In Islam, the term ‘ibadah (service, worship) does not merely signify the ritualistic activities such as Salah (ritual Prayer), fasting, Zakah (obligatory alms) or Hajj (pilgrimage to Makkah). It includes all the activities of a believer that are in accordance with the laws of Allah (God). When a Muslim performs all the activities of his life for the pleasure of Allah, then all his deeds become ‘ibadah or worship. Naturally this includes his ritualistic worship, such as prayer, as well.
Islam requires a person to submit himself whole-heartedly and fully to Allah. Thus, surrendering all the areas of one’s activity to Allah, leaving nothing to the whims and fancies of anyone else, is in fact the true meaning of Islam.
The Qur’an shows that there are only two ways laid out before Man: one is the way of Allah and the other is the way of the Devil. A person cannot stand with one foot in Allah’s way and the other in the Devil’s way.
Islam does not value rituals for the sake of ceremony
A Muslim is one who has willfully submitted his whole self to Allah, and his duty then is just to obey Him. A Muslim cannot split his life into compartments and say, “This is the area of my religion where I will obey Allah and these are the areas where I will follow others.” For service and worship are one in Islam. By following or obeying others than Allah, one is, in effect, worshiping them, which is a contradiction of the first item of Muslim belief: there is none worthy of worship but Allah.
Once a person accepts Allah as his Creator, Sustainer and Lawgiver, he cannot follow other gods. Islam is a complete way of life that asks its followers to model their entire lives in accordance with its principles. This may sound somewhat difficult for many; but in fact it need not be because what we mean here is chiefly a change of attitude and approach. Of course, it will have its impact on one’s life, both internal and external; but for those who wish to lead a good life on earth, Islam is the way.
What is important here is to understand that Islam does not value rituals merely for the sake of ceremony, especially when they are performed mechanically and have no influence on one’s life. If our rituals do not have any influence on our day-to-day life, they have no value. Likewise, when we do our daily activities with sincerity and faith, in the hopes of Allah’s reward, they become important acts of worship.
Worship helps a Muslim to wipe out all evil from his/her life
The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) once told his Companions that they would even be rewarded for having sexual intercourse with their wives. The Companions were astonished and asked, “How are we going to be rewarded for doing something we enjoy very much?” The Prophet asked them, “Suppose you satisfy your desire illegally, don’t you think that you will be punished for that?” They replied, “Yes.” “So,” he said, “by satisfying it legally with your wives you are rewarded for it.”
This comprehensive approach to worship enables a person to purify and spiritualize the entire spectrum of his life. But this is not to belittle the importance of ritualistic worship. Actually, rituals, if performed in their true spirit, elevate man morally and spiritually and enable him to carry on his activities in all walks of life according to the guidance of Allah.
Thus, worship in Islam, whether ritual or non-ritual, trains the individual to lead a life in perfect obedience and submission to his Creator, thereby wiping out all evil from his life and paving the way for making the Word of Allah dominant in the world.