سَبَّحَ لِلَّهِ مَا فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَمَا فِي الْأَرْضِ وَهُوَ الْعَزِيزُ الْحَكِيمُ
All that is in the Heavens and all that is on Earth Glorifies Allah, and He is the Mighty, the Wise. [Al Hashr: 1]
It’s human nature to be spiritual. That feeling that there is more to life than bread, water and stone. In this age of “sciencism,” the belief that everything must be explained through direct observation undermines the spiritual nature of man and confounds its fulfilment. British society is becoming less religious. British Social Attitudes survey shows generation gap on religious affiliation is widening with only 3% of adults under 24 describing themselves as Anglican. More generally, 53% of all adults describe themselves as having no religious affiliation, up from 48% in 2015. The latest figure is the highest since the BSA survey began tracking religious affiliation in 1983, when 31% said they had no religion.
In Islam, spirituality is based on the intellectual recognition that everything in the universe is united in being created by Allah (swt), the Creator. All that exists reminds us of that Creation and of the messengers that were sent with the truth and guidance from Allah (swt) so that mankind would understand its place within this universe. Every human society about whom we have historical records display some type of religiosity to the point that we can say that religiousness is a fundamental aspect of humanness. Life is a journey and the message sent with Muhammed (saw) is our map. So, by following this map in all of our decisions and actions, every action is spiritual being guided by the divine.
This compliments the nature of human beings and motivates us all to pursue the highest qualities of humanity. Muhammed (saw) said “None amongst you believes (truly) till he likes for his brother that which he loves for himself;” and he said “Show mercy to people on earth so that Allah will have mercy on you in heaven;” and he said “Charity erases sins just as water extinguishes fire;” and when asked which of the merits are superior in Islam he remarked “That you provide food and extend greetings to one whom you know or do not know.”
Our belief in Allah (swt) helps us to cope and triumph over adversity.
أَمْ حَسِبْتُمْ أَن تَدْخُلُواْ الْجَنَّةَ وَلَمَّا يَأْتِكُم مَّثَلُ الَّذِينَ خَلَوْاْ مِن قَبْلِكُم مَّسَّتْهُمُ الْبَأْسَاء وَالضَّرَّاء وَزُلْزِلُواْ حَتَّى يَقُولَ الرَّسُولُ وَالَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ مَعَهُ مَتَى نَصْرُ اللّهِ أَلا إِنَّ نَصْرَ اللّهِ قَرِيبٌ
Or do you think that you shall enter the Garden (paradise) without such (trials) as came to those who passed away before you? they encountered suffering and adversity, and were so shaken in spirit that even the Messenger and those of faith who were with him cried: “When (will come) the help of Allah.” Ah! Verily the help of Allah is (always) near. [Al Baqarah: 214]
This consciousness of Allah (swt) makes human beings recognise that all people have worth and that poverty and weakness do not take away the value of life.
يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ إِنَّا خَلَقْنَاكُم مِّن ذَكَرٍ وَأُنثَى وَجَعَلْنَاكُمْ شُعُوبًا وَقَبَائِلَ لِتَعَارَفُوا إِنَّ أَكْرَمَكُمْ عِندَ اللَّهِ أَتْقَاكُمْ إِنَّ اللَّهَ عَلِيمٌ خَبِيرٌ
O Mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that you may know each other. Verily the most honoured of you in the sight of Allah is (he who is) the most righteous of you. And Allah has full knowledge and is well acquainted (with all things). [Al Hujarat: 13]
Prophet Muhammed (saw) said “O mankind, your Lord is One and your father is one. You all descended from Adam and Adam was created from earth. He is most honoured among you in the sight of Allah who is most upright. No Arab is superior to a non-Arab, no black person to a white person or a white person to a black person except by Taqwa (piety).” (Ahmad and Al-Tirmidhi).
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ كُونُواْ قَوَّامِينَ بِالْقِسْطِ شُهَدَاء لِلّهِ وَلَوْ عَلَى أَنفُسِكُمْ أَوِ الْوَالِدَيْنِ وَالأَقْرَبِينَ إِن يَكُنْ غَنِيًّا أَوْ فَقَيرًا فَاللّهُ أَوْلَى بِهِمَا فَلاَ تَتَّبِعُواْ الْهَوَى أَن تَعْدِلُواْ وَإِن تَلْوُواْ أَوْ تُعْرِضُواْ فَإِنَّ اللّهَ كَانَ بِمَا تَعْمَلُونَ خَبِيرًا
O you who believe! Be ever steadfast in unholding equity, bearing witness to the truth for the sake of Allah, even though it be against your own selves or your parents and kinsfolk. Whether the person concerned be rich or poor, Allah’s claim takes precedence over (the claims of) either of them. Do not, then follow your desires, lest you swerve from justice: for if you distort (the truth), behold, Allah is indeed aware of all that you do! [An-Nisa: 135]
This spirituality emphasises the importance of the family and caring for the vulnerable in society such as the young, the old, orphans and the poor.
وَاعْبُدُواْ اللّهَ وَلاَ تُشْرِكُواْ بِهِ شَيْئًا وَبِالْوَالِدَيْنِ إِحْسَانًا وَبِذِي الْقُرْبَى وَالْيَتَامَى وَالْمَسَاكِينِ وَالْجَارِ ذِي الْقُرْبَى وَالْجَارِ الْجُنُبِ وَالصَّاحِبِ بِالجَنبِ وَابْنِ السَّبِيلِ وَمَا مَلَكَتْ أَيْمَانُكُمْ إِنَّ اللّهَ لاَ يُحِبُّ مَن كَانَ مُخْتَالاً فَخُورًا
And worship Allah (alone), and do not ascribe divinity in any way to aught beside Him. And do good unto your parents, and near of kin, and unto orphans, and the needy and the neighbour from among your own people, and the neighbour who is a stranger, and the friend by your side, and the wayfarer and those whom you rightfully possess. Verily, Allah does not love any of those who, full of self-conceit, act in a boastful manner. [An-Nisa: 36]
As Western civilisation increasingly ignores the innate spirituality of humanity and its requirement for the regulation of human behaviour it has been plagued by societal deterioration. The young, especially those from deprived backgrounds are not confident in their self-worth and look to confirm themselves from external sources. Boys join gangs and girls starve themselves thin pursuing physical acceptability. Parents neglect their children with 28% of children living apart from their father and the favour is repaid as the parents get older with over 60% of women over the age of 75 living alone. Despite the wealth of the U.K. poverty remains a real problem with nearly 1.2 million people accessing foodbanks in 2017. That number is likely to have risen. The suicide rate remains high with 10.4 people per 100000 taking their own life within the U.K each year. Many do not even know their neighbours’ name, let alone whether they have enough food to eat. Families and societies are divided. Celebrities and sports stars are societies role models while the government takes from the poor to give to the rich. The spiritual erosion has a human consequence.
Islam puts the spirituality of mankind in its proper context that fits with mans nature and which then drives his actions to what is right. In order to maintain that consciousness of Allah (swt) and the link with the spirit, our Prophet (saw) concentrated on worshipping Him (swt) during the day and night. Salat (prayer), Dhikr (remembrance) and Saum (fasting) were the main forms of regular acts of worship that Muslims should do following the Prophet’s (saw) for example. This strongly reinforces a person’s mentality to remember their submission to Allah (swt) and the way of life to which this leads. Despite all of this, there is still a strong temptation for mankind to deviate from the straight path. So Allah (swt) established for us the holy months so that we may further reinforce and train ourselves to fulfil our potential as human beings and seek His (swt) reward in doing so.
Abu Hurairah (ra) narrated that Allah’s Messenger said “When the month of Ramahdan starts, the gates of heaven are opened and the gates of Hell are closed and the devils are chained.” (Sahih al-Bukhari). Abu Hurairah (ra) also narrated that Allah’s Apostle said “Allah said, ‘All the deeds of Adam’s sons (people) are for them, except fasting which is for Me, and I will give the reward for it.’ Fasting is a shield or protection from the fire and from committing sins. If one of you is fasting, he should avoid marital relations with his wife and quarrelling, and if somebody should fight or quarrel with him, he should say, ‘I am fasting.’ By Him in Whose Hands my soul is, The unpleasant smell coming from the mouth of a fasting person is better in the sight of Allah than the smell of musk. There are two pleasures for the fasting person, one at the time of breaking his fast, and the other at the time when he will meet his Lord; then he will be pleased because of his fasting.” (Sahih al-Bukhari).
Aisha (ra) reported that “The Messenger of Allah (saw) used to strive more in worship during Ramadhan than he strove in any other time of the year; and he would devote himself more (in the worship of Allah) in the last ten nights of Ramadhan than he strove in the earlier part of the month (Sahih Muslim). Aisha (ra) also reported that the Prophet (saw) kept standing (in prayer) so long that the skin of his feet would crack. I asked him: “Why do you do this, while you have been forgiven of your former and latter sins?” He said, “Should I not be a grateful servant of Allah?” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim).
Some people see the fasting of the month of Ramadhan as the refraining from food and drink during the day. Rather the Ramadhan of our Prophet (saw) was an affirmation of the Muslim’s commitment to Allah (swt), training for the soul so easily distracted by hollow temporal delights. Through the strengthening of the spirit that Ramadhan helps us to achieve, we come a little closer to those true human values that Allah (swt) described to us through his Messenger Muhammed (saw).