Do we really understand what it means to worship Allah? 🤲
The Worship Aspect of the Tawheed of Allah
Do we really understand what it means to worship Allah? 🤲
As we know, the fundamental structure of Islam is based on five pillars, namely Imaan (Faith), Salah (Obligatory Prayers), Zakah (Obligatory Charity), Sawm (Obligatory Fasting), and Hajj (Obligatory Pilgrimage).
The foundation of the first pillar is Tawheed, meaning Allah is the Only One God and He does not have any partner. This belief has three components, namely:
- Allah is the Only Lord of the universe (Tawheed ar-Ruboobeeyah)
- Exclusively He has certain beautiful names and attributes expressing His Oneness (Tawheed al-Asmaa was-Sifaat)
- He deserves the exclusive right of worship from His creations (Tawheed al-‘Ibaadah)
Earlier, I reflected upon the first two components in this section. Today, I shall share my thoughts on the last component, i.e., the Tawheed of the worship of Allah.
The above three components make Tawheed complete. As a believer, one has to have faith in all of them. Of them, the third component is most important in the sense that one is not a believer unless one believes that Allah Only and none else is to be worshiped.
Thus, during the Prophet’s time, the disbelievers of Makkah were classified as people without faith, even though they believed in Allah’s Lordship and attributes, but at the same time, they worshiped other deities. This may be understood from the following discussion on some verses of the Holy Qur’an.
Chapter 43, Verse 87: “And if you asked them who created them, they would certainly say, “ALLAH.” So, how do they deviate (from worshiping Him)”?
This verse shows that the disbelievers of Makkah used to believe in Allah’s Lordship. So, if they were asked Who was their Creator, they would reply confirming that Allah was their Creator. Still, they were misguided with respect to worship. In other words, they did not worship Allah.
Chapter 10, Verse 31: “Who provides for you from the heavens and the earth? Or who controls hearing and sight and who brings the living out of the dead and brings the dead out of the living and who is it that rules and regulates all affairs?” “They will say: ALLAH. Then say: Will you not then keep your duty (to Him)?
Here, the Makkan disbelievers were asked if Allah was the Sustainer, Giver, and Maintainer of their faculties of hearing and seeing, Controller of life and death, and all other affairs. Even though their answer would be in the affirmative, they used not to worship Allah. They worship other gods.
Chapter 29, Verse 63: “And if you asked them, “Who sends down rain from the sky and revives the earth after its death?” they verily would reply, “ALLAH.” Say, “Praise goes to ALLAH “; but most of them do not understand.”
This verse was again a question to the Makkan disbelievers about Allah’s attributes as the Sustainer and Maintainer. Even though they believed in Allah’s power to sustain the created world, the disbelievers proved themselves nonsensical by devoting their worship to false gods instead of Allah, the Real God.
Thus, there are people who, by seeing various signs of Allah in the created world like the sky, the sun, the moon, the stars, the land, mountains, and oceans, etc., may believe that there is One Creator and Sustainer of these, but still make partners with Him in their worship (Qur’an, 12:106). In other words, they worship other gods. However, ‘(t)he other gods that one might place on a par with God are not limited to physical idols, but can also be other elements that one “idolizes,” such as one’s desires, power, or ideas’ (Nasr, 2015, at p. 613 n. 106).
In other words, doing shirk or worshiping gods other than Allah is not limited to worshiping any physical gods. This may be understood broadly as obedience to one’s own desires, or to any power, or any ideology opposed to Allah.
For example, when Prophet Musa (Moses) (peace be upon him) invited Pharaoh to submit to One Allah, the Lord of the heavens and the earth, he (Pharaoh), said, addressing his people, ‘No god I know for you but myself’ (Qur’an, 28:38). He claimed, ‘I am your Lord, Most High” (Qur’an, 79:24). His close associates like Haman, Karun, and the army accepted him as their Lord instead the Lord of Musa (peace be upon him), i.e., Allah.
As a consequence, Allah destroyed them in the river of Nile. Setting them as an example for mankind, Allah says, ‘See how terrible was the end of the unjust’ (Qur’an, 28:40).
As said above, people may take their own desires as their master and follow them instead of what Allah and His prophets said. Their desires/habits and caprices are their gods (Qur’an, 25:43 and 45:23). Persin mystic, ‘Ayn al Qudat says, ‘O dear friend! If you want the beauty of the secret [of self-knowledge] displayed to you, then let go of habit-worship, for habit-worship is idol-worship’ (cited in Nasr, 2015, at p. 552, n. 28-29).
The fate of the people who worship gods other than Allah will be so terrible in the afterlife. On the Day of Judgement, the gods and the worshippers will be gathered. They will be told to stop and stand where they are so that the worshipers see whether their false gods come to any help. Then, they (gods and their worshipers) will be separated from each other. Seeing that the gods are of no help, the polytheists will accuse them that they commanded them to worship them instead of Allah. The gods will deny the accusation as they were not aware of their worship (Qur’an, 10:28-30) because they (being idols) had ‘no senses, no movement, and no intelligence to understand these matters’ (https://quran.com/10:28/tafsirs/en-tafsir-maarif-ul-quran).
Thus, as understood from the preceding discussion, worshiping Allah is the very fundamental aspect of Tawheed. That is why all prophets (peace be upon them all) called their people to worship none but Allah (Qur’an, 23:52). In this respect, Allah commanded our Prophet (peace be upon him) as follows, which applies also to his community as whole (Nasr, 2015, p. 966 n. 87):
‘Let them (disbelievers) not prevent you (O Prophet Muhammad) from following and preaching the revelations (Qur’anic verses) of ALLAH after they are sent down to you. Invite (men) to (the Oneness of) your Lord, and be not of the company of those who associate partners with Him’ (Qur’an, 28:87).
Tajweed Qur’an, (Damascus: Dar-Al-Maarifah, 2001).
Nasr, S.H., et al. (2015), The Study Qur’an: A New Translation and Commentary (New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 2015).
https://corpus.quran.com/translation.jsp (4 October 2023)