Way of Spiritual Progress

34 WAY OF SPIRITUAL PROGRESS (Ahmad Oliyiwola Jegede) In the study of this highly intellectual and thought provoking subject one has to learn carefully the stages of man’s development as explained in the Holy Quran. Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, the Promised Messiah and Al Mahdi, and the Holy Founder of the Ahmadiyya Community in Islam, has described the physical, moral and spiritual conditions of man in his inspiring book The Philosophy of the Teachings of Islam. Nafse Ammarah. These words mean that the human mind is ready to incite man to do evil as stated in the Holy Quran: And I do not hold my own self to be free from weakness surely the soulis prone to rejoin evil save that whereon my Lord has mercy. (12:54) In connotation this is man’s natural state in as much as he is not guided by reason and understanding but just follows his natural inclinations in drinking, sleeping, quarrelling etc. almost like an animal. Elsewhere we read in the Holy Quran: Those who disbelieve enjoy themselves and eat even as the cattle. (47:13) It is when man is in this animalistic stage that he tends to be a disbeliever. However, when man is guided by reason, instinct, unders- tanding and has some control over himself, he is able to regulate his behaviour. This state ceases to be his natural condition. He has now reached the next moral state of Nafse Lawwama. Nafse Lawwama Nafse Lawwama means the self-accusing and is referred to in the following verse: Nay I swear by the self-accusing soul. (75:3) WAY OF SPiriTUAL PROGRESS 35 At this stage man reproves himself for his vices and sins yet is not fully practising virtue. He still stumbles despite his aspirations and efforts to avoid sin and misdemeanour; but at the same time he feels remorse for his misconduct. In this moral stage he aspires to attain higher moral qualities. Nafse Mutinainnah. Nafse Mutmainnah means the soul being in a state of rest. We read in the Holy Quran: Return to thy Lord, thou well pleased with Him and He well pleased with thee. So enter thou among My chosen servants and enter thou My garden. (89:21 31) Similar assurance is found elsewhere: These are they in whose hearts Allah has inscribed true faith and whom He has strengthened with inspiration from Himself. And He will admit them into gardens through which streams flow. Therein will they abide; Allah is well pleased with them and they are well-pleased with Him. (58:23) This is the apex of human development and in this spiritual state man is completely liberated from all moral weaknesses and he is wholly engulfed in relationship with Allah without Whose support he cannot live. A full understanding of this stage is gained from the following passage in the Holy Quran: And by the soul and its perfection, And He (Allah) revealed to it the ways of evil and the ways of righteousness. He, indeed, prospers who purifies it, and he is ruined who corrupts its. (91:8-11) Deep reflection upon these verses enables one to infer without reser- vation or hesitation that God has implanted in man’s nature a sense or realization of what is good or bad and that he can achieve spiritual perfection by eschewing what is bad and wrong and adopting what is right and good. Many impediments strew the path of the man striving to develop a moral and spiritual life. The Holy Quran sheds light on this fact: And, We will try you with something of fear and hunger, and loss of 3 6 REVIEW OF RELIGIONS wealth and lives and fruits, but give glad tidings to those who patiently persevere, who when a misfortune overtakes them say surely to Allah we belong and to Him shall we return. It is these upon whom descend blessings from their Lord and also mercy and it is these who are rightly guided. (2:156 158) In these verses God explains unequivocally that He is the Master and Controller of everything including our own selves. He tests the faith of believers with hardships for which they should have no complaint. They should not allow misfortunes to depress them but rather help spur them forward on the path of God. Again the Holy Quran states: Never did We send a Messenger or a Prophet before thee, but when he sought to attain his object, Satan put obstacles in the way of what he sought after. But Allah removes the obstacles that are placed by Satan. Then Allah firmly establishes His Signs. And Allah is All Knowing, Wise. (22:53) This verse specifically refers to the Holy Prophet Muhammad, peace be on him, and the prophets who came before him. It should be un- derstood that the followers of a prophet would also suffer because they are also trying to maintain a close relationship with God. The verse means that satanic persons seek to retard the progress of a God-fearing person with all kinds of obstructions. They want to halt their spiritual endeavour but fail to understand that they are unable to frustrate God’s Divine plans as He removes all impediments and causes Truth to prevail. I will now mention some of the qualities of God-fearing people seeking the pleasure and nearness of God. Trust In God. The greatest virtue which enables a man to know God is to possess a firm belief and trust in Him. The Holy Quran has emphasised this cardinal principle: And why should not we put our trust in Allah when He has showed us our appropriate ways? And we will, surely, bear with patience all the harm you do us. So in Allah let those who trust put their £rust.(14:13) Sincerity Sincerity in the worship of God is essential. The Holy Quran states: Surely it is We Who have revealed the Book to thee comprising the WAY OF SPITITtJAL PROGRESS 37 whole truth, so worship Allah, being sincere to Him in obedience. Re- member, it is to Allah alone that sincere obedience is due. (39:3,4) We must not falter in extending sincerity to our fellow beings. Humility. The Holy Quran teaches that humility is a mark of a true servant of God and a necessity for acquiring nearness to God: And the true servants of the Gracious God are those walking on the earth humbly and when the ignorant address them, they avoid them gracefully by saying peace! (25:64) Those who dispute concerning the signs of Allah without any authority having come to them from Allah. Grievously hateful is this in the sight of Allah and in the sight of those who believe. Thus does Allah set a seal upon the heart of every arrogant, haughty person. (40:36) And turn not thy cheek away from men in scorn nor walk in the earth haughtily, surely Allah loves not any arrogant boaster. (31:19) Gratitude. This is another quality which a person must possess to win the favour of God. This virtue is taught in the opening chapter of the Holy Quran: All praise belongs to Allali alone. Lord of all the worlds. (1:2)’ In one of many other verses we read: And of His mercy, He has made for you the night and the day, that you may rest therein and that you may seek of His bounty, and that you may be grateful. (28:74) Promises And those who fulfil their promise when they have made one. (2:178) Spirit of Sacrifice. Spending in the cause of Allah is also a moral quality which draws a man nearer to Him. The Holy Quran says: You cannot attain to righteousness unless you spend out of that which you love; and whatever you spend, Allah surely knows it well. (3:93) 38 REVIEW OF RELIGIONS Suppression of anger. A devout servant of God should be able to suppress his anger under provocation. On this matter the Holy Quran states: Those who spend in prosperity and adversity and those who suppress anger and pardon men, and Allah loves those who do good. (3: 135) Frugality Those who do not make proper use of Divine gifts are guilty of in- gratitude, and those who squander away their wealth shirk their responsibilities by its improper use. God says in the Holy Quran: And give to the kinsman his due, and to the poor and the wayfarer, and squander not thy wealth extravagantly. Verily the squanderers are brothers of satan and Satan is ungrateful to his Lord. (17:27,28) Good works The doing of good is the practice of a servant of God. In this connection the Holy Quran states: You are the best people, raised for the good of mankind; you enjoin good and forbid evil and believe in Allah.(3:lll) Justice Under no circumstances should justice be flouted. The Holy Quran directs: And when you speak, observe justice, even if the person concerned be a relative, and fulfil the covenant of Allah. (6:153) If we are able to maintain these qualities as well as many others which I have not mentioned then certainly we would be competent and qualified to invite people to the way of God. The Holy Quran affirms: And who is better in speech than he who invites men to Allah and does righteous deeds and says, I am surely, of those who submit. May Allah bless us with His nearness. Amen.