Quranic Reflection No. 410. Ayat 2:21 – A Season of Worship

يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ اعْبُدُوا رَبَّكُمُ الَّذِي خَلَقَكُمْ وَالَّذِينَ مِنْ قَبْلِكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَتَّقُونَ
Yā ayyuhan-nāsu-‘budū rabbakumul-ladhī khalaqakum wal-ladhīna min qablikum la‘allakum tattaqūn
O mankind! Worship your Lord, who created you and those who were before you, so that you may be Godwary.
(Sūrat al-Baqarah No.2, Āyat 21)

Worship has been mentioned many times in the Quran. It means to be in awe of, to obey, to submit to, to serve a being Who is in complete control. Human beings have always worshiped. History tells us that people of the past built huge temples and worshiped many different gods. The inclination to worship lies within the natural disposition of the human being. It is sometimes channeled in the wrong direction.

Fulfilling the need to worship satisfies the human soul. It appeals to the inner self when it is not sullied by external factors. The soul finds contentment and peace in it and this affects the personality and behavior of the person. Whenever a natural need is not fulfilled and is overlooked or ignored there is a big impact on human behavior. Often the impact goes unnoticed as the need has not been identified.

In the above verse Allah ‘azza wa-jall asks human being to worship their Lord, who is the creator as well as the nurturer. Note the following points:
1. This is the first command in the Holy Quran instructing the human race to worship the Creator.
2. The verses begins with a general address to all of mankind. The need to worship is present within everyone.
3. To stimulate gratitude and awe the verse reminds us of the greatest blessing – that of life. He gave us life and through the act of creation manifested His mercy and His power and glory. Pondering over the mysteries of life is enough to draw man to God.
4. The result of worship is God consciousness – a righteousness and inner balance that leads to human perfection. It fulfills the aim of creation, beautifying the soul as it journeys back to God.

Worship of God is the essential ingredient of inner peace. Agha Muhsin Qarā’atī in his book A Commentary on Prayer describes worship in the following way:
Worship is an act, which we outwardly consider as a type of humility, but it has deeper profundity. Worship stems from the soul; it springs from gnosis (ma‘rifah); it emanates from cognition . . . it comes from seeking refuge and assistance; and it arises from the love of the perfections (kamālāt) of the Worshipped Being (ma’bud). . . Worship means emptying the heart of material things, letting the spirit fly, and allowing the feet to make steps beyond see-able and hear-able things.

In His grace to mankind Allah has encouraged believers to worship Him more intensely during certain months of the year. These months for a season of worship, an opportunity to get closer to Him and achieve spiritual success. The months of Rajab, Sha‘bān and Ramadan have been selected as special times with many recommended acts of worship that build spirituality and bring immense reward. This concept of a special days, or a special season is known as ‘sacred space’ a concept found in many religions. It applies to certain places, objects, or days that remind us of God.

Appreciating the holy season and intending to make the most of it are important steps towards spiritual elevation. Use this season to benefit from the mercy that flows during it. As the Prophet (s) said: Rajab is the month known as Rajab al-asab [or the month of overflowing] because mercy overflows upon my community in it. (Sh. Abbās Qummī, Mafatīhul Jinan). Remind yourself of the verse on worship that outlines its foundations and choose to worship so you may reach higher levels of human perfection.

Sources: Āyatullāh Nāsir Makārim Shirāzī (Ed.), Tafsīr-e Namūneh
https://www.al-islam.org/commentary-prayer-professor-muhsin-qaraati/worship-ibadah-and-servitude-ubudiyyah#root-worship; https://www.imam-us.org/excellence-of-rajab-shaban-ramadan/