إياك نعبد وإياك نستعين
You alone we worship, and you alone we ask for help for each and everything.
What is the connection?
- What is the most important thing for قيامة Qiyammah- Day of Judgement? It is the exclusive worship of Allah. You can come with every single deed, but if you do not have one deed — لا اله الا الله — all deeds are multiplied by zero.
- This ayah is the central message of the Quran: We need to enslave ourselves, willingly, to Allah, and that He alone can help us in all of our affairs.
Do you understand these?
- عبد is used for a slave. We willingly declare that we are slaves of Allah. How does a slave think of the master? Are we acting like slaves of Allah outside of prayer?
- العبادة is اسم جامع . It combines every single thing that is loved by Allah, pleasing to Him, whether it be from actions or speech.
- عون is the type of help in which one needs to do their part, before the other party responds.
- ست at the beginning means to seek; just like استغفر الله– I seek the forgiveness of Allah. Does this mean we cannot seek help from other than Allah? The only supernatural being we can seek help from is Allah (to make duaa to a Jinn or a dead saint, is shirk, and goes against this ayah).
Can you answer these?
Why is عبادة mentioned first and استعانة second?
- عبادة is general and استعانة is specific.
- عبادة is the goal and استعانة is the means.
- عبادة is the right of Allah and استعانة is the right of the slave.
- Why mention استعانة separately (عبادة includes it)? There is no way we can worship Allah as He deserves, except with His help. Is it possible for you, given your weakness, and sins to worship Allah as He deserves?
- Why don’t we say ‘I worship’? Once we appreciate the Majesty of Allah SWT and that He is Rabul Alameen, we realize that we can never worship Him, as is His right. By using ‘we‘, it is hoped that we maybe included among all the righteous slaves of Allah. Secondly, because of our weakness and our sins, we alone cannot worship Allah as He deserves.
Did you know…
- Ibn Tammiyah RA: These two words (عبادة & استعانة ) combine the meaning of all the scriptures that were revealed.
- السعدي These are the only two things that give us freedom from all evil. [If you are a true slave of Allah, you will never fall into haram; if you are always asking Allah then you will always receive the best].
- These are the only two means of receiving true happiness, in this world and the next.
- الاستعانة : السعدي is the help of Allah which brings all benefits, and repels all harm.
- The expected sequence is نعبدك ايا. It means we worship you. However, someone can worship Allah, Jesus, and others.
- The order change creates حصر— exclusivity. Meaning: It is you alone and only you alone we worship. It also beautifully combines negation and affirmation (we negate that we worship anyone beside Allah, and we affirm that we only worship Him).
- In the previous 3 ayats, we were talking about Allah. Now we are talking to Allah (التفات ). This is the power of the Quran: Forces the reader — Muslim or Non-Muslim — to say this statement. There is no escaping it, just like Qiyammah.
From the Sunnah: Prophet SAW asked Muadah ibn Jabal RA: “O Muadh! Do you know what is Allah’s right over His servants and what their right is over Him?” I said: “Allah and His Messenger know best.” He said: “Allah’s right over His servants is that they worship Him without associating any partner with Him in worship, and their right over Him is that He does not punish anyone who worships Him without associating any partner with Him in worship.” [Bukhari]