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Moving Beyond Merely Performing Acts of Worship

3 Levels of Worship Perfection

The three levels mentioned above may be expressed in various forms of worship, not only in prayer.

The level of submission (islam) to Allah is the outward work. In prayers, it is performing the moves of the prayers by standing, kneeling down and prostration. When it comes charity, it is giving out money. In fasting, it is the abstaining from eating and drinking. As for pilgrimage, it is circumnutating around the Ka`bah, going between the two hills of As-Safa and Al-Marwah, and offering the sacrifice.

However, the level of belief (iman) is the work of the heart. The basic work of the heart is to believe in Allah, His angels, His scriptures, His messengers, the Day of Judgment, and that Allah created all things to come, good or bad. All this leads to a wider meaning of the rituals.

So, prayer is not only about kneeling down and prostration; but it is about humbleness, feeling awe of Allah, and happiness as well.

Charity is not merely an act of giving money, it is about having mercy upon the poor and indifference about the world.

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Fasting is not only about abstaining from food and drink, it is also about patience, mentioning Allah, thankfulness, and meditation.

Pilgrimage is not only by walking or jogging around the Ka`bah, going between the two hills of As-Safa and Al-Marwah and offering the sacrifice, it is also about remembering the Hereafter, uniting with fellow believers, and following the steps of the prophets and messengers.

The level of excellence (ihsan) comes next. It entails to worship Allah as though you are seeing Him, and while you see Him not yet truly He sees you.

In terms of remembrance, and as the Sheikh explained, the level of attentiveness is the level of submission (islam), i.e., you have to be attentive to when you read the Qur’an or when you mention Allah.

The level of being present with Allah is the level of belief (iman), i.e., you reflect on the meaning so you feel awe of Allah.

The level of being absent from anything else is the level of excellence (ihsan) in which you are not paying attention to what is going around you, but you are fully present with Allah.

We pray to Allah to elevate us from submission to belief, and from belief to excellence, amen.

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