ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday September 16, 2007
Vol. 42 - No 16

Finding God by rediscovering essence of one’s nature

By Amjad Mohamed Saleem

Having pride is about affirming an outward independence from the One by maintaining an illusion of liberty at the heart of one’s being. Humility is to rediscover this primordial need of Him at the heart of our being, to live in total outward independence. We are all travellers on the same path, struggling to seek God’s pleasure. The price to acquire the (un)natural traits of self control, serenity, awareness of the other, respect for the fellow and tenderness is a permanent personal battle against our innermost evil desires. Death, life, experiences, ordeals, pain, solitude, joy and happiness, are so many lessons to be learnt and taught on this journey.

Wounds, separations, tears, reunions and smiles, reveal themselves to the individual: if you live in unawareness, they touch you; with awareness, they guide and lead you. Where to? Towards Him, towards you, close to Him in you. Such is the most beautiful and the most difficult lesson: You find God only by rediscovering the essence of your own nature. The essence of your own nature is the ‘return to oneself’ and a consciousness of the other. Thus the destination of one’s journey is to return. The secret of life is hidden in the place from which you set out.

Indonesian women attend a Ramadan night prayer, marking the beginning of the Muslims' holy fasting month in Jakarta on Wednesday. Reuters

To find God is to attain this state of humble acceptance of your fragility, a comprehension of your dependence and a serenity of compliance to the lessons learnt.

To acquire this state requires a humble submission to reform one’s inner space, to soothe one’s heart close to the recognition of the Creator and in the density of an action which is both human and generous, to love in transparency and live in the light of Him. It is a state that demands a lucid, sincere, and honest mind capable of sane self-criticism.

To develop this state is the essence of Ramadan, something that is often missed in the superficial celebrations of this most blessed month. A scholar once wrote, ‘Ramadan is about a marriage of apparently contradictory requirements that constitute the universe of faith. The month of Ramadan marries the depth of the meaning with the precision of the form’.

At the heart of our consumer society, where materialism and individualism drive our daily lives, this Blessed Month of Ramadan reinforces our personal effort and commitment, invites us towards the deep horizons of introspection and meaning, reminds us of silence, restraint and remembrance, and inculcates the importance of detail, precision, rigour and discipline of practice.

The Blessed Month of Ramadan is not a feast of food but a feast of the faith of fraternal atmosphere that is shared with all brothers and sisters. Close to the Quran’s light, its words and inspirations, we must comprehend its message: To serve humanity, those in need; those without... To awaken your conscience in the proximity of the wounds and the injustices people face...To move away from your heart, your bad thoughts…To distance yourself from the darkest dimensions of your being, your violence, your jealousies, your superficialities.

A wise man once said, ‘Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space lies our freedom and power to choose our response. In those choices lie our growth and happiness.’

Such is the meaning of profound spirituality. We are responsible for the actions we take and within these actions there is a reminder. For within this space, there is God and one’s heart, as the Qur’an reminds us: "...and know that [the knowledge of] God lies between the human being and his heart."

Hence within this space everyone is asked to take up a dialogue with The Most-High and The Most-Close, a dialogue of intimacy, of sincerity, of love.

Within this space is the horizon of all spirituality requiring man to acquire a force of being and doing, rather than to undergo despotic relentlessness of a life reduced to mere instinct. Within this space, we marry the purpose of our existence with the purpose of our subsistence.

Ultimately the destination of the journey we have started is about reconciliation with the deepest level of our being (al fitra) – the original light that God breathed into our heart, where our conscience is at one with our being and our body is at one with the people. Ultimately this journey will be about reconciling with the Source of all being.

This Ramadan let us reconcile disputes between families and friends as a sign of the remembrance of God. This Ramadan let us strive to reinforce this remembrance of God and to remember our duties with the people, for to be with God is to be with the people. This Ramadan let us not only journey into intimacy and solitude within our self, but inculcate our responsibility as creations of God to serve humanity.

(The writer is Country Director, Muslim Aid Sri Lanka)

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