Difference between Parastish and Obedience:
By Khawaja Azhar Abbas
Fazil Dars e Nizami
An essay of mine by the title “Difference between Parastish and Obedience” was published in Tolu-E-Islam of June 2016. Readers gave a positive response to this essay, while some requested further clarification. One objection was that such rituals are being practiced among Muslims since a long time and no one questioned them. Secondly, the question of Namaz is viewed as a difficulty in eradicating Parastish.
I will endeavour to clarify both these problems to the best of my understanding and ability.
The basic difference between Parastish and Obedience is that the former is done individually. It is a subjective experience which is concerned with an individuals emotions. There is no external affect from it. To stop indecency and bad behaviour is not within the remit of Parastish. If someone takes a bribe before as well as after performing Namaz, then still the prayer would be done. To not take a bribe is not within the demands of Namaz. In contrast obedience is based on three elements which distinguish it from parastish. The sole means of Divine obedience is obedience to the Islamic social order established on permanent values. Apart from obedience to the Islamic social order, there is no other means of obedience to God.
Neither is any scope left for prastish. Subservience of Allah and obedience to Allah are one and the same thing and these have no remote connection with parastish. When the Quran makes obedience to UlilAmr obligatory then there is an important point in this. Allah says:
“O you who have believed, obey Allah and obey the Messenger and those in authority among you. And if you disagree over anything, refer it to Allah and the Messenger, if you should believe in Allah and the Last Day. That is the best [way] and best in result.” 4:59
In this verse the Quran has made obedience to UlilAmr or regional administrators as obligatory. Our commentators did not appreciate the mandatory nature of this verse and also could not identify who were UlilAmr. They severely disagree regarding the identity of UlilAmr. According to all Shia denominations the UlilAmr are the Imams of the Ahl al Bayt. Here we are not concerned with the Shia creed, which works somewhat in religion but does not apply in the situation of the Iranian Revolution. This was so because according to their faith there was no UlilAmr present to whom obedience was due. Tafseer Namoona is an acclaimed Shia commentary of the Quran which was penned after the Iranian Revolution. Due to the exigencies of the time, the authors of the said commentary changed the thirteen hundred year old belief of theirs and stated:
“As far as such individuals are concerned who fulfil certain criteria and are appointed to certain posts, their obedience is also mandatory. “
This is neither the Quranic definition, nor according to the Quran. You will realise that in religion there is no need for Ulil Amr, but they are absolutely necessary in Deen. The obligation to obey Ulil Amr makes Islam a Deen rather than a religion and cuts at the root of Parastish.
It is due to this that obedience to Allah comes about through the Islamic social order. Obedience to Allah is though his messenger: “Whoever obeys the messenger then indeed he obeys Allah.” 4:80
While obedience of the messenger is through UlilAmr (4:59). Whoever does not obey UlilAmr prevents himself from obedience of the messenger.
It has been narrated by Abu Hurraira R.A. that the messenger of Allah said: “Whoever obeys me obeys Allah, and whoever obeys UlilAmr has obeyed me. Whoever disobeyed me had disobeyed Allah and whoever disobeyed UlilAmr has disobeyed me.” (Sahih Muslim, Ibn Majah, Kitab al Jihad)
These are the three links of obedience which cannot be broken. Obedience to UlilAmr results in three elements. Firstly the concept of an Islamic social order comes into existence, such that by obedience to it, one becomes obedient to Allah and His messenger. Without an organised social order, obedience to Allah and His messenger does not come about. Secondly obedience of man over his fellow man becomes unlawful. Thirdly the idea of a personal and private obedience is replaced.
The Quran has given the concept of a social order by presenting obedience to Allah and His messenger as one obedience, such that obedience to both is not separate but comes about through the Islamic social order.
Although it appears that obedience to Allah and His messenger are two separate sources of obedience, the Quran presents singular pronouns when referring to it. The orders that Allah revealed to the messenger were obeyed collectively by means of an organised social order. The third condition for obedience of Allah is the condition of “we hear and we obey” that has occurred in the Quran in plural form. It is clear from these words that obedience of Allah was possible through a collective by means of an independent government, which all Muslims were subservient to.
The conditions of “hearing” before “obeying”, of obeying regional “ameer” and obedience to Allah and His messenger being one source of obedience are the distinguishing features of Etaat and Parastish.
Parastish is a Persian word. It is obvious that this word has not occurred in the Quran. We have presented parastish separately from Etaat however some people take the meaning of Ebadat as Pooja which is totally wrong. The Urdu translations of Shah Abdul Qadir Dhelvi and Hazrat Sheikh Ul Hind are deemed as very authentic, but regrettably both translate Ebadat as pooja. If you examine verses (33:36), (39:14), (39:17), (43:35) and (43:81) in these versions then it is obvious that to them Ebadat means Pooja. Some other scholars who believe in Parastish have translated similarly. Some have translated Ebadat as Bandagi. This word has two meanings. In Persian it Is obedience and submission while in Hindi it means Parastish and Pooja. Our scholars have not made known the basic meaning and their interpretation carries the connotation of parastish.
The word Ebadat is from the Arabic E-B-D trilateral root which means slave. Where the Quran mentions Qisas, there this word has occurred in the sense of slave.
“The free for the free, the slave for the slave.” (2:178).
Shah Abdul Qadir also translates Abd as slave in his rendition. A slave is subservient to his master. He is obedient to him but a slave does not worship his master. In the word Abd, there is no sense of parastish or worship.
It is stated:
“Surely the rule is for none but Allah! He has commanded that you serve none but Him! That is the established Deen but most people do not know.” 12:40
It is obvious that if in this verse Ebadat meant worship then the meaning would not make sense. Hukm or rule is for Allah and His command to serve none but Him implies servitude and obedience to His laws and not mere ritualistic worship!
Worship can be done under any rule, but under the rule of Allah Ebadat or subservience to His laws occurs.
It is stated in Surat Al Kahf:
“And do not associate anyone in the subservience of your Rabb.” 18:110
In the same Surat it is said:
“And He does not associate anyone in His Rule..” 18:26
In these two verses we can observe that Ebadat occurs in one instance while Hakumat in the other and both carry the same sense.
In connection with Musa pbuh the Quran cites that the Pharoah counted his favours to him, and in response Musa pbuh said:
“These are the favours that you count upon me that you have enslaved the children of Israel.” (20:22)
Hazrat Sheikh al Hind has translated Ebadata as “you have made a slave”, which makes it clear that near him Ebadat is subservience.
Quran has paraphrased the Pharaoh when he responded to the call of Musa pbuh and Harun pbuh that shall we accept them while “their people are our slaves” (23:47)
Their people, the Israelites were slaves, and the word Abidoon is mentioned. This makes it clear that Ebadat is not parastish but servitude.
“And indeed We raised a Messenger in every nation saying serve Allah and shun Taghoot.” 16:36
In the above verse it is clear that to shun Taghoot or non Islamic system and to be subservient to the laws of Allah is Ebadat. At another passage it is stated about the people that although they claim to believe in the Quran and revelations prior to it, “yet they refer to Taghoot for judgement while they were ordered to reject it.” (4:60), (2:252)
It is obvious from these verses that to shun Taghoot and to receive judgement from none other than Allah’s laws for our differences is what is meant by Ebadat. The Quran has stated that to pass judgement by the laws of Allah is Ibadat Allah. This is the essence of Ebadat. The reality is that in Islam there is no concept of church and state. There is only the state, which issues directives in the light of Divine guidance and obedience to such laws is obedience to Allah. Hence there is no room for church or private worship in Islam.
Whenever something is written in support of obedience and in defiance of worship the issue of Namaz is always brought up.
As the subject of Namaz is extremely delicate among Muslims it is expedient to clarify right from the beginning that the Tolu-E-Islam movement is not (God forbid) opposed to Namaz.
The movement has published much in support of Namaz, a pamphlet has been published on the topic and members of Tolu-E-Islam perform their five daily prayers diligently.
When the annual Tolu-E-Islam convention takes place the delegates perform prayers at the adjoining mosque. Once the delegates had started to offer their prayers at the convention stage but the organisers directed them to go to the nearby mosques, as a separate prayer could be mistaken as a sectarian act, therefore members should be part of the Muslim Ummah and not be separated from it. This author also regularly performs prayers, a habit that developed since early ages when he was in class six at school!
Over to the subject, Namaz is a Persian word. Obviously it does not occur in the Quran. The Quranic word is Salat. We present before you some salient features of Salat:
Victory and governance is a condition of establishment of Salat.
And the resultant of establishment of Salat will be that where it prevails, fear will disappear and peace will flourish.
These two points should be considered.
There is a lengthy tradition in Sahih Bukhari regarding the obligation of Salat during the event of Miraj (ascension) and it is a gift of that event. According to these traditions the night the event occurred, the prophet pbuh was asleep in the home of Umm Hani in the area of Bani Makhzoom. Umm Hani was the first cousin of the prophet pbuh and the real sister of Ali R.A. The tribe of Bani Makhzoom were mostly disbelievers, and were opposed to the Prophet pbuh while Umm Hani too had embraced Islam after the conquest of Makkah and at the time when the Miraj was said to occur she was not a Muslim.
At Masjid Aqsa, all the prophets of Allah were present and Muhammad pbuh led the prayers as the Imam of all the prophets. After the prayer, he ascended to the heavens and appeared before Allah. Here he received fifty prayers to be performed per day as a gift. He was returning with these fifty prayers that he met Musa pbuh on the way back who said that such a lengthy number of prayers would be difficult on your ummah so you should request Allah to offer you a discount, which the prophet pbuh did, and the prayers were eventually reduced to five daily prayers. Even the number of five was deemed high by Musa pbuh and he requested that this too should be reduced further to which the prophet excused as he was shy of making such requests again and again. This way the five daily prayers became obligatory. According to traditions this event which is cited above as the Miraj, occurred about three to four months before Hijrah. Prior to Hijrah the Prophet pbuh stayed in Makkah and proclaimed his prophethood for thirteen years. During this time the Quran was revealed on him containing verses about Salah. The question remains that if indeed Salah was made obligatory during Miraj then how is it that we have Meccan verses about it?
It is also worth noting that the prophet led all the prophets in prayer at Masjid Aqsa before the Miraj, which conflicts with the suggestion that Salat was given at the heavens. Salat and its derivatives have occurred in the Quran about 101 times. It has given the order of Iqamat for Salat.
Establish Salat. Nowhere is it said to read Namaz. This is what distinguishes Etaat from Parastish. In establishment of Salat there is no concept of Parastish. The result of Iqamat-E-Salat is obedience.
The Quran lays the condition of victory and conquest for Salat. For Namaz no such condition is neccessary. Wherever one is located he can perform Namaz. Today Indian Muslims read Namaz even though they no longer hold power and rule in the country. Allah says:
“And [they are] those who, if We give them authority in the land, establish prayer and give zakah and enjoin what is right and forbid what is wrong. And to Allah belongs the outcome of [all] matters.”
Jalalayn is an acclaimed commentary of the Quran. It maintains that for Aqimu-Salat rule and power in the land is a condition. In the last verse of Surat al Hajj it is said:
“And strive for Allah with the striving due to Him. He has chosen you and has not placed upon you in the religion any difficulty. [It is] the religion of your father, Abraham. Allah named you “Muslims” before [in former scriptures] and in this [revelation] that the Messenger may be a witness over you and you may be witnesses over the people. So establish prayer and give zakah and hold fast to Allah . He is your protector; and excellent is the protector, and excellent is the helper.”
These verses are so forceful that by their recitation one shivers and reaches ecstasy. Note where establishment of Salat is mentioned? When Muslims becomes witnesses to the deeds of mankind.
During his life the messenger of Allah pbuh was a witness over the deeds of the ummah and after him his successors became witnesses. It is at this stage that the order for establishment of Salat was given. It is after such power and rule in the land that the ummah is able to establish salat.
The Quran informs us the objective of an Islamic social order to be that your deeds are monitored by the messenger and His successors after him. Monitor the deeds of all mankind and be obedient to the laws of God and give Zakat for which provide universal nourishment to all. Hold fast to God’s guidance. Remember that only God is your judge and He watches your deeds. He is the best to protect and the best to help.
For establishment of Salat, authority in land is a precondition. In this regard we have presented two verses from Surat Al Hajj and also a quote from Tafsir Jalalayn. Now we present a famous verse of Surat an Nur.
This verse is called the verse of succession and in it for establishment of Salat succession in land and establishment of Deen are cited as preconditions.
“Allah has promised those who have believed among you and done righteous deeds that He will surely grant them succession [to authority] upon the earth just as He granted it to those before them and that He will surely establish for them [therein] their Deen which He has preferred for them and that He will surely substitute for them, after their fear, security, [for] they serve Me, not associating anything with Me. But whoever disbelieves after that – then those are the defiantly disobedient.” (24:55)
In this verse those who have been promised succession on land, establishment of Deen, change of state of fear into peace and who serve none but Allah, such people are further ordered : “So establish Salat and give Zakat.” 24:56. It is obvious from the verse that the injunction is not solitary but collective that is why “obey the messenger” has been said in plural. To establish the Quranic system and to organise society in such a manner that people are provided with nourishment. You should obey your central authority i.e. the messenger pbuh. One can see the collective sense of establishment of Salat and its context that is made clear in the verse.
Authority in the land is a precondition for establishment of Salat and we have presented three verses in this regard. Now witness the fruits of Salat.
“Surely those who believed and do deeds of improvement, and establish Salat and give Zakat, for them is the reward with their Rabb. No fear is upon them nor do they grieve.” (2:277)
In the verses preceding this verse, Riba is mentioned. The verse states that those who believe in the truths of Allah, do deeds of improvement, establish Salat, provide nourishment to others; these have their reward with their Lord. This reward is as such that in their society there is neither fear nor desperation. We should note that in our existing Namaz these features are absent.
We realise that our essay is being prolonged and the readers get impatient, but we would like to mention an important thing.
It wasn’t the Muslims who conquered Persia. But it was the Persians who captured Islam. This is not being said about present day Iranians as it does not apply to them. The Persians during the era of its conquest where all Magians. They had become Muslim outwardly.But had introduced their own religious terminology while practising their new faith. Quran terms were not kept in their original meaning. To establish this appears difficult but today technology has made it easy.
We can now discover this at home. Simply type Majoosi worship on Google and you will discover that terms like Namaz, Darood etc were prevailing among them. Among Magians, there were five daily prayers that were read. We Muslims got hold of these terms along with their underlying concepts from the Magians. All these terms and their meanings are foreign to Islam, as there is no room for parastish in Deen. In the Quran Ebadat has occurred in the sense of subservience. Namaz was so important among Muslims that during the time of Maulana Rumi, one whose prayers were missed was offered condolences. It is said that at Karbala, the forces of Yazid too performed their prayers.
A poet writes
They prayed Asr after beheading Shabeer
After plundering the Harem, they said Maghrib’s Takbeer
The pillaging of the household of Hussain R.A. was cited by a poet:
What was it that was looted in Karbala?
The veils of the daughters of Ali were in the spoils!
It has been said in Sura Shura
“And those who respond to their Rabb, and establish Salat and their order is by mutual consultation, and they spend from what We have provided for them.” 42:38
According to the Quran the entire Muslim ummah receives authority in the land, and the affairs of the state are run by mutual consultation. There is no subjugation and subjugator in an Islamic social order. Every one contributes to the running of the state to the best of his ability by taking part in the consultation process.
Whenever the need arise, the prophet pbuh used to summon people for consultation and prior to the meeting they used to perform their prayers. In this prayer they performed bowing and prostration to signify their obedience to the social order. They used to work so hard for the social order that had an inner urge towards it which they demonstrated by their body language. During the prayers they recited those verses that were related to the problem under discussion and after the prayer they used to consult on the matter. The government used to carry out their decisions later on. Regrettably the social order disappeared and so did the process of consultation but only the Namaz remained. Some technical terms of the social order also remained such as Sunnat, Sunnat-e-Mokada, Makrooh, Makrooh-e-Tahreemi, Nafal etc. These are all terms from the social order which we also use nowadays. So like this the prayer remained but without the Islamic social order or the consultation process of which it was a part. Only the Rukoo and Sujood remained for the Nizam.
If Muslims are fortunate enough and an Islamic social order comes into existence then Namaz will become Salat again and its results will have a concrete manifestation. The affairs that will be carried out by consultation will become obedience to God.
The essence of this essay is a refutation of Parastish. The issue of Namaz was discussed in the same paradigm. It should be understood that a Muslims life aim is to establish the rule of Allah on Earth. To subject the entire universe and to be subservient to Allah’s laws. Thus to develop a balance in his personality.
One way to balance oneself is to actualize Divine attributes within one’s person within human limitations and to spread those attributes in the world. The second way is to remain obedient to permanent values one’s entire life.
By acting on every Quranic command and by being obedient to its laws results in development of a balanced personality. (2:286) The self becomes capable to travel further stages in life and hereafter as it gains strength. To establish the rule of Allah on Earth and to strengthen and balance one’s personality are the two chief aims of life. Parastish has no room when one pursues these aims. The Quran closes a doors that lead to parastish and leaves only the door of obedience to Allah open.
To be obedient to every order of Allah is Ebadat and every Ebadat carries the weight of obedience. All the rest of rituals and rites are idols of Azar!