Reaching for Higher Ground | The Speaking Tree | TOI | April 29, 2010 | Page 14
What is spirituality, or, rabbaniyat, to use the Quranic term? It is the elevation of the human condition to a plane where the mind is focused on the higher, non-material realities of a godly existence.
The one who gives all his attention to worldly things and who centers his attention on mere appearances is regarded as being material-minded. Conversely, one who rises above material things or appearances, who finds his focus of interest in non-material things, is regarded as being spiritual or godly. The latter is one who follows the injunction of the Quran: ‘Be devoted servants of God’ (3:79). That is, one who lives a God-oriented life.
Spirituality can answer the questions, ‘Who am I? What is the purpose of my life? What is the creation plan of the Creator?’ A seeker is able to find true spirituality by finding rational answers to such questions, whereby he receives spirituality at the mind or thinking level. True spirituality is based on contemplation and reflection, it is an intellectual activity. When the seeker discovers the truth, his life enters a new phase -- that is, building his personality according to spiritual principles. This intellectual journey is two-fold, one is to solve the riddle of why human beings undergo negative experiences in this world and the other is to offer positive solutions. It addresses the paradox of human beings having been given the freedom to make their own moral choices, and their frequent misuse of this freedom -- a course of action which causes them to repeatedly face situations in which people do each other harm; losses are incurred because others’ injustice; severe provocations are suffered because of untoward experiences. At such times spirituality helps us to convert negativity into positivity.
Rabbaniyat provides us with the right philosophy of life. It is a guide book, leading us out of the darkness of ignorance, and ushering us into the light of reality. Spirituality is our helpful companion in times of difficulty. It saves us from succumbing to adversity. It is the art of crisis management, from which we derive intellectual inspiration when in need. Everyone is in need of spirituality, whether rich or poor, powerful or powerless. Spirituality provides a man with a starting point for life. Anyone who is deprives of spirituality will also be deprived of this starting point.
The spiritual path enables us to see things that remain invisible to the physical eye. It enables us to learn lessons from the past and see the future in the present. It is the source of human progress.
Repeatedly, we find occasions in life, when we feel helpless. It is when we feel that life has become rudderless and without direction, that a spiritual savior holds out hope, as a source of courage and conviction.
How is that one who seeks out the divine and who treads the path of enquiry is able to acquire superlative human qualities? The answer is that the ends of a seeker and what he seeks are inseparable from God who is the source of all goodness. God is thus the source of inspiration for everyone.
Spirituality produces God-oriented thinking in him. His life thus becomes a God-oriented life. This is what makes a spiritual person unassailable. A spiritual person enters into such profound communion with God that he becomes very powerful indeed.
(The writer teaches at Jamia Millia Islamia, Delhi.)