In the name of Allah, Most gracious, Most merciful.
I bear witness that there is none worthy of worship except Allah and Prophet Mohammed pbuh is His Messenger.
When I first saw the topic, I smiled because no better persons can handle such topic except those who had been fed food from both plates. Brothers like Eneye Ahmad Emmanuel, Lucas Samson Bashir, Johnson Abdulazeez and I Animashaun Abdulafeez Olufunsho Peter would find the topic an easy one as it talks about our life travails. We have been there…we have practiced both religions, we have seen it all and yes…we know the truth.
I could remember some years ago when I was a member of the Redeemed Christian Church of God and my late mother was a Cherubim and Seraphim member. My mum knew about my indebt knowledge about the Bible because most times I was always at the Redemption Camp at Ibadan Express Road representing my province in one debate or Bible quiz or the other. I was this church rat that made the Bible a dictionary. I could remember then she was a Sunday school teacher and she wanted me to represent her church then which was Mt Hermon House of Prayer at Ogudu GRA then. At first,I really didn’t understand what they were doing in the church but I knew they were reading the Bible. I was always running out of the church premises because of the Incense they usually burn. I was told it drives away demons. I was also suspected to be a wizard because I couldn’t stand the smoke from the burning incense. But the truth is that I was asthmatic. I ended up representing the church in state level which I won and at the national level same year which I won also at the headquarters Tejuoso Yaba.
However, the point of my short story is that why couldn’t I grasp immediately the order of worship in the C&S Church. I am an RCCG member. Same thing goes to other churches. Infact no 2 churches have the same mode of worship, order of worship, hymn books, prayer schedules, weekly programmes and lastly doctrine. C&S and CCC could look very much alike in terms of attire but they differ in everything I just listed. The only thing that makes all these churches agree as one is their Sunday services. However, the Sabbath day is actually on Saturday and not Sunday and that’s more reason the 7th day Adventist Church still hold their services on Saturdays.
This more reason why Christians differ in their beliefs of so many things presented to them.
Alhamdulillah I embraced Islam a couple of years ago and wallahi I have been to so many masjids and worshipped with millions of Muslims and at no time have I noticed any difference in how we do worship.
Worship in Islam has so many facets that it is difficult to describe them all in words. The most general meaning of worship in Islam is inclusive of everything which is pleasing to God, whether they deal with issues of belief, or deeds of the body. It may include everything a person perceives, thinks, intends, feels, says and does. It also refers to everything that God requires, external, internal or interactive. This includes rituals as well as beliefs, work, social activities, and personal behavior, as human being is a whole, such that every part affects every other.
In Islam, worship is the very purpose of our existence. The concept of worship in Islam is all-encompassing and incorporates ritual worship as well as common daily tasks.
“I did not create … mankind except to worship Me” (51:56)
Worshipping God is a comprehensive concept within Islam. Along with traditional rituals, such as praying and fasting, it also consists of any lawful action a person does with God-consciousness and in the hopes of earning reward from Almighty God. Therefore, devoting oneself to God in Islam does not require a person to enter a place of worship nor embrace monasticism. Rather, fulfilling this purpose of life is an active daily pursuit from the Islamic perspective. Hence, a Muslim can be engaged in worship throughout the day, be it at home, work or anywhere else.
In other words, worship is that which is done in obedience to Allah’s will, which obviously includes solat but goes far beyond to the realms of one’s beliefs, social activities, and personal contributions to one’s society and fellow human beings.
Islam looks at the individual as a whole. He is required to submit completely to Allah, as the Quran instructed Prophet Muhammad pbuh to do;
“Say: ‘Indeed, my prayer, my rites of sacrifice, my living and my dying are for Allah, Lord of the worlds. No partner has He. And this I have been commanded, and I am the first [among you] of the Muslims.’” [Quran: 6:162-163]
The natural result of this submission is that one’s activities should conform to the instructions of the One to whom the person is submitting – Allah. Islam requires that its followers conduct every aspect of their lives according to its teachings. This might sound strange to those who view religion as a personal relationship between the individual and his Lord and which should have no relevance to those activities that are not connected specifically with any religious rituals.
Prophet Muhammad pbuh taught his followers that Islam is much more than a private personal matter. Islam attaches no value to rituals that are performed mechanically and have no influence on one’s inner life. This issue was addressed in an incident when Muslims, as well as local Jews and Christians, disputed about the prayer direction being changed from Jerusalem to the Ka’bah (the Sacred Mosque) in Makkah.
“Righteousness is not that you turn your faces toward the east or the west, but [true] righteousness is [in] one who believes in Allah, the Last Day, the Angels, the Book, and the prophets and gives wealth, in spite of love for it, to relatives, orphans, the needy, the traveller, those who ask [for help], and for freeing slaves; [and who] establishes prayer and gives Zakah; [those who] fulfil their promise when they promise; and [those who] are patient in poverty and hardship and during battle. Those are the ones who have been true, and it is those who are the righteous.” [Quran: 2:177].
In order to guide humans to His worship and to truly differentiate between good and evil, God sent prophets as teachers and role models. He also revealed holy scriptures which provide us with knowledge directly from God and serve as manuals for virtuous living. The combination of prophetic examples and divine scriptures reinforces our moral inclinations and equips us with the knowledge to discern between right and wrong. They also provide us with the criterion which enables us to assess our own motives and deeds. Above all, they teach us how to worship God and to lead a life that pleases Him.
Islam is the culmination of God’s message since the time of Adam. The God of Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus and all the other prophets, is the same God who sent Muhammadp as His final messenger to humankind and revealed the Quran, God’s last scripture, to him. The Quran, the only divine book to remain intact in its original text, upholds the pure teachings of previous revelations. It is a testament to the continuity of God’s message from the beginning of human history, guiding people to achieve their fundamental purpose in life.
Rites of Worship
1. SOLAT: Islam enjoins Muslims to offer five prayers throughout the day at dawn, noon, mid-afternoon, sunset and night. Prayer enables Muslims to physically and mentally take a break from their worldly activities to connect with God several times a day. The prayers consist of praising God while standing, bowing and prostrating, maintaining the practice of Muhammad, Jesus, Moses and all the other prophets, peace be upon them all. On Fridays, Muslims attend a special congregational noon prayer, complete with a brief sermon.
The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Islam is built on five [pillars]: the testimony that there is no god but Allaah and that Muhammad is His slave and Messenger, establishing prayer, paying zakaah, performing pilgrimage to the House, and fasting Ramadaan.” Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 8; Muslim, 16.
“Verily, As-Salaah (the prayer) is enjoined on the believers at fixed hours”[al-Nisa’ 4:103]
“So woe unto those performers of Salaah (prayers) (hypocrites),
Those who delay their Salaah (prayer from their stated fixed times)”[al-Maa’oon 107:4-5]
2. FASTING: Muslims are commanded by Allah to fast during Ramadan, the ninth month of the Islamic lunar calendar, by refraining from eating, drinking and sexual interaction from dawn to sunset. Fasting instills self-restraint, provides spiritual cleansing and strengthens one’s willpower. While fasting, Muslims strive to increase charitable acts and control bad habits such as foul language, gossip and anger. However, in order to seek more blessings from Allah and to be more pious, thereby adding to our good deeds, Muslims do fast on some selected days so as to please Allah.
“ O you who believe! Observing As-Sawm (the fasting) is prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you, that you may become Al-Muttaqoon (pious)”[al-Baqarah 2:183]
“The only saying of the faithful believers, when they are called to Allaah (His Words, the Qur’aan) and His Messenger, to judge between them, is that they say: ‘We hear and we obey.’ And such are the successful (who will live forever in Paradise)”[al-Noor 24:51]
“It is not for a believer, man or woman, when Allaah and His Messenger have decreed a matter that they should have any option in their decision. And whoever disobeys Allaah and His Messenger, he has indeed strayed into a plain error”[al-Ahzaab 33:36]
Honest work is considered a type of worship. The Prophet pbuh said:”Whoever finds himself at nightfall tired of his work, Allah will forgive his sins.”
Seeking knowledge is one of the highest forms of worship. The Prophet pbuh told his companions that “Seeking knowledge is a (religious) duty on every Muslim.”
Social courtesy and cooperation, when done for the sake of Allah, are also a part of worship: “Receiving your friend with a smile is a type of charity, helping a person to load his animal is a charity, and putting some water in your neighbour’s bucket is a charity.”
In Islam, the performing of one’s duties is also considered an act of worship. The Prophet pbuh told us that whatever one spends on his family will be counted as an act of worship for which he will be rewarded, provided what he spent was acquired by Islamically acceptable means. Kindness to family members, no matter how small, is also viewed as an act of worship. Even activities that we enjoy very much, such as sexual relations with one’s spouse, are considered acts of worship as long as they are performed in accordance with the relevant Quranic and prophetic guidelines. For example, the Prophet pbuh once told his Companions that they would be rewarded even for engaging in sexual intercourse with their wives. They were astonished and asked: “Are we to be rewarded for doing something that we enjoy very much?” The Prophet pbuh replied: “If you satisfy your desires illegally, will you be punished?” They replied:”Yes.” So the Prophet pbuh said: “So for satisfying it legally with your wives, you will be rewarded.”
3.ZAKAT: a term that signifies giving to the less fortunate a certain percentage of one’s earnings and holdings. Giving the poor their due and performing the prayer are usually mentioned together in the Quran, for they are both visible manifestations of one’s Islamic faith and belief that Allah is the sole owner of everything in the universe, which He allows man to enjoy as His trustee for a specific period of time.
In addition, this act provides a means to redistribute society’s wealth in a way that reduces differences between classes and groups. It makes an important contribution to social stability, by purging the soul of the rich person from selfishness and the soul of the poor from envy and resentment against society. This blocks the channels leading to class hatred and makes it possible for the springs of brotherhood and solidarity to gush forth. Such stability is not merely based on the personal feelings of the rich; it stands on a firmly established right that, if denied by the rich, would be exacted by force, if necessary.
4. PILGRIMAGE OR HAJJ: Muslims from all corners of the world, all attired in the same clothing, respond in one voice and one language with the following phrase upon entering the sacred precincts: “Labbayk Allahumma Labbayk” (i.e., Here I am n response to your call, O Lord!). This is a time of strict self-discipline and control where not only sacred things are revered, but even the life of plants and birds is made inviolable.
Thus, worship in Islam, whether ritual or non-ritual, trains the individual in such a way that he loves his Creator even more, which causes him to gain an unyielding will and a means to wipe out all evil and oppression from his society and to make the word of Allah triumphant.