Show Your Gratitude Through Worship

Amin Ahsan Islahi

One of the fundamental components of a person’s relationship with Allah is worship. As one’s heart is filled with gratitude to one’s benefactor, one expresses indebtedness, humility, and surrender to him. This is a natural response, observed even in domestic animals and pets. They express gratitude by gesture or look, but human beings are required to express gratitude in a much more pronounced manner. It is an ordinary experience that a person owing a debt of gratitude to another expresses these feelings in appropriate manners and speech.

Those failing to thank their benefactors are generally regarded as at least uncouth or ill-natured. It is part of the human nature to hold one’s benefactor in esteem. Given this, we can see what gratitude we owe to our true Benefactor, Allah, Who is the source of all favors and blessings. We owe our very existence to Him. His favors are not ephemeral, but eternal.

One should reflect gratitude to Allah by way of surrendering humbly and fully to Him. In doing so, one acts in a natural way and will be blessed with tranquility and spiritual contentment. However, those overwhelmed by neglect or ignorance fail to give thanks to their Creator and Benefactor. They even fail to think of Him or do so only in a passing and cursory manner.

The gratitude we owe to Allah is manifested in our worship. It is expressed both verbally and by gesture and body movement. Worship embodies outwardly our gratitude to our Benefactor. One’s whole being is involved in the act of worship. Each body part contributes in its own way, and one’s mental and spiritual faculties are also actively involved. One whole being takes part in paying homage to the Creator, because it is incumbent upon to involve also all those means and ways by which one meets their worldly needs.

There is no need of weighty arguments to illustrate that the worship of Allah manifests our gratitude to our real, true Benefactor. This appears clearly in the opening surah of the Qur’an, Al-Fatihah. The surah is woven around the theme of gratitude and it forms an essential part of prayer in Islam. It emerges from studying this surah that one’s gratitude in response to Allah’s lordship, mercy, and compassion prompts one to exclaim (We worship You alone) (Al-Fatihah 1:5).

It is also evident from other Qur’anic verses that worship is synonymous with the expression of gratitude to Allah. For example, (Worship Allah and be among His grateful servants) (Az-Zumar 39:66). Elsewhere, one is directed to worship and thank Him: (So seek your provision from Allah, and serve Him, and give thanks unto Him) (Al-`Ankabut 29:17). It is reported about Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) that he stood for so long in his Night Vigil Prayer that his feet would swell up.

Take the following hadith as illustrative: The Prophet’s wife `A’ishah (may Allah be pleased with her) said, I asked, “Messenger of Allah, why do you exert yourself so much while all your sins have been forgiven?” To this he replied, “`A’ishah, should I not be a grateful servant of Allah?” (Muslim).

Worship is prompted by one’s feeling of gratitude to Allah. Allah’s commands are not meant to put us through any inconvenience. Rather, Allah has prescribed certain forms for expressing our gratitude, and these forms are approved by Him. These accrue numerous blessings to us.

In terms of its essence, true worship is characterized by genuine and overflowing gratitude to Allah. By worshiping Allah, one discharges obligations toward the Creator, Master, Benefactor, and Lord. One does not do so for the sake of benefiting in any way the Creator and Master but rather earns blessings for oneself and makes oneself worthy of more rewards. It is clear from several Qur’anic verses that Allah is to be worshiped because He is the Creator, Master, Sustainer, and Lord.

Our worship does not profit Him in any way, and our refusal to worship Him does not harm Him in the least. However, unbelievers refusing to worship Him are liable to fall more deeply into error and are more likely to follow the path of Satan rather than the straight way prescribed by Allah

Parable of the Clock

Has the Prayer Lost its Power?

Syed Abu’l Ala Maudoodi

Brothers in Islam! Undoubtedly you often ask yourselves: Why is it that the Prayer, good and beneficial as it is, seems to make no difference to our lives? Why does it neither improve our morals, nor transform us into a force dedicated to Allah? Why do we continue to live disgraced and subjugated?

The usual answer will be that you are not offering the Prayer regularly or in the manner prescribed by Allah and the Messenger. Such an answer may not satisfy you. I shall therefore try to explain the matter in some detail.

Parable of the Clock

Look at the clock fixed to the wall: there are lots of small parts in it, joined to each other. When you wind it, all the parts start working and, as these parts move, the result appears on the clock face outside it which you observe. Both hands move to denote each second and each minute. The purpose of the clock is to indicate correct time. All those parts which are necessary for this purpose have been fitted together and the winding system has been made so that each of them moves as required. Only when all the parts have been assembled correctly and the clock wound up properly will it begin fulfilling the purpose for which it is made.

If you do not wind it, it will not show the time. If you wind it but not according to the prescribed method, it will stop or, even if it works, it will not give the correct time. If you remove some of the parts and then wind it, nothing will happen. If you replace some of the parts with those of a sewing machine and then wind it, it will neither indicate the time nor sew the cloth. If you keep all the parts inside the case but disconnect them, then no part will move even after winding it up. The presence of all the parts will not serve the purpose for which the clock is made because you will have disrupted their arrangement as well as their connection.

In all these situations, both the existence of the clock and the act of winding it become useless, although an observer from a distance cannot say that it is not a clock or that you are not winding it. He will surely consider that it is a clock and will expect it to be useful as a clock. Similarly, when from a distance he observes you winding it, he will take it as a genuine effort on your part to do the job, hoping to notice the result which comes from winding the clock. But how can this expectation be fulfilled when what looks like a clock from a distance has in reality lost its ‘existence’?

Aim of Muslim Ummah

Imagine Islam like this clock. Just as the purpose of the clock is to indicate the correct time, so the aim of Islam is that you should live in this world as the vicegerents of Allah, as witnesses of Allah unto mankind and as standard-bearers of truth. You must yourselves follow the commandments of Allah and bring all other people under Him:

“You are indeed the best community brought forth for mankind: you enjoin the doing of right and forbid the doing of wrong, and you believe in Allah” (Al Imran 3:110).

“And thus We have made you a just community, that you might be witnesses unto mankind” (al-Baqarah 2:143).

“Allah has promised those of you who believe and do righteous deeds that He will surely make you to accede to power on earth” (al-Nur 24:55).

“And fight them, until there is no rebellion (against Allah), and all submission is to Allah alone” (al-Anfal 8:39).

Wholeness of Islamic Teachings

To fulfil this purpose, various parts as were required, like those of the clock, have been brought together in Islam. Beliefs and principles of morality; rules for day-to-day conduct; the rights of Allah, of His slaves, of one’s own self, of everything in the world which you encounter; rules for earnmg and spending money; laws of war and peace; principles of government and limits of obedience to it – all these are parts of Islam. As in a clock, they are linked to each other in such a way that as soon as the winding is done, every part starts moving and, with the movement of all these parts, the desired result is obtained. Rule of Godless law in the world, domination of Islam, start manifesting just as, with the movement of the parts of the clock in front of you, the time appears on its face.

In order to fasten together different parts of the clock, screws and small pieces of metal have been used. Similarly, to join all the parts of Islam together, there is an arrangement called the Jama’ah or organization. Muslims should organize themselves, and have leaders equipped with proper knowledge and endowed with taqwa; the brains should help them and the limbs should obey them, as they all strive to live under Allah.

When all the parts have been brought together and properly assembled, regular winding is necessary to set them in motion and to continue their movement: Salah which is offered five times a day provides that winding, creating the energy which sets an Islamic life in motion. Cleaning this clock is also necessary: fasting observed for thirty days a year cleanses hearts and morals. Lubrication, too, is required: Zakah is like the oil which is applied to its parts once a year. Then it is also necessary to overhaul it periodically: Hajj is that overhauling which should be performed at least once in a lifetime. And the more often it is done, the better.

Abusing the Clock

The processes of winding, cleaning, lubricating and overhauling are of use only when all the parts are present in the frame, when they are linked in the order designed by the clock-maker, and when all are so trained that immediately on winding they start moving and begin showing results.

Alas, today the situation has become very different. For a start, the very Jama’ah, the organizational structure, which was supposed to link the parts of the clock together has ceased to exist. The result is that all the fittings have come apart, each has gone its own way. Everybody does whatever takes his fancy. There is nobody to question anything. Everyone is autonomous. If someone wants to follow the Islamic code, he can; if he does not want to, he need not.

Since even this so-called freedom has not satisfied you, you have pulled out many parts of the clock and in their place put anything and everything: a spare part from a sewing machine, perhaps, or from a factory or from the engine of a car. You call yourselves Muslims, yet you render loyal service to Kufr, yet you take interest, you insure your lives, you file false law suits, your daughters, sisters and wives are forsaking Islamic manners and your children are being given secular materialistic educations. Some have become disciples of Gandhi; others are following Lenin. Which un-Islamic gadget is there that you have not fixed into the frame of the clock of Islam?

Despite this, you expect the clock to work when you wind it! And you suppose that cleaning, lubricating and overhauling it will also be of use. With a little reflection, however, you should see that in the condition to which you have reduced the clock you can wind it, lubricate it, and overhaul it, for the whole of your lives without any effect. Nothing will happen until you remove the parts brought in from other appliances, replace them with the original parts, and restore the original priorities. Then, and only then, will the winding and so forth produce any results.

Why Worship Rites Are Ineffective

This state of affairs is the real reason why your Salah, Sawm, Zakah and Hajj make no impact upon your lives. First, there are so few among you who perform these acts of worship. Due to the dissolution of Islamic Jama’ah everybody has become autonomous. Whether you fulfil your obligations or not, there is nobody to care. Nor do those who do apparently carry out their obligations do so in a proper manner. They are not constant in attending the congregational Prayer. People are selected to lead the Prayers in the mosques simply because they are fit for no other work: people who exist on the free bread doled out to mosques, who are uneducated, who lack moral calibre. How can congregations led by them turn you into the leaders of mankind? Similar is the situation regarding your Fasting, Almsgiving and Pilgrimages.

Despite all these facts, you may argue, there are nonetheless many Muslims who do discharge their religious duties conscientiously. Why does that make no difference? But, as I have said, when the parts of the clock have become unhinged and numerous foreign bodies have been inserted in it, it makes no difference if you wind it or not, clean it or not, lubricate it or not. From a distance it does look like a clock. An outside observer may say: This is Islam and you are Muslims. But what he cannot see is how badly its inside machinery has been tampered with.

Our Deplorable Condition

Brothers! You understand why it is so that you pray and fast and yet remain trampled under the heel of cruel tyrants. But, should I tell you something even more distressing? Although most of you no doubt regret this situation but, I would say, 999 people out of 1000 are not prepared to change their situation. They have no urge in their hearts to assemble the clock of Islam again properly. They are afraid that any such reconstruction would mean that their own favourite imported parts would be thrown out, and this they are not prepared to accept. They are afraid that any tightening of various parts would mean that they will have to discipline themselves, and this they are not willing to undertake.

Instead, they prefer that the clock remains a piece of decoration on the wall for people to be shown and told how wonderful Islam is, what miracles it can perform. Those who are supposed to love this clock more than others would like to wind it repeatedly and zealously and to clean it most laboriously; but they want to do nothing to reset its parts properly or tighten them, nor will they seek to get rid of the extraneous parts.

I wish I could endorse your attitudes and behaviour, but I cannot say anything which I believe is wrong. I assure you that if, in addition to praying five times a day, you were to offer Tahadjud (pre-dawn), Ishraq (post-sunset) and Chasht (mid-morning) Prayers, read the Qur’an for hours every day, and observe, over and above Ramadan, extra fasts for five and a half months in the remaining eleven months, you would still achieve nothing. What is needed is to restore the original parts to the clock and fix them firmly. Then even the little necessary winding will make it work smoothly; and the minimal amount of required cleaning and lubrication will be needed.

Wa ma ‘alayna illa ‘l-balagh

There is no responsibility on us except conveying the truth.

The Art of Beseeching Allah

Once, a ten-year-old boy was praying feverishly in prostration, “O Allah [swt], the Most Merciful, the Magnificent, Make Faisalabad [a small city of Pakistan] the capital of Pakistan, make Faisalabad the capital of Pakistan…” Her mother overheard him and inquired, “Why would you pray so, my child?” The boy answered, “Well, Mother. We had a question on our final exam which asked, “What is the capital of Pakistan?” and I mistakenly put “Faisalabad” as my answer.Although, we cannot help but laugh at the naiveté of the innocent child, his trust in his supplication to Allah (swt) and his belief that his prayer will be heard is quite admirable; as a matter of fact, quite “ideal”.

Allah (swt) states in the Quran:
And when My servants question thee concerning Me, then surely I am nigh. I answer the prayer of the suppliant when he calleth on Me. So let them hear My call and let them trust in Me, in order that they may be led aright. (Sura al-Baqara, 186)

The art of making dua:
Making dua in the court of Allah (swt) is an art and has an etiquette which if considered, can result in the opening of many doors of Allah (swt)’s Bliss and Bounties. Some of the factors that help are listed below:

Praise Allah (swt) and call Him by His beautiful names and attributes before setting out to ask Him for favors. Indeed He is praiseworthy who never tires of hearing and fulfilling duas of all of His creatures. Allah (swt) states in the Quran:
“Call on Allah or call the All-Merciful, whichever you call upon, the Most beautiful names of His.” (Sura al-Isra, 110).

Be Humble:
When you are praying, do not act as if you are enjoined the right to deserve whatever you are asking for. Make sure that you know that your Lord is the Most Gracious and you the Most Humble. Acknowledge your status before the Magnificent and do not be proud.
“Call your Lord humbly and secretly. He does not love those who transgress the boundaries.” (Sura al-Araf: 55)

Let Him decide:
If you are asking for something which you really like, always remember that whatever you are asking for may not be always in the best interest. Allah (swt) states in the Quran:
“It may be that you hate something when it is good for you and it may be that you love something when it is bad for you. Allah (swt) knows and you know not.”[Sura al-Baqara, 216] Always let Allah (swt) decide what is right for you and what is wrong for you instead of implying or imposing that you know better.

Be articulate and firm:
Make sure to spell out in clear words what you want exactly. It is true that Allah (swt) knows the secrets of the heart but He still wants you to pray and pray in an articulate manner. For example, all the sisters who want good husbands should not just suffice praying as such, “O Allah (swt), give us a good husband.” Though it may sound out-of-the-world, but it is true that there are brothers who are good looking, rich and possess an excellent character. A sister may ask for all three with all her heart, and she will inshallah get her wish, but it will be better if she knows the order of the features that she wants in her husband, i.e., a good character must come first and foremost.

Believe in your dua:
The most critical factor in a dua being accepted or not, is the belief of the seeker in his or her supplication’s being accepted. Abu Hurairah (May Allah be pleased with him) reported, “The Messenger of Allah (PBUH), ‘The supplication of every one of His slaves will be granted as long as he does not get impatient and say, “I supplicated to my Rubb again and again but I do not think my prayer will be answered.”‘”
[Al-Bukhari, Muslim]. Also, Allah (swt) Himself states, “Do not despair of solace from Allah (swt). No one despairs of solace from Allah except for people who disbelieve.” [Sura Yusuf, 87] Therefore, it is imperative that we do not grow hopeless of Allah (swt)’s Mercy but keep on praying consistently and with patience.

Pray when happy and sad:
Allah (swt) states at numerous places that a human being only remembers Him in the times of distress but forgets Him when he has tears of joy in his eyes. We all know that we do not feel good when our friends remember us in the times of distress but abandon us in the time of need. Though Allah (swt)’s Rahma is infinite and His forgiveness is boundless, yet He expects us to keep on praying even when He has given us good times. Therefore, we should never forget our Lord when our heart’s joys know no bounds or when we are shouting in exhileration.

Remember others during prayers:
Allah (swt) says: “And ask forgiveness for your sins and also for the sin of believing men and women.” [Sura Muhammad, 19]
Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “The dua of a Muslim for his brothers in his absence is readily accepted, an angel is appointed to his side, whenever he makes a beneficial dua for his brother, the angel says, ‘Ameen’, and May you be blessed with the same”. [Sahih Muslim] So a great way of having a dua being accepted in your favor is to wish the same for your brother with all your heart and importune the Creater on his behalf. This way, not only will your dua be accepted, but you will become the cause of happiness of your brother as well.

Nadia Khan

Neglecting Prayers

Allah most High says: Then there succeeded them a generation which neglected prayers and followed lusts. They will meet with destruction (Ghayy), excepting the one who repents and believes and acts righteously. (Quran 19:59-60)

Ibn abbas (RAA) explained that it does not mean that they completely abandoned prayers, but that they delayed them to the end of their prescribed times. Sa’id bin Musayyab, a great Imam following the generation of the Companions, elaborated on this, saying: “A person neglects if he delays the noon prayer up to the afternoon prayer time, afternoon prayer up to almost sunset prayer time, sunset prayer up to evening prayer time, and evening prayer up to morning prayer time, while delaying morning prayer until just before sunrise. If anyone dies without repentance while continuing in this manner, Allah has promised Ghayy for him, and that is a valley in Hell which is very deep and has foul food.”

Allah Most High says: Woe to the worshippers who are unmindful of their prayer. (Quran 107:4-5)

Saad bin Abi Waqqas said: “I asked Allah’s Messenger (SAW) about the meaning of ‘unmindful,’ and he replied: ‘It is delaying it (the prayer) up to the end of its prescribed time.'” (Bazar)

While Allah calls such people <, they are lazy and perform the prayer very late. He has promised them <> (Wayl), which signifies a great punishment.

Some say, “Wayl is a valley in Hell, exceedingly hot, and that is the place for those who delay or miss the prayer, excepting the ones who repent and correct their habits.”

Allah Most High says: O you who believe, let neither your wealth nor your children distract you from the remembrance of Allah. And those who do so, they will be the losers (Quran 63:9)

The commentators say: “The ‘remembrance of Allah’ in this verse means the five daily prayers. If anyone is so busy in buying and selling, or with his daily work of earning a livelihood, or with his children, that he cannot perform prayers on time, he will be among the losers.”

The Prophet (SAW) said in this regard: “The first thing which will be judged among a person’s deeds on the Day of Resurrection is the prayer. If that is in good order, he will pass the test and prosper, and if that is defective, he will fail the test and be a loser.” (Tirmidhi)

Informing us about the inhabitants of Hell, Allah Most High says: (The people in Hell will be asked): “What caused you to enter Hell-fire?” They will say: “We were not among those who prayed, nor did we feed the needy. We used to engage in vain discourse with the vain-talkers, and we used to deny the Day of Judgment, until there came to us that which is certain (i.e.. Allah’s judgment).” Then no intercession by an intercessors will benefit them. (Quran 74:42-48)

The Prophet (SAW) said: “The covenant between us and them (that is, believers) is prayer, so if anyone abandons it he has become an infidel.” (Ahmad, Ibn Majah, Abu Dawood, Nisai, Tirmidhi). He also said: “What lies between a man and infidelity is the abandonment of prayer.” (Muslim)

Allah’s Messenger (SAW) is reported to have said: “If anyone abandons the afternoon prayer, his deeds are of no avail.” (Bukhari).

And he said: “If anyone abandons prayer deliberately he has no claim upon Allah” (Sunan).

Abdullah bin amr bin al-As (RAA) said that the Prophet (SAW) mentioned prayer one day saying, “If anyone keeps to it, it will be light, evidence, and salvation for him on the day of Resurrection; but if anyone does not keep to it, it will not be for him light, evidence, or salvation; and on the Day of Resurrection, he will be associated with Qaran, Pharoah, Haman, and Ubayy bin Khalaf (a great enemy of Islam from among the Quraish).” (Ahmad, Darimi and Baihaqi)

Some scholars have explained that the person who abandons prayer will be raised with such a foursome because his neglect of prayer may be due to his involvement with his property, his country, his administrative work, or his trade, Therefore, if he was involved with his property, he will be resurrected with Qarun; if with his country, then with Pharoah; if with his administrative work, then with Haman; and if with his trade, then with Ubayy bin Khalaf, the trader among the unbelievers of Mecca.

Mu’adh bin Jabal (RAA) reported Allah’s Messenger (SAW) as saying: “If anyone abandons prayer intentionally he has no claim to Allah Most High.” (Ahmad)

Umar ibn al-Khattab (RAA) reported that a man asked the Prophet (SAW): “Messenger of Allah, what action is dearest to Allah Most High?” The Prophet (SAW) replied: “Prayer at its proper time. The one who does not pray has no religion. Prayer is the main pillar of the religion (of Islam).” (Baihaqi)

After Umar had been stabbed, it was said to him, “As-salat, ya amir ul-mumineen!” (The prayer, Leader of the Believers!) He said, “Yes, truly! If anyone misses the prayer, he has no share in Islam,” and thereupon he prayed while his wounds were bleeding.

Abdullah bin Shaqiq (RAA) said that the Companions of the Prophet (SAW) did not consider the abandonment of any good deeds to be unbelief excepting the abandonment of prayer.

When Ali (RAA) was asked about a woman who did not pray, he replied: “The one who does not pray is an unbeliever.” Ibn Masood said that the one who does not pray has no religion, and Ibn Abbas said: “The one who leaves off a single prayer deliberately will find, when he meets Allah Most High, that He is angry with him.”

Allah’s Messenger (SAW) said: “When a person meets Allah after neglecting his prayer, he will meet him as if he had not worshipped him at all, nor done any good deeds.” And Ibn Hazm said: “There is no greater sin after polytheism than missing a prayer [That is to say, if one deliberately delays a prayer until its time has passed, although he was able to pray it on time, without any valid reason which permits delaying it before its time.] and killing a believer without just cause.”

Ibrahim Nakahi said: “The one who has left off the prayer has become a disbeliever.” Awn bin Abdullah said: “When a person is buried, the first question which will be asked him will be concerning the prayer. If that is accepted from him, his other deeds will be looked at, but if that is not accepted form him, no other deeds will be looked at.”

Abdullah bin al-As reported Allah’s Messenger (SAW) as saying: “A person who combines two prayers without excuse, enters a gate among the major sins.”

We seek Allah’s guidance and help, for indeed. He is the Generous, the Magnanimous, and the Most Merciful of all merciful ones!

From Al Kabaair ‘The Major Sins’ by Imaam adh-Dhahabi

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