وَمَا خَلَقْتُ الْجِنَّ وَالْإِنسَ إِلَّا لِيَعْبُدُونِ
And I (Allah) created not the jinns and humans except they should worship Me (Alone).
[Surat Adh-Dhāriyāt 51:56]
It's the most common verse that we hear day in day out from the sermons in radios, talks and everything else. It's the evidential scriptural proof of our meaning of life, our creation and our purpose (not accounting the verse in al-Baqarah: 30). Yet, how many of us actually understand and grasp the importance of this 'meaning of life' that we do everyday?
The beauty of Islam is that our concept of worship is not narrowed down and constricted to only specific acts of worship like attending mass, or prayer or abstaining oneself from something but it is so broad that our entire life from the moment we wake up to the the time we wake up again is an act of worship; all with one important condition: everything is for Allah.
But I'm not to discuss the matter but instead on our specific act of worship that is unique to any other belief: salaah.
It's known in many names: solat, salaah, solah, namaz, etc. but it's agreed as the most important part of any Muslim's life.
It's so important that it's described as the very identity of a Muslim as stated in a hadith:
Jabir bin Abdullah says: I heard the Messenger of Allah (SallAllah-u-Alaihi-wa-Sallam) saying this: The difference between a man (Muslim) and shirk and kufr is the abandoning of salaah.(Sahih Muslim: Kitab ul Iman: Book 001, Number 0147)
So, due to this restriction, most Muslims perform their salaah so that they can be Muslims. But the spirit of salaah itself, the grand meeting of a servant with his Master is lost. It's only a ritual, not a necessity. The importance of doing salaah in the best condition, at the best time and place with the best quality is neglected and turned a blind-eye at. I'm not saying I have done all these and the quality of my salaah is tip top but far, far, far away from that. I'm still working on it.
Today, some see salaah as a part of a routine.
Here's what an answer of what salaah is would be from someone who does salaah ritually:
"It's supposed to be done five times a day, in a certain period of time of their respective times and I'm supposed to do salaah because I'm a Muslim or I'll go to Hell or something, like get a beating from my parents, that is, if they cared."
The very function of salaah in providing spirtitual strength and purpose has degraded. Here's a common simple analogy that can be brought up from most motivation books called the Asyran Temple:
There was a temple somewhere called the Asyran Temple. Monks live there to worship and meditate in the temple everyday. Among them is the head monk and it is he who leads the worship. Everyday, when he went for worship to the biggest idol in the temple, his favourite cat would bother him. Rolling on his feet, rubbing and purring for attention. So to solve this problem, every time he went for worship, he would tie the cat to a pole.
Days turn to months and to years and so the head monk died, but his cat didn't. His successor continued his act of tying the cat to a pole every time to worship the biggest idol because he didn't know the previous head monk's purpose of tying the cat in the first place.
Then it was the cat's turn to die. Believing it was part of the ritual, the head monk replaced the cat and continued to tie the cat to a pole when it was time for worship.
After 20 years, the ritual went on and on. By that time, it was believed in that religion that in order to do worship, a cat must be tied to a pole by the head monk prior to worship and they did not change it believing it must be done de facto without knowing its purpose.
The analogy is simple enough to be understood and doesn't need further explanation.
Now, the question is whether we have become like the monk or would we change and learn what does it mean to worship Allah the Almighty.