Allah says in the Quran.
We created not the mankind and Jinn except that they should worship Me. (Surah Az-Zariat).
I couldn’t understand the exact implication of the above verse. A scholar explained to me that if one does any actions including sleep in accordance with the way Prophet (pbuh) taught us, then even that sleep will be considered as worship in the eyes of Allah. He further explained to me that all the actions we do for the whole day should be in accordance with the Quran and teaching of the Prophet (pbuh). But I have still some doubts left ucleared. Suppose if I have a healthy, worldly conversation with my friends, I work hard to earn more money for my own interest, will these things be considered as worship? I couldn’t get convincing answer for my question.
How will Allah reward or consider those actions as worship when such actions were done for worldly gain and achieving our own desires. What exactly does the above verse mean?
I would greatly thank you if you could help me.
You have rightly suggested that the referred verse of Surah Az-Zariat gives the purpose of human existence. The first thing that should be noted is that the referred verse is stating that there is no other “purpose,” aside from worship, for which humans and Jinns have been created. The verse is not saying that existence itself shall only consist of worship. A simple analogy to help explain this would be if a mother told her son that the reason she sent him to school was to learn. This does not mean that he should not play sports while in school, but simply that his other activities should not distract him from his objective of learning.
The central component of the referred verse resides in the term worship and how it is defined. As the Qur’an itself notes, the mission of Prophets throughout time has been to call people to this worship. Javed Ahmed Ghamidi, has pointed out, God’s worship is the means through which the individual “saves himself” from Satan.” The question that thus arises is: which characteristics of Satan is a person hopeful to avoid? The most prominent satanic attribute is arrogance and disobedience of God’s command. Hence, worship at its core, consists of humble submission to one’s Creator, in direct contrast to Satan. The well-known Arabic dictionary “Lisan al-Arab” has defined the root meaning of worship as “humility and submissiveness.”
With that in mind, the Qur’an has instructed us that prayer is the most essential form of worshipping God. Other forms of worship include payment of zakat and fasting. Even the sacrifices on Eid ul-Adha is an act of worship. However, the Qur’an has beautifully spoken of the relevance of these actions in relation to the motivation behind them: “It is not their meat nor their blood that reaches Allah: it is your piety that reaches Him.” (Surah 22: 37) This must remain one’s focus.
How does the Prophetic example relate to the ordinary believer’s worship? It is clear from the ahadith traditions that not all actions the Prophet took were to be considered acts of worship, many of his actions were specific to his status as a Prophet and others were also specific to his own personality. For instance, the following hadith explains how the Prophet did not prefer a particular type of lizard, but did not forbid it to others despite his disgust with it:
AbuzZubayr reported: I asked Jabir about (the eating) of the lizard, whereupon he said: ‘Don’t eat that, as he (the Prophet) felt disgust.’ He (the narrator) said that Umar ibn al-Khattab remarked: ‘Allah’s Apostle (peace be upon him) did not declare it to be unlawful. Allah, the Exalted and Majestic, has (made it a source) of benefit for more than one (persons). It is a common diet of the shepherds. Had it been with me, I would have eaten that.’ (Narrated Umar ibn al-Khattab; Jabir ibn Abdullah/Sahih Muslim 908)
There are many places where the Prophet (pbuh) explained and clarified the Almighty’s directives helping to illuminate the details of worship. There are also lessons to be learned from the Prophet’s etiquettes and manner within society, which are means of achieving the “purification” that the Qur’an seeks to help the believer achieve. One should view the examples of interaction with other human beings, kindness, compassion, humble living, to all be prudent lessons from the Prophet’s life on how to gain greater balance and purity in our own life. However, this does not mean that we are required to negate our own individual personalities and to emulate the personal tastes and habits of the Prophet. Even a cursory glance at Islamic history would indicate a wide array of personalities among the Sahabah, some as contrasting as Uthman and Umar, but all exemplary models for any Muslim.
Finally, the idea of being created to “worship” does not mean that each of your actions must constantly maintain an elevated sense of “spirituality.” Worldly conversations with friends or working hard to earn money were all things the closest of the Prophet’s companions took part in. What can be considered “worship” is your conduct in these situations. In your conversations are you speaking in a pompous manner? Are you earning your money through manipulating others, taking advantage of them? Do you hoard your money once you have earned it, not spending it on the poor or in society? These are all questions that relate to whether you are following God’s instructions. In the final analysis, you should be guided by the simple fact that God has asked you to worship Him in opposition to anything else. Hence, if your desires become the focus of your existence, consuming all your time, then you have strayed from the path and must find your way back to centering your life on God. After all, the defining relationship between you and God will always be that of creation and Creator.
March 31, 2003