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Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Using Materialism to gain Spirituality

Assalamu alaikum. From the beginning of time, the two most opposing forces have always been spirituality and materialism. Materialism is diametrically opposed to spirituality, it is a theory that physical matter is the only or fundamental reality and that all being and processes and phenomena can be explained as manifestations or results of matter. According to Merriam Webster it is a doctrine that the only or the highest values or objectives lie in material well-being and in the furtherance of material  progress. Looking at it from a religious point of view, it is seen as a preoccupation with or stress upon MATERIAL rather than intellectual or SPIRITUAL thing. While spirituality on the other hand is  an ultimate or immaterial reality, an inner path enabling a person to discover the essence of their being; or the “deepest values and meanings by which people live.

As Muslims we have to strike the correct balance between this two opposing forces. Allah in His inimitable style says "But seek, with that (wealth) which Allah has bestowed on you, the home of the Hereafter, and forget not your portion of legal enjoyment in this world, and do good as Allah has been good to you, and seek not mischief in the land. Verily, Allah likes not the Mufsidun (those who commit great crimes and sins, oppressors, tyrants, mischief-makers, corrupts)". Q:28:77. Here we are told to seek for material gains but not at the expense of our spiritual attainment, nay we are even encouraged to use our material gains to better our spirituality. This was very common in the life of the companions, they worked very hard, earned legitimately and spent relentlessly on the path of Allah. Was it not in the life of the Sahaba when the Prophet (SAW) asked them to contribute on the path of Allah that Abubakar (RA) gave everything he had? what about the likes of Abdur Rhaman bin A'uf (RA) who was amongst the richest of the companions.
Today, we are living in a society where the idolization of a life-style is the order of the day and we are quick
to embrace any filthy, dirty ideology as long as it has immediate material benefit. Study the history of affluence  whenever it comes to a people it takes away their spirituality. The ancient civilizations where destroyed at the peak of their material prosperity, they fail to strike a balance between materialism and spirituality. One astonishing thing about the Sunnah of Allah is that you will never find a change in it, what befell the previous nations still awaits us if we follow in their footsteps.

I came across an amazing verse of the Qur'an where Allah made an amazing offer to all the believers, Allah says  "O You who believe! Shall I guide you to a commerce that will save you from a painful torment. That you believe in Allah and His Messenger (Muhammad SAW), and that you strive hard and fight in the Cause of Allah with your wealth and your lives, that will be better for you, if you but know!" Q:61:10-11. Here again we are invited by Allah to enter into a business transaction where we exchange materialism for spirituality. Most of us are too stingy to spend on the path of Allah, yet some of us believe that we have to be very rich first before we can help the deen of Allah. It will be noteworthy  that our Allah is not after the quantity of what we are giving out but rather the quality of what was given. 
Lavishness and extravagance are the commonest things in our lives while generosity and spending to uphold the deen of Allah is alien to our nature. In a hadith Qudsi on the authority of Abu Hurairah (RA) from the Prophet (SAW), who said: "Allah (mighty and sublime be He) said:  ‘Spend (on charity), O son of Adam, and I shall spend on you.’" It was related by al-Bukhari and Muslim. Alas! we have failed to realize the full potentials kept in materialism. It is a serious and legitimate tool for us to use in order to be prosperous in both world. 
Whenever we indulge  in crass materialism at the expense of spirituality then we should know that we are heading towards a dangerous point of no return. Allah says:  "Behold! You are those who are called to spend in the Cause of Allah, yet among you are some who are niggardly. And whoever is niggardly, it is only at the expense of his own self. But Allah is Rich (Free of all wants), and you (mankind) are poor. And if you turn away (from Islam and the obedience of Allah), He will exchange you for some other people, and they will not be your likes". Q:47:38. It is a constant  that if we allow ourselves to be blinded by materialism then Allah will always raise from among us those that will better serve is deen.

Our academic potentials, positions of power and individual gifts could in fact be our greatest asset in terms of attaining sound level of spirituality if only we know. Never in our lives should we allow complacency to have a firm grip on our ego. If we are living in the most expensive bedrooms that should serve as a motivating factor for us to get up in the night and observe night vigil (Tahajjud). If Allah has blessed us with the best cars in town then we should be able to make use of this gift to go out and spread the word of Allah. If Allah has blessed us with literal prowess, then we should be able to use it to propagate the deen of Allah. If Allah has blessed us with material success then we should ideally remember the giver of the bounty and not attribute it to ourselves. These and many more should be harnessed  by us to better serve Allah. 

Brothers and sisters, we all are blessed materially one way or the other by Allah and until and unless we seek for Allah's pleasure through those things he has blessed us with, we will never be successful.  We have to show gratitude in lieu of arrogance and complacency and look at things from a spiritual point of view. Everything of this world can be harnessed for spiritual gains, in other words they can actually get us closer to Allah only if we 'Islamise' them. I have written what I have written and I seek for Allah's forgiveness for me and you. yours in Islam Abdullah