When a person believes that all good and all harm comes from Allah and that He alone has the exclusive authority to declare anything permissible or un-permissible, that absolute and infinite obedience and love is for Allah alone and that He alone is to be feared. The greatness and magnificence of Allah permeates that person and he fully understands the meaning of “Allah-O-Akbar” (God is Great); every thing besides Allah becomes naught in his eyes.
Since some of the human actions testify to the absolute reverence (to Allah), e.g. invocation, prayer, bowing, prostrating, offering sacrifice, circum-ambulation of Kabah, glorification of Allah and declaring His Unity etc, a believer performs these actions only for Allah. A believer does not pray before another person nor does he bow or prostrate before anyone else. He does not glorify anyone except Allah, nor does he beseech anyone else to forgive his sins, because all these are modes of absolute reverence which are the soul of worship.
Invocation is the greatest manifestation of reverence and worship. ‘Du’a’ (invocation) is the most remarkable form of exaltation, and in Arabic it means ‘to call’. The Shari’a (religious law) allows you to call out to someone nearby if you need his help concerning knowledge, or his physical strength in order to achieve some good for yourself. But this calling help is not the same as the Du’a we are discussing now. Indeed Du’a is the essence of worship. It is the call to God to bestow what is good for us and turn us away from what is harmful. And we address this call (Du’a) to the Almighty directly, without any mediator or material means. When we go to the doctor he can only prescribe the medicine; it is God alone who, eventually, cures us, and He alone who grants, through tangible means, what is good for us. A believer, therefore, equips himself with the necessary means, and then seeks the help of the Almighty to make them come into effect. If the believer cannot find such means, he simply invokes the Almighty in the firm hope that the Diving door is ever open to him and that his invocation will be answered. Therefore, he does not invoke anyone other than God; neither does he associate anyone else other than Him in his invocation. This is the essence of worship. The best course is to avoid such a ambiguous zone, which is why a believer should not analyze them deeply, or list them separately to provoke discussion. As mentioned before, we should abide by the path shown by our Muslim forefathers, and remember that our true faith rests in our firm belief in the word of God.
The Ultimate Purpose of Worship:
As stated earlier, worship assumes a physical form through words pronounced by the tongue, and movements carried out by the body, and that faith is the ‘soul’ of worship. I would like to mention the following, from among the several aims of worship. The main objective is to try to achieve what pleases God. We should therefore not use worship as a means of acquiring wealth, position or fame, nor should we make it a stepping stone to worldly achievements nor a means of making a name for ourselves as being devout. In other words, we should try to be absolutely sincere in our worship. Anything affecting or impeding this sincerity is known as hypocrisy. Sincerity is always linked with intention, as intention is the driving force behind every action. God Almighty will question us on the Day of Judgement not only about our actions, but also for the reasons behind them. An action may be good in itself, but if the intention and purpose for which it is performed is not genuine and dedicated to God, it loses its worth. Prayer for example is a noble act, but if it is offered with the intention of attracting attention or creating an impression of piety and devotion to God the action becomes empty. This is why the historical event of migration from Mecca to Medina differed according to the intentions of the migrants, outwardly everyone performed the act of migrating in a uniform manner, but inwardly there were those who migrated for different reasons. Those who went to Medina to protect their religion and please God migrated for the right reasons and in all sincerity, whereas those who went in the hope of getting married or striking a business deal migrated for a worldly purpose.
Awareness of our actions therefore is the dividing line between actions performed as worship and those performed automatically, as a matter of habit. A person may oversleep and then rush off to work without having had breakfast, and may not eat or drink before sunset. In one way he will have observed a day of fast, but he will not have the reward for fasting as someone observing fast with the intention of fasting. Anything we do that is lawful and permissible, if it is done with the intention of pleasing God, is considered to be an act of worship. This means that our daily routine of eating, drinking, sleeping, sitting, standing, working, our married life and so on, are all forms of worship as long as they are performed consciously. And this is what God means in the verse of the Holy Qur’an where He says: “I created the jinn and humankind only that they might worship Me”(Qur’an;5:56). The broad scope of the meaning of religion therefore needs to be understood as explained above – and worship is the ultimate goal of all human beings.