17 September 2008
By Dr Syed Bashir Ahmad
THE Islamic meaning and scope of worship has auspicious effects on self and life, such as: 1. It dyes the life and actions of a Muslim with the divine paint. It keeps him tugged with Allah in every worldly act in such a way that he performs these acts with the intention of a devout adorer with a humble and pious soul. This creates meaning and significance in every act of the Muslim.
This perception beckons him towards excellence, meticulousness and perfection in his worldly deeds, as he does so with the perception of submission to the Glorious Cherisher and with the intention of seeking His pleasure and pleasant recompense. 2. It grants to a Muslim focus of direction and unity of purpose in the whole life. In every coming day and passing night, he strives to please the only Lord and strides towards Him with all his worldly and religious endeavours. There is no schism or conflict nor duplicity neither in his personality nor in life.
The Muslim is not one of those who worship Allah in the darkness of the night and worship the “society” in the daylight. He is not one of those who worship Allah within the walls of the mosque and worship the “world” or the “matter” in the arena of actual life. He is not one of those who worship Allah on a specific day of the week and worship other things and beings throughout the week.
Certainly, he is not of that lot! He worships only Allah and Him alone wherever he is, however he is and in whatever job and circumstance he may be. Observation of Allah does not part with him in any work, state, or time: “To Allah belong the east and the West: Whithersoever ye turn, there is the presence of Allah. For Allah is all-Pervading, all-Knowing”. (Al-Quran: Al-Baqarah: 115)
Thus, all his attention turns towards Allah, his heart concentrates on Allah; the integrity and harmony of his life, thought, motivation and passion do not disintegrate in various directions, trends and schisms. The whole life of a Muslim is an indivisible single unit; his course therein is the worship of Allah; his purpose therein is seeking pleasure of Allah; his guide therein is the revelation of Allah.
Worship embraces the whole personality
As worship in Islam incorporates the whole life, it also embraces the complete human personality. A Muslim worships Allah with his intellect; he worships Allah with his heart; he worships Allah with his tongue; he worships Allah with the senses of hearing and vision and with all other senses, he worships Allah with his whole body; he worships Allah by spending his wealth; he worships Him by dedicating his life; he even worships Him by parting with his nearest and dearest and by departing his homeland.
A Muslim glorifies Allah with his intellect by reflecting over his own self and over the universe, by contemplating the wondrous kingdom of the heavens and the earth and whatsoever is therein, by pondering over the revealed signs of Allah and on the guidance and wisdom therein, and by mulling over the destiny of nations, the events of history and the lessons and warnings therein.
Purpose of Worship
We know now that the mission of the human being on the face of this earth and within this existence is to worship Allah alone. We know that the worship represents utmost submission blended with ultimate love for Allah. We know that the worship in Islam encompasses the whole life. A question that may be asked by some as to why do we worship Allah? In other words, why did Allah make His worship and obedience incumbent upon us, while he is in no need of it?
The answer is that in fact the worship of any of His slaves avails no benefit to Him (Praise be to Him) nor does turning away of any arrogant from Him harm Him in any manner. The Quran narrates to us the statement of Solomon (PBUH): “… (Solomon) said: “This is by the Grace of my Lord! — to test me whether I am grateful or ungrateful! and if any is grateful, truly his gratitude is (a gain) for his own soul; but if any is ungrateful, truly my Lord is Free of all Needs, Supreme in Honour !”… ( Al-Quran: Al-Naml:40) The Holy Quran also says: “O ye men! It is ye that have need of Allah: but Allah is the One Free of all wants, worthy of all praise”. (Al-Quran: Fatir: 15)
Nourishment of the soul
Human being is not just the physical shroud that we feel and see, and that demands its portion of the earthly food and drink. The essence of the human being rather lies in that precious substance, by which he became venerated as human being and as master of all creation on the earth. That substance is nothing but the soul that derives its vivacity and purity from intimate discourse with Allah (the Mighty and the Majestic). Worship of Allah provides sustenance and nourishment to this soul and dispenses its daily requirements, never running out nor depleting.
If negligence and ignorance accumulate on this abstract substance and if oxidation of repudiation and suspicion rust it, sentiments in times of ordeals may breeze up and dislodge the accumulated dust; fire of hardship and suffering may erupt and eliminate the corrosion. Right then does the human being instantaneously return to Allah, calls out to Him and humbles himself before Him.
The human heart always feels the need for Allah, the Originator of all that exists. This feeling is so pristine and veritable, that its vacuum cannot be filled by anything in the existence except by a strong bond with Lord of the Existence. This exactly is the role of worship when performed aptly.
Road to freedom
Furthermore, absolute servitude to Allah is actually the selfsame of freedom. It is the road to real sovereignty. It alone releases the heart from serfdom of the created. It alone liberates the heart and mind from submission and servitude of all sorts of gods and idols besides Allah, who subjugate the people and enslave them by means of the worst forms of subjugation and enslavement, even though in their appearance and form, they may, appear to be sovereign rulers.
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