بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
In the name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful
Excerpt from the book WORSHIP
(FROM AL-NASAIH AL-DINNYYAH by IMAM ABDULLAH IBN ALAWI AL-HADDAD),
Translated by Sheikh Abdul Aziz Ahmed, published by Kitaba-Islamic Texts for the Blind, Glasgow UK
IBADAH, WORSHIP, is the purpose of our existence. Allah says, ‘I have not created man or jinn except to worship Me’.To worship Him means to recognise Him and then to submit to Him. The angel Jibril was sent to teach us that religion consists of three interconnected elements, iman (belief), islam (submitting to Him through worship) and ihsan (excellence in one’s relationship with Allah and creation). Iman is the process of recognising Him and being aware of Him. One articulates this through the declaration known as the shahadah, where one declares la ilaha illAllah wa Muhammadu rasulallah, there is no god but Allah and Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah. A sincere declaration of faith should lead to loving awe.This is called Taqwa. It is defined as, ‘fulfilling the commandments of Allah and avoiding His prohibitions both inwardly and outwardly while feeling adoration and reverence for Allah as well as awe, fear and dread.’ This had been dealt with in the first book in this series. The book of Worship deals with the second element of the religion and provides a more detailed explanation of obedience. The Prophet, upon him be peace, described the foundation of worship: ‘Islam has been built on five pillars: Bearing witness that there is no god but Allah and Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah, establishment of the ritual prayer, the giving of Zakat, fasting in Ramadan and performing of Pilgrimage.’
The word Salah, ritual prayer, is derived from the root ‘wa-sa-la’ which means to ‘to connect’. It is said that the ‘salah’ is the ‘sila’ (connection) between the servant and his Lord. Imam al-Haddad, echoing the Prophet’s word, describes it as ‘the pillar of the religion’. He says it is ‘to the religion what the head is to the body’. Like all other forms of worship, it is more than a mere ritual. He says in the Discourse on Salah:
The prayer has an outer form and an inner reality. The prayer is incomplete and imperfect without the establishment of both. The outer form includes the standing (al-qiyam), the recitation (alqira’ah), the bowing (al-ruku’), prostration (al-sajda) and the like.The inner realities include presence (al-khushu’) concentration of the heart (hudur al-qulb), complete sincerity, contemplation of the meanings of the recitation and the glorification (tasbih) and other elements from the inner dimensions of the prayer.
Zakat is sometimes thought of as charity or alms or tax. The word has two meanings. Firstly, it means to grow and secondly, to purify. In a legal sense, it means to give from one’s specific possessions under specific circumstances. The specific possessions include gold and silver, money, livestock, trade goods, treasure and crops. The specific circumstances are mentioned briefly in this book and are detailed in the books of jurisprudence. The giving of Zakat ‘purifies’ one’s wealth and as a result, it ‘grows’ in blessing. However, the real purification and growth is in the inner being of the one who gives the Zakat. His lower self is purified of the love of this temporal world. The Quran uses the word Zakat in this context when He, the Exalted’ says: ‘By the soul and the proportion and order given to it, and its enlightenment as to wrong and its right. Truly he succeeds who purifies it.
Saum, is the Arabic word for fasting. It means to ‘to hold back’ or ‘restrain’. The holding back and restraining of the lower self is an ongoing process but is aided by the compulsory fast of Ramadan.
Hajj or pilgrimage is the directing of one’s self towards Allah through physically moving towards and around His Sacred House in Makkah and performing the rites associated with the visit. These rites were established by the prophet Ibrahim (Abraham), and re-established by Muhammad, upon him be peace. In doing so, he completed Allah’s message concerning worship. It was during the pilgrimage that Allah said: ‘This day have I perfected your religion for you, completed My favour upon you and have chosen for you Islam as your religion.’ We ask Allah to make us of those who show gratitude for this favour through the establishment of true worship in all aspects. Amin.
Abdullah bin Alawi al-Haddad was a descendent of the Prophet Muhammad, upon him be peace, whose forefathers settled in the Hadramaut valley of Southern Arabia. Those forefathers established a strong tradition of knowledge and calling people to God through their words, actions and writings. They stood for orthodox Islam of the people of the Quran and Sunnah with a strong emphasis on spiritual growth and good character. Their teachings were influenced by scholars such as al-Ghazali and Abu Talib al-Makki.
Imam al-Haddad was born to two of the most upright and saintly people of that time. His parents ‘Alawi bin Muhammad al-Haddad and Salma bint ‘Umar al-Munaffar were known for their spirituality as well as their knowledge of the legal system and tradition of Islam. The noble Salma gave birth to our Imam Abdullah on 5th Safar 1044H, 1st August 1634 CE. Aged three, Imam al-Haddad became ill and lost his sight. Although there were fears that becoming blind might hamper his spiritual and intellectual growth it seemed to have had the opposite effect. His teachers noted an increase in his eagerness and ability to memorise the Quran and other texts and an increase in his devotional worship. His childhood friend, Abdullah Bal-Faqih used to say, ‘although our performance of worship was together, Abdullah would always surpass us.’ Even as a young child he used to perform between a hundred and two hundred additional prayer cycles every morning. By the age of fifteen, he had studied under almost all the scholars of the area and was eagerly memorising major texts including the Shafi’ law manual al-Irshad. It is reported that he studied under 140 different scholars. After mastering the outer Islamic sciences, his interest was initially not on teaching but on retreat from the world. At seventeen years old, he took to long periods of seclusion in the mosque of al-Hajira in Tarim. For a while he refused pleas to teach, but eventually succumbed to the request of a sincere student from the Ba Fadl clan and a relative named Hasan al-Jifri. Once he began teaching, his thirst for knowledge increased once again and he dedicated himself to teaching, studying and calling people to God.
He was kind and loving and cared a great deal for his community. He was particularly concerned about the poor, widows and orphans. On the rare occasions when he became annoyed with his own servant, he would give him a present to abate his own anger prompting his servant to remark, ‘I wish he would be annoyed with me more often.’
In 1079H, 1668 CE, the Imam performed the pilgrimage to Makkah and visited his noble grandfather, upon whom be peace, in Madina. He met many of the world’s leading scholars and returned intellectually and spiritually invigorated by the experience. After his return, he settled in al-Hawi on the outskirts of Tarim where he established a mosque and his new home. This became the centre of his teaching activities and calling to God. He wrote many books and guided people through direct spiritual training, teaching and litanies which are read today all over the world. He would go out to visit remote villages, teach people at home and write to the rulers and governors. It was because of his tremendous effort in calling to God that he earned the title ‘ Qutb al-da’wah wal-Irdhad’, the Pole of Calling and Guidance.
He continued teaching and calling to God until his death on 7th Dhul Qa’da 1132, 12 August 1720 CE. May Allah be pleased with him and benefit us by him.
 Related by al-Bukhari in the Book of Faith (hadith no 8) and Muslim in the Book of Faith (hadith no 8)
 The Imam’s statement reflects the hadith, ‘prayer is the pillar (imad) of the religion as related on the authority of ‘Aisha by al-Bayhaqi in his Branches of Faith.
 Abu Talib al-Makki was an ascetic scholar born in Iraq where he died in 386H/996 CE. His famous book was Qut al-Qulub, Provision of the Hearts, describes the spiritual dimension of worship. Imam Abu Hamid al-Ghazali gathered knowledge of the outer and inner sciences of Islam in his various books but most importantly in a collection entitled Ihya ‘Ulum al-Din, Revival of Islamic Sciences. He died near Tabiran in modern day Iran in 505H/1111CE.