‘Ibaadah (worship) in Arabic means submission and humbling oneself. The Arabs use the phrase tareeq mu’abbad to describe a smooth path which has been become smooth because so many feet have walked on it.
In Islamic terminology the word ‘ibaadah is used in two senses:
1 – The actions of a person, such as praying or paying zakaah, which are described as ‘ibaadah. The scholars defined it as follows:
It means obeying Allaah by doing that which He has commanded and avoiding that which He has forbidden, whilst loving Allaah, fearing Him and putting one’s hopes in Him.
2 – It also refers to the action itself in abstract terms, such as prayer, zakaah, etc. The scholars defined it as follows:
This is a comprehensive word which includes all word and deeds that Allaah loves and is pleased with, both outward and inward.
These enjoined actions are called ‘ibaadaat (acts of worship) because people do them in humility and with love for their Lord. In worshipping Allaah there has to be complete love as well as complete submission to Him.
Our Lord has told us that the ultimate purpose behind the creation of the jinn and mankind is so that they will worship Him alone with no partner or associate. Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“And I (Allaah) created not the jinn and mankind except that they should worship Me (Alone)”
How can we achieve this purpose and fulfil this goal?
Many people think that ‘ibaadah only refers to a number of rituals that Allaah has commanded should be done at certain times – such as prayer, fasting and Hajj – and that this is the end of the matter. But it is not as these people think.
How long does it take to do these rituals of worship every day and night. Indeed how long does it take in a person’s lifetime? What about the rest of his life then? What about the rest of his energy? What about the rest of his time? How should it be spent and where does it go? Should he spend it in worship or something else? If he is going to spend it in something other than worship, then how can he fulfil the purpose for which mankind was created, which the verse limited completely to worship of Allaah? How can he fulfil the words of Allaah (interpretation of the meaning):
“Say (O Muhammad): Verily, my Salaah (prayer), my sacrifice, my living, and my dying are for Allaah, the Lord of the ‘Aalameen (mankind, jinn and all that exists)”
‘Uboodiyyah is a holistic matter that encompasses the life of the Muslim. When he strives in the land seeking provision he is worshipping Allaah, because Allaah has commanded him to do that, as He says (interpretation of the meaning):
“so walk in the path thereof and eat of His provision. And to Him will be the Resurrection”
When he sleeps, he sleeps so as to gather strength to worship Allaah, as Mu’aadh ibn Jabal (may Allaah be pleased with him) said: “I seek reward for my sleep just as I seek reward for praying qiyaam” (narrated by al-Bukhaari, 4342).
Indeed the Muslim is not content unless his pleasure in eating, drinking and marital relations is counted in the scale of his good deeds, as the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “In the intimacy of one of you there is sadaqah (charity, a good deed).” They said: “O Messenger of Allaah, if one of us satisfies his desires will he be rewarded for that?” He said: “What do you think, if you were to do it in a haraam way, would you not have a burden of sin?” They said, “Yes.” He said: “Similarly if he does it in a halaal way he will have a reward.” Narrated by Muslim, 1006.
TO BE CONTINUED… INSHA ALLAH