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MyLLife Digest: March 2024

Qur'an & Hadith Reflections: Spirituality

The month of Ramadhan is not about just physical depravity (fasting) but renewing our spirituality!

Spiritual connection with God is a fundamental human pursuit from the day human beings (starting with Adam and Eve) landed on this earth or evolved over time on this earth - whichever way you are inclined to think, though both are equally plausive and not mutually exclusive. The Bible says that God made human beings in the image of God (figuratively) while the Qur’an says that God perfected human construct (physical and intellectual) and breathed God’s essence (ruh) into the children of Adam and Eve while teaching Adam and Even the names of creations that include natural laws.

While we use our physical and intellectual capabilities to earn a living, procreate on this earth, build families, communities and establish relationships, we are negligent of our spiritual relationships with God.  Some of us think that we have mastered nature (including ourselves) and there is no place for a belief in God (e.g., atheist, Buddhists, communists), other feels that even if there is a God, God is absent from this world (aka, agnostic, some reformed Jews) and for those who believe in a deity, some of them are polytheists (e.g., Hindus, many aboriginal religions, some aspects of Trinity in Christian theology) while others are strict monotheists (e.g., Jews, Christians and Muslims).Spiritual connectivity can be explained in many ways across various religious belief or even secular ways that entails relationship with God or with the created world.  Modern day (secular) spirituality calls for a walk in nature, meditating by fixating on an object and concentrating on a thought, participating in Yuga and mindful breathing, etc. Religious spirituality has been exemplified by Jewish rabbis like Moses Maimonides (1138-1204), Christian saints like St. Francis of Assisi (1181-1226), Muslim Sufi teachers like Maulana Rumi (1207-1273) and Islamic theologians and philosophers like Imam Gazali (1058-1111) within several hundred years of one another in the Abrahamic faith traditions.

Prophet Moses, Jesus and Mohammad – each had conveyed spiritual understanding and guidance through scriptures revealed to them.  Each experienced unique form of spiritual encounter that are well document in the religious traditions of the three Abrahamic faith.  Prophet Moses spoke with God on Mt. Sinai and had frequent divine communications as he struggled to free Children of Israel from Pharaoh.  Prophet Jesus, on the darkest day of his life was raised to be in God’s presence and yet to come back as many Christians and Muslims believe.  Prophet Mohammad was raised to the seventh heaven during a period of extreme difficulties in his prophetic mission and had direct encounter with God.  But he came back to continue his mission until his death and had regular divine communications over 23 years of his prophethood which comprise the Qur’an.

What I find appealing in the way they defined their spirituality is daily engagement with family and communities, not isolating themselves from society. Islam prescribes five daily prayers which are short burst of spiritual encounters if we do with mindfulness and regularity. The Prophet of Islam was known for his deep spiritual devotion during late night to worship, remember God through recitation of the Qur’an and prolong bowing and prostration to God, combining both physical and spiritual devotion at the same time.  Spirituality is mostly acutely experienced when one is in difficulty, when one speaks the truth to power, when one restores the dignity of a fellow human being, when one actively encourages goodness in society and when one fights evils in society. Such ascension of spiritual realm has been defined in the Qur’an in the way the soul (nafs, ego) improves its condition and how one builds relationship with God as a living being with free will.

More will follow in the next issue… let us know how you define and practice spiritual growth.