Every limb of the body has some act of worship to perform. Let us take the eyes as an example. The eyes worship Allah by looking at what they are commanded to look at.
Allah says: "Will they not look at the kingdom of the heavens and the Earth." [ Sûrah al-A`râf: 185]
He also says: "Say: Travel through the Earth and look upon what was the end of those who rejected faith." [ Sûrah al-An`âm: 11]
Using the gift of sight can be an act of worship. It is worship to look upon the Creation of Allah and marvel at its perfection. It is worship to use one's eyes to read and acquire knowledge.
The ears also have their designated acts of worship. They are used to listen to what pleases Allah, like the recitation of the Qur’ân, the remembrance of His name, and the acquisition of knowledge. This is why Allah says: "Surely the hearing, the sight, the heart, all of these shall be questioned." [ Sûrah al-Isrâ’: 36]
The Prophet (peace be upon him) has told us that Allah says: "My servant continues to come closer to me with voluntary acts of worship until I love him, and if I love him, I become his hearing by which he hears, and his sight by which he sees." [ Sahîh al-Bukhârî (6502)] Such a person gives the attention of his or her hearing and sight to only what is pleasing to Allah.
The hands have their worship to do as well. They give in charity and engage in numerous good works. They are used for the prevention of evil. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said:
"Whoever amongst you sees something wrong being done, he should change it with his hands. If he cannot do that, then with his tongue. If he cannot do that, then at least in his heart, and this is the weakest of faith." [Sahîh Muslim (49)]
Greeting others and shaking hands with them is worship, since this wipes away sins and purifies the heart.
Even the feet have there share of worship designated to them. With them, the worshipper walks to the daily prayers at the mosque and the Friday prayer. Allah says: "Verily We shall give life to the dead and We shall record that which they send forward and the traces they leave behind." [ Sûrah YâSîn: 12]
When the tribe of Banû Salamah wished to relocate in order to be closer to the Mosque, the Prophet (peace be upon him) told them to stay at their present homes, explaining to them that every step they take while walking to the mosque is recorded with Allah, saying: "Your homes record the traces you leave behind." [ Sahîh Muslim (665)]
And Allah describes in the Qur’ân how this recording takes place "...in a Book wherein my Lord never errs nor forgets." [ Sûrah TâHâ: 52]
Allah also says: "It is He who made the Earth traversable, so walk through its tracts…" [ Sûrah al-Mulk: 15] Traversing the Earth to ponder over the lessons to be found therein is worship which the feet can engage in.
Just as the devotions of the limbs are mentioned, so are their sins. The sin of the eyes is for them to gaze upon forbidden things. The sin of the ears is for them to listen to backbiting, slander, calumny, curses, music, and whatever else displeases Allah. The sin of the tongue is for it to utter lies, to backbite, slander, and curse, and to ridicule the believers. The sin of the hands is for them to steal, abuse others, and transgress against the Muslims. The sin of the feet is for them to walk towards sin, whether it be in the home, the marketplace, or a foreign land. All of these are sins of the limbs.
The tongue is one of the greatest appendages possessed by the human being, since its devotions include such noble activities as the remembrance and praise of Allah, the recitation of the Qur’ân, enjoining what is right, and forbidding what is wrong.
From all of this, we can see why the formal prayers are one of the greatest forms of worship, since these prayers require devotions from every limb of the body.
The eyes engage in worship by fixing their gaze upon the spot where the forehead will be placed during prostration.
The ears engage in worship during prayer by listening to the recitation of the imam with silent concentration. Allah says: "While the Qur’ân is being recited, listen to it attentively and silently that perhaps you might receive mercy." [ Sûrah al-A`râf: 204]
The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: "When the imam is reciting, listen to him quietly." [ Sahîh Muslim (404)]
The arms and legs engage in worship when the person engaged in prayer stands, bows, prostrates, and sits. The tongue engages in worship by remembering and glorifying Allah and by reciting the Qur’ân.
In this way the whole body humbles itself before Allah and engages in His worship, making prayer one of the greatest forms of worship.
Though the limbs perform all these acts of worship we have described, our worship only has value to the extent that the heart is sincere and devoted.
This is why, that in spite of the tremendous virtue of prayer, Allah directs the following stern warning to some of the people who pray: "So woe to the people who pray, but who are inattentive about their prayers; those who but want to be seen of others but refuse to supply even neighborly needs." [ Sûrah al-Mâ`ûn: 4-7]
This lets us know that what matters is not merely the outward motions of prayer, since the people that are being addressed by these verses are described as people who perform their prayers. Though they pray, they are threatened with woe, meaning that they will face punishment in the Hereafter. This is because they only performed the prayers with their bodies while there hearts were devoid of humility and devotion. Their bodies were lined up in the mosques in the ranks of the worshippers. Their faces were turned towards Mecca. Their hearts, however, were directed towards something else, longing only to achieve the praise of men and win their trust or to attain some other worldly benefit.
Allah describes these people in the following words: "When they stand up to prayer, they stand lazily to be seen of men, but little do they remember Allah." [ Sûrah al-Nisâ’: 142]
By Sheikh Salman al-Oadah