Question 71: Al Sayyed Al-Khomeini, may Allah bestow mercy upon him, said in the forty what means: “Verily our acts of worship are among the greatest sins against Allah.” What is the validity of such talk?
Answer: If what he intended was the obedience itself then no, but if what he intended was the performance then yes [his speech is valid]. And the reason being that the type of people’s performance of obedience is a sin because they do not know whom they are worshiping, rather the majority of the people are heedless regarding Allah (swt) while they are performing prayers between His hands, so thoughts move them right and left like waves.
And to further clarify the picture I shall put forth this parable: If you approach a great person and speak to him and are hopeful that he speaks [back] to you, so when he accepts [to speak to you] you turn your face away from him to the right or to the left in order to play with a carcass which is lying on the ground, should not this great [person] become angry with you? Then when he becomes angry with you should not the people say that he is right and you are in error? Then should not the people describe you as being impertinent/foolish?
And even those who are not overtaken by thoughts and are devoted to Allah (swt) during their prayers through humility, submission and subservience, verily they are also among those whom turn their face away from Allah (swt) as much as their ignorance regarding Allah (swt).