My thoughts on Spirituality vs. Religiosity:

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Religiosity vs. Spirituality: What’s the difference?!!!

A great deal of people, especially Muslims, have been taught or and lead to believe that being “spiritual” is not the same as being “religious”. I hear this from all types of people, from all spheres & all types of religious backgrounds. My whole intention & point to writing this article is to show people that there is in fact a direct correlation between a person’s spiritual aspect & their external ritualistic religious actions.

Let’s start off with a very simple message from the Qur’an, that will give us a pretty good premise into this discussion, comparing/contrasting “Spirituality” & “Religiosity”:
“By the Time. Verily, the Human being is lost (misguided). Except those who believe & do good.” (Chpt.103, V.1-3)

Now, let’s analyze critically what is mentioned in these verses, particularly when it comes to the correlation between belief & action. When Allah mentions that people are lost, “Except those who believe & do good.”, we have to really examine what “belief” is & what “doing good” is. Now, it should be pretty obvious, when comparing & contrasting two paradigms like “Spirituality” & “Religiosity”, that “belief” falls under “Spirituality” & “doing good” falls under “Religiosity”.

However, what’s more important than knowing this is the simple fact that Allah purposely chose to group both “belief” & “good-actions” in pairs. Allah does this, actually quite often, in the Qur’an-Pairing things off always indicates that whatever two things mentioned together have some sort of bond with one another. For example, Allah mentions the Night & Day in pairs quite often, as well as the Heavens & the Earth, the Male & the Female. Allah even mentions the Jinn (a creation of beings, created from smoke-less fire) & the Human in pairs, to display their dual purpose, “I have not created the Jinn nor the Human, except to worship me.” (Chpt.51, V.56). Likewise, when Allah mentions “belief” & “good-actions” in a paired construct, it’s done deliberately, establishing a symbiotic relationship between the two.

This is one of many proofs, which confirm, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that “Spirituality” & “Religiosity”, in practicality, are the same. To put it very simply: Any & all beliefs, concepts, thoughts, statements & actions has a direct affect on an individual’s relationship with Allah, their Creator, and vice-versa: The relationship with one’s Creator, Allah, has a direct affect on an individual’s beliefs, concepts, thoughts, statements & actions. There’s also immense proofs from the Prophetic-Tradition of Muhammad (Peace be upon him) which also confirms the symbiotic relationship between “Spirituality” & “Religiosity”.

Some examples from the Prophetic-Tradition concerning the relationship between “Spirituality” & “Religiosity”:
Muhammad (Peace be upon him) has said, “And there is a piece of flesh in the body that when it is correct, the entire body is correct & if it is corrupt, then the entire body is corrupt, it is most definitely the Heart.” (al-Bukhari). He also, said that, “When a slave commits a sin, a black spot appears on his heart. But, if he stops it, seeks forgiveness and repents, his heart will be cleansed, but if he repeats it, they will accumulate until they overwhelm his heart.” (at-Tirmidhi). Now, in a religious context, which is obviously being projected in these two respective Prophetic-Sayings, indicates that both “Spirituality” & “Religiosity” not only define one another & compliment one another, but they also directly affect one another.

Let’s analyze the true meaning of “Heart” in both of these Prophetic-Statements: It is very clear that Muhammad (Peace be upon him) was not referring at all to the physical heart, when he mentioned that “if it is correct, then the whole body is correct” & “When a slave commits a sin, a black spot appears on his heart.”, simply because a person can have a perfectly healthy physical heart and still be an unhealthy individual, and “black spots” don’t appear on physical hearts. Rather, in fact, the “Heart” that is being referred to is the spiritual heart, the Soul/Spirit.

Let’s use one last example:
Muhammad (Peace be upon him) said, “What separates the Man from Shirk (Association of false qualities to Allah) is the abandonment of the Prayer.” (al-Kaba’ir). The Arabic word for Prayer is Salah, which is derived from the Arabic verb “Salla” which means “To praise”, which in turn is actually derived from the Arabic verb “Wasala”, which means “To connect”. And, this is why knowing the Arabic-Language is so important: By definition of the Arabic word Salah, we learn as Muslims why the 5-daily Prayers are the most important actions of worship, because the 5-daily Prayers represents our direct connection to Allah, our Creator.

There are several Muslim sectarian groups, who use the diferences between Spirituality & Religiosity to justify separating them in practicality. There has been this centuries-long gimmick known as the “Spiritual-Path”, that many Muslims have adopted, while attempting to give the implication that Spirituality & Religiosity exist to function independently of one another, which is simply not true. Also, there are Muslims who take the position, that not only does Religiosity & Spirituality function independently, but that they don’t affect one another at all. The following verses from the Qur’an & Prophetic-Statements have already quelled those argument. But, for the sake of argument, I’ll present an everyday organic, natural proof to what I’m saying.

Let’s take a look at the Creation:
Allah says in the Qur’an, “Verily, for those who possess knowledge, there are signs within the creation of the Heavens & the Earth, as well as the separation of the Night & Day.” (Chpt.3, V.190).

Let’s look to one of the most dominant creations of Allah that we know about, the Sun. When we analyze the Sun, let’s observe what it truly is, relative to its chemical-composition. The Sun is actually a Star, among billions of stars in our Universe, it’s just that the Sun of our Solar-System is the largest Star around. But, now, let’s observe the chemical-composition of a Star, what is a Star inherently? A Star is actually a gigantic cosmic version of a bonfire. So, let’s look at Fire. There are two components to Fire: the Flame & the Heat. Relative to our discussion, the Flame itself would be Spirituality & the Heat would be Religiosity. Now, merely using basic-intelligence, is it even realistically possible in this material-existence, to separate/isolate Flame from Heat or Heat from Flame? So, since we all know that one cannot separated Flame from Heat or Heat from Flame, then why is it so believable that one can separate their Religiosity from their Spirituality or their Spirituality from their Religiosity?

My final point is for each of you to ask yourselves, after the presentation of the following info….what is the difference between “Religiosity” &” Spirituality”?!!!

Gareth Bryant/2012

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2 responses »

  1. Pingback: It’s okay to be Non-Sectarian: The Muslim’s guide to stay Sect-free « Gareth Bryant's Writing Page

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