What do you say about the division of Shirk into three parts: Akbar (Major), Asgar (Minor) and Kafi (hidden)?
A group from the people of knowledge make this division and that requires examination, the correct opinion however is that shirk is divided into two:
Shirk Akbar (Major Shirk)
Shirk Asgar (Minor Shirk)
As for Shirk Kafi (Hidden Shirk), from it is that which is akbar such as nifaq as the munafiqeen show Islam but inside (hidden) they have Shirk.
And from it is minor shirk and this is of different ranks and degrees.
And I have read that some of the latter day scholars have said dividing Shirk into three parts that “Shirk al Khafi is less than Asgar”
And this statement without restriction is not correct and as has been said, Al Shirk Al Khafi sometimes is major shirk and the person who does it will not receive the intercession of the Interceder or the Mercy of the Most Merciful and Allah has Proscribed for him an eternity in the Helfire.
إنه من يشرك بالله فقد حرم الله عليه الجنة ومأواه النار وما للظالمين من أنصار
Verily, whosoever sets up partners in worship with Allah, then Allah has forbidden Paradise for him, and the Fire will be his abode. And for the Zalimun (polytheists and wrongdoers) there are no helpers.
Surat Al Maidah 5:72
And Allah Says:
إن الذين كفروا من أهل الكتاب والمشركين في نار جهنم خالدين فيها أولئك هم شر البريّة
Verily, those who disbelieve from among the people of the Scripture and Al-Mushrikun will abide in the Fire of Hell. They are the worst of creatures.
Surat Al Bayyinah 98:6
Al Shirk Al Akbar (Major Shirk): It is to make equal to Allah something other than Him in something which is exclusive to Allah
Al Shirk Al Asgar (Minor Shirk): It is what comes in the evidence of the Shariah, named as Shirk but it does not reach the level of major shirk.
It is said that this shirk (minor) is not Forgiven and no doubt the person who does it will be punished, however he will not remain in the hellfire forever. Ibn Al Muflih in his book Al Furoo narrated this on Shaykh ul Islam Ibn Taymiyyah and he also indicated this in his reply to Al Bakri.
And a second saying (on Shirk Asgar) is the person who does so is under the Will of Allah (ie Allah May Forgive him) and this is the saying of most of the scholars and it is correct as Allah Said:
إِنَّ اللَّهَ لَا يَغْفِرُ أَن يُشْرَكَ بِهِ وَيَغْفِرُ مَا دُونَ ذَٰلِكَ لِمَن يَشَاءُ
Verily, Allah forgives not that partners should be set up with him in worship,(that is major shirk- Shaykhs words) but He forgives except that (anything else) to whom He pleases (this includes minor shirk – shaykhs words)
Surat An Nisa 4:48
And Allah Knows Best
Shaykh Sulimaan Nasr Al Ulwaan