In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful
An extract from my letter I sent to His Excellency Shaykh Abu Al-A`la Al-Mawdudy concerning the difference between `Ibadah and obedience
On 2/4//1392 A.H., Abu Al-A`la Al-Mawdudy sent me a letter no. 1526, dated 2 Safar, 1392 A.H. explaining his case and Tufayl’s, his successor in the leadership of Islamic Group. I replied in the same year when I was the President of the Islamic University in Al-Madinah Al-Munawwarah and the following is some of my reply:
Some brothers from Milbar living in the country told me that Your Eminence opine that `Ibadah is clarified by obedience and that when someone obeys another, he worships him. `Ibadah is also interpreted as enslavement and idolization.
Furthermore, Shaykh `Umar ibn Ahmad Al-Millibary, owner of Al-Salsabil Magazine, wrote to me concerning this issue asserting what is mentioned about you and the Group. He sent me a copy of a survey pertaining to this question. You will find an enclosed copy of it.
This question appears strange for me so I determined to write to you before I receive your letter to know whether these statements which are attributed to you are true. So, please let me know your opinion. I see that obedience has a wider scope than `Ibadah. Every act of `Ibadah a person does in compliance with Allah’s Shari`ah is seen as obedience, but not every act of obedience to anything other than Allah (Exalted be He) is seen as `Ibadah. This matter needs more elaboration. Obedience to Allah (Exalted be He) is seen as `Ibadah when a person seeks to please Him. However, it may be valid or corrupt depending on whether the requirements of `Ibadah are met.
Please tell me in details your view on this question. It adds further explanation that `Ibadah may be denied when tainted with Shirkas Allah says concerning Mushrik (one who associates others with Allah in His Divinity or worship), ““Nor will you worship that which I worship.” Surah Al-Kafirun, 109: 3 . Ibadah is negated because of their acts of Shirk. It is known that they worship Allah (Exalted be He) during times of hardships through showing Tawhid, performing Hajj and `Umrah, offering Sadaqah and so on.
Since these acts of `Ibadah are spoiled by Shirk, disbelief in the Hereafter and other kinds of disbelief during times of prosperity, it is permissible to negate the `Ibadah of people who show it. Furthermore, I would like to explain another point. The person who obeys the authorities or rulers in something forbidden by Allah (Exalted be He) is not seen worshipping them when he does not believe in the permissibility of obedience to anyone in something opposing Allah’s Shari`ah. They rather obey these rules out of fear of their evils or vain desires while they know that they are sinful. Due to their act of obedience, such persons are sinners, not Mushriks, unless they obey such rulers in matters which do not involve Shirk. Examples of these matters include striking, killing, and taking someone’s money unjustly. There are many other examples that come under this heading. I think this view is known by the people of knowledge whose status is below yours. I find it imperative to ask you about this and know your detailed opinion so that I can refute any claim against you and support you with sure knowledge and show the truth concerning the Islamic Group to any one who seeks it.
If what is attributed to you is true, we can discuss it thoroughly and examine the problematic issues using the evidence. The truth is the long-sought aim of everyone.
We ask Allah (Exalted be He) to grant us success to do what pleases Him and to comprehend His Religion and to adhere to it. May Allah purify our hearts and deeds and make the truth our long-sought aim wherever we are, for He is the Most Generous. As-salamu `alaykum warahmatullah wabarakatuh (May Allah’s Peace, Mercy, and Blessings be upon you!)
President of the Islamic University in Al-Madinah Al-Munawwarah
Abdul-`Aziz ibn `Abdullah ibn Baz