We are not allowed to accuse any Muslim to be doing Shirk unless he openly says that there is another God with Allah, or practically worships some one else with Allah (SWT).
Any act which we don't accept from a Muslim can never make a Muslim as a Mushrik unless he believes in Shirk and it is out of our knowledge to know what is in his heart, so we must be careful before accusing a Muslim of doing Shirk.
Wearing Aqeeq is recommended according to authentic Hadeeths. It is not Shirk at all to wear Aqeeq because we never think that the Aqeeq is partner of Allah in any way. Allah kept certain benefits in certain things in His creatures. Benefits of wearing Aqeeq is a gift from Allah.
Allah is able to do whatever He wants but Allah never orders people to do wrong. Worshiping other than Allah is most dangerous act as Allah says in Quran: Surely, polytheism is dangerous injustice. (Sura 31, verse 13).
We read in Quran about the enemies of Allah who claim that Allah ordered them to do what they do (Nay, Allah never commands wrong) Sura 7, verse 28.
The absolute ability of Allah (SWT) to do whatever He wants does not mean that He misguide or orders or commands wrong. Allah never orders people to worship other than their Creator who is Allah (SWT).
Please advise your friend that his answer was not correct.
To worship means to appoint someone/something as divine. This could be in practice, and it could be in one's intention and in their heart.
When any Muslim says or does something, then under no circumstance would they want to defy their religion and leave the perimeters of faith by ascribing a partner to Almighty God, or do shirk, or claim someone/something as being divine.
Any Muslim would know that there is only 1 God, and He has no partner, and He is the only Divine being.
Merely to say Ya, or Labayk does not mean the individual you are referring to is divine. A genuine seeker of the truth would certainly agree with this.
You can say Ya to God, and you can also say Ya to your neighbour, if you are drowning and seek help, for example. The Quran talks about this, saying Ya Musa (a.s.), and beseeching him, doing what we call istighatha.
To say Ya to someone alive, for the purpose of asking for help, cannot be irrational or haram.
Now, to say Ya to someone who is dead, is that ok?
Of course, we do not beseech help or assistance, or intercession from any person, but rather from those who are closer to Almighty God. Those who are considered as "waseelah" to Him.
And such people do hear us, even though they have departed this world, as the Quran [2:154] says:
Do not consider those who are slain for the cause of God to be dead. They are alive but you are unaware of them.
So, when we say Ya Muhammad, or Ya Ali, etc, it is not taken as worship at all. It does not fall under the category of 'ibadah, so how can it be shirk?
With prayers for your success.
Your fast is valid. Bad thoughts which annoy you will not harm your faith nor your worshipping Allah.
Repeating Isteghfaar and repeating Salawaat and repeating La Hawla wala Qowwata ILLA Billah and reciting Sura Tawheed is very useful always especially in driving away satanic thoughts.
Tawheed means not believing nor worshiping but only Allah (SWT). Shirk is believing or worshiping other than Allah with Allah (SWT). We believe that the Prophet and his Ahlul Bayt are the most humble servants of Allah.
Prostrating at the doorstep of the Prophet (SAWA) is in fact for thanking Allah for granting us the great bounty of visiting the shrine of the Prophet (SAWA) or his Ahlul Bayt (AS). Thanking Allah in the form of prostrating is a sincere worship to Allah and can never be Shirk. We never believe nor accept any claim suggesting worshiping the Prophet, his Ahlul Bayt or any one but only Allah (SWT). Respecting the Prophet and his Ahlul Bayt does not mean worshipping them at all. Respect is completely different from worshiping. Wahhabis mix wrongly between respect and worship. Even we prostrate at the doorstep of the holy shrines, we never do it as a sign of respect but we do it as an act of thanking Allah for His great bounties on us.
Thank you for your question. Shirk is to limit Allah in any way such that even the conception of another god would be possible. Even to say He is a god is not satisfactory as that would entail a genus of gods under which God would be a species with only one referent. Numerical oneness is limited, as in numbering God as one a person gives the possibility of two gods. Numbers themselves are a factor of the material world. Rather, Allah is above being numbered as a number entails a limit and He is above all limitations.
As for prostration, it is clear that if a person prostrates to a being in worship then that is completely forbidden in Islam and Shiism as a sect within Islam. However, prostration does not only entail this meaning and is also a symbol of humbleness. For this reason God commanded the angels to prostrate to Adam (as), not in worship or out of polytheistic intent. So too Prophet Ya'qub (as) prostrated in front of Prophet Yusuf (as).
May you always be successful
We do not have an evidence that Zulaikha or her husband were Mushriks. Many scholars say that if the Azeez (King) of Egypt was a Mushrik, he would have never behaved with Yousuf in the way he behaved and he would have never given him the charge in the treasury of Egypt. Zulaikha tried to do wrong against Yousuf but she could not because of the firm faith and strong will power if Yousuf. Later in she has repented and become a good person. Allah (SWT) forgives every sincere person who repents and seeks forgiveness.
Insofar as you are not intentionally worshipping or praying to the picture or the people and just had it there by accident, it is not shirk. However it is better not to pray in front of the picture (and you fixed that anyway so that is not a problem). Accidents happen!
In theory, atheism is different from shirk.
In practice, it is often the same. Atheism usually leads to replacing theism with some sort of -ism such as nationalism, tribalism, communism, scienceism, secularism, etc, and this results in something else being treated as a partner of God (for instance, as something to appeal to in a time of need, as the height of perfection to try to attain, as what you live your life for).
It is hard to say which is worse. On a social level, both atheism and degenerate polytheism cause harm. Places where there has been a push towards atheism often have a lot of problems such as totalitarianism, dictatorship, or corruption, as well as a sense of nihilsm or despair. Atheism as a state ideology has not brought happiness, justice, or a healthy and sustainable prosperity anywhere.
Similarly, although secularism is not inherently atheist, secular social service organizations and interventions can provide functional help, but generally don't have the same ability to spread compassion and build community that religious institutions often do. That is, they can take care of some material problems in society, such as providing housing services, but they largely have not yet been able to deal with the human aspect of building community, bringing peace in a neighbourhood, encouraging love and forgiveness, uplifting people, and eradicating misery.
On the other hand, historically, degenerate polytheism has also tended to reinforce social injustice - for instance, reinforcing unhealthy taboos, wastage of money for unnecessary religious ceremonies or priesthoods while people are in poverty, injustice towards women, superstition, or privileging the elite.
In fact, one can say that some of the problems in the Muslim world are due to various forms of lesser shirk - for instance, people worshipping traditions or national/tribal identity instead of God.
On a personal and spiritual level, it really depends. I think that the biggest personal challenge of atheism is the loss of meaning and greater purpose in life. Some atheists also do unethical things to other people because they don't see anything wrong with it. (Yes, you do not need to be a theist to be ethical, but, statistically speaking, it seems to help.)
Of course people who are atheists may have other life purposes, for instance, a dedication to family or the arts; but, even in those cases, something greater than themselves is taking the place of God as a focal point.
Today, atheism is sometimes confused with lack of adherence to organized religion. However, there is an increasing number of people who do not feel fulfilled by organized religion and are unaffiliated, but who do believe in things like heaven or life after death.
And, atheists come in all types. Some are seekers and just haven't been sold on theism or have been put off by some ways that theism has been co-opted (for instance, how Fox News in the US treats Jesus these days), or else had bad experiences with organized religion. In fact I have met some rather spiritually minded atheists.
Some people are just occupied with other things in life.
And then there are some atheists who are genuinely evil and end up using atheism as a front for something worse, such as dictatorship, or starting a cult (obviously, non-theistic cults). But, again, one could classify that as a form of shirk, in the same way that the Pharaoh in the Qur'an deified himself and was not merely an atheist.
So, basically, it's not easy to answer which is worse, atheism or shirk, except that I would go back to what I said in the beginning; and that is, that they tend to go together.
In any case, the Qur'an addresses both atheism and shirk with the main message that God exists and is present and involved in our lives, that the universe is meaningful, that our existences are meaningful, that we are part of a broader picture, and that theism is part of the road to success.
Atheism is denial of Allah as the Creator, while shirk is associating partners with the Creator.
Polytheism شرك is to worship with Allah some one or something else. Those who did polytheism in the past then left it and became Muslims will be forgiven because they have left polytheism, but those who insisted on polytheism and died with it, will not be forgiven as you read in (Quran 4:48).