In The Name of Allaah, The Most Merciful, The Bestower of Mercy
Imaam As-Sadi [rahimahullaah] said: Allaah [The Most High] said:
لَهُ ۥ دَعۡوَةُ ٱلۡحَقِّۖ وَٱلَّذِينَ يَدۡعُونَ مِن دُونِهِۦ لَا يَسۡتَجِيبُونَ لَهُم بِشَىۡءٍ إِلَّا كَبَـٰسِطِ كَفَّيۡهِ إِلَى ٱلۡمَآءِ لِيَبۡلُغَ فَاهُ وَمَا هُوَ بِبَـٰلِغِهِۦۚ وَمَا دُعَآءُ ٱلۡكَـٰفِرِينَ إِلَّا فِى ضَلَـٰلٍ۬
For Him (Alone) is the Word of Truth (i.e. none has the right to be worshipped but He). And those whom they (polytheists and disbelievers) invoke cannot respond to them with a thing, no more than one who stretches forth his hand (at the edge of a deep well) for water to reach his mouth, but it reaches him not, and the invocation of the disbelievers is nothing but an error (i.e. of no use). [Surah Ar-Ra’d Ayah 14]
Allaah [The Most High] alone has the right to be worshipped. One’s acts of worship has to carried out sincerely for the sake of Allaah [The Most High] and likewise Allaah [The Most High] alone has the right to be invoked when one seeks after the fulfilment of a specific need. Allaah [The Most High] alone has the right to be loved [i.e. the love that obligates on a person to direct all acts of worship to Allaah alone].
Allaah [The Most High] alone has the right to be worshipped with Al-Kawf [Fear (R1)]; Ar-Rajaa [Hope and longing (R 2)]; Ar-Raghbah [Fervent Desire (R3)]; Ar-Rahbah [Dread (R4)] and Al-Inaabah [turning to Allaah in repentance (R5)]. That is because Allaah alone is the possessor of all the Names and Attributes of perfection – [and free is He from all imperfections, deficiencies, weaknesses, similarities, co-equals, faults, shortcomings etc] – which makes Him the only deity worthy of worship. Any other thing taken as a deity besides Him is false.
[وَٱلَّذِينَ يَدۡعُونَ مِن دُونِهِۦ لَا يَسۡتَجِيبُونَ لَهُم بِشَىۡءٍ – And those whom they (polytheists and disbelievers) invoke cannot respond to them with a thing]: Meaning: The idols and false deities that are associated as partners with Allaah [The Most High] in worship cannot respond with a thing to those who invoke and worship them- neither can they respond to their requests in this life nor in the afterlife; [إِلَّا كَبَـٰسِطِ كَفَّيۡهِ إِلَى ٱلۡمَآءِ لِيَبۡلُغَ فَاهُ وَمَا هُوَ بِبَـٰلِغِهِۦ – no more than one who stretches forth his hand (at the edge of a deep well) for water to reach his mouth, but it reaches him not].
This is an excellent similitude regarding the invocation of the one who invokes other than Allaah, for he is like one who stretches his hand at the edge of a deep well [to get some] water, even though it is impossible to reach it by doing so. This is the case regarding the one who invokes false deities besides Allaah [The Most High], for he will not reach his goal. Allaah [The Most High] said in another Ayah:
إِنَّ ٱلَّذِينَ كَذَّبُواْ بِـَٔايَـٰتِنَا وَٱسۡتَكۡبَرُواْ عَنۡہَا لَا تُفَتَّحُ لَهُمۡ أَبۡوَٲبُ ٱلسَّمَآءِ وَلَا يَدۡخُلُونَ ٱلۡجَنَّةَ حَتَّىٰ يَلِجَ ٱلۡجَمَلُ فِى سَمِّ ٱلۡخِيَاطِۚ وَڪَذَٲلِكَ نَجۡزِى ٱلۡمُجۡرِمِينَ
Verily, those who belie Our Ayat (proofs, evidences, verses, lessons, signs, revelations, etc.) and treat them with arrogance, for them the gates of heaven will not be opened, and they will not enter Paradise until the camel goes through the eye of the needle (which is impossible). Thus do We recompense the Mujrimun (criminals, polytheists, sinners, etc.). [7:40]
[وَمَا دُعَآءُ ٱلۡكَـٰفِرِينَ إِلَّا فِى ضَلَـٰلٍ۬ – and the invocation of the disbelievers is nothing but an error (i.e. of no use)]: Meaning: They invoke false deities; therefore their invocation is tantamount to misguidance. As for Allaah, He is the True King of the entire creation and the only deity worthy of worship, therefore, to worship Him alone is the truth and it is what will definitely benefit a person in this life and the next.
[Source: (Tayseer al-Kareem Ar-rahmaan Fee Tafseer Kalaam al-Mannaan). slightly paraphrased]
Ref 1: Al-Kawf [Fear]: Fear is to be frightened and is a result of expecting something which will bring about destruction, harm or injury, and Allaah, the one free of all imperfections and the Most High, forbade having fear of the allies of the Satan, and He commanded fear of Himself alone. Fear is of three types: (i) Natural fear, such as a person’s fear of predatory animals, fire, or drowning. This is something for which a person is not to be blamed. Allaah, the Most High, said about Moosaa, “So he entered in the morning in Pharaoh’s city in a state of fear, awaiting events.” [Soorah al-Qasas (28): 18] However if this fear is, as mentioned by the author, a cause of his leaving an obligation or doing something forbidden, then it is forbidden. Since whatever causes an obligation to be abandoned, or causes something forbidden to be done is itself forbidden (haraam). The evidence here is the Saying of Allaah, the Most High, “So do not fear them, but fear Me and beware of disobeying Me, if you are truly Believers.” [Soorah Aal-‘Imraan (3):175] Furthermore fear of Allaah, the Most High, is sometimes something praiseworthy, and is sometimes something that is not praiseworthy. It is praiseworthy when it prevents you from being disobedient to Allaah, and causes you to fulfil the obligatory duties and to avoid what is forbidden. So if this goal is reached, then the heart settles and is at peace, and is dominated by joy at the blessings of Allaah and hope for His reward. It is something that is not praiseworthy when it causes a person to despair of Allaah’s Mercy and to give up hope altogether. In such a case the person will give up and may continue in sin due to the fact that he totally gives up hope. (ii) Reverential fear, that he fears something and takes that as his religion. This is to be for Allaah, the Most High, alone. Directing such reverential fear to anyone other than Allaah, the Most High, is major shirk. (iii) Secret supernatural fear, such as fearing someone buried in a grave, or a person thought to be pious, who is far away and cannot affect him, yet still he has secret fear for him. This is also mentioned by the scholars as being a case of shirk. The evidence for hope and longing (ar-rajaa) is the Saying of Allaah the Most High: “So whoever hopes to see His Lord and be rewarded by Him, then let him make his worship correct and make it purely and sincerely for Him; and let him not make any share of it for anyone other than Him”  [Soorah al-Kahf (18):110]. [Source: English translation of the ‘Three fundamental principles’ by Abu Talhah (may Allaah have mercy upon him and his wife)]
Ref 2: Ar- Rajaa [Hope and longing] is that a person wishes for something that may be attained and is close, and it may be something that is far off but treated as being something close. This earnest hope which comprises humility and submission may not be directed except to Allaah, the Mighty and Majestic, and directing it to anyone other than Allaah, the Most High, is shirk. This shirk will either be lesser shirk or major shirk depending upon the state of the heart of the person in this case. The author uses as evidence the Saying of Allaah, the Most High, “So whoever hopes to see His Lord and be rewarded by Him, then let him make his worship correct and make it purely and sincerely for Him; and let him not make any share of it for anyone other than Him.” [Soorah al-Kahf (18):11O] ‘Hope’ which is praiseworthy is only that which is found in a person who acts in obedience to Allaah and hopes for reward from Him, or a person who repents from sin and hopes that his repentance is accepted. As for a person who hopes despite the fact that he does not act, then this is delusion and false hopes, and is something blameworthy. [Source: English translation of the ‘Three fundamental principles’ by Abu Talhah (may Allaah have mercy upon him and his wife)]
Ref 3: Ar-Raghbah [Fervent Desire] and Ref 4: Ar-Rahbah [Dread]: Ar-Raghbah is the love and desire to reach that which is beloved. Ar-Rahbah is fear which causes one to flee away from the cause of fear. So it is a fear that is accompanied by action. Allaah [The Most High] said: [إِنَّهُمۡ ڪَانُواْ يُسَـٰرِعُونَ فِى ٱلۡخَيۡرَٲتِ وَيَدۡعُونَنَا رَغَبً۬ا وَرَهَبً۬اۖ وَڪَانُواْ لَنَا خَـٰشِعِينَ – They used to hasten to acts of devotion and obedience to Allaah, and they used to worship Allaah upon love and desire, and upon fear, and were reverent and humble before Allaah] [21:90]
In this noble Aayah, Allaah, the Most High, describes the most loyal and sincere of His servants as worshipping Allaah, the Most High, upon raghbah and rahbah, whist being humble and submissive to Him. The du’aa (invocation) here covers both invoking Allaah through acts of worship, and supplication. So they call upon Allaah out of earnest desire for what is with Him, and hoping for His reward, whilst also fearing His punishment as a result of their sins. So the Believer should hasten to Allaah, the Most High, upon fear and earnest desire; with regard to actions of obedience his hope and earnest desire should predominate, so that he is keen to perform them and hopes that they will be accepted; and with regard to whenever he thinks of committing a sin, then fear should predominate so that he will flee away from doing it and be saved from its consequent punishment. Some scholars say that the aspect of hope should pre-dominate when a person is ill, and the aspect of fear when he is well. They say this since a person who is ill feels subdued and weakened and it may be that his appointed time is near, so that he may die, and he should do so whilst thinking good of Allaah, the Mighty and Majestic. But when healthy he is energetic and has hope of remaining for a long time, and this may lead him to be exuberant and carefree, so fear should predominate in order to be safe from that. It is also said that the earnest hope and fear should be equal so that his hope does not lead him to feel safe from Allaah, and his fear does not cause him to despair of Allaah’s mercy, since both of these are evil and cause a person’s destruction. [Source: English translation of the ‘Three fundamental principles’ by Abu Talhah (may Allaah have mercy upon him and his wife)]
Ref 5: Al-Inaabah [turning to Allaah in repentance]: Allaah [The Most High] said: [وَأَنِيبُوٓاْ إِلَىٰ رَبِّكُمۡ وَأَسۡلِمُواْ لَهُ – So turn, O you people, repentantly and obediently to your Lord, and submit obediently to Him] [39:54]
Al-Inaabah is to turn to Allaah, the Most High, in obedience, and avoiding disobedience to Him, and its meaning is close to that of repentance (tawbah), except that it is more subtle in meaning, and conveys the sense of dependence upon Allaah and fleeing for refuge to Him, and it cannot be except for Allaah. What is meant by the Saying of Allaah, the Most High, “…submit obediently to Him” is: Islaam as prescribed and required of us in the Sharee’ah and that is to submit to the laws and commandments of Allaah. This is because submission to Allaah, the Most High, is of two types: (i) Submission of all the creation, which is to submit to whatever He has decreed should exist and occur in the creation about which the creation has no choice. So this is general and covers everyone in the heavens and the earth, the Believers and the unbelievers, the righteous and the wicked. No one can possibly disdain and depart from this. The evidence for it is the Saying of Allaah, the Most High, “And to Him everyone in the heavens and the earth submit, willingly or unwillingly, and to Him you will all be returned.” [Soorah Aal-‘Imraan (3):83] (ii) Submission to the laws and prescriptions of Islaam, and this is to submit in obedience. This is particular to those who are obedient to Allaah, the Messengers and those who follow them upon good. The evidences for this in the Qur’aan are many, and from them is the Aayah mentioned by the author [Soorah az-Zumar (39): 5] [Source: English translation of the ‘Three fundamental principles’ by Abu Talhah (may Allaah have mercy upon him and his wife)]