One of the most beautiful things about the concept of worship in Islam is the truly unique way in which it incorporates the feelings of love, fear, and hope within the hearts of the worshipers of Allah. Understanding how to combine these three qualities into the worship (‘Ibadah) of Allah is one of the most essential things that every Muslim must grasp.

No worship is complete without the presence of all three qualities: Love of Allah, Hope in His Mercy and Fear of His Punishment. Contemplate the opening Surah of the Qur’an – Surah Al-Fatihah – and you will see for yourself.

Verse 1: “In the Name of Allah, the Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful.”

In this opening verse of the Qur’an, we have ‘Love’ of Allah, and every time we recite this verse we are testifying to our love for Allah. We are acknowledging that Allah is our Rabb and the Rabb of all the worlds. Rabb means that Allah is the Creator of everything; He sustains and nourishes everything; He gives life and death; anything good that we have is from Him; everything is dependent on Him and nothing can happen unless He wills it. Furthermore, for the Muslim He – the Rabb – is the One who has guided us to the Truth and given us good morals and manners.

Allah is the One Who has given us so many blessings – so many that if we tried to enumerate His blessings upon us, we cannot count them. So how could we not love Him? We should be overwhelmed in our love for Him and thank Him and say:

“All Praises [and Thanks] are for Allah, Rabbil-‘aalameen.”

Verse 2: “All the praises and thanks be to Allah, the Lord of the ‘Alamin (mankind, jinns, and all that exists).”

In the first verse, Allah mentioned that He was Ar-Rabb. In the next verse, two more of His beautiful names are mentioned: Ar-Rahmaan and Ar-Raheem. Ar-Rahman means that He is the Most Merciful, that is, His Nature or His Essence is Merciful. Ar-Raheem means that He is the Giver of Mercy, in other words, His actions are full of Mercy and He shows Mercy to His creation. (As explained by Ibnul-Qayyim (d.751H) in Badaa’i-ul-Faawaa’id and others)

When we mention these two names of Allah, then we have ‘Hope’. Since He has described Himself as so full of Mercy then we have hope that He will forgive our sins, and no matter how numerous our sins may be, we should never lose this hope, because Allah has told us: “O ‘Ibadi (My slaves) who have transgressed against themselves (by committing evil deeds and sins)! Despair not of the Mercy of Allah, verily Allah forgives all sins. Truly, He is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.(Qur’an, 39:53)

The need to have ‘Fear’ in our worship is shown by the next verse of Surah Al-Fatihah:

Verse 3: “The Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful.

When we recite this verse we are reminding ourselves of the Day of Judgement – that awful Day, when we shall all stand before Allah, naked, uncircumcised, and barefooted. Some will be sweating so much that it will go 70 arm-length into the earth. People will appear intoxicated though they are not. On this Day, every person will stand before Allah and account for his deeds, knowing that not even the smallest action which he did is hidden from Allah:

So whosoever does good equal to the weight of an atom (or a small ant), shall see it. And whosoever does evil equal to the weight of an atom (or a small ant), shall see it.(Qur’an, 99:7-8)

So when we recite this third verse, we remind ourselves of the judgment and accountability, and that should bring about in us a sense of fear – that maybe our evil deeds will be too great and we will be responsible for them – may Allah protect us from such a fate.

Then the next verse goes on to say: “You alone we worship.” This means we single out Allah for our worship. And how do we worship Him? With Love, Hope, and Fear. And in order to achieve these qualities, we need Allah’s assistance, so we say then:

The Only Owner (and the Only Ruling Judge) of the Day of Recompense (i.e. the Day of Resurrection).” (Qur’an, 1:4)
 –  Courtesy: Ad-Dawah il-Allah Magazine