The dark night of the soul

I now have insight into why I could not pray. InshaAllah (God willing), you will be able to give me Quran verses and hadeeth quotes to verify my insight.

I have been tested. I was blessed with a test that was life-changing. Trust me brother, I have broken down and called out to Allah swt. A common theme in these times of despondency is the alienation from the duyna (this world).

We are human beings. Part of the human condition is the social condition. In times of tests our world is narrowed. Shytan (Satan) promises us poverty. He can be very demonstrative. Accompanying poverty is social disgrace. He promises us a world of fear and want.

We are fragile. When the stressors of want explode into fear our bodies can break down. When fear reigns the soul, Shytan is pleased, the want is our physical existence. We need to protect it. We yield to base instinct for survival. We get sick.

In sickness our soul gets neglected. Our perception of the world and our state of want to survive are the overriding factors. Our physical pain is a mirror of the state of our spiritual state. The soul is in agony. Sabr (endurance) is a most difficult construct. Why am I going through this much pain. The what did I do to deserve this. When is this going to end. As the pain swells hope fades. The pain is both physical and emotional, thereby compounding the sense of hopelessness. This is the trick of Shytan.

The intellect alleviates the sense of hopelessness. This is simply turning the sense of loss into the hope. It is counting the blessings of Allah swt. It is taking the anguish of pain and transforming it into a moment of joy; of acknowledging the blessing of pain as being the expiation of sin. Furthermore, pain increases our dependence on Allah swt.

When the body can not cope the intellect has to make the decision. Enlightenment comes from the union of the body and intellect in acknowledging the Divine Presence. At that moment want turns into abundance. And the best moment of union is prayer.

I hope this makes sense.

May God keep being with you in your tribulations.

Very profound essay. I can hardly add to it.

Count yourself among those God may be pleased with. You keep bouncing back to God and thus escaping the traps of Satan. That bounce back is what entitled David, Solomon and Job to the label of Awwaab, which God praises them with in Chapter 38. The word means one who keeps coming back to God. A child instinctively runs to mom. A believer finds herself running to God.

It was profound only in the sense that the depth of the experience is difficult to capture in words. Hence, I used the word insight. I had to contemplate. There is that fine line in illness. Susan Sontag wrote a wonderful book she entitled, “Illness as Metaphor”. She did not develop the religious themes. Much of traditional psychoanalysis attempts to understand the relationship between illness and rebirth process. St. John of the Cross discusses the dark night of the soul. The Persian scholar, Sadr, had a metamorphosis.

I am blessed. But the letting go process is not easy. There seems to be a strong physical component to spiritual growth. It is a process of emptying oneself of a lifetime of false desires. And some are stuck like white on rice.

Many Eastern philosophies and religions have long postulated that there is a mutually exclusive relationship between the body and the spirit. That, in order for the soul to reach enlightenment, the body needs to be deprived. That the food for the soul is the lack of food for the body.

Islam does not agree. Islam does say that there is a relationship between the body and the spirit, the union of which is the self. If the body fasts, it has a chance to heal itself, and it also gives the “heart” a chance to cultivate the spirit. This is analogous to the Eastern philosophies but is fundamentally distinct from it. It’s not the hunger and thirst that is nourishing the spirit. Rather, it is the attention a believer can give to his spirit now that his attention is not busy with food and drink. Illness can work in a similar way. A patient may use the time he suddenly has to shift his focus to his spirituality, knowing that God is with him. It’s not the illness that is doing this; it’s the focus afforded by the illness.

Put another way, it is quite possible in Islam to nourish the body and the spirit at the same time without sacrificing either one. All the believer has to do is remain mindful of God and of what’s important and lasting. The Prophet (PBUH) once ate a rich delicious dinner he was invited to and still woke up for Tahajjud (vigil) in the middle of the night.

And by the reverse token, one can deprive both his body and his spirit at the same time, sacrificing both! That can happen when one stops eating and drinking and seeks enlightenment at all the wrong places.

And the physical movements of prayer are healing. I have read how the positions correspond to the chakras. Could we say Islam allows us to have the best of both worlds. Our body is the theater of revelation which is nourishing to the soul. Simply put without the body the soul could not receive the benefit of prayer. And, naturally vice versa.

Nicely put. However, any resemblance between the movements in a Muslim prayer and the chakras is a mere coincidence, unless it can be shown that chakras originated from God.

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