Another issue that must be addressed is the definition of worship. Worshipping Allah, as aforementioned is the purpose of our lives and the reason why the books and messengers were sent. It is therefore important to understand what worship is before venturing into it.
Worship according to the Arabic language refers to complete humility, love and submission to something. As for the legislative terminology then worship has several definitions. Many of them return to the definition according to the language. However, the most comprehensive definition of worship comes from Shaikh Ul Islam Ibn Taymeeyah who said: “Worship is a comprehensive term for everything that Allah loves and is pleased with from actions and statements whether they are done in secret or in the open.”
Hence if we examine the reality of worship, it refers to any action (whether from the limbs, tongue or heart) done with complete humility, love and submission is used to gain closeness to Allah. Therefore:
- Actions that are used to gain closeness to Allah but are directed to other than Allah is defined as major Shirk.
- Actions that are used to gain closeness to Allah but are done for the sake of other than Allah is minor Shirk.
- Actions that are used to gain closeness to Allah but are not done according to the way of the Messenger of Allah are termed as innovations.
- Actions that are used to gain closeness to Allah and is done according to the way of the Messenger صلى الله عليه وسلم is correct worship.
The fourth captures the essence of the Shahadah. Meaning that we should not worship except Allah and that we shouldn’t worship Allah except in the manner which the Messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه وسلم worshipped him.
Since we understand that Ibadah refers to worship/ veneration i.e actions that are done with love, submission and humility in order to gain closeness to Allah, it is also a must to know that Allah created us to direct these acts to him only. Additionally, Allah sent his Messengers and books in order to reaffirm Tawheed (the oneness of Allah in worship). Furthermore, Allah’s right is to be worshipped alone without any partner as clarified in the Hadeeth of Mu’aadh wherein the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم taught him: “The right of Allah upon the servant is that he must be worshipped without any partner…”
Examples of worship include: Du’a, prayer, fasting, sacrificing, seeking assistance during hardship, reliance, submission, making oaths, fear, hope etc. These acts of worship, which are the sole right of Allah ta’ala alone must not be directed to other than Allah. Otherwise, upon directing any act of worship to other than Allah, one has given that right of Allah to one of his creation and this is the essence of Shirk (which shall be further clarified in the next post).
Note: I am going to add another subsection (iv) in Chapter 2 in sha Allah which would explore the link between Tawheed in Lordship and Tawheed in Worship and the Qadhite effort to bamboozle the Muslims regarding this issue.