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There are three elements of Ibaadah (worship): Love, fear, and expectations.

Let’s analyse each of these three.
Love: Having passion and love in performing acts of Ibaadah.
This means loving the very performance of Ibaadah and, thereby, expressing your love towards Allah, because He is the One who commanded you to do it in the first place.
Let’s take an example of two ladies who wear the Hijab. One wears proper Hijab along with the Niqab (face veil) simply because she sees it as an act of Ibaadah towards her Lord. The other too wears the correct Hijab along with the Niqab, but she does so out of compulsion (either from her family or culture), and therefore, she doesn’t see it as Ibaadah.
There’s a Qaa’idah (ruling) in the principles of Fiqh which says:
“Matters are according to their intentions.”
What we do will be judged according to our intention for doing it. Thus, we can conclude that if we perform an act of worship, but we don’t do it out of love for Allah, or to obey His commands, or to fulfill our obligations towards Him, then what we’re doing is not really Ibaadah because we lack the feeling of love towards the action. And Allah doesn’t look at the quantity of our Ibaadah, but He looks at the quality and intentions behind it.

Fear: Abstaining from whatever displeases Allah and maintaining Taqwa (piety; God-consciousness).
This includes avoiding actions and behaviors that we know are prohibited by Allah out of fear of Allah’s displeasure and anger.
Let’s see an example here as well.
A long time ago in Yemen, there lived a shaykh named Abi Shayban. He was very old (about 160 years), yet he was very healthy, fit, and strong (may Allah have mercy on him), so much so that when challenged to compete with a young boy in a race, he defeated the boy and won. The people of Yemen were awe-struck by his fitness and vigor. They were curious to know what made him so strong and energetic. So they asked him about it. What did he do that kept him so healthy? What does he eat? How is he this fit at this age? What is the secret behind this incredible strength?
His simple response is enough to keep us pondering over it:

تقوى الله، كنت أحفظ الله في صغري و الله حفظني في كبري

“Fear of Allah. I used to protect Allah (meaning: I used to safeguard His rights by following His commandments and abstaining from His prohibitions) when I was small, and now, Allah protects me when I am at my old age.”
Subhan Allah! These are words that if we ruminate and reflect upon, we will surely realize that Allah is indeed Al-Haafidh (The Protector) and Al-Qaadir (The Omnipotent). He doesn’t go against His words when He declares:

وَعْدَ اللَّهِ لَا يُخْلِفُ اللَّهُ وَعْدَهُ وَلَٰكِنَّ أَكْثَرَ النَّاسِ لَا يَعْلَمُونَ

“(This is) Allah’s promise! Allah will not fail His promise, but most people do not know.” (Surah Ar-Room; Verse 6) (English – Shakir)

Expectations: Having hope in Allah’s decree and expecting reward in Ibaadah.
While performing acts of Ibaadah, a Muslim must always keep in mind that none of his/her worship goes wasted. Allah has promised His slaves that He will grant them Jannah if they follow His commandments and abstain from prohibitions. Therefore, when we do as He says, we can surely expect Ajr (consequence) and Thawaab (reward) from Him, whilst bearing in mind that we keep our deeds clear from Riyaa (showing off), or Ijbaar (coercion), or simply to please anyone other than Allah. Our intentions should not be to just fulfill our responsibilities but it must also include having high expectations from Allah because He is seeing us performing deeds that are pleasing to Him, and undoubtedly, He will reward us abundantly for it.
A practical example of the above lies in writing this article. The writer understands that Allah knows the intention behind writing this article. Why is this message being written? What purposes does it fulfill? What motivates the writer to spend time writing this?
Simply, the writer is expecting rewards from Allah for writing this article, hoping that this message will help fellow Muslims who come across it, and thereby multiply the rewards that the writer is expecting from Him (May Allah accept this through His Mercy).
With that, we ask Allah to always accept all acts of Ibaadah from us!

Written by: Sr. Amatullah B.M.



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