There are two significant schools of spirituality—one based on meditation and the other on contemplation. The former relates to feelings ascribed to the ‘heart’ and the latter to the mind. According to meditation or the spirituality of the heart, people usually assume that the further away they move from material things, the more spiritual they become. Clearing their minds of material thoughts, they become one with the spiritual. Islam subscribes to the school of contemplation. The journey towards contemplative spirituality begins with the urge to search for the truth. Being an utterly intellectual activity helps one discover the truth, discover God, and understand His Creation Plan for us. Then our lives enter a new phase: building their personalities according to spiritual principles.

Mind-based spirituality is based on intellectual awakening. Connecting with God—one’s Creator—one can elevate oneself and start living on a higher divine plane. From the Islamic perspective, being spiritual means living a God-oriented life. Then, one’s mental balance is not upset by unpleasant experiences. By understanding the Creation Plan of God and by developing clear thinking and the ability to re-examine any situation, one can convert negative influences and experiences into positive ones. One can take spiritual lessons from material experiences. Mind-based spirituality or contemplative spirituality is the best formula for character building. It promotes all that is good and helps us develop a positive personality.



According to me, true spirituality is based on contemplation or reflection, or pondering, which has all to do with intellectual activity. Such mind-based spirituality is produced when man gives serious thought to questions pertaining to the ideology of life such as, ‘Who am I?’ What is the purpose of my life? What is this world around me? What is the creation plan of the Creator? Is my life governed by destiny or free will? What is my purpose in life?... A seeker is able to find true spirituality by finding rational answers to such questions, whereby he receives spirituality at the mind or thinking level.

Indeed, the journey of spirituality begins with the urge to search for the truth. When a seeker discovers the truth and learns the creation plan of the Creator, his life enters a new phase, i.e. that of building the human personality according to spiritual principles. This journey is entirely intellectual in nature. Its quest is two-fold, one is to solve the riddle of why, all men and women undergo negative experiences in this world and the other is to offer positive solutions. It addresses the paradox of human beings having been given the freedom to make their own moral choices, and their frequent misuse of this freedom—a course of action that causes them to repeatedly face situations in which people do each other harm; losses are incurred because of others’ injustice; severe provocations are suffered because of untoward experiences. At such times spirituality teaches us to convert negativity into positivity through the art of conversion. This is the ideology of spirituality as presented in Islam.

For example, in our life, there can be negative experiences at any moment. These experiences disturb our spirituality, but by applying our mind we can cause all this negativity and the tension generated by it to disappear and thus maintain our spirituality.

A question I am often asked is in trying to develop ourselves spiritually, is it necessary to detach ourselves from the physical world? My answer to them is simply: no. The physical world can be helpful in developing spirituality. If you become a slave of material things, then the physical world becomes an obstacle to developing spirituality but if you become the master of the material world, you will be mature enough to squeeze spirituality from material things. For example, if someone abuses you, don’t become upset. It is better to shake hands with him and say: ‘My friend, there was a news item in today’s paper and I would like to have your comments on it.’ In this way, you can change the subject and so turn negativity into positivity. But you can do this only by thinking before reacting and rising above the situation and giving a positive response. Activating of the mind is what is called mind-based spirituality.

Source: Spirit of Islam April 2013

When a scientist discovers the scientific world, he doesn’t leave the material world, but rather stays here, studies, and makes discoveries in this very world. Spirituality is also a science. Consequently, in spiritual science, the same method is valid, i.e. undergoing spiritual experiences while remaining in the material world. Spirituality, in fact, is a process of converting our everyday material events into spiritual experiences. While living his social life, man is affected by events, which trigger negative thoughts such as malice, lust, anger, arrogance, greed, etc. But when man raises himself above his immediate surroundings, i.e. from the material level to a higher level of thinking, he experiences real spirituality. At this elevated level, man is able to eradicate his negative thoughts and replace them with positive ones. In this state, he learns to convert non-spiritual matters into spiritual matters.

The art of conversion means converting negativity into positivity. You have to try to live with a positive mind even in negative situations. While this seems to be a very difficult task, God Almighty has given us a mind with unlimited capacity. Our mind, itself, helps us to rise above the situation and give a positive response even in negative situations.

Source: Tazkiyah: The Purification of the Soul

There is no limit, the only condition is sincerity. Let me explain with an example. Every Muslim reads 'Alhamdulillah' every day in the prayer but I have not found a single person who utilised his mind to understand its meaning.

I used my mind and understood that if I want to express my gratitude to God, then how a big thanksgiving will emerge when so many negative experiences come my way every day. Amidst these experiences, how will I thank God?

I realised that "Alhamdulillah" invites an entire culture to forget those things that lead one to negativity. There is no one in the world that does not undergo negative experiences. Everyone lives in the psyche of complaints. In such a scenario, how will he render big thanks to God unless he adopts this culture! He will have to forget negative emotions, hatred and losses so that he is able to thank God. Bernard Shaw said that, 'The most uneducated man is one who has nothing to forget!" I would say that to be able to thank God, you will have to forget! If I would not have used my mind, I would not have understood this meaning. I realised that 'Alhamdulillah' is a killer of all kinds of complaints, negative emotions and feelings. And when man prays as such, he will become a new person, devoid of negativity and hatred because he would realise that unless he purifies himself he will not be able to say true, 'Alhamdulillah'!

Source: The Seeker’s Guide


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