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Islamic Spirituality in Modern World

So few people think about the need of their spirit, their soul, when there are so many things to (badly) fill that place where the spirituality should grow.

We eat too much, trying to fill the void and deaden the feeling of an empty soul, to forget the nagging voice of something deep in us that yearns to be connected with God. We shop, listen, watch, eat, drink, the spiritual starvation away. But does it work?

Something Missing

Modernity marks perhaps the first time in human history when a large group of people reject the concept of God. With this, they reject the idea of their own soul and all that nourishes it. But Just because we reject an idea, doesn’t mean it goes away. We all feel the yearning of our souls when it has been neglected. Deep down there’s something missing.

Perhaps the increase of suicide, depression, anxiety are devastating hallmarks of this lack of human spirituality in our modern age. The human being needs to feel fulfilled in a spiritual way. And when we deny this aspect of our nature, it gets painful.

Dina Mohammad Basiony, Spirituality editor at and counselor for Ask About Islam, writes,

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“Spirituality in Islam is more than just a feeling. It is true knowledge of The Source of the Spirit, sincere pursuit of Him, persistent connection with Him and commitment to loving Him and remaining on His path until The Day we meet Him. So, it is a life journey of growth, sincerity, and commitment to The Creator (The Source of the spirit), not a fleeting moment of excitement or spiritual boost.”

This explanation is strikingly similar to love. How do we come to love someone? We get to know him or her and all his/her good traits. In this way, we come to spirituality by knowing Allah and that Allah (SWT) possesses the best of all traits in their superlative form. How do we get the object of our love to return our love? We pursue him or her. Similarly, we become spiritual by pursuing Allah, seeking His pleasure in all that we do.

be with Allah

How do we maintain a connection with the one we love?

We nurture the relationship, continue to get to know the one we love. We help the connection grow by avoiding what displeases and doing all that pleases the one whom we love.

This is spirituality. It is a feeling produced through knowledge, pursuit, and commitment to the ultimate source and destination of love-Allah (SWT).

Trust in Allah

In this way, spirituality is the thing that anchors us. When our trust if broken by a part of the creation, we still believe in the ultimate trust of the Creator. When our heart is broken by someone close to us, we know that love itself is not broken because the Owner and Creator of love is Eternal. When tragedy strikes, we know that Allah is with us and preparing an amazing reward for us for our patience.

In this way, spirituality is comfort for the soul in an uncertain world. It becomes a way to cope with all that life throws at us. Spirituality becomes a way to stay grounded in what is actually important and not what is just a distraction of this life.

But instead of working toward spirituality, many of us have followed the cult of happiness. There is nothing wrong with being happy or searching for happiness. But what we are told we will find happiness in are mostly self-serving activities: shopping, eating, drinking, clubbing, lust, etc.

Modern humans seek to serve themselves in this way, always seeking to be “happy” by satisfying their own desires and never really feeling satisfied, always being pushed to consume more, watch more, take more.

In direct contrast to the commonly held belief that happiness comes from superficial activities, psychologists have found that people who approach life through their spirituality experience far more happiness than those who believe that happiness comes from self-serving pursuits.

People who have spirituality in their lives report being “’very happy’, have a longer life, have a lower risk of depression and suicide, are more resilient, are more faithful in relationships, and are more satisfied with their family life.

There are few in the modern world who aren’t in pursuit of happiness. Ironically, less and less of us are actually happy. So, maybe what we are really looking for is spirituality.

(From Discovering Islam archive)

About Theresa Corbin
Theresa Corbin is the author of The Islamic, Adult Coloring Book and co-author of The New Muslim’s Field Guide. Corbin is a French-creole American and Muslimah who converted in 2001. She holds a BA in English Lit and is a writer, editor, and graphic artist who focuses on themes of conversion to Islam, Islamophobia, women's issues, and bridging gaps between peoples of different faiths and cultures. She is a regular contributor for and Al Jumuah magazine. Her work has also been featured on CNN and Washington Post, among other publications. Visit her blog, islamwich, where she discusses the intersection of culture and religion.