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We believe that a true and comprehensive understanding of Islam would not be possible without careful recognition of the Prophetic Tradition and the Prophet's Household. And Allah is the Source of Strength.

Kernel of True Worship

This paper is a submission by Kaneez Fatima.
You can contact her through her email address []

Since the inception of human life, this planet has seen people worshipping different things; fire, sun, moon, idols, other people. According to the World Encyclopedia, there hardly has been any race of human beings that has had no religion. People, in general, tend to adopt some religion in order to satisfy an instinctive human need, "The Need to Worship."

Mankind has always kept itself engaged in the search of finding the best entity or deity to be worshipped. It is this search that has made different people adopt different religions, according to the level of satisfaction that they find in the modes of worship that that religion provides.

The concept of worship that a religion customarily gives is "Anything acceptable by the chief entity/deity in the hierarchy of that religion or any act that establishes contact between a man and that supreme entity."

Religions emerged, got popular and declined. Every religion introduced ways of worship and gave its followers guidelines to be followed. Every religion was a way of life. But what did man do? It was difficult for him to shun his own way of life dictated by his own self completely and follow all the guidelines that his religion provided. For this reason, man handpicked all the acts that suited him, his routine, his desires and above everything his ego and collected all these acts in a box and named that box "His religion," leaving the actual teachings of his religion, somewhere in the rear.

I happen to belong to the religion "Islam". And I have been told that it has 1.3 billion (approximate) adherents all around the globe, itís the fastest growing religion in the world and itís the only path that can get one paradise. Itís the only religion that has the most fulfilling acts of worship. It is the only way that gives life a purpose. I got impressed by these facts provided by my family and friends from whom I inherited this religion and I started following anything that came from them blindly.

However, when I saw around I found a very different scenario. I saw people who were all Muslims but hardly agreed over the religion Islam. As soon as the moazzin finished his call, I saw a man rushing towards the mosque near our department, a colleague sitting with me smirked and pointed at him saying, the prime dealer of riba (interest) is running to devote some of his energy to the process "worship." I saw a family friend known for His pugnacity (irrespective of the months) going for Ziyarat every year in Moharram, to play his part in the process "worship". I saw all the people agreeing upon the fact that Allah alone needs to be worshipped but I also saw all of them advocating the modes of worship that they have chosen for themselves considering their convenience. All this makes me realize that the way man has always adopted what has facilitated his circumstances most, a Muslim has also adopted the Islam that suits him most.

The Prophet (SAW) came and told us the purpose of this life.

I created the jinn and humankind only that they might worship Me (Allah)
[Quran 51:56]

He (SAW) taught us how to satisfy all our needs including the need to worship. He (SAW) gave us the message of the entity that undoubtedly deserves all the praise, who alone deserves all the worship and for that He (SAW) provided us with all the information needed to reach that entity. He (SAW) could not have stayed with us forever, so He (SAW) left, leaving all that information in our hands, warning us not to divide our religion amongst us and disunite.

And hold fast by the covenant of Allah all together and be not disunited, and remember the favor of Allah on you when you were enemies, then He united your hearts so by His favor you became brethren; and you were on the brink of a pit of fire, then He saved you from it, thus does Allah make clear to you His communications that you may follow the right way. Quran [3:103]

Since the time Islam has gotten its name/ shape, "The way one is supposed to worship" or "The way one is supposed to reach Allah" has been the cornerstone of the religion's development as well as destruction.

After the Prophet's (SAW) departure, the Muslims took up the task of making things easier for people and finding them an easy channel to heaven, by racing their heads in trying to find the best form of worship.

Some companions thought that using swords and spears to make people stick to religion is what true worship is, and they went on that way. The Kharjites thought that protecting the integrity of the hardcopy of Quran is what true worship is, and they went on that way. The Yazeedis thought that protecting the Caliph of an Islamic state is what true worship is and they went on that way. The Shias thought that narrating the story of Kerbela to people is what true worship is and they went on that way. The Ottomons and after them the Sallafis, the Talibans thought that exterminating Shiism is what true worship is and they went on that way.

In all this struggle, one thing which suffered was true worship itself; The Muslim World got disintegrated, blood was spilled like water, boundary lines got drawn, hatred flourished and love vanished.

And the worst outcome of this struggle was that we forgot that He (SAW) came to unify us, came to make us one community. Forgetting this we broke ourselves into nations, communities and sects. Instead of getting ourselves identified with the identity He (SAW) gave us, we started to take pride in the communities and sects that we chose for ourselves and the castes that we were born with became our distinctiveness.

We forgot that there could not have been anyone other than Rasool (SAW) who had utmost nearness to Alllah, yet we see how he (SAW) did not consider himself as a super human and did not stay aloof from everyone else.

A neighbor told me recently that praising the Prophet (SAW) in a tune is unlawful (is not a worship) and thus they should not be keeping company with people who organize such events! This is where we stand and this is what we learned through the struggle of finding true worship, "To dissociate," to choose a particular way for our own selves and to label everyone else a heathen.

O you who believe! be careful of (your duty to) Allah and seek means of nearness to Him and strive hard in His way that you may be successful.
[Quran 5:35]

Quran did tell me to find the means of nearness to Allah but did that mean that once I find my means of nearness to Allah, I get the license to declare everyone else wrong. Any one who truly struggles to approach Allah with the sincerest of intentions, although on a wrong path currently, Allah will make things easy for him and make him tread the right path as guidance comes from him alone. The journey to reach Allah is an individual's. Our families, friends, colleagues are all there, sometimes to facilitate this journey and other times to become a trial for us. To facilitate it, the only help we can render each other is to point towards the right direction.

O you who believe! obey Allah and obey the Messenger and those in authority from among you; then if you quarrel about anything, refer it to Allah and the Messenger, if you believe in Allah and the last day; this is better and very good in the end.
[Quran 4:59]

Complete knowledge rests with Allah only. It is only He, who can judge between us. He will tell us exactly who was right to what extent and who was wrong to what extent. Why can't we wait till then, the day when we all get to know what we earned? Why can't we stay together as one ummah, enjoining right and forbidding wrong, so that on the day of resurrection we can proudly say that even though we disagreed on many points, we remained a united Ummat-e- Mohammadi (SAW).

One of the most vivid signs of a believer is that he is always humble and he is never satisfied with the level of faith and piety he has. No matter how pious he becomes, he will always strive for more. How do we become so exalted that we deem so many other people as Mushriks and Kaafirs when we ourselves are not sure about our own end? Only Allah knows if the level of faith I have and the kind of actions I perform are good enough, according to his scales, or not. Then how do I become over confident enough to keep my caste, my sect and my community above everyone else's?

Why donít I ever think that the ways that I have chosen for myself are not bringing me closer to Allah, neither are they making me more aware of my faults, nor are they making me a source of positive change in the society. For true worship brings positive change. So many mosques; all occupied with namazis, so many madderesas; all crammed with students, so many scholars; all busy in preaching; so many majalis; all talking about the Ahlulbayt (AS); so many milads; all praising the Prophet (SAW); yet where is change? Is all this not worship? If it is then why is it not bringing any change?

This is why I called worship "a process" above. Because thatís exactly what worship has become "a mere process", "a mere act". Had it not been so, it would have touched souls, brought change, brought betterment, because thatís what true worship does.

Say: He has the power that He should send on you a chastisement from above you or from beneath your feet, or that He should throw you into confusion, (making you) of different parties; and make some of you taste the fighting of others. See how We repeat the communications that they may understand.
Quran [6:65]

Every nation that deviates from the way of Allah deserves punishment. Allah has punished nations in different ways, in the past. Prophet Nuh's nation perished by a storm; Prophet Lut's nation tasted Allah's wrath by asteroid showers; a large thunderous sound destroyed the Thamud, Prophet Saleh's nation; Prophet Shoaib's nation got destroyed by an earthquake. These were the punishments that came to those nations. But what about the third kind of punishment that Allah mentions in the above verse. Isnít this the punishment that Ummat-e-Mohammadi (SAW) is suffering from, namely confusion, division into different parties and fighting amongst themselves, ofcourse in addition to natural disasters etc? Isnít this an indication of how far we have drifted away from the right path, from true worship and its essence?

As Imam Jaffar (AS) said that any act of worship which does not rid us from our bad habbits and does not bring satisfaction to us, is not worship but only a sport.

Unfortunately our worship is missing its core. It is missing the ingredients that make it a source of unity and tolerance. What is more unfortunate is that we do not even realize what our core is. Neither would we until we find sincerity in our actions, strength in our faith, fear of the hereafter and loyalty to Muhammad (SAW). Until we strengthen the kernel of true worship, we will only remain a destructive, rift-stricken force within society which could do nothing but create Fitnah.

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