Managing The Spiritual and The Material
Managing The Spiritual and The Material
By: Imam W Deen Mohammed
The management of material and spiritual concerns is only ___ possible for us if we have something directing us as a Deciding Authority in our lives. There has to be an Authority in our life that decides authority for everything else and is greater than everything else. If you are not acknowledging an Authority in your life that you accept as having more authority than all else, then you are going to be a failure. Even the man or woman who look at their life in a very simple way and are unconscious of what should be the authority of God in their life, they too must be guided by an authority. Perhaps they are not thinking about religion or church or mosque or synagogue. They may only be thinking of how to be successful in their business life as employers or as career persons. However, if they don't have an Overriding Authority in their life, they are not going to be successful.
Understand this: Allah in our religion does not close the door of material growth on people because they don't acknowledge Him. Allah says in our Holy Book, the Qur'an, that the doors to those things are open to all. Non-believers can make money and Allah is not going to ask: "Did he take the shahadah? Is he a follower of Muhammed, My Last Prophet? If not, I'm not going to let him get rich!" It is not the way of Allah to close the way of material gain on non-believers. Allah says the doors to those things are open to all. But Allah also says: "But My special blessings are only for My devotees." Allah has blessings that are better, and you cannot get those without being devoted sincerely to Allah. In simple language this means you can have the material world, whether you respect Allah or not, but you will never be really happy or satisfied or pleased. If you want to be at peace, satisfied and feeling good about yourself, then you have to put your Creator before and above the world. You have to value the goal of satisfying your Creator more than you value your worldly ambitions.
No matter how saintly we become in this religion, we should never take on spiritualism in the extreme. We should never take on spiritualism to the degree that we begin to fear material involvement. Muslims are never to be called spiritualists. Work in the material field should never be thought of as a threat to the life we choose for ourselves. The answer given simply is to serve Allah, the God of both the spiritual and the material. Allah requires of us in our life as Muslims that we progress spiritually and in every other good way. No matter how good I am spiritually, no matter how good I am morally, no matter how good I am intellectually, if I have no material progress in my life, that is a sin on me. You may ask, "How is that, Brother Imam?" Allah says, "By what Allah has made available to you, seek the Destiny..., but don't forget your share of the world."
Seek the end, the paradise by utilizing what "Allah has made available." That means that in order to receive the promised reward of the "Hereafter" and to be in good shape with Allah, I have to use my moral nature, my moral force, my spiritual force, my intellect, my physical force, and everything in my possession. I should be marshalling everything in my resources to make progress towards the "Hereafter" (the Destiny). Therefore, a person in our religion who is working for the "Hereafter" will want to make a good showing in school. That person will want to make a good showing in education, in science, in business, in culture. That person will want to make a good showing in every good involvement, motivated by what Allah has told him: "With the means given you by Allah, seek the Destiny, and do not forget your share of the world." (Qur'an) Work to keep a good daily balanced account with Allah.
The prayers and the peace be upon him, our Prophet said: "Live today as though today is going to be the end of you." It means that we should not say, "Oh, we have tomorrow, we have next year. We will take care of it later." "Do not put off for tomorrow what you can do today"; that western expression says quite well what the Prophet said. Our Prophet also said: "Live as though you are never going to die." If I know I have a great many years in the future to go, I most likely will have some long distance plans. This is the way the Prophet has prepared us.
We also know that the Prophet has warned us against the pitfalls of material appetites and that we are to keep "the balance." We are not to let our material appetite hurt our intelligence or any other feature of our nature. Nor are we to let our spiritual life deny us the material world. We are not hermits. We do not withdraw from the world, no matter how holy we want to be. We never withdraw from the world and leave it to those who want dominance or corruption. Our religion is a complete life; therefore it is called "comprehensive," requiring that we devote attention to all important matters for the natural human being in the human society.
Fulfilling Lawful Obligations
The successful management of the spiritual and material is easy. Give devotion to Allah and regard Allah above everything else. Being obedient to Allah is what will save us from management failures. If in our hearts we love Allah and want to please Him above all else, we are saved from extremism whether it be materialism or spiritualism. Most important for Muslims is to see Allah as the God that asks of us obedience to Him. Allah asks that we fulfill all lawful obligations. We are to fulfill our obligations to our parents, to our families, to those who have assisted us, to those to whom we owe a debt, to the society we share life with. This awareness begins in what you owe yourself and goes out to your neighbor next door. Our religion is plain and complete in its instructions to us. Therefore, we should not be joining the blind herds for whom the traps of extremism (over reacting) are set.
There are some who have left the idea of their religion and have left the motivation that should be in all Muslims. That motivation is first of all to recognize the Overriding Authority in Muslim life. That Overriding Authority is Allah, the One and Only "Creator of everything." If we are having trouble with the management of basic concerns in Chicago, in Los Angeles, in New York City, or in Detroit, it is because we are not established in that Muslim life. To be established in the Muslim life we have to do more than just hear what it is to be a Muslim. We have to make a decision to be what we hear of the life from Qur'an and from our universal (the last) Prophet Muhammed. To be a Muslim is more than praying together and saying 'As-Salaam-Alaikum'. That is only a weak one-fifth of a Muslim life.
Being a Muslim is to obey Allah and obey the Messenger. Begin by choosing to favor reading our Holy Book. Be sincere and we will come to feel bad when we miss prayers. We will grow inside to feel hurt when we fail to obey religious orders. Whoever feels no weight of Muslim conscience on him is not successful as a Muslim. But if it bothers you that you missed your Maghrib (after sunset) or Fajr (before sunrise) prayers, then you have the religious conscience and spirit of the Muslim. If it bothers you that you are not eating halal meat, that you are eating meats of animals not slaughtered or prepared properly, then most likely you have the mind of a Muslim. If being in such bad situations bothers you, then you are in a good situation spiritually for the Muslim life. But if un-lslamic conditions on you do not bother you, we do not expect you to be successful as a Muslim.
Allah has asked that Muslims don't take intoxicants. And that means whether it is in the form of alcohol or drugs. We are never to drug our minds. If it takes our senses away or can affect us in that way, we are not to take it. It is the works of Satan, himself. It is a very serious matter. (Qur'an) Muslims are not to lie. If you call yourself a Muslim and you go on in the habit of lying and it does not bother you, you are not there yet. Perhaps everyone will lie occasionally, but some of us do have a conscience. We have to acknowledge Allah as the Uppermost Authority in our lives, as the Deciding Authority in our lives. We need an Authority to manage other authorities.
Do you know that the people who have the greatest difficulty in managing are the people who do not accept an Overriding Authority in their lives? One cannot succeed without rational guidance. We cannot be successful in our democracy without people who have intelligent disciplines and have respect for the power of reason, who think logically and plan on the basis of what is sound for the intelligence. We cannot be successful in competition with such people, trusting that the spirit is going to save us and deliver us while we do nothing but wait.
Unsuccessful Muslims are not in touch with the Guidance. Those who are in touch with the essentials to Muslim guidance are successful. There is no chance that rightly informed obedient Muslims will come to an end other than success. Allah says, "And the Believers must triumph." If we are sincere, faithful, and true to what Allah asks of us, we (the believers) must triumph. We have a history of those who were faithful to what Allah asked of them. We have a history of triumphant people (Muslims), people who are now being looked at again after centuries of darkness being over their true picture. This time it is the West that is beginning to take a sober intelligent look.
The Greatest Threat Is Spiritual, Not Material
The biggest challenge for the human being is to manage the whole life. The greatest threat is spiritual. What you cannot see is more difficult to handle. Spiritual influences are too powerful for us to manage without Allah. You have to have Allah. Allah has given us a body, and the influences of my own body will defeat me if I am not careful. We will see some people who have become so vain and so much in love with their own physical body, that the body sends them to the psychologist. The exaggerated love of the body sends them to the grave. People are dying with a disease called anorexia, where they are obsessed with the physical body looking good.
Our religion saves us by protecting for us that relationship upon which all other relationships depend. It is the relationship with Allah. All other relationships depend upon that relationship. If your relationship with Allah is right, then you are not going to have any trouble with other relationships that you can't manage. Our whole life experience tells us that. Allah said, "Do you think you will be admitted into Paradise just upon saying you believe? As others before you, you underwent hardships and were tested." It is not right with Allah to take a certain group of people who say they love and believe in Him and spare them difficulties and leave other people to have the problems. If we accept the same burdens that other people have to accept and hold to Allah, we will deserve the Great Prize at the end of the road.
This world of profiteering people does not respect any definite life. I am not talking about Christians or the church, nor am I pointing at any particular thing. It is the world itself that is under the influence of greed, and it is not just material greed. The oppressors know that in order to get us under them, they have to have material power and a dominance. But they are not materialistic. You can go to their house and they will be eating small portions of food. They will spend money like it will not be around always. They will be in control of millions or billions of dollars. It is not that they are materialistic, but they eye material control over people, a control which some see as the throne of Allah (God).
The worst greed is not material greed. The worst greed is dominance. It is the greed for power over others. Those with that greed will sell everything - their mothers, their babies and everything - to keep themselves in a superior position over others. Greed for power, for authority and dominance is much more dangerous than the people who live for material things. The biggest materialist in the United States is the African American. Anyone who does not have enough money to pay the telephone bills for three consecutive months, but will go out and get a car costing $50,000, is materialistic. Anyone who complains about their race being behind and denied opportunities and puts thousands of dollars in a leather or fur coat is materialistic.
In contrast, the man who goes after material wealth and uses it to advance industry, security, and education is not necessarily a materialist. You should not be labelling people materialistic just because they have great wealth. I hope I can correct this now, for I have a plan to get us into big money! I hope to see this correction at least in my circle of associates. I don't want you looking at me and calling me materialistic. Allah says, "And My devoted servants shall inherit the earth." Don't you want that? I do! I want to inherit a piece of the earth with gold and diamonds and oil. We can manage it, if we always keep Allah first and highest over us.
My mother and father told me to be decent; not to lie, not to steal, not to go around with bad company. My mother, speaking for her husband and for herself, told me not to smoke and not to drink. And I feel so good to say today I have obeyed them. Allah does not charge us with what we do in ignorance without knowledge. Allah charges us only for what we do with knowledge. As long as the heart is sincere and truthful, Allah will stay with us and deliver us from a burden of confusion, ignorance and failure.
We have to manage our responsibilities in order to be successful. Allah has given us the Qur'an and the life of the Prophet. And the Prophet has demonstrated to us the responsibility that we all must accept. Whoever is qualified in our company, the charge is going to be made against them if things don't get done. If one person does not do what's needed, then the next one qualified should sense the burden of responsibility. Whoever is qualified should guard the interest.
We do our sunnah prayers. To some people it only means doing what the Prophet did. That is beautiful to me also, for I love doing what the Prophet did and feel obligated. However, the real beauty is the Prophet did them in addition to the congregational prayers. The real beauty is its protection against despotic rule. The Prophet demonstrated that every sane and abled individual Muslim must be responsible for leading him or herself. The same prayers that the Imam is taught, all of us are taught. If we have people come here for prayer, and the Imam cannot be found, any one male who knows the prayers can be the Imam. This is a religion that obligates its public to accept responsibility individually and to qualify themselves to the greatest degree. The responsibility is on us all. This is democracy in our religion of Al-lslam.