It’s again time to ponder over the meaning of Allah Ta’ala’s kalam. Qur’an has been sent as a guidance. But how can it guide us the right path, if we don’t care about the meaning? That’s why I’ll keep posting Tafseer from time to time again. This below is again taken from “Ma’ariful Qur’an” (Mufti Muhammad Shafee Sahab Rahimullah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala).
The word nusuk in this verse means sacrifice. Everything one does in Hajj is also called: Nusuk. So the rites of Hajj are known as Manasik, the plural of Nusuk. Then, this word is also used for ‘Ibadah or worship of Allah in the absolute sense. Therefore, Nasik is used in the sense of ‘Abid (one who worships Allah). At this place, any of the meanings given above can be applied. Tafsirs to that effect have been reported from commentators among the Sahabah and Tabi’in. But, ‘Ibadah or offering of acts of worship devoted to Allah, taken in the absolute sense, appears to be the more appropriate meaning at this place. In this case, the meaning of the verse would be: ‘My prayer, my offerings in ‘Ibadah, my life and my death are all for Allah, the Lord of all the worlds.’
Out of the subsidiaries of deeds, the first to be mentioned here was Salah because that is the moving spirit of all good deeds and is, of course, the pillar of the religion. Mentioned briefly after that were all deeds and acts of worship. Then, rising to a wider level, everything done and faced in a lifetime was pointed to. The last to be mentioned was death. After having identified all these, it was admitted that they are only for Allah who is the Lord of all the worlds and who has no associate or partner in his Divinity. And this is the outcome of perfect faith and perfect sincerity. This leads one to think, care and keep in sight, in all states of life and in everything one does, that: ‘my Rabb, and the Rabb of the whole wide world is One Rabb. Let not my heart, my mind, my eyes, my ears, my tongue, and hands, and feet, nor my pen or step, move in any direction against His pleasure.’ This is a simple meditation (Muraqabah) of the highest order, something which, if one trains himself to keep present in one’s heart and mind, then there is no doubt that he or she will become a human being in the real sense. Things like sin and disobedience and crimes will be scared to come anywhere even close to a person that strong.
In Tafsir Ad-Durr Al-Manthur, under the commentary on this verse, it has been reported that the well-known Sahabi, Sayyidina Abu Musa Al-Ash’ari (radhiallahu anho) used to say: “I honestly wish that every Muslim would keep reciting this verse time and again, almost making it the constant formula of his or her life.”
In this verse, the statement – that the prayers and the rest of acts of worship are for Allah – very obviously means that these should be free from any Shirk or hypocricy or any other worldly interest. As for life and death being for Allah, it could also mean: ‘When my very life and death are in His control, then, what I do in my physical and spiritual life (a’mal and ‘ibadat), has to be for him alone.’ And it could also mean: ‘Whatever deeds are tied with life are for Allah alone – such as Salah, Sawm, rights and duties involved in dealing with people etc. Then, deeds which relate to death – such as a will (wasiyyah) and the concept of an ideal life one longs for – then, they too are for Allah, the Lord of all the worlds, and subordinate to what He has commanded.’
[Hadhrat Mufti Muhammad Shafee 'Usmani Rahimullah: Ma'ariful Qur'an in English, Vol. 3 page 529-531, translated by Muhammad Shamim and revised by Maulana Muhammad Taqi 'Usmani.]