By Shaykh ‘Abdur-Rahmaan ibn Hasan aalush-Shaykh (d.1285H) [1]


The Meaning of Worship

The saying of Allaah – the Most High -:

“I did not create the jinn nor mankind except to worship Me.”

[Soorah adh-Dhaariyaat 51:56]

Shaykhul-Islaam Ibn Taymiyyah (d.728H) said: “Al-‘ibaadah (worship) is obedience to Allaah by following that which He ordered upon the tongues of His Messengers.”  He also said: “Al-‘ibaadah is a comprehensive term covering everything that Allaah loves and is pleased with – whether sayings or actions, outward or inward.” [2]

Ibn al-Qayyim (d.751H) said: “Worship revolves around fifteen principles.  He who completes them has completed the stages of ‘uboodiyyah (worship and servitude to Allaah).  The explanation of this is: that ‘ibaadah is divided between the heart, the tongue, and the limbs.  And that for each one of these three comes the five types of rulings, covering all actions: waajib (obligatory), mustahabb (recommended), haraam (prohibited), makrooh (disliked) and mubaah (permissible).” [3]

Al-Qurtubee (d.671H) – rahimahullaah – said: “The root of ‘ibaadah is: humility and submissiveness.  The various duties that have been prescribed by Allaah upon the people are called ‘ibaadaat (acts of worship), since what is required is that these acts of worship must be done with submissiveness and humility to Allaah – the Most High.” [4]

Ibn Katheer (d.774H) – rahimahullaah – said: “And ‘ibaadah is: obedience to Allaah by acting upon what He commands and abandoning what He forbids; and this is the reality and essence of Islaam.  And the meaning of Islaam is: istislaam (submission and surrender) to Allaah – the Most High – along with the utmost compliance, humility and submissiveness to Him.”

He also said – whilst explaining the meaning of the above aayah: “Indeed Allaah – the Most High – created the creation so that they would worship Him alone, without associating any partner with Him.  Whoever obeys Him would be completely rewarded, whereas whoever disobeys Him would be punished with a severe punishment. And He has informed that He is neither dependant, nor does He have any need for them.  Rather, it is they who are in dire need of Him, in every condition and circumstance – since He is the One who created, sustains and provides for them.” [5]


The Meaning of Taaghoot

The saying of Allaah – the Most High:

“And to every nation We sent Messengers ordering them that they should worship Allaah alone, obey Him and make their worship purely for Him; and that they should avoid at-taaghoot.”

[Soorah an-Nahl 16:36]

And at-taaghoot is from the word at-tughyaan, which means: going beyond the limits.

Umar ibn al-Khattaab – radiallaahu ‘anhu – said: “The taaghoot is: Shaytaan.”[6]

Jabir – radiallaahu ‘anhu – said: “The taaghoots are the soothsayers and fortune-tellers upon whom devils descend.”[7]

Imaam Maalik (d.179H) – rahimahullaah – said: “Taaghoot: that which is worshipped besides Allaah.”[8]

So this is what has been mentioned by certain people.  However, Imaam Ibn al-Qayyim – rahimahullaahu ta’aala – has given a very comprehensive definition, so he said: “The taaghoot is all that which causes a person to exceed the limits with regards to that which is worshipped, followed or obeyed.  So the taaghoot in any nation is whosoever turns to other than Allaah and His Messenger for matters of judgement; or is pleased to be worshipped besides Allaah; or is followed without a clear proof from Allaah; or is obeyed in that which is known to be disobedience to Allaah.”[9]



[1] Fathul-Majeed li Sharh Kitaabit-Tawheed (1/84-90), slightly abridged and edited.

[2] Majmoo’ul-Fataawaa (10/149) of Ibn Taymiyyah.

[3] Madaarijus-Saalikeen (1/109).

[4] Al-Jaami’li Ahkaamil-Qur’aan (1/225, 17/56) of al-Qurtubee.

[5] Tafseer Qur’aanul-‘Adheem (7/402).

[6] Related by at-Tabaree in Jaami’ul-Bayaan ‘an Ta’weelil-Qur’aan (no.5834).  Al-Haafidh ibn Hajr said in Fathul-Baaree (8/251): “Its isnaad is strong.”

[7] Related by at-Tabaree in his Tafseer (no.5845).

[8] Related by as-Suyootee in ad-Durrul-Manthoor (2/22), by way of Ibn Abee Haatim.

[9] I’laamul-Muwaqqieen (1/53).