By Amjad Ibn Muhammad Rafiq.
The University of Essex Islamic SocietyThe Messenger of God, peace be upon him, said: “The right of God upon His servants is that they should worship Him (alone) and not associate anything with Him” [Reported by Bukhaaree and Muslim].
Almighty God created us that we may worship Him alone and not associate anything with Him. God has said: “I did not create Jinn and Men except that they may worship me” [Qur’an 51:56]. So what is this worship, what are its types and conditions and how should it be performed?
Worship is a collective term for everything which God loves and is pleased with from among the words and actions, such as supplication, prayer and having patience. Almighty God says (in the Qur’an): “Say: Verily my prayer, my service of sacrifice, my life and my death are all for God the Lord of the Worlds” [Qur’an 6:162], and the Prophet, peace be upon him, said “God the Exalted said: My servant does not draw near to Me with anything more loved by me than the obligatory actions which I have imposed upon him” [Reported by Bukhaaree].
The types of worship are many and include supplication, fear, hope, reliance, love of obedience to God, hatred of disobedience to Him, remorse, repentance, seeking aid from Him, vowing, sacrificing, bowing, prostrating and other things beside these.
Thus the first thing which a Muslim acknowledges is that he has been created for worship and must know of its form and types. The second thing the Muslim should realize is that a necessary condition of worship is sincerity. Almighty God the Exalted 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” [Qur’an 18:110], and the Messenger, peace be upon him, 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, peace be upon him, said that God said: “I am so Self-Sufficient that 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 to him whom he associated with Me” [Reported by Muslim].
Another vital condition of worship is that it is correct and therefore acceptable to God. Our Worship of God should be as He and His Messenger, peace be upon him, have commanded us. Almighty God says: “O you who believe! Obey God and obey the Messenger and do not let your actions become nullified” [Qur’an 47:33], and the Messenger, peace be upon him, has said: “Whoever does an action which we have not commanded will have it rejected” [Reported by Muslim]. And he, peace be upon him, also said: “Whoever does an action in a way different from ours will have it rejected” [Reported by Abu Daawood – Saheeh].
Fudayl ibn Ayyaad, a taabi’ee (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 . . . ” [Qur’an 11:7], “The most sincere and the most correct“, so those who were around him said: “And what is the most sincere and the most correct?” He replied: “Action, if it is correct but not sincere will not be accepted and action, if it is sincere but not correct 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.”
So these are two necessary conditions for our worship to be acceptable to God. God has also commanded us: “So call upon Him (out of) Fear and Hope” [Qur’an 6:56], and the Messenger, peace be upon him, used to supplicate: “I ask God for Paradise and I seek refuge in Him from the Fire”. [Reported by Abu Daawood – Saheeh].
A fourth point is that our worship should be in between hoping for God’s Mercy and reward and fearing His punishment. Some of the Salaf (i.e. pious predecessors of the first three generations of Muslims) used to say: “Whoever worships God with Love only is indeed a Zindeeq (i.e. a heretic) and whoever worships Him with Hope only is indeed a Murji’ (i.e. one who believes that sins impart no harm to a persons faith) and whoever worships Him with Fear only is indeed a Harooree (i.e. one of those believe that sins take a person out of Islam), but whoever worships Him with Love, Fear and Hope is indeed a believing Muwahhid (i.e. one who believes and actualizes the Unity (Tawheed) of God).
Another characteristic of our worship is being aware of the presence of God, that His knowledge is with us and He sees and hears us. This point is called Ihsaan – purity. Almighty God says: “The One Who sees you when you stand up for the prayer and when you move amongst those who prostrate themselves” [Qur’an 26:218], and also in the hadeeth of Gabriel (Arabic: Jibreel) when he said to the Messenger, peace be upon him: “Ihsaan is that you worship God as if you see Him and while you see Him not yet truly He sees you” [Reported by Muslim].
So these are five points concerning our worship, namely:
1. Acknowledgement that it is the purpose of our existence;
2. Extreme sincerity in fulfilling that purpose;
3. Correctness of our worship by conducting it in the manner of the Sunnah of the Messenger, peace be upon him;
4. Worshipping God by combining Love, Fear and Hope;
and 5. Accompanying all of that with Ihsaan – a keen awareness of God. The example of the one who learns these five points concerning the worship of his Lord and builds all of his actions upon them and the one who does not and is careless about his worship is like the example God has given: “Which then is best? He who lays the foundation of his house upon Taqwa (i.e. God-consciousness) and His Good Pleasure, or he who lays the foundation of his house upon an undetermined brink of a precipice ready to crumble down, so that it crumbles down with him into the Fire of Hell?” [Qur’an 9:108].
So respected Brothers and Sisters, let’s not be careless and make our actions vain like Almighty God has mentioned regarding some people: “And We shall turn to whatever actions they did and turn them into scattered dust” [Qur’an 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.