Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Matchmaker Extraordinaire

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.


Anonymous said...

Haha, nice article MashAllah.

Anonymous said...

Entertaining words Salina; however, I definitely cannot consider Khomeini a spiritual man. His support of the Iran hostage crisis and torturing of innocent people as well as thousands of political Muslim figures within Iran, as well as fatwa against Salmanazars Rushdie does not fare well with most spiritual people

Salina Khan said...

Anonymous, there are always two sides to every story and the mainstream media has throughout recent history done an excellent job of portraying those resisting oppression in all its ugly forms (including imperialism, zionism, racism, etc.) as the enemy. Being spiritual does not mean praying and meditating day and night while oppression rages all around you. Jesus is amongst the most spiritual of all people and he also:
"...entered the temple and drove out all those who were buying and selling in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who were selling doves." (Mathew 21: 12)

xavier said...

Asalaam alaikum,

To defend Islam and human lives is more complex than the surface ever allows to be seen by those not party to the events, but as observers to a situation. The dimension not considered to the "Iran hostage crisis", if those words are to be used, belie the crisis that had been present and ongoing in Iran as the Shah imprisoned, tortured and murdered his way through his seat of power, propped up no less than the United States. However, what no one considers is that this was a delicate time for Iran and the slightest misstep could have been ruin and complete annihilation of those hostage's lives. Enter Imam Khomeini (ra). By strategically taking his position, he was able to ensure that those hostage's very lives were not extinguished by other forces who sought to harm the Revolution. Indeed, it would be foolish to think that there were not foreign agents in Tehran at the time whose foolish actions may have caused the death of those hostages. Just look at the pitiful Delta Force helicopter crash in the sands while attempting a supposed rescue.

Imam Khomeini (ra) was able to save their lives in a way that the Western observer could not understand. The circumstances were often on the edge, but by placing himself front and center, knowing how to satisfy God first, the people and the hostages, and the direction of the revolution, he was able to save those very lives. It is a delicate point that has escaped the layman unaware that spirituality is more than just an intangible reality, but a practical one exercised in the real world, as well. Such was the situation of all Imams of the Shia, who recognized that though they wielded insight far above the common man, they could not wield it as a sword of worldly power. As testament to this fact, when asked of the success of the Iranian Revolution, Imam Khomeini (ra) responded that the state of Iran could fall, but it was the success of Islam that was more pertinent. He did not choose sides, he chose the practice of political Islam by way of the wisdom of the Imams and being careful with all the unfolding circumstances around him. The Americans on the other hand were looking at their smoldering "elephants" in the sand and cried foul. To whom were they complaining to?

Don't believe that this is true? How many injustices do we see today? Are the supposed noble "spiritual" people addressing those issues front and center, neither making excuses or ignoring the situation altogether? The silence of Bahrain over the dead bodies of Muslims is quite deafening in this respect. I am sure the helicopters will not be on their way any time soon for them. If they do not arrive on the premise that these people are not U.S. citizens, then the point is farther proven. If one says, "then why does Iran not interject?" Then surely the circumstances of the current isolation of Iran escapes them.

Where are these 'spiritual' people of today, then? Imam Ali (as) answers.

Imam said, “The hypocrite remember Allah just a bit, whereas these people call Allah day and night.”
He was asked, “So what kind of people are they?”
Imam said, “They are a group who have been entangled in sedition and thereupon have become blind and deaf.”

On Rushdie:

It is often left unsaid that Rushdie himself regretted what he wrote afterwards and sought resolution for what he had written. For whatever reason, he became defiant again and has raised his status of recognition as a defamer of the Holy Prophet of Islam. In what other time were people like him lauded? Ah....the worldly killers of Isa (as), the idol worshipers who demanded fire for Abraham (as) and the ones who chased Musa (as) in the valley of the sea. For it was they who listened to the whisperer who is the open enemy.

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