Monday, August 30, 2010

Modernity Project: Reaching for the Physical and Psychological Aspects of Human Nature & The Spiritual Project: Reaching for the Divine Aspect of Human Nature

Omar K N,
Shaykh Abdul Qadir Isa

Abu Madyan (rahimahu-Allah) said:
Regard not any fault but that acknowledged within you
As a manifest, clearly apparent fault, though it be hidden

And others said:
Condemn not a person for doing an action
To which you are equally ascribed
He who blames something while at the same time doing it himself 
Has only demonstrated his own ignorance

Our definition of modern and modernism has nothing to do with what may be generally perceived now-a-days (1*) as being new or 'up-to-date', instead, what is here defined as modern, is that which is cut off from the Divine, the Transcendant, or the 'Supernatural', everything that does not refer to - and is isolated from - "the immutable principles which in reality govern all things and which are made known to man through revelation in its most universal sense. Modernism is thus contrasted with tradition (ad-dîn); the former ... all that is merely human and now ever more increasingly subhuman, and all that is divorced and cut off from the Divine source. (Additionally) tradition has always accompanied and in fact characterized human existence, whereas modernism is a very recent phenomenon." (S H Nasr)

When the modern perception of reality had thus been reduced to the material and profane level, it also reduced human nature to its physical and psychological aspects, only.  However the soul is not only a psychic entity, but first of all a spiritual one, which is its principal aspect. This is according to the teaching of all world traditions or metaphysical doctrines:

Thus man has (not two but) *three* levels of being:
the physical, the psychic or psychological and the spiritual.

The organ for the spiritual is mentioned in the words of German theologian Meister Eckehart (d.1327): 

"There is something in the soul, which is not created and not possible to create (increatum et increabile); if the whole soul were such, it would be not created and not possible to create; and this is the Intellect (intellectus)."

This modernist 'development' therefore stripped man off his divine, sacred potential. It led to a concept of human nature which is "too unstable, changing and turbulent to be able to serve as the principle for something" or anything at all, because it is grounded on the emotional and often irrational levels of being.

This tendency to reduce human nature can even be observed in some overtly exoteric religious circles - influenced by modernism itself, where there may be lip service to the Divine, but in practice great focus on moral, behavioural or political issues, neglecting the essential demands of the Divine Law, in respect to inner transformation and spiritual striving.

The Spiritual Path

When the servant uncovers the defects of his self (nafs) and is truthful in his pursuit to remove them, he will have no time to busy himself with the faults of other people and waste his life enumerating their mistakes. Know that he who spends his time enumerating the mistakes of others and is heedless of his own faults is an idiotic ignoramus.

For this reason, they said: "Do not see someone else's faults as long as you have your own faults - and the servant will never be free of faults." When the Muslim comes to realize this, he will hasten to wean his ego from its lower desires and deficient day-to-day habits, and he will oblige it to implement acts of obedience and deeds that draw close (to Allah).

Spiritual struggle is a step by step process that changes course according to the progress of the aspirant in his journey. In the beginning of his affair, he is to remove all of the acts of disobedience that relate to his seven body parts. They are:

1.The tongue
2.The ears
3.The eyes
4.The hands
5.The feet
6.The stomach
7.The private parts

Afterwards, he should adorn his seven body parts with acts of obedience appropriate to each of them.
These seven body parts are the windows into the heart that shall either be smeared and sullied with the darkness and grime of disobedience, thereby making the heart sick, or they shall be made clear to allow the light and illumination of acts of worship enter it.

Since the path of spiritual struggle is a rugged one with numerous side paths and it is very difficult for the spiritual wayfarer to enter it alone, it is of practical significance for him to accompany a completed spiritual guide who knows the defects of the soul and knows the path of spiritual struggle and treatment.

By keeping the company of a spiritual guide, the spiritual aspirant gains practical experience in the ways of purifying his soul, just as he obtains the sacred spiritual effulgence of the Shaykh who pushes him to perfect his own self and personality; raising him above the defects and evil traits. The Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.)was the spiritual guide of the highest rank and the greatest purifier who trained his noble Companions and purified their souls through his statements and spiritual state - as Allah described him: { It is He who sent a Messenger unto the unlettered ones, reciting unto them His verses, furifying them, and teaching them the Book and the wisdom, whereas before they were in manifest error.} Sura (62) al-Jumu'a: 2 fn10

Shaykh `Abd al-Qadir `Isa: 
The late Shaykh 'Abd al-Qadir 'Isa (r.a.)(d. 1312 H/1991 CE) was one of the revivers of the Sufi tradition in the Levant. In a time of gross materialism and imported profane ideologies into the Arab world, Shaykh 'Abd al-Qadir 'Isa provided the keys for a reclamation of Islam's spiritual riches and revived the spiritual path, imparting guidance and instruction to scores of people from all strata of society.

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