WORSHIP {‘ibadah} and SERVITUDE {‘ubudiyyah}

WORSHIP {‘ibadah} and SERVITUDE {‘ubudiyyah}

WHAT IS WORSHIP {‘ibadah}?

Worship {‘ibadah} is the purpose behind our creation. The Qur’an states:

﴿ وَمَا خَلَقْتُ الْجِنَّ وَالإنْسَ إِلا لِيَعْبُدُونِ ﴾

“I did not create the jinn and humans except that they may worship Me.”
(Qur’an: Surah Adh-Dhariyat 51:56)

If the work we are doing is for the sake of seeking the pleasure of Allah, then it is an act of worship. It is so even though it may be a business or professional venture, the pursuit of knowledge, marriage, service to people, or anything that is meant to meet our needs or that of society.

That which makes an action an act of worship {‘ibadah} is the sacred motives behind its performance and in the parlance of the Qur’an, it has the “divine baptism” {sibghat Allah}.


Some of our actions or activities are based on worship {‘ibadah} while others are anchored in natural disposition {fi}. A habit can be meritorious such as sports or not meritorious such as smoking. But if an action was anchored in natural disposition—that is, if it was done based on the natural disposition and pure mold which Allah has bestowed on the constitution of every human being—then it would always be meritorious.

The merit of natural disposition compared to worship is that time and place, gender and race, and age and condition have no effect on it, and every human being, on account of his being a human, possesses it. An example of this is the affection given to one’s child that is not true only to a particular generation and period rather, it is common for every parent to do so.

Issues such as form any style of dress or food are governed by habit and they vary in different times and places. In some regions, a certain thing is a custom while the same is not regarded as such in other places.


Who could recognize Allah with all His perpetual qualities and perfections without resorting to subservience and obeisance to Him? Through stories and historical accounts, the Qur’an expresses the signs of His power and grandeur.

It states that Allah gave a child to Maryam (Mary) without her having a husband; He split the Nile River for Musa (Moses) (‘a) and drowned Fir‘awn (Pharoah) therein; He made the prophets (‘a) victorious while being empty-handed, against the superpowers of their respective times, and rubbed the nose of the Taghuts in the ground.

In every moment, you are under the threat of different types of dangers.

If the movement (both rotation and revolution) of the earth should slow down or should the day stand still, who could expedite its movement and change it?

﴿ قُلْ أَرَأَيْتُمْ إِنْ أَصْبَحَ مَاؤُكُمْ غَوْرًا فَمَنْ يَأْتِيكُمْ بِمَاءٍ مَعِينٍ ﴾

“Say, ‘Tell me, should your water sink down {into the ground}, who will bring you running water?”
( Surah al-Mulk 67:30

﴿ لَوْ نَشَاءُ جَعَلْنَاهُ أُجَاجًا فَلَوْلا تَشْكُرُونَ ﴾

“If We wish We can make it (water) bitter. Then why do you not give thanks?
(Qur’an: Surah Waaqi’ah 56:70)

﴿ لَوْ نَشَاءُ لَجَعَلْنَاهُ حُطَامًا فَظَلْتُمْ تَفَكَّهُونَ ﴾

“If We wish, We surely turn it (plant) into chaff, whereat you are left stunned (or regretful).”
(Qur’an: Surah Waaqi’ah 56:65)

﴿ إِنْ نَشَأْ نَخْسِفْ بِهِمُ الأرْضَ أَوْ نُسْقِطْ عَلَيْهِمْ كِسَفًا مِنَ السَّمَاءِ ﴾

“If We like, We can make the earth swallow them, or let fall on them a fragment from the sky..”
(Qur’an: Surah As-Saba 34:9)

The Qur’an mentions these and tens of other examples so as to take man out of his negligence, obliterate his pride and invite him toward worship and submissiveness to the Creator.


Worship is an act, which we outwardly consider as a type of humility, but it has deeper profundity.
Worship stems from the soul; it springs from gnosis {ma‘rifah}; it emanates from cognition; it originates from piety {taqaddus}; it radiates from adoration; it derives from admiration; it comes from seeking refuge and assistance; and it arises from the love of the perfections {kamalat} of the Worshipped Being {ma‘bud}.

Yes, worship is outwardly a simple act, but if it is other than the above, worship will not be entertained by man. Worship means emptying the heart of material things, letting the spirit fly, and allowing the feet to make steps beyond the seeable and hearable things. Worship guarantees the love of man whose politeness in relation to his Lord is sometimes expressed through eulogy and adoration; at other times through glorification {tasbi} and sanctification {taqdis}; and yet at some other times, through gratitude and gestures of submission.

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