The Concept of 'Worship'
A Quranic perspective
By: A Muhammad
The simple meaning of the word 'Al-Ebadah' is the act of worship. To most people the act of Worship is primarily the act of prayer. However the Quran indicates that the act of Worship is a much more profound concept than just the act of prayer. The words of God to His chosen prophet Moses were:
"I am God, there is no god but Me, therefore you shall worship Me and observe the Salat to commemorate Me." 20:14
These sacred words, which speak of Worship and Prayer independently, indicate that these two acts are not the same. If the act of worship was primarily an act of prayer and nothing else, God would not say "worship Me" and "observe the salat". The word "and" indicates that there is more to worship than just praying.
While as the Contact Prayer is a specific ritual decreed for specific times of the day, the act of Worship on the other hand is an uninterrupted state of the mind, body and soul. It is an exalted spiritual level of existence and invaluable nourishment for our souls. Without the act of Worship, consecrated exclusively to God alone, one is unable to attain true happiness. Our physical bodies, by merely submitting to God's will, are in a perpetual state of worship. All our body organs and tissues are ordained to function in a meticulous pre-ordained manner designed by God and over which we have no control whatsoever. They are in a ceaseless state of submission to the will of God. However, our souls are given the freedom of choice. If our souls choose the same route as our ordained bodies, harmony will be struck between body and soul, the reward of which will be true happiness. On the other hand if our souls are rebellious, unappreciative or egoistic and elect not to worship God, we will never attain true happiness no matter how much material fortune we may posses.
The Quran, being a fully detailed book, provides the believers with the answer to the questions: Whom should we worship, whom should we not worship, and not least in importance, how should we worship?
Most believers will be quite offended by the first question. They will say 'Of course we worship God!' However, the Quran indicates that the human being worships what or whoever occupies his mind most of the time.
WHO ARE WE WARNED NOT TO WORSHIP?
The Quran states that the human being is prone to worship any one of the following:
1- Material possessions:
If the only thing you think of is money and how to make money, if your mind is primarily occupied with issues like: 'how much will I make out of this deal?' and 'what will I gain out of this person?' etc, if everything in your life is assessed in a material sense then it is said that you worship money. If your business or your property distracts you from worshipping God, then you worship your possessions. The following verses all warn against such dangers:
a- The following parable in Sura 18, portrays the tale of the man who was so occupied with his garden to the extent of setting it up as his idol and arrogantly boasting about it to his friend saying that it will never cease to yield its crop. Consequently, God wiped it out as a punishment and a lesson for his idol worship:
“His fruits were wiped out, so he started turning his hands in sorrow and lamenting what he had spent on it as it lay in ruins. He said, "I wish I had never set up any partner with my Lord.” 18:42
b- The story of Solomon and the horses that distracted him from worshipping God goes as follows:
“When at dusk, the thoroughbred horses were displayed before him. He then said, "I loved the material things over the remembrance of my Lord, until it disappeared behind a veil.” 38:31-32
Solomon did not commit idol worship, but he allowed material possessions to distract him from worshipping God. When he realised his error, the sun had already set thus making him miss his Middle Salat! As a result, he repented. Realizing that nothing should have distracted him from worshipping God he got rid of the horses.
c- Indeed the righteous in the sight of God are described in Sura 24:
“Men who are not distracted by trade nor sale from commemorating God.” 24:37
2- Children and spouse:
The Quran warns strongly that our offspring and spouses are a ‘Fetnah’ (test) of our true Worship. Are we going to become so wrapped up in them to the extent of being distracted from worshipping God? Consider the following verses:
a- “....when she got heavier, they implored God their Lord: "If You grant us that which is good, we will be among the thankful. Then when He granted them that which is good, they set up what He has granted them as partners with Him. God be exalted, far above the partners they have set up.” 7:189-190
b- “Your money and children are but a test, and with God lies a great reward.” 64:15
3- One's own ego:
The Quran also warns against worshipping our own self. People with inflated egos are the ones most prone to such behaviour. They will idolize themselves and live in a permanent illusion of vanity. The Quran warns against that:
a- “Have you seen the one whose has taken his ego as his god? Will you be his trustee?” 25:43
b- The Quran states that to protect one’s self against this danger we should always behave with modesty and humility. God does not like the conceited and egotistic:
“God does not like the arrogant showoffs” 31:18
The close connection between worshipping God alone and being humble is also made evident in verse 36 of Sura 4. The verse starts with:
“You shall worship God and do not associate anything with Him”
and ends with the Words:
“God does not like arrogant showoffs” 4:36
c- A case of a whole people ending up worshipping themselves is narrated in the Quran in relation to the Jews. Their vanity and egotism deluded them into thinking that they were God’s chosen race:
“Say, "O you who are Jewish, if you claim that you are allies for God, to the exclusion of all other people, then long for death if you are truthful.” 62:6
Equally, their vanity and egotism eluded them into proclaiming that heaven was exclusively reserved for them!
“Say, ‘If the abode of the Hereafter is yours at God, to the exclusion of all other people, then long for death if you are truthful.” 2:94
Perhaps the more familiar example in this category is the worship of stone and statue idols. Sadly, many religious groups are guilty of such transgression. The Quran warns very strongly against any association with stone, altars or monuments (5:90). In the world today there are those who still worship such objects as statues, the sun, fire, or even certain animals. All these groups are promised great punishment in the Hereafter.
5- The angels, messengers and saints:
There is a very thin line between idolization and worshipping. What would you call those who kiss the ground which the Pope walks on? Are they idolizing the Pope or are they in fact worshipping him? What do you call those who visit the shrines of ‘Al-Hussein’ or ‘El-Sayeda Zeinab’ (Muslim saints) and call on them to answer their prayers or to intercede on their behalf! The Quran states categorically that to call on anyone other than God is to commit idol worship. The Quran warns very specifically against idolizing or worshipping God’s messengers, the saints or the angels:
The Quran establishes the fact that no genuine messenger will ever command his people to glorify him or idolize him:
“No human being whom God gave the scripture, authority and prophethood is then to say to the people, "Worship me beside God." But instead, "Devote yourselves to your Lord according to the scripture you have been teaching and to what you have been studying.
Nor will any genuine messenger ask for any kind of return for his services:
“I do not ask you for a reward, my reward comes only from the Lord of the worlds.” 26:109
The Quran asserts that all those who died, whether they are saints, messengers or idols cannot hear us when we call on them.
“The ones you call on beside Him do not posses as much as a seed's shell. If you call on them, they cannot hear your calls. But even if they heard you, they cannot respond to you. On the Day of Resurrection, they will disown your Shirk. None informs you as One who is All-Aware.” 35:13-14
On the day of Judgment those who have been idolized will disown the ones who idolized them:
“And some people set up equals to God, loving them as the love of God, but those who believe love God the most, and if the transgressors witness the punishment they would realize that all power belongs to God alone, and that God's punishment is severe.
Those who followed said, "If only we had another chance, we would disown them, as they have disowned us. God thus shows them their work bringing remorse upon them; they will never exit the fire.” 2:165-167
The Quran warns very strongly against setting up God's messengers as idols:
“Do those who disbelieve think that they can take My servants as allies beside Me? We have prepared Hell for the disbelievers as an abode.” 18:102
“Say, "Call on those whom you have made claims for beside Him." They do not have the power to relieve afflictions off you, nor can they avert it. Those whom they call on are seeking the means to their Lord vying to be nearest. They hope for His mercy and fear His punishment. Surely, the punishment of your Lord is to be feared.” 17:56-57
Finally, the people who commit such transgressions will come up with the most outrageous excuses:
“Absolutely, the religion should be devoted purely to God. Those who set up allies beside him, "We only idolize them so that they may bring us closer to God!” 39:3
In the same verse, God replies to these claims with the words:
6- The devil
There are various sects all over the world today who worship Satan/Lucifer (the devil). They engage in all sorts of vile activities such as blood drinking, human sacrifices and carnal depravity. Indeed this is expected of the servants of the devil. The Quran states that the devil will order his followers to commit evil:
“The devil promises you poverty and commands you to commit evil” 2:268
We are given a reminder in the Quran that God took a very early Covenant from all of us, not to worship the devil:
“Did I not issue a pledge upon you, O Children of Adam, that you shall not worship the devil for he is your most clear enemy? And that you shall worship Me? This is a straight path.” 36:60-61
“Anyone who takes the devil for an ally instead of God has indeed lost a great loss." 4:119
The words of Abraham to his father carried the same warning:
“O my father, do not worship the devil. The devil has been disobedient to the Almighty.” 19:44
How should we worship God
If these are the various temptations that can divert us from the 'Straight Path', and from worshipping God alone, what are we to do to be certain that we worship God alone?
The Quran lists no less than ten separate acts. They are specific acts to be observed and at the same time they serve as genuine indications of the purity of our Worship. The "deen al-khalis" (pure religion) spoken of in the Quran (as in 39:3) requires that every one of the ten acts (below) is dedicated exclusively to God alone. By taking each act separately and determining how much of it is observed for God and how much is dedicated to others (no matter who they are) provides us with a sound guideline for the purity of our Worship.
For example, the second act, which calls for the glorification of God alone, can be taken as an example. Every time we glorify anyone other than God we do in fact impair the purity of our religion (Al-Deen Al Khales). There is nothing wrong with giving praise to fellow humans when praise is due, but only God is worthy of glorification. Similarly, every act of the ten acts will provide a genuine pointer to the purity of our Worship.
Act One: Recognition and Deification
This first act combines Faith and Worship, while as the next nine acts are solely acts of Worship. The first requisite for worshipping God is to recognize His Existence. The Quran provides a wealth of information that supports the believer, both the knowledgeable and the unlearned, to recognize the existence of God. For the benefit of the scientifically minded, there is ample scientific information testifying that the creation of the universe and its maintenance are precisely executed phenomena that could never be products of chance. The Quran refers to numerous fields of science like, astronomy, physics, geology, biology, botany and embryology to name a few. For the unlearned reader of the Quran, there is a whole Sura that provides simple facts all of which testify to the existence of God (Sura 55).
For more information about the scientific content of the Quran please see:
The signs of God The Creator in everything around us are countless. The following page contains interesting information about God's design in all things:
Once 'Recognition' is secured, the next step is the 'Deification and Apotheosis' of God.
Deification, or Apotheosis, means to instate in our hearts the fact that God alone possesses all the attributes to be a God and that there is no god other than He. These two facts are asserted in the words: "I am God" and "There is no god but Me" 20:14
Deification indeed is the acknowledgment that God is our Creator and the Creator of everything in the universe. Deification of God is to recognize His Divinity and His Oneness. The Quran asserts the fact that if there were other gods beside God the whole universe would be disrupted:
"If there were in them other gods beside God, they would have been ruined." 21:22
There are those who will acquire the 'Recognition' of the existence of God but refuse to subject their minds to the 'Deification' of God. An example of those is given in Sura 23, verses 84-90.
Another good example is the many scientists today who will concede that there is a force behind the creation of the universe but are too vain to accept that this force is a Supreme God who controls every atom in their bodies and every event that takes place in the heavens or the earth.
Needless to say, without this crucial act, one is not able to observe any of the other acts of Worship. This act is the cornerstone and the foundation on which all other acts of worship originate from and are based upon.
Act Two : Glorification and Exaltation
The awareness of the vastness of our universe, which is only the innermost of seven universes, and the fact they are all folded in the grip of God's hand, leaves the mind in a total state of awe. In addition to this vastness, God indeed controls every atom in every one of these universes. Many verses in the Quran point out that it is impossible for the human being to comprehend the greatness of God:
"They have not comprehended God’s true worth! The whole earth is within His fist on the Day of Resurrection and the universes are folded up in His right hand. Be He glorified; He is much too high above any partners they ascribe." 39:67
"He is the one who created seven universes layered on top of one another. You do not see any imperfections in the creation of the Almighty. Turn the sight on it, do you see any flaw? Then turn the sight on it a second time, it will come back to you stumped and exhausted." 67:3-4
"There is not an atom’s weight in the earth or the heavens that is hidden from your Lord, nor is there anything smaller or larger than this that is not recorded in a clear book." 10:61
In due respect for our Mighty Creator we are commanded to constantly glorify and exalt Him. This command is found in many Quranic verses:
"Glorify the name of your Lord, the Most High" 87:1
"You shall glorify your Lord singing His praises, and be among the prostrators." 15:98
Indeed the very last words revealed of the Holy Quran carries this same command:
"You shall glorify and praise your Lord and seek His forgiveness. He is the Redeemer." 110:3
The Glorification and Exaltation of God are two fundamental elements of worship, so much so that everything in the heavens and the earth glorifies God.
"Glorifying God is everything in the heavens and everything in the earth." 62:1
To be able to glorify God in a sincere manner we must always remember to curb our vanity and act in a modest way:
"Those at your Lord are never too proud to worship Him; they glorify Him and to Him they prostrate." 7:206
"God does not like the arrogant show-offs" 31:18
Those who are constantly enthralled in vanity and self-admiration are often the ones negligent of glorifying God.
Act Three: Adoration and Veneration
The 'Adoration' of God is indeed the greatest love of all. The love of God is the noble driving force behind worshipping Him, upholding His Law and working righteousness to please Him. Those who are true believers love God the most. Others, and to varying degrees, have set up idols whom they love equally if not more than God. The Quran is very clear in stating that we are not to love any one as we should love God:
"Some people set up equals to God, loving them as the love of God, but those who believe love God the most" 2:165
It is indeed the duty of every believer to love his brethren and be tolerant. Moreover, God has created for us our partners with whom we share love and affection (Sura 30, verse 21), yet all this love should always be exercised within its proper context. No matter how much we may love our children, our partners, or indeed God's prophets whom He sent with guidance; we should never love them as our love of God. Only the love of God is worthy of being elevated to the state of adoration. There is a very thin line between love and adoration.
Love everybody and every good thing but adore only God.
Act Four: Commemoration and Remembrance
The act of commemoration is achieved through the normal prayers (Salat) as well as outside the ritual of prayer.
The Quran mentions valuable benefits to be gained from observing the Salat.
1- The Salat protects against and prohibit evil and vice:
"Observe the Salat, for the Salat prohibits vice and evil" 29:45
2- The Salat, observed to worship God, helps the believers strengthen their faith and attain certainty
"You shall glorify your Lord singing His praise and be among the prostrators and worship your Lord until you attain certainty" 15:98-99
3- The Salat provide the believers with secured gains in the hereafter
"Those who recite God’s book, observe the Salat and spend secretly and publicly from what We have provided for them, are seeking a trade that can never lose. He will grant them their reward and increase them out of His generosity. He is Forgiving, Appreciative." 35:29-30
4- To commemorate God
We are told in the Quran that the most important objective of the Contact Prayers is to commemorate God.
"You shall recite what is revealed to you of the book and observe the Salat, for the Salat prohibits vice and evil and the remembrance of God is most important. God knows what you do." 29:45
"I am God, there is no god but Me, therefore you shall worship Me and observe the Salat to commemorate Me." 20:14
Commemorating God is not restricted to our prayers but we are also encouraged in the Quran to commemorate God at all times outside the ritual of prayer:
".....the men who commemorate God frequently and the commemorating women: God has prepared for them forgiveness and a great reward" 33:35
"Those who remember God while standing, sitting and on their sides...." 3:191
"O you who believe, you shall remember God frequently" 33:41
"O you who believe, do not let your money nor your children distracted you from remembering God. Those who do this are the losers" 63:9
Numerous rewards are given in the Quran for commemorating God:
1- Commemorating God will bestow a feeling of safety and tranquillity upon the hearts of the believers:
"The ones who have believed and whose hearts are assured through the remembrance of God. Absolutely, through the remembrance of God do the hearts feel assured." 13:28
2- Commemorating the name of God on food will bless it and make it lawful (halal):
"You shall eat from that upon which God's name has been pronounced if you believe in His revelations." 6:118
"Do not eat from that upon which God's name has not been pronounced, for it is a vileness." 6:121
3- Frequent commemoration of the name of God will give the believer better chances of success in life:
".........and remember God frequently, so that you may succeed" 62:10
4- But undoubtedly the reward of the highest order is attaining God's remembrance of us and moving us closer to Him:
"Therefore remember Me, that I may remember you and be thankful to Me and do not disbelieve." 2:152
"You shall commemorate the name of your Lord and devote yourself totally to Him." 73:8
On the other hand for those who abstain from commemorating God a terrible retribution awaits them:
"As for the one who turns away from My remembrance, he will have a miserable life and We will summon him, on the Day of Resurrection, blind." 20:124
"We displayed Hell on that day plainly to the disbelievers, those whose eyes were too obscured to remember Me and they were unable to hear." 18:100-101
Because commemorating God reaps great rewards, thus God will only gift the believers with such blessing. The ones who harbour disbelief and arrogance will be deprived by God of such blessing:
"........ do not obey one whose heart We rendered oblivious to remembering Us, one who pursues his own whims and whose case has exceeded all limits." 18:28
Act Five: Obedience
In order to obey God in the correct way we must first acknowledge that God is the only Law Giver.
God’s Law is the only Law:
The Quran stresses the fact that it is forbidden to follow any law except that of God, that being the Law of the Quran:
"Shall I seek other than God as a source of law, when He has revealed to you this book fully detailed?" 6:114
The Quran states that the only Sunna (methodology/system) is that of God, and that it has no substitute:
".....you will find that there is no substitute for the Sunna of God." 33:62
Obeying God’s Law:
One of the most frequent commands in the Quran is to obey God and the messenger. The Quran is very clear that obeying God and obeying His messenger are one issue and not two. The following verses all confirm such meaning:
1- "Whoever obeys the messenger has obeyed God" 4:80
This simple sentence could only mean that the messenger preaches nothing but God's Law. If the messenger preached what is additional to the Quran then this verse would not always make sense, since a case could be made for a person who could obey the commands of the messenger but not necessarily everything in the Quran. The wording of the verse makes it clear that the messenger had no law other than the Quran. Attempts have been made by those who insist on instating an independent teachings for the messenger outside the Quran; these can be exposed in the light of the Quran.
2- "You shall obey God and obey the messenger and beware; if you should turn away then know that the sole duty of Our messenger is the clear delivery." 5:92
This verse most effectively proves the point. Not only does it command the believers to obey God and the messenger, but it also confirms that since the messenger's sole duty was to deliver the Quran, then necessarily to obey the messenger is to obey the message he delivered (the Quran). The mere fact that the words "obey the messenger" and the words "the only duty of the messenger is to deliver the message." are contained within the same verse is not accidental. Nothing in the Quran is accidental. It is indeed a strong indication to the believers that obedience of the messenger is specifically connected to the message he delivered (the Quran). For more details of this subject, please see: Obey God and obey the Messenger
3- "....you will find that there is no substitute to the Sunna of God." 33:62
As mentioned, to claim or believe that there are two Sunna's, one of God and one of the prophet, is in fact to disbelieve the Quran.
4- "We did not send any messenger except to be obeyed with God's permission." 4:64
Considering the verse said messenger and not prophet, and considering also that God has sent many messengers across the ages, it is inconceivable to think that each one of these messengers had his own Sunna and law besides that of God! As per 5:92 (above) the only duty of any messenger is simply to deliver the message of God!
For this reason, and since the verse tells us that all these messengers were to be obeyed, then the command to obey the messenger does not mean that each of them brought forth a law or Sunna of their own.
5- "We have brought down to you the book, truthfully, so that you may judge among the people" 4:105 (also 5:48)
This verse decisively appoints the method by which the messenger is to arbitrate among the people. That method is the Quran. In all the Quran, there is never any mention of any other method or source.
Having identified that the Law of God is contained in the Quran and nowhere else, it is the duty of every Muslim to obey it. To worship God is to obey His Law, and to obey His Law is to obey the Quran.
The Quran is a complete source of law containing the five pillars of Islam, all the prohibitions, civil law, commercial law, code of conduct, etc. Observing any one of these laws, whether it is related to the five pillars, like fasting the month of Ramadan or paying the obligatory Charity (Zakat), or whether it is in connection to the prohibitions, like abstaining from eating meat of pork for example; observing any of these laws with the intention of obeying God's Law is an act of worship. Consequently, in order to worship God alone, it is imperative to follow God's Law and nothing else.
The importance of obeying God's Law is highly emphasized in the Quran to the extent that it is stated in the book that whoever advocates or rules by a law other than that of God is classed as a disbeliever.
"Those who do not rule by what God has brought down are the disbelievers" 5:44
In addition, all who follow laws which are not authorised by God in the Quran, are indeed setting partners with God:
Act Six: Trust and Dependence
Worshipping God is both in action and in conviction. The conviction expression of the act of Worship is manifest in entrusting our whole lives with God, that is, in all aspects of our livelihood and well-being. To entrust our whole lives with God is an expression of our acceptance of God's absolute authority and our belief that no one has any power that is independent of God. No one can harm or benefit us other than God. The act of trust and obedience is both an act of submission and worship.
The trust and dependence on God is the trait of the firm believer. The one who accomplishes that is well regarded and loved by God:
".....anyone who trusts in God, He suffices him" 65:3
"God: there is no God but He. In God the believers shall trust." 64:13
"And put your trust in God, God suffices as a Trustee." 33:3
Indeed God loves those who trust in Him:
"......and shall trust in God, God loves the trusting ones." 3:159
The fact that one cannot worship God without having absolute trust in Him is of paramount importance. This is evident from the fact that it is stressed in the very first Sura of the book:
"You alone we worshipand You alone we ask for help." 1:5
The Quran also indicates that the devil has no authority over those who put their trust in God:
"He (the devil) has no authority over those who believe and in their Lord they trust." 16:99
But trust in God is not confined to our welfare in this life only but the highest level of trust is to trust in God's promise of the hereafter. This calibre of trust requires a great deal of patience and an unshakable faith. Indeed this shall be well rewarded:
"What is with you runs out, but what is with God is eternal. We will grant those who have been patient their reward, to be equated to the best of their works." 16:96
"And they said, "Praise be to God who fulfilled His promise to us and made us inherit the earth, enjoying Paradise as we please." What a beautiful reward for the workers." 39:74
Act Seven: Fear and Reverence
As much as we are to love and adore God as much as we should fear and revere Him. Perhaps God demanded that of the believers since He knows that He created us with strengths and weaknesses. If we were morally perfect and had no flaws in us then the love of God would have been sufficient to direct us to the Straight Path, but because we are prone to be influenced by both good and evil (91:7-8), the fear of God acts as a much needed deterrent.
Another reason that justifies the fear of God is that His wrath and retribution are awesome. Whether we like the idea or not, surely God's retribution is to be feared.
The concept of punishment and reward is proven to be the best method of achieving any goal. There are those who will complain saying, 'faith should not be built on fear', they are only being untruthful and arrogant. They only need to look around at any organized society in the world to see that the fear of punishment is the prime deterrent in curbing crime. Imagine if all people in a society were informed that from that particular moment there will be no punishment for crime and that the love of humanity should be sufficient for all of them to be law abiding citizens!
The following verses stress the importance of fearing God:
"......the ones who fear their Lord though unseen and they are apprehensive of the Hour." 21:49
"......those who fear their Lord though unseen ...." 35:18
Fearing Hell is fearing God's retribution:
"And beware of the fire which has been prepared for the disbelievers" 3:131
"......beware of the fire, whose fuel is people and rocks. It is prepared for the disbelievers" 2:24
Though the fear of God without seeing Him is a good indication of a strong faith, it is essentially more of an act of Worship. Consider the following example:
A genuine believer can have faith in the ability of his enemy to harm him, but is nevertheless not afraid of him because he does not worship him. A believer has faith in God and is afraid of no one but God because he worships God alone. In that sense the fear of God is indeed an act of worship. The Quran commands us to fear God alone:
"Therefore, do not fear them, but fear Me instead so that I may complete My blessings upon you and so that you may be guided" 2:150
"Therefore do not fear the people but fear Me" 5:44
The Quran states that the fear of God is also the trait of those endowed with knowledge:
"...... Only the knowledgeable among God's servants fear Him." 35:28
For those who fear God there is promise of great reward:
"The one who reveres God, He remits his sins and makes his reward far greater." 65:5
"As for those who revere their Lord, though unseen, they shall have mercy and a great reward" 67:12
Act Eight: Imploring and Beseeching
To implore and beseech God are indeed unquestionable expressions of Worship. The following verse asserts the link between Worship and Imploration:
"Your Lord says, 'Implore Me and I will respond to you. Surely those who are too arrogant to worship Me will enter Hell forcibly" 40:60
The words "Implore Me" and "Worship Me" in this verse confirm that imploring God is indeed an essential expression of worship. Those who do not implore God do not worship Him. God, being the Mos Merciful, encourages the believers to implore Him so that He may bestow on them His mercy.
"And if those who worship Me ask you about Me; I am near. I answer the caller's call if he calls on Me. Thus they shall respond to Me and believe in Me, in order to be guided" 2:186
The believers should address God as God, or by any of His beautiful names:
"Say: "Call upon God, or call upon the Almighty, whatever you call Him by; to Him belongs the Beautiful names." 17:110
Since imploration is an expression of Worship, and since we must worship God alone, it follows that we should implore God alone. The Quran is quick to ascertain this command:
"Therefore, you shall implore God devoting the religion purely to Him, even if the disbelievers dislike it." 40:14
"The places of worship belong to God; do not call on anyone else beside Him." 72:18
"Do not call upon other than God what does not benefit you nor harm you. If you do, you will be among the transgressors." 10:106
The following verses specifically address those who beseech dead people (saints, messengers of God......etc.) for help:
"Those whom you call on beside God are servants just like you. So go ahead and call on them; let them respond to you if you are truthful." 7:194
"....... the ones you call on beside Him do not posses as much as a seed's shell. If you call on them, they cannot hear your calls. But even if they heard you, they cannot respond to you. On the Day of Resurrection, they will disown your Shirk." 35:13-14
The Quran indicates that whenever the human being faces grave danger he will implore God alone but as soon as God rescues him he reverts to associating partners with God:
"When they sail onboard a ship, they call on God, devoting the religion purely to Him. Yet when He delivers them safely to the shore, they revert to Shirk." 29:65
This might be due to the fact that when we are faced with imminent danger we usually have very little time to think. At that moment our instincts take over, and by instinct we all recognise God's absolute authority and that He alone has the power to save us.
Sadly for the majority of people the name of God on its own is not sufficient:
"This is because when God alone was implored, you disbelieved, but when others were associated with Him, you believed. Therefore judgment lies with God; the Most High, the Great." 40:12
To conclude, believers should implore God alone, as the act of imploring God is undoubtedly a true expression of Worship.
Act Nine: Appreciation and Gratitude
The Quran confirms that the expression of appreciation and gratitude to God is indeed an act of Worship:
".....and give thanks for God's blessings if you do worship Him" 16:114
The act of appreciation and gratitude is in fact a four fold expression:
1- Remembering God's blessings:
The human being is to always remember God's blessings and not take it for granted:
"O people remember God's blessing upon you." 35:3
2- The realization that all blessings come from God:
Genuine believers accept that all good things that happen to them in life come from God alone, and that no human being has any power to benefit them except in accordance to God's will. This message is quite clear in the Quran:
"Any blessing that you have is from God." 16:53
3- The expression of Appreciation and Gratitude:
The Quran stresses the importance of expressing appreciation and gratitude to God. This should be accompanied by a genuine content with ones fortunes. Those who are content with what they have are often the ones who find true happiness. It has been said that happiness is not having what you want, but wanting what you have. The following verse ascertains the importance of appreciation, and its great reward:
"Your Lord has proclaimed: "If you give thanks, I shall increase for you, but if you disbelieve then My punishment is severe." 14:7
The Quran states that God's blessings are so numerous that the human being can never count them all:
"If you count God's blessings, you can never encompass them, the human being is indeed transgressing, unappreciative" 14:34
Many of these God given blessings are taken for granted. If we consider our senses, to be able to hear and see, to be given a mind superior to all other creatures with which we are able to attain sovereignty on earth. The moment we lose one of these, say our sight, we know exactly what we have been taking for granted. All these blessings are God given.
"God brought you out of your mothers' wombs knowing nothing and He then gave you the hearing, the eyesight, and the mind, may you be thankful." 16:78
"God is the One who ordained for you the night so you can rest in it, and the day for seeing. God grants His favour to the people, but most people are not thankful." 40:61
4- Proclaiming God's blessings:
The fourth expression of act nine is to constantly proclaim God's blessings. Since God's blessings on us are too numerous to be counted, it is only fair that we should proclaim His blessings on us to every one we know. By doing so we are expressing both our gratitude and our Worship of God.
"You shall proclaim the blessings of your Lord." 93:11
Act Ten: Devotion and Dedication
This act undoubtedly is the highest form of worship. This is the act of those who dedicate their lives and money to the cause of God. Those are the ones who constantly strive to preach the way to God. They are promised the highest reward:
"Those who believed, emigrated and strived in the cause of God with their money and their lives hold the greatest rank with God; these are the winners." 9:20
No words are better than those words that preach the way to God:
"Who is better spoken than one who invites to God, does good works and says, "I am one of the submitters"?" 41:33
The command to devote and dedicate ourselves and our money to the cause of God is also found in (Sura 22, verse 67) and (Sura 28, verse 87).
The great value of such work is evident considering that such commands of dedication and devotion are often addressed to God's own messengers. The following verse is addressed to prophet Muhammad:
"O prophet, We have sent you as a witness, a bearer of news and a warner, inviting to God with His permission and a guiding beacon." 33:45-46
The Quran also provides the optimum method of preaching and inviting to God:
"You shall invite to the path of your Lord with wisdom and sound advice, and debate with them in the best possible manner." 16:125
These are the ten expressions and signs of worshipping God. How many of these are regularly observed? This is only the first question, however the more important question is how many of them are done for GOD ALONE? The answer to both of these questions will vary greatly among different individuals. If you would like to test the purity of your Worship, and whether you qualify to join the elite group of God's servants whom God calls (God's pure servants) (Ebad Allah Al-Mokhlaseen) then ask yourself in all honesty about those ten signs. Take each act on its own and weigh your actions against it.
For example, do you glorify any one besides God? Do you idolize any one to the extent of calling them perfect (God being the only absolute perfection)?
Do you love any one as much as you love God? Do you commemorate any name as much as you commemorate the name of God, or even more?
Do you obey any religious law other than God's Law of the Quran?
Do you place your total trust and dependence on others believing that they have the power to help you on their own? Do you on the other hand often fear others believing that they have the power to harm you?
Do you call on any dead human beings (prophets, saints, etc) and implore them to give you what you need?
Do you believe that any human (including messengers) has the power to save you on Judgement Day, whether through intercession or otherwise? Or do you believe the Quranic words that proclaim that there will be no intercession on Judgement Day? Are you comfortable with the feeling that God is all you need (39:36)? Are you happy with the mention of the name of God alone (39:45)?
And finally, are you obsessed with your business or your loved ones to the extent that you dedicate all your life to them and become negligent of the only reason for which we were all created? That being to worship God:
"I did not create the Jinn and the humans except to worship Me." 51:56
The higher degree of honesty you abide by in answering these questions, the better you will be able to determine if you worship God or not, and more importantly will indicate as to whether you worship God alone!