Without doubt, we all hate the slavery and subjugation we see upon the earth today. That being the subjugation of men over men, where some subjugate others, humiliating them and trampling over them. This is indeed hated. However, what we will talk about today is different to this. It is as Rabi’ ibn ‘Amir radhiallahu ‘anhu said, “Allah has sent us to deliver whomsoever chooses, from the worship of men, to the‘ubudiyyah (worship and servitude) of Allah. And from the narrowness of this world, to the vastness of this world and the Hereafter. And from the oppression of the (false) religions, to the justice of Islam.
The Noble Ones
The ‘ubudiyyah (submission and worship) mentioned here is the ‘ubudiyyah to Allah, which makes a person the noblest of all the creation upon the earth. One of the Salaf said in a couplet:
“What has made me noble and precious,
Is that You, O Allah, have made me enter into Your submission,
And You have made me one of the followers,
Of Your Prophet, Muhammad sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam.”
This ‘ubudiyyah – this submission and worship – is what Allah refers to in His Book: “I have not created the Jinn and Mankind, except to worship Me.” [Al-Qur’an 51:55] In another verse, Allah says: “O Mankind! Worship your Lord who created you from a single person.” [Al-Qur’an 4:1] But how do we define this ‘ubudiyyah? This ‘ubudiyyah is all that Allah loves and is pleased with, whether it is an action of the heart, tongue or limbs.2 We however, will specifically discuss the ‘ubudiyyah of the heart.3
Enslavement of the Heart
Allah – the Most High – has placed in everyone that He has created, a heart which must be filled; either with submission and servitude to Allah, or with submission and servitude to other than Allah. Every single heart has feelings, desires and inclinations. The question is: will those feelings, desires and inclinations be directed to Allah alone, or will they be directed to other than Allah? Only the former truly being the subjugation and servitude to Allah. The ‘ubudiyyah of the heart to things other than Allah are many. Sometimes it is submission and servitude to money, sometimes to power and position, sometimes to women; and other such things that people covet very much. However, what they covet can either lessen their servitude and worship of Allah, or completely nullify it!
The Slave of Wealth
Someone may ask: what is the proof that some people submit themselves to money and other such things? The proof is in the hadith of the Prophet sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam where he said, “Wretched is the worshipper of the Dirham, wretched is the worshipper of the Dinar … ” 4Someone may ask: how does this servitude to money manifest itself and what is it’s nature? It is when the heart becomes so in love with money, that it covers up, or suppresses the love for Allah. Even to the degree that the persons attempts to attain that wealth by any means possible – neither caring whether that wealth comes to him through lawful means; in obedience to Allah and His Messenger sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, or means that are unlawful and prohibited in the Religion.
Understand by reflection, that every single heart in all created things has feelings, desires and inclinations. It has the desire to love, to gain good and beneficial things for itself; It can feel fear, terror, and also it can submit and surrender. When its feelings, desires and inclinations are all directed towards Allah, then it is a heart that worships and serves Allah alone. Therefore, it fears only Allah, seeks and desires only Allah’s mercy, it loves Allah and whatever He loves; and it surrenders and submits itself only to Allah. However, when these feelings desires and inclinations are directed to other than Allah, then it is a heart which worships and serves that object which has captured and enslaved it.
Significance of Wealth
The forbiddance of the heart submitting to other than Allah should not be misunderstood to mean that Muslims must forsake the world and dealing with it. Rather, the true position of a Muslim is that which was with the Sahabah (Companions) radhiallahu ‘anhum. They held the wealth in their hands, yet none of this was in their hearts. 5 The point being made is that we are not trying to call the people to the opinion of some of the Sufis, who believe that it was forbidden for a Muslim to possess wealth and take part in any worldly transaction. Rather, it is obligatory for the Muslims to be the richest of people so that they may use this wealth as a means to help people and worship Allah – the One free from all imperfections.
Another form of submitting to other than Allah is when people submit and surrender their hearts to power and leadership. They are willing for humiliation to take hold of them and to abandon their scruples in order to gain votes during elections, or other such similar matters. They are prepared to humble themselves in front of other people, doing whatever is necessary for them to do in order to win over other peoples favour and thus gain that position. This is thus another form of submitting ones heart to other than Allah.
The Sincere ‘Ubudiyyah to Allah
As opposed to all of this, the true ‘ubudiyyah to Allah, the true submission and surrender of ones heart to Allah, is the same as when we say:Tawhid – to single out Allah alone for worship. When the person has this ‘ubudiyyah, he worships Allah alone, fears Allah alone, loves Allah and all his inclinations and desires are directed only to Allah. For this reason, Tawhid is the greatest deed a person can perform and the most beneficial deed a person can possess for himself upon the Day of Judgement. This is why the Prophet sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said,”Whoever witnesses: La ilaha illallah 6, sincerely, from his heart, will enter Paradise.” 7 Meaning, he actualised Tawhid in his life. Likewise, based upon this, we understand that any act of worship, any good action or nice manner – when it is not accompanied by this Tawhid – will not be accepted by Allah upon the Day of Judgement, no matter of what value it seemingly was.
The Greatness of Tawhid
What shows to you the greatness of this submission and worship of Allah in the heart, is the incident related in Sahih al-Bukhari (6/494) that the Prophet sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said, “A man sinned greatly against himself. So when death came, he said to his sons: When I die, burn me and crush me and scatter my ashes into the sea. For by Allah, if my Lord takes possession of me, He will punish me in a manner in which He has not punished anyone. So they did that to him. Then Allah said to the earth: Bring forth what you have taken – and there he was! Allah said to him: What induced you to do what you did? The man said: Due to fear of You, O my Lord. So Allah forgave him because of this.”This shows us the greatness of khashyah (fear), since this fear he had was one of the meanings included in al-‘ubudiyyah – the servitude to Allah.
This is why all actions – even if they were to fill the heavens and the earth – will not be accepted by Allah, unless these actions have sprouted from a person having pure submission, worship and servitude to Allah, worshipping Allah alone and not associating any partner along with Him in this worship – not falling into Shirk 8 Allah – the One free from all imperfections – says: “Allah does not forgive that any partners should be set-up with Him, but He forgives anything lesser than that to whomsoever He chooses. Whomsoever commits Shirk with Allah has indeed invented the most grievous sin.” [Al-Qur’an 4:48] Allah – the One free from all imperfections – also says: “And We came forth to what they brought from their actions, and We made it scattered dust.”
That which shows us the greatness of Tawhid also is this second incident: A Jewish boy who used to serve the Prophet sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam had become ill. So the Prophet sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam went to visit him and sat by his head and said, “Accept Islam (meaning: Testify to La ilaha ilallahu Muhammadur-Rasulullah).” The boy looked at his father who was with him. So his father said to him: Obey Abu’l-Qasim (i.e. the Prophet). So he accepted Islam. As the Prophet sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam was leaving, he said: “All praise is for Allah who saved this boy from the Fire.” 9 Meaning, that although this person had no good deeds, yet because of his saying this statement purely and sincerely from his heart, it was enough to save him from the Hellfire, and cause Him to enter Paradise.
The Fruits of Tawhid
So as this Tawhid strengthens in the heart, becoming stronger, firmer, and more well-rooted, then as a result, one’s deeds will likewise multiply and his worship of Allah will become greater and more firm. Since, if a person realizes with ihklas (sincerity) and yaqin (certainty) in his heart.10 That Allah – the Most High – is the one who has created him, then he knows that he should only worship Allah – the One free from all imperfections. As this becomes firmer in his heart, good deeds become more apparent and multiply in number.
Reflect upon the great Wisdom of Allah, in that when he created Hellfire, He created it with different levels and degrees. The highest level being the one having the least punishment and torment in it – which is for those people who had Tawhid, yet had many sins. Though they will be punished at this level, until they are purified from their sins – due to this Tawhid and ‘ubudiyyah to Allah alone in their hearts – they will eventually be saved from the Fire and admitted into Paradise. This level of Hellfire will then have no inhabitants left in it. This shows the greatness and virtue of Tawhid and the worship of Allah alone, due to which they will eventually be rescued from the Hellfire, not being eternally condemned in it.
The Prophetic Method
What also shows the importance of Tawhid is the life and example of the Prophet sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. It can be divided into two stages: The first stage is when he sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam was in Makkah. The second stage was in Al-Madinah. In Makkah his message was only to teach one thing; the worship of Allah alone without any partners – Tawhid or ‘ubudiyyah to Allah alone. The Prophet sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam did not call the people the leave any other sin, or to do any other good deed. During this period he only called the people to single out Allah in worship, since this is the foundation upon which all else is built.
We must understand that once a person has truly submitted his heart to the worship of Allah alone, he will then begin to fulfill all the obligations which Allah has placed upon him to the best of his ability. This is made clear by the statement of ‘A’ishah radhiallahu ‘anha – who said: “The first part (of the Qur’an) to be revealed was a Surah giving a detailed account of Paradise and Hell. Then, when people entered into the fold of Islam, came the revelation of what was halal (lawful) and haram (unlawful). Had the first revelation been: ‘Do not drink wine,’ they would have said: ‘We shall never give up wine.’ Had the first revelation been: Do not commit adultery and fornication, they would have said: ‘We shall never give up adultery and fornication.’ “11 This then is the foundation for which, if a person agrees, he will then agree and desire to give up all other sins and acts of disobedience.
It was only after Tawhid, the worship of Allah alone; and the willingness to submit to Him, was understood by the Companions – radhiallahu ‘anhum – and it had settled in their hearts, that Allah – the One free from all imperfections – began to order them with the various commands. It was then that the command was revealed to establish Prayer, pay the zakat (obligatory charity), fast in Ramadhan, then afterwards the command to make Hajj; and so on until all the commands which Allah – the Most High – and the Messenger sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallamhave forbidden. Once this worship of Allah alone, and the submission to Him have settled in the hearts, it is also upon the Muslim to leave, forsake and avoid that which Allah and His Messenger have forbidden.
The Principle of Ease
There is a very important principle here which shows the greatness of the Religion of Islam and the Shari’ah in terms of prohibitions; whether they came by way of the Qur’an or from the tongue of the Messenger sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. It is required of the Muslim to give up all that Allah and His Messenger sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam have forbidden, without compromise or distinction. As for the orders of Allah, whether in the Qur’an or from the Prophet sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, the Muslim is required to fulfill them to the best of his ability. This is because the Religion is one of ease. For example, regarding the command to perform Hajj, Allah revealed in His Book: “It is a command upon mankind to perform Hajj for Allah to the House, for whomsoever has the means to do so.” [Al-Qur’an 3:97] Meaning, the command is to be fulfilled is one is able, to the best of his ability. Since no Muslim – man or woman – can fulfill every command of Allah, whether it be from the obligatory duties or the recommended ones. As for those matters that Allah and His Messenger have forbidden, then they must be completely avoided, without any weakening in resolve.12
This message of ‘ubudiyyah to Allah – the One free from all imperfections – and singling Him out alone for worship, is the common message of all the Prophets and Messengers ‘alayhimus-salam. Every single Prophet and Messenger came to his people saying: “O people: Worship Allah alone, none other than Him has the right to be worshipped.” [Al-Qur’an 7:59] This was the message of the Prophet Nuh, Ibrahim, Musa, ‘Isa ibn Maryam ‘alayhimus-salam; and the seal and last of the Prophets, Muhammad sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. They all came with this same message.sunnahonline.com