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Articles of Faith New Muslims

Worship: A Lifelong Service

By Abul A`la Al-Mawdudi 

The `ibadah (worship) for which God has created you and which He has enjoined upon you is this: you must follow at every step in your lives the law of God and refuse to obey all laws which conflict with His law. Everything you do must accord with the guidance given by God. Only then will your entire lives turn into lives of worship.

Life of Worship

In such a life, everything is `ibadah: whether you sleep or are awake, whether you eat or drink, whether you work or rest, whether you are silent or talk, are all acts of worship. So much so that in going to your wives and kissing your children, too, you serve God.

All these actions which are usually considered secular and worldly become religious, provided that during their performance you observe the limits laid down by God and remain conscious every moment and at every step of what is approved by God (halal) and what is forbidden by Him (haram), what is a duty and what must be avoided, which actions please God and which displease Him.

For instance, easy opportunities to earn money in a forbidden way may occur during your life. If you resist this temptation and, in obedience to God, confine yourselves to earning money in approved ways only, then your work is itself worship.

And you deserve rewards. And the earnings you bring home for yourselves, your wives, your children and other have-nots will be blessed by Allah.

God’s Way

Indeed whatever you do and whatever time you spend in doing His will and in pleasing Him, you worship Him: when you remove from the road a stone or other obstacle which might hurt people; when you nurse an ill person or guide a blind man or help a person in distress; when you avoid lying, gossiping about people behind their backs, making sarcastic remarks and slandering; when you refrain from hurting people; when you talk truthfully and justly.

Real worship of God, therefore, is to follow the way laid down by God and lead lives according to His commandments from childhood to death. There can be no fixed time for this worship; it must be performed all the time. Nor does it have one particular form; in everything you say and do, you must serve God.

Since you cannot say: ‘I am a servant of God at such a time and 1 am not a servant of God at such a time’, you cannot say that such and such a time is earmarked for God’s service and the remaining time is not. If you truly honour and adore, love and fear God, all your actions will be motivated by these feelings and they will all constitute worship.

Why Worship Rituals?

Brothers! You may now ask: What then is the position of prescribed worship rituals like the prayer (salah), alms-giving (zakah), Fasting (sawm), pilgrimage (hajj) and so on?

These acts of worship, which Allah has enjoined upon us, in reality prepare us for that greater overall `ibadah that we have to perform throughout our lives. They are the means which turn our lives into lives of worship. Prayer reminds you five times a day that you are slaves of Allah and that Him alone you must serve.

Fasting prepares you, for an entire month once every year, for this very service. Alms-giving repeatedly brings home to you the truth that the money you have earned is a gift of God. Do not just spend it on physical pleasures or even solely on material needs; you must render what is due to your Master.

Pilgrimage engraves on your hearts such a love and awareness of the majesty of God that once they take root, they remain with you all your lives. If, by performing all these acts of worship, you grasp their true inner significance and your entire lives are transformed into an unceasing act of worship, then undoubtedly your Prayer is real prayer, your Fast is real fast, your Alms-giving is real charity and your Pilgrimage is real pilgrimage.

But if you do not, no purpose is possibly served by merely bowing, kneeling and prostrating yourselves (ruku` and sujud), by spending days in hunger and thirst, by going through the formalities of the Pilgrimage and by setting aside money for the Alms-giving. These worship rituals are like a human body: it is a living human being so long as it has a soul and moves about and does work; but if it is soulless, it is no more than a corpse.

A corpse has hands and feet, eyes and nose, but you bury it under the earth because it is devoid of soul. So are worship rites if they are devoid of meaning, if they do not generate love and fear of God, loyalty and obedience to Him.

We should try to find out how each act of ritual worship prepares us for a life spent totally in worship; what a great and wonderful difference each can make to our lives if we perform them in full understanding of their meaning and purpose.

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The article is an excerpt from Abul A`la Al-Mawdudi’s Let Us Be Muslims.

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ABC's of Islam New Muslims

Islam and the Meaning of Deen

By Abul A`la Al-Mawdudi 

The word ‘deen’ is used in several meanings. The first is sovereignty, power, lordship, kingship, or rulership. The second is the opposite of this, i.e. submission, obedience, service or slavery. The third is to bring to account, to judge, or to dispense reward and punishment for actions. All those three uses are found in the Qur’an.

Allah says:

The only (true) Deen in the sight of God is (man’s) self-surrender (to Him). (Aal `Imran 3:19)

Here, deen is that way of life in which we recognize Allah alone as the possessor of all power and majesty and surrender ourselves to Him. We must not abase or humble ourselves before anybody save Him. We must regard only Allah as Master, Lord, and Sovereign, and must not be slaves or servants to anybody but Him. We must accept only Allah as the Lord of reward and punishment. We should covet no reward, fear no punishment, except His. Islam is the name of this deen.

Deen is that way of life in which we recognize Allah alone as the possessor of all power and majesty and surrender ourselves to Him.

False Deen

False deen arises when you ascribe real powers to anyone besides Allah, when you take anyone as a real ruler and master, as a dispenser of real reward and punishment, when you bow your heads before him in humility, when you serve him and obey his orders, when you covet his reward and fear his punishment more than Allah’s. This kind of deen Allah never accepts because it is totally contrary to reality.

No other being in the whole universe except God possesses any power and might, nor does anybody else’s sovereignty and kingship exist. We have not been created to be servants and slaves of anyone or anything but God, nor is there anyone else except that real Master who can judge us and award reward and punishment.

In many places in the Qur’an these facts have been explained.

And whoso seeks a Deen other than Islam, it will not be accepted from him. (Aal `Imran 3:85)

Thus, anyone who disregards the sovereignty and kingship of God, acknowledges someone else as his master and ruler, becomes his servant and slave, and considers anyone as a dispenser of reward and punishment in his own right, will never have his Deen or conduct accepted by God because:

They were not enjoined anything but that they should serve God, making submission exclusively His, turning away (from all false gods). (Al-Bayyinah 98:5)

God has not created human beings to serve anyone except Himself. It is, therefore, incumbent on them to turn away from all false gods and reserve their submission, or their true deen, for Allah alone. They should single-mindedly devote themselves to His service and consider themselves as being accountable only to Him:

What! Do they seek a deen other than God’s, whereas unto Him surrenders whatever is in the heavens and on earth, willingly or unwillingly, and unto Him all must return? (Aal `Imran 3:83)

How can we human beings incline to be servants and to submit to someone other than God, when all other things on earth and in the heavens are slaves and obedient servants of God alone, accounting for their deeds to no other authority than God? Does man want to adopt a deviant way for himself, some kind of independent and autonomous existence, in defiance of the entire universe?

He it is Who has sent forth His Messenger with the Guidance and the way of Truth, so that he makes it prevail over all ways (religions), however much mushriks (who take gods besides God) may dislike it. (At-Tawbah 9:33)

God’s Deen

Allah has sent His Messenger with the true deen for the purpose of ending the sovereignty of all false gods and granting us immense freedom so that we live as servants of none but the Lord of the universe, no matter how much the idolaters and polytheists may dislike or oppose such a course.

And fight them, until there is no rebellion (against God) and all submission is to God alone. (Al-Anfal 8:39)

The lesson is clear: we must fight until the sovereignty of all beings other than Allah is brought to an end, until only the law of God rules in the world, until the sovereignty of God alone is acknowledged, until we serve only Him.

Thus these three meanings of deen stand out:

– To acknowledge God as Lord, Master and Ruler.

– To obey and serve only Him.

– To be accountable to Him, to fear only His punishment and to covet only His reward.

Deen also includes obedience to God’s Messengers. For the commandments of God have been given to human beings through His Books and His Messengers.

Children of Adam! If there should come to you Messengers from among you, who convey My revelations unto you, then whosoever refrains from evil and lives rightly no fear shall be on them, and neither shall they sorrow. (Al-A`raf 7:35)

No individual receives Allah’s commandments directly.

Hence, whoever acknowledges Allah as Ruler can be accepted as obedient to Him only when he becomes obedient to His Messengers and lives by the guidance received through them.

Deen consists of these fundamental principles.

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The article is an excerpt from Abul A`la Al-Mawdudi’s Let Us Be Muslims.

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