The Believer must also be a Traveller
By Maulana Wahiduddin Khan
The believer, according to the Quran, must be a traveller (Al-Saihoon) (9:112). This is not just in the sense of one who goes on journeys: it actually means one who learns spiritual lessons through Tawassum (15:75). Tawassum means to elicit spiritual lessons from material experiences.
A believer is one who is always in a state of contemplation. When a believer is on his travels, his mind is always in the contemplative mode. Whatever a believer sees around him turns into a spiritual experience. A true believer’s mind is like a spiritual industry. He sees everything with a divine eye and learns spiritual lessons through Tawassum. His travelling thus becomes an ibadat (worship).
This process is integral to the workings of the mind of a true believer — a spiritually hungry person, who is constantly trying to derive spiritual lessons from everything. Naturally, this process continues during his travels. There is a formula for this which can be summarised thus: Siahat plus Tawassum is equal to Marafat.
Siahat means travelling, tawassum means to learn a lesson, and marafat means realisation of God. A believer’s journeying is a kind of ibadat on the move, in the course of which his contemplation becomes more profound, and he is able to expand his spiritual experiences universally. When at home, he lives in a confined environment, which permits him to develop his personality at the rate of say one per cent, but when he travels, he can add many new dimensions to his personality.
For example, when you buy a return ticket from an airline, you travel with the assurance that you will return home. Then you remember death. Death is also a journey. But on this journey, you have no return ticket. This is tawassum. An air ticket is a worldly item, but as a matter of tawassum, through this ticket, you can be reminded of the world hereafter.
Meaning of Love of God
Love means strong affection. Love is a natural phenomenon; an elevated kind of positive response towards someone you feel is loveable. Love cannot be created in a vacuum; it requires a strong base of affection.
Love of God is this same kind of strong affection. The basis of this love is quite natural when one discovers that one was created by God and that it was God who has given us human beings such bounties as planet earth, the life-support system, oxygen, water and food, for instance. All these things were not created by humans. They are precious gifts bestowed by someone else. When one discovers this fact, one naturally becomes a lover of God. Thus, love of God is the outcome of one’s discovery.
Every sincere person reaches a stage in life when he faces some basic questions such as, how did I come into existence, how is it that I find myself in a world that is extremely favourable to me. One realises that this compatibility between man and the rest of the universe is so unique, that science has observed that the universe has been custom-made for man. Love is in fact an acknowledgment of this. When we endeavour to acknowledge our super-benefactor, we call it love of God.
Although love is an inner feeling, it comes naturally to us to give it an external expression. It is said that man is a social animal, so it is but natural that one’s inner love should also find some expression in terms of social relationships. It is this social expression of one’s inner feeling that is called peace. In terms of God, love is a psychological acknowledgment of the Creator, and in terms of society, love is manifested in peaceful living among other members of society.
God is an unobservable being of this kind whom we see through His creation. In such a world, it is irrational to say that one cannot love God because one cannot observe Him. Love of God is not simply a philosophical issue: it is rooted in the very nature of man. The fact is that if you receive some good things from anyone, you cannot do other than acknowledge his generosity. In this sense, love of God is a natural phenomenon.
If you add a pinch of dye to a glass of water, all of the water becomes coloured. So, too, in the case of love. When a person has love in his heart for his Creator, at the same time he cannot resist showing his love to his neighbours.
Love has two dimensions: theoretical and practical. In terms of the theoretical dimension, love means love of God and in terms of the social; love means love of all beings.