Speaking about the worldly/scientific benefits of the acts of worship

How many times have you heard in reply to the question, “What is the benefit of, or reason for fasting or praying?”, that prayer is a kind of exercise and calms the nerves, and that fasting helps to remove toxins and organize one’s eating, and many similar things, instead of the actual religious benefit of praying and fasting? The answer will obviously be – “many times”.

This brief note is a piece of advice to those who when asked about any acts of worship in Islam, they give its worldly aspects and scientific benefits first, rather than the actual religious aspect for what it was ordained. Many of them don’t even know the religious aspect and benefits of the acts of worship in Islam, but are only knowledgeable of it’s worldly/scientific benefits.

Shaykh Muhammad ibn Saalih al-‘Uthaymeen (rahimahullaah) said in an answer to one of the question,

وبهذه المناسبة أود أن أنبه على أن بعض الناس عندما يتكلمون على فوائد العبادات يحولونها إلى فوائد دنيوية؛ فمثلا يقولون في الصلاة رياضة وإفادة للأعصاب، وفي الصيام فائدة لإزالة الفضلات وترتيب الوجبات، والمفروض ألا تجعل الفوائد الدنيوية هي الأصل؛ لأن ذلك يؤدي إلى إضعاف الإخلاص والغفلة عن إرادة الآخرة، ولذلك بيَّن الله تعالى في كتابه حكمة الصوم – مثلا أنه سبب للتقوى، فالفوائد الدينية هي الأصل، والدنيوية ثانوية،

وعندما نتكلم عند عامة الناس فإننا نخاطبهم بالنواحي الدينية، وعندما نتكلم عند ممن لا يقتنع إلا بشيء مادي فإننا نخاطبه بالنواحي الدينية والدنيوية ولكل مقام مقال.

“I would like to take this opportunity to point out that when some people speak about the benefits of acts of worship they speak only of worldly benefits. For example, they say that prayer is a kind of exercise and calms the nerves, and the fasting helps to remove toxins and organize one’s eating. We should not make worldly benefits the be-all and end-all, because that will lead to a weakening of sincerity and failure to seek the Hereafter. Hence Allaah stated the reason for fasting in His Book, namely that it brings about taqwa (piety, fear of Allaah). The religious benefits are what really matter, and the worldly benefits are secondary.

When we speak to the common people we should tell them about the religious aspects, and when we speak to those who are not convinced by anything but material matters we should tell them about both the religious and worldly aspects. For each there is a time and a place.”

Source: “al-‘Ilm”, page number 77, by Shaykh Muhammad Ibn Saalih al-‘Uthaymeen (may Allaah have mercy on him).

Author: Islamic Treasure

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