Different kinds of worshipping God
There are two kinds of worshipping God: oral and practical.
Worshipping God is either oral or practical. Oral worship refers to the phrases which are said in prayer, such as: saying The Opening (Hamd) and Sincerity (Ikhlas) in daily prayers, the phrases said in genuflection and prostration ( Roku’ and Sajdeh; parts of daily prayers).
Practical worship refers the act of prostrating and genuflecting prayers.
Some scholars also divide worship into two groups as: physical and spiritual worship, and believe that Islamic worship is higher and more perfect than other worships in other religions.
Muslims’ impression about the worship such as: prayer, fast and hajj; is divided into two categories:
1)Popular and tradable impression
Those who have this impression about worship, think worship is a kind of trading. They expect God to give them rewards for their worship, as employers and employees. But God who is the Great Creator of the world does not need His servants to obey Him.
Almighty God have no need of people to obey Him, because “neither His servants’ disobedience will hurt Him nor their obedience will profit Him.” said Imam Ali (the Peak of Eloquence)
The nature and identity of popular worship is the physical movements which are done by body.
2)Mystical and transcendental impression
In this impression, worship acts like a ladder to make us become closer to God. According to this impression, by worshipping God, human spiritual talents will be nurtured.
Worship is the most excellent human reaction to the Great Creator.
Invocations of God, saying the surahs (Koranic chapters) in prayers are the physical aspects of worship.
The motivations, the advantages taken of worship and becoming closer to God, all are the elements of mystical worship.
According to Peak of Eloquence (Nahj al-Balaqeh) worship is divided into three groups with regard to worshippers’ aims and motivations
1) traders’ worship; they worship God for entering Paradise
2) slaves’ worship; this group worship God because they are afraid of His torments in Resurrection Day
3) free spirits’ worship; they worship God for thanking Him.
The beliefs of the first and the second groups are kinds of polytheism and selfishness. They have a popular nature but the last group has mystical nature.
”The most estimable is the one who loves worship with his heart and his body has an intense relationship with the worship. This person is not afraid of difficulties in his worship”. said the Prophet.
Generally worshipping God for His own sake, not for being afraid of Him or even for entering the Paradise; is the best worship. “They turned their backs on him” [Ranks (Saffat)/ 90]
Those who worship Him for going to Heaven or not going to Hell; do not worship God for Himself, but God is the means for them in order to achieve their aims.
“When Moses came for Our appointment and his Lord spoke to him, he said: “My Lord, show [yourself] to me so I may look at You”. He said: “You will never see me, but look at the mountain [instead]. If it remains in its place, then you shall see me.” When his Lord displayed His glory to the mountain, he left it flattened off, and Moses fell down stunned. When he came back to his senses, he said: “Glory be to you! I have turned to You! I have turned to You and am the first believer!” [the Heights/ A’raaf. 143]
“Glory be to Him, Who had His servant travel by night from the Hallowed Mosque to the Further Mosque whose surroundings We have blessed, so We might show him some of Our signs! He is the Alert! The Observant! [the Night Journey/ Israa. 1]
Practical worship are restricted but intuitive worship are not.
In the view of Imam Ali, love (towards God) and sincerity are the main elements of worship. Worship is not perfect without love and not accepted without sincerity.
Harmony between human’s inner self and outer self, is the sign of sincerity in worship.
The related topics:
Man’s relation with God and the world
A glimpse of Nahj al-Balaqeh, etc.
Beliefs < theism < creatures’ relation with God
Commandments < worships