The Soul of Islam
By Mamoon Yusaf
This article first appeared in Watkins Mind Body Spirit, Issue 52
Peace activist & transformational coach Mamoon Yusaf provides a unique view into the universal teachings of Islam for spiritual seekers of all faiths.
When I was a child at school in Manchester, some twenty years ago, people generally understood Islam to be a good, peaceful religion. In fact, its ‘goodness’ was never even brought into question. However, in the current climate, I’m considered ‘controversial’ for insisting that Islam is, was and always will be a religion of peace, love and kindness.
Despite frequent media coverage, the general public remains poorly informed about the essential, universal teachings of Islam. When understood, these teachings automatically eliminate the possibility for interpreting Islam as an ideology of hatred and fear, which has lead to so-called ‘Muslims’ committing the most heinous of crimes. These crimes have further lead to a reactionary rise of anti-Islam populist movements. We have now reached a tipping point where an ignorance of Islam has become dangerous.
Inside the Soul of Islam is an attempt to gift a sound understanding of Islam to all spiritual seekers, whether Muslim or not, so they can see for themselves the hidden depths of its beauty, love and spiritual wisdom. A great scholar once summarised this understanding of Islam in three statements:
“Islam is to be with the Creator, without creation;
to be with creation, without ego;
and to wish for others what you wish for yourself.”
The Core Values of Islam
As a child of the wisdom teachings of Islam and the practical, life-enhancing movement of new-age spirituality, I have always seen that the true religion for humanity is devotion to Love, Truth, Kindness, Gratitude, Presence and, of course, Peace.
These words are not selected randomly and they are capitalized for a reason. They are not just the core values of Islam and the essence of universal spirituality. They are, in their most absolute form, the ‘names’ or ‘attributes’ of what Muslims call, ‘Allah’. Allah can be thought of as the ‘Infinite Intelligence’ behind life, and the Source of all life. However, Allah is not what you think It is. Allah is beyond all thought. Allah is infinite, incomparable and unimaginable.
This ‘Allah’ is what every true Muslim lives and dies in worship of. Muslims believe that to deepen our understanding of, and devote ourselves to, this Eternal Being is the very purpose of our existence. The more we embody these divine attributes, the more we come to understand Allah, the more our lives are blessed and the more we become a blessing for those around us.
In the words of the Prophet, peace and blessings upon him:
“Those who are loving are loved by the Most Loving. Love those on earth, and those in Heaven will love you.”
“Your faith is not complete until you love for humanity what you love for yourself.”
“Wish for your neighbour what you wish for yourself.”
What Is Islam?
Islam is a spiritual reality. It is the deep sense of inner peace that can only come with surrendering to ‘what is’. Muslims know that ‘what is’, is the will of ‘Allah’ (the Infinite Energy and Intelligence behind life).
Like all religions, Islam is comprised of three dimensions: the belief system (mind), the outward practices (body), and the spiritual dimension (soul). My work focuses on the ‘soul’ of Islam because this dimension is universal, immediately relevant to all of us, and brings immense benefit to humanity.
The Path of Peace
The Quran, the holy book of Islam, is believed by Muslims to literally be the revealed words of this Divine Presence. In one sentence, it reveals the purpose of our lives, gives us the key to inner peace and tranquility and shows us the essence of the spiritual path:
“Is it not through the remembrance of Allah that the hearts attain tranquility?”
Five times every day, we stop whatever we are doing, and take a few minutes to bring mind, body, and soul into harmony through complete surrender to Peace itself. We end each prayer, turning our faces to the right, then the left, saying to the angels, and all of creation: “May the Peace, Love and Blessings of Allah be with you”. Then, upon completing the formal prayer, we say: “Allah, You are Peace. All peace comes from You, and returns to You. Our Lord, raise us in peace and enter us into Your eternal abode of peace. You are the Giver of blessings, Most Exalted, to whom belongs all Honour and Glory.
The Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings upon him, said that Allah, the Ever-Present says:
“I am according to the opinion that my servant has of Me.
I am with him whenever he remembers Me.
If he remembers Me in his heart, I remember him in my “heart”; if he remembers Me in a gathering, I remember him in a much greater gathering.
If he draws near to me by a hand’s span, I draw near to him an arm’s length; if he draws near to me an arm’s length, I draw near to him by several feet; and if he comes to me walking, I go to him running.”
In Islam, all such teachings are universal, for everyone, irrespective of their gender, religion, race or background. On another occasion, the Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings upon him, said that Allah, the Most Loving, says:
“A person devotes themselves to Me… until I become the hearing with which they hear, the sight with which they see, the hands with which they work, and the feet with which they walk.”
This points to a profound reality: although your eyes do not see Allah, Allah sees through your eyes. When a person realises this reality, they become a ‘true Muslim’. In the words of a great Muslim sage and one of the earliest teachers of Islam:
“The true Muslim is like the earth. All manner of filth and dirt is cast upon it, but only beauty comes from it.”
How a Book Can Change the World
I wrote Inside the Soul of Islam because I believe it is time for us to transcend the superficial discourse on Islam, designed to cause fear and doubt in the hearts of good people. I believe it is now time for spiritual seekers in the West to be introduced to the Islam that is already playing an integral role in the awakening of humanity.
After all, we won’t gain depth by exploring superficialities. We won’t gain understanding by studying misunderstanding. We won’t gain wisdom by studying ignorance. We won’t see the light by crawling around in the darkness. We won’t find love by looking for hatred. And we will never understand Islam by studying terrorism.
An exploration of the spiritual wisdom of Islam has three direct benefits. First, these teachings enhance the spiritual life of anyone who studies them, irrespective of their background. Second, these teachings refine our characters such that our mere presence becomes a blessing for those around us. Finally, through this grounded understanding we come to discover that not only is Islam not the cause of terrorism: Islam contains the cure for it.
If we want to find this cure and change the world around us, we must start by changing the world inside of us. This methodology for permanent change is succinctly laid out in a verse of the Quran:
“Allah will not change the state of a people, until they change, within themselves.”
MEET THE AUTHOR
MAMOON YUSAF is a peace activist and transformational coach. He is the host of the British Muslim TV shows, ‘Quran Coach’ and ‘Taqwa Transformation’, in which he changes people’s lives through his powerful message of the Inside-Out Paradigm. His online training programmes, seminars and writings are a source of inspiration for thousands of Muslims and spiritual seekers of all faiths across the world.islam, issue 52, soul