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Concept of worship in Islam

IQBAL EBRAHIM
UNDERSTANDING ISLAM

The concept of worship in virtually every faith including Islam is misunderstood by many followers including Muslims. Generally worship is commonly translated by many of us to mean performing ritual acts such as going for prayers, fasting, charity, etc. 

However this limited view and understanding of worship is only one part of the meaning of worship in Islam.  The traditional definition of worship in Islam is a wider ranging definition that includes almost everything in any individual’s daily lives and activities. In the wider scope of things it means: “Worship is an inclusive term for all that The Creator (God Almighty) loves of external and internal thoughts and deeds, sayings and actions of a person.” 

In other words, worship is everything one says or does for the pleasure of Allah.  This, of course, includes rituals as well as beliefs, social activities, and personal contributions to the welfare of one’s fellow human beings and all creation. ‘Only those are believers who have believed in Allah and his Messenger, and have never since doubted, but have striven with their belongings and their persons in the cause of Allah: such are the sincere ones.’ (Quran 49: 15)

Islam looks at the individual as a whole.  We are required to submit ourselves completely to Allah Almighty, as the Qur’an instructed the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) to do.  “Say (O Muhammad) my prayer, my sacrifice, my life and my death belong to Allah; He has no partner and I am ordered to be among those who submit.” (Quran 6 :162 ). This means that all our activities should conform to the instructions of the one to whom the he is submitting, that is the Almighty Lord.

As referred to on many occasions, Islam is a way of life it requires that its followers model their life according to its teachings in every aspect, “religious” or otherwise.  This might sound strange to some people who think of religion as a personal relation between the individual and God, having no impact on one’s activities outside the normal rituals.

As a matter of fact Islam does not think much of mere rituals when they are performed mechanically and have no influence on one’s inner life.  The Qur’an addresses this important issue when highlighting the need to engage in greater good in community and society : “It is not righteousness that you turn your faces to the East or the West (in prayer), but righteous is he who believes in God and the Last Day and the Angels and the Book and the Prophets, and gives of his wealth for love of Him to kinsfolk, orphans, the needy, the wayfarer, those who ask and to set slaves free; and observes (daily) prayer and pays the charity due.  And those who keep their pledge/promise when they make one, and the patient in tribulation and adversity and time of stress; such are those who are sincere, such are the God-fearing.”  (Qur’an 2 : 177)

The deeds in the above verse are the deeds of righteousness and they are only a part of worship.  The Prophet Muhammed (pbuh) told us about faith, which is the basis of worship, that it “is made up of about sixty branches: the highest of which is the belief in the Oneness of Allah: (there is no God but Allah and he has no partners) and the lowest in the scale of worship is removing obstacles and dirt from people’s way.

Even doing decent work is considered, in Islam, a type of worship.  The Prophet Muhammed (pbuh) said: “Whoever finds himself at the nightfall tired of his work (honest search of livelihood), God will forgive his sins.” Seeking knowledge is one of the highest types of worship.  The Prophet Muhammed (pbuh) told his companions that “seeking knowledge is a (religious) duty on every Believer.”  In yet another teaching, he said: “Seeking knowledge for one hour is better than praying for seventy years.”  

Social courtesy and co-operation are also part of worship when done for the sake of Allah as the Prophet Muhammed (pbuh) told us.  “Receiving your friend with a smile is a type of charity, helping a person to load his mount (any mode of transport) is a charity and putting some water in your neighbour’s bucket is a charity.”

It is worth noting that even performing one’s duties is considered a sort of worship.  The Prophet Muhammed (pbuh) told us that whatever one spends for his family is a type of charity; he will be rewarded for it if he acquires it through legal/ permissible means.  Kindness to the members of one’s family is also classed as an act of worship! In fact, all that one has to do, when done according to the commands of God Almighty and the practice of Prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him), is considered as worship.

Even the fulfilment of one’s lower desire can be rendered as an act of worship – for the Prophet Muhammed (pbuh) told his companions that they will be rewarded even for being intimate with their wives.  The companions were astonished and asked: “How are we going to be rewarded for fulfilling our base desire?”  He asked them, “suppose you satisfy your desires in a forbidden/illegal manner, don’t you think that you will be punished for that?”  They replied, “yes”.  So he said, “by satisfying it legally with your wives you are rewarded for it.”  

It is clear from the above examples that the concept of worship in Islam is a comprehensive concept that includes all the positive activities of the individual.  This of course is in agreement with the all-inclusive nature of Islam as a way of life.  It regulates the human life on all levels: the individual, the social, the economic, the political and the spiritual. That is why Islam provides guidance to the smallest details of one’s life on all these levels. Thus following these details is following Islamic instructions in that specific area.

It is a very encouraging element when one realises that all his activities are considered by God as acts of worship.  This should lead the individual to seek Allah’s pleasure in his actions and always try to do them in the best possible manner whether he is watched by his superiors or he is alone.  There is always the permanent supervisor, who knows everything – Allah.

When stressing on the non-ritual acts of worship does not mean under evaluating the importance of the ritual ones. Actual ritual worships, such as performing our five times daily prayers should be performed in the true spirit, they elevate us morally and spiritually and enable us to carry on his activities in all walks of life according to guidance of God.

Nowadays some Muslims think that going for the ‘congregational’ prayer on Friday has fulfilled their obligation – forgetting that they should be offering their prayers five times a day, be it at the Mosque or at home. We have to review our lifestyle and also our behaviour if we are to be in the true path of Islam. Therefore we the bottom line is that all our thoughts, deeds and actions should be done in a sincere manner

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Export Processing Zones: How to Get SEZA to Sizzle

23rd September 2020
Export Processing Zone (EPZ) factory in Kenya

In 2005, the Business & Economic Advisory Council (BEAC) pitched the idea of the establishment of Special Economic Zones (SEZs) to the Mogae Administration.

It took five years before the SEZ policy was formulated, another five years before the relevant law was enacted, and a full three years before the Special Economic Zones Authority (SEZA) became operational.

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Egypt Bagged Again

23rd September 2020
Samson

… courtesy of infiltration stratagem by Jehovah-Enlil’s clan

With the passing of Joshua’s generation, General Atiku, the promised peace and prosperity of a land flowing with milk and honey disappeared, giving way to chaos and confusion.

Maybe Joshua himself was to blame for this shambolic state of affairs. He had failed to mentor a successor in the manner Moses had mentored him. He had left the nation without a central government or a human head of state but as a confederacy of twelve independent tribes without any unifying force except their Anunnaki gods.

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‘RO, ‘RO ‘RO YOUR ‘BOT

23rd September 2020

If I say the word ‘robot’ to you,  I can guess what would immediately spring to mind –  a cute little Android or animal-like creature with human or pet animal characteristics and a ‘heart’, that is to say to say a battery, of gold, the sort we’ve all seen in various movies and  tv shows.  Think R2D2 or 3CPO in Star Wars, Wall-E in the movie of the same name,  Sonny in I Robot, loveable rogue Bender in Futurama,  Johnny 5 in Short Circuit…

Of course there are the evil ones too, the sort that want to rise up and eliminate us  inferior humans – Roy Batty in Blade Runner, Schwarzenegger’s T-800 in The Terminator,  Box in Logan’s Run,  Police robots in Elysium and  Otomo in Robocop.

And that’s to name but a few.  As a general rule of thumb, the closer the robot is to human form, the more dangerous it is and of course the ultimate threat in any Sci-Fi movie is that the robots will turn the tables and become the masters, not the mechanical slaves.  And whilst we are in reality a long way from robotic domination, there are an increasing number of examples of  robotics in the workplace.

ROBOT BLOODHOUNDS Sometimes by the time that one of us smells something the damage has already begun – the smell of burning rubber or even worse, the smell of deadly gas. Thank goodness for a robot capable of quickly detecting and analyzing a smell from our very own footprint.

A*Library Bot The A*Star (Singapore) developed library bot which when books are equipped with RFID location chips, can scan shelves quickly seeking out-of-place titles.  It manoeuvres with ease around corners, enhances the sorting and searching of books, and can self-navigate the library facility during non-open hours.

DRUG-COMPOUNDING ROBOT Automated medicine distribution system, connected to the hospital prescription system. It’s goal? To manipulate a large variety of objects (i.e.: drug vials, syringes, and IV bags) normally used in the manual process of drugs compounding to facilitate stronger standardisation, create higher levels of patient safety, and lower the risk of hospital staff exposed to toxic substances.

AUTOMOTIVE INDUSTRY ROBOTS Applications include screw-driving, assembling, painting, trimming/cutting, pouring hazardous substances, labelling, welding, handling, quality control applications as well as tasks that require extreme precision,

AGRICULTURAL ROBOTS Ecrobotix, a Swiss technology firm has a solar-controlled ‘bot that not only can identify weeds but thereafter can treat them. Naio Technologies based in southwestern France has developed a robot with the ability to weed, hoe, and assist during harvesting. Energid Technologies has developed a citrus picking system that retrieves one piece of fruit every 2-3 seconds and Spain-based Agrobot has taken the treachery out of strawberry picking. Meanwhile, Blue River Technology has developed the LettuceBot2 that attaches itself to a tractor to thin out lettuce fields as well as prevent herbicide-resistant weeds. And that’s only scratching the finely-tilled soil.

INDUSTRIAL FLOOR SCRUBBERS The Global Automatic Floor Scrubber Machine boasts a 1.6HP motor that offers 113″ water lift, 180 RPM and a coverage rate of 17,000 sq. ft. per hour

These examples all come from the aptly-named site www.willrobotstakemyjob.com    because while these functions are labour-saving and ripe for automation, the increasing use of artificial intelligence in the workplace will undoubtedly lead to increasing reliance on machines and a resulting swathe of human redundancies in a broad spectrum of industries and services.

This process has been greatly boosted by the global pandemic due to a combination of a workforce on furlough, whether by decree or by choice, and the obvious advantages of using virus-free machines – I don’t think computer viruses count!  For example, it was suggested recently that their use might have a beneficial effect in care homes for the elderly, solving short staffing issues and cheering up the old folks with the novelty of having their tea, coffee and medicines delivered by glorified model cars.  It’s a theory, at any rate.

Already, customers at the South-Korean  fast-food chain No Brand Burger can avoid any interaction with a human server during the pandemic.  The chain is using robots to take orders, prepare food and bring meals out to diners.  Customers order and pay via touchscreen, then their request is sent to the kitchen where a cooking machine heats up the buns and patties. When it’s ready, a robot ‘waiter’ brings out their takeout bag.   

‘This is the first time I’ve actually seen such robots, so they are really amazing and fun,’ Shin Hyun Soo, an office worker at No Brand in Seoul for the first time, told the AP. 

Human workers add toppings to the burgers and wrap them up in takeout bags before passing them over to yellow-and-black serving robots, which have been compared to Minions. 

Also in Korea, the Italian restaurant chain Mad for Garlic is using serving robots even for sit-down customers. Using 3D space mapping and other technology, the electronic ‘waiter,’ known as Aglio Kim, navigates between tables with up to five orders.  Mad for Garlic manager Lee Young-ho said kids especially like the robots, which can carry up to 66lbs in their trays.

These catering robots look nothing like their human counterparts – in fact they are nothing more than glorified food trolleys so using our thumb rule from the movies, mankind is safe from imminent takeover but clearly  Korean hospitality sector workers’ jobs are not.

And right there is the dichotomy – replacement by stealth.  Remote-controlled robotic waiters and waitresses don’t need to be paid, they don’t go on strike and they don’t spread disease so it’s a sure bet their army is already on the march.

But there may be more redundancies on the way as well.  Have you noticed how AI designers have an inability to use words of more than one syllable?  So ‘robot’ has become ‘bot’ and ‘android’ simply ‘droid?  Well, guys, if you continue to build machines ultimately smarter than yourselves you ‘rons  may find yourself surplus to requirements too – that’s ‘moron’ to us polysyllabic humans”!

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