With excitement comes the announcement of our new series, "Road map to self-purification". This new series will be forty episodes long. A summary of Islamic spirituality that will be heavily sourced from Imam Ghazali's magnum opus, the Ihya Ulumuddin (Revival of Religious Sciences). While the voluminous book primarily focuses on helping the Muslim understand the ideal approach to the worship of God in relation to their existence, it is well celebrated by both Muslims and non-muslims, scholars and laypeople because of it's meticulous, easy-to-follow approach that will help human being discover their link and reverence to Almighty God while maintaining balance in the outward and inward affairs. It is an instructive, practical step that will help us achieve elevation in the real sense of it.
Imam Al Ghazali, a leading brilliant and successful scholar of his time, mastered most sciences and became famous for it. At some point in his life, he experienced spiritual crises and resigned from public fora to seek a solution. He discovered he had paid much attention to the mechanical or ephemeral aspect of knowledge and less attention to the spiritual aspect, which gives life and meaning to any knowledge. He later understood it as a prevalent disease among the elite and the masses, learned and illiterate. Only very few paid attention to the spiritual nature and composition of human beings, which is the object of heavenly revelations. So it is a crisis of the blind leading blind. The book's goal is to help revive the purpose of our existence and obeisance as we journey to our Lord in the transient world. Accepting and understanding the relationship between the spiritual and physical aspects of creation and, most especially as it relates to human composition.
The situation has not changed as the world has continually been influenced by desires and lusts, driven and promoted by a love of leadership from the quarters of world powers. Most influential leaders and teachers are paying less attention to man's inward reality, focusing more on how to subjugate their subjects by persuading them to follow their orders and make them surrender to authority in the quest for greater power and fame. Man is a complex being; he is endowed with intellect and other traits, which gives him an edge over all other creations. He is capable of oscillating between the heights and ebbs of spirituality and various shades in between. Unfortunately, these traits can also make them parallel or lowly of all creation. For human beings to achieve their full potentials, they must master themselves, understand the composition of their existence and use them to their advantage by way of balance because his spiritual and mechanical nature makes him vulnerable and dangerous.
A man can pose to the world as a charity giver, but his intention (consciously or unconsciously) is to trick and avert profit for himself. Human beings have the power to pretend and mimic to manipulate or misrepresent what he does not possess of virtue to achieve some benefit in the form of praise or monetary profit. And on the other side, we have very beautiful people with those original traits helping other people discover themselves and cultivating the earth with their excellent virtue. How human being is portrayed or wishes to be portrayed in terms of decision making depend on many factors, and the arch factor is the richness of his knowledge.
Like a two-edged sword, knowledge can be a distracting factor in making the right decisions. This is more prevalent in the modern world where people are continually being obsessed with information because of its abundance, which comes unguarded from many forms of campaign and ads. The mind is always busy, and the heart is loaded, making it difficult for the intellect to enforce a right decision. Many people are mechanically alive but spiritually dead; some are moving about stressed and depressed; others carry the baggage of trauma and anger wherever they go, and they never get to offload it before they were called to return.
The primordial nature of the mechanical side of humans (which I like to refer to as the robotic nature) is to satisfy worldly needs as propagated in Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs, which also helps us understand the human priority. The primordial nature of the human being's spiritual side is concerned with how those needs should be fulfilled in connection with the higher goal. Sound spiritual motivations help to nurture the intellect and accentuate the soul to a spiritual realm. It makes the intellect healthy and permeates the entire being, helping to put all traits to appropriate use.
Understanding man's spiritual composition and its connection to God seeks to seal the hole of emptiness and tame the ocean of greed that exists in humans. It reminds us of our primordial nature and the recognition of the fact that satisfaction can only be reached once we know its source.
Paying less attention to the spiritual development of the soul leads to corruption and destruction of the heart where decisions emanate. In an authentic narration, The Messenger of Allah, peace, and blessings be upon him, said:
Verily, in the body is a piece of flesh which, if sound, the entire body is sound, and if corrupt, the entire body is corrupt. Truly, it is the heart.
We have many case studies of celebrities recovering from self-destruction through the teachings of spirituality propagated by some form of religiosity and adherence to a faith. It helped them offload the garbage in their heart, mind, and souls. Although some forms of psychological training and coaching have also proven to be helpful however if not connected to spirituality, people may never completely healed and will be placed on pills for the rest of their life to stay on track, and that is obviously not true healing. This form of healing has become so popular these days as the scholars of the religion who are supposedly offering teachings on spiritual purification are also in need of purification. It is something they have neglected and needs to be rediscovered to make meaningful impact otherwise, they lose relevance.
There are other semi-formal knowledge that has evolved from a mixture of psychology and philosophy, helping people identify their potentials. It has really become so popular and nowadays abused because of its demand and non-professionals taking the role. It has taken a different coloration highly influenced and hinged on monetary gain. Through some form of neuro-linguistic training, coaches can manipulate people to subscribe to take their courses, whether useful to them or not. The competition among coaches to gain people's attention is making it lose its relevance and purpose in addition to the incompetence of many of them. Meme messages mocking those who are carelessly obeying motivational speakers and coaches are being circulated on the social media platform to warn people to be careful of them. What everyone needs as a prerequisite is to seek a sound or purified heart and to possess the right inclination for any act.
We hope that by summarizing the lessons from Ihya, it will help both those leading and following to have a sense of purity and commit to it throughout their life because the journey to purity is a life journey to be watched over till the last breath. May we succeed in the journey.
Books of Ihya is structured into four divisions;
First Quarter: Acts of worship (Rub? al-?ibadat)
Book 1: Book of knowledge
Book 2: Foundations of Belief.
Book 3: Mysteries of Purity.
Book 4: Mysteries of Worship.
Book 5: Mysteries of Zakat (Charity).
Book 6: Mysteries of Fasting.
Book 7: Mysteries of Pilgrimage.
Book 8: Etiquette of Qur?anic Recitation.
Book 9: On Invocations and Supplications.
Book 10: On the Arrangements of Litanies and Divisions of the Night Vigil.
Second Quarter: Norms of Daily Life (Rub? al-?adat)
Book 11: On the Manners Related to Eating.
Book 12: On the Etiquette of Marriage
Book 13: On the Etiquette of Acquisition and Earning a Livelihood.
Book 14: The Lawful and Prohibited
Book 15: On the Duties of Brotherhood.
Book 16: On the Etiquette of Seclusion.
Book 17: On the Etiquette of Travel
Book 18: On Music and Singing.
Book 19: On Enjoining Good and Forbidding Evil.
Book 20: Etiquette of Living and the Prophetic Mannerism
Third Quarter: The Ways to Perdition (Rub? al-muhlikat)
Book 21: The Marvels of the Heart.
Book 22: On Disciplining the Soul.
Book 23: On Breaking the Two Desires.
Book 24: Defects of the Tongue
Book 25: Condemnation of Rancor and Envy
Book 26: Condemnation of the World
Book 27: Condemnation of Miserliness and Condemnation of the Love of wealth.
Book 28: Condemnation of Status and Ostentation.
Book 29: Condemnation of Pride and Conceit.
Book 30: Condemnation of Self-Delusion.
Fourth Quarter: The Ways to Salvation (Rub? al-munjiyat)
Book 31: On Repentance.
Book 32: On Patience and Thankfulness.
Book 33: On Fear and Hope.
Book 34: On Poverty and Abstinence.
Book 35: Faith in Divine Unity and Trust in Divine Providence.
Book 36: On Love, Longing, Intimacy, and Contentment.
Book 37: On Intention, Sincerity, and Truth.
Book 38: On Holding Vigil and Self-Examination.
Book 39: On Meditation.
Book 40: On the Remembrance of Death and the Afterlife.