Like me, you may have only thought of Islam as a religion filled with rituals and rules. Perhaps, like me, you found it hard to understand how a Muslim could have a personal spiritual experience in the midst of so many rigorous practices. Perhaps, instead, you imagined every Muslim to be just like the many extremist “Islamists” we hear about in the media involved in brutality and terrorist activities.
It is not surprising that most people in the west have a negative impression of Islam and its adherents. It is only the negative stories which are brought to our attention.
My current course with AIHT (American Institute of Holistic Theology) has taught me that there is much more to Islam than rituals and rules. I have begun to learn about a spiritual side of Islam, which could account for some of the 2.08 billion people who are already Muslims, and for the million or so people who convert to Islam each year.
In Surrendering to God: Understanding Islam in the Modern Age, Eren Tatari gives her opinion that “in recent centuries, Muslims have been over-emphasizing practice and jurisprudence/fiqh at the expense of belief and theology”. She suggests that the practical side of worship is in many ways easier, because it is “concrete”, whereas “Qur’anic iman [faith] education is difficult”, and that, of the more than 6,000 verses in the Qur’an, only 280 relate to practice.
It is within this iman education that I discovered aspects of Islam which align closely with a number of modern spiritual teachings.
The word, Islam, means submission to the one true God (Allah) and a Muslim is one who submits. As I read about, and reflected on, what submission to God really means, I discovered similarities with lessons from other teachers.
In A Course in Miracles, I learned that, within each of us, there is an ego mind and a Christ mind, or voice for God, and that our aim is to listen only to the voice for God, and not the ego mind.
Eckhart Tolle in his books, The Power of Now, and A New Earth, helps us to find ways to notice when we are acting from our egos, and to focus instead on the formless consciousness in each of us which connects us to all of the universe, as we live in the present moment.
Esther Hicks and Abraham have taught us to notice communication from our inner being, our inner connection with Source energy, so that we may always act in alignment with our Source.
Could it be that all the practices of Islam which demonstrate Muslims submitting to Allah, are really ways in which they can ignore their egos, and focus on their connection with Source, their Christ mind? Could it be that the practices of Islam allow Muslims to find the straight path to God, as the Qur’an claims to show (5:16)?
Muslims are guided in many verses of the Qur’an to reflect on the world and the universe (2:164; 10:101; 16:65-81; 41:53; 51:47-49; 50:6-11 for instance). According to Tatari, the universe is the embodiment of the Qur’an, and it is in observing God’s creation, that one can find the attributes of God.
This idea is not so far removed from the idea in modern spiritual teachings, that we are one with God and his creation. In fact, according to Tatari, “Islam is built on the principal of God’s unity (tawhid)” It is not such huge jump to see that principal of the unity of God reflected in the idea of the oneness of God’s creation, and the oneness of each of us with God and his creation.
One of the practices of Muslims is to reflect on the 99 Most Beautiful Names of God. Although some of their beauty may be lost in the translation from Arabic to English, I offer this as an exercise in becoming closer to both Muslims, and their Creator, by considering one or two of these names of God, and reflecting on whether you can relate to them as attributes of God, and how those attributes appear in God’s creation, and in your lives.
|1. The Beneficent||2. The Merciful||3. The King||4. The Holy|
|5. Peace-Giver||6. Faith-Giver||7. The Guardian||8. The All-Mighty|
|9. The Compeller||10. The Tremendous||11. The Creator||12. The Maker of Order|
|13. The Fashioner of Forms||14. The Forgiving||15. The Subduer||16. The Bestower|
|17. The Providing||18. The Opener / The Giver of Victory||19. The All-Knowing / The Omniscient||20. The Restrainer|
|21. The Expander||22. The Abaser||23. The Exalter||24. The Giver of Honour|
|25. The Humiliator||26. The Hearing||27. The Seeing||28. The Judge|
|29. The Just||30. The Kind||31. The Aware||32. The Forbearing|
|33. The Magnificent||34. The Forgiving||35.The Grateful||36. The Highest|
|37. The Great||38. The Preserver||39. The Nourisher||40. The Reckoner|
|41. The Majestic||42. The Generous||43. The Watchful||44. The Answerer|
|45. The Vast||46. The Wise||47. The Loving||48. The Glorious|
|49. The Resurrector||50. The Witness||51. The Truth / The Real||52. The Trustee|
|53. The Strong||54. The Steadfast||55. The Protector||56. The Praiseworthy|
|57. The Accounter||58. The Initiator||59. The Reinstater||60. The Giver of Life|
|61. The Bringer of Death||62. The Living||63. The Self-Subsisting||64. The Perceiver|
|65. The Illustrious||66. The One / The Manifestation of Unity||67. The One / The Indivisible||68. The Everlasting|
|69. The Powerful||70. The Dominant||71. The Expediter||72. The Delayer|
|73. The First||74. The Last||75. The Manifest||76. The Hidden|
|77. The Patron||78. The Exalted||79. The Most Kind and Righteous||80. The Ever-Returning|
|81. The Avenger||82. The Pardoner||83. The Compassionate||84. The Owner of All Sovereignty|
|85. The Lord of Majesty and Generosity||86. The Equitable||87. The Unifier||88. The Rich / The Independent|
|89. The Enricher||90. The Defender||91. The Distressor||92. The Propitious|
|93. The Light||94. The Guide||95. The Incomparable||96. The Abiding|
|97. The Inheritor of All||98. The Guider||99. The Patient|
(The Qur’an: An Introduction, by Anna M Gade)
I would be interested to hear any thoughts that you might have.
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