Ritual Ibadah in Islam ties the heart to its Lord around the clock. The Qur’an calls for remembering Allah prior to sunrise and sunset, and to devoting a portion of the night to intimate night dialogue with Him. It calls the Muslim to remember Allah through the five daily prayers, through wudhu (ritual washing) and invocations preceding those prayers, through a month of annual fasting, through a periodic read-through of the entire Qur’an, etc. This splendid cycle keeps hearts in tune with the reality of creation, constantly pondering over their fundamental relationship with their Creator.
The heart (qalb) is inherently unstable (mutaqallib), prone to forgetting and being dragged into a heedless and agitated state; Ibadah serves to keep the heart polished and illuminated. When one awakens from the heedlessness of sleep, one remembers Allah; praying fajr (the dawn prayer) fortifies the spiritual psyche in preparation for a new day. Uttering the remembrance of Allah when leaving the house immunizes one against the difficulties of dealing with the material world.
Praying ḍuḥa (the forenoon prayer) recharges the torch lit by the previous prayer that may have begun to weaken. Midday, as the spirit’s preoccupations with worldly engagement have almost consumed it, praying dhuhr (the noon prayer) returns it to its original shine. Just when heedlessness begins to hover anew, praying aṣr (the afternoon prayer) stirs in the heart its earlier craving for its Lord. At sundown, a person finds refuge in praying maghrib (the sunset prayer), which calms his exhausted and anxious spirit. Before settling back into sleep, the Muslim offers isha (the night prayer), closing the day with consistency.
This is how minimal Ibadah evokes reflection and refreshes one’s faith, rinsing away any stains and keeping the heart alive and invigorated. Without it, people might never escape the devastating feelings of loneliness and estrangement they feel even when surrounded by family and admirers. Ibadah reserves a person’s autonomy and the right to be more than a mere gear in the merciless grind of life, and the ability to secure renewed life from the King of all Kings.
Another benefit of Worship is it Harmonizes Humans with the Universe
The entire universe lies prostrate in the sense that it surrenders to Allah’s will at all times. Allah says:
وَلَهُۥ مَن فِى ٱلسَّمَـٰوَٰتِ وَٱلْأَرْضِ ۖ كُلٌّ لَّهُۥ قَـٰنِتُونَ
“And to Him belongs whosoever is in the heavens and earth. All are to Him devoutly obedient” [Ar-Rum 30: 26].
Allah informs us further that this obedient universe was created to serve the human being. Therefore, all that exists around us has been subdued for the human being, not because humanity is entitled to any of it, but so that they can actualize ibadah, completing the universal alignment that spans the tiniest atom to the widest galaxy. Allah says:
فَأَقِمْ وَجْهَكَ لِلدِّينِ حَنِيفًا ۚ فِطْرَتَ ٱللَّهِ ٱلَّتِى فَطَرَ ٱلنَّاسَ عَلَيْهَا ۚ لَا تَبْدِيلَ لِخَلْقِ ٱللَّهِ ۚ ذَٰلِكَ ٱلدِّينُ ٱلْقَيِّمُ وَلَـٰكِنَّ أَكْثَرَ ٱلنَّاسِ لَا يَعْلَمُونَ
“So direct your face toward the religion, inclining to truth. [Adhere to] the fiṭra of Allah upon which He has created [all] people. No change should there be in the creation of Allah. That is the correct religion, but most of the people do not know” [Ar-Rum 30: 30].
A person’s voluntary conformity with Allah’s Will mirrors the universe’s involuntary conformity with Allah’s Will, and this harmony benefits humanity with its synergy and stability in ways that the earliest generations of Muslims portrayed best.