Islamic Voice A Monthly English Magazine


RABI-UL-AWWAL / RABI - U - THANI
MAY 2004
Volume 17-05 No : 209
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MUSLIMS GO SOUL SEARCHING

MUSLIMS GO SOUL SEARCHING

Putting away the perks and pressures of corporate life, a good number of
Muslims are now seeking a life devoted towards spirituality

 

 

 

By Mohammed Hanif Lakdawala

*Rauf Surti, 49 a mechanical engineer from VJTI, Mumbai, and an MBA from IIM-Ahmedabad, resigned from a multi-national company to devote time organising personality develop-ment, training and spiritual development programmes for the Muslim youth.

*Hussain Amir, 34, a Timber merchant lost interest in business and is now devoting maximum time travelling, inviting people towards Islam.

*Basit Shaikh 37,software consultant is more interested in taking up projects related to Islam such as hosting and designing websites for different Muslim organisations.

In the present time, where changes take place at a rapid pace, many individuals after attaining a peak in their respective careers are beginning to ask themselves, “What will give us contentment and satiety”?

For many achieving the career peak is the sole and ultimate objective of life. But once that is achieved, a vacuum is felt and the re-thinking process starts. Rauf had a high profile career. But after fulfilling all career - related ambition, he asked himself, what next? “I felt a vacuum inside me. My wife Sadia always used to point out that proximity to Allah is very essential for inner peace. But I never paid attention to that. But when I introspected, I realised that real contentment and inner satiety can only be attained through spirituality,” he said.

What is spirituality?

There are number of definitions. According to some, spirituality is the state or quality of being dedicated to Allah, Islam, or spiritual things or values, especially as contrasted with material or temporal ones. Sheikh Ahmad Kuftaro, the Grand Mufti of Syria while delivering his lecture in San Francisco, USA said that the solution to man's problems lies in his return to a rational spirituality, which is the essence of the teaching of all the divine missions. Furthermore, it complements man's inner nature and structure in a symbiotic relationship that will guarantee for man the happiness of body and soul that he so much desires, securing for him both the heaven and earth as paradise, he said.

The combination of the material and the spirit go together to form the foundation upon which the building of the revealed religion resides. Their combination is a balance that if tampered with would uproot this foundation, robbing man of his link to the Creator.

Over the past 1400 years, the Islamic world has been met with a massive influx of spiritual information, currently crowding the pages of newspapers, television programmes and the websites on the Internet. Many people have an incorrect view of their own motivation for entering the spiritual path. It often takes many years for spiritual seekers to realise that they have given themselves to spiritual life for reasons entirely unknown to them- reasons far less noble and selfless than their romantic imagination had led them to believe.

Relief from suffering

“Most people engage in spiritual life because they want to be free from suffering. One of the greatest misunderstandings that people have is, regarding the spiritual journey as a vacation trip”, declared Maulana Athur of Ulema council. People imagine that the spiritual path will provide them with peace of mind, freedom from their psychological aberrations and an everlasting life. They mistakenly imagine that if they meditate enough, do enough prayers, or study enough spiritual books, eternal bliss will be theirs, he said.

Hussain Amir was a very successful businessman. “Along the way, I was fed up with its ups and downs. So investing money in safe ventures, I devoted maximum time to dawah work and spirituality. As far as spiritual journey is concerned, I think I have to go a long long way,” he said.

Spiritual ambition: the search for power and control

Who would think that the imagined spiritual life devoted to meditation and prayer, lost in the bliss of Allah, humbled in the face of truth could be yet another cloak for dreams of power and success, or a disguise for feelings of personal failure. Yet for many it is just that. The fact is that the search for enlightenment is often a disguise for the search for power, fame, prestige, or some other form of worldly success. Enlightenment can unquestionably provide illusory, or limited, power and control, but spiritual development goes far beyond worldly power and control. Genuine spiritual teachers and those of profound realisation rarely, if ever, view their lives from the perspective of being in control of themselves or controlling others.

Basit Shaikh opines that power is an important ingredient in the fight between good and evil forces. Unless and until those who strive to change the world for better, acquire power and compete with evil forces from the position of strength, this world will see increase in suffering and pain. “I am from the information technology industry, through spirituality, I am trying to strengthen my inner self and nourish my soul which will help me to contribute for the propagation of Islam,” said Basit.

Fear of death

People seek enlightenment because they fear to die. But human beings, desperate to find a way to avoid the imagined suffering of death, selectively gravitate towards some aspects of the spiritual teachings.

Prof Abbas Hyder 52, resigned from his teaching profession last year as he felt that he was not prepared to face death. “As I grew old, the feeling was intensifying that I am not ready to face my creator. So I resigned and took deep interest in spirituality. After couple of months, I felt a change inside my inner self. Now I am in a better position to know my Creator and striving to lead a life according to his guidance,” said Prof Hyder.

The inner guru and other spiritual truisms

The concept of the inner voice is one of the most deceptive of all the popular spirituality. Though the term inner guru refers to something ultimately real, of the many who believe themselves to be following their inner voice, only a rare few are actually doing so effectively. A close relative to the inner voice is the notion of following one’s heart. It is true that one must ultimately follow one’s heart, and the true heart does not lie, but how does one know when one is hearing this heart? Most individuals have no idea what their heart is, and have neither felt it nor heard it speak. The majority of messages they attribute to their heart are in fact, coming from their mind, though it may well speak lovingly, tenderly, and even heartfully.

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