Islamic concepts

ʿIbādah — worship, humble servitude, religious service, devotion

ALA-LC ʿibādah
IPA ʕɪˈbæædæh

The purpose of life for the Muslim is to unify their worship of Allah.

  • It is You we worship; it is You we ask for help. 1:5
  • People, worship your Lord, who created you and those before you, so that you may be mindful [of Him] 2:21
  • I have only created Jinns and men, that they may serve Me. 51:56

Ibn Qayyim writes that worship encompasses two principles:

  1. the highest level (ghāyah) of love (ḥubb)
  2. the highest level of humbleness (dhull) or submissiveness (khuḍūʿ)

If you love something but don’t lower yourself before it, that is not worship. If you lower yourself before something but don’t love it, that is not worship.

ʿAbada عَبَدَ — to worship; to humbly serve, to ultimately obey or follow

to be in yielding awe, to recognize that you are totally dependent on Allāh, present your humbleness to

To be a Muslim is more than acknowledging Allāh as the one and only ultimate Master. (If that were true, then Iblīs and the Quraysh tribe would already be Muslims.) It’s how we implement this knowledge in practice. We devote our worship to Allāh alone.

Two conditions: sincerity and conformity (correct practice, to comply in actions, behaviour, etc., with accepted standards or norms)

Mental state of worship

  • Linguistically, the word ʿIbādah means to be subservient, to humble or lower yourself for the sake of Allāh. Ibn Kathīr described worship as the state that combines the perfect amounts of love, yielding and fear?.
  • Ibn Taymīyah? described worship as anything that Allāh loves and is pleased with, whether in words or in actions, whether inward or outward.

Method of worship

All worship is forbidden, except for what is provided in the Qurʾān and Sunnah. To invent a new way to worship Allāh is called Bidʿah.

Target of worship

All worship is owed to Allāh alone. To devote your worship to someone other than Allāh is called Shirk.

A mixed emotion of reverence, respect, dread, and wonder inspired by authority, genius, great beauty, sublimity, or might:

Examples of worship

When you do any of these things, the one you devote them to becomes an Ilāh (something worshipped)?

  • Ritual prayer (Ṣalāh)
  • Asking for help (Duʿāʾ)
  • Tawakkul
  • Ṣabr patience for the sake of Allāh
  • Istiʿadhah
  • Istiʿanah, Istighathah
  • Vowing (Nadhr)
  • Tawāf (walking around the Kaʿbah
  • Sajdah

Secular actions

Actions can be divided into two categories

  • Ritual or religious or spiritual: because follow particular religion, specific to your religion and not others, doing because of spiritual or religious reason, not the same in all of society, particular to your religion or your sect
  • Secular or natural: all humans do, eating, drinking, going to work, daily life, general to a society — apart from certain laws, it's all open

Ritual actions have 2 conditions to be accetped by Allāh:

  • sincerity (done purely for the sake of Allāh) : otherwise some type of Shirk (la illaha illala)
  • conformity (to Sunnah of the Messenger of Allāh): otherwise fall into bidʿah (even if sincere) (muhammadun rasul llah)

the whole religion is baout this. we worship allah alone, based upon the sunnah example of our prophet. we don't invent rituals. allah has given us the perfect example of how to worship.

Secular actions No such thing as Bidʿah.. don't need sincerity or conformity. But any secular action (as long as halal) can be converted into a ritual (spiritually rewarded) action, an act of worship. by adding sincerity, it converts it. will get reward for it. consciousness. mindfulness. Sincerity: do it conscious of allah, thinking of allah, wanting to please allah.

people with more iman convert more of their secular actions to spiritual ones. that state is called iḥsān.

oh allah, i have been blessed with taking care of my family. to fulfill your commandment upon me to be al oving mother, i buy groceries. etc.

even when a man enjoys his wife. even this sensual pleasure, when apprached with sincerity, your philosophy attude towards everything . “oh allah, i have a natural urge that i need to satisfy. you have blessed me with a halal way to satisfy it. and i thank you for this” you are conscious of allah.

even sleep, etc.

ihsan whole life becomes ibadah, always conscious

  • Ritual: everything is ḥarām unless proven otherwise
  • Secular: everything is ḥalāl unless proven otherwise

Love, fear and hope

Three pillars of worship

“[...] to be close to Allāh. They hope for Allāh’s mercy and fear Allāh’s punishment. [...]” (Qurʾān 17:57)

اعمدة العبادة الثلاثة a'midatul ibadati assalasah

The motivational factors, the psychological principles to worship Allāh:

Love, fear, hope

what proportions? 33/33/33 ?

scholars agree that primary emotion has to be love. you need both hope and fear, sometimes one is more useful to motivate yourself. hope is good to motivate for doing actions, reward. when tempted to commit sin, fear kicks in. allah will punish. true mumin banks on these 3 emotions. you can increase the right emotion needed in a situation by thinking about the related ayah.

mostyl love, but healthy dose of fear and hope.

ayah combines all three:

want to come close to Allāh (love) , hope for his mercy, scared of his punishment 17:57

Love 2:165:

  • to love the Divine, a love of submission, fear, hope (ritual love)
  • to love (Muḥammad, things, people) for the sake of Allāh, to obey the commandments of Allāh — anything that brings us closer to Allāh (ritual love also) — muḥsin converts, channels all secular love into spiritual
  • natural love, secular love: security, warmth, money, our children, spouses, parents, non-Muslims

if a natural love causes us to disobey Allāh, e.g. fall into ḥarām, opposite of ritual. this is the definition of sin. to prefer natural love over love of Allāh. not shirk, but sin.

would only be called shirk if the natural love cancels out the ritual love completely. then it would be called shirk. if it interferes with the love of Allāh, it's not shirk, it's a sin. it weakens the love.

channel love of non-Muslim to ritual love, be a good person, impress upon them the beauty of islam, to make the mapprciate how good islam is and eventually if allah wills, they will embrace islam


the stick

  • Spiritual: fear of the Divine, scared of Allah's anger and Allah's punishment. part of being a muslim. sign of iman. "do not be scared of shaytan and his allies. but me alone" akhzan 39 "they are the ones who tell commandments and they fear allah and fear none besides allah" only allah can protect from allah.
  • Secular: tiger, physical harm, mugger

convert secular fear into fear of allah. secular fear is only wrong if interferes with spiritual fear.

conquer natural fear, turn to allah, and making it exclusively for allah rises in iman. amzan "aren't you scared of them? believers increased in their iman"

bukhari lion: You are under the control of Allāh just like me. you cannot harm me unless allah willed that.

fear of the snake/scorpion doesn't infringe on the divine rights of allah. allah gave power of poison to the scorpion.


the carrot

  • Spiritual hope 1 - hope of acceptance for good, hope allah will accept our good deeds
  • spiritual hope 2 - hope of forgiveness for evil, hope allah will forgive our bad deeds
  • Secular hope

if we put these two spiritual hopes in other than allah, that's shirk. if scared of a deity, a jinn, etc.

if expect someone else to forgive you for a sin, that's shirk. surat al-imran 135 "who is there that can forgive sins other than allah?" surat al nisa 104 "if you are suffering and in pain, but you are hoping they're not hoping for"

if youre hopeful but your lifestyle doesnt conform to it... true hope brings about actions and lifestyle and positie actions in one's life.

unlike natural fear and natural love, secular hope is problematic: hope of something from boss raise, doctor. putting the hope in a being other than allah, you ascribe some type of power they don't possess. hidden shirk, trivial shirk. even less than minor shirk. believer has to conquer all natural hope and convert it to spiritual hope. no good happens except if allah wills it. optimism hope hearts in allah, not in any other entity.

optimism in allah. allah cures, not doctor. a frame of mind. make dua to allah. "oh allah allow my doctor to find a cure"


  • too much fear: khawadij kharajites, killing other muslims, murder sahaba, complete fanatics, modern extremists too, jihadists, al-qaida, taliban
  • too much love: extreme sufis
  • too much hope: murjiites, allah will forgive me, no big deal. no fear at all. foolish.careless.

Enslaving yourself?


Iblīs makes Duʿāʾ to Allāh calling Allāh his Rabb. But the Misleader is not a Muslim.

Example of the Quraysh tribe

pre-Islamic arabs = jahaliyya arabs

The Quraysh tribe are idol worshippers, are not Muslims, yet they clearly believe in Allāh as a Master and Sustainer. The Quraysh believed in Allāh in a Rabb alone.

Abu Lahad Abu Jahad

  • surat alhalkaboot 61-63
  • surat almuminun 84-89
  • surut yusuf v 106 they had some sort of īmān (12:106)
  • 39:3 10:18 their excuses for shirk, the psychology of shirkers
  • at times of desperation, they made duʿāʾ to Allāh directly but then they turn back to shirk
    • lukman 32, alkabun 65, a dozen or so verses

they worshipped Allāh, but the problem is that they worshipped other than Allāh

they rejected tawhid al-uluhiyya (la ilaha illalah)

  • I have not created the Jinnī and human beings for any reason except that they worship Me.

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