By Dr Muzammil H. Siddiqi

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Worship: The Life of the Faithful People

 

وَذَكِّرْ فَإِنَّ الذِّكْرَىٰ تَنْفَعُ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ {55}وَمَا خَلَقْتُ الْجِنَّ وَالْإِنْسَ إِلَّا لِيَعْبُدُونِ {56}مَا أُرِيدُ مِنْهُمْ مِنْ رِزْقٍ وَمَا أُرِيدُ أَنْ يُطْعِمُونِ {57}إِنَّ اللَّهَ هُوَ الرَّزَّاقُ ذُو الْقُوَّةِ الْمَتِينُ {الذاريات 55-58}

And remind [people], it is good for those who believe to be reminded. I did not create jinn and mankind except to worship Me: I want no provision from them, nor do I want them to feed Me. Allah is the Provider, the Lord of Power, the Ever Mighty. (Al-Dhariyat 51:55-58)

I did not create jinn and mankind except to worship Me.” Worship is the purpose of our creation and we are to worship Allah only. Tawhid is one of the most important principles of our faith, Islam. It is to believe that there is only One God, the Creator, the Master and the Lord of the worlds. It also means to worship Allah only without associating any person or thing with Allah. The Qur’anic term for worship is ‘Ibadah. It is a very important term of the Qur’an. ‘Ibadah has two aspects: one is obedience and the other is love. Obedience without love is not worship; and love without obedience is not worship. The ‘Ibadah of Allah requires both the ultimate obedience of Allah and the ultimate love of Allah. Our relationship with Allah is that He is our Lord and He is our Beloved. We cannot truly worship Him without loving Him and we cannot truly love him without worshiping Him. Some people worship as if they are doing a labor; they feel that prayer is a burden. The true believers are those who worship because they love it.

There are two aspects of worships: الشعائر – rituals and rules and المشاعر – the feelings and emotions. We have to follow the rituals and rules, but beside rituals and rules we must have the feelings of devotion and love for Allah. It is the prayer of love or what Iqbal calls, ‘namaz-e-‘ishq’ that counts. It is not only prayer of love that is required but also fasts with love, Zakat with love, Hajj with love and other acts of worship all should be with love and devotion.

It is also important to understand that worship in Islam is not limited to prayers only. Worship according to Islam is the whole life. A great scholar Ibn Taymiyah (d. 1328) in his famous book Al-‘Ubudiyah says,

العبادة اسم جامع لكل ما يحبه الله ويرضاه من الأقوال والأعمال الباطنة والظاهرة : فالصلاة والزكاة والصيام والحج وصدق الحديث وأداء الأمانة وبر الوالدين وصلة الأرحام والوفاء بالعهود والأمر بالمعروف والنهي عن المنكر والجهاد للكفار والمنافقين والإحسان إلى الجار واليتيم والمسكين والمملوك من الآدميين والبهائم والدعاء والذكر والقراءة وأمثال ذلك من العبادة وكذلك حب الله ورسوله وخشية الله والإنابة إليه وإخلاص الدين له والصبر لحكمه والشكر لنعمه والرضاء بقضائه والتوكل عليه والرجاء لرحمته والخوف لعذابه وأمثال ذلك هي من العبادات لله.[ العبودية ، المكتب الإسلامى بيروت 2005، ص 1]

“Ibadah is a comprehensive term for all words and deeds, manifest or hidden that Allah loves and are pleasing to Allah. Prayers, zakat, fasting, Hajj, truthfulness in speech, fulfilling the trust, good relationship with the parents and other relatives, fulfilling the promises, commanding what is good and forbidding what is evil, struggling against the disbelievers and hypocrites, kindness to the neighbors, orphans, poor people, humans and animals, as well as remembrance of Allah and reading the Qur’an are all different ways of ‘ibadah. Also love of Allah and His Messenger, fear of Allah and devotion of Him, sincerity towards His religion, patience on His decisions, gratitude on His blessings, acceptance of His decrees, placing trust in Him, hoping for His mercy, fearing His punishment and similar things are all included among the acts ‘ibadah.

(Al-‘Ubudiyah, al-Maktb al-Islamic, 2005, p. 1)

 

Every ‘Ibadah brings goodness to the individuals who perform it and to their society. Some acts of worship are, however, more personal and individual, while some other acts of worship are more social and communal. Our Salat, Siyam and Hajj are primarily personal and individual acts of worship, but Zakat, Sadaqat, helping the poor and needy, good family relations and neighborly relations, good work and business ethics are the communal and social acts of worship. Both are good and necessary and both should be done always and with sincerity. The Prophet –peace be upon him- used to emphasize that social work and taking care of the needy is as important as prayer and fasting and they bring equal reward. He said:

عن صفوان بن سليم يرفعه إلى النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم قال الساعي على الأرملة والمسكين كالمجاهد في سبيل الله أو كالذي يصوم النهار ويقوم الليل (البخارى 5660)

The one who takes care of a widow and the poor person is like a Mujahid in the path of Allah or like a person who fasts every day and prays the whole night. (Al-Bukhari 5660)

In another Hadith, he –peace be upon him- reported to have said,

عَنْ سَهْلٍ ، قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ : " أَنَا وَكَافِلُ الْيَتِيمِ فِي الْجَنَّةِ هَكَذَا ، وَأَشَارَ بِالسَّبَّابَةِ وَالْوُسْطَى وَفَرَّجَ بَيْنَهُمَا شَيْئًا " . (البخارى 4920)

I and the one who takes care of an orphan will be in Paradise like this. He put his index and middle fingers together with a little gap between them. (Al-Bukhari 4920)

We Muslims are the people of ‘Ibadah but we should be careful of two things. Our worship should not be just rituals without the feeling of love and devotion to Allah. We should be careful about the form of the prayer. We should pray according to the Sunnah. However, it is equally important that we pay attention to the spirit of prayer. The prayer without spirit is a burden, but prayer with love is a joy and happiness.

We should also remind ourselves always that worship is not only daily prayers. Worship is the whole life. We are the ‘Ibad of Allah all the time and we have to live every moment of life in the service of Allah. The acts of worship that we do should change and transform our lives. Those who pray should be examples and role models in their societies. We should live our whole life, every aspect of life in the worship of Allah. Remember, whatever work you do and whatever job you have, if it is Halal and is done with honesty and sincerity, it is an act of worship and it is pleasing to Allah. The Qur’an says,

قُلْ إِنَّنِي هَدَانِي رَبِّي إِلَىٰ صِرَاطٍ مُسْتَقِيمٍ دِينًا قِيَمًا مِلَّةَ إِبْرَاهِيمَ حَنِيفًا ۚ وَمَا كَانَ مِنَ الْمُشْرِكِينَ {161}قُلْ إِنَّ صَلَاتِي وَنُسُكِي وَمَحْيَايَ وَمَمَاتِي لِلَّهِ رَبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ {162}لَا شَرِيكَ لَهُ ۖ وَبِذَٰلِكَ أُمِرْتُ وَأَنَا أَوَّلُ الْمُسْلِمِينَ {الأنعام 161-163}

Say, ‘My Lord has guided me to a straight path, an upright religion, the faith of Ibrahim, a man of pure faith. He was not a polytheist.’ Say, ‘My prayers and sacrifice, my life and death, are all for Allah, Lord of all the Worlds; He has no partner. This is what I am commanded, and I am the first The first ‘of you’: cf. verse 14 and many others. to devote myself to Him.’ (Al-An’am 6:161-163)

Let us keep in mind: Worship is obedience of Allah with love and worship is the whole life lived in the obedience of Allah.

 

اللهم أعنا على ذكرك وشكرك وحسن عبادتك

O Allah, Help us to remember You, Thank You and Worship in the Best Way.

( Khutbah at ISOC – Rajab 28, 1434/ June 7, 2013)

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