Quranic Reflection No. 506. Āyat 4:172 – Disregard of worship

وَمَن يَسْتَنكِفْ عَنْ عِبَادَتِهِ وَيَسْتَكْبِرْ فَسَيَحْشُرُهُمْ إِلَيْهِ جَمِيعًا
Waman yastankif ‘an ‘ibādatihi wayastakbir fasayahshuruhum ilayhi jamī‘ā
And whoever disdains His worship and is arrogant, He will gather them all toward Him.
(Sūrat al-Nisā, No 4, Āyat 172)

The first part of this verse talks about how Prophet ‘Īsā ‘alayhis-salām and the angels close to Allah ‘azza wajall would not disregard worshipping the Almighty Allah. They were acutely aware of their position as created servants of Allah subhānahu wata‘ālā and would not turn away from worshipping Him sincerely. Then the verse points out that those who disdain worship of Allah should remember that they will be returned to Allah. He alone has the power and control over all things. Allāmah Tabātabā’ī, mentions that disdain of worship can be of two types: out of heedlessness and ignorance, or out of arrogance. It is the latter which is condemned.

Worshiping Allah (swt) is the central foundation of faith. After accepting belief in Allah, the believer manifests his degree of faith in the type of worship he performs. Worship must be performed with humility and enthusiasm. The Prophet sallal-lāhu ‘alayhi wa-ālihi wasallam said: The best of people is he who longs for worship and embraces it, loves it with his whole heart, throws himself into it with his whole body, and devotes himself exclusively to it, such that he is not concerned about what worldly state he wakes up to in the morning, in difficulty or in ease. (Al-Kāfī, v. 2, p. 298, h. 2). To worship is to diminish its importance, even to deride and mock pure worship.

The soul of worship is sincerity, emptying the soul of the self and directing all attention to Allah ‘azza wajall only. Without that type of sincerity, worship has been likened to a body without a soul. The worshipper should see the self in a position of complete humility and servitude. It is as if the worshipper loses himself in God. Reinforcing the self while claiming to be worshipping God is a self-induced delusion. Modern trends of seeing the self as a semi-god who has powers to make inner desires become reality is a deviated form of faith and smacks of polytheism. Allah says in the Quran: Have you seen him who has taken his desire to be his god? (Q 25:43)

As believers we must be extremely cautious of the purity of our worship. It should be of high quality for God deserves, and accepts, only the most untainted form of worship. We must rid it of all deviations that include the self, the universe, energy, etc. as forms and partners with God. In Hadith of ‘Unwān al-Basrī Imam Ja‘far al-Sādiq ‘alayhis-salām describes the pure form of worship and servitude expected of a believer: [True worship means] the servant must not consider himself as the true owner of what God has conferred upon him, for servants own nothing. Servants must not entrust their affairs to themselves, and all their attention must be directed to God’s commands concerning what to do or not to do.

Let this verse be a constant reminder to not be from those who disregard a pure form of worship, whether through heedlessness, ignorance, or arrogance.

Sources: Allāmah Muhammad Husayn Tabātabā’ī, Tafsīr al-Mīzān