Paper Presented at the 15th International
Leadership Training programme IslamabadPakistan01-31st October 1998 by Prof Dr Omar Hasan Kasule, International Islamic University, Malaysia.
CONCEPTS OF TAQWA and ‘IBADAT
2.0 TAHARAT AND SALAT
3.0 FASTING (SAUM)
4.0 GIVING (INFAQ/ SADAQAT)
5.0 PILGRIMAGE (HAJJ)
1.0 CONCEPTS OF TAQWA and ‘IBADAT
There is no correct English translation for the word taqwa.
It is commonly translated erroneously to mean fear. Humans undertake good actions and avoid evil ones not only out of
fear of Allah’s punishment in case of default, but to express gratitude to Allah for the gift of life and the bounties
they enjoy on earth. Taqwa is the only true and invariable criterion of superiority
among humans (p 246 49:13). Taqwa or its absence have a major impact on human action
(p 245 2:2-4… 77:41-44). At an individual level the practical manifestations of taqwa are: doing good, undertaking ‘ibadat, and avoiding bad actions. At a societal level the practical manifestations
of taqwa are enjoining good (amr bi al maruf) and forbidding the bad (nahy ‘an al munkar). Among the consenquences of taqwa are: love
of Allah (p 246 3:76…45:19), success (falah) (3:130…39:61), nasr (p 246-247 2:212…16:128), and good behaviour (p 248-249 2:2-5…65:10).
‘Ibadat is the purpose of creation. ‘Ibadat in Islam is a comprehensive concept
that embraces all human endeavours. Whatever humans do in sincerity and without disobeying any of Allah’s commands is
a form of worship and they will be rewarded for it. Thus ‘ibadat is the practical
expression of taqwa.
‘Ibadat can be structured or non-structured. Structured ‘ibadat can be obligatory
or non-obligatory. The obligatory prayers and paying of zakat are examples of structured ibadat. These physical acts of ibadat
must be performed accurately. This is part of Islam’s teaching of excellence (ihsan).
Orderly and organised activity is conducive to spiritual growth and development. The rest of human endeavours are also ibadat
but are not structured. Obligatory acts of ibadat are associated with a reward if performed and punishment if neglected. Non-obligatory
acts of ibadat are associated only with a reward if performed; there is no punishment for their neglect.
Ibadat must be constant and in all circumstances and is not confined to certain places,
times, or occasions. The whole purpose of human creation is the worship of Allah. Only Allah is worthy of worship (. P 776 19:93…44:18). Ibadat is Allah’s right
and He punishes those who do not fulfil it. Humans were given a free will to choose what to do and not what not to do within
the limited human capacity. Life is therefore a test for them whether they will choose the right path of ‘ibadat or they will choose otherwise.
All human activities can be ‘ibadat. There
must be a balance between these various activities for a harmonious life. No one act should be done to excess to the detriment
of others. For example prayer at night is ibadat. It should not be done to such an excess that the ‘ibadat of looking for a livelihood the next morning is not possible. Although every human endeavour can
be ‘ibadat, only those undertaken with the correct intention (niyyat) are rewarded as ibadat. An act of ibadat can therefore not be accidental. It must be a consenquence of
a deliberate choice and intention.
Fulfilling acts of ibadat brings a reward (thawab)
to the worshipper in addition to societal advantages. All prescribed acts of ibadat have a social purpose. Salat is best
offerred in congregation with one leader (imaam). Adhan (, 62:9) has to be recited loudly to announce salat because
salat is a public community event. Facing one qiblat (2:144) in salat emphasises unity of the world-wide community of believers.
Salat al Jumat (62:9) is weekly gathering of the whole community. Salat al eid is an bigger annual gathering. Hajj is the
great assembly where once a year Muslims from all nations and places get together and worship together. Zakat is a system
of mutual social support that provides for everybody’s welfare. Fasting is a voluntary experience of hunger that makes
the rich sensitive to the plight of the poor who can not get enough food.
Ma’asiyat is the opposite of ibadat. It is neglect of prescribed duties or committing forbidden acts.
2.0 TAHARAT AND SALAT
The concept of taharat in Islam refers to ritual, spiritual, and physical purity and cleaniliness.
It has social and civilisational dimensions. The Qur’an has devoted many verses on taharat ().
There is a link between physical and ritual purity. Physical purity is ridding one-self
of dirt and physical impurities (najasat). Being physically clean is conducive
to ritual purity. In many cases both physical and ritual purity occur at the same time for example bathing (ghusl) after sexual intercourse, at the end of menstruation, and after birth.
Taharat embraces cleaniliness. A clean environment and a clean body are part of aesthetic beauty and are also necessary for
sanitation and health. There are some cases like tayammum in which taharat is achieved without cleaniliness as usually understood by humans.
Taharat is in itself a form of ‘ibadat as well as preparation for other forms
of ‘ibadat. Since worship is direct communication with Allah, taharat can also be viewed as a protocol preparation for an important event. Some forms of ‘ibadat like salat and hajj
can not be valid without taharat. The holy Qur’an can not be touched unless
one is in a state of taharat. Physical purity for salat embraces the body, the clothes, the place, and the atmosphere. The prophet for example forbade eating of
food with strong orders and then coming to the mosque in order to keep the mosque atmosphere clean and pleasant .
One of the unique bounties for the ummat is
that the earth was made a purifying agent. The cleaning agents are water and dust. There are several types of water: not clean
in itself and not able to cleanse, clean in itself but not able to cleanse, clean in itself and also able to cleanse something
else. Water that may appear clean may have filth, infectious organisms, or chemical pollutants that make it unsuitable for
cleansing. The level or amount of impurity is imoportant. A little impurity does not necessarily make water unsuitable for
Insitnjah is the process of removing excrement from the body. It has its specific regulations and etiquettes. Wudu involves cleaning the exposed parts of the body. It is recommended that a Muslim stays in a state of purity
most of the time. Ghusl is washing the whole body after sexual relations, at the
end of the menstrual period, at the end of post-partum bleeding, on becoming a Muslim or in relation to performing some types
of ibadat such as hajj. Oral hygiene
by using a tooth-pick (miswak) is encouraged by Islam.
Salat is the most important formal act of ‘ibadat. It was ordained in heaven;
the prophet had to make a special journey for this on the night of isra and miraaj. Salat is so important that it is
considered a distinguishing characteristic of Muslims. True Muslims keep it all the time, muhafadhat
ala al salat (p 713 2:238…107:4-5). Deliberate refusal to pray puts the individual concerned outside the community
of Islam. Neglect of salat is a great sin (107:4-5)
Salat has advantages and a lasting impact on the individual (p 710-11 23:1-2…87:14-15). Regular salat protects the
worshipper from committing evils and transgression (29:45). Salat properly offerred cleanses and expiates sins. Salat is direct
communication between the worshipper and Allah. The actions of qiyaam, sujuud, and rukuu (p 564 ….96:19)
are all direct actions of respect and reverence that the worshipper performs infront of the creator (23:1-2). Khushu is necessary for validity of salat otherwise it becomes a series of routine physical movements with no
Salat has advantages for the society. Salat in congregation or in the mosque has
the social advantage of bringing people together in worship and to strengthen their brotherhood. The spirit of brotherhood
and social organization is reflected in the requirement to straighten rows, to stand shoulder-to-shoulder and to follow the
imaam. The whole community meets five times a day in congregational prayer. The
larger community meets once a week on Friday. An even larger gathering occurs during the 2 festival prayers (salat al eidain). The biggest gathering is at the kaaba in Makka. Salat also prevents committingfahishat and munkar
There are several types of salat. Some are obligatory
like the 5 daily salats, salat al jum’a, and salat al janazat. Many more are voluntary or supererogatory for example salat
al tahajjud or qiyam al layl (p 713 17:78-79…76:26, 17:79, 73:1-7, 73:20,
51:17), salat al eid, and salat al witr.
Some salat is for special reasons for example fear (salat al khawf),consultation (salat
al istikharat), asking for rain (salat al istisqaa), solar eclipse (salat al khusuf).
The physical actions of salat must be done exactly in order to get spiritual involvement.
Islam being a complete civilisation emphasises perfection, excellence and order. Disorderly salat is not conducive to spiritual elevation. Salat has pillars (arkaan
al salat), conditions for validity (shurut al salat), and actions that nullify
it (mubtilaat al salat).
Obligatory prayers have fixed times (4:103). The best of ibadat is prayer in its time.
Salat times are set in such a way that there is continuos communication with the creator. Each of the 5 obligatory salats
is offerred at any time somewhere on the globe thanks to the diferent time zones.
There are times in which salat can not be offered. Salat is not allowed at sunrise and
sunset to avoid confusion with worshippers of the sun. Salat should also be delayed if the physical conditions will not allow
undivided attention and concentration for example conditions of extreme heat, extreme cold, or hunger is the presence of food.
Salat is so important that it can not be left even in difficult circumstances. While on
a journey the salat can be shortened or offerred before or after its prescribed time (4:101). The sick are permitted to abridge
or modify the physical movements of the salat. Soldiers in the battle-field can pray abridged prayers and physical movements
are changed. Women are excused from salat during the period of menstruation because
of the associated physiological stress.
Among the bounties of Allah on the ummat is
that salat can be offerred anywhere on earth and not necessarily in prescribed
places. Muslims are encouraged to offer supererogatory prayers in their homes so that the houses do not become graves. Being
in the mosque (itikaaf) (2:187) even without active engagement in salat is a source
3.0 FASTING (SAUM)
The definition of fasting as prohibition of entry of anything through any of the external
body orifices is figurative but is true. Food and drink through the mouth are not allowed. Smoking and other inhalants are
also forbidden. Sexual relations are strictly forbidden. All these prohibitions operate during the day-light hours because
fasting is not obligatory at night.
Fasting is ibadat that teaches self-control. A fasting person is able to control the food
instinct, perhaps the most powerful human instinct. The sense of self-control gained is extendable to other situations of
temptation to evil or when facing difficulties.
Fasting also has the further advantage that it teaches compassion for the poor and the
hungry in a practical way. The wealthy who fast taste of hunger and can appreciate the cry for help from the poor and less
privileged. Without this obligatory fasting the wealthy would never taste real hunger.
Fasting does not make the body suffer to attain spiritual benefit. The concept of ascetism
in this sense is alien to the Islamic creed. There is no spiritual advantage in punishing or persecuting the body or causing
it any harm.
Fasting is not harmful to the body’s physiology. The sick, the young, the travellers,
pregnant women, menstruating women, breast-feeding mothers, and any other persons for whom fasting is an extra burden are
excused from fasting or are asked to fast at a different time when they are physiologically competent.
When undertaken according to the teachings of the prophet, fasting should not disturb the
normal activities needed to work for feeding the family or undertaking ‘ibadat.
There are several types of fasting. Some fasting like that of Ramadhan is obligatory. Most
other types of fasting are non-obligatory. There are some types of fasting undertaken as a punitive measure.
Fasting has pillars, conditions of validity, and nullifiers. Knowledge of these is necessary
to perform fasting correctly.
There are several medical advantages of fasting. Abundant epidemiological evidence has
proved that diet is a co-factor in heart diseases and cancer. People or communities with excessive intake of certain types
of foods are at increased risk for these diseases. Tobacco is linked to lung and oral cancers. In all such cases there is
weak will-power to control appetite for food or tobacco. Fasting teaches appetite control. Its advantages should not be looked
at only as deprivation of food for a limited time. The focus should be looked on the long-term benefits that a fasting person
gets from strengthening will-power and stopping eating or smoking even if they feel like to eat more.
Fasting takes place in the month of Ramadhan. It is part of the new civilisation ushered
in by Islam that Muslims have to determine accurately the start and end of Ramadhan and have to watch the calendar carefully.
Fasting has a beneficial impact on the daily routine of life. It is surprising to many
people to discover that their daily life routines are tightly controlled by the pattern of meals. A fasting person feels a
sense of liberation in Ramadhan when the routines of daily life are changed. Ramadhan is therefore a time of stock-taking
when a person can look back in his her life when he or she is in a different mood.
4.0 GIVING (INFAQ/ SADAQAT)
The concept of sadaqat in Islam is very comprehensive. It covers all good actions however
small they may be. You can be charitable by saying a good word, refraining from saying a bad word, by giving money, by helping
others with your hands, and by thinking good of others.
Sadaqat has three main purposes: (a) improve the giver (9:104) (b) cleanse wealth (p 531
9:103, 9:1-3) (c) improve society. All three can be achieved from one single act of charity.
Sadaqat has benefits for the giver. The giver has to part with something considered dear.
He or she must struggle against the human tendency to be covetous and selfish (al shuhhu).
Those who give overcome the acquisitive instinct that leads humans to accumulate wealth by all means, fair or foul, and never
get satified. The more one gives he or she becomes a fuller human being. Thus giving becomes part of human liberation.
The recipient has needs relieved and feel as a member of a mutually supportive community.
Sadaqat thus creates psychological security. Individuals in the community know that if there is a need some-ne will help them.
This feeling of security covers both the wealthy and the deprived. The wealthy today may become the needy of tomorrow.
Sadaqat is a system of social mutual support. Those who have share with those who do not
have. This increases social cohesivenenss and the feeling of brotherhood.
There are several types of sadaqat. Sadaqat can be obligatory or voluntary. It can be open
or private; the private being better (2:271). Sadaqat is closely related to iman
(23:1-4) and taqwa (2:2-3).
The obligatory sadaqat, zakat, is a unique institution
in social support and social welfare. The giver is obliged by law to give. The receiver does not feel that he is inferior
because he is being helped because what is given to him is on instructions from Allah. The zakat that the poor receive is
a right that they have in the wealth of the rich (51:19).
Zakat al maal is paid from wealth if there is a quorum. If the institution of zakat was operating fully as is required by law, there
would be no destitution in the ummat today.
Zakat al fitr is a fixed amount paid on behalf of each member of the family at the end of the fasting month of Ramadhan. It plays
a very important social and psychological function. The less priviledged are assured that they can take part in the festivities
at the end of the fasting month.
5.0 PILGRIMAGE (HAJJ)
Hajj is obligatory only on those financially and physically capable (3:97). There are obligations that take precedence over
hajj like jihad, caring for parents and the family.
Hajj is a unique institution found in no other religion or community. It involves worship of Allah but at the same time
fulfills social and ummatic functions. In hajj Muslims, men and women, come from
all the world to worship together. This reminds them of the power and majesty of the creator to whom all people turn. It also
reminds each individual that he or she is not alone but is part of a world-wide community ofbelievers. In hajj all pilgrims do the same rites again a reminder of the
unity of humanity in worship. The male pilgrims are all dressed in the same way. The rich and the poor, the powerful and the
weak, the famous and the unknown are all reminded that in front of Allah they are all the same. Hajj is also an occasion for social interaction. Trade is allowed mainly for this purpose. Thus hajj is a big international conference of the ummat and if its significance
were well appreciated the ummat would be more united and more cohesive.
Hajj in unfortunately not a political and economic forum for the ummat at the
moment. If an attempt were made to make it the ummatic annual summit that it should
be, the existing schisms in the ummat would predominate over the unity and the
‘ibadat would not be carried out well. We have to be careful in hajj not to undertake activities that will distract from the main purpose of worship.
Hajj has prescribed rites (2:196-203). Each of the hajj rites has its spiritual
and social significance. Circumbulation of the kaaba (Tawaaf) signifies unity of
the community of believers. This community has both time and place dimensions. Believers have always been coming to go around
the house from time immemorial and will do so until the end of the world. Believers come from all parts of the world. This
community of believers also includes angels in the high heavens who circumbulate bayt
al ma’mur which is in heaven directly above the kaaba. A worshipper at the kaaba is therefore part of this big community
of worshippers. This gives encouragement and motivation.
The trot between safa and marwa (al sa’ay) signifies strength and hope in times of adversity
as did the mother of Ismail who was left in Makka with no water or provisions and was running between the two hillocks in
fear and hope until Allah delivered her and her son fromdanger
Standing in the plain of Arafat (wuquf arafat)
signifies the unity and equality of humanity. People of all colours and nationalities gather in one plain with only one purpose,
the worship of Allah.
Stone-throwing (ram’yu a; jamarat) signifies
the determination not to succumb to the temptations of shaitan. This symbolism commemorates the victory of the patriarch of
the believers Ibrahim (PBUH) over shaitan who tried to distract him from executing
The city of Makka has a special spiritual significance for the Muslim (3:96, 2:125-127, -37,
5:97, ). It is the religious capital of the ummat and perhaps of humanity. It has the holy kaaba , a sacred
hiuse (al bayt al haram) that allMuslims
face in their prayers (p 214-215 2:125 … 106:3). It is a city of peace that is open to all Muslims. The visitor and
resident have the same equal rights, a situation that is not found in other places on earth.
Hajj has pillars (arkan al hajj), conditions
for validity (shurut al hajj), forbidden things (mawaniu al hajj), and nullifiers (mubtilaat al hajj). Every intending
pilgrim must know these things in order to perform hajj correctly and fully. Details are discussed in a later volume of this
Look up and list various translations
of the term taqwa
What are the advantages of
ibadat from your personal experience?
What is the impact of ibadat on character?
Try to make a check-list of
your ibadat actvities in a typical day
Assess the general cleaniliness
of your community; does it fulfil the Islamic ideal?
What do you know about the
problem of water in arid Muslim countries
What is the relation between
physical and ritual purity
Think of your particular community
and discuss the general understanding of salat as ritual
How well do people in your
community observe salat?
What can you suggest to improve
salat observance in your community?
List social and community
advantages of congregational prayers
Make a small survey among
your close friends on distraction in salat? What is the solution?
List the advantages of fasting:
social, spiritual, and medical
What are the main differences
between voluntary and involuntary fasting
Explain how fasting leads
to self control
What are the social and spiritual
advantages of sadaqat: to the giver and the recipient
Describe the payment of zakat
and sadaqat in your your community
List spiritual advantages
of zakat as given in the Qur’an
Explain how the zakat institution
can be the basis of a social welfare system
Can zakat replace other types
of government or civil taxes taxes? Give reasons for your view.
Explain how hajj can be a
political assembly of the ummat
What aspects of hajj emphasises equality and universality
Explain how hajj can be an economic forum
What public health precautions
are needed in hajj?
What do you think about fixing
quotas of pilgrims for each country?