Being a citizen of a 100 percent Muslim nation, I can’t help but hear and expeience the sights and sounds of a waning of spirituality within our midst. Many mosques are built and many more people go for prayers too it appears; even though certain days and periods of the year seem to draw increased crowds to these spiritual portals as if they are the moments to cash-in on the “1000 for the price of one” type of merits we seem to run after. We look to spiritual merits in the same way as we do for material merit. Sadly this is the miscoception borne out of ignorance again spawned by a lack of engagement of youth with the spiritual leaders. And even in the instances of such engagement, of the inability to translate the high morals Islam calls for into acceptable daily social contexual realities.
There are many reasons why this is so, but that would be a lengthy discussion. Let’s surmise that this is the state of things in our country and merely dwell on how the spiritual nature of belief can be better understood. For the young mind in our local midst, the question of religion is not an active daily inquiry item for we were born into this faith and we practice it taking it for granted. We pray and parrot the quaran without true engagement just as a cultural ritual rather than for the spirutual quality we must seek within it. Sad to say many don’t even know the meanings of the stuff we utter in our daily five prayers even though we come in reverance to the mosque and struggle to get a place in the first row behind the imam even after rushing into the mosque just in time for the Iqaam. Many explain this away as a case of dwindling belief. The weakness of our iuthiqaadh.
Why don't we believe now or we believe less now than in the old days? I don't know if we believed more in the old days. Perhaps it was because there was a lack of intervening and disrupting forces as we do now. There was no TV, the internet, no other media or other people telling us otherwise, and so we tended to accept the status quo for if we didn't we would be seen as renegade and be visible being that. But now we have many of these sources that give us strength to refute and the ego always wants to have it's deemed view paramount which is always biased to the unconventional. If we can have even a bit of room for doubt or a semblance of an argument against, it would run us towards that opportunity to refute. Ego is the tool of the Shaaitan and when it is fuelled, we go astray, for it is what makes us crave for this world – this ephemeral abode; for us to be seen as worth our salt in this world and little thought given to the needs of the Hereafter. This way Shaithan keeps us in the dark and steeped in disbelief. So, while the absence of distratictions may be noted as a caveat, we can say that the older generation was steeped in more eman than of the present surrounded by the enticements of modernization. But the point here is to emphasize that our state of eman is an active process we nurture within us rather than a passive one imbued from outside us. Our strength as Muslims (or for that matter a person of any faith – religion or philosophy, or culture or creed etc.) ensue from the conviction of the truth of or faith, devoid of nagging doubt.
True belief must come to us whether there is intervening disruptive thoughts or not. It must come from a deep conviction of the truth we can witness from the evidence and the profound thoughts of our Maker in the Quraan; in knowing that the Quraan is the Truth and the reliable source without doubt is the bedrock of belief. This staunch belief in its narrations, lessons, and commands cannot be swayed by the intervening ego-supported distractions that is the audio-visual entertainement laden environment of today’s world.
This timeless Book is where our Modern muslims, just as the devout seekers of the past have had, must look for the meaning and practice of Islam and the strength of conviction. We must read the quran and ponder and reflect and understand its wisdom. Intervening doubtfull and militant thoughts will not then occupy the mind. The idle mind is the playground of the devil as they say. We have to then go through the confirmatory behaviour also that deepens our belief into Eman, by way of daily prayers, supplication, zikr, and the giving of charity. We will soon see our lives transform as we engage in these activities. The mind is the most powerful thing we have as humans. As we strengthen this, our lives transform and we are elevated to become better human beings as we journey along the path of Allah.