There is a tree beside my house. I call it the 'Spiritual Tree'. I derive spiritual inspiration from it. A tree is an evergrowing being that was initially a seed possessing the potential of becoming a full-grown tree. A seed takes food from the universe around it and then grows into a tree. The same is true with spirituality, the desire for which is intrinsic to, and an integral part of, the very nature of every human being. To realize this spirituality, man must derive spiritual food from the universe around him. A tree converts carbon-dioxide into oxygen; a spiritual person is one who can take positive lessons from negative situations. From this perspective, a tree is an embodiment of a spiritual personality. —Maulana Wahiduddin Khan


THE actual target of Islam is spiritual progress. For this, man’s spirituality has to be awakened, and the divine feelings latent within him aroused. In the Quran, this (Islam’s actual goal) is called purification and cleansing (9: 102).

In fact, every person is born with an upright nature. In this respect, everyone by their very birth is pure and clean. But during their stay in this world they become conditioned and externally sullied. What is meant by purification is for one to rid oneself of this conditioning—this outer shell of moral grime and revert to the upright nature one was born with.

This action of purification and cleansing has to be performed by the individual. A little child may be clean and pure on his own, but this state of purity is not due to some effort on his part, for he has been in this state from the very moment of his creation. It is a different matter when he grows up. He is now conditioned by the influence of family, friends and society. Now, he must make himself clean and pure spiritually by his own striving. It amounts to arriving consciously at the optimal stage of spiritual development by one’s own will and efforts. It is this self-attained spiritual progress which is desirable in Islam. In the Quran it is called, coming before one’s Lord with a “pure heart” (26: 89).

According to a Hadith, while praying the Prophet observed, “May God fill my heart with light.” Similarly, while praying for someone, the Prophet once uttered these words, “O God, forgive his sins and purify his heart.” In the book Muatta of the Islamic scholar Imam Malik, a saying of sage Luqman is recorded in these words: God revives the heart with the light of wisdom, just as He revives the dead earth with rains.

Purification is for one to rid oneself of the outer shell of moral grime acquired by external conditioning and revert to the upright nature one was born with.

This is called spiritual progress. And it is this spiritual progress which is the actual goal of Islam. Those who fail to make spiritual progress will never become truly Islamic in character.