Worship is a fundamental aspect of Islam. Its concept in Islam is unlike anything found in other religions in the world. Allah states in Surah An-Nahl that the prophets brought the core message about the worship of the One True God. Hence, it is clear that the foundation of monotheism is worship. The concept of worship in Islam is very broad.
Worship is a term that generally refers to religious rituals such as prayer. However, there are many more aspects of worship in Islam. Thus, worship in Islam differs from worship in other religions. The comprehensive nature of worship in Islam indicates the level of faith in God and devotion to Him Islam demands. The concept of worship in Islam is in line with Allah’s statement in Surah Adh-Dhariyat, where He tells us that He only created us to worship Him.
What is Worship in Islam?
In Islam, worship signifies a believer’s complete submission, obedience, and devotion to Allah. This involves doing everything that Allah orders us to do, whether internal or external, or mandatory or voluntary. Muslims have to obey all of Allah’s commands. We also have to obey Him in what He prohibits. So, believers must abstain from all prohibitions.
Ultimately, worship requires one to be an obedient slave of Allah in all aspects of life. This includes doing what He instructs us to do and staying away from everything He deems impermissible. For one’s obedience to be considered worship, one must adore the deed as well as one’s Lord, for whom the deed is.
Worship is exclusively Allah’s right, and there is no room for deviance in this regard in Islam. Allah is the only deity worthy of worship, and our worship should be solely for him. Worshipping any entity other than Allah is shirk and takes one out of the fold of Islam. Shirk is the only unpardonable sin in Islam, regardless of whether it is a saint, prophet, shrine, statue, etc., that is the target of one’s worship.
The Internal Types of Worship of Allah
These aspects of worship are related to the inner self, dealing with belief and feelings. Allah orders us to believe in the articles of faith, which is the foremost part of worship in terms of importance. Our belief is the foundation of our deeds and feelings.
One’s actions and emotions will not be right if one’s belief is wrong or lacking. For instance, one may wrongly believe that Allah has pardoned their sins for merely having faith. This misguided belief will fail to instill the fear of Allah one should have in his heart. Moreover, such belief will fail to deter a person from giving up sins or encourage him to do good deeds.
Allah also orders us to love and fear Him, and trust and venerate him. Islam tells us to love our fellow believers and treat them with mercy and compassion. Allah instructs Muslims to love uprightness and detest sin. All of these inner types of worship, which deal with Muslims’ belief, involve believers internally obeying Allah’s commands, for which He will reward them.
The External Types of Worship of Allah
Although other religions value either the internal or external part of worship differently, Islam doesn’t differentiate between the two. Some religions place little to no value on the inner form of worship, while others do so for the outer form of worship. Meanwhile, in Islam, the internal form of worship leads to the outer form of worship, and the external aspect of worship affects the inner type.
The external acts of worship are those that can be seen. These stem from one’s belief, so internal belief is critical in order to achieve the correct external results. This is why Islam requires us not only to believe internally but also to act on that belief through our physical actions. Merely believing what Allah commands us to is not sufficient for a Muslim. We also have to perform the deeds that Allah tells us to. One cannot attain success in the world and the Hereafter without both internal and external worship.
Some external acts of worship are required on a daily basis, such as the five compulsory prayers. Others have to be performed on an annual basis, such as fasting in the month of Ramadan, as well as Zakat, the obligatory charity. Then, there is the Hajj (pilgrimage), which every Muslim who possesses the means is obligated to perform once in his or her life. Apart from these obligations, which are among the five pillars of Islam, there are numerous other external forms of worship that are prescribed in Islam. Some are mandatory, and others are voluntary.
These religious rituals have to be carried out with full awareness of Allah. Believers should not be robotic when they are performing external acts of worship. One must not focus solely on external types of worship, neglecting the essential inner aspects of worship.
The Purpose of Worship in Islam
It is not Allah who is in need of our worship. Rather, we need to worship Allah for our own benefit. Worship is a must for Muslims to attain closeness to Allah, and worshipping Allah is the only way to fulfill our purpose in life. Worship instills strong faith in Allah and builds love for Him in our hearts. Additionally, the worship of Allah builds God-consciousness, which is imperative for us to do deeds that please Allah and avoid displeasing Him.
The acts of worship that Muslims perform help us to remember Allah. The daily prayers help with maintaining our relationship with our Creator. Worship also encourages one to strive for betterment in his adherence to the teachings of Islam, keeping his focus on pleasing Allah and avoiding His displeasure.
In Islam, worship helps believers remember their true purpose in life. This helps one focus on the afterlife and can also protect one from falling into the traps of the worldly life. Just as worship benefits the individual, it also benefits society. A society that does not neglect its relationship with God is bound to be far less sinful and corrupt than a society that ignores its Creator.