Second: Ethical Actions as the Worship of Allah (Glory be to Him)
Worship in Arabic language is called Ibadah that has many meanings including: obedience and submission. In fact, the word Ibadah or Ubudiyyah denote a highest degree of obedience, humbleness and modesty.
The transitive form of this word is Ta abid that means to make someone or something easy, soft or compliant. (1)
Meaning of Ibadah (Worship) in Islamic Terminology:
Ibadah (worship) in Islamic terminology means an utmost kind of humbleness with perfect love for Allah (Glory be to Him). Shaykh Al-Islam said in this context: " Worship that was ordered in Islamic Shari ah includes humbleness and love. Therefore, it contains the extreme humbleness in the blessed court of Allah (Glory be to Him) with the highest degree of love for Him." (2)
As for the branches of worship and its denotations, it is inclusive of all what Allah (Glory be to Him) loves and is pleased with, whether, words or deeds; Internal or external. Thus, prayer, almsgiving, fasting, pilgrimage, truthful talk, honest dealing, honoring the parents and similar acts are included in the meaning of worship.
In addition to that, the love for Allah and for His Messenger the Prophet (may the peace and the blessings of Allah be upon him) and the fear of Allah and turning to Him with sincerity and pure heart as well as other similar emotions are a part of worship. (3)
Every thing that is intended and done to achieve nearness to Allah (Glory be to Him) or to worship Him is loved by Allah whether words or actions of both outward and inward as was stated by Shaykh Al-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah (may Allah have mercy on him) when he said: "Everything that was ordered by Shari ah is obligatory or preferable." (4)
The implementation of moral values of Islam was ordered by Shari ah so it is between obligatory and preferred (Mustahabb). We should bear in our mind that Allah (Glory be to Him) loves good ethics and He is pleased with them. Therefore, embodying those ethical values represents a sort of worship and devotion to Allah (Glory be to Him).
Muslim scholars have stated that there are two conditions required for the acceptance of any effort in Islam: sincerity and the action must be in the line with the tradition of the Prophet (may the peace and the blessings of Allah be upon him). The sincerity here refers to any action that is done in order to achieve the pleasure of Allah (Glory be to Him) as the Prophet (may the peace and the blessings of Allah be upon him) said: "Actions are not but by intentions and every person will have only what he intended.” (5) Whilst the imitation of the Prophet (may the peace and the blessings of Allah be upon him) means to follow his footsteps in every action and to follow his tradition that was established by the Prophet (may the peace and the blessings of Allah be upon him) as he (may the peace and the blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “Whoever does an act which is not in agreement with our matter, will have it rejected.” (6)
Furthermore, there are many statements of our pious ancestors in this regard. It was reported from Al-Hasan (7) and Sa id ibn Jubayr (8) (may Allah have mercy on them) that they said: "No word or deed is acceptable without intention, likewise, no word, deed and intention are acceptable without their coincidence with the Sunnah (or the tradition of the Prophet (may the peace and the blessings of Allah be upon him))." (9)
Shaykh Al-Islam (may Allah have mercy on him) said in this regard: "Any worship (in Islam) has two prerequisites: one of them is that no one should be intended by worship except Allah (Glory be to Him) and the second is that Allah (Glory be to Him) should not be worshipped but only through His orders or prohibition. He should not be worshipped through one's self desires, doubtful actions or heresies. Allah (Glory be to Him) says: “So whoever would hope for the meeting with his Lord - let him do righteous work and not associate in the worship of his Lord anyone." [Al-Kahf: 163].
The righteous deed is only that which is based on the sincerity and purity, that includes all good deeds and good deeds are always loved by Allah (Glory be to Him) and by His Messenger (may the peace and the blessings of Allah be upon him). Good deed is merely what was ordered by Shari ah as an obligatory or preferably.
With regard to the verse that says: “Let him not associate in the worship of his Lord anyone.”[Al-Kahf: 163] (10), it refers to make devotion purely for Allah (Glory be to Him).
As for the requirement of the abovementioned two conditions in the Islamic moral values; sincerity and imitation, there is no doubt that the first one or the sincerity is an obligatory issue. Therefore, every ethical action must be done for the pleasure of Allah (Glory be to Him) and to get the rewards from Him, not for praises or admirations from the people or for other worldly gains.
We should bear in our mind that any intention far from Allah (Glory be to Him) destroys the good deed and spoils its reward. Allah (Glory be to Him) says: “And it was already revealed to you and to those before you that if you should associate [anything] with Allah, your work would surely become worthless, and you would surely be among the losers." [Az-Zumar: 65] And the Messenger of Allah (may the peace and the blessings of Allah be upon him) said in a Qudsi Hadith that he narrated from his Lord Who said: “I am so self-sufficient that I am in no need of having an associate. Thus he who does an action for someone else's sake as well as Mine will have that action renounced by Me to him whom he associated with Me.” (11) Moreover, the verses and Hadiths in this meaning are many.
The second element for the acceptance of any deed is the adherence to the tradition of the Prophet (may the peace and the blessings of Allah be upon him). However, the moral values often do not have specific methods or certain models that must be followed in practicing the ethical actions, rather, the moral values have broader forms and practices that are not limited to some repeated methods. The only condition in applying those moral values is that they must be pure and free from forbidden matter and must be away from leading to any forbidden action.
For example; consultation in Islam is a defined moral value, as Allah (Gory be to Him) ordered His Messenger (may the peace and the blessings of Allah be upon him): “And consult them in the matter.” [A’ali- Imran: 159] And Allah (Gory be to Him) said: “And those who have responded to their lord and established prayer and whose affair is [determined by] consultation among themselves.” [Ash-Shuraa: 38]. Therefore, it is prohibited to neglect or abolish this value in political or social life. As for the way of application of this value, people should choose the method and manner of the implementation that suits their situation and circumstances; there is no need to be limited to some form rigidly. (12)
The same would be said in many other moral values such as: justice, advice and other similar moral values.
It is also amongst the results of this characteristic that the moral values of Islam represent the true form of good deed and the door can obtain the highest degrees and loftiest grades through these ethical actions, rather, some of these moral actions become obligatory specially when there was no one to do that, like; establishing the justice, saying the truth, supporting the oppressed and so on. In some cases, implementing these moral values becomes more meritorious than some un-obligatory worship of fasting and prayer, as the Prophet (may the peace and the blessings of Allah be upon him) said in a Qudsi Hadith that he reported from his Lord Who said: “I declare war against him who shows hostility to a pious worshipper of Mine. And the most beloved things with which My slave comes seeking nearness to Me, is what I have enjoined upon him; and My slave keeps on coming closer to Me through performing Nawafil (praying or doing extra deeds besides what is obligatory) till I love him.” (13)
Even some un-obligatory forms of ethical actions are more meritorious than some un-obligatory worship. It was reported on the authority of Abu Darda' (may Allah be pleased with him), that the Prophet (may the peace and the blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “Nothing is heavier on the scale of a believing slave (of Allah) on the Day of Resurrection than good conduct. Indeed Allah dislikes the rude and disrespectful.” (14)
(1) Ibn Manzur , Lsan Al-Arab (3/270), Al-Ferozabadi: Al-Qamus Al-Muhit, p. (1/311) and Al-Mu jam Al-Wasit, the Arabic Language Academy, (2/579).
(2) Ibn Taymiyyah, Al- Ubudiyyah, p. 44, Al-Maktab Al-Islami, edition 5th the year 1399A.H.
(3) Ibid. p. 38.
(4) Ibid. p. 70.
(5) Agreed upon between Al-Bukhari and Muslim. See: Ibn Hajar, Fat'h Al-Bari, (1/9) and Sahih Muslim. See: Sahih Muslim with commentary of An-Nawawi, (4/571-572).
(6) Narrated by Muslim. See: Sahih Muslim with commentary of An-Nawawi, (4/313).
(7) He is Al-Hasan ibn Abu Al-Hasan Al-Basri, a freed slave of Al-Ansar. He was a Tabi I who met any of the companions of the Prophet (may the peace and the blessings of Allah be upon him). He was a noble person and a famous jurist who died in 110 A.H. when he was about 90 years old. See: Siyar Aalam An-Nubala' (4/563) and Taqrib At-Tahdhib p. 160.
(8) Sa id bin Jubair Al-Asadi Al-Kufi, one of the freed slaves, a jurist and interpreter of the Glorious Qur'an who was killed by Al-Hajjaj in 95 A.H. yet he did not complete 50 0f his age. See: Siyar Aalam An-Nubala' (4/321) and Taqrib At-Tahdhib, p. 321.
(9) Ibn Taymiyyah: Al-Hisbah, p. 111.
(10) Ibn Taymiyyah, Al- Ubudiyyah, p.74-75.
(11) Narrated by Muslim. See: Sahih Muslim with commentary of An-Nawawi, (5/735).
(12) Dr. Yusuf Al-Qaradhawi, Al-Khasa'is Al- Aammah Lil Islam, (The General Characteristics of Islam), p. 223-222, Mu'assasah Ar-Risalah, edition 3rd, the year 1405A.H..
(13) Reported by Al-Bukhari. See: Ibn Hajar, Fat'h Al-Bari, (11/340-341).
(14) Reported by At-Tirmidhi and others, and was graded by At-Tirmidhi as good and authentic. See: Al-Mubarakfuri, Tuhfat Al- Ahwadhi (6/140-141) and Al-Albani, Silsilah Al-Ahadith As-Sahihah, (2/562).