In America, the matters of religion profoundly influence the degree of spirituality of the Americans. People are allowed self-determination in matters of spirituality. Spirituality is a conviction that gives people an understanding of what they value and how people coexist (Sheldrake 1).
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Islamic spirituality teaches about the union of Muslims with Allah. According to the sayings of Imam Ali, Muslims’ “…affairs are attached to the destiny decreed by Allah…their best plans lead them to destruction” (Balagha 15). This shows how Islamic faith teaches about total union and submission to their God.
In his Poetry, Rumi says, “Union with God is sweeter than body comforts” (Coleman Light Breeze Stanza 3) to portray the value that the Muslims attach by submitting to their God. Islamic spirituality also teaches about commitment and devotion towards spirituality.
The sayings of Imam Ali show that the Islamic faith devotion is paramount to other things. In his poetry, Rumi says, “You have a spirit body; don’t dread leaving the physical one” (Coleman Light Breeze Stanza 5). This further affirms that Muslims should be courageous to exercise commitment and devotion to their faith.
Islamic faith also teaches about the importance of being prepared for life after death. According to Ali, “Blessed is the man who always keep life after death in his view” (Balagha 44). This depicts how life after death is critical to the Muslim faithful. Every Muslim should evade sins that may separate him/her from attaining it.
In his poetry, he reveals how the Islamic faith discourages secularism besides teaching on the importance of embracing spirituality for the sake of life after death. Islamic spirituality denounces greed indicating how greed is discouraged and that those who become greedy, for example, for power, money, and wealth are to face disgrace consequently. Greed is also discouraged by the poetry of Jalal al-Din Rumi.
He says, “If you could leave your selfishness, you would see how you’ve been torturing yourself” (Coleman ‘Moving Water’ Stanza 7). This depicts torture as the consequence of greed with comfort being the result of evading selfishness. They also teach about seeking knowledge and wisdom.
According to Imam Ali, seeking knowledge is an indication of how Islamic spirituality values wisdom (Balagha 80) even from those who do not profess the Islamic faith. Rumi also teaches on the importance of seeking wisdom. His words, “Do not insist on going where you think you want to go. Ask the way to the spring” (Coleman ‘Moving Water’ Stanza 10) show that the Islamic spirituality values wisdom.
Imam Ali and Rumi teachings about faith
Imam Ali and Rumi teach that faith requires perseverance. According to Ali, “Those who have come alive out of a blood –bath live longer and have more children” (Balagha 84). This indicates the value of perseverance during danger and difficulties with a reward for those who persevere.
They are blessed with abundant life and even property. They also teach that faith requires conviction. In his poetry, Rumi says, “Where are those qualities of bravery and sharp compassion in this group?” (Coleman Not Here Stanza 2). Therefore, for one to have complete faith, he/she requires courage. In his sayings, Ali teaches that faith requires one to be passionate and self-assured of what he/she believes in (Balagha 30).
Imam Ali and Rumi teach that faith cannot thrive in hypocrisy. In his poetry, Rumi says, “Lukewarm won’t do…Not here” (Coleman ‘Not Here’ Stanza 8). This teaches that one cannot enjoy full faith if he/she is a hypocrite. Ali also shows hypocrisy as an impediment to one’s faith. Whoever professes a certain faith should therefore do so without hypocrisy since it can be an impediment to commitment. They also depict faith as a self-will.
No one should be forced to profess a certain faith. In his sayings, Ali says, “I wonder at a man who loses hope of salvation when the door of repentance is open for him” (Balagha 87), which shows how human beings should have the free will to profess whatever faith they believe pertinent.
Rumi also teaches on the need for self-will in faith to show how one needs to be the master of his/her faith. People should make the choice of belonging and even joining any faith. This enables them to be committed to it.
Qualities of People who are close to God
People who are close to God are devoted to him. According to Ali, “Those who give up religion to better their lot in life seldom succeed” (Balagha 105). This shows how devotion matters in one’s spirituality especially those who are close to God who is supreme to any other thing.
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In his poetry, Rumi further affirms that those who are close to God are courageous to exercise commitment and devotion to their faith. They are ready to be persecuted and even to lose their lives for the sake of their faith and union with God. People who are committed to God have a deep conviction about Him.
According to Ali, “When Imam Ali was asked about Faith in Religion, he replied that the structure of faith is supported by four pillars endurance, conviction, justice and jihad” (Balagha 30). This tells the reader that those who are close to God believe in Him. Besides, they are deeply convicted that He exists and that what He says about them is true or will eventually happen.
In his poems, Rumi says, “Because of willfulness people sit in jail, the trapped bird’s wings are tied” (Coleman Moving water Stanza 4). This indicates that, with a deep conviction about God and his abilities, those who are close to Him can have faith to confront any difficulty that they pass through following their faith in Him.
People who are close to God are united. They value their peaceful coexistence with others. Compassion and love form the foundation of their faith and spiritualism (Kalchuri 22987). For example, according to Rumi, “water flows through, infinity everywhere, yet contained under a single tent” (Coleman Moving Water Stanza 12).
The words indicate that those who are close to God value the diversity of humankind just like water flows to infinite places. Besides, they value the union of human beings, as contained in a single tent. Therefore, those who are close to God have the characteristic of valuing unity.
Ali says, “Unfortunate is he who cannot gain a few sincere friends during his life and more unfortunate is the one who has gained them and then lost them (through his deeds)” (Balagha 11). This tells the reader that unity of people will always be evident from those who are close to God: those who value others besides being afraid to make enemies.
Benefits to Non-Muslims from the teaching of Imam Ali and Poems of Rumi
Non-Muslims can also benefit from the teachings of Imam Ali and the poems of Rumi. Both teach on the importance of unity amongst people. This virtuous characteristic can be learnt and be applied even by the non-Muslims. Everyone would want to be virtuous even to level of associating with people who like unity. Unity results to peace in the world. Hence, all nations can benefit from this teaching.
The non-Muslims can also learn to persevere. Perseverance is vital in attaining one’s goals or even in perfecting his/her faith. Both Imam Ali and Rumi teach on the importance of perseverance in what people do or encounter because there is always a better reward for those who endure to the end.
According to Ali, “Those who have come alive out of a blood –bath live longer and have more children” (Balagha 84), which encourages people to press on even during difficult times. This applies not only to Muslims but also to all people regardless of their religious backgrounds. Non-Muslims can also learn to accord others self-determination in matters of faith.
This will enable them earn spiritual pleasures and inspiration for their lives (Waaijman 1). They can learn that no one should be forced to profess a certain faith, or even be discriminated based on his/her faith. For example, in his sayings Ali says, “I wonder at a man who loses hope of salvation when the door of repentance is open for him” (Balagha 87).
This shows that human beings should have the free will to profess whatever faith they believe is important. In his poetry, Rumi also teaches on the need for self-will in faith. He says, “Reach for the rope of God” (Coleman Moving Water Stanza 3).
This is an inspiring message to the non-Muslims to let other people join the faith of the religion they so wish without any coercion. They should let them reach for the rope rather than giving them the rope. The message addresses the issue of freedom of worship, which is the cry of all people regardless of their religion.
Balagha, Nahjul. Nahjul Balagha Quotes Imam Ali, 2009. Web. http://balaghah.net/old/nahj-htm/eng/index.htm
Coleman, Barks. Rumi Poetry, 2009. Web. http://peacefulrivers.homestead.com/rumipoetry1.html
Kalchuri, Bhau. Meher Prabhu: Lord Meher, the Biography of the Avatar of the Age Meher Baba. London: Routledge, 1986. Print.
Sheldrake, Philip. A Brief History of Spirituality. London: Wiley-Blackwell, 2007. Print.
Waaijman, Kees. Spirituality: forms, Foundations, methods. Leuven: Peters Publishers, 2002. Print.