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Inner Peace and Self-Actualization – Part 6

This week we will continue with the theme which we running last week which is all about Ibadah and understanding the true worship of Allah.

The one benefit which we already discussed is that Ibadah is liberating.

Another benefit is Ibadah is required for Inner Peace and Self-Actualization.

‘Ibāda allows people the inner peace and delight of directly engaging with the Magnificent, the Most Near. This devotional engagement gives the spirit proximity to Him and a serenity and fulfilment that nothing else can provide. This proximity is either attained through conscious recollection (dhikr: remembrance of Allah) or the physical actions this mindfulness prompts (obedience to Allah). Therefore, worshipping Allah involves a return to one’s self through spirituality, and provides clarity which makes life meaningful and provides an escape from existential anxiety.

Within every person is a restless craving for spiritual fulfilment. Without it, the soul faces severe thirst followed by tormenting hallucinations of one mirage after another, each giving it momentary hope of an oasis before yet another let-down. This is the tragedy of the human experience whenever it seeks inner peace from the outer world or when it seeks to self-actualize through materialism. The reality is that we are spiritual beings living in physical bodies, not physical beings with a spiritual component, nor beings that are equally physical and spiritual. Allah invites people to worship and obey Him to discover and address our dual nature adequately. Just as our bodies need nutrition to thrive, our spirits have an even greater need for Ibadah in order to survive and flourish. Whenever this Ibadah is absent, a person is not just unfulfilled, they are essentially not truly living. The Prophet ﷺ said:
قَالَ النَّبِيُّ صلى الله عليه وسلم ‏ “‏ مَثَلُ الَّذِي يَذْكُرُ رَبَّهُ وَالَّذِي لاَ يَذْكُرُ مَثَلُ الْحَىِّ وَالْمَيِّتِ
“The difference between the one who remembers his Lord (God) and the one who does not remember his Lord is the difference between the living and the dead.” [Bukhari 6407]

It is no wonder that modern societies are facing frightening increases in suicide rates, with multitudes who consider their lives not worth living. Indeed, Gallup polls have consistently demonstrated that countries with lower religiosity have higher suicide rates and studies have confirmed that “religion plays a protective role against suicide in a majority of settings where suicide research is conducted.” Without authentic worship of Allah, people are plagued by emotional and behavioural ills that suffocate them and those around them. Allah says:
وَمَنْ أَعْرَضَ عَن ذِكْرِى فَإِنَّ لَهُۥ مَعِيشَةً ضَنكًا وَنَحْشُرُهُۥ يَوْمَ ٱلْقِيَـٰمَةِ أَعْمَىٰ
“And whoever turns away from My remembrance indeed, he will have a miserable life” [Ṭaha 20: 124].

Just as oxygen is necessary for the body to breathe, loving Allah and remembering Him is necessary for the spirit to breathe. Those who comprehend this and connect with their Creator in worship ascend a unique spiritual mountain where the air is particularly invigorating, where tragedy does not lead to despair, where social relationships are not paralyzing, and where temptations cannot compromise one’s moral fortitude.

Worship in Islam, therefore, represents the definitive roadmap for actualizing human excellence, beginning internally in the form of spirituality and extending externally in the form of exceptional character. Without worship, humans are destined for psycho-spiritual ills and behavioural dysfunctions. For this reason, and contrary to how most people perceive ritual worship, the Qur’an indicates that among the profound functions of the daily prayers is to deter evil and indecency — just as the ritual fast cultivates integrity, and just as giving charity serves to purify one from greed and unethical earnings.

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