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Ibadah is a Way to Taqwa

In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.

(Friday Speech was delivered by Imam Mohamed Baianonie at the Islamic Center of Raleigh, N. C., on September 25,1998)

Last Friday, we said that the first way to achieve taqwa of Allah (S.W.T.) is reciting the Qur'an as it should be recited, i.e. recitation with understanding and reflection followed by implementation.

Today, we talk about the second way to achieve taqwa of Allah (S.W.T.) that is Al-ubudiyah, which is total submission to Allah (S.W.T.) in all aspects of our lives, minor and major. This submission emanates from the absolute obedience to Allah (S.W.T.) while having total humility and deepest love to Him (S.W.T.). The more submission a person has, the more taqwa he reaches. About this, Allah (S.W.T.) says in surat Al-Baqarah, (verse 21), what can be translated as, "O Mankind! Submit your self to your Lord (Allah), Who created you and those who were before you so that you may become Muttaqun."

Imam Ibn Taymyyah said his book titled "Al-O’bodyyah": "The "ibadah" is a collective noun that includes every thing that Allah (S.W.T.) loves and accepts from sayings and the physical acts; the hidden (acts by heart) and the openly (acts by limbs). The acts by limbs include the prayer, zakah, fasting, hajj, straight talk, loyalty (returning someone’s possessions to them), kindness with parents, having good accord with relatives, keeping promises and treaties, enjoining what is good and forbidding what is evil, fighting against the kuffar and the hypocrites, kindness with the neighbor, with the orphan, with the poor, with the wayfarer, with the animals, supplication, remembering Allah (S.W.T.), reciting Qur’an, and things of this nature are from "ibadah".

The acts by heart include the love for Allah (S.W.T.) and His messenger, fear of Allah, asking Him for forgiveness, Having sincerity to Him alone in deen, being patient, thanking for his blessings, accepting His judgment, depending on Him, hoping for His mercy, fear from his punishment, and things of this nature are all from of ibadah worship." All this is supported by an abundant number of evidences from the book of Allah and the sunnah of His messenger (S.A.W.).

When we talk about obeying Allah (S.W.T.), it always implies obeying the prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.). Obedience to the prophet (S.A.W.) is part of obedience to Allah (S.W.T.) because He is the one who sent him. Allah (S.W.T.) says in surat An-Nesa’, (verse 80), what can be translated as, "He who obeys the messenger (Muhammad), has in indeed obeyed Allah."

Allah (S.W.T.) says in surat An-Nour, (verse 51 & 52), what can be translated as, "The only saying of the believers, when they are called to Allah and His messenger, to judge between them, is that say: We hear and we obey. And such are the successful. And whosoever obeys Allah and His messenger (Muhammad), fears Allah, and have taqwa of Him, such are successful." Then Allah says after two verses, "Say you obey Allah and obey the messenger (Muhammad)," the He said, "If you obey him you shall be on the right guidance."

Allah (S.W.T.) clarifies that not obeying Allah (S.W.T.) and not obeying His prophet (S.A.W.) is disbelief. He says in surat Al-Emran, (verse 32), what can be translated as, "Say (O Muhammad): Obey Allah and the messenger (Muhammad). But if they turn away, then Allah dose not like the kafreen (disbelievers)." There are many verses in the Qur’an that carries this same meaning that no one denies them except an ignorant or a non-believing person.

The total submission of man toward Allah (S.W.T.) builds taqwa in the heart, increases it and grows it. Under total submission definitely come all the acts of worship like salah, zakah, siam and hajj, which are the main pillars of Islam that can not be established without them.

Allah (S.W.T.) says about the prayer in surat Al-‘Ankbut, (verse 45), what can be translated as, "And offer prayers perfectly. Verily, prayers prevents from Al-Fahsha’ and Al-Munkar."

Allah (S.W.T.) says about zakah in surat At-Tawbah, (verse 103), what can be translated as, "(O Muhammad) take sadaqah (alms) from their wealth in order to purify them with it."

Allah (S.W.T.) says about Siam in surat Al-Baqarah, (verse 183), what can be translated as, "O you who believe ! Fasting is prescribed upon you as it was prescribed for those before you, that you may become Al-Muttaqun." Imam At-Tirmithi reported an authentic hadith that the prophet (S.A.W.) said about fasting, "Fasting is protection."

Allah (S.W.T.) says about hajj in surat Al-Hajj, (verse 28), what can be translated as, "That they may witness things that are of benefit to them." Ibn Abbas says that the benefits here include both; benefits of this life and the Hereafter.

When we talk about ibadah (acts of worship) of Allah (S.W.T.), we have to fulfill two conditions so that ibadah will be accepted from us by Allah, beneficial to the worshipers in this life and in the Hereafter.

  • The first condition is that ibadah should be performed exclusively for Allah (S.W.T.) with a pure and sincere intention; not for reputation or to show off. Allah (S.W.T.) says in surat Al-Kahf, (verse 110), what can be translated as, "So whoever hopes for the meeting with his Lord, let him work righteousness and associate none as a partner in the worship of his Lord." The prophet (S.A.W.) used to supplicate, "O Allah, I ask you a hajj free of showing off and reputation."
  • The second condition is that ibadah must be performed exactly as described by the prophet (S.A.W.). Because ibadah is to be followed and not to be invented. So, Allah (S.W.T.) is not worshipped except with what he ordered and the way he dictated. For this reason, ibadah orders came in the Qur'an in a general form and were detailed and clearly explained by the sunnah of the prophet (S.A.W.) so that there is no room for innovation, an addition of something to it or taking something out of it.

For example, the order to establish salah came from Allah (S.W.T.) in a general way in the Qur’an, but the way to pray was clearly described in the sunnah of the prophet (S.A.W.); verbally and practically. Imams Bukhari and Muslim reported that the prophet (S.A.W.) said, "Pray as you see me pray." Also, the order to pay zakah came from Allah (S.W.T.) in a general way in the Qur’an, but the amount of possession (nisab) required to pay zakah came in the sunnah of the prophet (S.A.W.). The same thing applies to rolls of fasting. About hajj Imam An-Nisai reported an authentic hadith that the prophet (S.A.W.) said, "Take from me your manasek (acts) of hajj."

Today, we see many Muslims performing the worship acts, but we do not see any positive effects of this worship to achieve taqwah in their lives. This is only due to the fact that these acts of worship became merely symbolic, lifeless movements and were not performed exactly like Allah (S.W.T.) dictates (either because of a shortage of sincerity, or a shortage following the way these acts were described by the prophet (S.A.W.). About this, Imams Abu Dawud and An-Nisai reported an authentic hadith, that the prophet (S.A.W.) said, "A person may pray a prayer, but he is rewarded for it its one tenth, one ninth, one eight, one seventh, one sixth, one fifth, one fourth, one third, one half." In another authentic hadith, reported by Imams An-Nisai, Ibn Majah, Al-Hakem that the prophet (S.A.W.) said, "There may be a fasting person who does not get from his fasting except hunger, and there may be a night prayer person who does not get from his praying except staying up."

This is a very important issue. If we want our ibadah to lead us to the taqwa of Allah in our hearts, then it has to be corrected and its quality improved and we should perform it with life in it and with a sincere intention toward Allah (S.W.T.) and faithfully follow it like the prophet (S.A.W.) described it.

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