Types of Worshippers
The people of “Only You do we worship. And only You do we seek help from” (Al-Fatihah 1:5) are four types with regards to the best `ibadah (worship) and most worthy:
The first type, for them, the best `ibadah is the hardest.
The second type, for them, the best `ibadah is asceticism and having disregard for the enjoyments of this life.
The third type, for them, the best `ibadah is that most beneficial for others; they felt helping the poor and taking care of people’s needs and supporting them with money and status is better than the deeds of benefit only to the doer. They said, that is why the superiority of the scholar over the devout worshiper is like the superiority of the (light of) the moon over the other stars.
The fourth type, for them, the best `ibadah is working to attain the pleasure of the Lord at each time by that which is the requirement of that particular time, and its most suitable function.
So, the best `ibadah during the time of Jihad is jihad, even if it leads to foregoing some of one’s routine night prayers or fasting, even if it leads to shortening the mandatory prayers.
And the best `ibadah upon the arrival of a guest is to host them, and doing that even at the expense of some routine preferable works. And the best `ibadah during the latter part of the night is keeping occupied with prayers, reading of the Qur’an, supplication.
And the best `ibadah when approached by a student of knowledge who inquires about the sacred knowledge is to teach him, and the best `ibadah during the sickness of your Muslim brother is to visit him, and if he died to attend his funeral.
And those are the true people of the worship that is absolute (in devotion), and the types before them are the people of restricted worship, whenever one of them gets out of his selected acts of worship he feels that he is incomplete. So they worship Allah in one way.
However, the people of absolute worship do not have any biased interest in a particular type of worship that they favor over others, but all they seek is the pleasure of Allah wherever it is.
So, they keep on moving from one station of servitude to the next, whenever a station is presented to them they walk to it, and stay busy with it until another function appears, and so on throughout their journey until they reach their destination.
So, if you search for the scholars you will find them with them; and if you look for the mujahedeen, they will be with them, and with those who remember Allah often; and with those who give charity; and those who devote themselves and hearts for Allah.
And that is the absolute worshiper who was not bound by people’s expectations of his status or restricted by any restraints. And their work was not for the pleasure or interest of their souls in certain worships where they find comfort; they are in the company of Allah without any regard for people, and when they are in the company of people they will have no regard for the self.
Whenever they are with Allah they eliminate the people from being between them and Him, and whenever they are with His creations they eliminate their ‘selves‘ from being in the middle and forsake them.
How great are they; and how strange amongst the people are they, and how isolated they feel with them, and how great is their comfort in the company of Allah, and rejoice in it.
And how great is their serenity and security with him. Allah is the one sought for help and upon him is the reliance.
The article is an excerpt from the paper “Acts of Worship as a Means to Strengthen the Attachment between the Servant and his Lord” by Dr. Hatem Al-Haj which was prepared for a conference in Austin, Texas, 2002. It first appeared at drhatemalhaj.com.