The 56th Call: The Command to Bow, Prostrate and Worship
Almighty Allah says (what can be translated as): “O you who have believed, bow and prostrate and worship your Lord and do good - that you may succeed. And strive for Allah with the striving due to Him. He has chosen you and has not placed upon you in the religion any difficulty. [It is] the religion of your father, Abraham. Allah named you "Muslims" before [in former scriptures] and in this [revelation] that the Messenger may be a witness over you and you may be witnesses over the people. So establish prayer and give zakah and hold fast to Allah. He is your protector; and excellent is the protector, and excellent is the helper.” (Al-Hajj: 77-78)
Almighty Allah commands the believers to worship Him, establish prayers, bow and prostrate to Him and do good that they may succeed and prosper. Indeed, worshipping the Lord will lead them to goodness and success in the present life and the Hereafter.
Almighty Allah commands the believers to strive in His path with money, spirits and tongues. He has chosen the believers in the Muslim community and He has not obligated them with more than what they can handle. Almighty Allah did not burden them or make things harder for them in terms of their religious affairs. Allah made things easier for them and facilitated their religion just like the religion of Prophet Abraham (Peace Be upon Him). Allah mentions the religion of Prophet Abraham (PBUH) to the believers so that they stick to it, i.e. Islamic monotheism. Allah called the believers Muslims in the belief revealed to Prophet Abraham and in the earlier scriptures and in this Qur’an as well. Almighty Allah has made Muslims a just community so that they will be witnesses over the people on the Day of Judgment because all the people will admit the bounty of Muslims on that day. This is why their testimony that the Messengers delivered the Messages of their Lord will be accepted on that day. The Messenger, Peace Be upon Him, will be a witness over Muslims on the Day of Judgment. He will testify that He delivered the Message of the Lord to them. So, let the Muslims meet this great blessing by gratitude and thanking Almighty Allah for it. They should fulfill the rights of Allah by following His obligations, the most important of them are the establishment of Prayer and performing it as it should be, payment of Zakat, hanging tight to the rope of Allah, seeking His help and entrusting Him. He is their Lord, Protector and Supporter. Indeed, excellent is the Protector and excellent is the Helper.
It was mentioned in a hadith by the Prophet Muhammad, Peace Be upon Him, “I was sent with Kind (Islamic) monotheism”. The Messenger (PBUH) advised Mu’adh ibn Jabal and Aba Mussa when He sent both of them as rulers to Yemen saying “Give glad tidings and do not repel them. Make things easy and do not make them difficult.”
Indeed these two verses sum up the code of living Allah has laid down for the Muslim community and the duties He has assigned to it. They define its role and mark out its course of action, past, present and future, provided that it follows His guidance. The first instruction given here requires the believers to pray, highlighting two distinctive actions of Islamic prayer, namely bowing down and prostrating before Allah. Thus, prayer is given a real image and a noteworthy movement so that we see it clearly before our eyes. In this way, the mode of expression is that much more effective.
Next we have a general instruction to worship Allah. This is far more comprehensive than prayer, because worship includes all duties and adds every action, thought or feeling that is addressed to Allah alone. Indeed every human activity becomes part of worship when it is intended for Allah’s sake. This even includes pleasure and personal enjoyment which become part of worship earning reward from Allah. All it needs is that we should remember Allah who has granted us these pleasures and who intends them as means to strengthen our resolve to follow the way He has chosen for us. Nothing of the nature of such pleasures and enjoyments changes, but their purpose is changed, and thus they become part of Worship.
The last instruction in the first of these two verses is that believers must do every good thing, particularly in their dealings with fellow human beings, just as they do good in their relations with Allah, offering prayer and worship. All these instructions are given to the Muslim community so that it can be successful, because these are the means to success. Worship maintains its relation with Allah so that life is established on the right footing, and follows the way leading to the ultimate goal. Doing good means that the life of the community is firmly established on the basis of right belief.
When the Muslim community has such a proper relation with Allah and an appropriate lifestyle, it can discharge its awesome responsibility: “And strive for Allah with the striving due to Him.” This is a veracious and comprehensive description, indicating a massive responsibility that requires adequate preparation and the mustering of equipment and resources.
“And strive for Allah with the striving due to Him.” (Verse 78) This includes striving against one’s enemies, laziness, evil and corruption. All these must be equally resisted. It is Allah who has assigned to you this massive responsibility and chosen you to fulfill it: “He has chosen you.” This choice adds to the seriousness of the responsibility, which means that it cannot be shrugged off or abandoned. Indeed it is an honor Allah has bestowed on the Muslim community for which it should be infinitely grateful.
Moreover, the assigned task is entwined with Allah’s grace: “…and has not placed upon you in the religion any difficulty.” Indeed, the religion of Islam, with all its duties, worship and laws always observes man’s nature and abilities. It aims to satisfy human nature and release man’s abilities so that they are used constructively. Human nature must neither be suppressed nor left without control.
Moreover, the Islamic way of life has a long history in human life, linking the past with the present. Almighty Allah says: “[It is] the religion of your father, Abraham.” (Verse 78) It is the system that has continued on earth since the time of Abraham, without any long gap that allows the divine faith to be totally distorted, as happened in some periods prior to Abraham’s time.
Allah has given the name ‘Muslim’ to the community that believes in His oneness, and this name remained the same whether in olden days or in the Qur’an: “Allah named you "Muslims" before [in former scriptures] and in this [revelation].”
Islam means surrendering oneself totally to Allah, attributing no share of worship to anyone else. Thus, the Muslim community has enjoyed the same system across successive generations, and with successive messages and messengers, up to the time of the Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be upon Him). It was then that the divine message was entrusted to the Muslim community. Thus, the past, present and future are interlinked as Allah wants, “that the Messenger may be a witness over you and you may be witnesses over the people.” (Verse 78) The Prophet is, thus, a witness defining the way the Muslim community should follow, pointing out right and wrong, and the Muslim community fulfills the same task with regard to humanity at large. It occupies the position of trustee by virtue of the standards established by its laws, education and concepts relating to life and to the universe. Needless to say, the Muslim community cannot fulfill this role unless it implements Allah’s message fully in life. When the Muslim community abandoned this role and deviated from the divine code of living, Allah removed it from this leadership, leaving it trailing well behind. It will continue to be in this humiliating position until it resumes its role chosen for it by Almighty Allah.