Contents > Chapter 8: Worship in Islam > Introduction



Worship is an essential and inseparable part of the religion of Islam. In Islamic terminology, Ibaadah (worship) is a comprehensive term that encompasses everything that Allah loves and is pleased with, of both statements and actions – both apparent and hidden. It embodies (represents) utmost love of Allah through the utmost degree of submission. Hence, Salaat, Zakaat, Saum, Hajj, being truthful in speech, fulfilling one’s trust, kindness towards parents, maintaining relations with kin; fulfilling pledges; commanding the good; forbidding the evil; Jihad against the disbelievers and the hypocrites, being beneficent towards the neighbor, the orphan, the poor person, the traveler and the owned human or animal, supplication, remembrance (of Allah), recitation (of the Qur’aan) and the like of all such, are types of worship.[1]


The importance of worship in Islam can be realized from the fact that, Allah, the Most Merciful, says in the Qur’aan, “I did not create Jinn and mankind except for my worship (Alone).”[2] Worship being the sole purpose of creation is binding upon every human being. Allah says, “O mankind worship your Lord, Who created you and those who were before you, so that you may become pious,” followed by a strict warning and prohibition of joining partners with Him: “…do not set up rivals unto Allah while you know (that there is nothing similar to Him).”[3]


Narrated Mu’adh bin Jabal (radhi allahu anhu), ‘The Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) said: “O Mu’adh! Do you know what is the right of Allah on His slaves?” I (Mu’adh bin Jabal) said: “Allah and His Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) know best.” The Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) said: “(the Right of Allah on His slaves is) to worship Him (Allah) Alone and join none (as partners) in worship with Him.” Then he (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) asked: “Do you know what is their (slaves) right upon Him?” I replied: “Allah and His Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) know best.” The Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) said: “Not to punish them (if they worship Him alone).”[4]


Along these lines, if someone abandons the worship of Allah, the Exalted, he has not only destroyed the purpose of his creation but also violated the Right of Allah on him. Since worship is a sign of humility - abandoning worship is a sign of pride and arrogance, and Allah says, “…But as for those who refuse His worship and were proud, He will punish them with a painful torment and they will not find for themselves besides Allah any protectors and helper.”[5]

[1] See Introduction of, ‘Ibn Taymiyyah’s Essay on Servitude.’

[2] Soorah ad-Dhariyaat (51): 56.

[3] Soorah al-Baqarah (2): 21-22.

[4] Saheeh al-Bukharee vol.9, no.470 and Saheeh Muslim.

[5] Soorah an-Nisa (4): 172-173.