By Omar Tarhuni
What is true worship? Is it formal prayer in the Mosque or in the home? Is it reciting a du’a or supplication? Is it fasting, paying Zakat and doing the rituals of Hajj and Umrah? True worship is all these things, and more.
Islam has widened the scope of worship to include rituals and every virtuous action which is sincerely performed in compliance with the commandments of Allah, in order to seek his pleasure. However, this concept is sometimes used as a pretext to support the erroneous view that the obligatory rituals of worship can be dispensed with , or that they are not very important. For example , one may say that the code of dress for Muslim women , as specified in the Quran and the Sunnah, is not obligatory or important as long a woman dresses decently.
The truth is quite contrary to this. The specific obligatory rituals are the chief means for strengthening our attachments with Allah.
It is absolutely wrong to imagine that true faith does not consist of specific rituals , and that the basis of true faith is merely purity of heart, goodness of intention and soundness of conduct. This represents misrepresentation of Islamic teachings. The intention to do good alone does not mark off the true men of faith from the rest.
Religion, after all, has an external aspect in the same way as it has an internal aspect. This attitude of deliberate disregard of ritual obligations is destructive of the very foundations of religion. For, if that viewpoint to be adopted , everyone , even those who are in fact opposed to religion could claim to be the best of all worshipers.
The real purpose of Islam in declaring that Ibadah embraces the total life of man is to make faith play a practical and effective role in reforming human life, in developing in man an attitude of dignified patience and strength in the face of hardships and difficulties and in creating in him the urge to strive for victory of good over evil.
Islam is opposed to those defeatist and isolationist philosophies which are based on world-renunciation , on resignation from the resources of life , on withdrawal from the life of action and struggle , on sheer stagnation and decadence. These things have nothing to do with Islam. Rather , they are the symbols of defeatism and escape from the challenges that we find throughout life. For life requires strength, material resources and active habits. The role of Islam in the struggle of life is a positive one.