Servitude As a Must
"Every one has a direction to which he turns; so vie with each other for good deeds. Wherever you are, Allah will bring you all together. Surely Allah is powerful over everything." Holy Qur'an (2:148)
Thus, man must have in his life an object to worship, an entity to which he may submit and direct his will, as everyone of necessity needs a motive for the action and conduct he chooses during his life to which he proceeds. This goal of his is the force that moves him to be active and is the urge behind every act he chooses to do or not to do. Hence, that goal or that principle becomes his object of worship to which he turns, though he may not admit it to himself.
These goals and motives may be different according to man's conscience and choice. He may choose either to worship Allah or his desire. Allah the Exalted says: "Have you seen him who chooses for his god his own lust? Would you then be guardian over Him?" Holy Qur'an (25:43)
Or he may take a tyrant from among the human beings for a god.
However, if his motive to action is Allah the Exalted, then his servitude will be to Allah only; if his motive be other than Allah, then his surrender will be to that other than Allah, that which is dominating his thought, feelings and deeds.
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Accordingly, man's chosen path of submission can be of two kinds:
1. PURE SERVITUDE TO ALLAH
This is a servitude purely and entirely dedicated to Allah in all of man's acts so that his recognition of Allah is the cause of his acts, and the goal of his deeds, seeking no consent but Allah's, and motivated only by the love for Allah, whether in prayer, fasting, thinking or in intention, feelings and social connections. This is made manifest in his morals, politics, economy,
judgment, love, hatred, consent, indignation . . .etc., as well as in his relations with the universe, nature and the world around him. Actually, a believer starts from a fundamental principle, a basic mental foundation, which says: man and the whole universe are His alone; so he has to keep to the line of obedience and to merge in it, in fulfillment of absolute dedication to Him and in pure submission, clear of every trace of impurity that may effect its sincerity, i.e. hypocrisy, dissembling, flattery, . . .etc.
The Qur'an illustrates the spirit of servitude to Allah by saying:
"I have turned my face towards Him Who created the heavens and the earth, as an upright, and lam not of the polytheists." Holy Qur'an (6:79)
On this basis there came the sayings of the Prophet (s.a.w.) explaining the idea of being pure and sincere in thought and action, and calling to a unified direction towards Allah the Exalted.
It is said that a bedouin came to the Prophet (s.a.w.) and asked him: Who does good or gives alms and likes to be praised and rewarded for that? The Prophet did not answer him and kept silent, until a glorious verse was revealed as a complete answer, clarifying the way of salvation, and gratitude to Allah alone:
"Say: surely lam only a mortal like you. It is revealed to me that God is One God. And whoever yearns for the meeting with his Lord, let him do righteous deeds, and let him associate none with his Lord in serving Him." Holy Qur'an (18:110)
Thus, the answer of the Qur'an came rejecting polytheism and clarifying the direction between the love of praise and love of getting nearer to Allah the Exalted. The believer is commanded to release himself from this polytheism, the sharing of oneself with worshipping Allah or
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from combining one's desires to have both the reward from Allah as well as the praise of people. Imam Ali (a.s.) said:
"Blessed be the one who turns in his worship and invocation directly to Allah, and who did not engage his heart with what his eyes see, and who did not forget to remember Allah through what his ears hear, and who did not bring sorrow to his breast because of what the others have."1
Such is the call of Islam. It stresses that man should maintain human, coherent conduct, with a unified direction and goal, founded on the idea of the Oneness of Allah, with pure sincerity to Him alone. All of this is done for the sake of freeing man from worshipping the self and defying the ego.
In order that personal desires and selfish whims do not become the cause of actions contrary to Allah's will and that human conduct does not center round these grave and selfish motives, which destroy man through diseases of his morality such as egoism, hypocrisy, two-facedness, lust, indulgence in pleasures, etc.
Moreover, by sincere obedience Islam wants to express a universal truth, the truth of the real relation between Allah and man. This religion wants to liberate man from being the servant of the I' , and from obeying human despots; a position result of purely serving Allah alone.
This inference helps us to discover the meaning of servitude to Allah, and to comprehend its truth which is: To join the line of Divine Will and to have one's will coincide with Allah's.'
Without this pure sincerity one's submission would only be a worship associated with other than Allah, as described by the Qur'an. This kind of obedience is the most dangerous ailment that may afflict the thought, morals and conduct of a Muslim believer - it is the ailment of duality of the split personality and the loss of its unity and primal originality.
When such a misfortune befalls man, he would worship Allah with insincere motives, as these motives would conflict with and sap conviction from his worship of Allah.
1- Jami Al-Sa'adat, Vol.2, P.400.
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Thus, the hypocrite who likes to be applauded for his doing good; saying his prayers or going on pilgrimage to Mecca, he is actually worshipping himself, and turning to glorify himself, while apparently he seems to be turning to Allah; that is, he worships both himself and Allah as partners simultaneously.
The man of letters who acquires knowledge for fame; the reformer who wages a campaign against corruption in order to become a guide and leader; the rich man who is charitable in order to have his name known among the people, and those who devotedly engage themselves in the love of this world, in collecting wealth, monopolizing interests, gratifying their lust in forbidden pleasure, neglecting to remember Allah, deviating from His love and worship, turning away from Him; all of these and their like cannot be regarded as have sincerely worshipped Him, as they have worshipped themselves, defied their own persons, and desired other than Allah.
Similar are those who claim that they believe in Allah and worship Him in their prayers, fasting and pilgrimage, but they disobey His commands concerning other deeds, in order to obtain the consent of other than Allah, for fear of mortals. They become wrongdoers and oppress people, neglect the right and keep silent in the face of corruption, as if they have not heard the call of the Qur'an, and they do not want to be among those whom it praised by saying: "And bind yourself with those who call upon their Lord at morning and evening desiring His favor." Holy Qur'an (18:28)
"As for that abode of the Hereafter, We assign it to those who seek not oppression In the earth, nor yet corruption. The (good) sequel is for the god fearing." Holy Qur'an (28:83)
But they put themselves among those of whom the Qur'an says: "They have taken their rabbis and their monks as lords beside Allah." Holy Qur'an (9:31)
2. SERVITUDE TO OTHER THAN ALLAH
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Man, through successive ages, has been subjected to the ailment of ignorance both in his thought and soul, which means rejecting servitude to Allah and turning to other beings, natural and human forces, self-deification and indulgence in unrestrained personal desires and pleasures.
This is true in respect to the idolaters, the infidels who do not believe in God, and the pagans who worship animals or natural phenomena, etc. They all take themselves as gods, and regard their desires and whims as their lords through which they worship and follow their self-centered inclinations.
The Qur'an distinctively describes those groups by saying:
"Have you seen him who chooses for his god his own lust? Would you then be guardian over him?" Holy Qur'an (25:43)
This is the inevitable direction they take, having turned away from the divine direction, and as such, they no longer have a clear program; no explicit law and no proper human conduct, as they can only follow the urges of their lust, pleasures and desires. They fabricate laws and regulations, and philosophize on life, man's goals and his beliefs according to their own desires, and their limited and shortsighted understanding.
All this is because of man's ignorance and his being too proud to worship Allah, taking himself as a god on the earth, after rejecting the Supreme Deity and servitude to Him. This is the beginning of tragedy and misery, causing for mankind much suffering, injustice, despotism, tyranny and bitter struggle among diverse interests, desires and selfishness.
These tendencies of ignorance in the soul and thought have registered grave consequences on society and behaviour. Humanity has thus been invaded by waves of oppression, poverty, ignorance, suppression and arbitrariness, as a minority of the elite usurped rule and domination, and indulged in the pleasures and the delights of life in which they believe. Meanwhile, the greater majority of people were left suffering this unjust servitude imposed by false human defication.
Why Servitude To Allah
One question revolves in the mind of everyone contemplating the universe and life, and in the thought of every sane person scrutinizing the
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meanings of servitude and submission in order to give the correct answers to:
Why should Allah be worshipped alone?
Why should man's will melt and merge with Allah's will?
Why should man's thinking, emotions, conduct and other inclinations conform to the Divine Will, free of disobedience or deviation? Man would soon find the answers in the Qur'an, together with a number of preliminary facts proving that servitude to Allah alone is a truth which is a natural result in this world, dictated by the essence of the relation between man and his Creator.
We may list the basic facts which lead to the inevitable belief that worshipping Allah alone is a truth, as explained by the Qur'an, which makes a connection between every cause and its effect, through many of its verses. It stresses this reality through the following:
1. CREATION IS ALLAH'S
The Qur'an speaks of the creation, innovation and the genetic being of man, and connects these to servitude and submission to Allah, as two correlated and inseparable truths. Allah the Exalted says:
"0 mankind! Worship your Lord Who created you and those before you, so that you may be god fearing: Who assigned to you the earth for a couch, and the heaven for a dome; and sent down out of heaven water, wherewith He brought forth fruits for your sustenance; so, set up not compeers rivals to Allah while you know." Holy Qur'an (2:21-22)
"That is Allah, your Lord, there is no god but Him, the Creator of everything, therefore worship Him. And He is the Guardian over every thing ." Holy Qur'an (8:102)
Here the Qur'an regards servitude to Allah as a result naturally born of the fact that everything belongs to Allah, considering servitude to Him to be an existing truth in man's life, traversing the realm of the equation between creation and relation to Allah the Exalted.
2. SOVEREIGNTY IS ALLAH'S
The second truth which translates into the inevitability of worshipping Allah is the fact that man, like everything else in this universe, belongs to Allah. Man is owned by his Creator and he owns nothing of himself, nor of this world, though he makes use of himself, of the universe, of the
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earth, of property, of wealth, and of every like means, by way of the authority of Allah the Exalted. So, he has to submit to His will and organize his life accordingly, whereupon he will be Allah's servant. The Qur'an refers to this when it addresses man, saying that whatever is in his possession in this life is Allah's, and not his. Man is destined to leave everything behind for others to use. He will be absented from life and taken away empty- handed.
Allah, the Exalted says:
"And indeed you have come to us alone, as We created you the first time, and you have left what We conferred on you behind your backs;..." Holy Qur'an (6:94)
At another juncture the Qur'an connects Allah's sovereignty over everything with servitude to Him alone, and states that the one in whose hands are creation, death and life, is the only One Who should be worshipped. Servitude is but absolute submission and complete surrender to the worshipped. It is not becoming of servant wholly owned to surrender to other than his owner.
"Say (0 Muhammad): 0 mankind! l am the messenger of Allah to you all. To Him belongs the Kingdom of the heavens and the earth. There is no god but He. He gives life and causes to die. So, believe in Allah and His messenger, the unlettered Prophet who believes in Allah and in His words. And follow him so that you may be guided."
Holy Qur'an (7:158)
3. POWER BELONGS TO ALLAH
The third truth that requires service to be for Allah alone, is that He is the Almighty and that it is His will which is operative. No individual has the ability to resist His sovereignty and will. It follows that man can but submit to the will of his Creator, carry out His commands and surrender to His judgment:
"He is the Omnipotent over His servants, and He is All-wise, All-Cognizant." Holy Qur'an (6:18)
"0 my fellow prisoners, are sundry lords better or God, the One, the Omnipotent. What you worship, apart from Him, are nothing but mere names that you and your fathers named, for which God has not sent down any authority. Surely the rule is only for God. He ordains that you worship none but Him. This is the upright religion, but most people know not." Holy Qur'an (12:39-40)
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"Say (to them, 0 Muhammad) lam only a warner, and there is no god but Him, the One, the Almighty." Holy Qur'an (38:65)
However, this surrender to Allah's mighty will is founded on belief in to His Justice, Wisdom and Mercy. It does not resemble the surrender shown by a weak man to an unjust despot. There is a difference in the inner feelings in the two cases: In one instance he submits to a wrong and unjust will, imposed on him by oppression and force, making him accept the situation reluctantly. Had he the power to rebel against it and set himself free from the bondage, he would have done it, since he does not believe in the justness of such forced and unjust submission.
The other instance is that in which man submits to an overwhelming power willingly, because of his belief that the connection, between this weak existence and the existence of that divine supreme power, is a just one. This relationship truth expresses the reality of two beings, his and his Creator's.
There is no injustice in this mutual connection, as it is based on justice, love and mercy: "Therefore ask forgiveness of your Lord and then turn to Him. Surely my Lord is Merciful, Loving." Holy Qur'an (11:90)
"Surely Allah wrongs not so much the weight of an atom; and if there it be a good deed, He will multiplies it and gives from Himself a great reward." Holy Qur'an (4:40)
4. COMMAND BELONGS TO ALLAH
The fourth truth which causes man to become Allah's servants is the fact that he exercises no control over any part of this world, nor can he determine any of its events, or handle the incidents that may befall him, such as death, life and other happenings. He has no choice but to accept unquestioningly and without objection. Thus his submission to such events is an innately compelled submission to Allah's command and will:
"No soul is to die save by Allah's leave and at an appointed term. Whoever desires the reward of this world, We will give him of it; and whoever desires the reward of the Hereafter, We will give him of it; We will reward the thankful." Holy Qur'an (3:145)
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"No calamity befalls save by Allah's leave. And whoever believes in Allah, He guides his heart. And Allah is Omniscient of everything." Holy Qur'an (64:10)
Naturally then, man has but to submit to Allah all his affairs, to handle them as He wishes, consenting to the fate and destiny prescribed by Allah:
"…They said: Have we any part in the matter? Say (0 Muhammad): The matter belongs to Allah entirely..." Holy Qur'an (3:154)
"...His is the creation and the command. Blessed be Allah, the Lord of the worlds! ." Holy Qur'an (7:54)
Consequently, a believer would say: "...I confide my matter to Allah. Allah is seer of (His) servants." Holy Qur'an (40:44)
Obviously then, handling "the cause of events is beyond the ken of man's ability. Organizing the universe, life, events and in fact all phenomena, are done according to Allah's will. Thus the reality of man's surrender to Allah the Exalted is made clear. In this connection, man embodies the truth of consent, submission and servitude to Allah's volition and wisdom. He is unable to act or influence events independently, except by Allah's permission.
"Yet you will not, unless Allah wills for Allah is Omniscient, All- wise." Holy Qur'an (76:30)
In the glorious hadith (saying, tradition), from Imam Ali bin Musa Al-Ridha (a.s.) it is said that Allah the Almighty had said: "0 son of A dam, on the basis of My will you can will whatever you like for yourself, and on the basis of the authority delegated by Me to you, you can perform your duties as divinely (ordained for) you. It is on the basis of My favor to you that you have become capable of disobeying Me.
I have bestowed upon you the ability to hear, to see and to be strong. Hence, whatever good you received, you receive it from Allah. And whatever evil befalls you is because of your own self. As to your good deeds, lam closer than you yourself are. And to your evil deeds you
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yourself are closer than lam. This is why lam not accountable for what I do. It is they (mankind) who are accountable."
The fact that Allah has sovereignty that is, His absolute management of the creation and the universe, by way of deciding their fate, destiny and consequent of events, is a natt4ral product of the fact that all power and possession are Allah's. The powerful Owner is the One Who manages and arranges things and happenings, according to His own forceful, creative will, capable of enacting the good and carrying it throughout.
Thus, man sees himself a being tied to the orbit of an orderly, cosmic servitude and surrender to Allah, leading him to his intentional and freely chosen submission.
5. LORDSHIP BELONGS TO ALLAH
The fifth truth that makes man serve Allah is the fact that Allah is the Lord, the Benefactor and the patron of man. It is He Who bestowed upon man his means of living and whatever he may need in this life, and favored him with His care, kindness and compassion, from when he was but semen in his mother's womb, until the Last moment of his life. Logically then it is this Beneficent Lord Who deserves thanksgiving and worship. There is no bestower, nor a giver in the world other than Allah the Exalted.
In this respect the call of the Qur'an came as a reminder to man, awakening him from his sloth and carelessness: "Say: 0 people of the Book'! Come to a word common between us and you, that we worship none but Allah, and that we associate none with Him, and we take not one another for Lords, a part from Allah.' And if they turn away, then say: Bear witness that we are Muslims." Holy Qur'an (3:64)
"I shall withdraw from you and that to which you pray beside Allah, and I shall pray to my Lord. It may be that, in prayer to my Lord, I shall not be unblest." Holy Qur'an (19:48)
"Nay, but Allah must you serve, and be among the thankful!" Holy Qur'an (39:66)
In this way the Qur'an confirms the inseparable connection between thanksgiving and servitude, and the bestowing of gifts and grace. It
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regards admitting Allah's munificence, and offering gratitude through worshipping Him, as a universal duty expected for His acts of provision. It also regards denying the bounties and the gifts of Allah as infidelity and rebellion against the principle of servitude to Allah the Exalted.
"They know the favor of Allah and then deny it. Most of them are the unbelievers." Holy Qur'an (16:83)
"So eat of the lawful and good (thing) that Allah has pro vided you, and thank for the bounty of Allah if it is Him you worship." Holy Qur'an (16:114)
Clearly then, the aforementioned truths: Creation, Sovereignty, Omnipotence, Command and Lordship, are Allah's. These attributes all coalesce to draw for us the picture of the relation between man and his Creator. They explain the shape of that relation, so as to assert the motives of man's submission to Allah alone, and his surrender to His will, intentionally, willingly and consciously,
by way of contemplating on this relationship established between man and his Creator. In this way man can comprehend the difference between man and his Creator, and the difference between genetic and voluntary servitude, from which he may infer that: Since it is Allah Who is the Creator, the Owner, the Omnipotent, the Dominant, the Lord, the Beneficent, the Benevolent, the Patron, then, we must worship Him alone, and be sincere in our servitude to Him only.