Being in this 'Uboodiyah, we prostrate before Allah Ta'aala, we do not become humiliated before any
tyrant on earth, and we walk on the path of goodness until victory or martyrdom. If people were to
respond to this noble Da'wah (call), they would live in freedom, virtue, happiness and peace. But Ibn
Taymiyah did not stop at this general understanding of 'Uboodiyah. He went on to clarify the subtle yet
powerful distinctions between mere "slavery" and true "worship." To accomplish this he articulated his
ideas by extracting evidence from the legislated texts (Quraan and Sunnah). Also, he highlighted his
presentation of the truth by using linguistic arguments as to how to understand the texts, and
supported his propositions with uncontested scientific, psychological and sociological facts which are still
valid today. All this led to a most in depth and comprehensive study of worship in Islaam.
The main point of his theology is that all created things (organic and inorganic) are 'Ibaad-Allah (slaves
of Allah), but that the 'Ibaad are immediately divided into two groups: one being the involuntary slaves
and the other being the voluntary slaves. Obviously, animals, plants and minerals fall under the first
category while the human beings are free to choose their position.
In other words, there are two different realities - the Universal Reality and the Religious Reality. All
Ibaad (slaves) are subject to the Universal Reality. Whether one is good or bad, believer or disbeliever,
or rich or poor, he is subject to the laws of physics (i.e. the sun shines on us all). The Religious Reality,
however, is the voluntary acceptance of Allah's legislation and willingly struggling to love and obey
Allah (SWT), His Messenger (SAAWS) and the Message of Al Islaam. It is the true 'Abd (worshiper) who
recognizes the two Realities, keeps them clear in his mind, and strives to fulfill the dictates of the
Religious Reality - Allah's (SWT) Commands. This, then, explains why, in a religious context, 'Abd is
sometimes translated as slave, and other times as worshiper. It is the choice to follow Islaam that
makes the 'Abd (slave) become an 'Abd (worshiper).
After establishing this point, Ibn Taymiyah then went on to explain how various groups of Muslims
misunderstood this, misinterpreted it, or simply twisted it for their own benefit. It is the complete or
partial confusion of the Universal Reality with the Religious Reality that has given birth to deviation
from the straight path and weakness in the moral fiber of mankind. The theology propounded by Ibn
Taymiyah, the theology of Quraan and Sunnah, is the means of reforming the soul and rejuvenating the
Spirit of man to walk in the light of Al-lslaam. Ibn Taymiyah has explained away the many forms of
misguidance into which man fell, and has given us a theology to reform our intellectual and disciplinary
from the book
"Oh mankind! worship your Lord." [Al-Baqarah:21]
What is Al-'Ibaadah (the worship)? What are its branches? Is the whole of Ad-Deen encompassed in it?
What is the reality of Al-'Uboodiyah? And is it the highest attainable position in this world and in the
Hereafter or if there is any rank better than it? Please expound upon that.
Ibn Taymiyah (RA) replied,
Al-'Ibaadah is a term which comprises everything that Allah (SWT) loves and approves of from the
apparent and hidden sayings and deeds. In this context As-Salaat (prayer); Az-Zakaat (charity tax);
As-Siyaam (fasting); Al-Hajj (pilgrimage); truthfulness in speech; trustworthiness; kindness to parents;
maintaining kind relationship with relatives; fulfilling pledges; enjoining the good and forbidding the
evil; striving against Al-Kuffaar (the faith rejectors) and the hypocrites; beneficience to the neighbor,
the orphan, the poor, the wayfarer, and the owned beings whether human or animal; Ad-Du'aa
(supplication); Adth-Dthikr (remembrance of Allah); Al-Qiraa-ah (recitation of Al-Quraan); and the like
are all part of Al-'Ibaadah.