Almighty Allah as Introduced by Islam 4

The Monotheistic Worship

In the previous discussion, we concluded that Allah is one and no other thing such as the sun, the moon, the stars, various types of idols, animals, human beings ... could have had a hand in originating and creating the world. Admitting the oneness of Allah, and recognizing no associate for Him, we must follow the Holy Quran which announces:

وَأَنَّ الْمَسَاجِدَ لِلَّهِ فَلَا تَدْعُوا مَعَ اللَّهِ أَحَدًا؛

«So pray not unto anyone along with Allah.»(1) and:

وَمِنَ النَّاسِ مَنْ يَتَّخِذُ مِنْ دُونِ اللَّهِ أَنْدَادًا يُحِبُّونَهُمْ كَحُبِّ اللَّهِ ۖ وَالَّذِينَ آمَنُوا أَشَدُّ حُبًّا لِلَّهِ ۗ وَلَوْ يَرَى الَّذِينَ ظَلَمُوا إِذْ يَرَوْنَ الْعَذَابَ أَنَّ الْقُوَّةَ لِلَّهِ جَمِيعًا وَأَنَّ اللَّهَ شَدِيدُ الْعَذَابِ؛

«And there are some among men who take/or themselves objects of worship besides Allah»,(2)

and:

أَمِ اتَّخَذُوا مِنْ دُونِ اللَّهِ شُفَعَاءَ ۚ قُلْ أَوَلَوْ كَانُوا لَا يَمْلِكُونَ شَيْئًا وَلَا يَعْقِلُونَ؛

«Or choose they intercessors other than Allah? Say: What even though they have power over nothing and have no intelligence? » (3)

and we must not

فِيهِ يَخْتَلِفُونَ ۗ إِنَّ اللَّهَ لَا يَهْدِي مَنْ هُوَ كَاذِبٌ كَفَّارٌ؛

«Choose protecting friends beside Him (say): We worship them only that they may bring us near unto Allah. »(4)

And we must adore neither the Satan nor any diabolic and rebellious (against Him) ruler:

وَلَا تَتَّبِعُوا خُطُوَاتِ الشَّيْطَانِ؛

“and do not follow the footsteps of the Shaitan” (5)

and

إِيَّاكَ نَعْبُدُ وَإِيَّاكَ نَسْتَعِينُ؛

«Thee (alone) we worship; thee (alone) we ask for help»(6)

This subject includes the study of the following:

1. Worship

2. Admiration

3. Obedience

Worship and devotion consist of those acts in which we prostrate ourselves before Allah; we for instance, genuflect and prostrate wherein we utter words which testify our complete submission and absolute resignation before His Divine power and perfection; at the same time, they attract our attention towards the Originator and induce us to guard against carnal desires and temptations.

There is a variety of customs and traditions, sometimes associated with a host of superstitions in all religions in the course of which people display their submission. In Islam, the symbol of worship is the performance of daily prayers (Salat), which manifests complete prostration and absolute servitude of men before the Sublime (Allah).

Although praise and prostration before anything other than Allah may sometimes be intended not as worship, such acts are, in fact, considered as atheistic (shirk). To kneel down before certain people, to express servitude towards them, to admit complete submission and resignation and to dismiss one's will and freedom mean but atheism.

Muslims prostrate themselves only before Allah and they recognize Allah as their own master and sovereign. They regard all others as feeble creatures because they need the grace and blessings of God, and they are subject to the Decrees and Will of the Sovereign. Muslims regard even the greatest universal personality, i.e., the Eminent Prophet of Islam as a creature and servant of Allah. Actually, they repeat this verity several times in their daily prayers (Tashahod), and on many occasions, the Holy Quran too, introduces Muhammad (S) as a «servant» to Allah.

When for example Muhammad is appointed by Allah as the guide and leader of mankind, Allah addresses him in this manner:

تَبَارَكَ الَّذِي نَزَّلَ الْفُرْقَانَ عَلَىٰ عَبْدِهِ لِيَكُونَ لِلْعَالَمِينَ نَذِيرًا؛

«Blessed is He who sent down the Furqan upon His servant that he may be a warner to the nations». (7)

سُبْحَانَ الَّذِي أَسْرَىٰ بِعَبْدِهِ لَيْلًا مِنَ الْمَسْجِدِ الْحَرَامِ إِلَى الْمَسْجِدِ الْأَقْصَى الَّذِي بَارَكْنَا حَوْلَهُ لِنُرِيَهُ مِنْ آيَاتِنَا؛

«Glory be to Him who made His servant to go on a night from the Sacred Mosque to the remote mosque of which We have blessed the Precincts, so that We may show to him some of Our signs;» (8)

These were revealed in order to prevent the people from regarding Muhammad as a god due to his high dignity.

Worship is usually accompanied with adoration, and in our daily prayers, we adore, thank, praise and honor Allah.

We know Him to be free from any defect and impurity and we adore Him in many ways through praising, honoring, sanctifying and admitting His transcendence.

سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَىٰ عَمَّا يُشْرِكُونَ؛

…Glory be to Him, and supremely exalted is He above what they set up (with Him). (9)

وَكَبِّرْهُ تَكْبِيرًا؛

…yea, magnify Him for His greatness and glory!"(10)

وَسَبِّحُوهُ بُكْرَةً وَأَصِيلً؛

And glorify Him morning and evening.(11)

Absolute adoration, too, is performed only for Allah ;(12) it means that we should not give unlimited praise or adoration to a person or an object because the perfection and the degree of goodness of anything other than Allah is limited, and it is only the infinite essence of Allah that is inconceivably good, and perfect.

Eulogizing a human being will result in flattery and it habituates us to lie and exaggerate in all domains. It also fosters obstinate and haughty people to a state wherein they cannot feel and recognize their imperfections and causes them not to cut their coat according to their cloth. Too much praise may give rise to pseudo- powers (against Allah) whose evil is usually calamitous to society. Therefore, in Islam, unlimited praise and adoration are meant only for Allah.

Servitude and the very state of spiritual servitude to Allah will result in obedience; that is when we regard ourselves as servants of Allah and worship Him alone, we will automatically obey His orders.

Indisputable and sheer obedience, too, must be exclusively for Allah. In other words, anything other than Allah, be it an object, an animal or a human being may be obeyed but in certain circumstances and under limited conditions. Even the Prophet of Islam did not command independently and his commands originated from Divine Revelation:

وَمَا يَنْطِقُ عَنِ الْهَوَىٰ إِنْ هُوَ إِلَّا وَحْيٌ يُوحَىٰ؛

Nor does he [Muhammad] speak out of desire. It is naught but revelation that is revealed (13)

He himself could not change whatever was revealed to him nor could he issue orders without His permission:

قُلْ مَا يَكُونُ لِي أَنْ أُبَدِّلَهُ مِنْ تِلْقَاءِ نَفْسِي ۖ إِنْ أَتَّبِعُ إِلَّا مَا يُوحَىٰ إِلَيَّ ۖ إِنِّي أَخَافُ إِنْ عَصَيْتُ رَبِّي عَذَابَ يَوْمٍ عَظِيم؛

«[O Muhammad] Say “it is not for me to change it of my own accord. I only follow that which is inspired in me. Lo! If I disobey my Lord I fear the retribution of an awful Day.(14)

Thus obedience to anything other than Allah is limited to certain laws and regulations and no one should expect mechanical obedience and blind submission from others.

We, therefore, conclude that parallel to the oneness of Allah, Islam commands us to obey, adore, and worship Allah, and regard all creatures as His servants.

Pilgrimage and the Respect Due To Shrines of the Imams and Religious Leaders

Certain Islamic sects as the “Wahabites” suppose that, in accordance to monotheism, one must totally disregard everything but Allah. So, to them, pilgrimage to the shrines and graves of the Imams, constructing domes and temples on their tombs, imploring for help, making vows and praying in the sanctuary (Haram) of the Imams are shirk.

We, of course, admit that the Shi'ites often exaggerate in performing such acts. Some people, for example, attach more importance to pilgrimage to the shrine of an Imam than to the Hajj ceremony of Mecca. They insist more on weeping and supplicating than performing their obligatory prayers, welcome the ceremonies of religious festivals and mourning’s more than the community prayers in the mosques, spend more money on decorating, the Shrines of the Imams than on the mosques and the propagating of religion. In eulogizing the Imams, they often exaggerate to the point that they attribute characteristics that are exclusive to Allah to them. This subject needs more profound study.

It is evident that respect is different from worship. We must respect our father, mother and teacher. We should also respect our religious leaders for their virtue, righteousness and their service to religion and society.

The Quran repeatedly stipulates the superiority of the mujahids (combatants in the cause of religion), scholars, believers and the greatness of piety. Actually, it is not fair to equate all people and ignore the struggles, sacrifices, donations, and humane merits of certain people. This is why we keep the Haram of our religious leaders clean and magnificent.

Pilgrimage, too, is nothing but a respectful visit, through which we acquaint ourselves with the moral merits and aims of our Imams, follow their deeds and commands, edify ourselves to avoid being immoral. Praying in the Harams of the Imams simply means supplicating Allah because we admit that only Allah is influential in the world. If we sometimes implore to our religious leaders, it does not imply that they are independently capable of curing, feeding, or solving our difficulties. They, regardless of their position, are servants of Allah and possess no will and power save from His Providence.

Thus, we always prostrate ourselves before Allah, eulogize him infinitely, seek help from Him and plead with Him for security. We also respect our religious leaders and the honest and virtuous servants of Allah.

NOTES:

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1. The Holy Quran 72: 18

2. The Holy Quran 2: 165

3. The Holy Quran 39:43

4. The Holy Quran 39:3

5. The Holy Quran 6:142

6. The Holy Quran 1:5

7. The Holy Quran 25: 1

8. The Holy Quran 17: 1

9. The Holy Quran 10:18

10. The Holy Quran 17:111

11. The Holy Quran 33:42

12. The Holy Quran 1:2

13. The Holy Quran 53:3-4

14. The Holy Quran 10: 15