Pakistan Observer

Concept of Ibadah in Islam

The Spirit Of Islam

Atif Noor Khan

Friday, July 20, 2012 - The basic concept implied by the root word, ‘abd, is that of acknowledging someone other than oneself as holding supremacy or enjoying over lordship and of abdicating one’s freedom and independence in big favor, of relinquishing any resistance to or disobedience of him, and of surrendering oneself totally to his authority. Since slavery or bondage too are tantamount to similar status, the first sense the word conveys to the mind of any Arab is of this very factor, namely, slavery or bondage.

The Arabic word Ibadah or Ibada has connotations of obedience, submission, and humility. In terms of Islam, ibadah is the ultimate obedience, the ultimate submission, and the ultimate humility to Allah (God) along with the ultimate love for Him. Muslims believe that ibadah is the reason for the existence of all humanity. That is, Muslims believe that all people exist only to worship Allah. Ibadah consequently means following Islamic beliefs and practices – its commands, prohibitions, the halal, and the haram. For Muslims, ibadah is also something that comes from the heart, or sincerity, as a result of belief in Islam. Therefore, ibadah is something that cannot be forced upon another person. Islamic concept of Ibada is beautiful mix of all definitions of ibada. As Allah said in Holy Quran “”And to every nation We sent Messengers, ordering them that they should worship Allah alone, obey Him, and make their worship purely for Him; and that they should avoid at-Taaghoot.” [Sooratun-Nahl 16:36]”

Through belief in the unity of Allah the almighty, Who is invested with all the attributes of perfection, Islam seeks to purge human intellect of the filth of idolatry and superstitious fancies. In fact, polytheism and idolatry which are opposed by Islam degrade man to a level which is incompatible with his dignity. Islam fights against idolatry and polytheism in whichever forms and to whatever extent they might be found. In its concern to eradicate idolatry Islam takes notice even of the imperceptible forms of idolatry. It takes notice even of those beliefs and practices which do not appear to their adherents as tainted with idolatry. One of the manifestations of this concern is that Islam does not permit the performance of ritual prayer (salat) in front of a tomb, nor does it permit man to swear in the name of anyone except Allah. All this is owing to the uncompromising hostility of Islam to idolatry. When Caliph ‘Umar saw that people had begun to sanctify the tree beneath which the Companions of the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) had pledged to lay down their lives in the way of Allah on the occasion of Hudaybiyah, he feared that its sanctification might corrupt the beliefs of the people. He, therefore, had it cut down.

With this wider concept of Ibadah, it is painful to note that we have confined the term Ibadah to obligatory prayers and have narrowed down the concept of religiosity to the performance of Salah and Saum (fasting). We often forget that adherence to the Divine Commands in our behaviour with fellow-beings, following His directives in agricultural, commercial and professional works and showing honesty and truthfulness in financial transactions is also Ibadah and no less obligatory than the daily prayers.

In fact, the Qur’anic concept of Ibadah demands change in this attitude and invites the people to build up their mind that as performance of five-times namaz is obligatory for a mumin, in the same way keeping one’s words, adopting lawful means of livelihood, showing honesty in financial matters, doing justice to all and taking care of rights of have-nots, workers, servants and other weaker sections are also essentially required from them.In short, your entire life is ‘ibadah if they are in accordance with the law of God, and your heart is filled with His love, and your ultimate objective is to seek the pleasure of God. But many Muslims nowadays think that the meaning of ibadah is establishing the prescribed forms of ibadah acts only. Ibadah is also something that comes from the heart, or sincerity, as a result of belief in Islam. Therefore, ibadah is something that cannot be forced upon another person.
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