WHAT IS IBADAT? (worship/ Obligations)
By Zahid Jamil,Sydney, Australia
By Zahid Jamil,Sydney, Australia
Moderator Mike Ghouse :: The “t” in the word Ibadat is used mainly by the Asian Muslims who comprise nearly 2/3rd’ of the Muslim population, excluding of course the Arab Nations some of them are in Asia as well. Ibada is loosely translated as devotion, dedication and commitment. Zahid, I have added some words in (parenthesis) for those who are not familiar with the British terms.
Zahid, the world Muslim Congress is indeed driven by Qur'an, Al-Hujurat, Surah 49:13: "O mankind! We have created you male and female, and have made you nations and tribes that ye may know one another. The noblest of you, in sight of Allah, is the best in conduct. Allah Knows and is Aware." Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) defined a good deed as an unselfish act of doing things for others. It is assigned a higher values than the ritual prayers.
WHAT IS IBADAT?
By Zahid Jamil,Sydney, Australia
An average Muslim’s life is comprised of two principal dimensions:
1) To work towards living a better life in this world. This is often achieved by studying (education) during early years, if possible, followed by work to feed the family, build assets and acquire material needs.
2) To perform religious rituals based upon the pillars of Islam: offer salat/namaz, fast during Ramadan, pay Zakat and perform Hajj to secure the Hereafter.
Evidently, the first of these dimensions is considered essential solely for worldly reasons, while contrastingly the second sustains religious/spiritual reasons with the aim to secure a better place in the life after death.
Individuals to whom material wealth supersedes the significance of religious belief would focus more upon the first dimension, engaging in the attainment of success in their respective field. Subsequently they gain satisfaction through the enjoyment of conveniences in this world and the ability to provide comforts to their families. Due to highlighting the first dimension, the religious dimension is usually considered subsidiary. Among such Muslims, many also categorise themselves as practising Muslims and they gain satisfaction by offering rituals and observing basic tenets. Such Muslims pride themselves as being successful in both religious as well as worldly matters.
Conversely, one who tends to largely abide by the second dimension may consider worldly affairs subordinate and consequently believe that education and working to earn a living should be limited to fulfilling the needs, not comforts, of day to day living. Such an individual is content by only doing the minimum to earn worldly living. He/she gives lot more time to religious activities such as offering extra prayers, reciting Quran, spending extra time in mosque, attending Islamic lectures, going out in tableegh (missionary work), visiting the holy places more often and paying extra money in charity. While achieving the aforementioned, they unwaveringly trust that this will please Allah (SWT) and secure him/her a higher place in the Hereafter. Demonstrably, these two dimensions appear to be the antithesis of each other, and such contrasting individuals have distinguishable ways of living this life and achieving a rewarding position in the life hereafter.
Ibadat is commonly considered to be concerning only religion. In reality, however, even the actions pertaining to mundane affairs of this life, if performed within the parameters of Islamic teachings, are regarded as Ibadat.
Let us now analyse what ibadat comprises of. It is universally said that there are two types of Haqooqs (rights) incumbent on the human being:
- Haqooq al ibad: rights of other living beings as it is Allah’s creation and
- Haqooq ullah: rights of Allah by worshipping HIM usually through offering rituals such as Salat, fasting and hajj.
Haqooqul ibad are very often undermined, and ibadat is considered to be limited to deeds such as performing rituals or doing some charitable work. Any of us will in fact be harming the human kind if we do not do our best at our work
I wish to emphasize that all we do to earn a living relates to Haqooq-ul-ibad; and it is therefore the religious duty of all Muslims to perform at their best in their work and progress in life as much as possible by fair means. That is, most of the work we perform contributes to the benefit of fellow beings. A farmer grows food. The more effort he puts in, the better his produce will be for the consumption of human beings. An engineer builds houses, roads, plants, machinery which are utilized by human beings and it is important that all such things are built in best quality. All those involved such as designers, engineers, carpenters, builders, contractors, mechanists, technicians, labourers need to do the best work to ensure that their goods meet the specifications and do not fail when put in use. Collapse of a building or a bridge may kill many and so will be the case in the event of failure of a machinery. A doctor has to do his best to ensure the best treatment of his patients. A teacher has to ensure that each student gets maximum benefit from his/her teaching. A student has to put in his maximum effort and perform to his potential as to ensure that he is able to achieve the highest results when he/she enters the workforce. Better we will perform at our work, more beneficial it will be to the people utilizing the produce or service.
Hence it is clear that the better we perform at our work, the more beneficial it will be to the people utilizing our products or services. In fact, by not applying oneself to their maximum ability may lead to harmful consequences for greater mankind. By being lazy and slack, we will not be able to provide the services which we could have given by being sincere and diligent. By underperforming our duties at work, we will not only be able to justify what we are being paid but we will also be directly or indirectly harming our fellow human beings. However as most of the work we perform contributes to the human society, it is part of haqqoq-ul- Ibad.
If we fail in our duty towards fellow human beings, we may or may not be accountable in this world but we will definitely be accountable to them on the Day of Judgment. Allah SWT declares that while He may or may not pardon us for our duties towards Him, He will not interfere in the matters of His makhlooq. It is well known that on the Day of Judgment, human beings will not pardon one another. Thus the failure to perform in our duty which is always likely to cause some harm or suffering to Allah’s creation, will also become a major obstacle in our salvation in the Hereafter. It is therefore established that performing at our best in our worldly work is an important ibadah; any negligence on our part is not likely to go unpunished in the Hereafter. We will also be at disadvantage in this life by being inefficient. In short, we are likely to suffer both in this world and in the hereafter. Even if we do not receive expected worldly gains by putting our best effort, we will at least escape from the punishment in the hereafter.
Using unfair means to earn extra wealth, exploiting others (workers), working in haram industries such as gambling, liquor, pork, sex etc is certainly an act of sin. We must not overlook that it is even possible to commit sin in a noble profession. A doctor, who does not provide adequate care to his patients, exploits them by charging unreasonable fees and does not show mercy towards the needy makes an otherwise dignified profession corrupt. Such practices are common in the third world countries where leading hospitals and doctors let patients suffer or die if they are unable to pay the bills. A lawyer can make his profession noble if he acts only on behalf of just clients and refuse to take up cases for criminals or unjust clients. Work related evil practices such as bribe, adulteration, excess profiteering, absconding from duty are serious crimes, as they may wound the fabric of society.
The concept that we do work just enough to earn a living for ourself as part of being religious will only holds true if we do not indulge ourselves in petty deeds such as gossiping, politicking, backbiting, or by simply being lazy. An exception to underperforming in one’s field of work could be if he/she is involved in some noble/charitable task/project. Nevertheless, only a very small fraction of people abide by this exception and even such people need to be mindful that in so doing, they may be causing their direct dependents, for example their children and wife, some suffering. Such conditions may only be relaxed in times of emergency such as armed jihad against aggression; and those who give great sacrifices in fighting for the sake of Allah deserve highest reward.
Majority of us spend normal working lives and we will do justice only by working to our fullest potential, as in doing so we will be benefiting human kind. Hard work will also generate more money which will bring prosperity in our lives. This is justified as long as we do overindulge in luxuries, given our social surroundings. However, if we overspend in luxuries, or hoard the money, keep multiplying our wealth beyond our needs, then we will be questioned not for earning extra through our effort but for its use. The extra money should be spent in charity. Paying Zakat only may not relieve us from hellfire if after paying Zakat, we accumulate wealth beyond our needs. Thus while earning more money by putting effort to our best potential in our works is an act of ibadat, hoarding of money or overindulging in luxuries is a sin.
Many great personalities set high standards in generating wealth through their extraordinary skills and donating much of it in charity. In modern context, a prime example of this would be Warren Buffet, the second richest person in the world, who donated 85% of his wealth amounting to 44 billion dollars to charities. Bill Gates also runs huge charity projects as was the case with many shahbas/sahabis and many great Muslims in history. These great people first benefited humankind through scientific innovation, then by providing jobs and means of earning to millions around the world and finally the money generated in this process, they used to elevate the most deprived on the earth. Such people, if have faith in Allah, become true Momin.
Those who advise not to run after worldly achievements are wrong as in doing so, one happens to harm Makhlooq-e-khuda or gives less than what he/she can offer to the humanity. A momin will achieve maximum in this world but he will give away in charity the money which he does not need. The great scientists, researchers, inventors in various fields, if have faith in Allah SWT, are the best creatures as their effort bring immense benefits to the mankind. Industrialists may put such researches in use to the benefit of mankind which will be an act of Ibadat but if they manufacture harmful things, they commit an act of sin.
Also, It is our choice, in many instances, how we use many items in particular modern technology such as internet, televisions, radio etc as they can become a source of learning and spreading good or may be used to indulge in or spreading the evil.
Putting occupation aside, our direct dealings with fellow beings will also become a source of Ibadat or a sin. Encouraging hatred amongst people is regarded a great sin, while generating an atmosphere of compassion is an act of great sawab. Ordinary people indulge in fuelling disputes through backbiting amongst families and social circles. Political leaders, institutions, nations indulge in sparking social chaos, public disturbances and wars. All these people harm Allah’s Makhlooq and therefore commit great sins. On the other hand, people who work towards bringing people together, say by uniting spouses in dispute, family members, friends, social workers or community groups do great act of swab. Working for political, national and international bodies, NGOs which actively promote peace or work on different fronts to the benefit of underprivileged people is an act for which an extraordinary reward would be reserved by Allah (SWT). Demonstrating humility in day to day acts and serving our elderly and needy are also worthy acts of huqooq-ul-ibad. On a minor platform, the wastage of food by those who take it for granted is also an act of sin, as millions of people die of starvation. Not paying your share of taxes is also an act of sin as this money is to be utilized for building infrastructure and other nation building projects for the benefit of fellow beings.
While we claim to have reached the zenith of civilization, 1.3 billion people live on less than a dollar a day, 3 billion live on fewer than two dollars a day, over 1.3 billion have no access to clean water, 3 billion have no access to sanitation, 2 billion have no electricity. 4000 children die every day from diseases associated with access to unsafe drinking water. One child dies every 20 seconds from measles or other vaccine preventable diseases, one in twenty does not live to see their fifth birthday. The majority of these children die from preventable causes such as diarrhoea, malaria and acute malnutrition. Nearly a billion people (adults) entered 21st century unable to read a book.
Certainly such figures are of disgust. The irony is that those who claim to be the champions of religion seem to care least about their fellow creations of Allah (SWT).
Humbly bowing in front of Allah SWT and worshipping HIM will be rewarded only if our actions in life reflect our love for Allah. That love will be false if we do not love his creation. Praying in the middle of the night or during other hours of the day will certainly be rewarded if we remember his orders in real life. Every minute of our lives may be counted towards Ibadat and an act of sawab; alternatively it can be transformed into a sin, ultimately determining whether we enter the Gate to either Heaven or Hell. Prayers are meant to remind us that the lord to whom we promise faith will not be pleased unless we fulfil our duties towards His creation. The situation is analogous to that of a boss and his employee. If you are very faithful to your boss and are always available to serve him in order to please him but at his back, you harm your boss’s children, he will be extremely angry if he comes to know about it. He will punish you severely and will consider your show of faith to him nothing more than an act of hypocrisy.
So looking back at the two principle dimensions underlying a Muslim’s life, and by exploring the realms of society and the parameters of religion, it is evident that Ibadat is achieved by maintaining a fine balance between the two. It is by doing so that one can be satisfied with life, and attain Heaven in the life hereafter.
It is my belief that Muslims have lost the glory as they have lost some fundamental concepts of Ibadah. Ibadah also truly entails incorporating in our daily lives the attainment of knowledge and working for the betterment of human society.
The World Muslim Congress is driven by the Qur'an, Al-Hujurat, Surah 49:13: "O mankind! We have created you male and female, and have made you nations and tribes that ye may know one another. The noblest of you, in sight of Allah, is the best in conduct. Allah Knows and is Aware." Our Mission is to work for a world of co-existence through inclusiveness and participation. As a member of diverse family of faiths, our efforts will be directed towards justice and equity to attain peace for the humankind with a firm grounding in commonly held values. No one should have advantages at the cost of others. Such benefits are temporary and deleterious to lasting peace. We believe what is good for Muslims has got to be good for the world, and vice versa, to sustain it. Indeed we aspire to promote goodwill amongst people of different affiliations, regardless of their faith, gender, race, nationality, culture or any other uniqueness blessed by the creator. www.WorldMuslimCongress.com