For Valid Acts of Worship

By Dr. Hatem Al-Haj


“The most beloved deeds by Allah are the consistent ones, even if they were few” (Ahmad)

Each one of the religions prior to Islam was meant to address a certain people at a certain time. However, Islam came to address all people at all times since the commencement of the revelation and until the day of return to Allah.

Thus, Islam came very comprehensive to create harmony between the body and the soul, this life and the one to come, man’s obligations and rights, Islam is the practical ideal the individual and the society, etc.; in other words, . Here are some examples:

“Narrated Abu Dharr that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: It will be counted as a charity for you when you have sex with your wife. They said: ‘Oh Messenger of Allah! One of us would fulfill his desire and be rewarded?’ He said: ‘What do you think had he fulfilled it illegally, would he be punished? They said: ‘Yes’ and, he said: ‘Likewise, if he fulfills it in a wholesome way, he shall be rewarded.’” (Muslim)

Narrated Anas ibn Malik that the Prophet said: “If the hour comes and one of you has a sprout in his hand, let him plant it if he can.” (Ahmad)

Also it was narrated by Abu Hurairah that the prophet said: “He who works to provide for the widowed and the poor is like a mujahid (one who practices jihad) in the cause of Allah, and that who stands in prayers without boredom, and that who fasts indefinitely.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

For a Valid `Ibadah

There are two conditions for making the `ibadah (worship) valid:

1- Sincerity

For Allah is the most Self-sufficient and, He does not need your `ibadah; it is the sincerity of your heart that will please him, He said:

And they were commanded not, but that they should worship Allah, with sincerity and straight-forwardness and perfectly perform the prayers and give alms, and that is the right religion. (Al-Bayyinah 98:5)

And here is a clarification from the Prophet:

“Narrated Abu Umamah that a man came to the Prophet and asked: ‘What do you think of a man who went to a battle seeking the reward (from Allah) and fame, what will he get?’ The Prophet then said: ‘Nothing; Allah does not accept an action save it be sincere, and only for the sake of His Face (meaning for His pleasure).” (An-Nasa’i)

2- Authenticity

Which means that the action has to be one that is prescribed by Allah and his Prophet. For, God has completed our deen (religion) prior to the departure of the Prophet who did not leave any good, but He enjoined us to it, or bad, but He warned us from it:

Forbidden to you (for food) are: dead meat, blood, the flesh of swine, and that on which has been invoked the name of other than Allah; that which has been killed by strangling, or by a violent blow, or by a headlong fall, or by being gored to death; that which has been (partly) eaten by a wild animal; unless ye are able to slaughter it (in due form); that which is sacrificed on stone (altars); (forbidden) also is the division (of meat) by raffling with arrows: that is impiety. This day have those who reject faith given up all hope of your religion: yet fear them not but fear Me. This day have I perfected your religion for you, completed My favour upon you, and have chosen for you Islam as your religion. But if any is forced by hunger, with no inclination to transgression, Allah is indeed Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful. (Al-Ma’idah 5:3))

That is why the Prophet, in an attempt to warn us from innovations, said:

It was narrated by `A’ishah that the Prophet said: “He who invents in that matter of ours that is not from it shall have it rejected.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

Moreover, Allah tells us that those who let others than Allah prescribe for them what to do and what not, which includes what to worship Allah with, and the nature of the acts of worship, number, location, time, or associations, those who would do that have ascribed to Allah partners. Whether these are their teachers or rulers or any one else. Allah said:

What! have they partners (in godhead), who have established for them some religion without the permission of Allah? Had it not been for the Decree of Judgment, the matter would have been decided between them (at once). But verily the wrong-doers will have a grievous penalty. (Ash-Shura 42:21)

You have to worship Allah with knowledge and clarity. Verify the source of information. If you were told something is good, make sure it is evidence based. No one can tell what Allah likes or dislikes but him, through the revelation, that is the Qur’an and the Sunnah.

Better Your Worship

1- Hasten to Allah

There is no time to waste. So, beware of ‘I will’ and ‘I shall’.

Allah said:

And hasten to forgiveness from your Lord, and a Paradise as wide as the heavens and the earth, prepared for the pious. (Aal `Imran 3:133)

The Prophet said:

“Take advantage of five before five: Your youth before your old age, your health before your sickness, your wealth before your poverty, your free time before you become occupied, and your life before your death.” (Al-Hakim)

“Be in this life like a stranger or a traveler.” (Al-Bukhari)

2- Take what Allah has prescribed for you with strength

Allah said:

Take what We have given you with strength. (Al-Baqarah 2:63)

3- Be consistent

Narrated `A’ishah that the Prophet said: “The most beloved deeds by Allah are the consistent ones, even if they were few” (Ahmad)

4- Prioritize

For Allah made some deeds better than some. This also depends on the person, time, and the situation. For instance, if a Muslim asked you for help, helping him at that time may be better than all other mustahabb (preferable) deeds.

Narrated Ibn `Abbas that the Prophet said: “Walking with a Muslim brother to run an errand for him is more likeable to me than making i`tikaf (retreat) for a month in my Masjid”


The article is an excerpt from the paper “Acts of Worship as a Means to Strengthen the Attachment between the Servant and his Lord” by Dr. Hatem Al-Haj which was prepared for a conference in Austin, Texas, 2002. It first appeared at

Dr. Hatem Al-Haj is the Dean of College of Islamic Studies – Mishkah University.

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