Islamic Garden

Islamic Garden
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Wednesday, February 25, 2009

You Alone do We Worship

Written by Fethullah Gülen, Wednesday, 13 February 2008 21:00

You alone do we worship. (Fatiha 1:5)

In this phrase, the object pronoun "You alone" (iyyaka) is placed before the predicate. This implies a very subtle point: "O God, we wholeheartedly proclaim, acknowledge, and confess that it is only You, and none but You that we turn to, bow before, and seek comfort in. We believe that by Your side alone we can attain serenity and peace." Another point to note here is the tense; instead of abada, which is the past tense, in this verse God uses na'budu, the same root in the present. In the past, abada connotes "we did, we made, we performed, etc." Such a tone, however, would in a way be contrary to the nature of worship, for it sounds like an accomplishment, which implies pride, as if the worshipper fulfilled something all by himself or herself.

The present tense form of na'budu implies that the task is not yet finished, which renders such a misinterpretation impossible. Meaning "we worship," na'budu refers to the intention and determination to acknowledge the eternal impotence and poverty of humankind before His Presence. This can also be paraphrased as follows, "O Lord! I am determined that I will not sacrifice my freedom to anyone but You and I will not fall in humiliation before anyone or anything. I turn to You fully intent on servanthood and worship; my eyes are fixed upon You and no other. I am filled with a desire for submission and prayer. Resolute to distance myself from anything other than You, I wish to always stand opposed to all that You do not like or want. My intention is my greatest worship; I hope that You will accept my intention as my worship. I plead for Your favor, not in proportion to the number of things that I have done, but to those I have intended to do."

In this phrase, na'budu, "we worship," also emphasizes that the worshipper is not alone with such thoughts. Hoping that all others are thinking in the same vein, the worshipper proclaims, "In making this request, I am in full concord with all my fellow worshippers." Through such an indisputable alliance, the worshipper is empowered with confirmation and testimony, and thus he or she turns to the presence of the Almighty Lord Who meets all needs. In this manner, they can relieve themselves of evil involuntary thoughts, and they can enact a complete form of worship toward the Perfect Divinity.

~Excerpted from
Fethullah Gulen is a controversial Sufi teacher from Turkey. Founder of the Gulen Movement, he has authored 60 books and is a leader in the world of interfaith and ecumenical engagement.

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