Living The Quran


From Issue: 477 [Read full issue]

Al-Shams (The Sun)
Chapter 91: Verses 7-10

By the soul in the body (al-nafs) and what has balanced it (given it form) and inspired [both] its licentiousness and its intimate sense of God (its piety). He who purifies it will certainly be happy and he who corrupts it will certainly be lost (crushed).

Muslim spirituality is the work the consciousness of the believer does on the self in order to be liberated from all forms of worship of things other than the Transcendent and to find the way to the original breath (fitra) and its purity. This way toward the One is difficult and demanding, because human nature also tends to be drawn to the contingent realities of the world. Caught between longing for the Most High and the attraction of the world, the believer's first experience of awareness is of facing an internal conflict. The choice is between liberating one's self or losing one's self and drowning in the varieties of life.

Islamic teaching has given us concrete tools to help us succeed in this work on ourselves and to arrive at a balance. The daily requirements of Muslim practice give us the direction and the first steps along the way to this freedom. Awareness of the Presence and of the closeness of the Very Near One moves toward the centre, the heart of the same community of faith, through the five daily meetings in prayer, the weekly gathering of that community of faith, the purifying tax on one's possessions (zakat), the fasting for a full month of the year, and the making of the pilgrimage once in a lifetime (if one has the means). By meditating on these requirements, we discover that they really are demanding and operate on several levels: the memory (for people are so inclined to forget); on the management of time (the daily rhythm of prayers and other practices throughout the year); on the individual and communal aspects of being before God (communal prayer, giving zakat, and so on); and on the division of efforts among the various elements that constitute the human being (heart, spirit, body, possessions).

"Western Muslims and The Future of Islam" - Tariq Ramadan, pp. 119-121