Introduction

Many young Muslims have grown up dreading acts of worship, viewing them as cumbersome tasks devoid of any meaning or fulfillment. 58% of respondents to a Yaqeen Institute survey of Muslims from the United States admitted that religious beliefs and practices not making sense to them contributed to feelings of doubt.[1] Even those who are certain in their Islam may feel empty in their five daily prayers (ṣalāh), recitation of scripture (tilāwah), or engaging in remembrance (dhikr). While the Qur’an describes worship as the meaning of life,[2] many still see it as a dry chore that they would rather not engage in. These attitudes and feelings are behind common questions like, “Why does God ask us to worship him?” This question was dealt with systematically by Shaykh M. Elshinawy in a previously published article from Yaqeen Institute.[3] One of the main conclusions of the article was that we are the ones in need of, and stand to benefit from, worshiping God, not the other way around. Therefore, God asks us to worship Him out of mercy to us, knowing that we are in need of it for our welfare in this world and the next. To Allah belongs the highest example, but this would be akin to a doctor who asks her patients to follow her prescription purely for their benefit, not hers. She asks that the patient obey her not out of narcissism but compassion. We aim to explore this idea in more detail and demonstrate why worshiping Allah is so beneficial to the human being and how it is, in reality, the greatest experience of life.

What is ʿibādah?

The neuroscience of worship

The psychology of worship

The will to worship

The theology of worship

The experience of worship

The structure of worship

The five pillars of living your best life

Notes