- Maulana Wahiduddin Khan
The Soul of Islam
The true believer is one who actually sees the Archangel Israfil standing, waiting to sound the trumpet that will signal the end of the world. This is the true difference between a believer and a disbeliever; the disbeliever lives for this world, while the believer lives for the next world; the disbeliever is engrossed in the outward form of life, while the believer discovers the inner truth of life in its final outcome.
Islam means to devote one’s life entirely to God. A man’s soul should commune with God in this world. If this is not the case, it means that the true spirit of religion is lacking. People may claim to believe in God, but their belief consists of an attachment to empty rituals. They bring religion down to the level of their own consciousness, and neglect the spirit of true submission to God.
When this happens, people tend to ignore the spirit behind religious observances, and as a result, only outward forms survive. People stop crying to the Lord in private, they are interested only in public espousal of ‘Islamic’ causes. Mosques are crowded by worshippers but the prayers do not succeed in illuminating their souls. People do not concentrate on abstinence in fasting, but rather on having lavish meals before and after the fast. The spirit of servitude is lacking in religious festivals, which become instead occasions for self-indulgent, ostentatious enjoyment. The Prophet’s life ceases to be an example for his followers; instead they show their attachment to the Prophet by celebrating his anniversary and holding conventions in his honor.
In short, when the spirit is lacking, religion is molded in the form of the worldliness of its adherents.