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Food of the Soul  

Bism-illah irahman nirahim

In the name of Allah, the beneficent and most merciful

In the words of Imam Suhaib Webb, the Islamic preacher from Oklahoma, USA who stated ‘our heart needs the dhikr of Allah (swt) more than our body needs food and drink’, we understand exactly what the remembrance of Allah (swt) means to the believers. 

We provide nutrition to our body by eating and drinking, thus ensuring that we remain healthy and strong. The body is matter; it is a material entity and is therefore in need of material nourishment such as food and water, in the same way our other physical needs are also fulfilled through comfortable surroundings, wealth and our family and friends. The physical body we are given by Allah (swt) seeks different forms of satisfaction through physical fulfilment, yet where does the feeling of satisfaction come from? The feeling of hunger or thirst cannot be satisfied through indulgence but they are only satisfied by the will of Allah (swt). All our bodies are made using the same elements but our threshold of hunger, thirst and pain are different. These depend on our faith and the strength of our soul. Just as Allah (swt) has given us a body, in the same way we are given a soul that cannot be seen or touched in the physical sense.

It is the soul that is the life of our body, it is the soul that feels the emotions that we have such as happiness, sorrow and satisfaction. Human beings always seek to find remedies and solace from the means and not from the source. The means are the food we eat, or the medicine we take but these in themselves cannot help us unless Allah (swt) Who is the source of everything bestows the cure or feeling of satisfaction upon us. It is not the food that satisfies us but it is the favour of Allah (swt) who gives us the feeling of being satisfied and in the same way if we are afflicted by a disease and we take medicine, it is not the actual medicine that gives relief but it is the mercy of Allah (swt) who is Al Shafi, the One who cures us.  

The soul is made from the infinite Nur – light from Allah (swt) and it is the soul that we know so less about. All we know about the soul is when we feel it at times of prayer, remembering Allah (swt) and sending blessings on Rasulullah (salla lahu alayhi wa’ale hi wasallam). The soul needs nourishment just as the body does and the food of the soul is the Nur from Allah (swt). The light sent down from Allah (swt) includes performing prayer for the sake of Allah (swt), serving the lamp that gives light; Sayyidina Muhammad (salla lahu alayhi wa’ale hi Wasallam) by following the blessed Sunnah – path and sending blessings upon the Final Messenger (salla lahu alayhi wa’ale hi wasallam). The light bestowed upon us by Allah (swt) includes the revelations of His most Noble Word; Al Qur’an and the recitation of the Glorious Qur’an gives us peace and satisfaction. In fact all acts of worship which include fasting and performing Hajj and Umrah makes our soul stronger and invariably our physical desires become weaker. The soul we have is stronger that our body but in this world, our body has physical control over our soul, yet in the next world it is our soul that will be in charge of our body, the rules of the Hereafter are different to this world - duniya. 

In our lives, we place emphasis on the practical application of Islam but fail to seek satisfaction and this is why we never feel the benefits of the Ibaadat - worship we do. It is our heart that needs to accept and this is when our soul finds the strength and satisfaction and our acts of worship and obedience will begin to benefit us. When we understand the importance of finding that peace and tranquillity, the importance of our physical state will diminish in our eyes.

The best of all creation; Rasulullah (salla lahu alayhi wa’ale hi wasallam) lived in the most modest conditions and some authentic narrations confirm Rasulullah (salla lahu alayhi wa’ale hi wasallam) never even once had a stomach full of food in his worldly life. Authentic narrations confirm that the companions of  Rasulullah (salla lahu alayhi wa’ale hi wasallam) once asked where could they find him on the Day of Judgement, the answer given by the Imam of all the Prophets (As) was that he would be with the most poor people of his Ummah – nation. This is the great example of how true tranquillity in faith can only be felt in shunning the joys and comforts of this temporary world and pursuing closeness to Allah (swt). The great companions (Ra) sacrificed their wealth, and all comforts to seek the pleasure of Allah (swt) a shining example of this is Sayyidina Usman Ghani (Ra). Hasrat Usman Ghani (Ra) was extremely wealthy but famously gave everything he had in the path of Allah (swt) and became a fakir – pauper. This term is not referred in the context of someone without wealth but the term ‘fakir’ is more truly understood as being someone who has sacrificed everything in the duniya for the Hereafter. Rasulullah (salla lahu alayhi wa’ale hi wasallam) named Hasrat Usman ibn Affan (ra) as the ‘Ghani’. This term means the one who is rich. Once again this term needs to be understood in the correct context as being someone who has given up the world but is rich in the eyes of Allah (swt) and His Messenger (salla lahu alayhi wa’ale hi wasallam).  

Allah (swt) states that the one who chases fakiri (in the duniya), I will make him a Ghani (in the Hereafter).

The great fakir and auliya of Allah (swt) spent their lives merely eating morsels of food and wearing the most modest of dress. They chose to shun the comforts in order for their hearts to be closer to Allah (swt). The great auliya, retreated into khalwa – private devotion with Allah (swt) for months and even years without the need to consume food and drink, this was because they overcame their basic physical needs through being able to find the power through their tawakkul - reliance in Allah (swt). These are examples of their karaamat – miracles. The great Walis, never allowed any aspect of this duniya to enter their heart but only kept the affairs of the world in their hands.  Whenever we fast in Ramadan or any other time, we are worshipping Allah (swt) and even though we deprive our body of food and drink, we feel satisfaction and happiness. This is our soul that is being fulfilled through the remembrance of Allah (swt) and in the same way we give up our beds in the early hours to worship Allah (swt) but feel happiness and not fatigue. We exert our bodies but feed our soul and this gives us peace. In the material world, our faith only consists of performing actions and less about seeking pleasure through them.  When we preach Islam to a non-believer, we must remember that it is that person whose heart must accept and his soul must find pleasure in what Islam gives and only then will Islam enter that person’s life. We may defeat someone’s intellect and convince their mind that Islam is the truth, but it is their heart that needs to accept. Allah (swt) provides us with His remembrance and the world around us but it is our decision which one we pursue and how we choose to find satisfaction.  

The greatest deprivation we can be afflicted with is to be deprived of the dhikr of Allah (swt) and those who are deprived of the remembrance, are reduced to merely seeking the means but will always remain far from the Source. Often the world and all its pleasures are given to us, but then are taken away only to be returned to us again, this serves as a lesson from Allah swt) that the world has no reality. The only lasting  reality is in remembering the Supreme Creator Who alone has the authority to Give and Provide, the glow of our soul gets brighter as we weaken the desires and attractions of the world that enslaves us .