Spirit & Heart
Sufism Journal is a publication
various articles presented
One of the meanings of the word Islam is surrender and human life is nothing but surrender. We had no choice when our souls were created, nor did we have a choice when our souls were united with the flesh in our mothers womb, nor did we have a choice living as a fetus, and after birth we were helplessly dependent on our parents and others around us without any choice. The Quran states when God comprehended in His design, heavens and earth and asked them to come together willingly or unwillingly, they said we come together in willing obedience. (41:11) Humans longing for union with God are no different from a child who gets separated from his mother in a mall and then finds her and runs back to her, into her folds. It has been said that it is not man who is the seeker but it is he who is being sought. For this union of soul to take place with its Creator, one must achieve the state of peaceful bliss. As the Quran states O soul at rest, return to thy Lord well pleased and well pleasing. Enter as My servant, enter into My heaven. (89:27-30) Just like the lost, small child in a crowd who is looking into other faces, looking for his parent, we look into different faces or earthly manifestations of God in the form of His reflection. We consider them to be reality, to some degree, and sometimes we get so attached to them as reality that we fall in love, until we realize that they were only a mere reflection and that we must go to the true source of that light. Thus, our acts of worship, whether they are fasting, prayer, pilgrimage or good deeds like charity, are only keys to the door that will unlock the house where my beloved resides.
My union with Him will materialize when I enter that house. I find that I cannot unlock the door with a rusted key. It is the love and remembrance of God which will remove the rust both from the key and the lock. Human beings live a fragmented life but they thirst for wholeness. Thirst for inner peace and knowledge is the motivating force. The heart remains the center of life and center of responsibility. According to an authentic saying of Prophet Mohammad, inside the human body there is a morsel of flesh which, if healthy, the whole body is healthy and which, if diseased, the whole body is diseased. Then he pointed to his heart and said this piece of flesh is this heart. Thus a sound heart, one which is pure and is clean from all idols, where God resides, gives life to the body. We must tame our evil self which otherwise would destroy the kingdom of God. We must cultivate longing in search of the Beloved. We humans are wired for God and all we have to do is plug ourselves into the electrical outlets and turn the switch on by standing for prayer. We must recognize Gods presence within us and with us. Our hearts will remain restless until they rest in God and as the Quran says for sure it is in the remembrance of God that the heart finds rest, (13:28) and according to the saying of the Prophet, there is polish for every rust and the polish for the rust of the heart is the remembrance of God.
When we close our hearts to others, our eyes are closed to see the beauty of God in others. The message of Islam, Judaism, Christianity and all other religions is the message of love and service to others. If God, Himself, decides to care and love and feed even those who deny His existence, then who are we to deprive someone else of our love just because he is of different color or speaks a different language or is born in a different country or prays to the same God but in a different direction or using different words? We must try to transcend the barriers between humans so that we break the barrier between humans and God. . .
Presented at the Eighth Annual Sufism Symposium in Fremont, California, USA, on March 24, 2001. Dr. Athar is on the Board of Advisors for the International Association of Sufism.