The two meanings of من دون الله min doonillah

The following taken from:

http://www.albaidha.net/vb/showthread.php?p=11157

من شرح كتاب التوحيد لفضيلة الشيخ صالح بن عبد العزيز آل الشيخ
لفظ (من دون الله) يكثر في القرآن والسنة، و(من دون الله) عند علماء التفسير وعلماء التحقيق يراد بها شيئان: الأول: أن تكون بمعنى (مع)، (من دون اللّهِ) يعني مع الله، وعبَّر عن المعية بلفظ (من دون اللّهِ) لأن كل من دُعِيَ مع الله فهو دون الله جل وعلا فهم دونه، والله جل وعلا هو الأكبر هو العظيم وفي هذا دليل على بشاعة عمله. والثاني: أن قوله (من دون اللّهِ) يعني غير الله؛ (من ماتَ وهوَ يَدعو من دون اللّهِ) يعني وهو يدعو إلـها غير الله، فتكون (من دون اللّهِ) يعني أنه لم يعبد الله وأشرك معه غيره؛ بل دعا غيره استقلالا، فشملت من دون الله الحالين: من دعا الله ودعا غيره، ومن دعا غير الله وتوجه إليه استقلالا

From the Explanation of Kitaabut Tawheed by the Honorable Scholar Saalih ibn Abdul Azeez Aalush Shaikh

 

The expression: “مِنْ دُوْنِ اللهِ” occurs many times in the Qur’an1 and the Sunnah.  And “مِنْ دُوْنِ اللهِ” according to the Scholars of Tafseer and the Scholars of Verification means two things:

 

Firstly, the meaning is with ( مَعَ ), ‘min doonillah’ means ‘along with Allah’. And it conveys the meaning of ‘with’ because everything which is worshiped along with Allah is worshiped beside Him – Mighty and Lofty is He – so they are (worshiped) along with Him.  And Allah – Lofty and Exalted is He – He is Greater (than all), He is the Most Great, and in this is a proof for the hideousness of worshiping others with Him.

 

Secondly: the expression ‘min doonillah’ means ‘other than’ Allah; “Whoever dies while he is worshiping other than Allah” – meaning: while he is worshiping someone or something as a god other than Him.  So ‘min doonillah’ may not mean that someone worshiped others along with Allah, rather that he worshiped other than Him instead of Him.  So ‘min doonillah’ includes two meanings:(1) one who worships Allah and also worships someone (or something) along with Him and (2) one who worships other than Allah instead of Him. 

1Examples of a fewverses from the Quran: 2:23, 107, 165; 3:64,79; 5:76, 116

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