Ibaadah - Worship & Obedience of Allah ﷻ
What makes Islam unique in concept of worship
Worship in Islam is not limited to one’s private life but in fact, it covers all aspects of our individual and collective lives. Three distinguishing factors of worship in Islam teaches how vast the concept of worship is and how every action of ours could become a means of obedience if done with the pure intention even though it may seem trivial. Mustafa Ahmad Al-Zarqa, a famous Syrian Islamic scholar, elaborated on three distinguishing features in one of his works that prove a broader view of worship in Islam. I have added some of my own comments to explanation under each.
1. Freedom from intermediaries
Islam liberated ‘worship’ from the bondage of intermediaries between man and his Creator. Islam seeks to create a direct link between man and his Lord, thus rendering the intercession of intermediaries unnecessary. Allah ﷻ tells us that He is always near and never remote: “(O Muhammad), when My servants ask you about Me, tell them I am very near; I hear and answer the call of the caller whenever he calls Me. Let them listen to My call and believe in Me.”
By invoking other than Allah ﷻ we deprive ourselves of direct access to Him which He has permitted for us to take advantage of and come closer to Him. Invoking other than Allah ﷻ for help at times of need and in our worship would make us commit the crime of shirk (associationism) which is an unforgivable sin. Such an act creates barrier between us and Allah ﷻ and prevents communion. The Prophet ﷺ informed us from Allah ﷻ that: “I was a hidden treasure; then I wished to become known. Then I created the creation, so that I may be known.” How unfortunate for us to block ourselves with barriers of intermediaries when He who is the real treasure has given us direct access to Him, when He wants to grace our hearts with His love.
2. Not confined to specific places
Secondly, Islam has not only liberated man’s worship from the bondage of intermediaries; it has also liberated it from confinement to specific places. Islam regards every place – whether it is one’s dwelling place, the back of an animal, the board of a vessel on the surface of the sea, or a mosque specifically built for worship – as pure enough for the performance of worship. Wherever a man might be, he can turn towards his Lord and enter into communion with Him. Allah ﷻ says: “And to Allah belong the east and the west, so wherever you turn (yourselves or your faces) there is the Face of Allah.” The Prophet ﷺ expressed this idea beautifully in the following words: “The (whole of the) earth has been rendered for me a masjid (mosque i.e a place of worship); pure and clean.”
3. All-embracing view
Islam has considerably widened the scope of worship. In Islam, worship is not confined to special occasions and special places. Rather every virtuous act which has been sincerely performed with the view to carry out the commandments of Allah ﷻ and in order to seek His pleasure, is an act of worship for which man will be rewarded. One does not need to completely renounce the world, go in to a life of asceticism, and torture oneself by completely denying even the good and lawful things of life to please Allah ﷻ. Islam considers every action to be an act of worship as long as it is performed solely for the purpose of seeking pleasure of Allah ﷻ for which one gets rewarded. Any action performed which keeps one within the lawful limits set by Allah ﷻ as a result of His consciousness, is an act of worship. This is all because of pure intention behind every act. For example helping someone who is in need for the sake of gaining pleasure of Allah ﷻ would be considered an act of worship. Smiling at someone also has a reward and earning lawful wealth also has a reward in it for the believer. Eating nutritious food, exercising and getting proper sleep in order to keep oneself healthy would also be considered an act of worship as the Prophet ﷺ said “A believer who is possessed of strength is better and dearer to Allah ﷻ than a believer who is weak. And both are good.”
 al-Zarqa 1999
 Al Quran 2:186
 Shirk (associationism) means associating real or imaginary partners with Allah ﷻ in His worship and obedience. Invoking non-living things such as statues, or holy personalities whether living or dead such as prophets & saints for assistance other than Allah ﷻ. It also applies to beliefs such as wealth, social status, nationality, power could ultimately influence human destinies which causes one to give almost worshipful reverence to such notions.
 A hadith e qudsi (sacred traditions) usually quoted in sufi writings and gatherings.
 Al Quran 2:115
 Sahih Muslim – Kitab As Salaat - Book 5, Hadith 5
 Sunan Ibn Majah - Vol. 1, Book 1, Hadith 79