Spiritual Activism Riad Saloojee

All good comes from remembrance (dhikr) of the Divine and all harm comes from heedlessness (ghaflah).

Heedlessness or negligence in remembering the Divine (ghaflah) is the polar opposite of Divine remembrance (dhikr).  Heedlessness (ghaflah) is anytime that I am not remembering the Divine. It is the root of all harm because when I am in heedlessness (ghaflah), I am distancing myself from the source of infinite good and benefit.

The origin of every disobedience to the Divine, every sin, and every evil inner trait (khuluq) is heedlessness (ghaflah).  For if I truly remembered the Divine with my heart (qalb), how could I transgress against His wishes; if I truly remembered the Divine, how could I adorn my inner reality with those traits that He does not love?

The grave consequences of heedlessness (ghaflah) should never be discounted in any way. It is for this reason that Allah commands us to be in abundant, constant Divine remembrance (dhikr).  The commandment to engage in Divine remembrance (dhikr) is always coupled with the adjective, ‘plentiful’ or ‘abundant.’  Furthermore Divine remembrance (dhikr) is always highly recommended, without any restriction of time, place or occasion.

Life is a struggle against heedlessness (ghaflah).  And the avenues of Divine remembrance (dhikr) are diverse and themselves plentiful and abundant: reciting the Qur’an, prayer (salah), sending peace upon the Messenger (Allah’s choicest peace and salutations be upon him) (salawat), supplication (du‘a), reflection, Divine mindfulness (muraqabah), charity (sadaqah), forgiveness and other virtues, as well as the many untold actions of the senses that seek the pleasure of the Divine.

Heedlessness (ghaflah) affects the spiritual heart (qalb) and its functions. As we discussed earlier, the heart (qalb) is created to perceive truths, experience them and seek them. It was created to know, experience and resolve to seek the Divine. Anytime that I am in heedlessness (ghaflah), I will be unable to perceive truth clearly, experience it, and act to follow it. And my activism will be affected accordingly.

At another level, which we have also discussed, the distance from the Divine will only empower my lower self (nafs), which will then lead my words and actions through its carnal appetites (shahawat) and ideological inclinations (ahwa’).  I will not lead my nafs but be led by it. And my activism will again be affected accordingly.

The seeds that generate our heedlessness (ghaflah) are the sundry attachments of our lower selves (nufus) that are enabled by certain environments and company.  Without doubt, I will take on the ethical or unethical characteristics of my environment and friends. I am not spiritually immune to the influences around me. Little by little, my inner moral reality will begin to conform to my outer moral stimuli.

Why else does the Divine exhort us in the Qur’an to “seek the company of the truthful?” (Qur’an 9:119).  The verse indicates that the cultivation of outer and inner sincerity is attained through being with those that have acquired these spiritual states.

And why does the Divine further exhort us to not follow “one whose heart is heedless of Our remembrance” for their “affairs will be excessive.” (Qur’an: 18:28).

If we do not guard ourselves against heedlessness (ghaflah) in our activism and do not pay attention to the company and environments that we subject ourselves to, we will empower the inclinations of our lower self (nafs) and, after a period of time, the moral constants that we so firmly recognized will become grey and greyer until they are ultimately whitewashed unrecognizably.  A constitution corrupted.

“You who have attained faith, remember Allah abundantly.”

 


There is no inherent disconnect or contradiction between Islamic Spirituality and social or political activism.  In fact, Islamic spirituality is not only relevant but essential to all forms of activism.  This podcast with Shaykh Riad Saloojee will present a paradigm for a spiritually-inspired activism where activism achieves what it was always meant to be: a vehicle for nearness to the Divine through genuine individual and social ethical change.  

This series will comprise of seven discussions that will explore 1. The foundations of Islamic spirituality; 2. The spiritual ethos that is the basis of all activism; 3. The ailments of activism unhinged from spirituality; 4. The laws that govern activism; 5. The importance of “inner,” spiritual activism for beneficial “outer” activism; 6. Vignettes from Prophetic activism; and 7. An application of how spirituality must inform true environmental activism.

 

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"Whoever guides someone to goodness will have a similar reward"-- The Prophet (Peace and Blessings Be Upon Him)