What is true worship? Is it formal prayer in the Mosque or in the home? Is is reciting a du’a or supplication? Is it fasting, paying Zakaat and doing the rituals of Hajj and Umrah? True worship is all these things, and more…
Islam has widened the scope of worship to include rituals and every virtuous action which is sincerely performed in compliance with the commandments of Allah, in order to seek his pleasure. However, this concept is sometimes used as a pretext to support the erroneous view that the obligatory rituals of worship can be dispensed with, or that they are not very important. For example , one may say that the code of dress for Muslim women, as specified in the Quran and the Sunnah, is not obligatory or important as long a woman dresses decently.
The truth is quite contrary to this. The specific obligatory rituals are the chief means for strengthening our attachments with Allah.
It is absolutely wrong to imagine that true faith does not consist of specific rituals , and that the basis of true faith is merely purity of heart, goodness of intention and soundness of conduct.
This represents misrepresentation of Islamic teachings. The intention to do good alone does not mark off the true men of faith from the rest.
Religion, after all, has an external aspect in the same way as it has an internal aspect.
This attitude of deliberate disregard of ritual obligations is destructive of the very foundations of religion. For, if that viewpoint to be adopted , every one , even those who are in fact opposed to religion could claim to be the best of all worshipers.
The real purpose of Islam in declaring that Ibadah embraces the total life of man is to make faith play a practical and effective role in reforming human life, in developing in man an attitude of dignified patience and strength in the face of hardships and difficulties and in creating in him the urge to strive for victory of good over evil.
Islam is opposed to those defeatist and isolationist philosophies which are based on world-renunciation , on resignation from the resources of life , on withdrawal from the life of action and struggle , on sheer stagnation and decadence.
These things have nothing to do with Islam. Rather , they are the symbols of defeatism and escape from the challenges that we find throughout life.
For life requires strength, material resources and active habits. The role of Islam in the struggle of life is a positive one.
SUBMISSION AND LOVE
It is obvious now that when we talk about worship we talk about total, willing obedience and submission to Allah. Because this obedience and submission is a voluntary act, a free choice we have made with a sound mind, it must have been motivated by love for Allah. We could not have begun to worship Allah without first loving him above anything and anyone else. Thus, there is no worship without obedience and submission, and there is no worship without love.
True worship is made of two elements.
First; compliance with the total commandments of Allah, the positive and the negative. Second; that such complianceand obedience must emanate and come from a loving heart for Allah.
Such love for Allah should be based on the awareness and recognition of His grace, bounty, kindness, mercy, beauty and perfection. He who knows Allah loves Him. This why the prophet was the most loving person for Allah because he was the most knowledgeable of Him.
[Please quote chapter and verse]
Love and submission to Allah are the essence of worship in Islam which is established by a commitment of faith, a contract which we undertook when we accepted Islam as religion and way of life, when we recited the Kalima and bore witness that there is no God but Allah and that Muhamad is His Messenger.
Once we are committed and faithful to this contract, then we must submit our life to Allah, to follow His message and be guided by his Book and Messenger. This is the foundation of our worship.
Requirements and Conditions
In order to be able to perform it as it is prescribed, we must know the requirements and conditions of true worship.
SINCERITY. One of these required conditions that a Muslim should be aware of while performing any worship is sincerity. Almighty Allah said:
"So whoever hopes for the meeting with His Lord let him work deeds of righteousness and associate none as a partner in the worship of His Lord" [18:110]
The Messenger, said: "Indeed God does not look at your faces nor your wealth but He looks at your hearts and your actions." Also there is the Hadeeth Qudsee where the Messenger, said that God said:
" I am in no need of having partners. Thus, whoever does an action for someone else's sake as well as Mine, will have that action rejected by Me."
* Correctness and conformity. Another vital condition of worship is that it is correct so that it may be acceptable to God. Our Worship of God should be as He and His Messenger, have commanded us. Almighty Allah says:
"O you who believe! Obey Allah and obey the Messenger and do not let your actions be done in vain ( Useless)."Ch47:v33.
The Messenger, has said: "Whoever does an action which we have not commanded will have it rejected" And he, also said: "Whoever does an action in a way different from ours will have it rejected".
Fudayl ibn Ayyaad, (i.e. a member of the second generation of Muslims), said regarding the verse: "that He may test you, which of you is best in deeds." [11:7], "The most sincere and the most correct", if it is correct but not sincere it will not be accepted and, if it is sincere but not correct it will not be accepted until it is both sincere and correct. Sincere means that nothing but the Face of God is sought and correct means that it is in conformity with the Sunnah."
* Ihsan Another characteristic of our worship is being aware of the presence of Allah, that His knowledge is with us and He sees and hears us. This point is called Ihsaan - perfection or doing one's utmost . Almighty God says:
"The One Who sees you when you stand up for the prayer and when you move amongst those who prostrate themselves" [ 26:218]
We all know the hadith of Gabriel when he said to the Messenger:
"Ihsaan is that you worship Allah as if you see Him and while you see Him not yet truly He sees you".
Allah has also commanded us: "So call upon Him (out of) Fear and Hope" [6:56]
The Prophet, used to supplicate: "I ask God for Paradise and I seek refuge in Him from the Fire".
The verse and the Hadeeth clearly tells us that our worship should be in between hoping for God's Mercy and reward and fearing His punishment.
So these are the essential points which we must keep in mind concerning our worship, namely:
- We must acknowledge that Worship of Allah is the purpose of our existence;
- We must have absolute Sincerity in fulfilling that purpose;
- We must observe Correctness of our worship by conducting it in the manner of the Sunnah of the Messenger.
- Worshipping God by combining Love, Fear and Hope; and
- Maintaning Ihsaan - a keen awareness, excellent consciousness of God.
- Here Allah swt gives the example of one who learns and builds all of his actions on the essential points concerning the worship of his Lord, and one who does not.
So Brothers and Sisters, let's be mindful of the purpose of our existence , aware that our worship and good deeds could be frustrated if they are insincere or incorrect, striving to combine love and fear and hoping to attain the degree of Ihsan.
At the day of Judgement, some people will find that their deeds and actions have been rejected By Allah and turned into floating dust. In this regard Allah says:
"And We shall turn to whatever actions they did and turn them into scattered dust" [25:23]
but rather let us become cautious and send something foreword for the Day of Judgement, the Day when we will be in great need for good actions --- that is our sincere and correct worship. Let us try to achieve the degree of Ihsan by worshipping Allah as if we see Him, and being constantly aware that even if we don’t see Him, He sees us.
By Omar Tarhuni