We can compare Islam, with which Allah lifted us, with a very strong tree with deep roots, strong trunk, branches and fruit. The root of this tree is “Al-‘Ubudiyyah”, being a true slave of Allah, a feeling that overwhelms the heart of a Mu’min (a true believer).
The trunk of the tree, its branches are in obedience to the Almighty, in fulfillment of His commands, in the rejection of all forbidden by Him. The roots go deep into the earth and the fruit of the tree are the happiness that Allah gives to Muslims, the force after having been weak, the victory after the defeat, the unity after the split-up.
The unity, leadership, Muslims’ victories are the fruit of the tree, that roots deep into the earth. We can support the above example by an Ayah from the Qur’an, where the Creator says: “Seest thou not how Allah sets forth a parable?” It is about a goodly word, the word of Islam, or the entire confession of Islam. In this verse Allah compares Islam with a fruit-bearing tree with firmly-fixed roots, and the branches reaching to the heavens; and it always bears fruit at the will of its Creator.
That means that Islamic root is our being the slaves of Allah consciously. This feeling is the trunk of the tree, which is rooted in the obedience to the Almighty, observing all His commands and prohibitions. This ensures the happiness in both worlds.
`Ibadah and `Ubudiyah.
We can ask: what is the difference between Ibadah and Ubudiyah? Ibadah is the worship, obeying the commands and prohibitions of the Almighty. Ubudiya his servitude to Allah, the constant feeling, that you are a slave to the Creator, that you entirely belong to Him, together with everything you supposedly own in this world. This feeling that should never leave a Mu’min is the root of Islam! It is the feeling that overwhelms the heart of a Mu’min, which brings him to the highest degree of humbleness before Allah. It is the humbleness before the Almighty who created the heaven and the earth, who created us, who is the Master of the Universe and all that is in it and around it.
When talking about humbleness, we must have a proper notion of it. This is the humbleness, which is the true achievement of a Mu’min, his true dignity. This is the divine feeling, which fills the heart of a Mu’min. Thus, Ubudiyah is hidden state rooted deeply into the heart and soul of Mu’mins and Ibadah is the branches and trunk sprouting from the roots. This is a voluntary fulfillment of Allah’s commands, obedience to His will, and refraining from His prohibitions.
This is the distinction between Ubudiyah and Ibadah in brief.
It is noteworthy, that the Ibadah, that brings us closer to Allah and leads to His content, has value only when it has roots in Ubudiyah, the feeling of servitude to Allah. Our deeds must stem from these roots.
The Servant of Allah.
If Ibadah is isolated from the roots, or has no connection to them whatsoever, it cannot bring us closer to the Almighty. When we go deeper into the meaning of the Ayah, that describes Muhammad (pbuh), we see that Allah describes him precisely by these feelings, this Ubudiyah. Allah calls him ‘a servant’, rather than ‘a messenger’ or ‘a prophet’. Allah in the Qur’an says: “Blessed is He who sent down the criterion to His servant.” As this verse shows, the Almighty calls Muhammad (pbuh) “a servant”. Also, Allah says: “And if ye are in doubt as to what We have revealed from time to time to Our servant, then produce a Surah like there unto.” You see, Allah always uses the word “servant”. The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) also liked the most the title of the “servant of Allah”. When Allah gave some sort of support to the Prophet (pbuh), e.g. victory over the enemies, the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) was not euphoric or elated by this success. Instead of pride and arrogance he had a deeper sense of being the servant of Allah.
Recall the conquest day of Mecca. Mecca was filled with the enemies of the Messenger of Allah (pbuh). These were the people, who banished the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) from his native city, chased him everywhere. Sometime later, Allah gave him a victory over his enemies. But even on this day the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) did not raise his head when coming into the city. At the moment, more than ever, he was aware of being the “servant of Allah”. He said: “Praise be to Allah Who supported His servant.” Note that he did not say to “His messenger”, but to “His servant”.
Our life is Separated from the Rules and Regulations of Islam!
We should look in our hearts and souls for these roots. Without obedience to Allah, the sense of servitude to Him our deeds have no value, our actions lose meaning.
Most of us do not have those roots. And we all know, that if the tree does not have strong root, going deep into the ground, this tree does not live long. Most of us comply with the formal Islam, which lacks this feeling. Many of us need these roots.
For example, when we are in the mosque, do Salah, observe all religious rites, etc., we feel our servitude to Allah, but when we return to our business, most of us lose this feeling. When we deal with our business partners, Islam is not there. We are distant from the rules and regulations of Islam. Neither do most of us adhere to Islam in their relations with the family and children. We also disregard Islam when we are earning our living, e.g. in the market. Our life is separated from the rules and regulations of Islam! And it is because we have no roots in our hearts. We know that we must separate ourselves from the religion. Islam is our way of life. Allah says in the Qur’an: “Say: “Truly, my prayer and my service of sacrifice, my life and my death, are (all) for Allah, the Cherisher of the Worlds.” Unfortunately, we feel our servitude to Allah only when worshiping. This is terrible. This is because our worship has no roots, no sense of servitude to Allah, the sense that Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) , the best creation of the Almighty, enjoyed very much. For our religion is what is in these roots.
Nowadays, the souls of Muslims lack these roots, we often come across the expressions like “Islamic ideologists”, “Islamic ideology”; not in our press, of course, but in the world and eastern press. Two hundred years ago there was no such thing and people, because Islam is not just an ideology. Islam is the roots, the feeling of servitude to the Creator. That is the basis of our religion.
When a person finds the roots, the feeling of Allah’s constant surveillance, wherever he is, then he is in Islam.
When we sow these seeds in our souls, we obey our religious norms; for example, when we go to the market to earn a living, we can still be worshiping Allah, because we did not separate our trade, business from Islam. This is how we can worship, while earning our living!
Here is an example: when someone from the loved ones is in the hospital, everyone comes to see him: both Muslims and non-Muslims. We know that visiting the sick is a very goodly act in Islam. You can visit a patient because it is a usual norm; everyone goes, and I also have to. Or you can do it, because you count on having visitors too, when you are sick. This is a custom, not a religion. This is not Islam. If a Muslim goes to visit a sick person for Allah’s content and complies with the ethics of visiting the sick, he can safely assume that he has worshiped the Almighty and has earned his satisfaction. Also, if a person honestly sells in the market, describes in detail the goods, does not hide the defects and does not cheat the buyers, he turns his trade into the worship of Allah, because in this case he also fears Allah’s wrath and seeks His content. So it should be in all spheres of our lives, with no exception!
Our religion embraces all the activities that we can turn into worship. Therefore, we must strive to ensure that the tree of our religion has these strong roots. We must constantly feel the eyes of the All-Seeing, All-Hearing Allah and ask the Almighty to give us these strong roots!