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Human Longing for Spirituality

Shahid Athar

Man is not only a social animal but in fact a spiritual one

too. This spirituality stems from the fact that he was created by God who
had blown His spirit into him. Thus, while our body is a container of the
soul, which is from earth and is attached to earthly matters, the soul, which
is the essence of the spirit, always longs to be united with Whom it was
separated from. The soul always longs to return to the Creator as stated in
Quran “ to God we belong, to Him is our return”. During our life on earth,
the soul and the body are again united but then there is a temporary
separation during death with the final union to take in the life thereafter.
Thus, spirituality is recognizing the presence of God within us.

One of the meanings of the word “ Islam” is surrender and human life
is nothing but surrender. We had no choice when our souls were created nor
did we have a choice when our souls were united with the flesh in our
mother’s womb nor did we have a choice living as a fetus and after birth we
were helplessly dependant on our parents and others around us without any
choice. Quran states “ when God comprehended in His design, heavens and
earth and asked them to come together willingly or unwillingly, they said we
come together in willing obedience.” (41:11) Human longing for union with
God is no different than a child who got separated from his mother in a mall
and then finds her and runs back to her into her folds. It has been said that
it is not man who is the seeker but it is him who is being sought. For this
union of soul to take place with its Creator, one must achieve the state of
peaceful bliss. As Quran states “ O soul at rest, return to thy Lord well
pleased and well pleasing. Enter as My servant, enter into My heaven.”
(89:27-30) Just like the lost small child in a crowd who is looking into other
faces, looking for his parent, we look into different faces or earthly
manifestations of God in the form of His reflection and consider it to be
reality and to some degree, sometimes we get attached to that considering
it a reality and fall in love, until we realize that it was only a reflection we
must go the source of light. Thus our acts of worship, whether it is fasting,
prayer, pilgrimage or good deeds like charity, are only keys to the door that
will unlock the house where my beloved resides.

My union with Him will materialize when I enter that house. I find that I can
not unlock the door with a rusted key. It is the love and remembrance of
God which will remove the rust both from the key and the lock. Human
beings live a fragmented life but they thirst for wholeness. Thirst for inner
peace and knowledge is the motivating force. Heart remains the center of
life and center of responsibility. According to an authentic saying of Prophet
Mohammad, “inside the human body there is a morsel of flesh which if
healthy, the whole body is healthy and which if diseased, the whole body is
diseased.” Then he pointed to his heart and said “this piece of flesh is this
heart.” Thus a sound heart, one which is pure and is clean from all idols,
where God resides, gives life to the body. We must tame our evil self which
otherwise would destroy the kingdom of God. We must cultivate longing in
search for the beloved. We humans are wired for God and all we have to do
is plug ourselves into the electrical outlets and turn the switch on by
standing for prayer. We must recognize God’s presence within us and with
us. Our hearts will remain restless until they rest in God and as Quran says
“for sure it is in the remembrance of God that the heart finds rest” (13:28)
and according to the saying of the Prophet, there is polish for every rust and
the polish for the rust of the heart is the remembrance of God.

But what prevents us from surrendering to God is nothing but the love
of the material world. These are the distractions of life in our journey
toward Him which diverts us, our conscious thoughts and our heart being
occupied with the thought of the One. Another factor which prevents us
from surrender to God is human arrogance which is a satanic trait. It was
this that prevented Satan from bowing down to Adam when told to do so by
saying “I am better than he” (Adam). (7:12) We must avoid such instinct
and be humble, realizing that all we have achieved, our wealth, power,
knowledge or physical strength are gifts from God.
When we close our hearts to others, our eyes are closed to see the
beauty of God in others. The message of Islam, Judaism, Christianity and all
other religions is the message of love and service to others. If God, Himself
decides to care and love and feed even those who deny His existence, then
who are we do deprive someone else of our love just because he is of
different color or speaks a different language or is born in a different
country or prays to the same God but in a different direction or using
different words? We must try to transcend the barriers between the humans
so that we break the barrier between humans and God. We must see
ourselves in others and we must see God in each of us. We must love
others in order to be loved by God and we must enter into Islam (submission
or surrender to God) peacefully, willingly and whole heartedly.


Surrender is not a sign of weakness but a sign of strength over the

conquest of the self.
We must be like small infants who play with adults of any color or race. It is
we the adults who see each other differently. The word Salam not only
means peace and submission but also assures security or safety. So when
we offer our greetings of Salam to someone, we wish them not only peace
but also safety. Let us keep our hearts clean. As Abdul Qadir Jilani, Sufi
Master of Islam said “Your heart is a polished mirror. Keep it clean by wiping
out the dust which has gathered on it because it is destined to reflect the
light of divine secrets. If only the lamp of divine secrets is kindled within
your inner self then the rest will come. Then you will see the sun of inner
knowledge rising from the horizon of divine reason.” But in order to attain
pure spirituality, we must empty our hearts first to receive God and make
it a worth while place for Him to live. I offer this poem of mine.

For a long time I treated my heart

Like a big trash can
Filled with vain desires
Like a pagan’s Kabah
Filled with idols

Now I have emptied my heart

Cleansed it inside and out
Polished it all around
For the new resident to come
And live forever

No one lives here any more

I have kicked everyone out
Neither there is lust
No tempting wealth
Nor false pride

Eyes have dried up

All sores healed
No pain no more
There is no darkness
Only “light upon light”
I am sad no more
I am filled with joy
My beloved has come
To live in my heart
The new resident of my heart
Is the One who gave me the heart
Gave me feelings and love
Then took it away
In my heart now
He will live forever
Without any partners
My heart will beat only for Him
My lips will sing
Only for Him
Song of “lailahaillAllah”
There is no God except one God
Published in “Sufism-an Inquiry” (