What is the meaning of worship?

Answered by Shaykh Amjad Rasheed

What is the definition of `ibadah (worship)? Does it include those innovated acts in which drawing closer to Allah is sought, such as gatherings of dhikr (remembrance of Allah), the celebration of the birth of the Prophet (may Allah”s prayers and peace be upon him), and other such acts of the people of Tasawwuf, like the hadra?

Answer:
In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful

`Ibadah (worship) has two meanings, one of which is general, and the other specific. As for the general meaning, it includes any action in which the doer intends the sake of Allah the Most High, or intends reaching through it obedience to Him.

Thus, while earning a living is from those acts which are permissible, one who intends through it providing for his dependants, giving in charity to the needy, and acts of good, such a person”s earning becomes an act of worship for which he will be rewarded.

This is also the case, for example, for traveling. Its original ruling is [s: merely] permissibility; however, when a person undertakes travel in order to attain obedience to Allah, such as performing Hajj, keeping ties of kinship, or seeking sacred knowledge, his travel becomes an act of worship which is sought for, and he is rewarded for doing it. And other such situations can be known through analogy.

As for the specific meaning of worship, what is intended by it is the specific actions which Allah Most High and His Noble Messenger (may the prayers and peace of Allah be upon him) have ordered to be performed, and (1) whose consequence can be either reward [s: for their performance] or punishment [s: for their negligence], such as the five daily prayers, fasting Ramadan, and paying Zakat for the person who possesses a zakat-payable amount (nisab); or (2) whose consequence is reward only, like super-obligatory prayers such as Salat al-Duha, fasting Mondays and Thursdays, giving in charity, remembrance of Allah, recitation of the Qur”an, etc.

Also, there are types of worships which the Law-Giver has prescribed specifically, ordaining for them a specific amount and time, and assigning them a particular manner in which they are performed. For this type, it is not permissible for a legally responsible person (mukallaf) to increase or decrease the amount which the Law-Giver has specified, or to change its time or manner.

An example of this type of worship is the prayer, as the Law-Giver has specified the times for its performance and the numbers of rak`ahs.

Another type of worship is that which Allah Most High has recommended, and has not restricted it with the [s: aforementioned] restrictions, such as remembrance of Allah (dhikr) and the invocation of prayers and peace on the Prophet (may Allah”s prayers and peace be upon him). These are two acts of worship which Allah Most High has ordered to be performed, but did not restrict them to a specific number, time, or manner. So regardless of the number, time, or manner in which a person performs these, it is a valid performance from him. This is as long as the Islamic Law has not prohibited against some aspect of it, such as reciting Qur”an during the ruk`uh (bowing) and sujud (prostration) of prayer.

It is thus adduced that every act of worship does not have to be performed according to a specific manner which has come to us [s: from the Prophet (may the prayers and peace of Allah be upon him)]. Rather, the performance of some acts of worship is permissible in manners which are innovated but not prohibited against by the Islamic Law, and they are considered part of the acts of worship which are not specified by any particular manner.

Finally, it has been stated by scholars, such as Imam al-Shafi`i (may Allah be pleased with him and bless him) and others like Imam al-`Izz ibn `Abd al-Salam and Imam al-Nawawi, that a newly-innovated act can take the legal ruling of obligatory (wajib), recommended (mandub), or permissible (mubah), just as it can take the legal ruling of impermissible (haram) or disliked (makruh).

 

السؤال: ما هو تعريفُ العبادة، وهل يندرِج تحت هذا التعريف ما استُحْدِث من الأعمال التي يُقصَدُ بها التقربُ إلى الله كحِلَق الذكر والاحتفال بالمولد النبوي وغيره مما يفعله أهل الطُرُق الصوفية كالحضرة؟
الجواب: العبادةُ لها معنيان، عام وخاص، أما المعنى العامُّ فيشملُ كلَّ فعل أراد به الشخصُ وجهَ الله تعالى أو التوصلَ به إلى طاعته، فكسبُ المال من المباحات لكن متى نوى به الشخص النفقةَ على العيال والصدقةَ على المحتاجين وفعل الخير صار كسبُه عبادةً يؤجرُ عليه، وكذلك السفرُ مباحٌ في الأصل، لكن لو أنشأ شخصٌ سفراً لتحصيل طاعةٍ كحجٍّ وصلةِ رحم وطلبِ علم صار السفرُ عبادةً مطلوبةً يُؤجرُ عليه الشخص، وقسْ على ذلك .
وأما المعنى الخاصُّ فيرادُ منه الأعمالُ المخصوصةُ التي أمر الله تعالى ورسوله الكريم صلى الله عليه وسلم بأدائها ورُتِّبَ على فعلها الثوابُ والعقابُ كالواجباتِ من الصلوات الخمس وصيام رمضان وزكاة المال البالغ للنصاب، أو رُتِّبَ عليها الثوابُ فقط كالنوافل من صلاةِ الضحى مثلاً وصيامِ الاثنين والخميس وصدقةٍ وذِكْرٍ وقراءةِ قرآن وغيرها .
ومن العبادات ما حدَّ لها الشارعُ حداً وقدَّر لها مقداراً ووقَّت لها وقتاً وجعل لها كيفيةً خاصةً، فهذه لا يجوز للمكلف الزيادةُ على ما قدَّره الشرعُ و لا النقصُ عنه ولا تبديلُ وقته ولا تغيرُ كيفيته وذلك كالصلاة فقد حدَّد أوقاتها وعددَ ركعاتها .
ومنها ما نَدَبَ الله تعالى إلى فعله ولم يقيِّده بشيء من ذلك كالذِّكر والصلاة على النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم فقد أمر بهما تعالى ولم يقيد ذلك بعدد ولا وقت ولا كيفية، فبأيِّ عدد أو وقت أو كيفية أتى بهما الشخصُ صحَّ منه ذلك، ما لم ينهَ الشرعُ عن شيءٍ منها كقراءة القرآن في الركوع والسجود.
ومن هنا تعلم أنه لا يشترطُ في صحة كل عبادة أن يُؤتى بها على كيفية واردة، بل بعضُ العبادات يجوز فعله بكيفياتٍ محدثةٍ لكن لم ينهَ عنها الشرع؛ ويدخل ذلك في عموم طلب هذه العبادة الغير مخصوصة بكيفية ما .
وقد نصَّ العلماءُ كإمامنا الشافعي رضي الله عنه ورحمه وغيره كالإمام العز ابن عبد السلام والإمام النووي على أن البدعة قد تكون واجبة ومندوبة
ومباحة كما تكون محرمة ومكروهة .

Translated by Sulma Badrudduja
Sulma Badrudduja was born and raised in Kentucky, USA. She has been studying overseas on and off for three years. She studied Arabic at the Qasid Institude in Jordan. She is currently studying with scholars such as Shaykh Faraz Rabbani, Shaykh Ali Hani, and Shaykh Nuh Keller. She resides in Amman, Jordan with her husband.