Cultivating the ruh

In order to light a fire you must first have a source of light, for example you must first strike a match; and the conditions for allowing the spark to ignite, must be present, such as the quality of the wood, the amount of moisture and oxygen present.  When combined the little spark from the match will be able to ignite, spread and grow.

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, wholeheartedly; 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 tasawwuf  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.

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