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).”
The second is relative servitude; it is the individual’s recognition of Allah as their Rabb and the purpose of their existence to serve Him and the seeking of His continual help to fulfill this. Relative servitude is thus individual servitude.
Now we come to an interesting point... The Rasul of Allah (saw) says, “Salat is the ascension of the believer” and “Salat cannot be without the Fatiha.”
“So, woe to those who pray (out of custom), who are heedless (cocooned) of (the experience of the meaning of) their salat (which is an ascension [miraj] to their innermost essential reality; their Rabb)”
That is, those who perform salat unconsciously will inevitably be miserable!
The purpose of salat is ascension.
If this purpose isn’t reached, one is veiled from Allah, and thus in great loss.
The experience of ascension is based on the discernment of the words in the Fatiha. So, one should wonder… Which meaning is in the Fatiha that isn’t in all the other chapters in the Quran, that when it’s not recognized and discerned, salat is rendered invalid? What is this meaning that, when experienced, enables one to live ascension?
The topics of basmalah, hamd and guidance are covered in other chapters of the Quran, so then the crux of this chapter is the verse “Malik-Maleek-i yawmiddeen; iyyaka nabudu wa iyyaka nastain” the verse in which the secret of fanafillah (annihilation of the self in Allah) is contained.
The expression, “iyyaka nabudu” is the expression of fanafillah.
Also, let’s remember Rasulullah’s (saw) words:
“The five (daily) salat (prayers) and the Friday (prayer) to the Friday (prayer) expiate whatever (minor sins) may be committed in between, so long as major sins are avoided.”
So then, which meaning is contained in these verses that, when recognized and understood, expiates the mistakes done since the previous salat and opens the way to ascension?
Now, read the verse again! This is a very significant secret here!
As for deifying Allah…
Deification is something that has been done subconsciously for centuries in various forms, such as begging, exalting, offerings to idols, etc… This has nothing to do with the essence of prayer and worship, which is what servitude is all about.
Ibn Abbas (ra) says the word ‘serve’ (liya’budoon) in the verse “I have created the jinn and men only so that they may serve Me...” should be understood as ‘liya’rifoon,’ which refers to gnosis. In this light, if the expression ‘iyyaka nabudu’ in the Fatiha is also in reference to gnosis, then the above verse can be construed as the following:
“With the consciousness that Allah, the Rabb of the worlds, is our Rabb, we acknowledge that we are at every instance observing His administration upon existence, and for the continuation of this conscious servitude, we seek His help.”
But do we not engage in prayer and worship so we can go to paradise?
Yet another misconception!
Nobody can go to paradise because of their worship!
The Rasul of Allah (saw) in a well-known hadith says:
“Nobody can go to paradise because of their deeds.”
When asked, “Even you O Rasul of Allah (saw)?” He said, “Yes, even me! However, my Rabb has endowed His grace upon me (thus, I shall go to paradise not because of my deeds, but because of the grace of my Rabb)…”
This has to do with fate!