Why do we worship?
Worship means Fulfilling the duties of servitude towards Allah, submitting to Allahs commands.
In the Quran, the Divine Book, the following is stated: O ye people! Worship your Lord, Who created you and those who came before you, that ye may guard (against evil). (Al- Baqara, 21)
Why does man worship and what does this worship bring in? The answers to these two questions are expressed in this verse as the following: Worship your Lord, Who created you and those who came before you.
The phrase in the verse: who created you and those who came before you is an attribute of the Lord. If we do not consider this attribute for a moment, then the verse appears as the following: Worship your Lord. Therefore, the cause of worship is that our Lord has sustained and trained us. Then, the Lord is to be obeyed.
Allah has placed some marks in our conscience so that we can perceive this sacred duty. We deem obeying our father as a duty of conscience. Why? Just because he is our father. We refrain disobeying our mother. Why? Just because she is our mother.
As it is seen, the verse addresses our conscience and commands as Obey your Lord. because He is the one Who has trained you. He is the One Who has transformed the nutrition your father had eaten into white blood, Who has attached you as a zygote to the wall of the womb and has carried out your nine-month training there stage by stage. Now you are in another womb: the Universe He is the only One Who trains, nourishes, raises and makes you eat and drink here, too.
One of Allahs names is the Lord and He is the One Who has trained and sustained everything. Man is His slave and His servant; he has gone through His training completely. He is Allah Who has trained our minds in a convenient way to understand, our hearts in a convenient way to love, our memories in a convenient way to memorize, our hands in a convenient way to hold, our feet in a convenient way to walk, our lungs in a convenient way to breath, our stomachs in a convenient way to digest. Then, we have to be in good manners before Our Lords innumerable manifestations of training.
We must worship willingly by feeling embarrassed in the profundity of our spirits of not giving enough thanks to Him for such bounties attached to our souls and for bounties encompassing us all around.
As it is seen, feeling and comprehending his obligation of giving thanks to his Lord so much, man feels the tranquility of achieving what he has been seeking when he obeys the commands of the Quran such as Worship your Lord, Who created you and those who came before you., Perform the prayer (salah). Fast in the month of Ramadan.
Worship is expressed as the most exalted and graceful relation between the servant and the god. (İşarat-ül İcaz- The Signs of Miraculousness). That is, man can say: I am the servant of Allah, I am His creature, I am His guest in this world and Allah willing (insha Allah), I will go to Paradise, His place of happiness after my death only by means of worship. It is the greatest source of joy for human spirit.
Man, performing all of his works in his daily life in the permissible (halal) sphere by being aware of being a servant, clasps his hands in the presence of his Lord in particular times. He offers his worship to Him in the way He commands.
The heart of a person feeling his impotence, poverty and abasement is filled with a profound embarrassment before his Lord. This regret is called refraction. And Hazhrat Imam Rabbani deems this situation as the basis of worship by declaring: Worship, is composed of humility and refraction.
The question why do we worship? brings two questions with it; or rather, two separate questions are hidden in this question:
- What is the reason of our acts of worship?
- What is the wisdom, benefit of our acts of worship?
Some people ask this question only by considering the second meaning. They neglect the first and the most important point. As a result of this, they list subjectively a group of benefits in the field of wisdom, and they assume a manner of refusing worship by claiming that these benefits can be gained from some other ways apart from worship.
Reason is the main cause rendering the worship obligatory. Wisdom is the benefit we gain from the act of worship.
An example from the worldly matters: the reason of a merchants trip coming to Istanbul from Anatolia is trading. The wisdom of his trip is getting richer and benefiting more from the worldly bounties. So, when we ask this person: Why do you go to Istanbul? he does not reply as: To be rich. This answer belongs to wisdom and it is not appropriate. The answer to our question must be as: To trade. This answer belongs to reason and it is appropriate.
Then, the answer to the question, Why do you worship? will be something like because my Lord commands me so. Obeying this command has many benefits both in this world and in the hereafter. However, worship is not performed for these benefits; these benefits are the wisdom aspects of the matter.
The duty of the servant is worshipping, obeying the commands and avoiding the bans. Servitude befits the servant. Bounties, favors and degrees that His Lord will bestow in the paradise on His servant who performs his worship in this manner are all the wisdom aspect of the subject.
Every command and prohibition of Islam is concerned with this fact. Let us give a few examples:
For example, fasting has lots of medical benefits. All of these benefits are the wisdom aspect of fasting. The answer to the question, Why do we fast? is not these benefits as it is supposed. Fasting is performed just because it is Allahs command. This worship has a certain month: Ramadan. If we fast for ten months excluding Ramadan voluntarily, but if we do not fast in Ramadan, then we wil not have fulfilled this worship. If the matter is only this wisdom aspect -the benefits of fasting-, the benefits may have increased up to ten times, but the obligatory fasting has not been performed yet.
Fasting has a certain beginning and a certain finishing time. If we begin fasting just after fajr time, and finish it a few hours after isha, then our fast is not acceptable. We stayed hungry for a longer time, but we did not perform fasting. Although there are much more wisdoms, since the reason of fasting is lost, our worship is not acceptable.
As fasting is not performed for its medical benefits, drinking alcohol is not forbidden religiously for its medical harms, either. The answer to the question, Why do you not drink alcohol? is to be as because Allah has forbidden it. Only in this way, can avoiding alcohol be worship, a god-fearing behavior and it makes man get closer to his Lord. The basis in not drinking alcohol is not to protect the body and the mind but obeying a Divine ban. The reason is this; and the others are the wisdoms and the benefits of not drinking alcohol.
As you know, it is forbidden to eat the meat of a sheep dying by itself or being killed by a stroke. Medical and biological explanations of this point can be expressed. However, all of these are only the wisdom aspect of the matter. The following issue is forgotten while pouring out these benefits: Well, why is it forbidden to eat an animal that has been cut in the name of someone else?
How will this question be answered? If the issue is butchering the animal, then it has been butchered; if the issue is shedding its blood, then its blood has been shed. Then, the essence of the matter is not the medical benefits of butchering an animal. The essence is mans not betraying from the insight of being a servant and his behaving in the name of Allah; cutting in the name of Allah when butchering, beginning with His name when eating and drinking, and not forgetting that he is His servant when he dresses.
In short: There are many benefits for us in all commands of our Merciful, Compassionate Lord. However, we do not perform worship for those benefits but by taking His commands into consideration and expecting His pleasure.
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- What is salah (prayer)? Why is salah (prayer), which consists of a few acts, is so much important in Islam?
- Why cannot Muslims marry their Mahrams especially their biological sisters?
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- Why Perform Prayers?
- Is there a rule meaning, "There is no questioning in religion" in Islam?
- Why does Allah need our worship?
- In a hadith it is said: Whoever fasts the fast of Ramadan believing and expecting its recompense from Allah, and passes this month with ibadah his/her past sins are forgiven. How should we understand this hadith?
- About Fasting