“…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:
Affirm the supernatural.
Eschew the superstitious.
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.”
The following is a short article I wrote for al-Madina Institute’s blog entitled How To Be Powerless & Live Well. It is meant to address some of the spiritual and psychological struggles we all go through at one point or another.
Over the past several years I have been contacted by a number of Muslims who have confided in me about various issues they struggle with. One of these challenges is the notion of power. They revealed that they often feel powerless in various situations, or even in life in general and thus experience an array of emotions, chief amongst them, depression. I confided that I too struggle with the very same difficulties and thought in light of not being able to provide any definitive solutions, I would at least share some reflections on the topic.
It was my pleasure to have been invited by Qurtuba Institute of ADAMS Center, in Virginia, to give a talk entitled “The Inner Dimensions of ‘Ibadah (Worship)“. In the following talk, I try to point out some of roadblocks and pitfalls associated with discourse on spirituality for Muslims today, particularly in the English-speaking world. I used a piece from John Dewey as a point of departure to help us truly achieve a more real and beneficial spiritual practice:
“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.