Guidelines for the Correct Worship – Shaykh Saalih Fawzaan

AUTHOR: Shaikh Saalih bin Fawzaan Al-Fawzaan
SOURCE: Introduction of his treatise “Haqeeqat-ut-Tasawwuf”

All praise is for Allaah, Lord of the worlds. He completed for us the Religion, perfected for us His blessing, and chose Islaam for us as a Religion, commanding us to cling onto it at the time of death, as He says: “O you who believe, fear Allaah as He ought to be feared, and do not die except while you are Muslims.” [Surah Aali ‘Imraan: 102]

This was the same instruction that Ibraaheem and Ya’qqob gave to their children: “Or were you witnesses when death approached Ya’qoob and he said to his children: ‘What will you worship after me?’ They said: ‘We will worship your God and the God of your forefathers, Ibraaheem, Isma’eel and Ishaaq – one God and to Him we submit as Muslims.’” [Surah Al-Baqarah: 133]

O Allaah, send Your peace and blessings upon Your servant and messenger – our prophet, Muhammad – and upon all of his family members and Companions.

To proceed:

Allaah has created mankind and jinn for the purpose of worshipping Him, as He states: “And I have not created the jinn and mankind except to worship Me.” [Surah Adh-Dhaariyaat: 56]

Their honor, dignity and happiness in this life and the Hereafter lie in this matter (of worship). This is because they are in need of their Lord – They cannot separate themselves from their need for Him for even a moment, whereas He stands in no need of them and their worship, as Allaah says: “If you are ungrateful (by disbelieving), then verily, Allaah is not in need of you.” [Surah Az-Zumar: 7]

And Allaah says: “And Moosaa said: ‘If you disbelieve – you and everyone else on earth – then verily, Allaah is Rich (in need of no one), Most Praiseworthy.” [Surah Ibraaheem: 8]

Worship is the right that Allaah has over His creatures, however, its benefits return back to them. So whoever refuses to worship Allaah, he is an arrogant rejecter. And whoever worships Allaah but also worships someone else besides Him, he is a polytheist. And whoever worships Allaah alone based on that which He did not legislate, he is an innovator. And whoever worships Allaah alone according to what He has legislated, he is a monotheist believer.

Since Allaah’s servants are in critical need of worship and they are unable to grasp its true nature – which Allaah is pleased with and which is in conformity with His Religion – on their own, Allaah did not entrust them to themselves. Rather, he sent messengers to them and revealed Books in order to clarify the meaning and nature of this worship, as He said: “And We have sent to every nation a messenger, (saying): Worship Allaah and avoid the false deities.” [Surah An-Nahl: 36]

And Allaah says: “And We did not send before you a messenger except that We revealed to him that: ‘There is no deity that has the right to be worshipped except Me, so worship Me alone.’” [Surah Al-Anbiyaa: 25]

So whoever opposes what the messengers have clarified and what the Books have revealed concerning the Worship of Allaah, and worships Allaah according to what his taste dictates, what his soul desires and what the devils among mankind and jinn have made seem fair to him, then he has deviated from Allaah’s Path, and his worship will not be in reality worship of Allaah. Rather, it will be worship of his desires. Allaah says: “And who is more astray than he who follows his desires without any guidance from Allaah.” [Surah Al-Qasas: 50]

These types of people are many amongst mankind, and at the head of their ranks are the Christians, as well as those who have deviated among the sects of this ummah, such as the Sufis, for indeed they have devised guidelines in worship that are in opposition to what Allaah has legislated in many of their religious practices.

This becomes clear when we clarify the true meaning of worship as has been legislated by Allaah upon the tongue of the Messenger of Allaah (sallAllaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam), and also when we clarify the deviations in the meaning of this worship, which the Sufis are upon today.

The worship that Allaah has legislated is founded upon firmly established principles and rules, which can be summarized as follows:

FirstWorship is dependent upon revelation. This means that there is no room for personal views in it. Rather, the only one who has the right to legislate what is and isn’t worship is Allaah, as He said to His Prophet: “So stand firm and straight as you have been commanded, as well as those who turn in repentance with you and transgress not.” [Surah Hood: 112]

And Allaah says: “Then We placed you upon a religious legislation (Sharee’ah) from the Commandment (of Allaah), so follow it. And do not follow the desires of those who don’t know.” [Surah Al-Jaathiyah: 18]

And He said, quoting His Prophet: “I only follow what has been revealed to me.” [Surah Al-Ahqaaf: 9]

SecondWorship must be done sincerely for Allaah’s sake and it must be free from any traces of Shirk (polytheism), as Allaah, the Most High, says: “So whoever hopes to meet his Lord, then let him perform righteous deeds and not mix any partners into the worship of his Lord.”[Surah Al-Kahf: 110]

So if any aspect of Shirk (polytheism) mixes in with worship, that worship becomes nullified, as Allaah says: “And if they commit Shirk, all the good deeds they used to perform would surely become invalidated from them.” [Surah Al-An’aam: 88]

And Allaah says: “And it has indeed been revealed to you and to those before you (that): ‘If you mix partners in the worship of Allaah (Shirk), then surely, all your good deeds will be cancelled out and you will certainly be from among the losers. Nay, but rather worship Allaah alone and be from among the grateful.” [Surah Az-Zumar: 65]

ThirdThe person we follow with regard to worship and the one who clarifies it to us is none other than the Messenger of Allaah (sallAllaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam), as Allaah says: “You indeed have in the Messenger of Allaah a good example.” [Surah Al-Ahzaab: 21]

And He says: “And whatever the Messenger gives you, then take it. And whatever he forbids you from, then refrain from it.” [Surah Al-Hashr: 7]

Also, the Prophet (sallAllaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said: “Whoever does a deed that is not in accordance with our Command (i.e. Sunnah), then it is rejected.” [Saheeh Muslim]

And in one narration: “Whoever introduces something new into our Command (i.e. Sunnah), which is not part of it, it is rejected.” [Agreed Upon]

And he (sallAllaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said: “Pray as you have seen me praying.” [Agreed Upon]

And he (sallAllaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said: “Take from me your religious rites (i.e. of Hajj).”[Saheeh Muslim]

And there are many more textual proofs.

FourthWorship is confined to specific time-frames and limitations, which one is not permitted to challenge or transgress, like the prayer for example. Allaah says: “Verily, the prayer is enjoined upon the believers at fixed times.” [Surah An-Nisaa: 103]

Another example is the Hajj (Pilgrimage). Allaah says: “Hajj (occurs) in well-known months.”[Surah Al-Baqarah: 197]

And we also have the example of fasting. Allaah says: “The Month of Ramadaan in which was revealed the Qur’aan – a guide for mankind and clear proofs for the guidance and criterion (between right and wrong). So whoever sights the (crescent indicating the) month, then he must observe the fast.” [Surah Al-Baqarah: 185]

FifthWorship must be founded upon love for Allaah, as well as submission to Him and fear and hope in Him. Allaah says: “Those who they call upon (in worship), they themselves seek a way to their Lord, as to which of them is nearest to Him. And they hope for His Mercy and fear His Punishment.” [Surah Al-Israa: 57]

And He says about His prophets: “Verily, they used to rush to do good deeds, and they would call on Us, longing (Our reward) and dreading (Our punishment), and they would humble themselves submissively before Us.” [Surah Al-Anbiyaa: 90]

Allaah says: “Say: ‘If you truly love Allaah, then follow me, Allaah will love you and forgive you your sins. And Allaah is Most-Forgiving, Bestower of Mercy.’ Say: ‘Obey Allaah and the Messenger. But if you turn away, then verily Allaah loves not the disbelievers.’” [Surah Aali ‘Imraan: 31-32]

Here, Allaah mentions the signs that indicate one’s love for Allaah, as well as its fruits.

As for its signs, then that is in:

  • (1) Following the Messenger (sallAllaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) and
  • (2) Obeying Allaah and the Messenger.

And as for its fruits, then they are:

  • (1) Achieving Allaah’s love,
  • (2) Forgiveness of sins, and
  • (3) Mercy from Him.

SixthThe obligation of performing worship does not get removed from a sane-minded individual that is responsible for his actions from the time he attains puberty to the time he dies. Allaah says:“And do not die except while you are Muslims.” [Surah Aali ‘Imraan: 102]

And He says: “And worship your Lord until certainty (i.e. death) reaches you.” [Surah Al-Hijr: 99]

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