What is the Islamic definition of Ibadah? What does it consist of?
I have looked into several definitions by scholars but none have actually agreed with each other.
In the Arabic language Al-'Ibadah means the humbleness. We say
طريق معبدة (Tariq mou'abadah) that means
Paved road and for the idiomatic meaning it's everything that Allah loves.
Shaykh l'Islam Ibn'Taymiyah says:
Worship (Al-'Ibadah) is a comprehensive term covering everything that Allah loves and is pleased with - whether saying, or actions, outward and inward."
Ibadah is completed servitude to Allah.
Allah is the master and we're the slave. A slave must obey and be at service to his/her Master at all times.
And this was beautifully manifested in the du'a in Surah al-Anam 6:162 =
Say, "Indeed, my prayer, my rites of sacrifice, my living and my dying are for Allah , Lord of the worlds.
People have defined Ibadah correctly, I would like to answer what it consists of:
Ibadah consists one or all of the following:
Thus following any of the sayings of Muhammad pbuh is also an Ibadat as obedience to prophet is Obedience to Allah.
Al-‘Ibaadah means tadhallul (humility) and khudoo’ (submissiveness). Scholars of the Arabic language have also explained ‘ibaadah to mean “at-tareeq ul-mu’abbad”, or the levelled (paved) road. (Refer to Lisaan ul-‘Arab and al-Qaamoos al-Muheet)
However, juristically (in Shar’eeah) it has been comprehensively defined by Sheikh ul-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah (d. 728 AH) as:
“Al-'Ibaadah is a term which comprises everything that Allah loves and is pleased with, from the outward and inner sayings and actions.” (Al-‘Uboodiyyah)
Singling out Allah in our worship (Ifraadullahi bil-‘Ibaadah) consists of three pillars:
Ifraadullahi bin-Nusk – Singling out Allah in ritual acts
Ifraadullahi bil-Hukmi wat-Tashree’ – Singling out Allah in matters of ruling and legislation
Ifraadullahi bil-Wilaayah – Singling out Allah in alliance and support
Therefore, ‘ibaadah does not only consist of ritual acts; it is any saying or action (of the heart or limbs) which Allah likes (us to do) and is pleased with. Hence, love, hatred (for the sake of Allah), sincerity, rajaa’ (hope), sabr (perseverance), salaat, siyaam (fasting), Hajj, dhikr (remembrance of Allah), tahaakum (arbitration to Islam), sadaqah (charity), da’wah (inviting people to Islam), commanding good and forbidding evil, ruling by Islam, and all other good deeds are ‘ibaadah (worship).
“Salaat (prayer); Zakaat (charity tax); Siyaam (fasting); Hajj (the Pilgrimage); truthfulness in speech; trustworthiness; kindness to parents; maintaining kind relationship with relatives; fulfilling pledges; enjoining the good and forbidding the evil); goodness to the neighbour, the orphan, the poor, the wayfarer and the owned beings whether human or animal; du'aa (supplication); dhikr (remembrance of Allah); qiraa’ah (recitation of the Qur’aan); and the like are all part of ‘ibaadah.
Likewise, loving Allah and His Messenger apprehension before Allah and returning repentantly to Him, sincerity in the Deen for Him, patience with His Ordainment, thankfulness for His Bounties, contentment with His Decree, dependence on Him, hope for His Mercy, fear of His Punishment and the like are also part of 'ibaadah due to Allah.” (Al-‘Uboodiyyah)
Ibadat is ALL beliefs (eman), attitudes and actions / activities, that are pleasing to ALLAH. These are spelled out clearly in the Quran and Sunnah of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). Therefore, Ibadat would include both the rituals of worship and EVERY other aspect of living our lives individually and collectively.
Rituals most Muslims know about. It is the 'every other aspect of life' where in I believe, lies the source of confusion. Thus resulting in the current sorry state of Muslims the world over.
Muslims generally, have restricted ebadat to the ritualistic part of their lives. For every other aspect of their lives they seem to be content with every other non-Islamic ideology. So generally, Muslims have lost sight of economics, science and technology, research & development, politics, personal and professional growth, mutual relationships etc. etc. so that each of these activities is pleasing to ALLAH. Remembering that any action that is pleasing to ALLAH is by definition, beneficial to humanity, individually and collectively.
To sum up, every single moment of a Muslims existence in this world MUST be spent seeking the pleasure of ALLAH.