What is Servitude?

“You alone we serve, and from You alone we seek help”[1]

This verse is commonly construed as:

“We only worship You, not others, and only seek help from You, not others,” which obviously implies the concept of ‘others’.

But, if we look at it from the point of ‘unity of existence’ which is what we’ve been trying to explain since the beginning of this book, then the meaning can be understood as:

Since You are the Rabb of the worlds, and thus also my Rabb, and the Maalik and Maleek of the Day of Religion, and since we all exist with Your Names, it follows that everything at every instance is in servitude to You, whether we realize it or not…

We fulfill our absolute servitude to You by manifesting your Names, each of which is based on a different wisdom.

And each of us (man, jinn, angels) awaits Your help at every instance for the continuation of our servitude. If You stop expressing and manifesting the meanings of Your Names that comprise our being, we will become nonexistent!

We seek Your help for the continuation of our existence and servitude.

“I have created the jinn and men only so that they may serve Me (by means of manifesting the qualities of My Names).”[2]

Therefore, it is not possible for creation not to be in servitude!

Many have interpreted this verse as though it is only in reference to salat, whereas if we notice, the verse is in the first chapter, which explains the system and order of Allah, and its meaning is valid and effective at all times, pre- and post-eternally!

Whether it be during salat or outside salat, whenever it is recited it references and encompasses the whole of creation and all of its states.

“There is nothing that does not exalt (tasbih) Him with hamd (evaluation of the corporeal worlds created with His Names, as He wills)!”[3]

This verse clearly and openly explicates this truth leaving no room for interpretation.

After the starting verses, which according to my understanding elucidate the truth that the One denoted by the name Allah is the Rabb of the worlds, this verse emphasizes the fact that everything in existence is in servitude to Him and they are forever in need of Him to continue their servitude!

The verse, “I have created the jinn and men only so that they may serve Me (by means of manifesting the qualities of My Names)[4] also points to the same reality.

If one is created to fulfill servitude, is it at all possible for them not to?

Let us remember the Fatir, and how Allah defines Himself as the Fatir of the heavens and the earth…  That is, He forms, creates and equips everything according to whichever meaning He wishes to manifest through them.

And of course, the verse:

“Your Rabb has ordered you to serve only Him.”[5]

But how are we to understand and evaluate this?

Since Allah is the Rabb of the worlds, He has willed to observe the infinite meanings of His Names and has thus manifested them as compositions to comprise creation.

And since all creation is composed of these meanings, they don’t have another existence besides this. Therefore, by their very act of manifesting these meanings, they fulfill their absolute servitude.

With a little insight, it is evident to see all the verses above are actually pointing to this truth.

To construe these verses, which encompass all of the meanings pertaining to the whole of creation, in an exceedingly limited way, as if the person performing salat is confessing his servitude to his Rabb and seeking His help, goes against the universality of the Quran.

But do they not have a point? Doesn’t this verse imply a confession of servitude and a seeking of help? Have those who’ve construed it this way completely misunderstood it?

It is not incorrect, only inadequate and shallow, thus a very limited understanding; this is only a very small aspect of the actual matter.

If “You alone we serve, and from You alone we seek help” is understood as “at every instance and with every breath” then there is no problem.

One may wonder, if everything is fulfilling its servitude by carrying out its creational purpose, then what’s the point of prayer and worship? Why should we pray? Do we pray because we deify Allah? Can we earn the privilege of going to paradise if we engage in worship? Do people go to hell because they don’t pray and worship?

There are two forms of servitude. The first is absolute servitude, which is what I’ve explained above. In this sense, all things are created for absolute servitude and they fulfill this at every instance, as the verse clearly defines:

“I have created the jinn and men only so that they may serve Me (by means of manifesting the qualities of My Names).”[6]


[1] Quran 1:5

[2] Quran 51:56

[3] Quran 17:44

[4] Quran 51:56

[5] Quran 17:23

[6] Quran 51:56

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