This is an unauthorized transcript

Islamophobia 1 - Ep3

The Essence Of

Worship In Islam

Sh. Fadel Soliman

[transcribed by OmarKN]


Human Being | Prayers | Daydreaming | Reverence | Heart | Comprehension


FSIP1-08 - Sh. Fadel Soliman Islamophobia 1 -
Ep8 - The essence of worship in Islam

This is an edited transcript from this → YouTube presentation. Subtitles and footnotes are ours.
Allah knows best and most!

The Human Being Is A Complete Entity

Islam deals with the human being as a complete entity as the body and the soul.[1] Sadly many Muslims have emptied the religion of its spiritual core. And have started treating it more like a dry list of do's and don'ts. This is ironic because acts of worship are actually based on spirituality, and are there for the purpose of protecting one's life as a whole.

For example, [Muslims are not allowed to pray any prayer even one minute before its time - or in the month of Ramadan it is not allowed to break one's fast even one minute ahead of time, otherwise these items of worship have to be repeated: so this teaches Muslims discipline.][2]

Why is this so? Because Islam wants Muslims to care about (the etiquette of) punctuality and I would say correctness, or do they take it lightly?

How Prayers Are Done Correctly

That is why we must perform acts of worship with true understanding of their significance and with attention to their spiritual aspect.

Sadly the Holy Quran – God's word – is the only book which when you ask a Muslim to read it, you may be confronted with a question, ’should I read it with understanding or without understanding?’ …

Of course they [the words of God] must be read with a purpose of understanding them. (Actually one of the reasons why drinking alcohol is forbidden in Islam is because it would lead people to do the prayer without understanding what they are saying.)


{ Do not approach prayer while you are intoxicated until you know what you are saying… } 4-43

Ironically most Muslims do not drink, but still do not comprehend what they say while praying. And some insist to remain ignorant of what it is they are saying.

The prophet Muhammad MHMD (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) said: ”A Muslim does not benefit from his prayer except from those parts in which he has prayed with concentration and reflection.”

We must learn to pray with reverence and bring to mind the mightyness of God. Sadly often when we start praying and as soon as you say Allahu Akbar our mind starts to wonder and we start planning. "After I finish praying I'm going to drive to the supermarket, with the grocery list that my wife gave me.... and because I'm so scared of forgetting bread I keep reminding myself in my prayer: bread, bread, bread.’


’After that I have to get back and study for my doctorate degree, I really want to buy a house in the affluent suburb and I hope it will have a swimming pool and so on and so on.’

And all that time we were planning and day-dreaming. Everyone thinks of us as reverential, frequently going to the mosque to pray, but in reality we're just going to the mosque to plan without paying attention, rather than to pray how can we stay in the presence of God.

If any of us had a chance of meeting a great person like a CEO or a president or a king would we stand in front of any of them without really paying attention?

Daydreaming about trivial things when we meet a person of great influence or in a high position? (Rather) we (would) pay attention to every word he or she says. And concentrate on everything we say to them.

So how come we do not concentrate and pay attention when we are standing before God and talking to him during our prayers. This is exactly what is meant by the quranic verse that says:

{ And they did not render to God the respect that He deserves.} 22-74

This is the problem. So we must summon all the reverence we are capable of during prayers.
The motions that we do during prayer ... can be considered the physical part of the body of prayer, whereas reverence[3] is the soul. So any prayer (or salat) without reverence, can be considered as a body with no soul, a dead body. This kind of salat is thrown right back into the face of the one who performed it, like a worthless rag.

As for the other kind of setup the prayer done in reverence will ascend to Heaven and when the Angels inquire as to what this beautiful thing is, they will be told: this is the salat, which was performed with reverence by so and so. This is the kind of salat, that we must all be doing - with God consciousness.

How To Pray With Consciousness?

How can we do that? Scholars have said that praying with God consciousness is best done by envisioning death.

When we perform Salat you must imagine that you are now standing before God on Judgement Day. On your right side you have Heaven on your left side you have Hell. And you are passing on the sirat, a straight and narrow path. All of this helps in making us focus, but there are still many worldly things that distract us while we pray, such as money, carrier, marriage, and relationships and studies, all of these are distractions.

Very well my advice is to take all of these distractions... take them all in your hands and toss them behind your back and say Allahu Akbar, takbirati-l ahram and start praying. Your meeting with Allah (swt - may His Majesty be exalted!) has started. And everything else needs to take a backseat for now. All of these worldly things are really worth nothing. One big zero - all worldly pleasures will come to an end. In describing Judgement Day, Allah Almighty says in the Quran:

{ Indeed We will make everything on earth but as dry, coarse sand.} 18-8

It is just as if a building has collapsed, it becomes a pile of rubble. And underneath that rubble there can be expensive furniture…

So when we pray we should focus and concentrate what we are saying to God, and on what God is saying to us, because praying is actually a conversation between you and God…

For example when you say in the Fatiha:

{ Praise be to Allah, the Lord of the worlds.} 1-2

Then God says:
My faithful servant so and so is thanking Me.
He actually calls you by your name, that is because God says:

{ Remember me and I will remember you.} 2-152

So how can one hear that and not care about remembering God and giving Him all due respect?

What Is Worshiped - By Whom?

One common allegation against Islam is that it is a pagan religion. Because when Muslims pray they have to face the Kaaba… so it's obvious they worship that stone building.…

A non-muslim may wonder: ”Why don't they just pray anywhere and in any direction?”

1. The Kaaba is not an idol to be worshiped. Muslims believe that the Kaaba can neither harm nor benefit anyone, nor can it have a role in deciding their destiny.
2. The Kaaba is actually the first house of worship that was ever built on earth. First built by Adam and then rebuilt by Prophet Ibrahim and his son (a.s.). The reason why we face it when we pray is that it unites us in concentric circles around it… spreading all over the earth.

When I stand to pray individually, I still say to God: ”It is You we worship and It is You we seek for help.[4] And it is you we seek for help, because when I pray I'm actually not alone. I am in a circle, there other brothers and sisters who are praying with me in that circle… (maybe they are in China or Denmark or on a boat or on a mountain). The Kaaba gives me the sense of universality of the religion and it unites people all over the world in concentric circles in worship.

At the end of the prayer we say the final words of "at-Tahhiyāt", meaning all prayers, all greetings and our worship are for Allah, peace be upon you O Prophet, and upon us mercy and blessings and peace be upon us and all righteous servants of Allah.

This should make us remember all the other Muslims all over the world (as brothers and sisters) facing the Kaaba and praying too. This is the true significance of this act of worship. One must feel the spirituality in it.

Salat (prayer) is the means by which a True Believer can for a brief period transcend everything and meet God.

Daily dhikr or remembrance of God and supplications to Him are also very important. Islam treats a person as a combination of body and soul. We take pretty good care of our bodies we feed our bodies by giving them the nutrition and the medication that it needs, we stand in front of the mirror for ages primping and preening, we watch our weight and monitor it vigilantly - there's so much emphasis on the body when it is actually the soul that deserves most of our attention.

If my soul were to leave my body right now, would I keep watching this video or would I turn off this screen and get out… If my soul leaves my body right now, it means the most important thing about me is God.… Who feeds the soul and takes care of it. That is the real issue. That is why when we neglect our souls by neglecting to perform acts of worship such as invocation of God and supplication to him the result is that the soul becomes weak and ailing and depression sets in.

Loneliness of The Heart

One of the great ancient scholars, called Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya, coined the phrase: ’loneliness of the heart’ to denote depression. A lonely heart is an empty heart, devoid of love for God devoid of remembrance of God.[6]

So the mention of God and supplication to Him on various occasions throughout the day known as dhikr together with the five daily prayers (or alone) are actually the nutrition for our souls.

This is because it is God who gave me the soul. I cannot connect with God through my five senses. Connection with God must be done through spiritual means. Through daily salah (prayers), through dhikr (act of remembrance), through invocation of God, through reading Quran and finally through contemplation of God's creation all around us.

When I observe a flower or a bee or any other of God's creation and wonder at their magnificence and beauty it reminds me of the verse in the Quran that says:

{ Such is the creation of God who perfected everything.} 27-88

Have a look outside… at the wonders of nature.[5]

This is all nutrition for the soul. The different forms of remembrance recited at various times of the day are also very important.

How beautiful it is to start your day by saying:

"We have reached the morning and at this time, unto God belongs all sovereignity, and all praise is for God. None has the right to be worshipped except Allah, alone and without partners. There is no God but Him, and to Him all returns."

And how pleasant it is to end your day by saying:

"We have reached the evening while holding on to the religion of Islam and the word of sincerity. We adhere to the religion of our Prophet Muhammad peace and blessings be upon, and to the religion of our forefather Abraham, for he was not a polytheist."

In Constant Contact With God

It is such a pleasant thing when someone is in a constant state of remembrance of God, knowing that God too will remember him, as long as he himself remembers God. This is because God says

{ Remember me and I'll remember you, and be thankful to Me and do not reject faith.} 2-152

There are also various forms of remembrance (or adhkars) for various occasions…

This is the importance of the acts of worship. They must be performed with understanding, with reverence, with reflection, because we need to be in constant contact with God through all of these forms of worship and through regular pondering on the words of God in the Quran. Connecting with God is the source of power that motivates people (to do good)…

Doing good:
For example the Ansar where the original residents of Medina… (they competed with each other who would take in the refugees - al-Muhajerūn - from Mecca.)

Someone may wonder how much faith and piety these people had.
(Someone else may answer, well they had the Prophet ( sallAllahu `aleihi wa sallam ) among themselves, they were directly influenced by him, however would you believe that - most of these people - the Ansar - at that time had never even set eyes upon the Prophet MHMD yet…

Well maybe it was a matter of worship, that they performed a lot of worship, (however during that time the Muslims could actually drink wine during the day in Ramadan something unthinkable today - this was because the revelations in question had not come down yet.) So it wasn't an abundance of worship that made these people like that, nor was it close acquaintance with the prophet, so what was it then?

They Had The Quran

It was simply the Quran. It was the only thing they had then, which we do not have now.

Someone may argue and say: "but we have the Quran with us now!"

No actually we do not.
We only have the words of the Quran, but we do not have that Spirit of Quran, when the Quran is read with comprehension and contemplation it changes a person completely.
The greatest miracle of the Quran are not the scientific miracles within it nor its legislative miracles contained in it… The greatest miracle of the Quran is actually the Islamic Nation (umma), that changed completely when it read it, contemplated upon it and understood it.[7]

That is why from now on we must not to read the Quran except with reflection, with understanding, with sincerity and with a sense that the Quran is addressing our feelings[8] in order to nurture us and transform us into better people, quranic people.


1: Another way to categorise the human being is seeing it with three levels, which are the spirit (rūh ), soul (nafs ) and body (jism ). In the above exposition the nafs is understood as a comprehensive level of different sorts, the ego - and the higher levels of the soul.

2: [Text in Square brackets] are our own wording - not quotes, OKN.

3: reverence: taqwa, deep respect for someone or something - here: ~ of God - Allah; ‘standing in awe of ~ ’;

4: In prayer I do not say, ”It is You I worship and It is You I seek for help, but ’we’.

5: If you have a look outside and you will see everything perfect around you was made by God. Even the dry tree - zoom in and zoom out and marvel at the perfection of the geometrical shapes and lines inside it. Zoom out and look at the Blue Sky and the green grass, again a marvel created by God who perfected everything.

6: He also said:

”There’s a sadness in the heart,
that can only be removed
by intimacy with God.”

7: understood it: and acted upon it (the Quran)

8: addressing our feelings: and first and foremost our intellects

Related links

- Religion The Opiate Of The Masses? Sh. Fadel Soliman [transcr.]
- Kafir, kufr; Sh. Fadel Soliman [transcr.]

- What Makes A Person Kafir? Shaykh Gibril F Haddad
- Who is a kafir? Omar KN
- Who Are The Disbelievers? Sh. Hamza Yusuf [summarized]

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latest update: 2018-05-11

* living Islam – Islamic Tradition *