Books and Documents

Islam and Spiritualism

One has to keep one’s mind and thoughts towards Allah to earn His blessings. Similarly, Islam encourages us to maintain happy relationships with other fellow beings. It urges civility, humility, tolerance and straight dealing with fellow beings. These values subordinate the self and emphasise the others, and are essential for cordial and peaceful coexistence in society. Islam is a religion of peace which can only be realised when an individual has happy relations with others. …


Ask any preacher or priest, one who makes religion his day and night preoccupation, whether he loves God, and his instant reply followed by a frown will be, “why, of course, I do!” It is all very easy to say that we love God with all our heart and all our soul, but as I asked earlier, what is the measure of your love? What proof can we give, not to other people, but most vitally to our own persons, that we love God? …

Contemporary Muslims are in Need of Spirituality
Tariq Ramadan is Professor of Contemporary Islamic Studies at Oxford University
Contemporary Muslims are in Need of Spirituality
Tariq Ramadan

As far as Islam is concerned, it must be noted that Arab and Muslim majority societies are seriously lacking in spirituality. There is not a deficit of “religion” but of spiritual life. It can be encountered among Islamists, as well as among secularists and ordinary citizens. There is a need to rediscover and reclaim the spirituality that permeates Eastern cultures, and that lies at the heart of the Jewish, Christian and Islamic traditions….

God: Just a Call Away
Maulana Wahiduddin Khan, an Islamic Scholar
God: Just a Call Away
Maulana Wahiduddin Khan

Suddenly a thought came to my mind. God Almighty is also just a call away from every man and woman. There is a relevant verse in the Quran: "When anyone asks you about Me, say that I am near. I respond to the call of one who calls, whenever he calls to Me." (2:186) It is a source of great hope for everyone that God is with us. There is no distance between man and God. …

I believe timelessness of his message can only be found by going beyond the perfunctory review of his teachings. Only then we discover his true legacy that is his revolutionary spirit, his courage to challenge the status quo, his audacity to question the traditions, which were unjust, inhumane and exploitative of the weak. This is the essence of his message that will live forever, that will be applicable in all times to come….

Humanity was trapped in the depth of darkness and superstition as people were living animal lives. This was the social condition in which came Allah’s mercy in the form of Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be to him). He broke the chains and shackles that had enslaved humanity and removed the burden under which the humanity was being crushed. History tells us that before the advent of the Holy Prophet, women were treated as chattel and slaves and in some tribes, newly-born girls were buried alive. Women were treated as inferior species that had no legal existence. In such a primitive world, what the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be to him) achieved was remarkable. The very idea that a woman could act as a witness or could inherit anything at all in her own right was unthinkable. -- Umme Maryam

According to this principle, Muslims should organise meetings with the British author. They should put their point of view before him in a rational manner, then try to present to him their point of view and their objections to his writings. If Rushdie is not convinced, they should make Dua for him and according to the Quranic teaching, see him off amicably, without rancour. We are living in an age of freedom. According to international norms, everyone has the right to express his views in a peaceful manner. -- Maulana Wahiddudin Khan

Despite all bombings and threats, a large number of people still visit sufi shrines and participate in sufi festivals that shows the love of the people towards the moderate form of Islam as sufis have played a great role to spread the message of love, peace and tolerance in the subcontinent and Central Asia using no swords at all. Their way of preaching and convincing was quite different from the sharp-edged Islam of the Middle East. -- Ahmad Shah Azami

Many Umrah pilgrims repeat the journey every year as a spiritual tonic for their Imaan and perseverance in acts of devotion to Allah. The hearts of such people, as those of billions of Muslims around the world, perpetually yearn towards the Ka’bah, desiring the reward of hajj with the Messenger of Allah (SAW) as he said Umrah in Ramadan is like performing hajj with him; they make savings from legitimate earnings spanning the period between this to another Ramadan for the purposes of the annual trip. Our sisters and mothers have proved themselves to be more dedicated to ibaadah in the Holy Land than some of their male counterparts. You see them never weary in performing Tawaaf, Taraaweeh and Tahajjud. -- Abubakar Sadeeq

THE word zikr has been used innumerable times in the Quran with various meanings. It can mean remembrance, or remembering God through the recitation or repetition of one or more of His names, or some verses or parts of the Quran, or through praying for blessings on the Prophet (PBUH). Salat or formal prayer has also been referred to as zikr. Zikr also means `sincere advice`, (3:58), both when it is given and followed. Each zikr has its own beneficial effect. The negative energy of Satan`s actions and efforts are also countered by the positive energy of zikr. -- Nilofar Ahmed

The testimony is what qualifies a person to be a Muslim in the first instance. It is not sufficient to orally or verbally profess the Shuhada in Islam, but to spiritually imbibe the meaning of this Kalimah. The real meaning is that one should accept Allah- the supreme, as the Creator and Nourisher of all beings; also as the Originator, Fashioner and Designer of all these beings. He is also the provider of sustenance for all living entities. These attributes are not shared with Him by any other entity whatsoever. There is neither creator nor nourisher beside Allah. -- Abdul Jeleel Solahudeen

“To God belongs the dominion of the heavens and the earth. He creates what He wills (and plans). He bestows female (offspring) upon whom He wills, and bestows male (offspring) upon whom He wills. Or He bestows both males and females, and He leaves barren whom He wills: for He is full of Knowledge and Power.” (Verses 49 & 50) The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), has clearly demonstrated that a girl is not a matter of humiliation to a family. On the other hand, she is a matter of pride. A man who brings up his daughters in a proper way will be among those who have the honor of standing close to the Prophet (pbuh) on the Day of Judgment. -- Arab News

WORLD history has never seen a period where a proper sense of morality prevailed. Only Islamic history projects a period of about 13 years where the Holy Prophet (PBUH) established a society in Medina which can be termed as immaculate: free of evil and exploitation. One of the major objectives of Islam is to extirpate all social evils from society. In order to achieve this, Islam instilled a high of morality amongst its first followers. The Prophet was a living role model amongst them; the Quran describes him as one of exalted character (68:4). After the Quran, the life of the Prophet is the best source of guidance. -- Amin Valliani

THE mystery of life and death can be explained in the Quranic framework by understanding that the soul gives life to the body and that the body dies as soon as the soul leaves it. The foetus in the womb, in spite of being biologically alive, becomes a living thing only after a soul is injected into it (32:9). The greatest reward of the good soul, the moment it has been waiting and working for, is the final and complete harmony and proximity with its Creator, when ‘nafs mutmainna’ will be welcomed by God Himself into His presence and to Paradise on the Day of Judgment (89: 27-30), with these words: “O blissful soul/ Return to your Lord, such that you are pleased with Him, and He with you/ Enter with My devotees/ Enter My Paradise!” -- Nilofar Ahmed


A couple is able to fully give love and devotion to each other, raise healthy children who are fully secure in having both a loving father and mother Marriage is an exclusive right given to human beings. Yet, mating would include all species—including even the plant kingdom. What sets humans apart from animals is that they are given intellect, wisdom and ability to choose and discern right from wrong. In Islam, one knows by getting married, he is not only getting a partner for life, he is getting his whole world put on the right balance. -- Raya Shokatfard

Allah, a combination of ‘Al’, meaning ‘the’ and ‘ilah’, meaning ‘deity’, is the personal, proper name of the One God. This name combines in it all the qualities of His attributes. ‘Al Rehman’, meaning ‘the Most Merciful’ is one of the most frequently used of His names. ‘Al Raheem’ means ‘the Ever Merciful’. It has the same root as ‘Al Rehman’: ‘rahama’, meaning the womb — the seat of all love and mercy. These names also seem to be God’s favourite names since they are used in the formula, ‘bismillah hir Rehman nir Raheem’, which is recited before doing anything from starting to read the Quran to eating food to going on a journey. Besides, there is the Hadith Qudsi in which God says, ‘rahmati sabaqat ghadabi’, meaning, “My mercy precedes My wrath.” When God decided to create Adam, He said to the angels: “I am going to appoint a vicegerent on earth.” They replied: “Are You going to appoint one who will destroy the peace and shed blood, although we glorify You, singing your praises and sanctifying You?” He replied, “Indeed, I know that which you do not know!” Then God gave Adam the knowledge of the names of everything and asked the angels about the names of all the things. -- Nilofar Ahmed

Working as a news wire journalist, I was often spending over 10 hours a day in the office or at conferences, interviews and meetings, barely able to make time for a lunch break. If I wasn’t working, my time was divided between house chores, errands, family and friends, and exercise. I was punctual with everything in my life – except that I was late five times a day. Yet, praying the five daily prayers, at their prescribed times, is the backbone of being a Muslim; we cannot stand upright in our faith without them. It is one of the essential practices that God has called on those who endeavour to live in Islam, a state of existence whereby a human strives to live in submission to God. When I came to truly understand the importance of prayer, the realisation was both overwhelming and quick. It dawned on me that if I was not fulfilling this precondition, then I really could not claim to be Muslim. Even if I desired to have a solid connection with the Almighty I was not taking the necessary steps to do so. I promptly reoriented my life and it has now been a year and a half that I have not intentionally missed a prayer time, whether I am in the office, mall, grocery store, out with friends or travelling. -- Daliah Merzaban

Yazid, the caliph of that time, demanded allegiance from Imam Hussain. Yazid realised that the Muslim community otherwise would not accept his leadership. By refusing to pledge his loyalty to the tyrant ruler, Imam Hussain rose against those who acted falsely in the name of religion. His sacrifice drew the line between the real Islam and its false version as propagated by usurpers of power such as Yazid. Imam Hussain fought the corrupt and oppressive leadership not for personal gain, but to reform the nation of his grandfather, the messenger of Islam. Prophet Mohammad said: “My followers will not unite in supporting corruption.” He had also famously said, “I am from Hussain and Hussain is from me.” Muharram literally means, “One that is sacred”, and is one of the four sacred Islamic months, where fighting is forbidden. It is a time for spiritual renewal, for contemplating the great virtues of Imam Hussain and translating those moral and spiritual lessons into our own lives. -- Sadia Dehlvi

It was a conflict between Imam Hussain and Yazid the caliph of that time. Yazid usurped the leadership of Muslim community and wanted the true spiritual leader Imam Hussain to endorse him for legitimacy, which Imam Hussain rightfully declined and Yazid had him killed along with his young children. It was indeed like the Battle of Kurukshetra in Mahabharata; Good against evil, except Krishna’s good forces win the battle over the evil ones.  Yazid was one of the most corrupt and immoral leaders who violated the meritorial and consultative selection process of leadership and took over with his influence; wealth over morality. Personally I have not heard any Muslim who names his or her child Yazid, just as it is a rarity to name Hitler. Prophet Muhammad believed in a consultative process for civil society. -- Mike Ghouse

According to the Quran, contentment is the trait of a true Muslim. Patience, gratitude to God and piety are the constituents of contentment. A true Muslim is thankful to God in all circumstances. He is contented with whatever bounties God has bestowed on him and does not have greed and undue craving for more. God gives countless bounties to whomever He wishes and gives in required measure to whomever He wishes. He also tests some of us by putting us in a state of starvation, penury, hardship, fear, loss of business etc. A true Muslim passes every test by virtue of contentment: “So eat from what Allah has given you pure and clean and be thankful to Allah for his bounties if you worship Him.”(Al Nahl; 114) Greed is present in every man’s heart and be craves for more seeing the wealth, prosperity and other material resources of others. This craving sometimes takes a wrong turn and he uses all the tricks and means to acquire the worldly luxuries. He loses the sense of good and evil and legitimate and illegitimate. The Quran warns him against such behavior: “And wish not for the things in which Allah has made some of you to excel others.”(Al Nisa: 32) -- S. Arshad, NewAgeIslam.com

A pious believer is required to aim for three main targets continuously, when performing the righteous deeds. The first one is to attain Allah’s pleasure, the second is to long for paradise and the third one is to desire to stay away from hell-fire. One who aims for the first target continuously will automatically attain the second and the third. Insha Allah. A believer who achieves these three targets will be awarded with the bounties of patience and gratitude and much more. These two bounties are deeply inter-connected. The gratitude for ongoing blessings is given by acts of worship, submission and complete obedience. Worship and obedience needs enormous patience, especially submitting oneself to the pre-decree. When gratitude is instilled in the hearts, patience follows it. Gratitude must be presented with the heart, tongue and limbs. In the Noble Qur’an, wherever Allah the Almighty mentions His divine bounties, He says “that you may give thanks” or “only few of you give thanks”. Some of the bounties that He mentions are forgiveness for His slaves, guidance, ease, ordering of expiation of sins and the changing of the day and the night etc. Allah says: “And out of His mercy He has made for you the night and the day, that you may rest therein, and that you may seek of His grace, and that you may give thanks.” – 28:73 “And Allah has brought you forth from the wombs of your mothers-- you did not know anything-- and He gave you hearing and sight and hearts that you may give thanks.” – 16:78. -- Farzana Qamar


Human needs are much more basic than we have made them in our own greed. This is what Hajj taught me. We were all the same. Wearing the same brand called Islam. This is what Hajj taught me.  Worldly cleanliness means nothing when you are on a journey to cleanse your soul and conscience. This is what Hajj taught me. Worldly cleanliness means nothing when you are on a journey to cleanse your soul and conscience. This is what Hajj taught me. What seems important to us in our day to day lives, like being good looking and impressing others with the way we look, is actually a very petty thing. One needs to get over the petty things and look at the bigger picture. This is what Hajj taught me. It’s a universal process of understanding the human needs, the importance of being humane, the feeling of being ordinary and nothing special and the longing for being together. It’s a much higher level of spiritual journeys than most will ever see and experience. -- Sami Saayer



SOME time after the migration of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) and his followers to Medina, the Makkans banned the entry of the believers in Makkah, even for the purposes of Haj or umrah. The Muslims yearned to visit the Ka’aba to perform the pilgrimage. After about six years, the Prophet and some 1,500 of his companions started out for Makkah on Ziqa’ad 1, 6 AH, (628 CE), with the intention of performing umrah. They put on the ihram, recited the intention and thus entered the state of consecration. The Prophet decided to avoid confrontation and bloodshed, and to take a very rough and circuitous route. The most difficult point to accept was that of one-sided extradition, and which stated that if a Qureshi who had converted to Islam was to escape from his guardian and reach the Prophet in Medina, he would be forced to go back, but if a Muslim renounced his faith and escaped to Makkah, the Makkans would not be obliged to return him. -- Nilofar Ahmed

The Moi-e-Muqqadas or the sacred hair of Prophet Muhammad is enshrined at the Hazratbal mosque in Srinagar; unsurprisingly, this has been drawing visitors despite it having seen quite a bit of unrest over the years on account of political turmoil. They say God's ways are mysterious; therefore, you just need to observe and follow the way shown to you without commenting on it or questioning it. It seemed to be happening to me here. Happy and content at my unscheduled pilgrimage, I marveled at how I was brought here by an Unseen Power to experience Hazratbal, a good 500 kilometers away from what I call home. I went back, far richer from this wonderful experience. -- Mousumi Roy


Bayazid's mother had a deep impact on him and he remained devoted to her. He would recall how she sent him to school to study the Quran. When he read the chapter which emphasises thankfulness and obedience to parents, the young boy asked for permission to go home. He told his mother that since Allah had asked to serve both Him and her, he could not do both saying, 'Either you ask for me from God, so that I may be yours entirely, or apprentice me to God, so that I may dwell wholly with Him.' His mother replied, 'My son, I resign you to God, and exempt you from your duty to me, go and be God's. After his mother resigned him to God, Abu Yazid left Bistam, wandering from land to land for 30 years, disciplining himself with continuous vigil and hunger. He sought the tutelage of over a hundred Sufis, the revered Imam Jafar Sadiq among them. -- Sadia Dehlvi

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