Islam enjoins Muslims to offer five prayers

Worship in Islam

Worship has a unique role in religion Islam as it shows that a person is a true Muslim who lives his/her life according to the will of Almighty Allah by accepting His commands and implementing them in real life. The basic purpose of worship is to attain nearness to Allah (SWT) with what He loves and is pleased with. It is necessary for worship that it has to be based on clear guidance and to be free from divergence. In the Holy Quran, Almighty Allah says about worship in these words:

يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ اعْبُدُوا رَبَّكُمُ الَّذِي خَلَقَكُمْ وَالَّذِينَ مِن قَبْلِكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَتَّقُونَ

“O mankind! worship your Lord, the One Who created you and those from before you, so that you may become righteous.” (Surah Al-Baqarah 2:21)

Worship is an all-inclusive term for those internal and external sayings and actions of a person that is pleasing to Allah. Worship in Islam is woven into the daily life of a Muslim and is not confined to a holy place. In Islam, worship is the very purpose of our existence. Muslims worship God, the Creator, and Sustainer of the universe, out of love and submission. Allah says:

قَالَ بَل رَّبُّكُمْ رَبُّ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ الَّذِي فَطَرَهُنَّ وَأَنَا عَلَىٰ ذَٰلِكُم مِّنَ الشَّاهِدِينَ

“He said, “Nay, your Lord (is the) Lord (of) the heavens and the earth, the One Who created them and I am to that of the witnesses.” (Surah Al-Anbiya` 21:56)

They believe that He is the One God (Allah in Arabic) who is unique and only He deserves to be worshipped. The fundamental aspects of worship in Islam are encompassed within five pillars, which enable Muslims to cultivate their relationship with God.

Here are some points that enrich, worship in Islam:

  1. Worshipping God is a comprehensive concept within Islam
  2. Worship strengthening their bond with their Creator
  3. Worship is the very purpose of our existence
  4. Worship gives a person a clear perspective
  5. Worship itself is an inherently inner peace 
  6. Worship teaches us about good and bad
  7. Worship carrying out the purpose in life
  8. Worship gains a sense of true peace 
  9. Worship rules being a good Muslim 
  10. Worship brings one closer to God
  11. Worship bend to mutual caring
  12. Worship the true way of life
  13. Worship make our life better
  14. Worship trend to a believer in God 
  15. Worship  is the source of all peace
  16. Worship having a moral compass alone
  17. Worship judge between right and wrong
  18. Worship differentiate between good and evil
  19. Worship has a message for people at all times
  20. Worship commitment means striving for peace 
  21. Worship has a close relationship with the Creator
  22. Worship emancipates the mind from superstitions 

The concept of worship in Islam is misunderstood by many people including some Muslims. Worship is commonly taken to mean performing ritualistic acts such as prayers, fasting, charity, etc. This limited understanding of worship is only one part of the meaning of worship in Islam. Allah says:

وَقَالَ رَبُّكُمُ ادْعُونِي أَسْتَجِبْ لَكُمْ إِنَّ الَّذِينَ يَسْتَكْبِرُونَ عَنْ عِبَادَتِي سَيَدْخُلُونَ جَهَنَّمَ دَاخِرِينَ

“And said your Lord, “Call upon Me; I will respond to you. Indeed, those who (are) proud to worship Me will enter Hell (in) humiliation.” (Surah Ghafir 40:60)

The guidance of the Quran and the example of Prophet Muhammad, whose teachings have been meticulously preserved, form the basis of worship in Islam. It must be noted here that while Muslims esteem all of the prophets sent by God, including Jesus and Muhammad, they do not worship any of them. Worshipping anyone besides the One God is strictly prohibited in Islam. Rather, Muslims invoke God to send blessings upon all the messengers and prophets. Allah says:

وَمَا خَلَقْتُ الْجِنَّ وَالْإِنسَ إِلَّا لِيَعْبُدُونِ

“And I did not create the jinn and mankind except to worship Me.” (Surah Adh-Dhariyat, 51:56)

Here are some ways of worship in Islam:

  1. Testimony of Faith (Shahadah): The first of the five basic foundations is knowingly and voluntarily asserting that “There is nothing worthy of worship except God, and Muhammad is the Messenger of God.”
  2. Prayer (Salah): Muslims are required to pray five times a day to maintain a spiritual connection with God and remind themselves of their ultimate purpose in life. Through sincerity, repentance, and direct prayer to God, Muslims strive to establish a personal spiritual relationship with their Creator throughout the day. This prayer includes physical motions of bowing and prostrating, which were also performed by Jesus, Moses, and the prophets before them.
  3. Charity (Zakah): This is an annual charity given to the poor. Muslims must give 2.5% of their yearly savings to help the poor, the needy, and the oppressed. Charity is one of the vital sources of social welfare in Islam, encouraging a just society where everyone’s basic needs are provided for.
  4. Fasting (Sawm): Muslims fast during the month of Ramadan, the ninth month of the Muslim lunar calendar, by refraining from eating, drinking, and sexual interaction from dawn to sunset. It is an act of self-restraint and spiritual cleansing that increases one’s empathy for the less fortunate and enables one to consciously control bad habits such as foul language, idle talk, and anger. Fasting also helps people develop strong willpower as they overcome the essential desires of their bodies and the damaging acts of their tongues.
  5. Pilgrimage (Hajj): The pilgrimage (journey) to Mecca is an act that every Muslim must perform once in their life if they are physically and financially able. It symbolizes the unity of humankind as Muslims from every race and nationality assemble in equality to worship God, following the traditions of Prophet Abraham.

Muslims believe that God looks at people’s hearts, not just their physical needs. For an action to be regarded as worship, it must be performed with the pure intention of pleasing God. Therefore, the concept of worship in Islam encourages people to connect with God in every action they take, strengthening their bond with their Creator. In doing so, a person gains a sense of true peace that comes with carrying out their purpose in life. Allah says:

فَكَفَىٰ بِاللَّهِ شَهِيدًا بَيْنَنَا وَبَيْنَكُمْ إِن كُنَّا عَنْ عِبَادَتِكُمْ لَغَافِلِينَ

“So sufficient (is) Allah (as) a witness between us and between you that we were of your worship certainly unaware.” (Surah Yunus 10:29)

Worship involves that one fulfils certain deeds which Almighty Allah has commanded in His religion Islam, whether they deal with the inner self or the outer body, and whether they be obligatory or voluntary.  Worship is not only limited to following Allah’s commandments, but it is also inclusive of leaving those things which He has forbidden to do so. Now we can define worship as anything believed, felt, or done as an act of obedience to Allah.

Allah Almighty says in The Holy Quran:

  • “So woe to the worshippers.” (Surah Al-Maun, 4)
  • “I worship not that which ye worship.” (Surah Al-Kafirun, 2)
  • “Nor will ye worship that which I worship.” (Surah Al-Kafirun, 3)
  • “Nor will ye worship that which I worship.” (Surah Al-Kafirun, 5)
  • “For, verily, neither ye nor those ye worship.” (Surah As-Saffat, 161)
  • “That ye should worship Allah, fear Him and obey me.” (Surah Nuh, 3)
  • “Do ye then see whom ye have been worshipping.” (Surah Ash-Shura, 75)
  • “Nay, but worship Allah, and be of those who give thanks.” (Surah Az-Zumar, 66)
  • “And I will not worship that which ye have been wont to worship.” (Surah Al-Kafirun, 4)
  • “And that ye should worship Me, (for that) this was the Straight Way?” (Surah Ya-Sin, 61)
  • “Then came (the worshippers) with hurried steps, and faced (him).” (Surah As-Saffat, 94)

Worship should be done with obedience, love, and affection for Allah Almighty. No act of obedience is considered as worship unless it is connected to the feelings and acts of love, hold in esteem and have admiration for the One the action is being performed that is Allah (SWT). We all should know that worship is just for Allah Almighty and worshipping anyone besides Allah (SWT) is strictly prohibited in Islam. Allah says:

وَأَنِ اعْبُدُونِي هَٰذَا صِرَاطٌ مُّسْتَقِيمٌ

“And that you worship Me? This (is) a Path Straight.” (Surah Ya-Sin 36:61)

Worship saves human beings from invasion to anything besides Allah Almighty and prevents a person from surrendering his/her will to false Gods. Submission to Allah (SWT) is a great source of strength. Indeed, every single aspect of a person’s life can fit under the umbrella of worship in Islam, so long as the person intends to please God and the action is consistent with the Quran and prophetic example. At the same time, certain core rituals form the basis of a Muslim’s worship of God. Allah says:

ذَٰلِكُمُ اللَّهُ رَبُّكُمْ لَا إِلَٰهَ إِلَّا هُوَ خَالِقُ كُلِّ شَيْءٍ فَاعْبُدُوهُ وَهُوَ عَلَىٰ كُلِّ شَيْءٍ وَكِيلٌ

“That (is) Allah your Lord, (there is) no god except Him, (the) Creator (of) everything, so worship Him. And He (is) on everything a Guardian.” (Surah Al-An`am 6:102)

Islam enjoins Muslims to offer five prayers throughout the day at dawn, noon, mid-afternoon, sunset and night. Prayer enables Muslims to physically and mentally take a break from their worldly activities to connect with God several times a day. Allah says:

وَالَّذِينَ اجْتَنَبُوا الطَّاغُوتَ أَن يَعْبُدُوهَا وَأَنَابُوا إِلَى اللَّهِ لَهُمُ الْبُشْرَىٰ فَبَشِّرْ عِبَادِ

“And those who avoid the false gods lest they worship them and turn to Allah, for them (are) glad tidings. So give glad tidings (to) My slaves.” (Surah Az-Zumar 39:17)

The concept of worship in Islam is a comprehensive concept that includes all the positive activities of an individual. Islam guides the smallest details of one’s life on all levels. It is a very encouraging element when one realizes that all his activities are considered by Allah Almighty as acts of worship. The acts of worship lead an individual to seek Allah’s pleasure in his actions and always try to do them in the best possible manner.

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