Fiqh al-Fiqh

Rituals and Worshiping

When Almighty Allāh asked us to perform all rituals (‘ibādāt) such as offering prayers, giving zakāh, observing fasting, performing pilgrimage, and so on, He did not mean by that mere meaningless rituals, affecting nothing in one’s inner and outer behaviour. This does not simply mean standing in prayer, giving away charity and suffering from hunger during fasting. Rather, He meant something beyond that: noble and spiritual goals of consciousness, self-discipline, total obedience, sincere worship and total surrender to the will of Allāh, the Creator, the Kind, all-Aware, all-Wise and all-Knowing. All of which mean to achieve the state of being righteous and God-fearing. This is the real purpose of setting all this legislation, be it commandments or prohibitions, which we could call Fiqh al-Fiqh.

Hence, the seeker of knowledge and the wayfarer on the straight path, which leads to the pleasure of Allāh, should not neglect this important aim and ignore this significant aspect while performing any form of worship. And he should not intend by performing these rituals just the mere riddance of obligatory duties upon him. Rather, he should recall the spiritual aspects of worship and its secrets. Additionally, he should multiply the intention when he rises to perform any kind of worship, in order for his deeds to be multiplied, his rank to be elevated and his faith and sincerity to increase. By achieving this, he will be of the believers whom Allāh defined in His saying:

‘The believers are only those who, when Allāh is mentioned, their hearts become fearful, and when His verses are recited to them, it increases them in faith; and upon their Lord they rely ﭸ The ones who establish prayer, and from what We have provided them, they spend ﭿ Those are the believers, truly. For them are degrees [of high position] with their Lord and forgiveness and noble provision ﮌ’ (Q, the Spoils of War. 8:2-4).

The one who contemplates the various forms of worship, one by one, finds this spiritual hint throughout the legislative texts that deal with the different aspects of these religious rituals. This led the first generation of the righteous predecessors, the Prophet’s Companions (May Allāh’s mercy be upon them) to interact with these rituals. Most importantly, that interaction caused these rituals to have a deep influence and impact on them and on their lifestyles, as a result of these rituals being a coolness for their eyes and tranquillity for their hearts.

Concerning the first practical pillar of this great religion, prayer, Almighty God explains that the purpose of prayer is to deter people from immoral behaviour and wrongdoing:

‘And establish prayer. Indeed, prayer prohibits immorality and wrongdoing, and the remembrance of Allāh is greater’ (Q, the Spider. 29:45).

Therefore, the one whose prayer does not deter him from such bad actions should be more cautious and establish prayer as it should be established, since there must be a great fault and deficiency in him. In the sound tradition, the Messenger of Allāh (PBUH) says: ‘Everything has a pillar; and the pillar of the religion is prayer; and the pillar of prayer is al-khushū‘ (consciousness and presence in prayer]; and the best of you is the most righteous of you’.[1] Another saying is the Prophetic Tradition: ‘The one whose prayer does not prohibit him from immoral behaviour and sinful acts, it would distance him from Allāh’.[2]

On the zakāh and șadaqah, Allāh says:

‘Take șadaqah (alms) from their wealth in order to purify them and sanctify them with it’ (Q, the Repentance. 9: 103).

And on Șiyām (fasting), He says:

‘O you who have believed, decreed upon you is fasting, as it was decreed upon those before you, that you may become righteous’ (Q, the Cow. 2:183).

Moreover, the Prophet (PBUH) states: ‘There is not [complete or acceptable] fasting without refraining from what Allāh prohibited’[3].

Regarding pilgrimage, we find a repeated note explaining that the ultimate goal of this great form of worship is to attain piety:

‘And fear Allāh and know that Allāh is severe in penalty ﰣ Ḥajj is [during] well-known months, so whoever has made Ḥajj obligatory upon himself therein [by entering the state of irām], there is [to be for him] no sexual relations and no disobedience and no disputing during Ḥajj. And whatever good you do ­– Allāh knows it. And take provisions, but indeed, the best provision is fear of Allāh. And fear Me, O you of understanding ﭲ’ (Q, the Cow. 2:196-197). Similarly, the Qur’ān says in the Chapter of Pilgrimage:

‘Their meat will not reach Allāh, nor will their blood, but what reaches Him is piety from you’ (Q, the Pilgrimage. 22:37).

In the longest verse in the entire Qur’ān (the verse of debt) which deals with juristic rulings on pure financial transactions, Allāh the Exalted concludes this verse with the command to have piety, which results in beneficial knowledge, by the will of Allāh:

‘And fear Allāh. And Allāh teaches you. And Allāh is Knowing of all things’ (Q, the Cow. 2:282).

More clearly, the Almighty states explicitly the grand and ultimate purpose of all rituals and forms of worship. This is at the outset of His glorious book, at the beginning of sūrat al-Baqarah (the Chapter of the Cow) when He says:

‘O mankind, worship your Lord, who created you and those before you, that you may become righteous’ (Q, the Cow. 2:21).

Therefore, you should do nothing, O intelligent pursuer of knowledge, but recall in your worship these noble goals and great secrets. Therein, you would realise a real change in your worship and wonderful success in your dealings. In addition to that, what Allāh concealed of wisdom is far greater; Allāh says:

‘And of knowledge, you [mankind] have been given only a little’ (Q, the Night Journey. 17:85).

[1] – ar-Rabī‘. Ḥadīth number 285.

[2] – ar-Rabī‘. Ḥadīth number 954.

[3] – ar-Rabī‘. Ḥadīth number 92.


By/ Al-Muatasim Almawali

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