An Introduction to the Lord of the Worlds – Day 6
بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
[It seems that everyone ran away again. I suppose it’s a good thing that I’m used to talking to myself…]
Day 6 continues from where I left off yesterday.
In this part, I’m just going to talk about the meaning of ibaadah (worship), because this is essential for understanding the purpose of life, and one must understand this point if one wishes to get closer to the Lord of the Worlds.
It seems there was some confusion about what ibaadah is so let’s do this step by step.
1. We were created solely to worship Allah and our entire lives should revolve around this.
I gave the proof for this already.
Here’s another ayah (verse) which reaffirms this point:
“Say (O Muhammad): “Verily, my salah (prayer), my sacrifice, my living, and my dying are for Allah, the Lord of the Alameen (mankind, jinns and all that exists).” [Surah Al-Anaam (6) : 162]
2. Ibaadah is not just prayer and fasting. Its meaning is much more vast than that.
I mentioned this already as well but I’ll try to explain a bit more today.
Ibaadah is a term that includes EVERYTHING that Allah loves so that would include everything except the haram (unlawful), makrooh (disliked) and mubah (allowed) which can lead to the haram. If the mubah does not lead to any haram, it can be turned into an act of ibaadah.
Prayer and fasting are “pure” acts of ibaadah, meaning that they can only be done to seek Allah’s pleasure and nothing else.
Marriage, visiting relatives, eating some food, etc are all everyday acts. These don’t have to be done for the sake of Allah. One may do them for some worldly purpose (i.e. you get married simply because you desire to do so or because your relatives are making a pest of themselves.) but it is from the perfection of a person’s tawheed (worshipping Allah alone) that he does them in order to earn the pleasure of Allah.
3. Any halal (lawful) activity can be turned into an act of worship if it is done to seek the pleasure of Allah.
Let’s take an example. Visiting your friends (same gender) is permissible.
A person might visit a friend of his just because he misses him and wants to chat. As long as they don’t go to prohibited places or do something prohibited (like smoking, backbiting, etc), the visit is permissible.
However, if this person visits his friend in order to strengthen the ties with his Muslim brother or to support him in his time of crisis (if he is in such a state), knowing that such acts please Allah, then this act would turn into an act of worship.
Notice something? The external act is exactly the same. It’s the internal intention that is different, and that is what changes a non-ibaadah into an ibaadah.
In both cases, one might have a lot of fun talking to one’s friend, but in the second case, the person, insha-Allah, will also get rewarded by Allah.
Let me give you another example. Suppose a person loves to make hand-painted cards.
As long as she does not draw animate objects (humans, animal, etc), this is halal. It’s not an act of ibaadah though.
However, if she makes them with the intention of selling them so that she can give that money in charity, then she’s turned her hobby into an act of ibaadah.
Let’s take an example where you might not be able to turn that act into an ibaadah.
A person loves to shop. She buys clothes, shoes, you name it.
Can she turn this into an act of ibaadah?
Well, if she is wasting time and money by buying all these things for herself, then no, she might not be able to do so.
But perhaps she is buying this so she can give it to her relatives, neighbors, orphans, etc due to Allah’s command that one is meant to be good to these groups of people.
If this is truly her intention, then she might be able to turn this into an act of worship.
What about going to school? Well, if the school is a segregated, halal (i.e. Muslim) school, then yes. If it is a non-Muslim school where boys and girls study together, then no.
Why not? Because it involves prohibited matters (free mixing and studying under the kuffar) and one cannot please an Allah with something that He has prohibited.
What about going to work? Again, it’s the same situation as above. If the man goes to work in order to earn money so that he can buy some booze, then no, that is not ibaadah.
If he goes to his (halal) workplace in order to support his family, then yes, this is an act of ibaadah.
There was a great example a lecturer once gave. It was a workshop on goals (I think). He asked us to take a piece of paper and write down our dunya (worldly life) goals on the right and the akhirah (hereafter) goals on the left.
Then he asked us if we could transfer the dunya goals into the akhirah section. If we couldn’t, them perhaps it wasn’t worth having these goals as they would not benefit us on the Last Day.
Let me give you an example. Suppose a person would like to learn French and it is a big goal in her life.
It is permissible for her to study French. However, if she wants to do it because she finds the language quite exotic or she wants to get some French friends, then this goal will not benefit her in the hereafter. So why should she bother studying it?
Remember we only have a limited amount of time to worship Allah. We could die today, tomorrow or the day after that. We need to use our time in the BEST way possible.
So, learning French just for the sake of learning French would be useless.
However, suppose this person wants to do it for dawah (calling to Allah), or because she wants to keep ties with her French mother-in-law or her French grandparents or her French neighbour, then this would turn this act into an act of worship.
Now this goal can be put in the hereafter section as the intention has changed.
4. The difference between the great slaves of Allah and the average joes is that the former strive to turn everything into an ibaadah – and live more complete and balanced lives as a result of this.
You know, people always assume that religious people pray much more or fast much more.
Yes, but that is actually not the biggest difference between the top echelon and the average joes.
Let’s take the Companions of the Prophet (salallahu alaihi wasallam) for instance.
If you read their biographies, you find that they did more ibaadah – because they had more time for it as their time was blessed.
You also find something else: they had really normal lives.
They went to work, cooked food, washed their clothes, spent time with their spouses, went to sleep, played with their children, visited friends, etc.
I recall a statement by one Sahaabee (companion) about how he expected to get the reward for his sleep the same way he expected to get the reward for the (night) prayer.
Did you notice something?
He thought of sleep as an ibaadah. He was doing it because it was what Allah has prescribed and it would refresh him for his night prayer.
This is why the Sahaabah were so amazing. They had loads of prayer, fasting and recitation of the Quran, yes but they were also eager to please Allah with their day to day actions even if it was as something as seemingly mundane as sleep.
And you know what I found amazing?
The religious people that I’ve met (and I’m only judging by what is apparent to me) were very easy going people. They laughed, went to halal parties, spent time with their families, etc. They had more balanced lives than those who spent all their time in front of the television (in the name of “relaxation”) or those that confined worship to prayer and fasting and continued with their haram lifestyle.
I found these religious people to be very contented, happy people, despite the fact that they had many trials.
The others? They were always depressed and complaining about their sad lives despite all their “relaxation”.
To me, the whole thing was an eye-opener because I had always assumed that religious people led really boring lives.
Let’s just say that I was wrong.
5. Can we always be in a state of ibaadah?
Well, we need to understand one point: we’re human beings, not angels.
Angels do not make mistakes, humans do.
This is why, according to the scholars, the righteous humans are better than the angels (remember the angels prostrated to Adam, a human being) – because they have to struggle to worship Allah. Angels cannot disobey Allah but humans can.
Remember three things:
a) Iman (faith) increases and decreases.
We’re not always going to have the same level that we do in Laylatul Qadr as we do on some mundane Thursday when we’re walking in a park.
And you know what? We’re not expected to. [Read this post.]
If we were supposed to have the same level of high iman all the time, then Ramadan would not be one month long.
Hajj wouldn’t be a just a few days either.
However, Allah knows our weaknesses and he has given us times where we can increase in our worship in order to compensate for those times where we were heedless of Him.
And at the end of both times, He has ordained a different act of ibaadah (Eid) so that we are not overburdened.
b) We need to try our best but there will be times when we slip.
And when we slip, we need to get back up and repent to Allah, and start all over again.
See, it’s difficult for a person to always remember Allah. When he becomes heedless, this is when he usually sins. And then when he remembers, he repents.
That’s the way it goes for most of us.
So, we need to try our best to remember Allah as much as possible but if we slip, we need to get right back up.
c) There is no holiday from ibaadah.
If we live our lives according to the sunnah, then we won’t need a holiday because we will surround ourselves with halal activities and we will lead balanced lives, so we’ll always feel relaxed.
We would pray, fast, exercise, visit relatives, take a walk in the park, attend (halal) wedding parties and be able to get rewarded for all of them, insha-Allah.
The main issue here is understanding ibaadah. Once one understands this, there is no problem.
I hope this post helped in clearing those doubts. If not, then let me know, insha-Allah, and I’ll try to explain further.
I’ll leave you with this hadeeth. Ponder over it if you will.
أن ناسا من أصحاب النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم قالوا للنبي صلى الله عليه وسلم : يا رسول الله ! ذهب أهل الدثور بالأجور . يصلون كما نصلي . ويصومون كما نصوم . ويتصدقون بفضول أموالهم . قال : ” أو ليس قد جعل الله لكم ما تصدقون ؟ إن بكل تسبيحة صدقة . وكل تكبيرة صدقة . وكل تحميدة صدقة . وكل تهليلة صدقة . وأمر بالمعروف صدقة . ونهي عن منكر صدقة . وفي بضع أحدكم صدقة ” . قالوا : يا رسول الله ! أياتي أحدنا شهوته ويكون له فيها أجر ؟ قال : ” أرأيتم لو وضعها في حرام أكان عليه فيها وزر ؟ فكذلك إذا وضعها في الحلال كان له أجرا
Abu Dharr (radiallahu anhu) reported that some of the Companions of the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) said to him:
“O Messenger of Allah, the rich have taken away all the rewards. They observe the prayer as we do, and they keep the fasts as we do, and they give sadaqah (charity) from their surplus riches.”
Upon this he (the Prophet) said: “Has Allah not prescribed for you (a course) by following which you can also do sadaqah? Verily in every tasbih (i.e. saying Subhanallah) there is a sadaqah, every takbir (i.e. saying Allahu Akbar) is a sadaqah, every tahmid (i.e. saying Alhamdulillah) is a sadaqah, every tahlil (i.e. saying Lailaha illallah) is a sadaqah, enjoining of good is a sadaqah, forbidding of evil is a sadaqah, and having sexual intercourse with your wife is a sadaqah.
They (the Companions) said: “O Messenger of Allah, is there reward for him who satisfies his sexual desire among us?”
He said: “Tell me, if he were to devote it to something forbidden, would it not be a sin on his part? Similarly, if he were to devote it to something lawful, he should have a reward.” [Sahih Muslim, Hadeeth No. 2198]