Islam Doctrines on Equality, Realism, Wisdom and Mysticism (4)

Islam Doctrines on Equality, Realism, Wisdom and Mysticism (4)

3. The Principle of Equilibrium, between the Material and the Spiritual

The third result of Islam's message being directed at natural man, a result which is indeed one of the great achievements of this religion, is that a middle way is taken between materiality and spirituality. This is in contrast to Judaism, which, as can be observed in its Holy Book, the Torah, is not concerned with spiritual matters, and with Christianity, which on the contrary-according to the explicit sayings of Jesus-is not concerned with the material life of this world.

Other religions such as Hinduism and Buddhism and even Zoroastrianism, Manicheanism and Sabianism, which to one degree or another are concerned with spiritual things, have separated the spiritual way from material life, to the extent that the connection between the two has been totally severed.

It is only Islam which chooses the middle way and bases itself upon the foundation of primordial human nature. towards his God, and include expressions of servitude in the face of His Lordship, poverty and need in the face of His Wealth and Independence, lowliness in the face of His Grandeur, insignificance in the face of His Majesty and Glory, ignorance in the face of His Knowledge, incapacity in the face of His Power, and submission in the face of His Will.

Moreover, to the extent possible these expressions have been given a social character, such as in the case of the groups which gather for the daily congregational prayers, the larger groups which meet for Friday prayers, and the still larger gathering which takes place at the time of the pilgrimage to Mecca.

A second portion of these injunctions concern duties which man has in social surroundings and in relation with his fellow man. Of course in these duties, which are the Islamic laws, the sense of responsibility towards God has been taken into account, for man must surrender only to His Will (that is, the requirements of His creation). In other words, all actions must be performed in the shadow of the three basic principles of Islam: Divine Unity, Prophecy, and the Last Day.

"Say: O People of the Scripture [Jews and Christians]! Come to an agreement between us and you: that we shall worship none but Allah, and that we shall ascribe no partners unto Him, and that none of us shall take others for lords beside Allah. And if they turn away, then say: Bear witness that we are they who have surrendered (unto Him)."(1)

From the previous discussion it has become clear that in the religion of Islam the path to be followed in life has been ordered and arranged in such a way that man's social and material life resembles a cradle in which the spiritual life is nurtured. The inner spiritual light of the practicing Muslim is such that all of his individual and social actions contribute to purifying his soul and strengthening its radiance. Although outwardly he is with people, inwardly he is with God, and although he is in the midst of a crowd, he dwells in the spiritual retreat of the divine secret.

At the same time that he is running here and there in pursuit of material goals, and is undergoing a series of events both bitter and sweet, pleasant and unpleasant, beautiful and ugly, and in general is involved in the events of the tumultuous external world, his heart is free and exists in a world of tranquility in which he sees the Face of God wherever he looks. And whither so ever ye turn, there is Allah's countenance.(2)

A pious Muslim extends his spiritual life into every aspect of his material life. Wherever he is and whatever he is doing he is in contact with God. Everything with which he occupies himself in the material world is a mirror in which he sees God reflected. On the other hand, non-Muslims who turn towards the spiritual life imagine that their natural and every-day life is a veil between themselves and the Truth they are seeking. As a result they are forced to abandon normal life and to assume an unaccustomed manner of living in their quest after spiritual perfection. Whatever the advantages of such a way, from the point of view of a person who lives a normal life it is a difficult road to follow and one in which to persevere requires an extreme degree of will power.

However, the person who follows the spiritual life according to the directives of Islam knows full well that such a way is easier than that of Islam, for such people, by abandoning every-day life, have taken the easy way out and have fled from the difficulty of continual vigil and effort. They have set a barrier in the road towards perfection which creation itself and the means it has put at man's disposal have prepared. Such men have set out on a path of their own fancy, and it is questionable whether they will ever reach the goal which creation has determined for them.

In addition, given that the world and all it contains are the creation of God and that the phenomena of the world, each according to the measure of its own existence, are signs of the Truth and mirrors displaying God, and given that man along with the various conditions which mark his primordial nature is one of these signs, then it is necessary that in the spiritual life (the way of knowledge of self and of God) God be recognized in every situation. All of these mirrors must be utilized in the acquisition of divine knowledge and in the contemplation of God's Beauty, for if this is not the case man will gain nothing more from his labors than an imperfect knowledge or a perfect ignorance.

Continue in the next article: ( Islam Doctrines on Equality, Realism, Wisdom and Mysticism (5) )

NOTES:

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1. (The Holy Quran 111, 64)

2. (The Holy Quran II, 115)