By Abū Lūț -October 6, 2022
While almost every other religious tradition is in decline, Muslim religiosity is actually on the rise. Globally Muslims are growing closer to Allah and worshipping Him more. Why is this the case? Why would such a significant percentage of humanity wish to worship Allah?
The Arabic word for praise and thankfulness is Hamd. The second verse of the opening chapter of the Qur’an mentions:
بِسمِ اللَّهِ الرَّحمٰنِ الرَّحيمِ
الحَمدُ لِلَّهِ رَبِّ العالَمينَ
In the Name of Allah; the encompassingly Merciful, the intensely Merciful.
The entirety of [thankful] praise is for Allah, the [cherishing, sustaining] Lord of [all] the worlds.
(Surah al-Fatihah, The Opening (1):1-2)
Al-Hamd is also an alternative name for Surah al-Fatihah. When the Arabic definite participle [adat al-ta’rif] is affixed to the word, it means “all praise and thankfulness is only for Allah.”
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So why should al-hamd be given to Allah?
Imagine you have a family member that wires five thousand dollars ($5,000) directly to your bank account every week. Imagine they’ve been doing this for years, consistently, without fail and without any lapses. However, rather than regularly thanking this person, you slowly forget where the money originates from, and instead you start thanking and praising the money itself, never recognizing or appreciating the person sending it to you.
This may seem pretty ridiculous, yet it’s actually far more reasonable than associating partners with Allah or being negligent and forgetting to devote Hamd to Him.
وَإِن تَعُدّوا نِعمَةَ اللَّهِ لا تُحصوها ۗ إِنَّ اللَّهَ لَغَفورٌ رَحيمٌ
If you enumerate Allah’s blessings, you will not be able to count them. Indeed Allah is Forgiving, intensely Merciful.
(Surah al-Nahl, The Bee (16):18)
We receive innumerable gifts and blessings from Allah, but how many of us are thankful to Him?
Furthermore, Allah deserves to be worshiped purely because He is Allah. Allah is perfect and deserving of devotion. He created us, sustains us, and provides us with countless favors. It is from our natural disposition (fitrah) to worship Him. If we truly love ourselves, then we must love Him—as worshipping Allah uplifts mankind.
وَلا تَكونوا كَالَّذينَ نَسُوا اللَّهَ فَأَنساهُم أَنفُسَهُم ۚ أُولٰئِكَ هُمُ الفاسِقونَ
And do not be like those who forget Allah, so He makes them forget their own souls. It is they who are the transgressors.
(Surah al-Hashr, The Gathering (59):19)
If you want to meet your full natural potential, this can only be done by worshipping Allah. If you love life, you must love Allah, as He is the One who granted you life.
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Love leads to gratitude and thankfulness, which in turn leads to worship. And worship entails obedience and submission (islam).
The heart beats around one-hundred thousand (100,000) times a day. It beats around thirty-five million (35,000,000) times a year. By the age of seventy-five, it has beaten two-billion, six-hundred and twenty-five million (2,625,000,000) times. Yet, if your heart were to stop beating right now in this very moment, you would give anything for it to beat just one more beat! You would be willing to sacrifice even a mountain of gold!
But which of us has two-and-a-half billion mountains of gold to offer Allah?
We should at the very least express our gratitude through worshipping Him.
The one who loves something or someone is afraid of losing the object of His love. Thus fear goes hand in hand with love. A person should be afraid of losing Allah’s love while concomitantly being afraid of His punishment.
Everyone Worships Something
Human beings have been created for the express purpose of worshipping Allah. This is our purpose in life. And nobody is free from worshipping something. Just because a person claims atheism, agnosticism, humanism, or free-thinking, this does not in any way mean that they are not subservient to something.
وَما خَلَقتُ الجِنَّ وَالإِنسَ إِلّا لِيَعبُدونِ
I did not create the jinn and the humans except for [My] worship.
(Surah al-Dhariyat, The Spreaders (51):56)
Ultimately, whatever occupies a person’s heart most is the object of their worship, whether that be their desires, ego, family, wealth, ideology, or anything else.
أَرَأَيتَ مَنِ اتَّخَذَ إِلٰهَهُ هَواهُ أَفَأَنتَ تَكونُ عَلَيهِ وَكيلًا
Have you seen him who has taken his desire to be his god? Is it your duty to watch over him?
(Surah al-Furqan, The Criterion (25):43)
However, what tends to happen is that when a person does not dedicate himself to Allah alone, he ends up becoming a slave to many masters.
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يا صاحِبَيِ السِّجنِ أَأَربابٌ مُتَفَرِّقونَ خَيرٌ أَمِ اللَّهُ الواحِدُ القَهّارُ
O’ my prison mates! Are different masters better, or Allah, the One, the All-paramount?
(Surah Yusuf, Joseph (12):39)
Allah تعالى (Exalted is He) also says:
ضَرَبَ اللَّهُ مَثَلًا رَجُلًا فيهِ شُرَكاءُ مُتَشاكِسونَ وَرَجُلًا سَلَمًا لِرَجُلٍ هَل يَستَوِيانِ مَثَلًا ۚ الحَمدُ لِلَّهِ ۚ بَل أَكثَرُهُم لا يَعلَمونَ
Allah draws an example: a man jointly owned by several contending masters, and a man belonging entirely to one man: are the two equal in comparison?1 All praise belongs to Allah! But most of them do not know.
(Surah al-Zumar, The Throngs (39):29)
Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) narrates:
حَدَّثَنَا يَحْيَى بْنُ يُوسُفَ، أَخْبَرَنَا أَبُو بَكْرٍ، عَنْ أَبِي حَصِينٍ، عَنْ أَبِي صَالِحٍ، عَنْ أَبِي هُرَيْرَةَ ـ رضى الله عنه ـ عَنِ النَّبِيِّ صلى الله عليه وسلم قَالَ “ تَعِسَ عَبْدُ الدِّينَارِ وَالدِّرْهَمِ وَالْقَطِيفَةِ وَالْخَمِيصَةِ، إِنْ أُعْطِيَ رَضِيَ، وَإِنْ لَمْ يُعْطَ لَمْ يَرْضَ ”. لَمْ يَرْفَعْهُ إِسْرَائِيلُ عَنْ أَبِي حَصِينٍ.
The Prophet (ﷺ) said, “Let the slave of Dinar and Dirham of Quantify and Khamisah (i.e. money and luxurious clothes) perish for he is pleased if these things are given to him, and if not, he is displeased!” (Sahih al-Bukhari)
Some from the early generations of Muslims (Salaf) used to say:
Wear garments that serve you, and not that you serve!
Shaykh Ibn al-Qayyim said:
The one who is imprisoned is the one whose heart is imprisoned from Allah. The captive is the one whose desires have enslaved him.
The Impact That Worship Has in This Life
Worshipping Allah takes one to Paradise.
مَن عَمِلَ صالِحًا مِن ذَكَرٍ أَو أُنثىٰ وَهُوَ مُؤمِنٌ فَلَنُحيِيَنَّهُ حَياةً طَيِّبَةً ۖ وَلَنَجزِيَنَّهُم أَجرَهُم بِأَحسَنِ ما كانوا يَعمَلونَ
Whoever acts righteously, [whether] male or female, should he be faithful, —We shall revive him with a good life and pay them their reward by the best of what they used to do.
(Surah al-Nahl, The Bee (16):97)
Allah promises both a good worldly life and a good Afterlife for those who worship Him. Indeed, Ibrahim ibn Adham said:
وقال الإمام إبراهيم بن أدهم: «لو علم الملوك وأبناء الملوك ما نحن فيه من السرور والنعيم إذًا لجالدونا عليه بالسيوف».
If the kings and their sons knew of what we [the righteous] had in terms of happiness and comfort, they would have tried to confiscate it by the sword. (Hilyah al-Awliya’)
Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah said:
إن في الدنيا جنة من لم يدخلها لم يدخل جنة الآخـــرة
Indeed, in this world is a Paradise. Whomsoever does not enter it will not enter the Paradise of the Hereafter.
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Someone from the early generations of Muslims (Salaf)said:
مساكيـــن أهل الدنيا خرجوا منها وماذاقوا أطيب ما فيـــها, قال : محبة الله عز وجل ومعرفته وذكـــره والأنس بقربه والشوق إلى لقائه
How miserable are the people of the worldly life! They leave it without tasting what is best in it: love of Allah, Honorific and Majestic, gnosticism of Him, remembering Him, the intimacy of His closeness, and desiring to meet Him.
Someone else from the Salaf said:
إنه لتمر بي أوقات أقول إن كــان أهـــل الجنـــة في مثل هذا إنهم لفي عيش رغيــــد
Indeed, sometimes I feel in such a manner that, were the people in Jannah like this, they are surely in a wonderful life.
Ibn Taymiyyah was imprisoned five times and ultimately died in prison. He had no possessions but a single cloak. He never married. When Ibn Taymiyyah was imprisoned he said:
مايصنع أعدائـي بي ؟ إن جنتي وبستاني في صدري , أينما رحت فهي معي لا تفارقني , إن حبسي خلوة , وقتلي شهادة , وإخراجي من بلدي سياحـــة
What can my enemies do with me? Indeed my Paradise and my garden are in my breast! Wherever I go they are with me, I am not separated from them. My imprisonment is a private meeting (with Allah), my murder is martyrdom, and exile from my land is tourism.
The secret to this kind of spiritual satisfaction was narrated by Al-‘Abbas ibn ‘Abdil-Muttalib. It has been narrated that he heard the Messenger of Allah ﷺ say:
حَدَّثَنَا قُتَيْبَةُ، حَدَّثَنَا اللَّيْثُ، عَنِ ابْنِ الْهَادِ، عَنْ مُحَمَّدِ بْنِ إِبْرَاهِيمَ بْنِ الْحَارِثِ، عَنْ عَامِرِ بْنِ سَعْدِ بْنِ أَبِي وَقَّاصٍ، عَنِ الْعَبَّاسِ بْنِ عَبْدِ الْمُطَّلِبِ، أَنَّهُ سَمِعَ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم يَقُولُ “ ذَاقَ طَعْمَ الإِيمَانِ مَنْ رَضِيَ بِاللَّهِ رَبًّا وَبِالإِسْلاَمِ دِينًا وَبِمُحَمَّدٍ نَبِيًّا ” . قَالَ أَبُو عِيسَى هَذَا حَدِيثٌ حَسَنٌ صَحِيحٌ .
“Whoever is pleased with Allah as (his) Lord, and Islam as (his) religion, and Muhammad as (his) Prophet, then he has tasted the sweetness of faith.” (Jami` at-Tirmidhi 2623)
Worship and dedication to anything other than Allah will never satisfy the innate human desire for attachment to Him. This is why Muslims devote themselves to Allah fully; and to Him alone, without any partner.