Maulana Wahiduddin Khan | Spirituality in Islam
Spirituality, in its awakening of the mind, provides the best formula for tazkiyah – purification or de-conditioning that leads to our personality development. It is a great strength at all times. Spirituality, in effect, is a promoter of all good and a killer of all evils. Everyone may be born spiritual, that is, one may be spiritual by nature, but, after birth, one lives in a society, which, with its multiple influences conditions or shape man’s personality or nurture one based on negative feelings – just like the layers of the onion that cover its bulb. These negative feelings can be of anger, revenge, jealousy, hatred and rivalry. Due to these negative influences, we develop a negative personality. We, therefore, have to consciously activate our mind and de-condition or purify it so as to develop our personality on positive lines as only a positive personality will find entry into paradise.
How can de-conditioning take place? There is only one simple formula: ‘learn to say, “I was wrong.” Many times in our lives we are confronted with situations in which we realize that we were wrong in our thoughts, speech or actions. However, in almost all such situations, we do not have to courage to say that we were wrong. This stops our spiritual and intellectual personality development process by stopping the de-conditioning or purification process. It is only when we openly say that we were wrong and accept the truth does our de-conditioning take place and we continue to develop intellectually and spiritually. When we continue to undertake tazkiyah or de-conditioning, we purify ourselves by developing our personality positively and go back to our natural state. It is only such a positive personality that will find entry into paradise.
This can be understood rationally when we understand that there are two major parts of the human brain. One is the conscious mind and the other is the unconscious mind. When a thought enters the human mind, it does so, initially, in the conscious mind. Gradually, in due course, it reaches the unconscious mind. The unconscious mind is the part where every thought is preserved forever, although that is not in the grasp of man’s consciousness. Whosoever wants to de-condition or purify oneself will have to activate his mind when the thoughts are at the level of his conscious mind. So, whenever a negative thought comes into his conscious mind, he has to convert it into a positive thought before it reaches his unconscious mind. Consequently, in the next stage when this thought moves on to the unconscious mind, it is stored as something positive rather than negative. He, therefore, develops his personality on positive lines, in spite of negative influences. This can be done through the process of contemplation or the activation of the mind.
For instance, if any negative thought such as hatred enters his conscious mind, he has to quell that hatred and convert it into thoughts of love. When some thought comes to mind, which produces feelings of jealousy, he should transform this into a sense of acknowledgement. Whenever his ego is touched, whatever may be the issue, he should convert his egoism into modesty. The urge to be selfish, whatever the situation, should be converted into selflessness. Likewise, if he thinks he is being deprived of his rights, he should turn his indignation at such injustice into gratitude.
As we have innumerable thoughts already stored in our unconscious mind, to develop a completely positive personality; besides the thoughts prevalent in our conscious mind, we have to also take out each and every thought stored in our sub-conscious mind as a negative item and convert and store it into as a positive item. This again can be done through contemplation. This is the only way that man can develop a positive personality.
Those men and women who succeed in building such a positive personality will find that their consciousness will be a treasury of positivism. It will be completely free of negativism. This is the type of positive personalities that God desires to inhabit in His eternal world of Paradise.
Therefore, the individual, to develop his spiritual and positive personality, has, therefore, to de-condition himself through tazkiyah or superior intellectual process, which will necessitate his mental de-conditioning. And it is contemplative spirituality, which makes it possible to de-condition the individual, so that he may revert to the natural state in which he was born.
For this to happen, man has to re-engineer his mind. Man must become disciplined and not allow his personality to develop under the influence of external incentives. He should, by his own decisions, construct his personality on the basis of higher principles. Only then will he be of a divine character. He has to shake and jolt and remould his personality to abide by the plan of his Creator. He has to turn himself into the kind of person who is shaped not by society, but by spirituality and is thus able to live a God-oriented life or Rabbani life.