In the Name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate
By 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.
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.
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.
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.