A MESSAGE FOR THE NEW YEAR
Greetings of Peace!
They are not thankful to God, those who are not thankful to their fellow men. —Prophet Muhammad.
BEING one of those to whom the spirit of Islamic teachings is close to the heart, I take this opportunity on the New Year to thank all the readers of our monthly magazine Spirit of Islam.
The beginning of the 7th year of the publication calls for an enormous gratitude to God Almighty for seeing us through every challenge which one faces in an effort to continue any endeavour in the way of humanity. Through this opportunity I would like to convey the benefits I have received from this magazine. As per the teaching of our mentor Maulana Wahiduddin Khan we should only present to others what we ourselves benefit from.
It was my heartfelt desire to understand Islam in the contemporary idiom since my childhood. I had read many books and journals on Islam, but none gave me the picture of Islam in a language that I could understand. When I got involved with Spirit of Islam and Maulana Wahiduddin Khan’s Centre, my mind found what it had been looking for all along. I felt this was the Islam that has been presented in the Quran and Sunnah as it is, but conveyed in the contemporary idiom so it could address modern minds. One-by-one I was able to understand the principles of Islam.
I find the articles given in ‘From the Spiritual Tree’ and ‘Towards Global Peace’ columns of particular relevance to me. Before getting involved in the magazine one question I often asked was, ‘Is Islam a religion of peace or does it sanction violence?’ The articles in these sections made me realize that Islam is completely a religion of peace. It in fact, gives an ideology of peace that is in perfect harmony with nature and with contemporary times. Reading the spiritual articles helped me find peace within myself while the articles on global peace helped me understand how to attain peace in society and the world at large.
I would like to add that the magazine gives a holistic picture of Islam after removing the misconceptions related to the religion. It makes one understand the deeper meaning of jihad, the difference between jihad and qital, the status of women according to Islam, the place of peace and spirituality in Islam, the need for ijtihad, (re-application of Islamic teachings in changed times) etc.
The magazine has enabled me to apply Islamic principles to my daily life. Prior to reading Spirit of Islam, the religion of Islam to me was a set of commandments and rituals that I had to follow, but they had no relation to my real life. As such, I did not understand what importance these had to the building of my personality.
However much I tried, the pillars of Islam were not living parts for me. But after reading articles from the magazine I was able to discover a living Islam that had a direct bearing on my life. I would like to give one example. There is a verse of the Quran which states, “(Paradise) is for those who undertake tazkiyah” (20: 76). Previously this verse did not have any meaning for me. But when I understood the principle of conversion given in one of the articles of the magazine I realized that tazkiyah is another name for purification of the soul, a method to reform one’s character and personality. In spite of having negative experiences from people I have the ability to convert the negative into positive in my mind, and respond to others in a positive manner. I try not to get angry or react in a negative manner. However, it is a day-to-day stru ggle.
As a result of my reading the various articles in the magazine I have discovered Islamic spirituality. It is nothing mysterious in nature. Islamic spirituality is based on a two point formula: Simple Living and High Thinking.
Dear readers, I wish that this New Year helps all of us start a new journey in life which is filled with wisdom and knowledge. Let us pray that this year brings us peace and well-being and empowers us with the ability to manage the day-to-day challenges of life.
Dr. Naghma Siddiqi