Abd : Defining human existence

Abd is an fiqh related term in Islamic studies, it as well has an great significance as a tasawwuf concept as well since it radically defines and an paints an existential depiction who and what is an human being in regards of Allah(j.j)

The simple definition of the term abd means is “slave” but this traditional term is not sufficient to grasp the broader meaning of it. The word “worship” is “ibadet” in Arabic and shares the same roots with “abd”.  Ubudiyet means obedience and it also shares the same semantic connotation with the word abd. Islamic scholars has put forth that if a human beings is obedient to another mortal, then abd means slave. But if one’s soul is only obedient to Allah(j.j) and worships only to Allah(j.J9 and nothing else, the soul is considered as “has reached the ultimate level of independence”

Every created entity in the known universe is regarded as “abd” according to Islamic aqeedah, including all prophets, angels and meta-physicals beings like djinns.  The same word is also used to describe “believers” in many verses in Holy Quran. When a Muslim declares his belief, he proclaims that Allah is one and Prophet Muhammad(saw) is his messenger as well as he is an “abd” to Allah, meaning he is also a servant to Allah(j.j) just like every other Muslim.  Prophet Muhammad(saw) has been known to proudly define himself as “abd to Allah(j.j)”.

The sura Maryam 19/93 is as follows

“There is none in the heavens and the earth but comes to the Beneficent as a servant.”

Here servant would mean as “abd”, of such a population that encompasses every possible kind of human and non-human entity.

Tasawwuf scholars has spent a great time and effort over contemplating the many intricate meanings of the word abd since this can lead to fruitful results of “absolute obedience to Allah(j.j) in a very meaningful and modest fashion”, which is what tasawwuf studies is all about in their roots.



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