In conventional speech, “idolizing” only means worshipping certain things or beings. Yet, this concept has a much wider meaning and is not limited to past ages alone. In every age, there have been ignorant people who have ascribed partners to Allah, adopted other gods and worshipped idols or totem poles. It is not necessary for a person who idolizes something to say “this is a god, and I worship this” about the thing he idolizes, or to prostrate himself in front of it.
Idolatry is basically a person’s erroneous preference for something or someone over Allah. For instance, preferring someone’s approval to Allah’s approval, or fearing someone as one fears Allah or loving someone as one loves Allah can serve as some examples.
In the Qur’an, Allah states that the idols that people ascribe as partners to Allah will not be of any help to them.