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Worship usually refers to specific religious practices of praise, honour, or devotion, typically directed to a supernatural being such as God, a god or goddess. It is the informal term in English for what sociologists of religion call cultus, the body of practices and traditions that correspond to theology.

Religious worship may be performed individually, within informally organized groups, or as part of an organized service with a designated leader (as in a church, synagogue, temple, or mosque). In its older sense in the English language of worthiness or respect (Anglo-Saxon worthscripe), worship may sometimes refer to actions directed at members of higher social classes (such as lords or monarchs) or to particularly esteemed persons (such as a lover).

Typical acts of worship

Taken during a Hinduism prayer ceremony on the eve of Diwali.

Typical acts of worship include:

  • prayer;
  • sacrifice;
  • rituals;
  • some forms of meditation;
  • holidays, festivals;
  • sacraments;
  • pilgrimages;
  • hymns, psalms or worship music;
  • dance
  • the construction of temples or shrines;
  • the creation of idols of the deity.
  • private acts of devotion

Adoration versus veneration

Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy distinguish between adoration or latria (Latin adoratio, Greek latreia, [λατρεια]) which is due to God alone, and veneration or dulia (Latin veneratio, Greek douleia [δουλεια]), which may be lawfully offered to the saints. The external acts of veneration resemble those of worship, but differ in their object and intent. Protestant Christians question whether such a distinction is always maintained in actual devotional practice, especially at the level of folk religion.

Orthodox Judaism and orthodox Sunni Islam hold that for all practical purposes veneration should be considered the same as prayer; Orthodox Judaism (arguably with the exception of some Chasidic practices), orthodox Sunni Islam, and most kinds of Protestantism forbid veneration of saints or angels, classifying these actions as akin to idolatry.

Similarly, Jehovah's Witnesses assert that many actions classified as patriotic by other Protestant groups, such as saluting a flag, are equivalent to worship and are therefore considered idolatrous as well.

Worship in various religions

Worship in Christianity

Further information: Christian worship
Further information: Anglican devotions
Further information: Catholic devotions

Worship in Hinduism

Further information: Puja,  Yajna,  Bhajan, and Yoga

Worship in Islam

According to the Qur'an, mankind was created only for the purpose to worship God (Qur'an 51:56). Prayer or pilgrimage are just special forms of worship; obedience to God and the attempt to assume the attributes of God as far as possible (2:138) are forms of worship which should ideally encompass every human action. See e.g..[1]

Worship in Judaism

Further information: Jewish services

Worship in Sikhism

In Sikhism, Worship takes after the Guru Granth Sahib. In the Guru Granth Sahib is the work of the 10 Sikh Gurus all in one. Sikhs worship God and only one God, known as "One Creator" or (Waheguru) "Destroyer of Darkness". The Guru Granth Sahib is known as the final Sikh Guru by Guru Gohbind Singh, the 10th Sikh Guru.

Aspects of worship

References and external links


  1. Worship in Islam. URL accessed on 2007-11-25.

External links

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