Dr. Waffie Mohammed
The first Trinidad national to have earned a doctorate in the study of Islam, Dr. Waffie graduated from the University of Karachi with a PhD in Islamic Studies, obtained in parallel with Al-Kamil certification from the Aleemiya Institute established by Dr. Fazlu R. Ansari.
On his return to Trinidad, Dr. Waffie contributed to the development of the Muslim communities located throughout the country and the region, while at the same time serving the wider national communities. This led to his appointment to the Senate in 1981, and his later appointment as Director of the Muslim World League regional office for the Caribbean and Latin America, a position in which he contributed to global Muslim development, until his retirement in 2003.
Dr. Waffie is currently serving as the Principal and Director at the Markaz al Ihsaan Institute of Islamic Theology. He also serves as a spiritual leader of the local chapters of the Qadri and Nakshbandi Orders within Islamic Spirituality Circles.
The author of numerous books, articles and publications dedicated to Islam and contemporary social issues, Dr. Waffie also has a growing number of pioneering works in contemporary Islamic studies. Dr. Waffie blogs often at http://drwaffie.blogspot.com
Cultivating the ruh
- By Dr. Waffie Mohammed
- Published 05/19/2010
In every human being Allah has placed a tiny spark, like that which comes from the lighter, in the physical shell of the body. The mission of life is to prepare the conditions in that physical shell, so that the spark can increase in brightness and spread to all parts of the body.
The human personality comprises of a physical dimension and non-physical dimension. The body with the nafs is the physical and the soul or ruh is the non-physical. The ruh is the ‘spark of light’ Allah has put into human beings; and it is expected that every single person will make the conditions right so that it can increase in brightness and spread to every physical cell. The conditions which will permit it to grow and spread are called in the Holy Qur'an maruf. So, by upholding maruf, the soul will become brighter and brighter.
On the other hand, if a person instead of upholding maruf, does what is called munkar i.e. prohibited things, the ruh becomes soiled and will not spread. In reference to this Allah says:
Nay, but that which they have earned is rust on their hearts. (83:14)
Allah gives us the formula for our ‘spark of light’ to spread. He says in Surah Imran;
Enjoin what is right, and forbid what is wrong: (3:104)
Allah gives us a clear understanding of the do’s and don’ts in Islam. If we adhere to the do’s our ‘spark of light’ will be able to grow and spread because the conditions will be present. One of the best of actions which will cause the light of the soul to increase in brightness is the performance of Salaat. The Messenger of Allah is reported to have said, “Salat is the best of all that has been ordained by Allah.” In Salaat we are standing facing our Lord, in doing so the Light of Allah will have an impact on our light.
He also mentions in Surah Hijr;
“and serve Thy Lord until there come unto Thee the Hour that is Certain.” (Chapter 15, verse 99)
Some scholars are of the opinion that ‘certainty’ means death; others argue that it means ‘religious experiences’. Regardless of the philosophical debates Allah clearly indicates in the first part of the ayat that we must submit to Him, whole heartedly; and throughout our entire lives. When our beloved Prophet returned from the Mir’aj he still remained submissive and obedient to Allah, although he had the greatest of experiences. So we must continue striving on the right path; even when we believe that we may have had something of certainty in the form of religious experience.
Those who are generally against ‘spirituality’ or tassawuf may do so because of the lack of understanding of what is actually done in any one of the meditation sessions. This is because it is something that one has to experience and not simply read about from a book.
Imam Ghazali (ra) writes “those who choose to travel upon the path of Truth, know that it is essential for you to attach yourself to a Spiritual Guide and Teacher who, through his spiritual instructions, will purify yourself from evil tendencies and replace them with nobility of character. And the definition of this “spiritual instruction” may be likened to that of the husbandman who removes the thorns and plucks out the weeds from the young plantation so that it may grow to perfection.”
Spirituality is something that reason and logic cannot explain because it is outside the realm of space and time. Allah makes mention of those who are blind to the truth;
“Many are the Jinns and men we have made for Hell: they have hearts wherewith they understand not, eyes wherewith they see not, and ears wherewith they hear not. They are like cattle,- nay more misguided: for They are heedless (of warning).” (Chapter 7, verse 179)
In another ayat He says;
“and say not of those who are slain in the way of Allah "they are dead." Nay, They are living, though ye perceive (it) not.” (Chapter 2, verse 154)
How can you explain these things using scientific reason and logic? Or how can you learn about these matters from just picking up a book and reading? You can’t and it is indeed unfortunate that some people fall into the trap of using their limited knowledge to explain matters that can only be experienced through the Mercy and Grace of Allah . And then they argue “haram, bidah, shirk”. It is so unfortunate and we must sympathise with them and ask Allah to open their hearts.
Spirituality is truly a beautiful thing. It allows you to realise every second of the day how close and loving your Lord really is, and how He is always willing to bestow His compassion, mercy and forgiveness upon His devotees.
Let us make a conscious effort, every single day, to make right the conditions surrounding us that will allow our ruh to grow and spread. We beg Allah to make this exercise easy for us and may He keep us far away from the ‘heedless ones’ and the ones who understand not. May Allah bless us and protect us.