A note on texts and “tradition”:
“When artistic objects are separated from both conditions of origin and operation in experience, a wall is built around them that renders almost opaque their general significance, with which esthetic theory deals. Art is remitted to a separate realm, where it is cut off from that association with the materials and aims of every other form of human effort, undergoing, and achievement.” — John Dewey, from Art As Experience.
A note on “spirituality”:
وما تقرب إليّ عبدي بشيء أحبّ إليّ مما افترضْت عليه
“My slave does not draw closer to me with anything more beloved than by what I have made obligatory upon him.” – al-Bukhari.
The have passion is to incline to the good as well as the bad:
رَبَّنَا إِنِّي أَسْكَنْتُ مِنْ ذُرِّيَّتِي بِوَادٍ غَيْرِ ذِي زَرْعٍ عِنْدَ بَيْتِكَ الْمُحَرَّمِ رَبَّنَا لِيُقِيمُوا الصَّلَاةَ فَاجْعَلْ أَفْئِدَةً مِنَ النَّاسِ تَهْوِي إِلَيْهِمْ وَارْزُقْهُمْ مِنَ الثَّمَرَاتِ لَعَلَّهُمْ يَشْكُرُونَ
“Our Lord! I have settled some of my offspring by Your Sacred House in an uncultivated valley. Our Lord! Let them establish salah! Make the hearts of mankind incline towards them and provide them with fruits, so that hopefully they will be thankful.” – Qur’an, 14: 37.
حُنَفَاءَ لِلَّهِ غَيْرَ مُشْرِكِينَ بِهِ ۚ وَمَنْ يُشْرِكْ بِاللَّهِ فَكَأَنَّمَا خَرَّ مِنَ السَّمَاءِ فَتَخْطَفُهُ الطَّيْرُ أَوْ تَهْوِي بِهِ الرِّيحُ فِي مَكَانٍ سَحِيقٍ
“Be people of pure natural belief in God, not associating anything else with Him. As for anyone who associates others with God, it is as though he had fallen from the sky and the birds had seized him and carried him away or the wind had dropped him in a distant place.” – Qur’an, 22, 31.
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا كُونُوا قَوَّامِينَ بِالْقِسْطِ شُهَدَاءَ لِلَّهِ وَلَوْ عَلَىٰ أَنْفُسِكُمْ أَوِ الْوَالِدَيْنِ وَالْأَقْرَبِينَ إِنْ يَكُنْ غَنِيًّا أَوْ فَقِيرًا فَاللَّهُ أَوْلَىٰ بِهِمَا فَلَا تَتَّبِعُوا الْهَوَىٰ أَنْ تَعْدِلُوا وَإِنْ تَلْوُوا أَوْ تُعْرِضُوا فَإِنَّ اللَّهَ كَانَ بِمَا تَعْمَلُونَ خَبِيرًا
“You who profess faith!, be upholders of justice, bearing witness for God alone, even against yourselves or your parents and relatives. Whether they are rich or poor, God is well able to look after them. Do not follow your own desires and deviate from the truth. If you twist or turn away, Allah is aware of what you do.” – Qur’an, 4, 135.
A reminder on self-diagnosis:
إنما يعرف فضل الشيء بثمرته
“The excellence of thing is known by its fruit.” – Ibn al-Jawzi..
فإذا زادت شهوة المطعم صارت شرها فآذت
“However, if one’s appetite for food should increase unchecked it becomes gluttony, and thus harmful.” – Ibn al-Jawzi..
Similarly, Ibn al-Jawzi adds:
وإذا زاد الغضب أخرج إلى الفساد
“And if anger is increase it will manifest a perversion.” – Ibn al-Jawzi..
One of the goals of tazkiyyah is to train your “nafs” to “feel the right action” instead of either being overwhelmed by troubling scenarios or reacting to every difficult encounter with a set of Sahih al-Bukhari.
The role of the ‘Aql:
(يعني العقل) يترك العاجل للآلج, وبه فضل الآدمي على جميع الحيوان الذي فقده
“(The mind) taught enabled man to relinquish this hasty life for The Next (to where you will tarry). For this reason, man has superseded all of the animals, who have been deprived of having it.” – Ibn al-Jawzi..
What are desires/Hawa?:
الهوى ميل الطبع إلى ما يلائمه ولا يذّم هذا المقدار إذا كان المطلوب مباحا, وإنما يذم الإفراط فيه, فمن أطلق الهوى فلأن الغالب فيه ما لا يحل أو يتأول المباح بإفراطه
“Hawa is the inclination of one’s natural character or disposition to whatever pleases it and should not be condemned in as much as what is sought is permissible. However, it should be disparaged when one is excessive in following desires. That being said, when passions are criticized altogether, it is because either the object or action is impermissible, or because people often interpret lawful means to excessive ends.” – Ibn al-Jawzi..