Divorcing Islam From Spirituality
Divorcing Islam from spirituality is a strange new idea. There exist many modern Muslim groups that focus exclusively on other topics. Aqeedah, Fiqh, Politics or social activism are the only focus without any spirituality.
The result is that members of these groups tend to enter and leave the group very quickly. They join the group looking for a solution to a problem they encountered. (wrong Aqeedah, political instability, social injustice) Yet they do not remain more than a few years because these groups are devoid of heart.
The lack of spirituality leads to many problems including the following:
1. Loss of Imaan
Perhaps the most important consequence. Loss of Iman is a common case in many of these groups. This is because Iman is constantly fluctuating and without spirituality, it is constantly decreasing.
Discussing Fiqh and Aqeedah issues without any spiritual element can even contribute to loss of Imaan. This is because our faith is largely dependent on how close we feel to Allah. So when Allah is reduced to a theory of beliefs, and his Shariah is reduced to rituals and laws only, there is a disconnection from Allah.
Aqeedah and Fiqh are crucial aspects of Islam, but so is Tazkiyyah (purification of the soul). The former without the latter cannot survive turbulent situations. Tazkiyyah is just as crucial as learning Aqeedah and Fiqh.
2. Doubts about the faith
The proofs of Islam are twofold: rational and spiritual. Both are required to maintain high levels of Imaan. We require rational proofs to understand why there is only One Creator. To prove the Quran is a miracle. And to proof the prophethood of Muhammad (peace be upon him).
Beyond that, we require a deep spiritual connection with Allah to trust Allah. as well as to accept His Laws, embrace our destiny, and fight our desires. All this while trying to submit to Allah. Without a spiritual connection, it is very difficult to grasp concepts like eternal Hellfire, Destiny and the existence of the soul.
Think about it. Without a connection to Allah, we are unlikely to experience miracles and accepted duas. Without miracles and accepted duas, life seems random and the Divine seems missing. This in turn leads to doubts and uncertainty.
3. A arrogant harsh form of religion
Spirituality is about softening the heart. Learning humility, embracing people, letting go of jealousy and hatred are all part of Islam. These are all elements of Islam’s spiritual teachings.
When these are separated from Islam, what remains is a religion of laws and beliefs enforced upon others by people who deem themselves better than others. Slogans like ‘we are the saved sect’ and ‘our group is guaranteed Paradise’ are signs of religious arrogance. Arrogance is itself a spiritual sin and is prohibited in Islam.
The result is that these arrogant Muslim movements alienate others from Islam. People look at them as role models of Islam and see only ugliness and harshness. This is extremely oft-putting. Furthermore, because the average person doesn’t understand what causes this harshness, they assume it is Islam and are chased away from Islam.
So the harshness has a double consequence. It distances the harsh individual from Allah through his arrogance, and it distances those who interact with him from Islam due to his bad manners.
A simple solution
Every Muslim must be taught basic Islamic spirituality. Putting aside all the areas that are open to differences of opinion, and all the practices that some groups consider bidah. There remain many agreed upon spiritual elements that should be universally taught.
These include, but are not limited to, praying Salah with Khushu, fasting with purpose, seeking forgiveness daily, remembering Allah throughout the day and consistently purifying one’s intentions.
These concepts must be taught to our children like how we teach them to pray and recite Quran. These concepts must be taught in our Islamic books, conferences, lectures and seminars. Similar to how we teach history and theology.
If every Muslims knows the basic means of protecting their spiritual heart from dying, then whatever group or movement they join, they will remain connected to Allah.
Never forget: spiritual development is a fundamental part of our religion. So do not neglect it for yourself, your family or your students.