Worship (Ibada) of Allah for Achieving the Purpose of Life

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This is the last step in the Journey to achieve satisfaction of Allah. To reach to this stage of journey, we have discussed three milestone as such Iman, Islam and Taqwa. Now we will be discussing on final step,” Worship of Allah”.

People of different religion express their honor and homage to God through ritualistic worship in one form or other. However, in Islam worship (ibada) does not include only ritualistic devotion like prayer, fasting, pilgrimage etc. but also include activities of entire life provided these are done in accordance with Islamic Law and for the satisfaction of Allah.

Arabic word ‘ibadah’ is generally translated as ‘Worship’. ‘Ibadah’ is derived from root word ‘abd’, which means slave. The duty of slave is to obey order of his master. Allah has created humans as His servant. As a servant, he needs to obey order of his master, Allah. Obeying order of Allah is called Worship.

Early Muslims understood meaning of Worship as total obedience to order of Allah and used to do everything in life according to order of Allah for His satisfaction. In the course of time, some Muslims started to concentrate only in some ‘ritualistic worship’; like prayer, fasting, hajj, zakat etc. as religious duty. They have largely ignored the order of Allah in practical life as such rules and regulations of family life, social life, economy, business, Judiciary, politics etc. However, in recent time with the spread of knowledge of Quran and Hadith, this is changing and people started to think religion and religious duty as was done by early Muslims. Many Muslims started practicing Worship of Allah as total submission to His order. To reinforce this, we are stating here some references from Quran, Hadith and understanding of early Muslims:

  1. Worship of Allah in Quran:
  •  ‘I have created humans and Jinn only to worship me” (Quran 51:56).
  • “Say; my prayer, my sacrifice, my life and my death belongs to Allah, He has no partner and I am ordered to be among those who submit (Muslim) to Allah “ (Quran 6:162-163).
  • “Therefore! By your Lord, surely we will call them to account, for all their deeds” (Quran 5:92-93)
  • “Say (O Muhammad): verily, I am commanded to worship Allah by obeying Him and following His way of life (Islam) sincerely” (Quran 39:11).

The meaning of above verses is to submit to order of Allah in all activities throughout life and follow the way of life (Islam) given by Him.

All deeds done by obeying order of Allah and His prophet (pbuh) is beneficial worship. Anything done by disobeying Allah and His Messenger is punishable and will go in vain:

“O believers! Obey Allah and obey His Messenger and do not let your deeds come to nothing” (Quran 47:33)

Believers cannot obey any order that is against the order from Allah and His Messenger:

“None has the right to be worshipped except Allah. How then are you turning away from Him?” (Quran 35: 3).

“Do not obey the transgressors” (Quran 26:151).

-Any disobedience to Allah is practically obedience to devil (Satan).Because Satan disobeyed order of Allah and continuously whispering to disobey Allah. Those who disobey Allah they are committing an act that Satan did. By following Satan, they are practically worshiping satan:

“Do not worship devil” (Quran 36: 60).

“Do not worship devil, verily, devil has been a rebel against the Most Gracious Allah “(Quran 19:44).

“Did I not tell to you, “O children of Adam” that you should not worship devil (Satan); for he is your most ardent enemy” (Quran 36:60).

No one bows down his head to worship Satan. This is done by obeying his order only. Here also it is clear that worship means obeying order.

There are many more references in Quran, where Allah has explained worship to Him from different perspective. Few examples are as follows:

  1. Practicing Islamic way of life is Worship (ref. Quran 21:92; 2:138. 139).
  2. Worship Allah in all affairs (ref. Quran 11:123).
  3. Worship Allah throughout entire life (ref. Quran 15:99).
  4. No one shall be obeyed by disobeying order of Allah (ref, Quran 16:22).
  5. All decisions of Allah shall be obeyed (ref. Quran 28: 88).
  6. Obeying what is revealed in Quran is worship (ref.29:46).
  7. Worship Allah wherever you are (ref. Quran 29: 56).

Conclusion of above all references of Quran is: “Worship means obey order of Allah with sincerity”.

Teaching of ‘Worship of Allah’ by Prophet Muhammad (pbuh):

  • As stated in Quran, Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) followed The Way of Life (Islam) as Worship to Him and taught the same to his nation:

“Say O Muhammad! Allah alone, I worship by following His way of life (Islam), for His satisfaction only” (Quran 39:14)

  • He is the Role Model for Worship of Allah. No one can be better than him as worshipper of Allah. So believers should not invent any new method to worship Allah, nor do more or less than what he has established as way of life:

“Take whatever the Messenger gives you and abstain from what he forbids you. And fear Allah; verily, Allah is severe in punishment” (Quran 59:7).

  • Prophet (pbuh) taught that all activities of life within guidance of Quran is Worship of Allah. Anything done against the guidance of Quran is not an act of Muslim and does not qualify as worship.

Prophet (pbuh) said:

“No one could be a Muslim until his intention and inclination (likes and dislikes) do not conform to the Book (Quran) revealed to him” ( Mishkat) .

  • Obedience and worship of Allah is duty of believers. This cannot be compromised for the sake of obeying others.

Prophet (pbuh) said:

“Obligation of people to Allah is that, they should obey and worship Him and take no partner with Him in this act of worship” (Bukhari, Muslim).

“There is no obedience to any creation if it entails disobedience to Creator”.

  • Ritual worship like five time daily prayer, fasting in Ramadan, Hajj, and Zakat etc. are great worship. Without doing these, there is no place as Muslim. However, this great worship does not bear any value to Allah if His other orders are denied.

Prophet (pbuh) said:

“He who performs salat, but his salat cannot refrain him from Vulgarism and sinful act; then he earns nothing but curse and distance from Allah through that salat” (Ibn Jarir).

  • Fasting is a great worship and way to Paradise. However, has no value if one does not give up telling lie and evil action (ref. Sahi Bukhari).

Narrated by Thawvan, Prophet (pbuh) said: “know that some people from my Ummah will come on the Day of Judgment with good deeds as (big as) the White Mountain Tihama, but Allah will make them scattered dust”. Thawvan said: “O Messenger of Allah! Describe them to us so that we may not be one of them unknowingly! He said: They will be your brothers, and from your people, and they will take from nights as you do (meaning offers prayer etc.), but they are people who, when they were alone with prohibitions of Allah, violated them” (Ibn Majah).

Prophet (pbuh) said: “Do you know who is bankrupt? The companions said: A bankrupt is somebody who has neither money nor property. The Prophet (pbuh) said : The bankrupt in  Ummah is he who  will come on the Day of Judgment with lots of praying , fasting and sadaqat( charity); but who has offended a person, slandered another one , wrongfully taken somebody’s wealth, shed somebody’s blood, beaten up somebody else” ( Muslim, Tirmidhi ).

Above teachings of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), confirm that worship of Allah means submission to order of Allah and lead life as stated in Quran. It also confirms that there is no scope to think that rituals like prayer, fasting, Hajj etc. only worship. Everything that we do and we avoid based on Quran and Prophet’s teaching for the satisfaction of Allah is worship.

Some of these are as follows:

  1. All hard work we do to meet our need is worship and rewarded by Allah.

Prophet (pbuh) said:

“Whoever find himself at the night fall tired of his work, God will forgive his sins”.

  1. Seeking knowledge is Worship:

Prophet (pbuh) said:

“Seeking knowledge for one hour is better than praying for seventy years”.

  1. Behaving respectfully with neighbor, avoiding quarrel, avoiding telling a lie is worship (ref. hadith no 4782, Bukhari).
  2. “Speaking good or remaining silent is worship” (Bukhari, Muslim).
  3. Working for livelihood is better worship:

“One day Prophet (pbuh) saw a young man reciting Quran or may be praying during the time when people usually work; so he asked him: who feed you? He replied my brother, he said: ‘he is better worshipper than you’.

  1. Taking care of one’s children is very rewarding worship.

Prophet (pbuh) said: ‘Any woman who stayed at home to look after her children will be with me in Heaven ‘.

  1. Service to humanity is a great worship :

Narrated by Ibn Abbas, Prophet (pbuh) said: “The reward for whoever watches over the needs of his brother and takes care of him is greater than that of fasting for one month and staying in eteqaf in my mosque”.

  1. Transactional worship:

Zafar Ibn Abu Taleb narrated to king of Abyssinia that prophet (pbuh) ordered: “to tell the truth, return deposits back to their owners, preserve ties of kinship, be kind to neighbors, be away from obscenities, lying and appropriating the wealth of orphan “( Ahmed). Doing all of these are worship.

  1. Correction of people and calling them to Islam is a rewarding Worship.

Prophet (pbuh) said:

“Convey my teachings to the people even if it is a single sentence” (Bukhari).

“Whoever direct someone to do good will gain the same reward as the one who does good” (Muslim).

“By Allah! If a single person is guided by Allah through you, it will be better for you then the best of camel (precious wealth by that time)” (Bukhari).

  1. Those who worship themselves but do not call people to Islam and do not correct them; they will be equally punished. This may come in this world as corruption, oppression, injustice, lack of safety and security and in the Afterlife as punishment in Hellfire.

Prophet (pbuh) said:

“By Allah with whom is my soul! If you do not order to do good and prohibit the evil, Allah will soon send upon you punishment, then you will call Him but He will not answer you” (Tirmidhi).

“If people see unjust by wrongdoers and do not stop them, punishment from Allah may embrace on all of them” (Abu Dawud).

Prophet (pbuh) also said:” once Allah ordered Jibreel to destroy a community. He went there and found a pious man always engaged in prayer. Jibreel asked Allah about him. Allah told to destroy him first”.

  1. Teaching people beneficial knowledge is great worship. This is not only good for human being but for all creation.

Prophet (pbuh) said:

“ Allah, His Angels and all in the Heavens and earth , even ants in the ant-hills and fish in the water , call down blessings on those who instruct others in beneficial knowledge” ( Tirmidhi).

Above examples from Quran and teachings from Prophet (pbuh), clarify true nature of Worship of Allah.

Prophet (pbuh)’s time and time of early Caliphs perfectly followed true worship of Allah. During their time Muslims used to do everything according to order of Allah in the way of Prophet (pbuh). Their ritual worship, personal life, family life, business, agriculture, trade, judiciary, and government; everything used to operate by Quran and Sunnah as worship of Allah for His satisfaction.

Unfortunately, now days we see a very different picture in many Muslims. Many Muslims are not attentive to ritual worship and those who do rituals, many of them ignore order of Allah in real life activities. Both are equally wrong to Allah. This is the reason Prophet (pbuh) said with mountain like huge prayer, fasting etc. people would go to Hellfire.

At the conclusion, we would like to bring the case of Adam and Iblis as stated in Quran.

Iblis considered order of Allah to prostate Adam was wrong and denied to obey. Denial of only one order nullified his all worship and fixed his destiny in Hellfire forever.

Adam also disobeyed only one order that was not to go to prohibited tree. It was not denial of order but mistake by whisper of Satan. He was taken out from Heaven, sent to earth with a promise to return to Heaven on condition of obeying order of Allah in this world:

“We said, Go down, all of you from here (Heaven): then when Guidance comes to you from Me, anyone who follows My Guidance will have no fear, nor will they grieve” (Quran 2:38).Following Guidance (Quran) of Allah is true worship and road to success in this world and to Heaven. There is no shortcut way of worship to success.

Imam Ibn Taymiyyah said: “Ibadah is obedience to Allah by carrying out what He has recommended through His Messenger.

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