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What does worship – ibaadah – really mean?

Undoubtedly, the most important question in our lives is our ultimate purpose – what are we here for? We know Allah(SWT) has explained that we have not been created except to worship him but what exactly is worship?

It’s important to understand what worship means in the context of our day to day lives. Despite society considering religion to be outdated, backwards and massively controversial, there is no way to suppress the instinctual human nature to worship a higher being. Oftentimes this is directed to other people or pastimes. Some of the characteristic signs of such worship today are:

Complete, unquestioning obedience in all matters

This may be directed to a partner, an authoritative figure (parent, boss) or even some celebrities whose word is considered gospel.

Adoration and love to exclusion of reason/limits

Often displayed with partners or children.

Idolising someone’s greatness

A thinker (innovators and scientists) or leader (political or spiritual)

Always at the forefront of our minds

Constantly on our minds – celebrities, sports personalities and partners.

Just can’t stop talking about it

Propagation to the point of obsession – think sports, personalities and work.

Tribalistic association

Often seen today in sports team associations and sometimes political affiliation also.

Sacrificing personal desires and wants for them

Devoting your time to it to the elimination of others and ones own health e.g. work or the pursuance of a passion.

Operating only under their direction

This is the meaning of seeking guidance. Where do we turn to when we need answers to difficult questions and what do we see as the ultimate authority for truth and our personal happiness?

The characteristics of worshippers

Interestingly, the Sahaba (companions of the Prophet(SAW)) also exhibited these qualities but their sole point of focus was their Creator and Lord. Ask yourself what you worship based on answering these questions.


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