Muslim Spirituality – al-Hikam #1

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Taj al-’Arus al-Hawi li Tahdhib al-Nufus by Ibn ‘Ata Allah al-Sikandari (al-Iskandari)

The Bride-Groom’s Crown Containing Instructions on Refining the Self

“The master of nature is vainly believed to be an adequate substitute for self-mastery.” – Reinhold Niebuhr

In his work, Sufism For Non-Sufi’s, Dr. Sherman Jackson writes,

“…part of Islam’s essential struggle from the very beginning was to identify good, substantively sound spirituality and distinguish it from and elevate it over bad, misguided spirituality. In sum, not all spirituality was or is good.” – Sherman Jackson

What is the function or purpose of spirituality from a Muslim perspective?

  • Inspire us: to do good, to do self-help, in all things which inspiration is required.
  • Elevate our morals: the world pulls at us asking us to merely adapt, not to transform.
  • Imbue us with “devotional confidence and resolve” to connect with God, worship God and put God front and center of our lives.

Spirituality and antinomianism:

  • “one who holds that under the gospel dispensation of grace the moral law is of no use or obligation because faith alone is necessary to salvation”;
  • one who rejects a socially established morality;

Spirituality in the Muslim tradition should also perform two functions:

  1. Affirm the supernatural.
  2. Eschew the superstitious.

Hikam #1

من علامة الاعتماد على العمل نقصان الرجاء عند وجود الزلل

“Amongst the signs of leaning on one’s own handiwork of deeds is the loss of hope in the presence of mistakes.”

“Amongst the signs of relying on deeds is the loss of hope in the presence of mistakes.”

Adaptive vs. Transformative – A Khutbah

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The scientists and the atheists get it wrong. They fixate only on the capacity for organisms to adapt, and in doing so they reduce all organisms to the same playing field. But clearly the human being has not only been able to adapt but it has been able to transform.

Our ability to achieve greatness is not determined by our biology: it is determined by our spirit (something animals lack). This is due to unique nature of human beings having the Spirit of God blown into him.

إِذ قالَ رَبُّكَ لِلمَلائِكَةِ إِنّي خالِقٌ بَشَرًا مِن طينٍ
فَإِذا سَوَّيتُهُ وَنَفَختُ فيهِ مِن روحي فَقَعوا لَهُ ساجِدينَ

“Your Lord said to the angels, ‘I am going to create a human being out of clay. When I have formed him and breathed My Ruh into him, fall down in prostration to him’!” Qur’an, 38: 71-72

وَالَّتي أَحصَنَت فَرجَها فَنَفَخنا فيها مِن روحِنا وَجَعَلناها وَابنَها آيَةً لِلعالَمينَ

“And she who protected her private parts. We breathed into her some of Our Ruh and made her and her son a Sign for all the worlds.” Qur’an, 21: 91

ثُمَّ سَوّاهُ وَنَفَخَ فيهِ مِن روحِهِ ۖ وَجَعَلَ لَكُمُ السَّمعَ وَالأَبصارَ وَالأَفئِدَةَ ۚ قَليلًا ما تَشكُرونَ

“…then [God] formed him [Adam] and breathed His Ruh [Spirit] into him and gave you hearing, sight and hearts. What little thanks you show!” Qur’an, 32: 9

Animals don’t worry if they’re too fat or skinny. They can experience hunger but they do not think of transforming themselves.

Therefore Muslims are here not just simply to adapt or assimilate but to transform and to realize.

Transforming from a quiet piety, where one is merely observant of God, (adaptation to the modern American environment where religion is a quiet and conformist religious experience), to one based on knowledge, particularly where knowledge leads to action.

One is not merely satisfied to complete one’s prayers and other duties in the quiet privacy of one’s home, but one’s knowledge of God and His Messenger compels one to act:

  • Homelessness,
  • corruption,
  • aggression and oppression of the weak.

There are a great many who would love for things to remain the same: a weak, impotent and intimidated Muslim collective who will not challenge society. A weed has no greater friend than an absentee gardener.

أَنَّ رَجُلاً، سَأَلَ النَّبِيَّ صلى الله عليه وسلم أَىُّ الإِسْلاَمِ خَيْرٌ قَالَ – تُطْعِمُ الطَّعَامَ وَتَقْرَأُ السَّلاَمَ عَلَى مَنْ عَرَفْتَ وَمَنْ لَمْ تَعْرِفْ

“A man asked the Prophet ﷺ “Which Islam is good/best?” The Prophet ﷺ replied, “To feed the poor and greet those whom you know and those whom you do not know.” Sahih al-Bukhari #12