Islamic spirituality has a colourful and dynamic history. “Spirituality” in Islam covers a wide range of topics from ethics to mysticism. The weightiest of things on the scales (of deeds) said the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) is good character (Jamiâ€˜ al-Tirmidhi). This good character must be inculcated in the soul before it can be said to have become a character (khuluq). One’s character proceeds from the inner being or consciousness (nafs), and cannot be actively forced. However it can be harnessed by means of exercise and struggle (mujahada). The human soul (nafs) is a composite reality with elements that incite to evil (Quran 12:53) which can be equated with the lower self or hawa (literally,a fall or wind), but it is also endowed with the capacity to challenge that ego in an active ethical will which the Quran describes as the (self)-blaming soul (Quran 75:2), which when perfected may become a soul in serenity Quran 89:27). The Quran describes Paradise as the abode of the man who fears the standing before his Lord and prevents his soul (nafs) from the ego (hawa) (Quran 79:40). This effort to channel the soul’s potential to good as opposed to bad, includes both practical and inward activities; by means of certain practical and thought experiments one may be able to inculcate praiseworthy qualities like hope, love, generosity and courage and eliminate blameworthy qualities like enmity, envy, hatred and arrogance.
The other dimension of Islamic spirituality, as described by the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) in the hadith of Gabriel, is the aspect of witnessing God in everything the human agent does. This is the process of internalising Islam’s core doctrine of Tawhid (Oneness of God). The world, as it were, must become as a matrix of God’s signs (ayat), by which God is known. The signs of God manifest to the pure soul who reflects and remembers God (Quran 3:190-1). These signs are both inward and outward realities, as the Quran states “We will show them our Signs in the (furthest) regions (of the earth), and in their own souls, until it becomes manifest to them that this is the Truth (Qurâ€™an 41:53). When the level of Ihsan (excellence) is realised, the Muslim is able to see God’s work in everything, and in turn become from those who the Quran describes as excellent (muhsinun) in behaviour and piety.
We hold a weekly Dhikr circle in the prayer room. The session is an informal one for the remembrance of Allah سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى. You can download the recitation recommended to us by Sheikh Babikir here.