(2) WORSHIP (‘Ibadah) AND SERVITUDE (‘Ubudiyyah)

(2) WORSHIP (‘Ibadah) AND SERVITUDE (‘Ubudiyyah)

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THE PLEASURE OF ALLAH AS THE ACIS OF WORSHIP:

Just as heavenly bodies and the earth always have a fixed axis though they make diverse rotations and revolutions, worship, with all its various forms and appearances, is also anchored in a fixed axis, which is the pleasure of Allah. This is in spite of the fact that spatial and temporal as well as individual and collective circumstances determine the type of movement along this axis.

For example, travel makes (a four-cycle {rak‘ah}) prayer a two-rak‘ah prayer; illness may necessitate changes in the form of the prayer. Yet, the two-rak‘ah or shortened prayer is still a prayer and it is based on the axis of remembering Allah, seeking His pleasure and performing His command:

﴿ وَأَقِمِ الصَّلاةَ لِذِكْرِي ﴾

“And maintain the prayer for My remembrance.
(Qur’an: Surah Ta Ha 20:14)

THE SPIRIT OF WORSHIP:

Worship is the nourishment of the soul and the best food is that which is absorbed by the body. Similarly, the best act of worship is that which is internalized by the soul; that is, if it is performed with enthusiasm and presence of heart. Eating too much food is not beneficial. What is important is eating useful food.

The Holy Prophet (SallAllahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) said to Jabir ibn ‘Abd Allah al-Ansari:

إِنَّ هٰذَا الدّينَ فَاَوْغِل فيهِ بِرِفْقٍ وَلا تُبَغِّضُ إِلىٰ نَفْسِك عِبَادَةَ اللهِ.

“Indeed this religion is firm. Therefore, act moderately in relation to it (and when you have no spiritual readiness for worship, do not impose it on yourself) so that the worship of Allah would not be detested by you.”

In another hadith, we also read that the Holy Prophet (SallAllahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) said:

طُوبىٰ لِمَنْ عَشِقَ الْعِبادَةَ وَ عانَقَها.

“Blessed is he who loves worship and is always fond of it.”

MODERATION IN WORSHIP:

Man is healthy when there is proportionality in his bodily limbs, and if a certain body member is bigger or smaller than the normal size, it is considered deformed (or defective in general). In spiritual affairs, man should also harmoniously nurture all that is valuable in himself.

It was reported to the Holy Prophet (SallAllahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) that under the pretext of worship, a group of his ummah {community} had abandoned their spouses and children and had secluded themselves in the mosque. The Prophet (SallAllahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) stated in a loud voice:

“This is not my way and method. I myself am living with my spouses and reside in my house. Anyone who acts contrary to this does not belong to me.”

MANAGEMENT IN WORSHIP:

Management is confined not only to social, political and economic issues. In fact, devotional affairs are also in need of management.

The principles discussed in management are: Planning and work design; selection of an efficient workforce; discipline and supervision; encouragement and control and the like. In the domain of worship, these principles should also be observed in order to engender advancement and perfection.

Prayer has a specific design; it starts with takbir {utterance of Allahu akbar} and ends with salam or taslim {salutation}. Its number of rak‘ahs {cycles}, ruku‘ {bowing down} and sujud {prostration} is specified. Its time of performance is determined and its direction is toward the qiblah {the Ka‘bah in Mecca}.

The mere design, however, is not enough. Its performance also necessitates the selection of a competent and socially oriented congregational prayer leader {imam}. Through good manners, morality, supervision, and enthusiasm, the people encouraged and persuaded to perform prayer and attend the mosque.

Order and arrangement in the lines of the congregation as well as in following the Imam should be observed. In any case, it requires perfect management for it to be conducted in the best possible manner.

THE PHILOSOPHY OF WORSHIP ACCORDING TO QUR’AN:

The Qur’an regards the remembrance of Allah as the philosophy of prayer:

“And maintain the prayer for My remembrance
(Qur’an: Surah Ta Ha 20:14)

And the remembrance of God is the source of tranquility of the heart:

“Look! The hearts find rest in Allah’s remembrance!”
(Qur’an: Surah al-Ra‘d 13:28)

And the consequence of tranquility of the heart is soaring to the celestial realm:

“O soul at peace! Return to your Lord!”
(Qur’an: Surah al-Fajr 89:27-28)

In other cases, the Qur’an considers gratitude to God as the reason behind worship:

﴿ اعْبُدُوا رَبَّكُمُ الَّذي خَلَقَكُمْ ﴾

“Worship you Lord, who created you.”36
(Qur’an: Surah al-Baqarah 2:21)

﴿ فَلْيَعْبُدُوا رَبَّ هذَا الْبَيْتِ ٭ الَّذي أَطْعَمَهُمْ مِنْ جُوعٍ وَ آمَنَهُمْ مِنْ خَوْفٍ ﴾

“Let them worship the Lord of this House, who has fed them {and saved them} from hunger, and secured them from fear.”37
(Qur’an: Surah al-Quraysh 106:3-4)

In some verses, the educational function of prayer has been pointed out:

﴿ إِنَّ الصَّلاةَ تَنْهى‏ عَنِ الْفَحْشاءِ وَ الْمُنْكَرِ ﴾

“Indeed the prayer prevents indecencies and wrongs.”38
(Qur’an: Surah al-‘Ankabut 29:45)

For the sake of the authenticity or acceptance of prayer, the performer of prayer has no option but to observe the religious precepts as a whole, the observance of which is itself a strong foundation for abstaining from sin and indecency. Yes, anyone who would wear a white garment will naturally not sit on a dirty and polluted ground.
After enjoining prayer, the Qur’an states:

﴿ إِنَّ الْحَسَناتِ يُذْهِبْنَ السَّيِّئاتِ ﴾

“Indeed good deeds efface misdeeds.”39
(Qur’an: Surah Hud 11:114)

Thus, prayer is a practical repentance for past sins, and through this verse, God gives hope to the sinner that if he would perform meritorious acts such as prayer and worship, his misdeeds will be erased.

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