The Concept of 'Worship'
A Quranic perspective
By: A Muhammad
The Quranic word 'Al-Ebadah' means the act of worship. To most people the act of worship is primarily prostrating and observing the prayer. However the Quran enlightens us 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
The words, "worship Me", "and observe the Salat" which are spoken of as separate acts tell us that worshipping God is not confined to the ritual of Salat.
Whilst the Salat is a specific ritual decreed for specific times of the day, the act of worship is an uninterrupted state of the mind, body and soul. It is an exalted spiritual awareness and acceptance of God in our lives. In this sense, the act of worship is a very much needed nourishment for our souls. Without the act of worship, dedicated exclusively to God alone, one is unable to attain inner peace, and ultimately, true happiness. Our physical bodies, by submitting to God's will, are in a perpetual state of worship. All our body organs and tissue are ordained to function in a meticulous pre-ordained manner designed by God, over which we have no control whatsoever. Every organ and cycle in our body is 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 would never attain true happiness no matter the extent of our material possessions.
The Quran, being a fully detailed book, provides the believers with the answer to the questions:
- Whom should we worship?
- Whom should we never worship?
- How should we worship?
Most believers will seem offended by the first question. They will say, 'Of course we worship God!' However, the Quran indicates that what the human being worships is not necessarily what he says he worships, but is 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, or all 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 such as: '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 according to its material benefit, then it is said that you worship money. If your business or your property distracts you from worshipping God, then you worship your possessions.
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, 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 totally ruined, so he started wringing his hands and lamenting over what he had spent on it, yet now it had fallen on its trellises. He said, "I wish I had never associated anyone 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 allowed material possessions to distract him from worshipping God. When he realised his error, the sun had already set causing him to miss his 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 totally 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 a good one, we will be among the thankful." Then when He granted them a good one, they set up what He has granted them as partners with Him. God be exalted, far above the partners they associate with Him. 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:
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, boastful. 31:18
The close connection between worshipping God alone and being humble is also made evident in the following words:
You shall worship God and do not associate anything with Him ...... God does not like the arrogant, boastful. 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 illusions of superiority deluded them into thinking that they were guaranteed God's mercy to the exclusion of all other people:
Say, "O you who are Jewish, if you claim that you are God's allies, to the exclusion of all other people, then long for death if you are truthful." 62:6
Equally, their vanity and egotism eluded them, 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 idols and statues. Sadly, many sects 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 committing great acts of idol worship. We know that idol worship is the only unforgivable sin (4:48).
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:
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 besides 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 were to hear you, they would not respond to you, and 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:
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 besides Him." They do not have the power to lift affliction off you, nor can they divert it. Those whom they call on are themselves 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
Those who commit such transgressions will come up with the most outrageous excuses:
Absolutely, it is to God that the pure religion is due. Those who take up allies besides Him: "We only worship 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 (Iblis). 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 immorality. 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 take a pledge from you, O Children of Adam, that you shall not worship the devil for he is your 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 some of the 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 eleven 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 (39:3) requires that every one of the eleven acts (below) must be 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.
As an example, consider the second act which calls for the glorification of God alone. 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 eleven 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 ten 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 and could never be products of chance. The Quran refers to numerous fields of science such as, 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: Science in the Quran
The signs of God the Creator, are in everything around us. The following page contains interesting information about God's design in all things: The Designs of God
Once 'Recognition' is secured, the next step is the 'Deification and Apotheosis' of God.
Deification or Apotheosis means, to instill 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 Oneness. The Quran asserts the fact that if there were other gods beside God the whole universe would be disrupted:
If there were other gods in them (heavens and the earth) besides 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 that many scientists today concede that there is a force behind the creation of the universe, but perhaps are too vain to accept that this force is a Supreme God who controls every atom in the universe, including their own bodies.
Needless to say, without this crucial act of Deification, 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 did not value God according to His true worth. The whole earth is within His grip on the Day of Resurrection and the universes are folded up in His right hand. Be He glorified and exalted far above any partners they associate with Him. 39:67
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:
Glorify the name of your Lord, the Highest. 87:1
Therefore, you shall glorify your Lord with praise, and be among the prostrators. 15:98
Indeed the very last words revealed of the Holy Quran carries this same command:
You shall glorify your Lord with praise 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 what is in the heavens and what is 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 modestly:
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, boastful. 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, working righteousness and constantly seeking His approval. The 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 anyone as we should love God:
Among the people are those who set up equals to God, loving them as the love of God, but those who believe love God the most. 2:165
It is 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 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 commemoration of God can be done during the Salat as well as at any time of the day. The Quranic verses which invite us to commemorate and glorify God more or less speak of all times of the day.
Benefits of the Salat
The Quran mentions valuable benefits to be gained from observing the Salat.
1- The Salat protects against and prohibits immorality and evil:
Observe the Salat, for the Salat prohibits immorality and evil. 29:45
2- The Salat helps the believers strengthen their faith and attain certainty:
You shall glorify your Lord with praise and be among the prostrators, and worship your Lord until you attain certainty. 15:98-99
3- The Salat provides believers with a great reward in the Hereafter:
For He will surely grant them their reward and increase for them His favour. He is Forgiving, Appreciative. 35:29-30
4- Nourishment to the soul and closeness to God:
The most important objective of the Salat is to commemorate God.
You shall recite what is revealed to you of the Book and observe the Salat, for the Salat prohibits immorality and evil, and the remembrance of God is of greater importance. 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
As mentioned, commemorating God is not restricted to the Salat, but is an act that sincere believers observe at all times of the day:
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 distract you from remembering God. Those who do this, they 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 in the hearts of the believers:
They are the ones who believe 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):
Therefore 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:
Remember God frequently so that you may succeed. 62:10
4- Undoubtedly, the reward of the highest order is attaining God's approval and attaining closeness to our Creator:
Therefore remember Me so 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 whose eyes were too obscured from My Reminder, and they were unable to hear. 18:100-101
Commemorating God reaps great rewards, God will only gift the believers with such blessings. 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, and who pursued his own whims, and whose case has exceeded all limits. 18:28
Act Five: Obedience
In order to obey God wholeheartedly, it is first necessary to accept that God is the only Law Maker.
God's Law is the only Law:
Shall I seek other than God as a law maker when He has revealed to you this Book fully detailed? 6:114
The Quran also tells us 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- He who obeys the messenger has obeyed God. 4:80
These glorious words confirm that the messenger preaches nothing but God's Law. If the messenger preached what is additional to the Quran then obeying the messenger would not necessarily coincide with obeying God. This message is well established through 6:114 (above) as well as a number of verses which stresses that the only duty of the messenger is to deliver the message of God, such as:
You shall obey God and obey the messenger and beware; if you turn away, then know that the sole duty of Our messenger is the clear delivery. 5:92
For more details of this subject, please see: Obey God and obey the Messenger
2- 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 Quranic words in 33:62.
3- 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 tool by which the messenger is to arbitrate among the people; this in our case is the Quran. In all the Quran, there is never any mention of any other tool or source.
Having established that the Law of God is contained in the Book of God 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 all the rituals and practices that are authorised by God, all the prohibitions, code of conduct, etc. In the adherence and obedience to any one of these laws, whether it is related to one of the practices, or one of the prohibitions, is indeed an act of worship. Consequently, in order to worship God alone, it is imperative to follow God's Law and no other law.
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 up partners with God:
The word "shurakaa" is the plural of the word ‘shareek’ and ‘shareek’ means partner. The importance of this word in 42:21 cannot be overlooked. The word ‘shareek’ is the adjective from the noun ‘shirk’ (setting up partners with God in any of His exclusive rights).
Act Six: Trust and Dependence
Worshipping God is both in action and in conviction. The conviction expression of worshipping God is in entrusting our lives to Him. This covers all aspects of our livelihood and well-being. To entrust our lives with God is an expression of our acceptance of God's absolute authority as well as our certainty that no one has any power that is independent of God. No one can harm or benefit us other than God.
Trust and dependence on God is the trait of the sincere 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:
You 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 stressed in the very first Sura of the Book:
You alone we worship and You alone we ask for help. 1:5
The Quran also assures us 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
Trust in God is not confined to our welfare in this life only; 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 everlasting. 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, we should also fear and revere Him equally as much. Perhaps God demanded this 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 punishment are awesome. Whether we like the idea or not, God's wrath is to be feared.
In any society, it is accepted that the concept of 'punishment and reward' is the best method of curbing crime and unlawful activities. Yet, there are those who will criticise the Quran by saying, 'faith should not be built on fear'! The answer to this is twofold:
1- The concept of faith in the Quran is not built on fear. Those who love God, devote the pure religion to Him alone and obey His law will not fear God, in fact, they will feel God's love enveloping them and guiding them. In contrast, those who are not filled with the love of God will do well to fear Him and His wrath for their own good.
2- Those who make the claim above are invariably motivated by arrogance as well as insincerity. They know quite well that the concept of 'punishment and reward' is used in any society as a deterrent in curbing crime. Imagine if all people in one 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 reverent who fear their Lord though unseen and they are apprehensive of the Hour. 21:48-49
Those who fear their Lord though unseen. 35:18
Fearing Hell is fearing God's punishment:
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
The fear of God without seeing Him is a true indication of a strong faith as well as an act of Worship.
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:
For the one who reveres God, He wipes out his bad deeds and greatly increases the reward for him. 65:5
As for those who revere their Lord, though unseen, 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 said, '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 Most 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. Therefore, they shall respond to Me and believe in Me so that they may be guided. 2:186
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 matter:
Therefore, you shall implore God, devoting the religion purely to Him, even if the disbelievers dislike it. 40:14
The Masjids belong to God, so do not call on anyone else besides 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 implore dead people (saints, messengers of God, etc.) for help:
Those whom you call on besides God are servants just like you. So go ahead and call on them; let them respond to you, if you are truthful. 7:194
And those whom you call on besides Him cannot support you, nor can they support themselves. 7:197
The ones you call on besides Him do not possess as much as a seed's shell.
If you call on them, they cannot hear your calls. But even if they were to hear, they would not respond to you, and on the Day of Resurrection, they will disown your shirk. 35:13-14
The Quran tells us that with many people, whenever they face grave danger they will implore God alone but as soon as God rescues them they revert to associating partners with God:
When they sail onboard a ship, they call on God devoting the prayers purely to Him. Yet when He delivers them safely to the shore, they revert to associating partners with Him. 29:65
The explanation of this is that when the human being faces imminent life threatening danger, the mind is unable to think rationally from the shock, at that moment instinct takes over. By instinct, all people recognise God's absolute authority and that He alone has the power to save them:
Therefore, you shall set your face firmly towards the religion as a monotheist. Such is the natural instinct which God instilled in the people. 30:30
To conclude, believers should implore God alone, as the act of imploring God is undoubtedly a true expression of Worship.
Those who worship God sincerely always seek forgiveness for their sins. The link between the act of Worship and seeking forgiveness is well pronounced in the Quran.
- When Shu'aib was sent to the people of Midyan, he said:
- When Noah was sent to his people, he said:
Seeking God's forgiveness is indeed a clear admission of worshipping God. Those who worship God alone seek His forgiveness because they are ascertained that God alone forgives sins and not any middle person:
Who forgives the sins except God? 3:135
They are also ascertained that God's mercy is boundless and that God forgives all the sins of those who worship Him sincerely:
Say, "O My 'Ibadi' (the ones who worship Me) who transgressed exceedingly against themselves, do not despair of God's mercy, for God forgives all sins; He is the Forgiver, the Merciful." 39:53
A sincere call for forgiveness should be followed by repentance:
Repentance to God must be sincere and heart felt to be accepted by God:
Then they do not persist in what they have done, knowingly. 3:135
Act Ten: Appreciation and Gratitude
The Quran confirms that the expression of appreciation and gratitude to God is indeed an act of Worship:
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 have no doubt that all good things that come to them in life come from God alone, and that no human being has any power to benefit them except in accordance with 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 contentment with ones fortunes. Those who are content with what they have are often the ones who find true happiness. Verily, happiness is not having what we want, but wanting what we 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
Sadly, many of these God given blessings are taken for granted by most people. 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, we find that many people take these for granted, then only realise their value if one of these senses is lost. 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 heart so that perhaps you may be thankful. 16:78
God is the One who ordained the night for you to rest therein, and the day for visibility. God is Gracious towards the people, but most people are not thankful. 40:61
4- Proclaiming God's blessings:
The fourth expression of appreciation is to constantly proclaim God's blessings. Since God's blessings to us are too numerous to be counted, it is only fair that we should proclaim His blessings to us to every one we know. By doing so we are expressing both our gratitude and our Worship of God.
And as for the blessings of your Lord, you shall proclaim. 93:11
Act Eleven: Devotion and Dedication
This last act is undoubtedly the most noble of all the acts 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 strove in the cause of God with their money and their lives hold the greatest rank with God; those 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 deeds and says, "I am one of the submitters"? 41:33
The invitation 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, a warner and a caller 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 eleven 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 test yourself against those eleven acts. 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 that are derived from a source other 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 help you in any way?
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 have not created the Jinn and the humans except to worship Me. 51:56
The higher degree of honesty you abide by in answering these questions, the more accurate you will be able to determine if you worship God or not, and more importantly will indicate as to whether you worship God alone or not!