Faith in God as Lord of the Universe and of all dominions is a concept that comes from the heart and permeates our whole being. But faith in God as the only Lord is not confined to the act of the faith alone. It influences all our behaviour and conduct and demands acts of worship to God and God alone. Anyone refraining from such worship or worshipping anything else as a “partner” to God is not considered to be a believer, even though he may profess true belief in God as the Lord of all Creations and Dominions. Sohow can we define the concept of worship of God?.
Normally we understand worship as remembrance of God, permormance of prayers, fasting and recitation of the Holy Quran, plus any other actions which take us nearer to Him. While this definition is no doubt correct, worship is not limited to these actions alone. Any useful action which is not prohibited by the Divine Law and is performed by a believer with the intention of seeking God’ s pleasure, is worship.
We eat so that we can keep ourselves fit in order to serve Him, therefore eating is a form of worship. A man gets married to ensure an honourable life for himself and his wife; therefore his marriage is an act of worship – as is the earning of money to spend on his family. Gaining knowledge, and good qualifications are also forms of worship. The same goes for the household chores a housewife does and the love and care she gives her husband.
Every action, provided it is within the Divine Law and is performed with the intention of seeking God’ s pleasure, is worship. Perhaps it is to convey this meaning that. He says in the Holy Quran:
I have not created jinns and men to any end other than they may worship me. (51: 56)
The Spirit of Worship
Worship has two aspects, spritual and physical. The spiritual aspect concerns our faith, which serves as both a motive and a guide. The physical aspect applies to the movement of our bodies. Prayer for example, involves speech and movement, reciting and reading, as well as standing, sitting and kneeling. But all these actions are empty of meaning and spirit, unless they are motivated by the force of true faith in the oneness of God.
Basis for the Oneness of Divinity
The belief that God alone is the source of all good and evil is the basis for the oneness of Divinity. It may be explained further by stating that God is the Creator of everything. As we said previously, he has created these worlds, cousing all kinds of creatures and things to flourish in them. He has endowed us with the power of intellect, so that we may think and contemplate about His entire creation.
But when we look at the sky, the earth and the various elements of nature, we may find that some of these forces are at odds with each other. For example, fire can burn a dry tree and water can extinguish the fire. If a mosquito stings someone, that person may contract malaria, and the bark of the cinchona tree can cure his fever.
We also find that God has combined harmful substances in order to make useful products. Table salt, for example, is made up of two harmful substances, chlorine and sodium. By mixing them together in certain quantities, table salt, which we require for our food, is produced.
We can also observe the following points.
1– Certain sets of rules and methods govern the interaction, fusion and merging of various substances. These principles and precepts laid down by God are constant and do not change. We tend to describe them as laws of nature.
2– These laws of nature and relationship between material things are not always visible to us, as is the reaction between fire and wood and fire and water. Indeed, many of these interactions are minute – deep, and hidden from our sight. God has created a cure for every illness in this world, but those cures are not visible or intelligible and have not been handed to us as ‘ready-made’ products. On the contrary, in His supreme wisdom, God has hidden these cures in places and situations where we can hardly imagine them to be. For example, penicillin is found in putrid mould which has the appearance of deadly poison. The most fragrant perfumes and paints of dazzling colours are to be found in tar, which is the most foul smelling and ugly looking material.
These sources are not within easy reach. Our Lord has mixed them, which means that the most effective and sought after material may exist in a very complicated form, mixed up with many other substances, making it a mammoth task to extract it.
When we read Madame Curie we learn about her tremendous patience. She had to carry out a long series of tests and experiments over several years in order to extract a gram of radium from a huge mass of materials! Every student should read the book about Madame Curie and her husband entitled ” The Immortal Student ” in order to understand the amount of patience and perseverance needed to obtain knowledge.
The biographies written by Islamic scholars in the early ages also describe extensively the patience, perseverance and sincerity required to seek knowledge.
3 – So far we know very little about the laws and regulation God laid down. What we have discovered so far is only a drop in the ocean.
We have categorised this limited knowledge into what we call science – including biology, chemistry, physics, physiology, medical science, etc. Each of these branches of science has specialists who delve in to the depths of their particular area in order to gainmore knowledge about the laws set down by our Lord.
4 – Some things in our universe serve us while others are harmful and these, we find, can be divided into two categories. Some events can be attributed to an obvious reason. For example, we know that we will die if we take poison. We have gained that knowledge through the application of the laws of nature, which have been incorporated in our sciences. But the second type of useful or harmful occurrence or substance may not seem apparent and may not be based on any known law of nature. An example of this would be of a physically fit person, who enjoys good health, suddenly dying of a heart attack for no obvious reason. Both these phenomena are caused by God.
5 – God has created in us intrinsic qualities of love for what is good and dislike for what is bad.This is why man does all he can in order to achieve what is good and beneficial to him, and tries his best to avoid what is harmful and evil.
In this context, he seeks help from every possible source of power and strenght. Some of these sources are permitted by religion, however, while others are not. So, which means are permitted by religion and which are not ?
Imagine that your child is unwell. In this situation you normally send for a doctor and ask him to treat your child. He may do so and write out a prescription. This is a lawful means you have made use of, in order to cure your child and it is permitted by God. You sought the help of a ‘ Scientist ‘ who has learnt the laws of nature laid down by God in the area of medicine. But if you had sent for a witch doctor to treat your child you would have been seeking help through means which are outside the Divine Law. In other words, the treatment your child would be given would not be based on knowledge of the laws of nature. On the contrary, they would employ certain unseen forces with which they claim to have contact, but the existence of which has not been proved either by physical or traditional evidence, such as evidence given in the Holy Quran or in the Traditions of the Prophet, may peace and blessings be upon him.
If your doctor died, and you were to visit his grave begging him to examine your child and make out a prescription for him, you would still be using a forbidden means because your doctor would no longer be in a position to answer your request. He would not be able tovisit your child, let alone write out a prescription for him! If it turned out that all the doctors you saw were unable to help, and the medicines they prescribed were useless, then it would be peerfectly acceptable to seek a cure through prayer, charity or by asking a pious man to pray to God for help. But it is unacceptable to stand on a man’s grave and seek his help.
It is lawful for some one to try to get well by taking the medicine the doctor has prescribed, but that medicine should not be used as a charm, being hung round the patient’s neck-or dissolved in water in the belief that , that water will make him well in a supernatural way. It is not within the Divine Law, either, for you to seek help from anything that God has not made an obvious means of help.
A sterile woman wishing to conceive is within her rights to consult a doctor and take medicine based on scientific principles. But it would not be in order for her to behave like some women in certain countries, who believe that if a woman places her hand on the window of a saint’s tomb she will become fertile. In other parts pf the world there are even strange superstitions in existence.
So, as we see from these examples, it ia perfectlyacceptable to consult specialists who have studied the laws of nature, and to go through normal means in order to achieve what is benificial. However, we should always remember that God alone and none other bestows goods, and that it is against our faith to seek the help of unseen forces, which are not supported by practical science, or confirmed by the Holy Quran or the Traditions of the Prophet, peace be upon him.