It is narrated on the authority of Abu Ayyūb al-Ansāri (radhyAllahu ‘anhu) who said:

“A Bedouin came to the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) whilst he was on a journey and asked, “Tell me what will bring me near to the Garden and keep me away from the Fire.” He replied, “Worship Allah and do no associate anything with Him, establish the prayer, pay the alms-tax and maintain the ties of kinship.”

It saddens me just how people have lost touch with their priorities in this Deen. And I cannot think of a single thing more neglected than the worship of Allah as per the pure holistic principles of Tawhīd i.e. the science of the Oneness of our Creator: pure monotheism, or the simple and unadulterated worship of God alone.

Either people belittle it, or don’t understand it, or follow their own desires and understanding in it, or think it is not as important as other causes and issues in life, or render it meaningless through their deviations in creed ad infinitum.

I do not exaggerate when I say that the entirety of Islam surrounds Tawhīd and so it must be internalised and practised at every moment. It cannot remain forever as just theory in books of creed, but must be lived. And it cannot remain as something ridiculed as a relic of a foregone traditional past, but instead needs to be instilled in all Muslims especially those activists who work for the cause of Islam but neglect themselves and neglect prophetic guidance; they must realise that without worshipping Allah correctly, all their good works are in vain.

Have a look at the above narration and reflect deeply upon it.

It is so utterly simple and yet profound, that it blows my mind and I’m sure for you too. After all, we’re only here in this game to worship our Creator. So we might as well do it properly upon the correct principles!

Note the following:

– This basic man, a bedouin, asks the most important question of all. The entire objective of our lives is summed up in his simple yet pithy request: we would do well to regularly pause during our busy lives and ask ourselves that very same question. And then answer it by implementing the Prophet’s own answer, may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him.

– So, notice the Prophetic way of prioritising: the Haqq of Allāh (Tawhīd and Salāh) always come first, then comes the Haqq of the people in general (Zakāh), and then comes the Haqq of a specific group of the general population i.e. your relatives (Silat’l-Rahim). The last two categories can sometimes be combined and even alternate in specific situations, but the first priority never, ever changes. The first priority is to please Allah. And not just to please Allah, but to please Him through worshipping him correctly. So it doesn’t matter what you do day-to-day which you think is good Islamic work and worship and activism; if Allah doesn’t come first then you’ve got it all wrong.

– Let’s focus on that first thing which is “worship” i.e. ‘Ibādah: to put yourself fully into the service of Allāh, to submit to Him, to enslave yourself to Him and His Wish. The word ‘Ibādah is from عبد which also in its second form has عبّد i.e. “he beat the path” or “trod the path to make it even” as the Arabs say, or “he made the camel totally submissive to him” i.e. it became mu‘abbad, so we’d call an old beaten track mu‘abbad.

– Likewise, we have to become mu‘abbad to the Will of Allāh and obedient to His command with humbleness and submission, regardless of whether we get it or not, like it or not, feel it or not, regardless of what your President tells you should be your values, or your school textbooks tell you about more liberal approaches, or what your society imbibes into you so that you can be “free” and “independent”. We don’t believe in being “independent” in our creed and worship, only in our personal lives and lifestyles. In our worship, we are utterly dependent upon Him, the Truly Independent One. And we do so with love and fear, neither going to the extremes of the Jewish nation who based their obedience to God on their version of the Old Testament on one dominated by fear, and neither the obedience of the Christians which was based on their versions of the New Testament i.e. dominated by blind irrational love and little else.

We base our ‘Ibādah on the Last Testament i.e. the Qur’ān, based on a balance of this love/hope and fear of Allāh as ibn al-Qayyim said, like a bird with two wings in balance as it flies. And the more we worship and enslave ourselves to Him, the less we become enslaved to other people, systems, trends, ideologies, peers and indeed our desires. And beware, because the more we become allured to the Dunya and trapped by it, the less we become in service to Allāh ‘azza wa jall.

– Ironically, the bigger the slave one becomes to this Dunya, then the more humiliated he becomes according to the people of the Dunya. Now that is truly painful. They are the ones who tricked you into this way of life making you believe that it was what they truly valued. But it isn’t. It’s what they think they value, and then they witness it in you and drop you on the way side. We see this every day especially in modern society, you cannot win respect by playing the game this way.

But the more one becomes a total slave to Allāh and Allāh alone, it’s nothing short of amazing the fact that the more honoured and respected he becomes in the eyes of the people in the Dunya and those of the Heavens with Allāh. And ultimately, that’s the important thing.

– And then we likewise see the Prophet’s (sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) key message and emphasis – it is to worship Allāh alone without any partner, without giving any of His divine right to anyone or anything else, without taking anything away from the Deserving, the Almighty and grant it to the worthless, the weak. And you will see that this call to pure Tawhīd was the first message of the Prophet (sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) and his second message and his middle message and his final message (sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) – in fact, you will not find any stage of the Prophet’s (sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) life at any time in any circumstance where he ever went off message, where he did not prioritise the call to worship Allāh alone.

The Qur’an and Sunnah is so overwhelming in support of this fact that we often become blinded to it – when something becomes so normal and obvious, we lose our focus and lack concentration when prioritising our actions and establishing our methodologies for Da‘wah to all and sundry.

Tawhīd is something thus which we must revise all the time. It doesn’t matter who else hijacks it, ruins its image, creates false impressions in the mind when the concept is mentioned and practised, whatever. We must own our practise of Tawhīd ourselves. And we must remind ourselves of it, our friends and family of it and those we are giving Da‘wah to of it, all the time without let-up or pause.

This is the Prophetic way and it is the way of success. And now, in our difficult times when surrounded by a secularist and modernist onslaught which is now almost democratising our Deen too, we need to revive it more than ever to save our worship…


  • Sikandar says:

    Salaam, a good friend shared this article with me. I like it. But here’s what I’d like ur input on. The summary of your article is: worship Allah swt, do it now, do it all the time, do it with sincerity, just do it. And then, do it again. I agree with you.

    The challenge is *how* one does that *consistently*. I have yet to come across someone provide a precise equation for this. Life is complicated, so I don’t expect an equation, but I think the focus of modern Islamic literature needs to be focused on the ‘how’ and ‘how to do it consistently’.

    On the latter, it’s like telling me to eat healthy. You know I’ve been told that for the last 15 years and I STILL binge on McFlurries with extra Oreos and McDonald’s super soft and delicious chocolate chip cookies – you get 2 for $1.05 (special offer).

    Read my last sentence again. Did you feel the emotion in my desire for food? It’s there and it’s extremely powerful. And that’s why I keep eating unhealthy food, while listening to, and ignoring the advice of all those who say — eat healthy if u want to live long. Intellectually, I’ve been convinced a 100 times with a 1000 arguments that I need to eat healthy. But i still resort back to eating unhealthy.

    My point, is this: unless there is deeper, emotional force directing you to worship Allah, the effort is gonna dry up. You can try telling people 593 reasons to worship Allah swt; the importance of worshiping Allah, etc; but after the intellectual ‘kick’ subsides, the person will go back to their old habits.

    So now you must be asking: how does one develop this emotional force? The Quran and Sunnah have provided an answer: fall in *love* with the Prophet salla Allahu ʿalayhi wa-sallam, as mentioned in Chapter 9 Verse 23 of the Quran.

    Mainstream Sunnis really downplay the value and importance of loving the Prophet salla Allahu ʿalayhi wa-sallam, because they fear they will look like Shia’s. That’s a big error, in today’s age. There is a hadith that mentions that the “companions were nearly fighting for the remains of the water” of the Prophet salla Allahu ʿalayhi wa-sallam ( – Volume 1, Book 4, Number 188). That is something the world should reflect on. Really, sit down and picture this happening. Why did the companions, who have such a high degree of intellect and understanding of Islam, do this? This was due to their love for him, salla Allahu ʿalayhi wa-sallam. And there are many other hadiths (which I’ve been told, but I don’t remember right now) that demonstrate the intense love the Companions had for our Prophet salla Allahu ʿalayhi wa-sallam.

    On the “how”, I will share some thoughts on that later. I’m gonna have dinner first!

    Thank you for writing and sharing your thoughts.

  • Sikandar says:

    Sorry, Chapter 9, Verse 24.

    •' anne says:

      Ok I can totally relate to your point. Looking forward to your further comments on the “how” 🙂


      • Sikandar says:

        Some thoughts on the “how”…

        There is a hadith which narrates:

        “One day while the Prophet was sitting in the company of some people, (The angel) Gabriel came and asked, ‘What is faith (iman)?’ Allah’s Apostle replied, ‘Faith is to believe in Allah, His angels, (the) meeting with Him, His Apostles, and to believe in Resurrection.’ Then he further asked, ‘What is submission (islam)?’ Allah’s Apostle replied, ‘To worship Allah Alone and none else, to offer prayers perfectly to pay the compulsory charity (Zakat) and to observe fasts during the month of Ramadan.’ Then he further asked, ‘What is Ihsan (perfection)?’ Allah’s Apostle replied, ‘to worship Allah as if you see Him, and if you cannot see Him, then be sure that He is seeing you.'” [Bukhari, Muslim]

        In other words, “din” is made up of three components:

        1. Iman, or belief; the focal of which is the *mind.* We have to reason, reflect and believe in the Islamic creed using our mind.

        2. Islam, or submission, the focal of which is the *body.* We have to take actions, in order to perform the 5 pillars, and act on other Islamic duties, using our bodies.

        3. Ihsan, or excellence, the focal of which is the *heart,* or the *soul.* We have to purify our hearts through loving Allah swt and the Prophet salla Allahu ʿalayhi wa-sallam

        In my past life, I was only focusing on improving #1 and #2, and kept on hitting road-blocks such as:
        – going back to my old unhealthy (emotionally, physically) habits
        – having thoughts that, well, could be pure-r
        – not very thoughtful, attentive and sincere during prayers
        – not feeling motivated, passionate, driven about Islam

        At the time, I was doing some heavy self-development work and was beginning to realize the power of emotion. And it was around the same time, that I came across this hadith that I posted above. I was fascinated. Our religion — 1400+ years ago — provided the science of excellence, which recognized importance of fixing the heart, with the overall objective of achieving excellence.

        That led me to aggressively focus on # 3 (Ihsan). How?

        Well, throughout Islamic history, you will note that all three components of Din have had teachers who have mastered the Science of each component. There are teachers who have:

        1. mastered the science of Iman / Islamic belief (`aqida)

        2. mastered the science of Islam / Islamic Law (fiqh)

        3. mastered the science of Ihsan / purification of the self, (tasawwuf, tazkiyyah). Some Sunnis refer to these concepts as Sufism and runnnnn from it. True, there are goofy Sufi’s out there, but one cannot deny the importance of this science.

        Thus, I took it upon myself, to do everything I can to focus on # 3, including:

        a) finding a teacher who could help me develop love for the Prophet salla Allahu ʿalayhi wa-sallam (this is not as easy as it may sound….. took me 4 years to find a teacher)
        b) increasing dhikr
        c) keeping company of those of who love Allah swt and the Prophet salla Allahu ʿalayhi wa-sallam
        d) avoiding sin as much as I can

        My progress so far?

        My honest answer is that I haven’t been super impressed with myself. I think part of this is because I have very high expectations for myself. And part of it is I’ve lost some focus on #1 and #2. I used to be super regular in prayers, and I’m no longer as regular. But, my life has also evolved a lot: I got married, I have a kid on the way, I’ve been travelling alot more for work and I wasn’t before, etc; so there are some external forces at play that may have resulted in this.

        What’s next?

        Going forward, my hope is to develop a road-map for ‘getting back to basics’. Understanding the required / necessary / bare-minimum knowledge for each component. Note: There actually are texts that give you the bare minimum knowledge you need to know (from Iman/Islam stand-point), so that you can be a ‘functional Muslim’. I know this because I’ve attended classes where I was learning Aqeedah and Fiqh, but I never finished it because life took over. So I need to get back to this. I need to do it now.

        One last thing I want to leave you with is that when you sincerely seek Allah swt, he will *always* answer your prayer of guidance.

        Those are my thoughts; I hope you find them useful.

        Allah and His Messenger, salla Allahu ‘alayhi wa-sallam, know better.

Leave a Reply