Reflection No. 144 on Q 2:21 – Worship of Allah
يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ اعْبُدُوا رَبَّكُمُ الَّذِي خَلَقَكُمْ وَالَّذِينَ مِنْ قَبْلِكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَتَّقُونَ
O Mankind! Worship your Lord Who created you, and those before you, so that you may acquire Taqwa.
Worship of Allah is what makes the human being soar. It calms and soothes, elevates and enriches. It fulfills the true potential of the human being, to be a true servant and vice gerent of Allah on earth. True worship is that which is done with a spirit of enthusiasm and love. The Holy Prophet says: The best of mankind is he who adores worship and embraces it; he loves it with the heart, performs it with the body, and makes time for it. Then he is not greatly concerned about the world, whether he is in difficulty or in ease.
Worship has been described as scholars to be of three stages:
1) Worship that is correct. This is when the believer looks after the necessary pre-requisites and conditions such as purity, method, time etc.
2) Worship that is accepted. This is worship that is done with Taqwa – God consciousness, or piety.
3) Worship that achieves perfection. This is worship that is done with the qualities of awareness, awe, love and privacy.
Why should human beings worship God? The answer lies in this verse. He is the Lord who created them. It encourages awareness of a Creator whose might, knowledge, and wisdom are evident in the functionality of creation. There is also the element of gratitude for the blessing of creation and all that comes with it. Worship is carried out as a response to the understanding of the existence of a Kind and all-knowing Creator who deserves worship out of gratitude.
Rububiyyah, or the accepting of the Lordship of Allah, is considered the essence of worship. Imam as-Sadiq (a) says: Worship is a jewel, its core is Rububiyyah. The human being is encouraged towards worship of God through the realization of the following:
a) The blessings of God who is the Creator, the Lord who nurtures and provides.
b) The poverty and neediness of the human being.
c) Understanding the fruits of worship
d) Realizing the effects of abandoning worship
e) Knowing that all of creation glorifies God. Those who reject it are actually going against the natural order of the world.
In the verse above, Allah tells us that He is also the Creator of those before us. People tend to follow others. Thus idol worshippers used the practice of the fore-fathers as their excuse. Now Quran tells them that the God who created them also created those before them. Worship of God through gratitude for creation is not a unique command for them only.
Taqwa is described as the goal of worship. Worship does not add anything to Allah, nor does the lack of it decrease Him in anything. He is the Lord of all glory, with or without the worship of Creation. The benefits of Taqwa revert back to the human being. The human being who has Taqwa is acutely conscious of himself and others, in relation to God. He is more sensitive and insightful, and sees things with a perspective that is different from most people. It is this which illuminates his path and creates radiance wherever he goes.
Tafsir Namune, Aytaullah Nasir Makarim Shirazi (ed).
Tafsire Nur – Aghae Muhsin Qarati
Mizanul Hikmah, Muhammad al-Ray Shahree