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Islam and the Concept of ‘Ibaadah’ (Worship or Adoration)

By Abdul Jeleel Solahudeen

30 December 2011

“O mankind; worship your Guardian Lord, Who created you and those who came before that you may become righteous”. Q2:21

“I have only created Jinns and men that they may serve Me”. Q51:56

All praises belong to Allah the Lord and Cherisher of the Worlds. May His blessings continue to shower on the best exemplar for mankind- Prophet Muhammad, members of his household, his noble companions and all the true believers till the last hour.

Islam is based on five pillars, the first of which is to testify that “there is no deity worthy of worship except Allah and that Prophet Muhammad is His servant and messenger”.  The testimony is what qualifies a person to be a Muslim in the first instance. It is not sufficient to orally or verbally profess the Shuhada in Islam, but to spiritually imbibe the meaning of this Kalimah. The real meaning is that one should accept Allah- the supreme, as the Creator and Nourisher of all beings; also as the Originator, Fashioner and Designer of all these beings. He is also the provider of sustenance for all living entities. These attributes are not shared with Him by any other entity whatsoever. There is neither creator nor nourisher beside Allah.

To His extent, He deserves to be served and given our sincere devotion and worship.  Worship or ‘Ibaadah in Arabic language means all forms of adoration that He (Allah) approves of and He’s pleased with for mankind. It is not such as being designed by mankind himself but according to the pattern and design of Allah to which this act of worship is meant. Scholars like Shaykul Islam, Ahmad bn Taimiyah, has defined ‘Ibadaah as a comprehensive definition of all forms of words and actions that Allah (SWT) loves and cherishes both in the secret and the open. This involves that which is done with the aid of our tongues and that which we use all the parts of our body to (demonstrate) carry out.

The first condition binding an act of worship in Islam is that it must be commanded by Allah, that is, it must be that Allah (SWT) enjoined His servants to do it. Allah (SWT) says; “O ye who believe; bow down, prostrate yourselves and adore your Lord and do good that you may prosper”. Q22:77

In this particular verse, Allah (SWT) enjoined the believers to observe “solat” and engage in other acts of righteousness.  This is because solat is composed of standing, bowing, prostrating and complete submission to Allah the most high.

Before any act can be called an act of ‘Ibaadah (worship), that act must be one enjoined by Allah to whom the worship is directed.

The second condition that qualifies an action to be an act of worship is that it must be practised by our noble Prophet Muhammad (SAW). This is so because, He (the Holy Prophet) is the messenger to which the message of belief and worship was given. Anyone who engages in any act outside the scope of the message given to our prophet has attributed prophethood or Allah’s messengership to himself or otherwise to whosoever might have recommended such as such as act of worship; Whereas one of the fundamental principles of faith (Iman) in Islam is the belief in the finality of prophethood with Prophet Muhammad. This is evident in his saying (SAW): “I am the seal of the all prophets and messengers; there is no prophet after me” (Hadith).

Therefore, an act of worship or adoration is only acceptable unto Allah if those two conditions are met.  Besides these, any act of worship stands between acceptance and rejection if though Allah enjoined it and it strictly follows the pattern of the prophet but the motive is to please others besides Allah (SWT).

Allah (SWT) says;

“Say (O Muhammad), I am but a man like yourselves (but) the inspiration has come to me that your God is one God: Whoever expects to meet his Lord, let him work righteousness and in the worship of his Lord admit no one as partner (unto Allah)”.

Worship or Ibaadah should not be directed towards any other deity beside Allah and this is the essence of Laa ilaha illa Allahu.

Source: The Nigerian Tribune