1. God created us to worship Him: “I have only created Jinns and men, that they may serve (worship) Me. No sustenance do I require of them, nor do I require that they should feed Me.” (51:56-57)
2. What is the meaning of worship?
Ans. Sayings, actions, and thoughts that please God, benefit you and other people. God says: “Behold, your Lord said to the angels: “I will create a (Khalifa) vicegerent on earth.” (2:30)
3. What is the meaning of Khalifa(Vicegerent)?
(a) Vicegerent/representative: “God has promised, to those among you who believe and work righteous deeds, that He will, of a surety, grant them in the land, inheritance (of power), as He granted it to those before them…” (24:55)
(b) Caretaker: “He is that has made you inheritors in the earth: if, then, any do reject (God), their rejection (works) against themselves.” (35:39)
(c) Trustee: “It is He who has made you (His) agents, inheritors of the earth…” (6:165)
(d) Progenitor: “But after them their followed a posterity who missed prayers and followed their lusts: Soon, then, will they face destruction.” (19:59) ** (marriage is half of religion)
(e) Developer: To the Thamud people (We sent) Salih, one of their own brethren. He said: “O my people! Worship God: you have no other god but Him. It is He Who has created you from the earth and settled you therein to develop it.” (11:61)
(f) Successor: “Thy Lord is self-sufficient, full of Mercy: if it were His Will, He could destroy you, and in your place appoint whom He wills as your successors, even as He raised you up from the posterity of other people.” (6:133)
4. Examples of other acts of worship:
(a) Thoughts: thinking of building an orphanage or a school. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) says: “A man is rewarded for the acts he performs according to his intention.” (Al-Bukhari) (thinking of building an orphanage)
(b) Acts: Seeking knowledge. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) says: “When a man dies everything ceases to benefit him except three things viz. (1) continuous charity, (2) beneficial knowledge and (3) a pious child who prays for him continuously.” (Bukhari and Muslim) (when someone dies, he is accompanied by 3 things viz family members, wealth and deeds. Only deeds go with him.” (the man who watered a dog + picking up a thorn from the road is an aspect of worship)
(c) Sayings: Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) says: “A good word you say to someone is regarded as one of the elements of charity.” (Sahih Muslim)
** (a joke + an advice + good words) (56:37)
5. What are the specialties of worship in Islam?
(a) Not restricted to special shrines or other special places. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “The whole universe has been made clean and pure for me. So whenever it is time to pray, let everyone of you perform it wheresoever he may be.” (Bukhari) However, some places are more meritorious than others like Ka’bah, prophets mosque and Jerusalem, then mosques…
(b) Not restricted to Saints only: God orders Prophet Muhammad that: “When My servants ask you concerning Me, I am indeed close (to them): I listen to the prayer of everybody when he calls on Me. Let them also, with a will, listen to My call, and believe in Me: that they may walk in the right way.” (2:186)
(c) No mediation: We read in the Qur’an: “We created man, and We know what dark suggestions his soul makes to him: for We are nearer to him than (his) jugular vein.” (50:16)
** We read also in the Qur’an: “Is it not to God that sincere devotion is due? But those who take protectors other than God (say): “We only serve them in order that they may bring us nearer to God.” Truly God will judge between them in that wherein they differ. But God guides not such as are false and ungrateful.” (39:03)
(d) No special occasions dedicated for worship: God says: “… and your Lord says, ‘call on Me,’ I will answer your (prayer): but those who are too arrogant to serve Me will surely find themselves in Hell in humiliation.” (40:60)
** However, worshipping God in occasions like Ramadan, Hajj, Ashura day, etc, is more rewarding…
6. What are the prerequisites of worship?
(a) Belief in God: We read in the Qur’an: “It is not righteousness that you turn your faces towards East or West; but it is righteousness to believe in God and the Last Day.” (2:177)
(b) Sincerity: God says: “… and they have been commanded no more than this: to worship God, offering Him sincere devotion, being true (in faith); to establish prayer, and to practice regular charity, and that is the right and straight religion.” (98:05)
** God also says in *l-Hadith Al-Qudsi: “I am the richest of the rich; whoever does an act of worship with the intention of pleasing other people beside Me, I will abandon him to his polytheism.” (Series of Divine Sayings)
(c) To worship Him in conformity with what Prophet Muhammad taught us: God says: “… so take what the messenger assigns to you and abstain from what he withholds from you. And fear God, for He is strict in punishment.” (59:07)
7. What are the pillars of worship?
(a) to love Him: God says: “There are men who take (for worship) others besides God, as equal (with Him): they love them as they should love God, but those of faith are overflowing in their love for God.” (2:165)
(b) To fear Him: God says: “It is only the Devil that suggests to you the fear of his votaries: be ye not afraid of them, but fear Me, if you have faith.” (3:175)
(the woman who ordered her daughter do adulterate milk)
(c) To anticipate His rewards on the Day of Judgment: God says: Say: “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 admit no one as a partner in the worship of his Lord.” (18:110)
8. Does God benefit from our worship to Him? No. We read in the Holy Qur’an: “Whoever works righteousness benefits his own soul; whoever works evil, it is against his own soul: Nor is thy Lord ever unjust (in the least) to His servants.” (41:46)
9. If God does not benefit from our worship of Him, why then did He order us to worship Him?
Ans. (a) so that we live in happiness and harmony with each other. God says in Al-Hadith Al-Qudsi: “O son of Adam! I have created you to worship Me, so continue worshipping Me you will find everything easy.”
(b) so that human rights are enforced. Prophet Muhammad said: “A true Muslim is the one who avoids harming others by hand or mouth.” (Imam Mulim)
(c) for our mental, physical and spiritual benefits
(d) as a sign of His justice to His servants
(e) He does what He wills and no one should ever question His actions.
(f) To test us who will be grateful and who will not. God says: “Do men think that they will be left alone on saying, “We believe, and that they will not be tested.” (29:02)
(g) To act as an evidence for the people who are entitled to paradise. God says: “… and if We had inflicted on them a penalty before this, they would have said: “our Lord! If only you had sent us a messenger, we should certainly have followed Your signs before we were humbled and put to shame.” (20:134)
10. Pillars of Islam (acts that characterize a Muslim):
(a) Belief in the Oneness of God and that Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) is His final messenger.
(b) Perform prayers five times a day.
(c) Paying Zakat (compulsory charity)
(d) Fasting during the month of Ramadan
(e) Pilgrimage once in your life time.
Worship in Islam
Food for thought:
1- Why do you think you are here in the world?
2- Everyone even that who will die tomorrow claims to work for the future, so what is the future?
3- Whom do you return to for solace during your times of distress?
4- What do you think will help you when you die?