Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Changing Worship

Last week my dad and I went to Red Lobster for lunch. We hadn't gone out just the two of us in a while so it was (mostly) nice to have a while to talk to him. One of the things that came up right as we came home was a change in worship practices (in Christian churches.) I would've liked to pursue the topic further but I was already late to a meeting and had to rush out again right away.

At the time, he implicitly suggested that one reason he doesn't like attending church nowadays is that the worship services have changed from what he was used to. His question: God doesn't change, so why should we change the way we worship?

I don't think he knows, but that alone is a very clear argument for Islam. What bothers him, I think is that more "contemporary" services cater to a younger crowd, trying to bring them into church rather than push them away. So they use contemporary music, live bands in the worship service, instead of singing the same old tired hymns with an organ and a choir. But that's what he finds comfortable--the hymns and the choir.

But did people sing these hymns with a choir and an organ while Jesus was alive? Surely not. What about in the first millennium of Christianity? Nope! In fact, singing hymns is a fairly recent development that at best only goes back a few hundred years. That means that yes, sure enough, worship has changed. It changed language (from Aramaic, to Greek, to Latin, before ever making it into English, and it's taken many other courses as well) as has even the very "Word of God" according to Christians. It's changed in many ways over the years and will continue to change. Do you know why?

Because Christians aren't worshiping the way God told humans to worship Him. What makes a person think that God likes hymns any more than he likes rock? The proponents of contemporary worship would certainly consider that any grateful noise they make should suffice if it makes them happy and elevates their spirits. And isn't that what it's all about? Maybe, if you're Christian.

That's why it works as an argument for Islam. You see, Muslims have been worshiping the exact same way since the time of the last Prophet of Islam (Muhammad ) and that's over 1400 years! They pray the same way, they read the same book in the same language, and conduct worship services exactly the same way. Do you know why?

Because they were taught, by God, how to worship Him, and that's what they do.


Polly Anna said...

LOL delusional. Do you truly believe that gunk about Muslims worshipping just as they have for the last 1400 years? Which ones? the shias, the alawis, the ahmadiyyahs, the yazidis, the isma'ilis or the zaydis or some other sect of Islam? But,that's ok, you can think that islam has remained unchanged in the last 1400years if it makes you feel better about your choices.

Amy said...

Yep, I do believe it, and I'll tell you why. The Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) instructed the Muslims on how to worship, and the vast majority of Muslims--the group that you didn't mention in your list of divergent and in some cases heretical sects--continue to follow his instructions.

Muslims went on to record his teachings--not just the Qur'an which was memorized verbatim in entirety by countless Muslims during his lifetime and ever since--but also his teachings in his own words.

The preservation of those teachings is the proof, which you yourself can examine, that Muslims worship the same way they have since the time of the Prophet. As I've mentioned in some posts about the prayer specifically, some components of worship which are obvious in Islam can be seen mentioned even in the Bible, as characteristic of prophets. Things that Muslims do, but yet Christians (and Jews) do not do.

Strength of Islam. :-)

Jamilah said...

As my sixth grade students say... Polly Anna, you got owned.

Shamsuddin Waheed said...


Another great post sister. The Qur'an tells us about the worship style of the idolaters [Mushrikeen] prominent in Arabia at the time of the Prophet. It says "And their prayers at the house [i.e. Ka'bah] is nothing except whistling and clapping of hands."[Q 8:35].

While much can be said about the above assertion, the point here is that worship has become little more than entertainment. It happened to the Mushrikeen [for many reasons beyond this comment] and it has been happening in the Churches for a long time now. The Churches look like clubs, the music and even the apparel imitate the nightclub life. This is what your father sees, and this is what upsets him.

We have to emphasis to our Christian friends [as well as to Muslims] that prayer is done, not for entertainment, but for God. In obedience to, in hope of, becoming closer to God and developing spiritually.

As for Polly Anna's statement, I would like to add a comment- most of the sects she mentions also worship the same way as mainstream Muslims. There is actually very little differences between Muslims when it comes to the format of worship.

In any case, prayer is for God, not for ratings or entertainment. I suggest showing your father the text of Al-Faatihah, our central prayer text, it may be helpful for his own journey.


mezba said...

mA.. good post. I agree with your dad's sentiment.. still can't get around Sami Yusuf rock concerts myself... though I really like his music.. but at least he doesn't classify it as worship.