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Spirituality is not about removing material desires

O you who have believed, do not prohibit the good things which Allah has made lawful to you and do not transgress. Indeed, Allah does not like transgressors.
(Quran, 5:87)

I used to be someone who is so attracted to spirituality. I still am. But not as I was. I changed from viewing spirituality as ‘the absence of material needs’ to ‘the presence of God-consciousness’ in one’s self. There’s a huge difference.

If it is true that Islamic spirituality is about removing all material needs/wants then why does God create paradise as the final destination for believers? Also, we pray to God every day that we are guided to the path that is favored by God as in Quran, 1:7.

Actually our purpose is not to fight our own desires, but to surrender our desires in a way approved by God. We are humans, we were created with wants, needs, and desires that we can’t deny. We need to change our perception from seeing desires as something that merely makes us forget God to seeing desires as something that brings us closer to God, if thought in the right way.

Denying our own desires doesn’t make us nearer to God. Rather, it makes us more arrogant to God. We need to realize that we are weak, not strong. When we are weak we ask for help from someone else. It is because we are weak we are slaves of God. It is because we need and want some things, and we ask from God, that’s what makes us slaves of Al-Rahman. Therefore, whatever our desires are, we should turn to our Lord, not simply denying our natural wants and tendencies. Remember, God created you in a way that you will turn back to God.

God does not want you to be God

The only one who is independent is God. God does not want you to be God. God does not want you to deny your own human inclinations and tendencies. In fact, God created a fitrah (natural disposition) in you which if you follow you are in harmony with God.

Accept that you are a slave in need of God, including His bounties

You need God, that means you need His mercy and His generosity too. That is why in basmalah we say ‘in the name of God Most Compassionate Most Merciful.’

To say you don’t need God’s bounties and favours is equivalent to arrogance and denying the mercy of God

We are slaves because we depend on God. It is wrong to say that we are slaves but we don’t need God to sustain us. Nothing is farther from the truth.

God wants you to be human, and stay in your humanness

Human here means the one with the fitrah that God created. God created you in human form, so don’t expect to change into a being that does not need any sustenance.


Finally reflect on this hadith attributed to the Prophet:

How wonderful is the affair of the believer, for his affairs are all good, and this applies to no one but the believer. If something good happens to him, he is grateful for it and that is good for him. If something bad happens to him, he bears it with patience and that is good for him.” (Narrated by Muslim, 2999)

The Prophet didn’t say to avoid good things, and the prophet didn’t say to be grateful to what is bad for us. We are simply to be grateful for all good, and to be patient in adversity. That is the act of surrendering our affairs to God. And God is the Disposer of all affairs.

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