Does God need our worship? Why did He create us to worship Him?
Mohamad Mostafa Nassar
Description: God is the only Being who deserves all our worship, and we were created to worship Him. This article addresses two often asked questions that follow: Does He need our worship and why did He create us to worship Him?
The Glorious Holy Quran says Allah created humans to worship him, but why did Allah want to be worshiped?
Quran says Allah created humans to worship him, but why did Allah want to be worshiped?
The wealthy father has the right to test his sons before distributing the wealth
The wise father disciplines his children and prepares them for a better life
The obedient son who takes care of others should be rewarded better than the disobedient son who persecutes others.
We are here for testing; test environment necessitates struggle between desires and obedience, between good and evil.
Testing missions are not supposed to be easy and comfortable.
The test questions are not supposed to be known in advance.
Evidence from the Bible in Support if the Islamic view:
Psalm 66:10 teaches ‘For You, O God, have tested us; You have refined us as silver is refined’
Proverbs 17:3 teaches ‘The refining pot is for silver and the furnace for gold, but God tests the hearts’
Isaiah 48:10 teaches ‘I have refined you, but not as silver is refined.
Rather, I have refined you in the furnace of suffering’
Job 23:10 teaches ‘when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold’
Regardless of how successful we are with our personal objectives; we cannot have inner peace without addressing the high-level objective; the purpose of our existence.
It is wrong to say ‘let us enjoy the journey and forget about the destination’
If you find yourself in a train, you should not enjoy the beautiful scenes before first ask:
Why am I here? Where is the destination?
We should first ask ‘what is the purpose of life?’
What is the value of life if we do not know the purpose of that life?
It is the greatest good for an individual to discuss virtue every day… for the un-examined life is not worth living – Socrates
Our life on earth is a very short period compared to the universe time scale; It could be a temporary test period.
We have been asked to believe in God and Heaven, but we have not seen God or heaven.
Our fate will be determined based on that belief and on our good deeds.
Why did God make it a difficult test for us, is it really difficult?
Although God knows what’s in our hearts and what each of us might do, he tests us and wants us to witness our own test results in order to admit that we have been fairly rewarded according to our achievements as recorded in the test results
Before the wealthy father distributes his wealth, he may want to record which son is obedient, the records are not for the father who knows, but as a testimony for people who might question the justice of their father
Although the wise teacher knows the hard-working student and the lazy student, he prepares regular exams as testimonies so that the students would not say that the teacher had favored some students over the others. Exams also urge students to get prepared in order to succeed
The student is not supposed to rejoice and enjoy himself during the exam hours
Students should not wonder about the intention of the teacher; they are supposed to focus on what the teacher asked them to do
If God wants to set up the testing environment to test people, then we are not supposed to advise God on how to set up the terms and conditions of the testing. The students are not supposed to advise the teacher on how to prepare the exams. God has created us, and he knows how to test us.
The testing questions and answers are not supposed to be disclosed before the exam; testing environment necessitates some doubts and enables different choices and different decisions.
The test does not depend on the level of education, a child may say ‘I do not see the plane anymore, it is going far away, it is still there but my sight does not reach it; God must be there but my sight does not reach him’, but a scientist might conclude that, ‘I do not see God, then there is no God’.
The test does not depend on the level of religion education, maybe someone who never heard of the religion teachings could pass the test based on the natural original gifts of conscience and reason ‘What I do not want done to myself, I will not do to others.
We may find some scholars who know the religion teachings, but they accept to persecute and torture others, those are the bad trees which the prophets have warned us of them and of their bad fruits.
The wise teacher sets different evaluation criteria for different grades; the students in the first grade are not evaluated as the students in the advanced degrees. We expect that the fair and wise God would evaluate people according to what they have been provided.
The person who never heard of Prophets would have an easier test based on the gift of intelligence and conscience; he might get rewards for his good works and he might not be punished if not wicked.
God has empowered each of us to be happy and blessed.
God does not predetermine plans for us.
God has delegated that task to us, it is up to us to be blessed or to be cursed.
The message that God has revealed to all prophets is even the Bible confirm Islamic view:
‘Blessings for obedience and curses for disobedience’
All prophets taught that we could earn salvation by obedience, repentance, and good deeds to help others.
“In obedience and repentance is your salvation” Isaiah 30:15
Based on the above, the obedient believer should be blessed in this life and should be saved in the afterlife.
That is the truth which should set you free.
For those who have doubts, they can ask God.
All prophets have urged us to ask God and taught that God would answer us.
Do not worry about how you will receive and understand the answer; God has created us, and he knows how to convey his message to us.
Does God need our worship in Islam? Why did He create us to worship Him?
The best way to answer these questions is to first understand who God is in the context of worship. God by definition is the One who is entitled to our worship; it is a necessary fact of His own existence. The Qur’an repeatedly highlights this fact about God,
“Indeed, I am God. There is no deity except Me, so worship Me and establish prayer for My remembrance.” (Quran 20:14)
Since God, by definition, is the only Being that whose right is our worship, then all of our acts of worship should be directed to Him alone.
In the Islamic tradition God is considered a maximally perfect Being. He possesses all the perfect names and attributes to the highest degree possible. For example, in Islamic theology God is described as the The-Loving, and this means that His love is the most perfect love and His love is the greatest love possible. It is because of these names and attributes that God must be worshipped. We always praise people for their kindness, knowledge and wisdom.
However, God’s kindness, knowledge and wisdom are to the highest degree possible with no deficiency or flaw. Therefore, He is worthy of the most extensive form of praise and praising God is a form of worship. God is also the only One entitled to our supplications and prayers. He knows best what is good for us, and He also wants what is good for us.
Such a Being with these attributes must be prayed to, and to be asked assistance of. God is worthy of our worship because there is something about God that makes Him so. He is the Being with the most perfect names and attributes.
An important point regarding worshipping God is that it is His right even if we are not recipients of any type of comfort. If we were to live a life full of suffering, God is still to be worshipped. Worshipping God is not dependent on some kind of reciprocal relationship; He gives us life, and we worship Him in return.
Do not misunderstand what I am saying here, God showers us with many blessings; however, He is worshipped because of who He is and not necessarily how He decides—via His boundless wisdom—to distribute His bounty. There are many other reasons why God is worthy of our worship (which involve love, being grateful for our blessings, etc.), however this specific topic will be addressed in another article.
Does God need our worship?
This common question arises due to a misunderstanding of God in the Islamic tradition. The Qur’an and the Prophetic traditions clearly explain that God is transcendent and free of any need; in other words, He is absolutely independent:
“Indeed, God is free from need of the worlds.” (Quran 29:6)
Therefore, God does not need us to worship Him at all. He gains nothing from our worship, and our lack of it takes nothing away from God. We worship God because—through God’s wisdom and mercy—He created us that way. God made worship good and beneficial for us, from both a worldly and spiritual perspective.
Why did He create us to worship Him?
What follows from this answer is usually the question: Why did God create us to worship Him? God is a maximally good Being, and therefore His actions are not only good, they are expressions of His nature. In addition, God loves good.
The fact that God has created rational creatures who would freely choose to worship Him and do good, some to the point of becoming exalted in virtue like the prophets, and then being given eternal life in the presence of God, to pass an eternity of intimate love and companionship, is the greatest story ever told.
Since God loves all good, it is clear why He would make this story a reality. In summary, God created us to worship Him because He wants good for us; in other words He wants us to go to paradise. He has made it clear that those who attain paradise have been created to experience His mercy:
“If your Lord had pleased, He would have made all people a single community, but they continue to have their differences—except those on whom your Lord has mercy—for He created them to be this way.” (Quran 11:118-119)
God creating us to worship Him was inevitable. His perfect names and attributes were going to manifest themselves. An artist inevitably produces art work because he has the attribute of being artistic. By greater reason, God would inevitably create us to worship Him because He is the One worthy of worship. This inevitability is not based on need but rather a necessary manifestation of God’s names and attributes.
Another way of answering this question is to understand that our knowledge is fragmentary and finite, so we will never be able to fathom the totality of God’s wisdom. As previously mentioned, if we comprehended all of God’s wisdom, it would mean we would become Gods or that God would be like us. Both are impossibilities.
Hence, the very fact that there may be no answer to this question indicates the transcendence of God’s knowledge. In summary, He created us to worship Him due to His eternal wisdom, we just cannot comprehend why.
A practical way of looking at this question is explained in the following illustration. Imagine you were on the edge of a cliff and someone pushed you into the ocean below. This water is infested with sharks. However, the one who pushed you gave you a waterproof map and an oxygen tank to be able to navigate via safe areas in order to reach a beautiful tropical island where you will stay forever in bliss.
If you were intelligent, you would use the map and reach the safety of the island. However, being stuck on the question Why did you throw me in here? will probably mean you are eaten by the sharks. For the Muslim, the Qur’an and Prophetic traditions are the map and the oxygen tank.
They tell us how to navigate the path of life safely. We have to know, love and obey God, and dedicate all acts of worship to Him alone. Fundamentally we have the choice of harming our own self by ignoring this message, or embracing the love and mercy of God by accepting it.
By Hamza A.T.