Achieving the Essence of Obedience


Achieving the Essence of Obedience

From the outset, for an act or deed to be considered a proper
worship, ‘ebadah, it must contain two things:

(1) Sincerity (Ikhlas). It must be offered simply for the sole
purpose of pleasing Allah (SWT) and seeking His pleasure.
Allah, said:

“And they have been commanded no more than
this, to worship Allah offering Him sincere devo-

(Al-Qur an 98:5).

(2) It must be done in accordance with the commands of Allah
(SWT) and the practice of the Messenger of Allah (saas); that
is what is called obedience (mutaaba’ah). Allah (SWT) states:

“Say: if you do love Allah, follow me, Allah will
love you and forgive you your sins. For Allah is
oft Forgiving, Most Merciful.”

(Al-Qur an 3:31)

This verse indicates whoever claims to love Allah without fol-
lowing the commands of the Messenger, his claims are lies. To
be a true lover of Allah one has to obey, and his deeds must
mirror those of the Messenger of Allah (saas). This is why
many scholars call this verse the verse of trial, because we have
been tried to see whether we will obey or not. The Messenger

“Whoever does a deed without our command, it will be
rejected.” (Muslim/Bukhari)

To achieve the essence of obedience, six points must be con-
sidered. I call them the essence of obedience.



(3) KIND (JINS),


(5) PLACE (MAKAA}1 and


The acts of worship are inclusive in one or more of these six

Reason (Sababb)

If you worship Allah for a reason, you must make sure the rea-
son is given or pointed out to you by Allah (SWT) or the Mes-
senger of Allah (saas). It must not be a reason rationalized by
you, or someone else for you. Hence, regular virtuous acts of
Salaat, Fasting, or dhikir will be considered invalid if done for
the wrong reasons. For instance, in certain parts of the Muslim
world, some Muslims gather together in the month of Rajab to
commemorate “Al-Isra Wal Mi’eraj”, the night journey
Prophet Muhammad (saas) took from Makkah to Jerusalem,
and from there his ascension to the heavens. This story is in
Surah 17 in Al-Qur^an. During this celebration, participants
offer Salaat, dhikir, sadaqah as reason, etc. This annual cele-
bration cannot be considered valid because the reason given is
not sanctioned by Allah (SWT) or His Messenger.

The Islamic term for acts like these is Bid’ah, or innovation.
For the question will be, did Allah (SWT) or His Prophet (saas)
command us to celebrate Al-Isral There is no proof anywhere
to be found. Did the Messenger of Allah (saas) know this was a
good reason for celebration? If you say he did not know, you
have accused him of ignorance. If you say he did know, but did
not inform us, you are accusing him of cheating, and the Mes-
senger of Allah (saas) is above that. Indeed, Allah (SWT) has


described him as being merciful to the believers, and with a
keen interest in informing the believers about everything that is
good. After all, there is a disagreement among the learned
scholars about the month in which “Isra” took place. The most
accepted opinion is that it was in Rabee’ul Awwal.

One may ask how would acts of charity, prayer and dhikir be
labeled, bid’ahl You see, these acts in and of themselves are
not innovation. What is innovation is offering them with un-
sanctioned reason. Another example, there are certain sufi or-
ders who make dhikir, believing that at a certain number the
Messenger of Allah (saas) will attend this gathering and bless
them. Unfortunately, these people will get nothing from their
efforts because of wrong, unsanctioned reasoning.

Method (Kayfiyyah)

This Ummah has been blessed in that Allah (SWT) did not let
it wander in the dark as to how to worship Him, or what he
liked or disliked of the worship. The methods {kayfiyyah) of
acts of worship have been thoroughly described by Allah, and
His Messenger. He says:

“(We sent them) with Clear Signs and Books of
divine prophecies, and We have sent down unto
thee (also) the Message, that you mayest explain
clearly to people what is sent for them, and that
they may give thought.”

(Al-Qur an, 16:44)

Also, He (SWT) says:

“…Nothing have we omitted from the Book…”

(Al-Qur an, 6:38)

These two verses indicate if you are looking for the basis for
any act, it must be found in Al-Qur an. If the explanation in Al-

Qur’an is not clear enough, the Prophet (SWT) will explain it in
his authenticated Sunnah. It follows then that every conceiv-
able act of ^ebadah has been detailed in Islamic sources. You
are not left to fend for yourself. Thus, no one has the right to
make a method, kayfiyyah, of ^ebadah on his own, nor should
he or she allow anyone else to do it for him, no matter how
well versed or respected an individual may be. He may be a
Companion, a follower of a Companion, an Imam or a saint.

For instance, if a Muslim decides to make wudu, ablution, be-
fore Salaat, and begins by washing his feet, then face, arms,
head, ears, and winds up with his nose, a complete wudu in
terms of thoroughness and amount of washing has been done.
But that Wudu is not valid for prayer, because the method,
{kayfiyyah) is not correct Because in the method of wudu, se-
quence (muwaalat) is an important element. Disregarding se-
quence makes the wudu invalid. Also, let us say a believer
thinks the method of cleanliness (taharah) is bathing. So he
neglects wudu altogether, thinking he has just finished bathing.
His Salaat will not be valid because the only method for
cleanliness before Salat is wudu. Allah (SWT) said:

“O you who believe! When you prepare for
prayer, wash you face and your hands (and
arms) to the elbows, rub your heads (with wa-
ter), and wash your feet to the ankles…”

(Al-Qur an, 5:7)

Kind (Jins)

The kind, jins, of a thing or an act must be in accordance with
what Allah (SWT) or the Prophet (saas) prescribed. For in-
stance, one of the annual events during the time of ‘Eidul-
Adhah is sacrifice of cattle (udhiyah). By cattle is meant a
camel, cow, lamb and or a goat. If a believer decides to sacri-
fice the best udhiyah he has for Allah (SWT) and he happens to

have a thoroughbred horse worth thousands of dollars and a
sheep worth only 85 dollars, and if he decides to sacrifice the
horse instead of the sheep, his sacrifice will not be accepted.
Although the sacrifice was exceedingly expensive, the horse is
not what is asked of him as a sacrifice. It is cattle that he is
commanded to sacrifice.

In another example, on the eve of ‘Eidul-Fitr, the Lawgiver
prescribes food as the medium of Zakatul-Fitr (fast breaking
charity) after Ramadan. If an individual decides to give the
monetary equivalent, the Zakaat will not be valid because the
Lawgiver’s explicit command is food not money.

Amount (Qadar)

The amount and number, qadar, for certain acts of worship
have already been established by the Lawgiver, such as five
times daily prayers, two-and-a-half percent for Zakaat, tawaaf
(circumambulation) during Hajj or “Umrah, fasting during
Ramadan, etc. If the amount is four, two or three, that is what it
should be, no more no less. For instance, if a believer decides
to make Zuhr prayer five raka’ats instead of four, he may have
made them in the most excellent way, but five raka’ats for Zuhr
prayer is invalid because the prescribed amount of raka’ats for
Zuhr is four. After all, Maghribpraycr is the only odd num-
bered daily prayer, not Zuhr. Similarly, nobody has a right to
prescribe for himself or for anyone else the amount and number
of dhikirs (remembrance of Allah) and tasbeeh (glorification of
Allah) without first having the bases for it in Al-Qur’an and or

Place (Makaan)

The place, makaan, for the act of worship to take place must be
established by the Lawgiver. No one can concoct a holy place

for himself or others without approval from the Lawgiver. For
instance, if a believer decides to make I’etikaaf, (the retreat in
the Masjid for the sake of worship) in the last ten days of
Ramadan, but makes it in his house instead of the Masjid, his
I’etikaaf will not be valid because the only place for I’etikaaf is
the Masjid. Allah (SWT) said:

“…While you are in retreat in the Masjid…”

(Al-Qur’an, 2:187)

So is the case if a person decides to make tawaaf (circumambu-
lation) around a building instead of Ka’abah, or stand on a
mountain other than the plane of ‘Arafah, the tawaaf and stand-
ing will not be valid.

Time (Zamaan)

The time, zamaan, for every act has already been prescribed.
For instance, if a believer decides to fast Ramadan in the month
of December because it is shorter and a cooler month instead of
the ninth lunar month, Ramadan, his or her fasting will not be
valid because of the wrong time. Similarly, if he decides to
stand on the plain of Arafah, but he did so on the tenth day of
Dhul-Hijjah, his standing will be like standing on any plain at
in any time, and religiously valueless.

Therefore, any act that does not correspond with these six vir-
tues, reason, method, kind, amount, place, and time will be la-
beled an innovation, bid’ah, because Allah says:

“…This day have I completed your religion for
you, completed my favor upon you, and have
chosen for you Islam as your religion.”

(Al-Qur’an, 5:4)

This verse indicates the religion of Islam is complete and has
been perfected. Allah (SWT) uses two words to underscore this

fact. Akmaltu, from the root word “hamula” (complete, per-
fect), and atmantu from the root word, “tomma,” (completed,
finished, perfected and filled up). If the cap is full, can you add
anything to it? If you do it will spill, and you may not know
whether it is the original that spills or the added. That spill is
the bid’ah. Allah (SWT) is the best knower.

Essentials of Ramadan The Month of Fasting