Fatawa >Preamble to the Science of Jurisprudence --- Acts of Worship (Ibadaat)


Preamble to the Science of Jurisprudence --- Acts of Worship (Ibadaat)


1. Allah, the Exalted, has ordained that the mukallaf carry out certain acts for His sake as a sign of submission to Him. Such devotions shall not be considered properly executed unless they are embarked upon with the niyyah of qurbah to Him. These observances are called acts of worship.
There are other things that Allah has recommended that His servants carry out. But He did not make it obligatory that they carry them out on the same principle of niyyah of qurbah. Thus, the worshipper is free to observe such acts either for Allah’s sake or for the person’s own reasons. Either way, they should both be appropriate and proper. These devotions are called Tawsilat (done for their expected good).

2. In Shari’a Law, Ibadaat consists of taharah (wudhu, ghusl, and tayamum), prayer, adhan ’the call for prayer", iqamah "the inaugural part of prayer; a shortened form of adhan" , and prayer itself), fasting, i’tikaf "applying oneself zealously to the service of Allah, usually in a mosque", hajj, umrah, tawaf, zakah, khums, jihad, kaffarah, itq. 

Others, among obligatory as well as recommended devotions, could be personal hygiene, of body and clothes, spending one’s money on spouse and relatives, maintaining one’s kinship, teaching shari’a rules, shrouding the dead and burying them, settlement of debt, returning what is deposited in trust, giving counsel to those who seek it, being good to one’s parents, returning the greeting, fighting oppression, enjoining what is good, and forbidding what is evil, rescuing the human soul in peril, reciting the Holy Qur’an, and paying respect to the holy shrines of the Prophet (s.a.w.) and the Imams (a.s.).

3. What is meant by niyyah of qurbah (intention of seeking proximity to Allah, the Most High) is that you should commission the action for His sake. This should be your motive for embarking on the action. Of a secondary importance is whether the cause for the actions was fear of Allah’s punishment, desire of His reward, or love of and faith in that He is worthy of obedience. Holding such a worship would be proper if it stemmed from the intention of seeking closeness to Him. Making the niyyah by specifying that particular act of worship is wajib or mustahab is immaterial.

4. If the mukallaf carried out the obligation, such as maintaining his spouse, with the niyyah of qurbah, they would spare themselves the scourge of Allah’s wrath and reap, by Allah’s grace, His reward. If, however, their reasons for commissioning the action were, say, their love for their wife per se, they would ward off the punishment, but would not qualify for the reward. 
By the same token, if the rich spend of their wealth in any of the avenues of good, with the niyyah of qurbah, they would certainly warrant Allah’s reward, and their benevolence would fall under the banner of sadaqah. If they did not contemplate such a niyyah, they would not achieve the reward. However, in most circumstances, Allah would make them a favour by accepting their deeds, for He is the Most Benevolent.

5. If the mukallaf carried out the obligation with the niyyah of qurbah and the personal motive, in such a way that if there were no personal motive they would have carried it out any way, they would be spared the punishment and reap the reward. As for obligatory acts of worship, the mukallaf should not expect to be spared the punishment, unless they take to the devotions with the niyyah of qurbah in mind.

6. The niyyah of qurbah would materialize whether or not the worshipper was able to determine the particular act of worship. For example, holding prayer facing the qiblah (the direction of Ka’ba one must face while in prayer) is an obligatory segment of prayer. The worshipper may be aware of the direction of qiblah, whereby they can say their prayer with the niyyah of qurbah. However, identifying where the qiblah could be may require the worshipper to ask. If the matter is not resolved, they may be required to pray twice in two different directions with the niyyah of qurbah and without giving preference to any of the two prayers being the required one.

7. Should the worshipper know that a given action was not sanctioned by Allah, it is forbidden for them to commission it with the niyyah of qurbah. If they go ahead with it, this will constitute an innovation (bid’ah) which is haraam. However, if they were not sure whether or not it was called for and that they were inclined to commission it in the hope that it was, they shall not be deemed sinful. This is called ihtiyat, which has already been discussed.

8. Hypocrisy is commissioning the act with the intention of earning people’s praise and admiration. 
In ibadaat, this is haraam because any act of worship performed for this motive is batil )null and void, e.g. a contract becomes batil when it does not satisfy the divine laws of Islam). The person who commissioned the action would be deemed sinner; this, of course, is irrespective of whether they embarked on the action to covet human praise alone or theirs and that of Allah. As is evident from the hadith this is shirk (ascribing partners to Allah).

In voluntary acts of worship, showing off is not haraam; as such the action shall not be deemed batil, For example, if someone provides for the poor, kin folk, and be good to one’s parents, not for anything else other than earning praise, love, and seeking fame in return, their deed would be deemed proper. Accordingly, they shall not be dubbed wrongdoers. However, they might not earn greater reward from Allah, the Most High.

9. If hypocrisy took place after the worshipper had finished the devotion, it would not invalidate the devotion. For example, having completed their prayer, someone attempted to talk about it to the others to impress them.

10. The person may be sincere in their devotion, having trust in Allah, yet they are ill spoken of and how irreligious they may be. In such a case, there is no harm in their showing off how religious they are just to rid themselves of that accusation. They are justified in their works and their devotion is valid.

11. It is makrouh, but not haraam, to boast about one’s devotions and good deeds. ".. therefore, do not attribute purity to your souls; He knows him best who guards ’against evil’. (32/53) The exception being that if the others were going to benefit from talking of one’s experience as it may spur them into obeying Allah’s dictates, and that this possibility was the overriding motive of the worshipper.

12. There is no harm in the worshipper taking pride in their devotion, if they were accidentally seen performing an act of worship. This is because such a feeling is not makrouh and it does not detract from their name.

13. What is not of hypocrisy is one’s zealous involvement in worship with the intention of winning others over to be devout or to set a good example and make godliness closer to their hearts. This should, though, be free from self-aggrandizement. Otherwise, it is hypocrisy that is haraam.

14. Pomposity is the feeling of doing Allah a favour by one’s devotion. The person might think that they paid back to Allah all His dues. Although this is haraam, yet it does not invalidate the worship. However, the reward for it might not be granted.
Yet, there is neither harm nor sin in feeling elated by one’s devotion.

 15. A given act of worship may entail some physical or psychological benefits. If the worshipper embark on such a worship for the sake of Allah and those benefits - such as performing wudhu with the niyyah of qurbah and seeking personal hygiene - would commissioning the act be valid? 

If the niyyah was a sufficient motive for the worshipper to embark on that act of worship, i.e. even without considering the benefits, the act is valid. If the urge for commissioning the action was not exclusive for Allah, i.e. coupled with those additional benefits, the prayer shall be deemed batil.

16. Faith is a fundamental condition for the acceptability of any worship. 

17. Uttering the niyyah of qurbah for any act of worship is not a condition. It is an attitude of mind.

18. Generally speaking, taking to voluntary acts of worship discretely is more superior than performing them openly. The exception is that of a devotee embarking on a public worship to make the devotion a catalyst to Allah’s Obedience.

19. Standing in for a living person, i.e. performing acts of worship for them, is not permissible. For example, one cannot perform prayer for a relative, a friend, or any other living soul. This goes for both obligatory and voluntary prayers. Such devotion by proxy is not acceptable. Mustahab hajj, tawaf, and umrah fall outside such prohibition. In a special case, which will be discussed later, obligatory hajj performed by proxy should be valid.

However, this does not mean that a person cannot carry out certain other voluntary obligations, in all the avenues of good, on behalf of other people. Providing for the poor and performing visitation to the holy shrines are just two examples of such works. 

Should a person feel the need to do another one a service by way of worship, they are free to do so by performing that particular act of worship directly, i.e. without the niyyah of performing it by proxy. They could then ask Allah to accept it and register its thawab (reward) for the intended person, in the trust that it will be accepted.

20. It is permissible to perform all acts of worship, be they wajib or mustahab, for someone who had passed away. Likewise, performing such acts directly by the person carrying out the devotion and dedicating the potential thawab to the deceased, as has already been discussed in the previous paragraph, is in order.

21. Just volunteering to perform acts of worship for another person is in order, so is hiring someone for the same purpose. However, there is a fundamental condition for the validity of the work. The overriding objective for the person charged with the task should be the fear of Allah, the Exalted that they could be receiving the remuneration without their being ready and able to fully honour the commitment. 

It is sufficient for the hired person to acquire this minimum level of niyyah of qurbah, whiteout which any act of worship would not be deemed acceptable. Should the hired person be ready to receive payment at any rate, i.e. without being able to receive the money unless they carried the work out, their proxy shall not be in order and the work not be deemed sound. This is because their objective has been pure business, in that they were not mindful of their duty towards Allah and safeguarding His right.

22. Regardless of a person’s sincere worship and submission to his Creator, it is haraam to assume that they are beyond His punishment. By the same token, it is haraam for them to give up all hope on Allah’s mercy and forgiveness, irrespective of what misdemeanours or sins they may have committed.
Assumption of being spared Allah’s chastisement or being denied His mercy are among cardinal sins.

23. Acts of worship are not confined to certain devotions such as prayer and fasting. From a shari’a law standpoint, a person can transform all work in different spheres of life to acts of worship, if they carried them out for the sake of Allah and in the trust that they meet with His acceptance.
This was an outline of the rules and regulations of ibadaat. We will discuss each of which in some detail in the following order:
a. First things first. Prayer is the backbone of all acts of worship.

b. We have given preference to matters of taharah because it is a prerequisite for prayer.

c. We shall touch on the rules of hajj since they have been discussed extensively in a separate treatise called "Manasikul Hajj".
d. Although zakah and khums are among ibadaat, yet we shall discuss them under section two of the Book because their financial dimension is more salient and more important. Jihad will be discussed under section four because it falls within the remit of the code of general conduct.
Accordingly, we will deal with ibadaat, starting with taharah, then prayer and fast, then i’tikaf, followed by hajj and umrah. We will conclude the first section with kaffarah.