Maulana Wahiduddin Khan
Realization of God
The theme of this book is the realization of God. Several chapters have been devoted to this subject. The realization of God is the essence of religion. Realization of God (ma‘arifah) is the beginning as well as the end of religion. The position of ma‘arifah in God’s religion is that of the seed. Just as a seed grows gradually into a full tree, similarly ma‘arifah shapes the entire personality of a person. Without ma‘arifah, religion is reduced to a spiritless form. With ma‘arifah, religion is like a lush green tree and without it, religion becomes like a dried up tree. If religion is the body, ma‘arifah is its spirit.
The journey of realization begins with a questing spirit. Seeking is an intellectual journey. If a person is sincere and one hundred per cent honest in his search, if there is no negativity in his thinking, if he is free from prejudices, if he has become a completely complex-free soul, attainment of ma‘arifah for him is as certain as the dawn of light after the rising of the sun.
In the words of the Angel Gabriel, the Prophet of Islam once said: “Worship God as if you were seeing Him.” (Sahih al-Bukhari, Hadith No. 50) This is the most correct definition of ma‘arifah. This may be put in a different way: God-realization is to have conviction in God’s existence, as if you were seeing Him. How can one achieve this kind of ma‘arifah? The way to achieve ma‘arifah is to first of all discover creation and then, through creation, reach the Creator. For if there is creation, there must be a Creator.
In the first quarter of the 20th century, it was discovered that the universe had come into existence as a result of the Big Bang. This was like the discovery of God in the language of science. This means that when the universe has a beginning, then certainly there must be a beginner of the universe, who in religious terminology has been called God.
The conscious discovery of this God is known as ma‘arifah. One who attains to this ma‘arifah will experience an intellectual and spiritual explosion. He will believe in God through both reason and intuition, and it will be as if he is seeing God. He comes emotionally close to God. Such a discovery of God as revolutionizes one’s personality is called ma‘arifah. In the language of religion, this discovery is called ma‘arifah, while in secular language it may be termed spirituality.
There is another necessary condition for the attainment of realization, and that is prayer (dua). Realization is a bilateral matter, in that a person’s position is one of finding or receiving ma‘arifah, while God is the giver of ma‘arifah. An individual cannot receive realization without the help of God. All of one’s efforts will remain fruitless unless God comes to his assistance. Prayer is not a mere repetition of certain words. Prayer is, in fact, another name for the heart’s restlessness. Prayer is an external expression of an inner tempest. There is no religion without ma‘arifah, and there is no ma‘arifah without true prayer.