In the famous hadeeth of Jibril عليه السلام narrated by Sayyiduna Abu Huraira رضى الله عنه (Hadeeth 47, Abridged Saheeh al-Bukhari), Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم.says ‘Ihsaan is that you worship Allah as though you see Him. Then, if you do not see Him then indeed He sees you’.
This sentence of the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم. can be understood as follows; ihsaan is that you reach such a degree of devotion, sincerity, godliness, and awareness in your worship as well as in your very being and existence, that you obey Allah and worship Him in such a state that your belief extends to your body and mind. Not only are you convinced of Allah سبحانه وتعالى and your relationship with Him but that belief and conviction, that faith in Allah عز وجل permeates your very body, nay your very existence. And thus with this state of mind, heart and spirit you worship Allah سبحانه وتعالى with such conviction and faith as though you are constantly seeing Allah سبحانه وتعالى Himself. That is your level of awareness. That is your state of obedience. Not only in salah, not only when you recite the Qur’an, not only when you engage in the dhikr (remembrance) of Allah but throughout your life you reach that level of awareness, devotion and concentration in your ibad’ah that you behave respectfully towards Allah عز وجل and you behave in such a state as though you are constantly seeing Allah سبحانه وتعالى.
[This short excerpt is based on Lesson 21 of the al Tajrid al Sarih series taught by Shaykh Abu Yusuf Riyadh ul Haq on 26th October 2001. For a more comprehensive understanding of this topic please refer to that lecture].