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Friday, April 10, 2009

The Quranic Concept of Ibadah - part 1

Mankind, according to the Quran, was created for nothing other than to give their 'ibadah' to Allah.

The Quran 51/56: And I have not created the jinns and humans except that they may give ibadah to Me.

19/93: There is none in the heavens and the earth but comes to Ar-rehman as a servant/'abd.

This indicates that the concept of ibadah is of utmost importance in the Quran.

The meaning of 'Ibadah' is usually falsely understood as "worship" or paying homage to deity/deities and is reduced to a few rituals when in fact Ibadah does not end with the completion of some rituals, but it is a person's ongoing state of subservience and obedience(to someone/something). Let us refer to the Quran, Criterion/Furqan, for confirmation:

23/45-47: Then We sent Musa and his brother Haroon, with Our signs and manifest authority,
towards Firaun and his chiefs, so they behaved arrogantly, and they were haughty people.
So they said "Should we believe two mere humans like ourselves, while their people(the children of israeel) are servants to us?"

In the above verses Firaun and his chiefs call Bani Israeel their servants/aabidoon(plural of abd; the one who gives ibadah). It does not mean that they considered Firaun their ilah or rabb or ascribed divinity to them. They did not worship them. They only regarded Allah as their rabb and ilah:

10/86: So they(children of Isra'eel) said, 'in Allah we put our trust; our rabb, do not make us a temptation for the oppressing people;

10/90: ... he(Firaun) said, 'I believe that there is no ilah but He in whom the children of Israel believe, and I am of those who surrender'.

So even though they considered only Allah as their rabb and ilah, they were made to give their ibadah to Firaun i.e. Firaun was their ma'bood. That even though they had "freedom of religion and beliefs", they were servants/ibaad to those whom they did not ascribe any divine status. This is what the word ibadah has been used to mean throughout the Quran: Service, subservience, and NOT worship or paying homage to any deity.

Ibadah is done by all people all the time. But while some give their ibadah to Allah, others give it to the Shaitaan. The Shaitaan vowed to take all except the the ibaad al-mukhkliseen, those who are exclusive in their ibadat of Allah.
The verse below also refers to 'mukhlis/exclusive ibadah' as the siraat-e-mustaqeem/straight path(leading towards Allah):

38/82: He(Shaitaan) said: "By Your majesty, I will assuredly mislead them all."
38/83: "Except for those among Your ibaad/servants who are al-mukhliseen/Exclusive(to You)."

15/39: He(Shiataan) said: My Lord! Because You have sent me astray, I will certainly adorn the path of error for them in the earth, and shall mislead them collectively
15/40: Except for those among Your ibaad/servants who are mukhliseen/exclusive(to You).

15/41: He(Allah) said: This(mukhlis/exclusive ibadah) is the siraat-e-mustaqeem/straight path upon Me.

The verse below confirms that the only other receiver of ibadah is ultimately Shaitaan:

36/60-61: Did I not enjoin upon you, O children of Adam, not to give your 'ibadah to Satan, for he is an open enemy to you, but to give it to Me instead? And this(Quran) is the siraat-e-mustaqeem/straight path.

Therefore all aspects of our lives which are devoid of Allah's ibadah, (i.e. obedience to Him in all matters dealt with in His book) are filled by the ibadah of Shaitaan. It is important to note that in the verse above as well as in 6/126, the Quran refers to itself as 'siraat-e-mustaqeem'(while in 15/40-41, it is 'mukhlis ibadah' that is referred to as the 'siraat-e-mustaqeem':

6/126: And this(Quran) is your rabb's siraate mustaqeem/straight path. We have indeed detailed the Ayaat to a people who are mindful.

This equates exclusive ibadah/service of Allah(15/40-41) with walking the path of the Quran(36-60-61, 6/126), meaning that those who obey sources that are contradictory to the Quran are not among the 'ibaad al-mukhliseen'.

More later inshaallah.

Fahad Ali Khan.

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