The above ayah raises the following points:
1) What is ibaadah (worship)? Is it confined to prayer, fasting, reading Quran, etc?
No. They are the major acts of worship,yes, but ibaadah includes everything that Allah is pleased with. It includes inward and outward actions (i.e. actions of the heart, tongue and limbs).
2) Is that the only purpose for which we were created?
Yes. According to the way the ayah (verse) is structured (in Arabic), it shows that our ONLY purpose in life is to worship Allah, and nothing else.
3) Do we worship Allah because He needs it?
How do we know that? Because the 2 following ayaat (verses) clarify that:
“I seek not any provision from them (i.e. provision for themselves or for My creatures) nor do I ask that they should feed Me (i.e. feed themselves or My creatures). Verily, Allah is the All-Provider, Owner of Power, the Most Strong. ” [Surah Adh-Dhariyat (51) : 57-58]
Allah makes it very clear in the Quran that WE are the ones who need Him, not the other way around:
“O mankind! It is you who stand in need of Allah, but Allah is Rich (Free of all wants and needs), Worthy of all praise.” [Surah Faatir (35) : 15]
“And whosoever strives, he strives only for himself. Verily, Allah is free of all wants from the Alameen.” [Surah Al-Ankabut (29) : 6]
So, why am I telling you all of this? So that you remember it this Ramadan and beyond. If we were created to worship Allah, that is primarily what we should be doing, not other things.
All the good deeds that we do, what intention should we have for them? Simple. They are done to glorify Allah, to praise Him and to please Him. This is the primary reason that we do it, simply because it is Allah’s right. And the reward that we get is Paradise.
In an earlier post, I mentioned the reason why we pray. After I wrote that, I came across Imam Ibn Kathir’s (rahimahullah) tafsir of Ayah No. 3 of Surah Al-Baqarah. He states:” Prayer is a right of Allah as well as a form of worshipping Him. It includes singling Him out for one’s devotion, praising Him, glorifying Him, supplicating to Him, invoking Him, and it displays one’s dependence upon Him.”
So when we pray and do all the other acts of worship, we need to remember that Allah is the one whom we are aiming to please. Too often, we forget this and put attaining the pleasure of others over attaining His pleasure. This happens due to the weakness of iman.
Many sisters are too scared to wear the hijab (something Allah has commanded them to do) because they are worried what their husbands / parents / colleagues / friends might say. Many brothers don’t want to grow beards* because they are afraid that they will be called “terrorists”. (The irony is that many disbelievers have beards too so why aren’t they so worried???)
[*Note: Shaving the beard is a sin according to the consensus of the scholars.]
Many people don’t want to start practicing Islam fully because they are too worried about what people might say.
A little question: Who are these people that they are so worried about? Answer: They are created beings like themselves. Beings who have no power to harm or to benefit anyone.
Here is what Allah has to say about the qualities of those whom He loves:
“O you who believe! Whoever from among you turns back from his deen (Islam), Allah will bring a people whom He will love and they will love Him; humble towards the believers, stern towards the disbelievers, fighting in the Way of Allah, and never afraid of the blame of the blamers. That is the Grace of Allah which He bestows on whom He wills. And Allah is All-Sufficient for His creatures’ needs, AllKnower.” [Surah Al-Maidah (5) : 54]
So those who truly love Allah and those whom He loves do not fear the blame of the blamers. And who is the one who blames another for obeying Allah? There are two kinds of people who do that: 1) The disbelievers and 1) Muslims with weak Iman.
Are these the type of people whose reactions we should be worried about?
For those who worry incessantly about what people think, please read the following ahadeeth:
Abdul Wahhab ibn Al-Ward narrated from a man among the inhabitants of Al-Madinah who said: “Muawiyah wrote a letter to Aisha that: ‘Write a letter to advise me and do not overburden me.’” He said: ‘So Aisha (radiallahu anha) wrote to Muawiyah: ‘Peace be upon you. As for what follows: Indeed I heard the Messenger of Allah (salallahu alaihi wasallam) saying: ‘Whoever seeks Allah’s pleasure by the people’s wrath, Allah will suffice him from the people. And whoever seeks the people’s pleasure by Allah’s wrath, Allah will entrust him to the people.’ And peace be upon you.’” [Sunan At-Tirmidhi, Hadeeth No. 2414. Graded ‘saheeh’ by Shaikh Al-Albani in Saheeh Sunan At-Tirmidhi, Hadeeth No, 2414. The chain of narrators has some weakness but there are supporting narrations like the narration which follows.]
Aisha narrated that the Messenger of Allah (salallahu alaihi wasallam) said: “Whoever seeks to acquire the pleasure of Allah at the expense of people’s anger, Allah will be pleased with him and make the people pleased with him. Whoever seeks to acquire the pleasure of the people at the expense of Allah’s anger, Allah will be angry at him and make the people angry with him.” [Saheeh Ibn Hibban, Hadeeth No. 276. Shaikh Shuaib Al-Arnaut said that its chain of narrators was “hasan.”]
The main problem that we suffer from today is not knowing Allah. We don’t know about His Might, His Power, His Mercy, His Glory, His Magnificence, His Mercy, etc so this is why we are astray. The answer to our problems is learning about the tahweed of Allah and then applying it. It’s as simple as that.
For example, a person who knows tawheed will know that one of Allah’s Attributes is that He is “Muqallab Al-Qulloob” (i.e. the changer of hearts). So this person will not worry about earning anybody’s displeasure because he knows that if he obeys Allah, Allah can turn the heart of that person and make him (i.e the one who was displeased) pleased with him (i.e. the one who obeyed Allah).
So, what do we need to focus on this Ramadan and beyond?
1) Fulfilling our purpose of creation.
2) Aiming to please Allah.
3) Proving that we do indeed love Allah.
How do we do that? With our actions:
“Say (O Muhammad to mankind): “If you (really) love Allah then follow me (i.e. accept Islamic Monotheism, follow the Quran and the Sunnah), Allah will love you and forgive you of your sins. And Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” [Surah Aal-Imran(3) : 31]
4) Gaining Allah’s love. And this is done by following the way of the Prophet (salallahu alaihi wasallam) in all matters, as it states in the previous ayah.
So let’s strive to worship Allah properly this Ramadan and gain His Love and His Pleasure. Ramadan is a month where we should we worshipping Allah more, not less. So let’s not forget that.
PS. Please read this to know the signs of the one whom Allah loves.