Meaning of Worship in Islam


Allah says in many Ayats of the Quran:

“We sent all messengers before you with this revelation, ‘There is no deity save Me, so worship Me alone.’” {Surah Al-Anbya: Ayat 25}

“I created the jinn and mankind only so that they might worship Me.” {Surah Adh-Dhariyat: Ayat 56}

“We raised among every people a messenger who enjoined, ‘Worship Allah alone and keep away from the evil one…” {Surah An-Nahl: Ayat 25}

“People, worship your Lord, who created you and those before you, so that you may become righteous,” {Surah Al-Baqarah: Ayat 21}

The concept of worship:

The word Worship encompasses much broader view, it is not limited to prayer, fasting, Hajj, zakat, reciting Quran and zikr etc. It includes all other explicit and implicit actions that Allah loves and likes, for example: taking care and maintaining own family, being patient, being charitable, maintaining honesty, fulfilling trusts, being dutiful to parents, joining ties of relatives, promoting goodness, making tawbah, encouraging others to do good deeds and discouraging from evil as Islam discourages individualism.

In addition to all the above, comes: loving Allah and His messengers, fearing and being thankful to Allah for His infinite blessings, accepting His decree, depending on Him, aspiring for His mercy and fearing His punishment. Most importantly, being conscious that we all are in fact returning back to Allah and believing on the day of resurrection. All of these are examples for acts of worship to Allah.

Thus leading a life abide by the rules permissible by our lord trying to please him and abstaining from forbidden activities makes us in a state of constant worship to Allah (which is the ultimate purpose of our creation and existence).  Allah says, “Say, ‘My prayer and my sacrifice and my life and my death are all for Allah, the Lord of the worlds;” {Quran Al-Anam: Ayat 162}

This way Islam bestows the quality of “worship” on any action that seeks the satisfaction of Allah and which are not forbidden. Hence the farmer, the manufacturer, the trader, the doctor, the engineer, the teacher and the student are all in a state of worship if their actions are directed to the benefit of mankind, aiming for self-sufficiency and gaining proper sustenance for one’s family etc.

Thus, worship can never take you away and separate you from aspects of life and duties towards your family, relatives and neighbors.

Righteousness is not that you turn your faces toward the east or the west, but true righteous is one who believes in Allah, the Last Day, the angels, the Book, and the prophets and gives wealth, in spite of love for it, to relatives, orphans, the needy, the traveler, those who ask for help, and for freeing slaves; who establishes prayer and gives zakah; fulfill their promise when they promise; and who are patient in poverty and hardship and during battle. Those are the ones who have been true, and it is those who are the righteous. {Surah Al-Baqarah: Ayat 177}

The above ayat establishes that, only prayer/zikr/zakah is not sufficient enough to be righteous in Islam, we have an obligation to take care of the social aspects as well.  

Two origins of Worship

Worship has 2 origins:

  1. Not to worship anyone beside Allah,
  2. To worship according to the commands and laws of Allah.

Islam never requested its followers to devote themselves full-time for worship or to abandon the adornments of life. For example, in case of monasticism (in Christianity) where the concept of worship in their case hinges fully on spiritualities and monastic life that ordains abandoning social life, curbing desires, celibacy, abandoning all the ornaments of life and livelihood.

As narrated by, Sa’d bin Abi Waqqas, Muhammad (pbuh) said, “You will be rewarded for whatever you spend for Allah’s sake even if it were a bite of food which you put in your wife’s mouth.” {Sahih al-Bukhari: Book of Belief Hadith 49}  

Anas reported Muhammad (pbuh) as saying Never does a Muslim plant trees or cultivate land and birds or a man or a beast eat out of them but that is a charity on his behalf.  {Sahih Muslim: The Book of Musaqah Hadith 12} .

Allah(swt) made Worship easy for you

Allah (swt) says…

“…God desires ease for you, and does not desire hardship for you…” {Surah Al-Baqarah: Ayat 185}

“God intends to lighten your burden, for the human being was created weak.” {Surah Al-Baqarah: Ayat 28}

“God does not burden any soul beyond its capacity….” {Surah Al-Baqarah: Ayat 286}

So if anyone argues, that I can’t pray 5 Rakah a day, or can’t keep fast(being fit). Well these statements are falsified by the Ayats above.

Anas also narrated that the Prophet (pbuh) said, “The Prophet (pbuh) said, “Make things easy for the people, and do not make it difficult for them, and make them calm (be cheerful) and do not repulse (people). {Sahih al-Bukhari: Good Manners and Form (Al-Adab) Hadith 152}. So we must not try to Worship in a difficult way, rather try to perform it in the easiest possible way cheerfully thus not discouraging others to follow the deen.

Don’t fall in the trap of feeling proud in your worshiping nature

We are being taught, for the first time, that the wisdom beyond worship is that the believer acknowledges to His Lord that he is His servant and that he obeys His orders. But those who are too arrogant to worship Allah will certainly enter Hell.

The Prophet (pbuh) prohibited Abdullah Ibn Amr from fasting daily in the narration that was reported by Abdullah Ibn Amr Ibnul-Aas. It was recommended to him to have a break on fasting (even if he could do it) and pray and sleep properly, so that the right of his family, body and property is not affected by his fasting.

Muhammad (pbuh) said: Fast one day and break on the other day. That is known as the fasting of David (peace be upon him) and that is the best fasting. Abdullah Ibn Amr said: I am capable of doing more than this. Thereupon the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said: There is nothing better than this.

The relation between worship and behavior:

Quran and Sunnah suggest that, worshiping Allah (swt) must have an impact on the person performing it, on his manners and on his behavior.

Knowing + Believing + Feeling + Complementing – The Existence of Allah. If one can sense and feel Allah (swt) existence and realize the real purpose of our life, there will be an automatic change in his behaviour, actions and way of thinking.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

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