Bismillah Hir Rahman Ir Raheem
Peace and blessings be upon you all
Religion and spirituality; seeming identical terms revolving around belief systems, but are they identical? Both are dedicated to a Supreme God and a higher purpose. Their every action revolves around worshipping Allah and being good to others. However, if you look closely, you can separate the sugar and salt from the water. Let us filter out these traits.
What does it mean to be religious? Being a religious person gives up the clue that one is a follower of an organized religion, such as Islam, Christianity, Hinduism, etc. Each organized religion has a divine scripture that one reads as a guide from their Creator and incorporates its teachings into one’s daily life. Furthermore because religion is organized, it involves a huge number of followers carrying out similar practices, co-existing as a society and preaching their beliefs inside and outside of their faiths.
A religious person follows the teachings of his Creator because he considers himself subservient to Him. Allah’s laws are eternal hence it is his duty to act upon these laws, irrespective of whether he agrees with them, is comfortable with them or feels like implementing them or not. He fears Allah because he know death is outside of his control and he has to answer to Allah on the Day of Judgement for his every deed, hence his focus is not incurring the displeasure or disappointment of Allah.
On the other hand, there isn’t an organized group of spiritual followers as compared to that of religion. This is because spirituality is a personal journey of curious pondering and self-development. A spiritual person doesn’t solely depend upon any scripture to increase his faith, nor does he habitually follow practices specific to a faith. A spiritual person achieves peace and contentment from his personally designed routine which can include yoga, meditating, spending time alone contemplating why things are the way they are, etc.
A spiritual person believes in a Creator but not because he is ordered to but because he wants to. By pondering over the many creations Allah has made, how meticulously with time his life grew complex with its ups and downs, how he grew into who he is now and how there is always a bigger picture, he discovers himself that this whole world was created by Allah. This doesn’t always require scientific evidence; just a deep level of understanding. Furthermore, he doesn’t obey Allah’s commands out of fear of Him but in fact the exact opposite; because he loves Him. He is truly grateful to Allah from the depths of his heart for all he has. He respects Allah because He is worthy of much more and he knows that Allah loves him so however his life may be, he knows it’s all for a higher purpose.
Religion v.s Spirituality?
It is possible that one is religious and not spiritual when engrossed in obeying and worshipping Allah but remains constantly in a state of fear of Him, works for the community of his faith but doesn’t focus much on his intellectual growth. It is possible that one is spiritual and not religious when he achieves a tremendous level of contentment based on what he feels is right, yet doesn’t show his obedience or gratitude that is expected of him. Although both these terms have similarities and differences, we as Muslims may not completely fit into either one category. Religion has spiritual aspects, and vice versa.
As Muslims, we must follow the Quran and Sunnah of Prophet(SAW) as obedient slaves but we are all not the same. We do not all reach the high status of a slave so quickly and comfortably. Each of us cannot fulfill our obligations completely unless we traverse an individual spiritual journey that helps expand our mind, cleanses our soul and understand why this path is Sirat-ul-Mustaqeem. You can reach your goals at the age of 40, 30 or even 15, but that doesn’t matter because Allah doesn’t want blind supporters, He wants us to be at peace with the Deen we have chosen for ourselves. He wants us to fear and love Him at the same time, fear death and prepare for it at the same time. Hence, being a whole Muslim requires a blend of both; a two-way relationship of us giving our obedience and Allah granting us blessings.
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What about you? What do you consider yourself; religious, spiritual, a blend of both, or even neither (that’s alright, if it applies to you)? Tell me why you say so in the comments.