“Knock, And He’ll open the door
Vanish, And He’ll make you shine like the sun
Fall, And He’ll raise you to the heavens
Become nothing, And He’ll turn you into everything.” – RUMI
Has it ever happened to you, this feeling of your soul taking flight when you have helped a needy for no benefit to your own self? Have you ever wondered what is the basis of this feeling and why are you left refreshed and awakened?
It is this feeling that we will be talking about today; the importance of this feeling, ways to nourish that side of ours that links straight to our soul and our faith! It links straight to our duty towards our Lord! Before we move onto this topic let us first set a foundation!
It pains me to see that sometimes, even before we are aware of what the piece of writing is all about, we turn the page without a glance when the title mentions something like religion, spirituality, moral values, guidance, and the sorts. Why do we do so? Simply because such topics and discussions on them tug at our heart strings; they make us realize that we are lacking in our responsibility towards our religion and towards the Almighty. It makes us feel guilty and therefore we just turn the page!
Let me assure you that this is by no means an article bound to make you feel guilty. The only intent of this article is to give a little thought to what lies in the foundations of those peaceful feelings that we get when we perform an act of kindness, an act of pure goodness of faith, for absolutely no personal benefit what so ever!
Spirituality, defined broadly as, the search for “the sacred“, where “the sacred” is broadly defined as that which is set apart from the ordinary and worthy of veneration.
As Pierre Teilhard de Chardin once said – “we are not human beings having a spiritual experience, we are spiritual beings having a human experience.”
As Muslims, however, we must believe that spirituality is our link to our Lord, the relationship of our inner being with the Almighty. We do not need to search for the sacred simply because we are at least aware of His presence and existence. When does one as a Muslim feel spiritual? When you offer prayer, when you do a good deed, when you recite the Holy verses, when you perform an action simply because of the ultimate benefit, simply because of the fear that one day this life that we have on Earth will end! Spirituality also links to self-actualization, the certainty that you are completely satisfied in this life and that you have done your best!
There are many critics of how self-actualization can be achieved and how it is not really linked to spirituality, so here again let us keep in mind that we are looking at the topic from the reference of being a Muslim first, and a human being next. I can say with complete confidence- and those who have experienced spiritual awakening themselves will agree- that once you are familiar with such a feeling of pure inner satisfaction, there will be nothing in comparison that you would want to thrive for.
Certainly there still are people who would rather own islands in their own names, buy cars in various brands, and invest in property, and by no means am I trying to imply that being ambitious is a bad thing, but one must keep in mind that when we leave we will not be taking anything with us apart from our soul. This is what bring us to the point where we ask ourselves; why do we need to be spiritual? What is benefit? What is the purpose? Lastly, why isn’t being positively materialistic and ambitious enough for a person? Since I would want everyone to relate to this article I would like to quote realistic examples. For instance, positively materialistic for women might include a liking for clothes, handbags, shoes, makeup, and thus spending on these items. For men, it might include cars, real estate, stocks, investment portfolios, and the list goes on.
We live such a busy and hectic life that it is nearly impossible to keep track of our soul since we get so busy satisfying our other needs. Have you ever wondered why people like Mr. Edhi, who have so much, prefer simplicity and not just to show it off, but in actuality? It is what makes them peaceful inside and it shows. Why don’t they require materialistic things when they can easily afford them? It is because they have reached that point where there soul is satisfied, they are at peace with themselves, and they realize that they have attained their goal in this life!
Spirituality gives you so much inner peace because, whether we admit it or not, our soul is only satisfied when we perform such acts of purity and good faith. And the Lord rewards of course. Every single time you do something for the Almighty He is sure to respond and reward, if not sooner than later. But the accompanying feeling to such action is immediate, the cooling effect is linked directly to our mental satisfaction that yes we did well! It is the sort of peace that cannot be explained in words.
There is nothing to ponder over, it is not a huge ordeal to attain some of that inner peace and there are so many ways that you will be astonished. The only thing that needs to be considered is that every human soul has a purpose in this life. We should try to find our purpose, as a Muslim, as a human being, try doing something for the Lord that created you, for the religion that you belong to, for the world that you live in, for the country that you call your own, for your parents that sacrifice so much for you, for your family and friends who give you the gift of their time, and lastly, for yourself! Try doing one good thing every day, be it the smallest act of kindness, or just a smile to someone in pain simply in good faith, and eventually you will start relishing the experience and you will want more!
The basics of attaining spirituality entail that you try purifying your soul, preparing it for the link to the Almighty, trying to imitate the practices of the Holy Prophet (SAW) to the best of your abilities, to kneel in front of the Almighty and pray, and to recite a few verses of the Holy Quran every day. I agree that sometimes we really do take a while coming onto these basic principles, so here are simple sure shot ways to bring you closer to your Lord. And keep this faith strong that once He has His eyes on you, He is never going to let go! Like it is said in one of the Sufi verses:
“Yaad rakho agar, uth gayee ik nazar – yeh jitney khali hain sub, jam bhar jainge”
Since summers are coming up and we see so many people on the road who are standing in the glowering sun waiting for some sort of transport to arrive, we see people begging in the prickling heat, and then we see some of the laborers working hard during the day. We are more than aware how it feels when we desperately need only a glass of cold water. So, all that needs to be done is that get together with a friend, a colleague, or an acquaintance, and pool in money (as much as you can) and get chilled bottles of mineral water. Take a round around your area and further ahead if the need be, and just hand out these bottles to people who might really be in need of a cold swag of water. Don’t be disappointed if some people refuse to take it, obviously there will be some trust issues. Don’t be discouraged and carry out this practice every month if you can, as much as you can, whenever you can! It will only bring you an inner satisfaction which will prove paramount to your peace and happiness and trust me; your entire day will be rejuvenated.
The same can be done by taking food, not in bundles, but small tokens of it can be distributed whenever you feel like you need to help, to give back to the society, or simply when you feel down! This has to be the best anti-depressant, because there is something very serene about helping others- being of assistance to someone unknown.
Another thing that can be done is that when it is the dead of winters, the sort that makes your hands go numb. You can go to your local thrift store and purchase a bundle of gloves, tiny hats, sweaters and shawls. Once done with the shopping, go to an excessively under privileged area where people have draped a cloth in place of regular doors and distribute this stuff amongst the children there. Trust me, you will be doing a very noble deed! An improvised version of this includes purchasing warm cloth from the thrift store or regular markets and going around town during winters and handing it to people who sleep on the sidewalks!
Lastly, last year a group of friends started pooling money before Ramadan came with the intent to feed at least a hundred families who cannot afford to keep a fast on their own. No doubt the intent was so pure that by the time they were done, they had delivered food packages (enough for the entire month of Ramadan) to more than 150 families! Just think about it, if even two people from every residential area take such an initiative, how many people can benefit from it!
Before I end, let me clarify that these are tested and tried methods, actions that speak louder than these words I write. It is only an attempt to spread some good in the society. There is no compulsion on anyone of course, but like they say, if you know something good, give it back to the people! So here it is, some ways that will help you strengthen your bond to Your Lord, some deeds that will light you up from the inside and will leave you craving for more!
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