Learning our Deen (Islam)

July 2, 2007

The Concept of Worship in Islam (1)

Filed under: Beginner, Ibadah - worship — Um Abdullah M. @ 6:30 pm

The Concept of Worship in Islam

The concept of worship in Islam differs from that found in other religions, and is therefore subject to misunderstanding. In general,worship is understood to mean the observance of certain rituals: praying, fasting, giving charity, and other “good” works. In Islam, however, worship is much more-it is one’s entire life. As many Muslim scholars have said: “Worship is an all-inclusive term for those internal and external sayings and actions of a person that are pleasing to Allah.”

In other words, worship is that which is done in obedience to Allah’s will, which obviously includes rituals but goes far beyond to the realms of ones beliefs, social activities, and personal contributions to one’s society and fellow human beings. Islam looks at the individual as a whole. He is required to submit completely to Allah, as the Qur’an instructed the prophet Muhammad to do: Say (O Muhammad) my prayer, my sacrifice, my life and my death belong to Allah; He has no partner and I am ordered to beamong those who submit, i.e.; Muslims.

The natural result of this submission is that one’s activities should conform to the instructions of the one to whom the person is submitting-Allah. Islam requires that its followers conduct every aspect of their lives according to its teachings. This might sound strange to those who view religion as apersonal relation between the individual and God and as having no impact on those activities that are not connected specifically with any religious rituals.The Prophet taught his followers that Islam is far more than a private personal matter. Islam attaches no value to rituals that are performed mechanically and have no influence on one’s inner life.The Qur’an dealt with this issue when it addressed Muslims, as well as local Jews and Christians, during the dispute that arose when theprayer direction was changed from Jerusalem to the Ka’bah in Makkah: It is not righteousness that you turn your faces toward the Eastor the West, but righteous is he who believes in Allah and theLast Day and the Angels and the Book and the Prophets, andgives his beloved money to the relatives and the orphans andthe needy And over the ransoming of the captives, and who observes prayer and pays the poor-due, and those who fulfill their promises when they have made one, and the patient inpoverty and affliction and the steadfast in time of war; it isthose who have proved truthful and it is those who are the God-fearing. (2:177)

The deeds mentioned in the above verse are indications that a person is righteous. But they are only a part of worship. Faith, according to the Prophet, is the basis of worship and “is made up of sixty and some branches: the highest of which is the belief in the Oneness of Allah, i.e., there is no God but Allah and the lowest in thes cale of worship is removing obstacles and dirt from people’s way

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