One of the most beautiful this about the
concept of worship in Islaam is the truly unique way in which it incorporates
the feelings of love, fear and hope within the hearts of the worshippers of
Allah. Understanding how to combine these three qualities into the worship
('ibaadah) of Allah is one of the most essential things that every Muslim must
grasp, ,not least because every sect which has drifted from the Straight Path
has strayed in this aspect of worship. The deviation of the other Religions in
this regards is clear for all to see: "God is Love! Jesus is Love!"
say the Christians, denying the fact that God should be feared too. As for the
Jews, then their hearts are filled only with hope - hope in the belief that the
Fire will not touch them since they are the "Promised People".
In Islaam however, no worship is complete without the
presence of all three qualities: LOVE of Allah, Hope in His Mercy and FEAR of
His Punishment. Contemplate the opening Soorah of the Qur'aan - Sooratul
Faatihah - and you will see for yourself.
Aaayah 1: "All Praise [and
Thanks] are for Allah, Rabb of all the worlds."
In this opening aayah (verse) of the Qur'aan, we have
LOVE of Allah and every time we recite this aayah we are testifying to our love
for Allah. How is that you ask? IT is because in this aayah, we are
acknowledging that Allah is our Rabb and the Rabb of all the worlds. Rabb is
usually translated as 'the Lord', but this translation does not do justification
to this name of Allah and all the meanings that this name carries. In reality
Rabb means that Allah is the Creator of everything; He sustains and nourishes
everything; He gives life and death; anything good which we have is from Him;
everything is dependent on Him and nothing can happen unless He wills it.
Furthermore, for the Muslim He - the Rabb - is the One who has guided us to the
Truth and given us good morals and manners.
Thuis when we testify that Allah is out Rabb, then we
are acknowledging that He is the One who has given us so many blessings - so
many that is we tried to enumerate His blessings upon us, we could not count
them. So how could we not love Him? After all, we know that when someone gives
us even a small gift or shows even a small act of kindness towards us, then we
develop so much love for them on account of that - so imagine then the love we
should have for our Rabb who has given us everything: nice families, shelter,
security, food, health, and above all, Guidance to Islaam and the Sunnah. We
should be overwhelming in our love for Him and thank Him and say: "All
Praises [and Thanks] are for Allah, Rabbil-'aalameen."
Aayah 2: "The Rahman [Merciful] and
the Raheem [Mercy-Giving]."
In the first aayah of Sooratul-Faatihah, Allah mentioned
that He was ar-Rabb. In the next aayah two more of His beautiful names are
mentioned: ar-Rahmaan and ar-Raheem. Ar-Rahman means that He is the Most
Merciful, that is, His Nature or His Essence is Merciful. Ar-Raheem means that
He is the Giver of Mercy, in other words, His actions are full of Mercy and He
shows Mercy to His creation.
When we mention these two names of Allah, then we have
HOPE. Since He has described Himself as so full of Mercy then we have hope that
He will forgive out sins, and no matter how numerous out sins may be, we should
never lose this hope, because Allah has told us: "O My slaves who have
transgressed against themselves! Despair not of the Mercy of Allah verily Allah
forgives all sins [except shirk]. Truly He is the Oft-Forgiving, the
Mercy-Giving." [az-Zumar (39):53].
The need to have FEAR in our worship is shown by the
next aayah of Sooratul-Faatihah:
Aayah 3: "King/Master of the Day of
When we recite this aayah we are reminding ourselves of
the Day of Judgement - that awful Day, when we shall all stand before Allah,
naked, uncircumcised and barefooted. Some will be sweating so much that it will
go seventy arm-length into the earth. People will appear drunk though they are
no. On this Day, every person will stand before Allah and account for his sins,
knowing that not even the smallest action which he did is hidden from Allah:
"So whosoever does good equal to the
weight of an atom shall see it. And whosoever does evil equal to the weight of
an atom shall see it." [az-Zalzalah (99):7-8].
So when we recite this third aayah of Sooratul-Faatihah,
we remind ourselves of this Judgement and accountability and that should bring
about in us a sense of fear - that maybe out evil actions will be too great and
we will be responsible for it - may Allah protect us from such a fate.
Then the next verse goes on to say:
"You alone we worship." i.e. we
single out Allah for our worship. And how do we worship Him? With LOVE, HOPE and
FEAR. And in order to achieve these qualities, we need Allah's assistance, so we
say then: "We seek Your Aid." [1:4].
STRIKING THE BALANCE
After understanding the need to have love, fear and hope
in our worship, the question that now arises is: in what proportions should
these qualities be present in our worship? Again we turn to the Qur'aan for our
"Call upon Him with Fear and
"Their sides forsake their beds, to
invokde their Lord in Fear and Hope." [as-Sajdah(32):16].
So both fear and hope should be present inour hearts in
equal proportions. Anas - radiAllaahu 'anhu - reported that the Prophet,
sallallaahu 'alaihi wa sallam entered upon a young boy who was dying. The
Prophet sallallaahu 'alaihi wa sallam asked: "How are you?" The boy
replied: "O Messenger of Allah, I am in-between hoping in Allah and fearing
for my sins." The Prophet sallallaahu 'alaihi wa sallam said: "The
like of these two qualities do not unite in the heart of a servant except that
Allah gives him what he hopes for and protects him from what he feared."
Therefore, whenever we do a good action, we should have
hope that it has been accepted by Allah, but at the same time we should also
have fear that maybe it isn't enough or that the good deed has not been worthy
of acceptance. Likewise when we sin, we should have hope that Allah will accept
out Repentance and forgive us, but we should also fear that we may be
accountable for it.
This balance should also be reflected in out da'wah
(which of course is also worship). So when we invite others to the Truth, we
should not give them the impression that they have "nothing to worry
about"; nor do we suggest that they are doomed forever. Rather, we couple
warnings with encouragement. We inform them of the horrors of the Fire as well
as telling them about the bliss of Paradise. Just as we find Allah telling us in
"Verily your Lord is Quick in
Punishment and verily He is Oft-Forgiving, the Giver of Mercy."
And our Righteous Predecessors used to say:
"He who worships Allah with hope only is a
Murji'ee. He who worships Him in fear only is a Harooree [Khaarijee]. And he who
worships Allah in love only is a Zindeeq [e.g. Soofees, Christians]. But he who
worships Allah in fear, love and hope is a Muwahhid Mu'min [a believer upon
The Murji'ah were a sect that emerged within the first
century of Islaam. The people of this sect (known as murji'ees) believe that
sins do not affect faith, i.e. no matter what sins a person commits, his eemaan
(faith) is complete and perfect. They worship Allah only with hope because they
belive that as along as one believed and testified to Islaam, they would enter
Paradise regardless of their actions.
Unfortunately, all too often nowadays we find a somewhat
similar attitude amongst the Muslims today, which is why we find that so often
when we try to advise someone to turn to the Deen and abandon sin, they just
point to their hearts and say, "Allah knows what's in my heart", or
that "Allah forgives" or something similar.
As for the Khawaarij, they worshipped Allah in fear only
because they held that anyone who committed major sins was a disbeliever and
would therefore dwell in Hellfire forever. This, of course, is gross extremism
and a straying from the correct Path. The Prophet sallallaahu 'alaihi wa sallam
said: "There were two men from Banoo Israa'eel who strove equally. One of
them committed sins and the other strove hard in worship. And the one who strove
in worship continued to see the other sin and kept saying to him: 'Desist'. So
one day, he found him committing a sin and so said to him: 'Desist'. So he
replied: "Leave me to my Lord; have you been sent as a watcher over
me?" He said: "By Allah, Allah will nor forgive you, nor will Allah
admit you to Paradise." Then their sould were taken and they came together
before the Lord of the Worlds. So He said to the one who strove in worship:
"Did you have knowledge of Me, or did you have any power over what was in
my Hands?" And He said to the sinner: "Go and enter Paradise through
My Mercy." And He said to the other: "Take him to the Fire." Aboo
Hurairah said: "By Him is Whose Hand is my soul! He spoke a word which
destroyed this world and the Hereafter for him."
Therefore we should never say of anyone that he or she
is a 'lost cause' or 'doomed' or the like since this is a great sin. However, we
fear for those who commit major sins because they have been threatened with
punsihment in the Qur'aan. It is up to Allah whether He chooses to punish them
or whether He will forgive them.
The Zanaadiqah - or the heretics - are groups, such as
many of the Soofees who have become like the Christians and reduced the religion
to just 'love' and so all their talk and all their mystical practices are
centred around developing more 'love'.
It is thus clear how imbalances in any of the three
qualities of worship can lead to major deviation and straying from the True
Guidance, Therefore it is important for every Muslim to inculcate all three
things in his heart properly. As was mentioned before, the fear and hope should
be in equal proportions but as for love, then that should be uppermost, As
Fudayl ibn Iyyaad (d.187H) said: "The love is better than fear. The fear
checks us from sinning, and the love makes us to do what is prescribed with an
May Allah Subhaanahu wa Ta'aala grant us what we hope
for and protect us from what we fear. Aameen.
1 This is why the Prophet, sallallaahu 'alaihi wa sallam
encouraged us to give gifts to one another. He said: "Give gifts to one
another, you will come to love one another." [Hasan - Collected in
al-Bukhaaree's al-Adabul-Mufrad & declared hasan by al-Albaanee in
2 As explained by Ibnul-Qayyim (d.751H) in
Badaa'i-ul-Faawaa'id & others.
3 Hasan - Collected by at-Tirmidhee & Ibn Maajah.
Authenticated by al-Albaanee in Ahkaamul-Janaa'iz (no. 2).
4 Quoted by ibn Rajab in at-Takhweef minan-Naar as the
saying of one of the Salaf.
5 Saheeh - Reported by Aboo Hurairah & collected in
Aboo Daawood (eng. trans. vol.3 p.1365 no.4883). Authenticatd by al-Albaanee in
6 This was the opinion of most of the Salaf. Al-Fudayl
ibn 'Iyyaad said that when one is healthy and well, then fear should
predominate, but when terminally ill then hope should predominate - so that one
should strive to do good when well and not despair of Allah's Mercy when
terminally ill. [At-Takhweef minan-Naar].
7 Reported in at-Takhweef minan-Naar of Ibn Rajab. Note
that some scholars hold that fear is better than love. Allah knows best.