FROM MAULANA’S DESK
Maulana Wahiduddin Khan, born in 1925, in Azamgarh, Uttar Pradesh, is an Islamic spiritual scholar who is well-versed in both classical Islamic learning and modern disciplines. The mission of his life has been the establishment of worldwide peace. He has received the Padma Bhushan, the Demiurgus Peace International Award and Sayyidina Imam Al Hassan Peace award for promoting peace in Muslim societies. He has been called ’Islam’s spiritual ambassador to the world’ and is recognised as one of its most influential Muslims1 . His books have been translated into sixteen languages and are part of university curricula in six countries. He is the founder of the Centre for Peace and Spirituality based in New Delhi.
SPIRITUALITY—A UNIVERSAL RELIGION
SPIRITUALITY is a universal religion. It can be divided into two phases—the pre-scientific and the post-scientific eras. In my view, spirituality of pre-scientific era was of a lower level. As with other disciplines, the scientific era facilitated the attainment of spirituality at a higher plane.
Past notions considered the human heart to be the core of spirituality. That is why man worked for thousands of years to attain spirituality by focusing on the heart. Meditation was considered the only way to attain spirituality by the spiritual masters.
Heart-oriented spirituality is meditation based and achieved by suppressing the thinking process of the mind. This spiritual practice of over five thousand years has not produced any creative work in the real sense, unlike the mind-based disciplines which have produced many creative personalities.
The secret of this failure of spirituality was revealed only after the emergence of modern science. Scientific research revealed for the first time that the heart was only an organ for blood circulation. The human mind and not the heart is the centre of intellectual activity. All the spiritual masters continued to seek spirituality in the heart, whereas the truth is that the centre of spirituality exists in the mind.
The truth is that spirituality too is a function of the mind. Spirituality is a phenomenon of intellectual development. By applying the mind, one discovers that there is a non-material reality beyond material existence. This is the beginning of spirituality and with greater realisation of this higher reality one develops one’s spiritual level. Spirituality is a conscious discovery, far removed from any vague type of feelings. Spirituality centered on the heart is based on meditation and leads to ecstasy. When ecstasy peaks, it suppresses the intellectual function of the mind. Feelings take hold and one is no longer guided by one’s conscious mind.
Compared to this, spirituality based on the mind results in a conscious discovery of intellectual realisation, a thrilling experience. There can be no greater thrill at the conscious level. Even at its peak, ecstasy cannot take man beyond the confines of a limited world, whereas intellectual realisation knows no bounds.
Spirituality is a function of the mind.
Spirituality is a phenomenon of intellectual development.
Heart-based spirituality led to an unscientific viewpoint regarding the understanding of God. As spiritualists focus on their heart in their meditations, they feel the boundaries gradually disappearing. They feel they have reached a world where there is an answer to existence. They find this feeling of ecstasy very thrilling. They find they have reached a world where there is unity of existence; where the difference between the Creator and the created has disappeared.
This experience does not lead to intellectual discovery, but is one of a vague temporary feeling. Still on the basis of this vague feeling it came to be believed that there was a unity of existence at the higher level. This resulted in the theological belief of ‘non-dualism’—the belief that God and man are the same existence, the claim that man is not separate from God, rather he is a part of God.
This concept has been described by a Sufi mystic in these words: ana al haq, that is, “I am the Truth.” Without doubt this concept is irrational for the simple reason that the experience shows that man has none of the divine qualities. The truth is that man is the created, neither is he the creator nor a part of the Creator.
Spirituality is the highest intellectual achievement for a human
being and can be attained only by developing the conscious mind.
According to my experience, the only rational concept of God is monotheism. It is based on the concept of dualism, that man and God are separate and with distinct identities. God is the Creator, man is the created.
There are two main sources of this spirituality. One is perusal in nature, the other is close affinity with God as a result of which one may receive inspirations from God.
This is the real basis of spirituality. Undoubtedly, spirituality is the highest intellectual achievement for a human being and can be attained only by developing the conscious mind. o
Maulana Wahiduddin Khan
When one is silent, one’s focus is on the self rather than extraneous matters.
One eschews superficiality and engages with deeper realities.