Hello folks! Welcome to today’s reading. On this blog dedicated to our spiritual, emotional, and physical development as humans, it is my mission to deliver content and pieces of knowledge that not only touch base on the most important aspects of self-development, but that also expand our knowledge and understanding of the world we live in.
That is why I believe it is essential – as divinely connected individuals – to try and mend our outer worlds with our inner worlds. To build a space in our lives where faith and individualism can coexist. And that is where the spirituality of Islam comes in.
One particular challenge that is present in the religious community – Muslim or otherwise – is religious guilt. As people who were most likely born into our lineage’s beliefs, being reminded of God’s involvement in almost everything isn’t new.
While that may be beneficial from time to time, it also comes with the underlying issue of either;
- Feeling pressured into believing in something we’re not quite certain of, or;
- Completely denying our religious identity due to the overwhelm, or;
- Devoting our every move and thought to what God may think.
Thus, in this post, I am showing you what the spirituality of Islam really means, and how to find that middle ground between faith and individualism – because there always is one. We don’t have to live in denial, fear, or confusion!
As I personally come from a Muslim background, I will be addressing the Islamic faith in connectivity to Eastern (or now-assimilated Western) spirituality, though the points made in this article can closely pertain to the other Abrahamic religions – Christianity and Judaism.
This is also a way for me to shed some much-needed light on a tradition that is widely interpreted as a dogmatic, political, and legal doctrine – completely stripped from its deep, pure, sacred morals.
Thoughts you may have regarding your relationship with spirituality vs. religion
- Being spiritual evokes evil energies and goes against God’s message.
Food for thought:
If God is all about love, why is it a sin to connect to our purest form and show ourselves love?
I shouldn’t feel guilty for believing in the metaphysical because the only way I can allegedly stay true to my roots is by “serving the ultimate master”.
- I can’t decide whether I’m supposed to follow the faith that’s been passed on to me, or my spiritual beliefs.
Food for thought:
If religion is based on having faith in the existence of something bigger than us and that we must therefore connect to that higher power, how is it any different from spirituality?
I can believe in what makes me feel closest to God/the Universe, whichever way that may manifest in – whether that is through Eastern philosophies, the spirituality of Islam, or something else.
- I can’t connect with my religion anymore. It’s too restricting and it doesn’t allow me to embrace who I really am.
Food for thought:
Have you ever noticed the feelings that arise when you pray? That sense of relief? That’s the presence of our Creator. Whether you believe in the words of the Holy Book or not, the connection to God – at that specific instant during prayer – is undeniable.
Some aspects of doctrine may not stand the test of time, but there is no time and space when it comes to faith. This Earth we call home was built on evolution. We must evolve in the direction of enlightenment, peace, and worldly love, and bring our religious beliefs along with us.
What is the spirituality of Islam?
Apart from the Quran which contains many verses relating to esotericism, there is also an important branch of Islam that embodies the concept of mysticism and connection to the soul:
Britannica summarizes the meaning and beliefs of Sufism (the essence of the spirituality of Islam) in a delightful way:
“I searched for God among the Christians and on the Cross and therein I found Him not. I went into the ancient temples of idolatry; no trace of Him was there. Then I directed my search to the Kaaba, the resort of old and young; God was not there even. Finally, I looked into my own heart and there I saw Him; He was nowhere else.” - Rumi, Afghan-Persian Sufi poet
Practices related to the Spirituality of Islam
Observance of the Divine Feminine and Divine Masculine
The idea of Yin and Yang in Eastern philosophy is simple: the man does, the woman is. In Islam, this belief holds true just as well. The recognition of what the woman has to offer (nurture), and the man (provision), is impossible not to notice in the Muslim world. And as much as some cultures and traditions abuse of it by taking this polarity to the extremes, I believe it’s a remarkable way to celebrate our differences as men and women!
“They (your wives) are your garment and you are a garment for them.”[2:187]
Gratitude is essential in Islam. Just look at Ramadan and the meaning behind this holy month! In Eastern philosophy too, if you want to attract good things in life, you must be grateful for the things that you already possess.
“O, you who believe! Fasting is prescribed to you as it was prescribed to those before you, that you may learn piety and righteousness.”[2:183]
Surrendering and having faith
A research study done on the neurophysiological effects that Muslims experience by surrendering to God has shown that performing prayer decreases activity in the frontal lobe – the same event that occurs when meditating. And in accordance with the Law of Attraction, the act of surrendering is the number one step in manifesting thoughts into reality.
“And whoever relies upon Allah – then He is sufficient for him. Indeed, Allah will accomplish His purpose. Allah has already set for everything a [decreed] extent.”[65:3]
It’s clear that the idea of “we’re all one” is sacred in esoteric belief systems. Well, the same goes for the spirituality of Islam. It is essential for us as Muslims to perform zakat (charity) and to treat one another with kindness, understanding and respect.
“And hold fast, all together, by the rope which God (stretches out for you) and be not divided among yourselves; and remember with gratitude God’s favor on you; for ye were enemies and He joined your hearts in love, so that by His Grace, ye became brethren; and ye were on the brink of the pit of Fire, and He saved you from it. Thus doth God make His Signs clear to you: That ye may be guided.”[3:103]
Prayer as a form of meditation and calming one’s mind
As the study in point #3 showed, meditation and prayer to God have nearly the same effects on the human brain. When done sincerely, without haste, prayers allow us to enter flow state – a state described in psychology as the zone that one enters when doing something they’re fully immersed in.
“And put your trust in the Almighty, Most Merciful, who sees you when you meditate during the night. And your frequent prostrations. He is the Hearer, the Omniscient.”[26:217-220]
In esoteric terms, the act of grounding oneself is the foundation of self-awareness. Without activating our root chakra – the energy point that focuses on connection with the earthly realms – there is nothing to build the other six chakras upon. This is mirrored in the spirituality of Islam in many chapters, such as in the Surah Al-Asr:
“Consider the flight of time! Verily, man is bound to lose himself, unless he be of those who attain to faith, and do good works, and enjoin upon one another the keeping of truth, and enjoin upon one another patience in adversity.”[103:1-3]
Noticing the beauty in nature
Mentions of nature are countless in the Holy Book. The Divine makes sure that we understand just how much of life on Earth is a gift. Signs of God are everywhere when we truly take the time to look out into nature – which evidently, is a thing of essence in Eastern spirituality.
“And it is He who spread the Earth and made in it firm mountains and rivers, and of all fruits, he has made in it two kinds; He makes the night cover the day; most surely there are signs in this for a people who reflect.”[13:3]
Believer or non-believer, Muslim or Christian – in the end, we’re all one. Our purpose here is to reconnect with our higher self and the Universe. Sometimes, it can get so confusing and overwhelming when we try to find our identity in the realms of the unseen.
That is why educating ourselves is crucial. On religion, spirituality, God, you name it. If not for finding our place within the spirituality of Islam, but for gaining peace of mind.
That’s all from me today, people! Hope this piece brought you some clarity.
Until next time,
Abdul-Rahman, Zohair. “Islamic Spirituality and Mental Well-Being.” Yaqeen Institute for Islamic Research, https://yaqeeninstitute.ca/read/paper/islamic-spirituality-and-mental-well-being#ftnt31