Spirituality is the sense of connectedness, closeness and relationship with Allah; it’s about being a worshipper and an obedient servant of the Lord. It defines the purpose and meaning of life as a God-given gift, a probationary period allotted for doing good. So, the faithful happily declares, “I trust my Lord and master, I have hope in his kindness and generosity, so in tough times I can confidently say ‘I belong to God and I am returning to him.’ This represents the truth but is a source of consolation and reassurance.”
What is spiritual wellbeing?
Allah provides us with a living example, the beloved Messenger Muhammad (peace be upon him). His prayers, night vigils, fasting, seclusion, supplications and yearnings for the Divine are exemplary approaches to living a good life. All aspects of his life are a reminder of a simple, sane and safe lifestyle. They show us a living, walking and talking role model of a spiritually intelligent person. We catch glimpses of his commitment to God, a heart devoted to God that exudes inner light and beauty as it is immersed in the Divine love. The prophetic spiritual intelligence was demonstrated through his relationships with his companions, being selfless with them, giving time to them, affirming their faith and works, trusting them and above all caring for them. No wonder The Majestic Quran declares that “there is a beautiful role model in the Messenger of God for those of you who have set their hopes on God and the Hereafter and always remember God abundantly” (Al-Ahzab: 21). The Quran points to a striking feature of the community as conscious of the Hereafter, ‘direction-conscious’ and ‘path-orientated’ people.
Spiritual intelligence is expressed firstly through practising the moral virtues of kindness, humility, gentleness, generosity and forgiveness and secondly through keeping away oneself from vices such as anger, greed, jealousy and arrogance. Spiritual intelligence is an antidote, a cure for these sicknesses. His devotions were fasting, the night vigil, controlling his speech, limiting interaction with people, Divine remembrance, deep reflection, eating little. Each one of these practices is a remedy, they represent his wonderful life. A sublime and careful way of living, a reflective life.
The Prophet’s simple life
The blessed Messenger (peace be upon him) practised scrupulous self-discipline and abstained from many ordinary pleasures for the purpose of pleasing his Lord and enhancing his spirituality. He adopted a lifestyle of poverty; he chose poverty since there was plenty of wealth available to him from various sources. He did not hoard money nor liked a rich lifestyle, instead, he led a simple life, sleeping on straw mats that left noticeable marks on his body and clothes. This would upset his companions and once someone offered him a soft mat to sleep on. His response was ‘What have I to do with this world?’ My place in this world is like that of a traveller who is walking through the desert on a hot day, he takes a nap under a tree and then leaves it behind him’ (Abu Ya‘la). This was the Prophet’s (peace be upon him) attitude to worldly comforts. He neither forbade them to his companions nor encouraged or promoted a life of luxury.
“He was offered gold that would fill the valley of Makkah, he replied, ‘Lord! I would prefer to be hungry one day and eat the next day. The day I eat, I will praise You and give thanks to You; when I remain hungry, I will seek Your help and call upon You’ (Tirmidhi). His wife A’isha (may Allah be pleased with her) said, ‘The Messenger of God never had a meal large enough to last until supper, nor a supper large enough to last until the next meal; and he never had more than one shirt, cloak, loincloth or pair of sandals, He would rarely eat twice a day.’ Such was his sense of frugality and holding back from worldly things, yet remained aloof and content with a small amount. He (peace be upon him) once prayed ‘Allah, make the provision of Muhammad’s family such that it meets their bare needs’ (Muslim).
One day the Prophet’s daughter Fatimah (May Allah be pleased with her) brought him a freshly baked loaf of bread. It smelt delicious and she proudly said to him, ‘Father, I baked this for you and want to share it with you.’ He replied, ‘I will have it since I haven’t eaten for three days’ (Bayhaqi). The Prophet (peace be upon him) ate little because he knew the dangers of filling the stomach, “When you are full” he would say, ‘the Devil runs within your veins so make his path difficult by remaining hungry’. He also said, ‘The son of Adam fills no vessel worse than his stomach’. Many spiritual masters regard gluttony and overeating as risky habits that ruin physical health and leave a spiritual void. A lack of food means less energy and, therefore, a person will drink less, sleep little and speak less. In a way, this provides a necessary distance from people, which enables one to devote more time to spiritual matters.
Mental wellbeing is a result of strong moral character, avoiding sinful actions, following the simple and frugal lifestyle of Allah’s beloved Messenger Muhammad (peace be upon him). This is about praying, studying, being good to others and longing to attract love, the love of Allah.