Question: It is said that the early Mushriks (those who associate others with Allaah in His Divinity or worship) admitted that they worshipped their gods only to bring them near to Allaah. They were in fact idol worshippers, so how can you declare those you call Qubooriyyoon (i.e.) grave worshippers, to be Mushriks although they do not worship idols or claim that the dead should be worshipped, but they only seek blessings through them?
Answer: Worship is not defined through people’s views but it is determined through Allaah’s Judgment (Glorified and Exalted be He). The early Mushriks are divided into different categories, such as those who worshipped idols, those who worshipped prophets, those who worshipped righteous people, those who worshipped trees, those who worshipped stones, and those who worshipped other things. Thus, they are not on an equal level. However, Allaah declared them all to be disbelievers until they enter His Religion and worship Him Alone. He (Exalted be He) says: Nor would he order you to take angels and Prophets for lords (gods). Would he order you to disbelieve after you have submitted to Allaah’s Will? (Tafseer al-Tabaree). Thus, He declared those who worship the prophets and angels disbelievers if they do not submit to what is right. Moreover, it is well known thatthe people of Al-Ta’eef worshipped Al-Laat, who was a righteous man. However, Allah declared them to be disbelievers until they entered Islaam. Likewise, the Christians would worship the Messiah (Jesus) and his mother, while he was a Prophet and his mother was a Siddeeqah [i.e. she believed in the Words of Allaah and His Books], and in turn they (Christians) were declared disbelievers. The same applies to the Jews who worshipped their rabbis and their monks and worshipped ‘Uzayr (Ezra) claiming that he was the son of the Lord, and in turn they became disbelievers… read more here.