What is Islamic Spirituality?
Islam doesn’t view ‘spirituality’ separately from everyday activities. In Islam everything is ‘spiritual’ because all actions must be in accordance with God’s pleasure. This view comes from the Islamic creed and the Muslim’s understanding of tawhid (the oneness of God).
‘There is no deity worthy of worship except God’ this conviction creates a world view, a perspective and a unique behaviour. It essential means that all actions – from having a shower to picking up litter from the floor – should be referred to the Creator. This establishes a constant awareness, mindfulness and consciousness of God in everything that the Muslim says or does.
The understanding of spirituality in Islam is unlike the secular understanding. It is the constant reference to God and ensuring that everything he or she does is in accordance with God’s pleasure.
This consciousness is not static, it is dynamic. The level of God consciousness is dependent upon how close the Muslim is with His Lord. This personal relationship is established and strengthened by following a unique programme of activities that have been prescribed by God Himself. This ‘spiritual’ programme is also an effective means to change the negative traits and habits of the Muslim. Some of these activities include remembrance of God, prayer, giving charity, fasting, reflecting on creation, meditation, reading and reflecting upon the Qur’an, memorising the Qur’an and daily supplications.
The Prophet Muhammad (upon whom be peace) emphasised on developing a good character by engaging a constant practice of prayer, meditation, remembrance of God and other activities, as these actions change the heart and thereby bring one closer to God.
Verily in the body there is a piece of flesh. If it is sound, the body is all sound. If it is corrupt, the body is all corrupt. Verily, it is the heart.
God consciousness is an essential element in Islamic spiritual practice, without it, the Muslim’s behaviour and attitude are corrupted. The benefits of God consciousness as derived from the Qur’an are:
- Guidance: because of His words “guidance for the muttaqeen (the people of God consciousness)”
- Help: because of His words “Truly, Allah is with the people who have taqwa (God consciousness)”
- Closeness with God: because of His words, ”Allah is the close friend of the muttaqeen”
- Love: because of His words, “Truly Allah loves the muttaqeen”
- A way out from unhappiness, and provision from where one does not expect: because of His words, “Whoever has taqwa of Allah He will make a way out for him and provide him from where he does not expect”
- Facilitation of affairs: because of His words, “Whoever has taqwa of Allah He will make ease for him in his affair”
- Full covering over of wrong actions and magnification of rewards: because of His words, “Whoever has taqwa of God He will cover over his wrong actions and magnify a reward for him”
Islam has a unique view on spirituality as it encompasses all aspects of the Muslim’s life. All actions that are referred to God are spiritual, and these actions include the supplications we utter before we go to bed to the type of bank account we hold. God has prescribed certain actions that develop positive characters as well as bringing the Muslim closer to God thereby attain God consciousness. This state achieves many things including God’s love, closeness and divine assistance.