who would like to stress human responsibility opt for ''servant''. Others have used ''bondsman'', perhaps attempting to suggest a subtler relationship.
In discussing worship ('ibada), the texts often use a second gerund from the same verb, 'ubudiyya, which I translate here as ''servant-hood''.2 Both 'ibada and 'ubudiyya designate the activity denoted by the verb 'abada, but 'ubudiyya is more associated with the activity of an 'abd or servant, and 'ibada with the activity of an 'abid or worshipper. When discussion focuses on ritual activities, 'ibada is typically used, and then the plural, 'ibadat, designates acts of worship, such as prayer and fasting. In jurisprudence, the plural is typically contrasted with mu 'amalat, ''transactions'' or ''interactions''. Thus 'ibadat are required or recommended acts done solely for God, and mu'amalat are interpersonal and social acts done with God's guidance.
Although 'ibada and 'ubudiyya (worship and servanthood) tend to have different usages, the line between the two is not clearly drawn, so any discussion of one demands a discussion of the other as well. Thus, when the Qur'an commands u'budu'llah, this does not mean simply ''Worship God'', but also ''Serve God'' and ''Be God's servants/slaves.''
Generally speaking, worship and servanthood are discussed in two branches of Islamic learning: jurisprudence and ''Sufism''. As I use the latter term, it can perhaps better be called Islamic ''spirituality'', that is, a concern with the inner life of the soul. As such, ''Sufism'' is likely to be found in any Muslim, whether or not he or she has links with any institutional form associated with the name. Generally, authors with a Sufi orientation attempt to bring out the moral, ethical, psychological and spiritual implications of worship. In contrast, jurists delineate, describe and codify acts of worship and the prescribed duties or recommended behaviour of the servants.
The earlier texts discuss worship and servanthood largely in terms of a moral imperative. Many later texts, especially from Ibn 'Arabi onwards, ground the moral imperative in what can be called an ''onto-logical imperative''. This perspective includes discussion of the Divine Being, the structure of the cosmos, and the reality of the human soul. In modern times, most well-known Muslim authors have continued to cling to the moral imperative, but they have lost touch with the onto-logical imperative. Indignantly denying ''the death of God'', they nonetheless go along with its implications by embracing the demise of metaphysics. Instead of standing on the solid ground of Being, they attempt to root the moral imperative in the shifting sands of empirical science, political ideology and critical theory.
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