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Understanding Worship

In yesterday`s discussion, we explained the two extreme views held by some people, where some feel that Islam is only about worship and has no place for anything else and the second is that politics is the actual objective of Islam, both these viewpoints are wrong. We then concluded by explaining the purpose of the creation of Men, which is to worship Allah, the One and Only Lord.

Now speaking about worship, let us try to get a better understanding of what is worship!

‘Worship’, or in Arabic ‘Ibadah’, means being completely at the service of Allah Most High. This in turn includes all forms of worship sanctioned by the Shari‘ah, as well as obeying Allah in every aspect of life.

The word ‘ibadah is related to the word ‘abd, meaning ‘slave’. A slave obeys his master in every matter; but he does not worship him, so a slave’s servitude to his master cannot be called ‘ibadah. The relationship between Allah and His servants, however, calls for obedience as well as worship, and hence it can be called ‘ibadah.

‘Ibadah itself is of two kinds:

One type is done for no other purpose but worshipping Allah, such as prayer, fasting, Zakat, Hajj, sacrifice, and so on. All these are direct forms of worship.

The second kind of ‘ibadah, comprises actions that include an aspect of worldly benefit, but which, if done in accordance with the Divine injunctions, and in order to please Allah Most High, can become an indirect form of worship.

Take trade, for example. If it is done in accordance with the Divine commandments and with the intention of pleasing Allah, it becomes worship in a certain sense and one is entitled to a reward for it. But this is an indirect form of worship, because trade is not in itself an act of worship; only through obedience and good intention can it become one. The same applies to politics and government. If carried out in obedience to Allah and in order to please Him, they become a form of worship, an indirect form of worship, because in themselves they are not an act of worship. However, just as in the case of trade, obedience to Allah and good intention convert them into worship.

Hence when Allah Most High has stated that He has created mankind to worship Him, this covers both forms of worship. These two forms of worship together form the objective, the purpose of man’s creation.

Now, obviously the direct forms of worship are of higher standing than the indirect ones. There are many forms of indirect worship, and one cannot say that man has been created for only one of them. Rather, all direct and indirect forms of worship put together are the purpose for which man has been created.

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