverence and humility (khushoo’), awe (khashyah), turning repentantly (inaabah), appealing for aid and assistance (isti’aanah), seeking refuge (isti’aadhah), seeking deliverance and rescue (istighaathah), sacrificing (dhab), vows (nadhr) and the rest of the types of worship commanded by Allaah, all of them are to be done exclusively for Allaah, the Most High.
Love: Allaah (The Most High) said: [وَمِنَ النَّاسِ مَن يَتَّخِذُ مِن دُونِ اللّهِ أَندَاداً يُحِبُّونَهُمْ كَحُبِّ اللّهِ وَالَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ أَشَدُّ حُبًّا لِّلّهِ – And of mankind are some who take (for worship) others besides Allah as rivals (to Allah). They love them as they love Allah. But those who believe, love Allah more (than anything else). [2:165]
The (true) believers love Allaah more than the love that the idol worshippers have for the partners they associate with Allaah in worship. That is because they [believers] have a pure and sincere love for Allaah; as for the Mushrikoon, they associate partners to Allaah in worship out of the love they have for their false objects of worship. The believers love The One [Allaah] who deserves true love in reality, for true love of Allaah is the very thing upon which depends the rectification of a person, his happiness and success. As for the Mushrikoon, they love those who are not worthy of being given any love, rather having love for such things is the very reason behind wretchedness, corruption and loss. [source: Tayseer Al-Kareem Ar-Rahmaan Fee Tafseer Kalaam al-Mannaan’ by Imaam Sadi’ (rahimahullaah). Abridged & slightly paraphrased]
Fear: Fear is to be frightened and is a result of expecting something which will bring about destruction, harm or injury, and Allaah, the one free of all imperfections and the Most High, forbade having fear of the allies of the Satan, and He commanded fear of Himself alone. Fear is of three types: (i) Natural fear, such as a person’s fear of predatory animals, fire, or drowning. This is something for which a person is not to be blamed. Allaah, the Most High, said about Moosaa, “So he entered in the morning in Pharaoh’s city in a state of fear, awaiting events.” [Soorah al-Qasas (28): 18] However if this fear is, as mentioned by the author, a cause of his leaving an obligation or doing something forbidden, then it is forbidden. Since whatever causes an obligation to be abandoned, or causes something forbidden to be done is itself forbidden (haraam). The evidence here is the Saying of Allaah, the Most High, “So do not fear them, but fear Me and beware of disobeying Me, if you are truly Believers.” [Soorah Aal-‘Imraan (3):175] Furthermore fear of Allaah, the Most High, is sometimes something praiseworthy, and is sometimes something that is not praiseworthy. It is praiseworthy when it prevents you from being disobedient to Allaah, and causes you to fulfil the obligatory duties and to avoid what is forbidden. So if this goal is reached, then the heart settles and is at peace, and is dominated by joy at the blessings of Allaah and hope for His reward.
It is something that is not praiseworthy when it causes a person to despair of Allaah’s Mercy and to give up hope altogether. In such a case the person will give up and may continue in sin due to the fact that he totally gives up hope. (ii) Reverential fear, that he fears something and takes that as his religion. This is to be for Allaah, the Most High, alone. Directing such reverential fear to anyone other than Allaah, the Most High, is major shirk. (iii) Secret supernatural fear, such as fearing someone buried in a grave, or a person thought to be pious, who is far away and cannot affect him, yet still he has secret fear for him. This is also mentioned by the scholars as being a case of shirk. [Source: Explanation of the three fundamental principles’ by Shaikh Uthaymeen (rahimahullaah) and translated by Ustaadh Abu Talhah (may Allaah grant him and his wife Jannah. Aameen]
Hope: Hope and longing (ar-rajaa’) is that a person wishes for something that may be attained and is close, and it may be something that is far off but treated as being something close. This earnest hope which comprises humility and submission may not be directed except to Allaah, the Mighty and Majestic, and directing it to anyone other than Allaah, the Most High, is shirk. This shirk will either be lesser shirk or major shirk depending upon the state of the heart of the person in this case. The author uses as evidence the Saying of Allaah, the Most High, “So whoever hopes to see His Lord and be rewarded by Him, then let him make his worship correct and make it purely and sincerely for Him; and let him not make any share of it for anyone other than Him.” [Soorah al-Kahf (18):11O] ‘Hope’ which is praiseworthy is only that which is found in a person who acts in obedience to Allaah and hopes for reward from Him, or a person who repents from sin and hopes that his repentance is accepted. As for a person who hopes despite the fact that he does not act, then this is delusion and false hopes, and is something blameworthy. [Source: Explanation of the three fundamental principles’ by Shaikh Uthaymeen (rahimahullaah) and translated by Ustaadh Abu Talhah (may Allaah grant him and his wife Jannah. Aameen]
Reliance: Placing reliance upon something is to depend upon it; and placing reliance upon Allaah, the Most High, is to depend upon Allaah, the Most High, and to accept Him as being the One who suffices you in bringing whatever is beneficial to you and protecting you from whatever is harmful. This is from the completion of true Faith (eemaan) and is a sign of it, as He, the Most High, says, “And put your reliance and trust in Allaah if you are true Believers.” [Soorah al-Maa’idah (5):23] If the person is sincere in his reliance and trust in Allaah, the Most High, then Allaah, the Most High, will take care of whatever troubles or concerns him, as He, the Most High, says, “And whoever places his reliance and trust in Allaah then He will suffice him.” [Soorah at-Jalaaq (65):3]
Meaning that He will suffice him, then He sets the mind of the one who trusts in Him at rest with His Saying, “Allaah will certainly bring about whatever He has decreed.” [Soorah at-Talaaq (65):3] So nothing at all can prevent Him from whatever He wills. Furthermore it should be known that placing reliance and trust is of different types: (i) Trust and reliance upon Allaah, the Most High, is from the completion of eemaan, and one of the signs of its sincerity, it is obligatory since eemaan cannot be completed without it, and the proof has preceded. (ii) Secret trust and dependence, such that he depends upon someone deceased to bring him some benefit or remove some harm, this is major shirk. This is because it will not occur except from a person who believes that this deceased person has some hidden control over the creation. There is no difference in this matter whether the deceased is a prophet, a pious person, or an evil enemy of Allaah, the Most High, who is worshipped by the people. (iii) Placing reliance upon someone else in the affairs, whilst feeling that he himself is of a low standing and the one he depends upon is therefore of higher standing, for example that he depends upon him to bring him sustenance and the like, then this is a type of lesser shirk due to the strong connection his heart forms towards him and his dependence upon him. But if he merely relied upon him being certain that he is just a means, and that Allaah, the Most High, is the One Who alone has the power to bring that about in His Hand, then there is no harm in that, since the one on whom he places reliance does have an effect in causing it to occur. (iv) Relying upon someone else and allowing someone else to act on your behalf with regard to a matter where one is allowed to depute someone. This is something about which there is no harm, as shown by the evidence of the Book, the Sunnah and the consensus (ijmaa’). Ya’qoob said to his sons: “O my sons go back and seek news of Yoosuf and his brother.” [Soorah Yoosuf (12):87] Also the Prophet deputed men to take charge of collection and looking after the zakaat; he deputed people to establish and carry out the prescribed punishment; and deputed ‘Alee ibn Abee Taalib, radiyallaahu ‘anhu, to take charge of some of his sacrificial animals during the Farewell Pilgrimage, and to give their skins and covering sheets in charity, and to sacrifice the remainder of the hundred camels after he had sacrificed sixty three with his own hand. As for the consensus (ijmaa*) upon permissibility of this, then it is something known. [Source: Explanation of the three fundamental principles’ by Shaikh Uthaymeen (rahimahullaah) and translated by Ustaadh Abu Talhah (may Allaah grant him and his wife Jannah. Aameen]
[Ref 2: Excerpt from ‘Tayseer Al-Kareem Ar-Rahmaan Fee Tafseer Kalaam al-Mannaan’. slightly paraphrased]