I attended a lecture recently where the instructor started by asking the attendees: “Where do you call home?”
The question was asked maybe because people come from different backgrounds; sometimes where they were born is not where they currently live.
But, this made me think about my spiritual home. It is important to ponder on and remember where our souls really belong. So I remembered there and then the last verses of chapter Al-Fajr:
O tranquil soul! Return to your Lord, well pleased with Him and well-pleasing to Him. So join My servants, and enter My Paradise. (Quran 89: 27-30)
Those verses talk about the believing soul returning to its Creator. What’s interesting in those verses is that Allah mentions Himself first, and mentions Paradise last.
Allah knows the true feeling of home for us is in seeing Him after this long journey on earth. We’ve been worshipping Him all our lives knowing that He is The Source of Beauty, Source of Affection, Compassion, Power, Might, Creation, Light… we’ve witnessed to that in the unseen, but on that day, we see Him.
We Belong to him
We see the One we’ve been striving for all our lives. And this feels like arriving home because this is where we came from and where we belong.
We belong to Allah and to Him we will return’ (Quran 2: 156)
So in a sense, the true home of the soul is in returning to Allah, then joining loved ones from the beginning of time until the end of time who were on the same journey, then, entering Paradise, the eternal residence.
It is like when you are on a journey, the first thing you desire upon returning back is seeing your loved ones – this is ultimately Allah- and then those whom you share His love with, and then finding the physical comforts: your bed, best food, and all pleasures [i.e. Paradise delights].
The Stranger’s Mindset
Because ‘we’re not home yet’, so our souls are here like strangers. The notion of belonging to Allah and not truly ‘belonging’ to a physical location on earth is reflected in a hadith where the Prophet Muhammad said:
Be in this world as though you are a stranger or a passerby/traveler. (Al-Bukhari)
The significant thing about the “stranger/passerby/traveler” mindset is that the person knows he doesn’t “own”. And you can’t overly panic over what you don’t own.
We Are Travelers
One of the struggles to our spirituality is that we think or feel we “own” things; own our loved ones, our wealth, our health…etc. So, when things are taken away, we panic. Like if we lose something or someone, we may get upset, “why did he die now” “why did Allah take him from me”.
This may be why Allah praises those who:
… when calamity befalls them say, we belong to Allah and to Him we will return’, those are the ones upon whom are blessings from their Lord and mercy and it is those who are guided.” (Quran 2: 155-157)
This verse seems to highlight living with the stranger’s/traveler’s mindset and knowing that we do not belong nor do we own things here. Whatever Allah gives us is a trust and a test for an interim period of time.
Like if a stranger is living temporarily at your house, you feed him and give him some provision. But he argues with you over what you’re not giving him, or if you decide to take back things you lent him. He fights and gets upset with you.
The problem is that he feels he ‘owns’ your house and/or is entitled to receive whatever he wants for as long as he wants. He forgot he was just passing by. This is just one stop. Keep moving. Worry about your destination, not the temporary stop.
So, the stranger’s mindset gives people more peace over panic. When calamity befalls a person, they remember, this is just one stop, we’re not staying in this tribulation, difficulty or in this life forever, we’re moving, life is moving, and everyone is going back to Allah: where they originally came from.
The Soul & Spirituality
The soul knows it came from Allah, and it was “sent” here. In Sahih Al-Bukhari, the Prophet says that after the baby is created in the womb of its mother, an angel comes with the soul from Allah and it is breathed into the body.
Because this soul came from Allah, it is only really reassured when it is reminded of Him, because this reminds it of its origin and home. Even the word Allah means The God, the One you know.
Allah says for example in the Quran that in the remembrance of Allah, hearts find rest/tranquility. Same verb/description of the soul when it actually returns to Allah, the tranquil soul.
Most importantly, the soul that is a stranger in this world can’t truly find peace and settlement unless it connects with its home and origin.
Since we said that home is returning to Allah, the Quran is the true reminder of home because it is the Rooh (Spirit) of Allah, thus it allows the soul to connect with its origin. Allah called the soul “spirit” and He also called the Quran the same word “spirit”. The homesick soul can find rest and comfort in the Quran.
As the Prophet Muhammad said:
No people get together in a house of the houses of Allah (i.e. a mosque), reciting the Book of Allah, and learning it together among themselves, but calmness (sakinah) comes down to them, (Divine) mercy covers them (from above), and the angels surround them, and Allah makes a mention of them among those who are with Him.
The word used “sakinah” from “sakan” means feeling home, tranquility, stability.
What is Spirituality?
But a perceived problem worldwide is in the definition of spirituality. What is spirituality?
Essentially, it is connecting the spirit with the Source of this spirit, thus recharging it and reassuring it. However, some resort to forms of spirituality or practices that don’t connect the soul with its Source, the spirit with its origin.
The issue then is how can the soul find rest when it’s still homesick and it’s not connecting? These practices may in fact bring some calmness, but the problem is that they don’t- if you will- plug the phone to its charger, or plug the soul with its Creator. There remains a disconnection.
Like attempting to make a call, just ringing, but hanging up as soon as the one on the other end picks up, calling but refusing to listen or connect… If we want to connect with someone, they need to give us their number. Allah gave us the means to connect and experience true peace and tranquility.
A great physical manifestation of the journey of the soul is when we go to Hajj/Umrah and do tawaf, we start at a point and then go back to it again. We keep going back to where we started 7 times. It is like a reminder. We go back to where we started. And we go back to where we came from.
We belong to Allah and to Him we will return. (Quran 2: 156)