Worship and the worshipper
[ March 24, 2017 ]
Man is an instinctive worshipper, although the nature of the deity worshipped or the way it is worshipped differ. God’s love abides in every person’s heart. Creatures by the nature of their being created have to submit to their Creator, and all creatures including man as a ‘biological entity’, are thus Muslims and have to obey the rules of creation willy nilly.
Having established that God is in reality the natural deity to be worshipped by man, the holy Qur’an explains the right way to worship Him. It stipulates the uniformity of worship just as it stresses the unity of God, the unity of the worshipped, and the unity of worship. There must be unity between man’s worship and his attitude towards life. The deity addressed by man in his prayer and devotion is the same deity addressed while studying, earning a living, and in attempting to better conditions on earth. It is the same God applied to while eating, drinking, while communicating with his family, with other individuals, with other societies, peoples and states, whether in peace time or war: “Say: ‘Lo, my worship and my service and behavior, my living and my dying are for God, Lord of the worlds.” In all that he does, the constant reiteration of God’s name in his heart has the practical effect on recalling to him God’s commands and his individual and social responsibilities. When this happens, something of considerable significance has occurred in a man’s life. The regular worship during his span of life provides man with an extraordinary spirit. The prescribed daily prayers (salat), for instance, consist in repeating and refreshing five times a day the belief in which he reposes his faith. The times of salat-dawn, noon, afternoon, evening and night, correspond with the five periods of man’s life, namely childhood and youth, age of maturity, old age, death, and life after death until the resurrection. Dawn of the next day signifies the Resurrection, so each day is a complete cycle of man’s whole life in parallel with the life of the world.
During each time of worship, a Muslim dissociates himself from his worldly engagements for a few moments, cleanses himself and presents himself before his Lord, seeking audience before him. By reciting from the Holy Scripture he is elevated into a state as if he were receiving it directly from the Lord of the worlds. He asks Him again and again to enable him to follow His Chosen Path, refreshes his belief in all the pillars of faith and enlivens his memory with the fact that he has to appear before his Lord and give an account of his entire life. He unburdens himself to Him and begs His succor for all the difficulties in which he is entangled in life. Thus, the daily prayers strengthen the foundations of his faith, prepare him for the observance of a life of virtue and obedience to God, and refresh the belief from which spring courage, sincerity, purposefulness, purity of the soul, and enrichment of morals. The holy Qur’an states that “daily prayers (salat) prevent a muslim from committing vices of every kind” (29:45), and the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) regards it to be the (spiritual) ascension of a Muslim to the holy presence of God. Then, again, a Muslim must perform his daily prayers in congregation and especially so the friday prayers. This creates among the Muslims a bond of love and mutual understanding. This arouses in them a sense of their collective unity and fosters among them feelings of fraternity. All of them perform their prayers in one congregation and this inculcates in them a deep feeling of brotherhood. Prayers are also a symbol of equality, for the poor and the rich, the ‘low’ and the ‘high’, the rulers and the ruled, the educated and the unlettered, the black and the white, all stand in one row and prostrate before their Lord. They also inculcate in them a strong sense of collective discipline and obedience to the leader of the community. Prayers train the Muslims in all those virtues which make possible the development of a rich individual and collective life.