“I’m spiritual but not religious.” Many people say they want spirituality without religion. But does that work? In this short talk on the Spiritual Quest and Religious Rituals, Sidi Farhat Jouini looks at what spirituality really is.
Are rituals important? Is there something about religious rituals you might be missing?
Assalam alaikoum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh. A’uthu billahi min ash-shaytani-r rajeem. Bismillahi-r Rahmani-r Raheem. La hawla wa la quwwata illa billahil aliyyil atheem.
Assalam alaikoum. Welcome! Long time no see. How are you? How did that period go? Corona, confinement, post confinement…
Al hamdulillah that we are witnesses to such, in a way really, such privileged times, to be witnesses to such special moments, moments preparing for rebirth inshallah. As rebirth is the reconnection, the connecting fully to the meanings of life and to the real goals, goals of our own existence.
Obviously as somebody wrote the other day, we are not in this magnificent, complex creation just to be paying bills and struggling to make it at the end of each month. Surely life has got more, or the reason for life and the goal is much more than that. I wanted to address today one point.
A’uthu billahi min ash-shaytani-r rajeem. Bismillahi-r Rahmani-r Raheem. By the name of Allah, All Merciful, Most Merciful. Peace be on all of us and all of you!
People often – it’s such a common, a common safety valve in fact for people – to say, “I love spirituality, but I don’t want a ritual. I don’t want to be attached to a particular tradition, except for eventually the cultural tradition of my parents… But I want to stay in spirituality, as spirituality is all the same… Spirituality has the same essence and I like it to be in the open.”
We say, No! It does not work that way.
If we really want the benefit of spirituality, the growth of spirituality, the realization of spirituality, we need to notice first of all that us, we don’t know the unseen. The unseen is something we know after accumulation through the path, accumulation of experiences and of learning.
We don’t know the unseen and we notice that spirituality is in truth an infinite field. To be with no direction in an infinite field is a sure recipe for confusion and getting lost. To be without direction and without guidance in the infinite field of spirituality is a sure antidote to spirituality.
When we are in any position, there is a circle around us of 360 degrees. So there are 360 possible directions. But we are looking for the best direction for us. Or for the right direction. Or we are looking for the best direction period. The revelation, the noble revelation and the tradition, they say, “We offer you, to show you the direction and the guidance.”
It’s like this. It’s like our salat, Muslim prayer. We have to have a direction, which is called “qibla” ich is Mecca, and we have to have an imam, a leader, to lead the prayer of the whole group. The leader represents guidance and the qibla represents the path. Even though there are many possible qiblas, only one is acceptable.
There’s a need also to have, to choose a direction, and to choose and to practice rituals, because also people say, “Ah, rituals are for common people. I have spirituality in my heart. It’s all in my heart. It’s all in the heart.”
We say: Well, a human is always between the infinite and – It’s like our soul is infinite, our soul is infinite. But our body is limited. Yet, the soul uses the body. The soul inhabits the body. In fact, that’s the reason why we have a body.
A body is for the soul to be able to act. And that’s why in noble traditions, your action is taken into account as long as you’re acting within your body. After we die, we don’t have action anymore. The benefit of action, the benefit of doing charity, the benefit of praying, the benefit of fasting, is when we are in our body, where we are alive.
The body is the tool, the main tool. The finite is the tool to the infinite. Also, the tool in the ocean of spirituality is the rituals of a noble tradition and following the revelation. Because also following the revelation will help us have the references to make sense of things, things we don’t know, things out there.
Again, as we said in the beginning about the unseen, elements, energy, to make sense of them, we need to refer to a teaching.
People say, “Okay, well I can then refer to all teachings.” Well, referring to all teachings is like wanting to drill for water, but you’re drilling in many places at the same time. You are wasting your energy and multiplying the possibility of not finding.
But you keep a direction, and keep drilling for water there.
Rituals, revelation, tradition, are in fact a prerequisite. I’m laughing because I can sense so many people saying, “Oh, I thought it was the opposite!” They are prerequisites for spirituality.
Spirituality is not to help us run away from revelation and rituals. It helps us run away from ignorance, ignorant interpretations, from ignorant direction. But it does not free us from the duty of honouring the Noble Revelation and following the Noble Revelation. The revolution was sent as a ship, to be able to swim the ocean of existence and the ocean of spirituality and the ocean of going home safely to eternal happiness.
That’s how it works.
Running away from that is simply not wanting to honour the duties or not wanting to take commitment. It’s like wanting to build a house, but not wanting to have a plan, nor materials nor waking up early and getting some help to build that house. Well that house then will stay just as an idea.
A house needs to be built. And spirituality needs plans and materials and effort, just like any successful building.
Wa min Allah at tawfiq. Al fatiha! We present the blessing of this short meeting today to those who have rights upon us, our teachers and our parents, presented to you who are making this meeting possible. The blessing is to all those who are making our meeting possible.
Wa min Allah at tawfiq.