Islam demands so much of its followers! From the way they pray, the way they eat, the way they spend their money, the clothes they wear, to even how they make love to their spouse and how they sleep! It's like EVERY moment must be devoted to active worship, no matter what! Why does God demand so much worship??
Short Answer: “Every inch of our being is created by Him, while we are asking: ‘why is He worthy of worship?’… He created this entire universe for us so He can teach us, and He honored us above other creations… All of the prescribed acts of worship in Islam are essentially connected with actualizing our purpose in life… This is why it’s called Islam (from the root letters meaning both “submission” and “peace”) because it is in the submission to our Maker that we allow Him to teach us and we then find peace and meaning… He gives us dignity and gives us meaning and purpose and teaches us and purifies us and elevates us and forgives us countlessly and then grants us eternal Paradise, a much vaster reward than anything we’ve ever earned.”
Asalaamu alaykum and thank you for this question.
It was so easy yet so heavy because one simply cannot give Allah His due right in words.
Consider God’s own words in His Book:
They have not appraised Allah with true appraisal, while the earth entirely will be [within] His grip on the Day of Resurrection, and the heavens will be folded in His right hand. Exalted is He and high above what they associate with Him. (Qur’an 39:67)
Think about this: we’re sitting here looking at the screen with the eyes He created, holding our devices with the hands He created, breathing through the lungs He created, thinking with the brains He created, we’re in forms and colors that He created and our bodies are functioning effortlessly because of a system He created.
O Man, what has deceived you concerning your Lord, the Generous, Who created you, proportioned you, and balanced you? In whatever form He willed has He assembled you. [Qur’an 82:6-8]
And if you should count the favor of Allah, you could not enumerate them. Indeed, mankind is [generally] most unjust and ungrateful. (Qur’an 14:34)
Allah has extracted you from the wombs of your mothers not knowing a thing and He made for you hearing and vision and intellect that perhaps you would be grateful. [Qur’an 16:78]
Literally, every inch of our being is created by Him, while we are asking: ‘why is He worthy of worship?’
Now, Allah Almighty says, “And I did not create the jinn and mankind except to worship Me.” (Qur’an 51: 56)
Worship here does not mean robotic or meaningless movements or rituals.
It means to deeply learn about Him, connect with and commit to Him.
Learning is a Means of Worship
Allah gave us the ability to learn and He teaches us accordingly. When Allah created our father Adam, He said:
And He taught Adam the names-all of them… (Qur’an 2:31)
This is not a fleeting moment of history; this is a reality of life: Allah teaches us.
He created this entire universe for us so He can teach us, and He honored us above other creations.
And We have certainly honored the children of Adam and carried them on the land and sea and provided for them of the good things and preferred them over much of what We have created, with [definite] preference. (Qur’an 17:70)
Allah promised to teach us, help us and guide us.
We will experience His Closeness, learn and elevate and connect with Him in the ways He designated until the Day we meet Him.
In return for this short life journey of testing our faith, He promised us that we will get Paradise, wherein we get whatever we please eternally without any limitations.
From Adam, Noah, and Abraham to Moses, Jesus and Muhammad (upon them all be peace), all of them came with the same pure message, and the message was perfected and completed with Muhammad and the revelation of the Qur’an.
Why So Many Acts of Worship?
All of the prescribed acts of worship in Islam are essentially connected with actualizing our purpose in life.
Muslims take breaks five times a day from the hustle and bustle of this life to peacefully connect with the Source of Peace, and get reminded of our Destination.
We are all going back to Him. No one can stop that from happening.
The understanding of the Shahada (testimony of faith), gives a sense of direction focus and a plan (there is One God, and this is how to follow Him).
In Ramadan, we fast to learn how to control our physical being and focus on our spiritual being.
We give an obligatory charity, known as zakat–which comes from the word “purification” because it is purification of our wealth and our hearts.
We go to pilgrimage (Hajj) where people from all backgrounds gather to worship their One and Only deity and remember that they are all equal, they come from the same Source and to Him they will return.
Everything instructed has a purpose. When we follow those instructions, we feel at peace and in line with the purpose of our creation.
This is why it’s called “Islam” (from the root letters meaning both “submission” and “peace”) because it is in the submission to our Maker that we allow Him to teach us and we then find peace and meaning.
We All Worship Something
But if we don’t worship Allah, what do we worship?
People always follow something in life and put it in high regards; it could be money, fame, beauty, power, popularity, knowledge, etc.
But first, let’s be honest: they are all limited.
Second, think about it: when was getting the most of this worldly life a means of deep, genuine happiness?
If you look at celebrities who had everything of worldly riches, many of them develop drug habits and even end up committing suicide!
So, in a nutshell, why is Allah worthy of worship?
Because He gives us dignity and gives us meaning and purpose and teaches us and purifies us and elevates us and forgives us countlessly and then grants us eternal Paradise, a much vaster reward than anything we’ve ever done.
But that’s Him; the Owner of the heavens and the earth, The King of kings, the incomparably Generous!
Salam, and please keep in touch.
(From Ask About Islam archives)