The essential quest for meaning
MEN are born, live, and die and are always on a quest for meaning. This quest for meaning, which is as essential as the need for food and shelter, in reality is the quest for the Ultimate, for the Absolute, and it is as permanent a need of man as his need for nourishment.
Religion provides precisely this meaning and, in a sense, is the shelter in the storm of multiplicity and identity of cosmic manifestation and the uncertainties of temporal and terrestrial existence. The message of Islam is as enduring as the need of man for this spiritual “shelter” and for meaning in his human existence.
Amongst the particular maladies of the modern world, over-secularisation is one of them.
It is a process which is nothing else than depleting things of their spiritual significance. Against this malady of over-secularisation, Islam presents a view of life which is completely sacred.
In Islam there is no distinction between the sacred and the profane or temporal realm. Through the Divine Law or Shariah, which encompasses all human life, every human activity is given a transcendent dimension; it is made sacred and thereby meaningful.
At the heart of the Shariah lie the daily Muslim rites or salah. Now, one of the remarkable characteristics of this ritual activity, which corresponds to a rite such as the mass, is that it can be performed anywhere and by any Muslim.
This sacerdotal function, which in certain religions is relegated to a particular class of men, is shared in Islam among all members of the community, giving the possibility to members of the Islamic faith to remain a part of the community of believers, the Ummah, without needing to be geographically attached to it.
Thus, in an age such as the present, when men travel far and often, and where circumstances may render certain religious practices difficult, Islam posses the relative advantage of being practiced anywhere.
The peace that men seek is only possible if the total needs of man, not only in his capacity as a thinking animal but also as a being of immortality, are concerned.
To be concerned only with the physical needs of men is to reduce men to slavery and to produce problems even on the physical plane that are impossible of solution.
It is not religion but modern medicine that created the problem of over-population. But now religion is asked to solve this problem by accepting to forgo the sacred meaning of human life itself, if not totally, at least in part.
Likewise of vital concern today is peace between religions. In this domain also Islam has a particular message for modern man.
Islam considers the acceptance of anterior Prophets as a necessary article of faith and asserts quite rigorously the universality of revelation. Islam, the last of the revealed religions of present humanity, here joins hands with Hinduism, the first and most primordial of existing religions, in envisaging religion in its universal manifestation throughout the cycles of human history.
Islam posses all the means necessary for spiritual realization in the highest sense; Sufism is the chosen vehicle of these means.
Now, because Sufism is the esoteric and inner dimension of Islam, it cannot be practiced apart from Islam; only Islam can lead those who have the necessary aptitude to the inner court of joy and peace that is Sufism and which is the forestate of the “garden of paradise”.
Here again, Sufism can be practiced anywhere and in every walk of life.
Were there ever to be a world for which religion in general and Islam in particular had no meaning at all, that world would itself cease to possess any meaning: it would become sheer illusion.
To God do we belong; to God do we return.
O Allah shower Thy choicest blessings on Thy beloved Prophet Muhammed.