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Basic Definition Of Worship To Determine Non-Islamic Acts Of Worship.

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Correct definition of worship is essential for correctly understanding many aspects of Islamic worship as well as understanding non-Islamic ritual-acts of worship. A definition based on Islamic practices of ritual worship will almost certainly will be non-applicable to some non-Islamic ritual-acts of worship. Hence the need for a basic and comprehensive definition of worship. Basic definition of worship is general enough to include all types of worship Islamic or non-Islamic and comprehensive definition should be based on Islamic ritual acts of worship. There is no comprehensive one size fit all definition of worship.

Worship Or No Worship:

Islamic definition of worship for Islamic practices is different from Islamic definition of worship for non-Islamic practices because Islam does not recognise the practices of other religions as legitimate acts of worship. As Muslims we must practice Islamic practices of worship which have been sanctioned by Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) in Quran and by Prophet (sallallahu alayhi was’sallam) in books of Ahadith. Any practice of worship which has not been sanctioned in these two sources for a Muslim even though one may define it as worship is invalid and a innovation. How can those who have innovated ways to worship their gods which do not have sanction in deen of Islam be guilty of worshiping their gods when their methods of worship are not valid? How can they be declared as polytheists?

Essential Knowledge Which Will Help Understanding Answers:

For a Muslim every act of worship he performs must be sanctioned and instructed by Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) or by the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi was’sallam). If a Muslim innovates a act of worship and performs innovated act of worship to gain pleasure of Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) then his innovative practice will be rejected by Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) if the practice does not accord with teaching of Deen. He will gain no reward but instead will be punished for such [reprhensible] innovation. Technically the [reprehensible] innovation will be considered act of worship but will be termed as a [reprehensible] innovation and rejected due to lack of authority from Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) and his beloved Messenger (sallallahu alayhi was’sallam). Similarly the innovated acts of worship practiced by polytheists are acts of worship regardless of rituals involved. These practices have no sanction from Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) nor from the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi was’sallam) and they have no permission to worship anyone other then the Deity – Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala).

Fundamental Definition Of Worship:

Basicly, to invoke or to praise a deity/god is worship. Comprehensively to show submissiveness, to hold in respect, or to fear, or to love, or to praise/glorify, or to invoke in time of difficulty or ease, or to request great or small, from a deity/god is worship.

Defining Non-Islamic Ritual-Acts As Worship:

Basicly, to perform any ritual-act with intention of worshiping a deity is an act of worship. Comprehensively, performing any ritual-act due to submissiveness or out of respect, love, fear, or to praise, to glorify qualities or attributes with intention of worshiping a deity is an act of worship.

The Core Which Defines Islamic And Non-Islamic Ritual Acts As Worship:

Islamic and non-Islamic ritual-acts are defined as acts of worship based on three factors; creed, action and intention. Primarily, if one believes a certain ritual-act is; act of worship and the one to whom the act of worship is directed at, deserves to be worshiped, then ritual-act will be termed as worship. Secondrily,  if one wishes to worship a deity with a certain ritual-act with intention of worship then that ritual-act will also be considered as an act of worship.

Scenarios To Elaborate The Definitions:

Suppose y invokes n with love and praises n, or invokes and seeks need from n, believing n is a deity, or believes n is worthy of worship, then major Shirk as occurred due to creed and action. Shirk in creed because y has taken n to be a deity worthy of worship and in action because y has praised, sought the need from n believing him to be a deity. Following is invented act of worship; kissing candle twice, third time lighting it and  circumbulating it around the mini idol-god seven times and then finally putting the candle out by dashing it on the feet of mini idol-god. This practice is not Islamicly sanctioned as an act of worship but instead it is a [reprehensible] innovation. If polytheist performed it with intention of worship of idol-god and believed that idol-god was worthy of worship then major shirk as occurred in belief and in practice. One, he believed other then Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) is worthy of worship and secondly he dedicated a innovated ritual act of worship for his idol-god.

Answering The Two Questions Posed In The Beginning:

Islamicly ritual worship is defined by three fundamental cores; the creed and the actions and intentions. If one believes a Deity is worthy of worship, the ritual action is of worship - i.e. Salah, and intends to worship with this ritual-act then ritual-act of Salah is worship. Non-Islamic ritual-acts are also defined by three fundamental cores; creed, action and intentions. If n is believed to be a deity worthy of worship and a innovative ritual-act of worship is directed toward n with intention of worship. Then innovative ritual-act of worship is worship, due to creed with which it was performed and intention. Therefore their creed that n is worthy of worship instead of Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) or as well as Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala), the intention to worship n, and their innovative action of worship all combine to establish major Shirk.

Wama alayna ilal balaghul mubeen.
Muhammed Ali Razavi

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