The concept of worship (Ibadah) in Islam is misunderstood by lots of people including several Muslims. Worship is generally taken to mean performing ritualistic acts such as prayers (Namaz), fasting (Roza), charity (zakat), etc. This limited understanding of worship (Ibadah) is only one part of the meaning of worship (Ibadah) in Islam. That is why the traditional definition of worship in Islam is a complete definition that includes almost the whole thing in any individual’s activities.
In other words, worship is everything a person says or does for the pleasure of ALLAH Almighty. This, of course, includes rituals as well as beliefs, and personal contributions to the wellbeing of one’s fellow human-beings. Islam looks at the individual as an entire. He is required to submit himself completely to ALLAH Almighty, as the Holy Quran instructed the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) to do:
Verse 6:162 and 163 of Holy Quran,
Say, “Indeed, my prayer, my rites of sacrifice, my living and my dying are for ALLAH, Lord of the worlds. No partner has He. And this I have been commanded, and I am the first [among you] of the Muslims.”
As a matter of fact Islam does not think much of simple rituals when they are performed mechanically and have no influence on one’s internal life.
Verse 2:177 of Holy Quran,
Righteousness is not that you turn your faces toward the east or the west, but [true] righteousness is [in] one who believes in ALLAH, the Last Day, the angels, the Book, and the prophets and gives wealth, in spite of love for it, to relatives, orphans, the needy, the traveller, those who ask [for help], and for freeing slaves; [and who] establishes prayer and gives zakah; [those who] fulfil their promise when they promise; and [those who] are patient in poverty and hardship and during battle. Those are the ones who have been true, and it is those who are the righteous.
The deeds in the above verse (Ayat) are the deeds of righteousness and they are just a part of worship. It is value noting that even performing one’s responsibilities is considered a kind of worship. Kindness to members of one’s family is an act of worship (Ibadah) as when a person puts a piece of food in his spouse’s mouth. It is clear, from the preceding discussion that the concept of worship (Ibadah) in Islam is a comprehensive concept that includes all the positive activities of a person.
It regulates human life on all levels: individual, economic, social, political and spiritual. That is why Islam provides direction to the smallest details of one’s life on all levels. Thus following these details is following Islamic instructions in that exact area. It is a very encouraging element when one realizes that all his activities are considered by ALLAH Almighty as acts of worship.
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