Tuesday, July 31, 2012
As a novice matchmaker (I can't believe I'm turning into one of those aunties!), I was baffled by the response one mother gave to a pretty straight-forward question.
"Is your daughter religious?" I asked.
"Well," the mom responded. "She's very spiritual."
Since I usually hear religiosity classified (albeit vaguely) as conservative, moderate or liberal, I had no clue where "spiritual" fell on that scale.
What does spiritual even mean? Influenced as we are by the popular culture around us--where more people are trying to find meaning and upliftment in life through nature, music, arts, meditations, social work or even self-help gurus--most of us don't even know the Islamic definition of spirituality.
Spirituality in Islam is attaining qurb or proximity to God by growing in awareness of God, His names and His attributes. God the All-Merciful, who is eager for His servants to achieve this nearness to Him, clearly laid out the path that goes straight to Him and instructed us to stay on it by fulfilling our religious duties and avoiding all sins, which, by the way, is the [Click here:] "Best deed in Ramadan," according to Prophet Muhammad (S).
"The best way to achieve spirituality is to begin total obedience of God and His Prophet (S) without question, without hesitation, without entertaining any doubt," says scholar Bashir Rahim. "This is the beginning of the journey."
God: "As for those who strive in Us We surely guide them to Our paths and verily God is with those who do right." (Quran 29:69)
It was through this wholehearted obedience of God that Maryam, one of the four perfect women of all times, achieved her heightened spirituality. To attest to her spiritual success, God relates that Maryam conversed with angels, enjoyed heaven-sent food and even conceived a baby (Prophet Jesus) via a miracle.
"And (God set forth the example for those who believe) of Maryam, the daughter of Imran, who guarded her chastity, so We blew into it through Our Angel, and she believed in the words of her Lord and His Scriptures and was of the devoutly obedient." (66: 12)
Obedience to God includes following his instructions not only in our personal lives but also in fulfilling our social and political obligations to Him. Many mistakenly associate spirituality with seclusion from politics and government, but Imam Khomeini, one of the most celebrated mystics of our time, successfully led Iran's 1979 Islamic Revolution and showed the world that spirituality and striving for social justice go hand-in-hand.
Imam Khomeini's mystical verses:
"Oh my Beloved! After witnessing Your Infinite Beauty I become entangled.
Seeing the manifestation of Your Glory I become saturated with joy and ecstasy."
While my matchmaking efforts above were a flop, I was much encouraged when a young man I set up recently called me "matchmaker extraordinaire."
I must admit that was one week before his wedding. I'll ask him again one year later, and, God willing, his opinion will be the same.