Honorable Sheikh, does the Muslim worship Allah just because He is worthy of worship, or he worships Him out of hope of His paradise and out of fear of His hell?
All praise is due to Allah, the Lord of the Worlds. Peace and blessing be upon whom Allah sent as a mercy to the Worlds, upon his Family, his Companions and his Brothers till the Day of Resurrection.
Among the rights of Allah سبحانه و تعالى upon His servants is to devote a sincere Tawhîd (monotheism) and worship to Him. He asks His servants to supplicate and worship Him out fear of His hell and punishment, and out of want of His paradise and delight; Allah تعالى says in Al-A`râf sura:
﴿وَادْعُوهُ خَوْفًا وَطَمَعًا﴾ [الأعراف: 56].
﴾and invoke Him with fear and hope﴿ [Al-A`râf : 56].
In fact, fear and hope are among the acts of worship that bring the servant nearer to Allah سبحانه, as fearing Allah drives him away from sins and prohibition, while hoping to access His paradise exhorts him to do good deeds and to carry out all that pleases Allah. For this reason, Allah praises His Prophet in Al-Anbiyâ' (The Prophets) sura by saying:
﴿إِنَّهُمْ كَانُوا يُسَارِعُونَ فِي الْخَيْرَاتِ وَيَدْعُونَنَا رَغَبًا وَرَهَبًا وَكَانُوا لَنَا خَاشِعِينَ﴾ [الأنبياء: 90].
﴾Verily, they used to hasten on to do good deeds, and they used to call on Us with hope and fear, and used to humble themselves before Us.﴿ [Al-Anbiyâ' : (The Prophets) 90] i.e. they want His paradise and fear His punishment. Allah says also in Al-Hijr sura:
﴿نَبِّئْ عِبَادِي أَنِّي أَنَا الْغَفُورُ الرَّحِيمُ وَأَنَّ عَذَابِي هُوَ الْعَذَابُ الْأَلِيمُ﴾ [الحجر:49-50].
﴾Declare (O Muhammad) unto My slaves, that truly, I am the Oft-Forgiving, the Most-Merciful. And that My Torment is indeed the most painful torment﴿ [Al-Hijr : 49-50].
Allah تعالى said in Al-An`âm (The Beasts) sura addressing His Prophet:
﴿قُلْ إِنِّي أَخَافُ إِنْ عَصَيْتُ رَبِّي عَذَابَ يَوْمٍ عَظِيمٍ﴾ [الأنعام: 15].
﴾Say: "I fear, if I disobey my Lord, the torment of a Mighty Day."﴿ [Al-An`âm (The Beasts) : 15].
This being said, the Sufis oppose these clear texts by their creed. They call people to devote a worship that is free from both fear of hell and hope in paradise. They rather consider that as Shirk (polytheism), as it is mentioned by some Sufi exegetes, who abandon the clear Quranic and prophetic texts and the consensus of the nation and draw evidence from the saying of Râbi`a Al-`Adawiyya who said, “O Allah, if I worship You for the sake of entering Your paradise, deprive me of it. And if I worship You out of fear of Your hell, burn me therein”. Also, they draw evidence from the saying of `Abd Al-Ghani An-Nâbulussi who said, “He who worships Allah out of fear of His hell, he worships the hell indeed. And he who worships Allah for the sake of paradise, he worships the idol indeed”. We ask Allah to protect us.
The perfect knowledge belongs to Allah عزّ وجلّ. Our last prayer is all praise is due to Allah, the Lord of the Worlds. Peace and blessing be upon our Prophet, his Family, his Companions and Brothers till the Day of Resurrection.
Sheikh Muhammad Ali Farkus
Algeria, 18 Rajab 1424 AH - the September 12, 2003