5 episodes

There is no inherent disconnect or contradiction between Islamic Spirituality and social or political activism. In fact, Islamic spirituality is not only relevant but essential to all forms of activism. This podcast with Shaykh Riad Saloojee will present a paradigm for a spiritually-inspired activism where activism achieves what it was always meant to be: a vehicle for nearness to the Divine through genuine individual and social ethical change.

Spiritual Activism with Shaykh Riad Saloojee SeekersGuidance.org

    • Islam
    • 5.0 • 3 Ratings

There is no inherent disconnect or contradiction between Islamic Spirituality and social or political activism. In fact, Islamic spirituality is not only relevant but essential to all forms of activism. This podcast with Shaykh Riad Saloojee will present a paradigm for a spiritually-inspired activism where activism achieves what it was always meant to be: a vehicle for nearness to the Divine through genuine individual and social ethical change.

    24 – Standing Vigil Over Myself

    24 – Standing Vigil Over Myself

    What can I practically do to inculcate beautiful character (akhlaq) by ensuring that my heart (qalb) does not fall prey to the selfish, evil and subtle snares of my lower-self (nafs)?  How can I become more aware of what lurks within me? And how can I guard myself from character that the Divine despises?

    While knowledge of the science of purification of the heart and its practice is a gradual means to cleanse the heart, one method of Divine remembrance is of particular help in the struggle for a noble character. 

    One of Allah’s Names is al-Raqib or the Ever-Watchful. Muraqabah is a word derived from the same root. Muraqabah, or Divine mindfulness or vigilance, is the effort to always be conscious of the watchfulness of the Divine over my senses (jawarih) and my heart (qalb).   

    Allah states in the Qur’an: Verily, Allah is Ever-Watchful over all things.  His watchfulness is constant and lasting. His knowledge encompasses me in every way.

    Not only does Allah watch over my words and deeds, but He is watchful over my inner states: my thoughts, emotions, feelings, drives, ideas – whether I am aware or unaware of them.

    Muraqabah is a very powerful form of Divine remembrance (dhikr). The essence of dhikr (Divine remembrance) is that we remember Allah with our hearts.  The external forms of dhikr (Divine remembrance) are a means to generate an internal consciousness of Allah. Dhikr (remembrance) is meant to penetrate our hearts. The most powerful and transformational remembrance is dhikr of the heart.

    Though muraqabah (Divine mindfulness or vigilance), I will cleanse my heart. How? In addition to muraqabah being a blessed form of Divine remembrance, my awareness of the Divine’s watchfulness over me will make me more sensitive to what is happening inside me.  When I know that Allah is watching my heart (qalb), I will become more uncomfortable with harbouring within me anything He does not love.

    The more sensitive I am, the swifter is my consciousness of the impulses within me.  I will not allow them to grow, to gain momentum, to become stronger, to turn into word and action. I will sever them at the roots by not indulging them, by turning the gaze of my heart away from them.

    Muraqabah is a struggle. It does not come easy. It requires that we constantly strive to be aware of Allah’s watchfulness.  And to re-set our consciousness when we forget.

    And while muraqabah (Divine mindfulness) begins with a rational and conceptual knowledge of Allah’s watchfulness, it is meant to deepen and become experiential. Muraqabah is a consciousness of the heart (qalb) and not the mind. I am meant to feel that Allah is watching me.  His watchfulness produces a spiritual emotion in the heart (qalb) of awe and reverence.

    To coin an example: How would you feel when you know that a very noble, saintly person is watching you? We have all had that experience.  We know how this feels; and we also know by experience what this does to naturally alter our behaviour in incredible ways. 

    Similarly, how would we feel when we truly know that Allah, the Infinite in majesty and beauty is watching us. Allah – who possesses all the attributes of perfection.  Allah – Who is Infinitely-Loving but has the power to hold us to account for our misdeeds.







    There is no inherent disconnect or contradiction between Islamic Spirituality and social or political activism.  In fact, Islamic spirituality is not only relevant but essential to all forms of activism.  This podcast with Shaykh Riad Saloojee will present a paradigm for a spiritually-inspired activism where activism achieves what it was always meant to be: a vehicle for nearness to the Divine through genuine individual and social ethical change.  

    This series will comprise of seven discussions that will explore 1. The foundations of Islamic spirituality; 2. The spiritual

    23 – Knowledge That Truly Empowers

    23 – Knowledge That Truly Empowers

    In the next series of discussions, we will be looking at a number of means to help protect us, and our activism, from the ills within us. Today’s discussion concerns knowledge (‘ilm).

    Knowledge (‘ilm) is light.  It is the energy that propels us to journey in nearness to the Divine.

    Allah is not worshipped with ignorance. Our Islamic tradition emphasizes knowledge.  The Qur’an speaks abundantly about knowledge as do the Prophetic texts.  And many of us have committed those texts to heart. But have we taken them to heart?

    We are told that seeking knowledge is mandatory upon the believer; that those who know cannot be compared with those who do not know; that Allah eases a path to Paradise for the one who seeks knowledge; and that Allah raises those who have knowledge in degrees of nearness to Him.

    Knowledge has different levels. The first level of knowledge that I must know are the essentials. Knowledge of the pillars of faith – of Allah, His Messengers, His angels, His Books, the Last Day of Judgement and the Divine Decree – inform me of the context and environment of my existence. These pillars provide me with my map of life. Without them, I will not understand my world or how to navigate within it.

    Then comes knowledge of the pillars of Islam: the testimony of faith (shahadah), prayer (salah), zakah, fasting (sawm) and pilgrimage (hajj). They are my response to the constants of the environment that I find myself in.

    Other knowledge is also obligatory. This includes the knowledge that I need to know depending on my circumstances.  A social or political activist, for example, needs to know the Divine norms and guidelines that connect to his or her activism. Knowledge precedes action.

    What about knowledge of Islamic spirituality? How important is this knowledge for all Muslims, including the activist?

    Contrary to much popular perception, spirituality is not an optional field of study. Having a conscious awareness of the Divine (taqwa) that leads to obeying His commands and refraining from His prohibitions is mandatory. Hell is not an option for the believer. And what is necessary to attain something mandatory is mandatory itself.  Therefore, knowledge of the diseases of the heart and the means to protect oneself from them is essential knowledge.

    Knowledge is to be lived. Our current paradigm of Islamic studies places a premium on knowing. Very little emphasis, if any, is placed on practicing what we know.  But we don’t learn to learn.  Knowledge is not an academic exploration. We learn to practice. To do. Knowledge without practice is neither empowering nor transformational. On the contrary, it is a path to self-delusion (ghurur) and arrogance (kibr).

    The Satan (Shaytan) was one of the most knowledgeable of all creation.  But where did his knowledge take him?

    The Qur’an does not say that we will enter Paradise and be rewarded for our knowledge alone.  Rather, it always couples those who believe and practice what they know. 

    Knowledge does empower. But knowledge must be understood in a qualified sense: It must be the right knowledge; and it must be practiced. Only this knowledge is beneficial to us. We need a regular diet of this type of knowledge.

    The Messenger ﷺ prayed to Allah to protect him from knowledge that does not benefit and a heart that does have reverent awe of the Divine. From this subtle juxtaposition, we learn that not all knowledge empowers.  But the right kind of knowledge does, indeed, empower us with a spiritual connection to the Infinite.







    There is no inherent disconnect or contradiction between Islamic Spirituality and social or political activism.  In fact, Islamic spirituality is not only relevant but essential to all forms of activism.  This podcast with Shaykh Riad Saloojee will present a paradigm for a spiritually-inspired activism where activism ac

    22 – Politics of the Veil

    22 – Politics of the Veil

    The greatest peril in our relationship with the Divine are the sins (dhunub) of the lower-self (nafs).  Sins are transgressions against the Divine will.  They are disobedience to Him in what He prescribes and proscribes.

    We don’t usually understand sins as having consequences.  But they do.   Regardless of their consequences, it be should be enough to us that when we commit a sin, we transgress against Allah’s infinite beauty and majesty.  No sin is small in relation to the greatness of the One that we commit the sin against.

    And because most of us will not worship Allah for who He is, He tells about the consequences of our sins. 

    The Messenger (ﷺ) teaches me that whenever I disobey Allah, a black spot forms on my heart.  If I seek forgiveness and turn back to Him in repentance, that spot is removed. If I persist in my disobedience, another spot appears.  And so on – until my entire heart (qalb) is covered and I am veiled.

    Is there a greater agony than being veiled from Allah, the Source of everything, the Owner of all peace, happiness and security?  Apart from being veiled in the Afterlife from the Divine and subjected to His wrath, there are also different levels of punishment and veiling in this life as well.

    The consequences of sins (dhunub) in this life are multifold and numerous.  Through study of Islam’s texts, our saintly scholars have enumerated many of the harms of sins.  Those harms range from sadness; anxiety and worry; loss of internal energy; contraction of sustenance; spiritual blindness; loss of Divine facilitation in doing acts of worship; physical illnesses; an increased attachment to sin; delaying of repentance; and many other forms of punishment.

    Our teachers state that sins (dhunub) are perturbations in the web of our lives that ripple back to affect us – unless Allah forgives and erases their effects.  The way we perceive the world, at all levels, is ultimately a reflection of what we are and what we do.

    Prophetic texts teach us that when we commit indecency, we are afflicted with ailments; when we withhold obligatory charity, we are afflicted with scarcity; when we commit economic injustice, we are afflicted with difficulty in our sustenance; when we violate the rights of others, we lose our security.

    At this deeper reality, our personal, familial, communal, social, economic and political realities are interconnected with our choices of adherence or rebellion to the norms of the Divine. As we mature spiritually and intellectually, this becomes clearer to us. We begin to slowly graduate from perceiving and experiencing the world through a materialistic lens.

    And as our experience of causality becomes liberated, wider, and more nuanced to include the spiritual realm, this will undoubtedly affect the way that we interact and act in our social and political engagement.  We will place the highest premium on moral character:  We will not pursue means that are illegitimate in the sight of the Divine; we will be more sensitive to our failings and shortcomings; and we will regularly turn to Allah in forgiveness and repentance.

    Every sin produces a ripple. Every ripple has an effect. The Muslim activist who is disobedient to the norms of the Divine is a negative energy to herself and produces injustice to others.

    To truly care for the world demands a better me.  It demands a more sensitive emotional maturity and a perceptive spiritual intelligence that recognizes the interconnectedness of all things.







    There is no inherent disconnect or contradiction between Islamic Spirituality and social or political activism.  In fact, Islamic spirituality is not only relevant but essential to all forms of activism.  This podcast with Shaykh Riad Saloojee will present a paradigm for a spiritually-inspired activism where activism achieves what it was always meant to be: a vehicl

    21 – Slips of the Tongue and Pen

    21 – Slips of the Tongue and Pen

    The first step in purifying our hearts (qulub) is to become vigilant regarding the use of our senses.  Our senses are the gates to our hearts (qulub). Whatever I allow through my senses and limbs will either beautify my heart or corrupt it.  Indeed, the contents of my heart – my emotions, thoughts, ideas and will – are all the result of the choices I have made in the use of my senses.

    Our saintly scholars have specified seven important portals to the heart: the eyes, ears, tongue, hands, feet, stomach and sexual organs. The Divinely revealed texts mention them all. But specific mention is given to the tongue. In one tradition, the Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) stated that if we guarantee him the purity of our tongue and private organs, he will guarantee us Paradise.

    The tongue has been singled out for mention because it is prolific in disobedience to the Divine. The tongue is responsible for lying, backbiting, slander, verbal abuse, vain speech, exaggeration, hypocrisy, false praise – and the list goes on and on.

    For this reason, the Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) taught that the key to all good is to restrain the tongue. “Are people not cast into the Fire upon their faces due to the harvest of their tongues?” he asked. The word harvest could not be more appropriate. Words have tremendous consequences: hurt that never heals, marital discord, family conflict, social strain, political tensions, and even war.

    We take the tongue’s power very lightly. The Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) warned that a person would say a word that he or she deems insignificant but will be thrown into the depths of Hell because of it.

    Controlling the tongue is a difficult and painful struggle. The intent of controlling the tongue is to learn how to talk in balance, to speak only what is beneficial and beloved to the Divine. The Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) taught that one who believes in Allah should speak that which is good or remain silent.

    We live in a global society that emphasizes talking. We are taught to speak, express, promote our views, broadcast ourselves. We have innovated different media to encourage us to give free rein to our tongues.  With an audience at the touch of our fingertips, we are encouraged to share the personal day-to-day minutiae of our lives with strangers. And to maintain our captive audience, we need to ensure that our tongues and pens keep generating interesting, engaging, risqué and even scandalous material.

    The Muslim activist is busy speaking, writing, communicating, commenting, critiquing, dialoguing and discussing. There is often little time for quietude and sincere evaluation of the quality and quantity of our words.

    Ultimately, every word of ours is recorded. And every word is an evidence. When it remains within the normative framework of Islamic values, it is for me; when it does not, it is against me.

    Knowing this, I must undertake a struggle (mujahadah) to watch what I say; not talking unnecessarily; not talking when my lower-self (nafs) demands to talk; treasuring my moments of silence; and making time for remembrance of Allah and reflection.

    I should never forget that the Beloved (peace and blessings be upon him) was the busiest man in history. He accomplished what no man or woman has ever accomplished, and what none will ever accomplish. Yet, he (peace and blessings be upon him) was described as having extended moments of silence.







    There is no inherent disconnect or contradiction between Islamic Spirituality and social or political activism.  In fact, Islamic spirituality is not only relevant but essential to all forms of activism.  This podcast with Shaykh Riad Saloojee will present a paradigm for a spiritually-inspired activism where activism achieves what it was always meant to be: a vehicle for nearness to the

    20 – Idolizing the Means

    20 – Idolizing the Means

    Allah is the Cause of all causes, the Originator of means and ends.  Nothing exists except by His will and power.  This belief is a necessary truth of his Divine unicity (tawhid).

    We seek nearness to Him by surrendering to His prescriptions and proscriptions and actualizing them in our lives.  This striving is our worship (‘ibadah).  Without practical surrender, internally and externally, our protestations of Divine love are hollow and meaningless.

    Our striving is necessary. But it is not sufficient. Even as we strive, we must never lose sight of the fact that any change and movement, within us or in the world, are by His will alone. As a Prophetic text teaches: Whatever He wills, will be; and whatever He does not will, will never be.

    It is in our nature to forget this reality. As we observe the positive consequences of our striving, we begin to attribute those results to our effort.  We perceive that we are the cause of the effect – especially when the effects are pleasing to us and come in quick succession.

    Through this perception and experience of cause and effect, our hearts (qulub) gradually attach to the instruments of my action and detach from their awareness of the One who created them.  This leads me to construct an intrinsic and inherent power within those means. At a deeper, and truer level, this is akin to a type of worship of the means.

    An indicator of this disease within me is that I become very frustrated when I don’t achieve what I work for. I am so conditioned to the results following my effort that, when they do not, I wilt within: anger, anxiety, resentment, doubt in the Divine, and even depression.

    Were I unattached to the avenues of my action to begin with, I would have found tranquility whether the means produced their intended outcome or not.  I would have found tranquility in the Divine, the Real, the Permanent, and not in the vicissitudes of the finite. 

    In instances where I am blessed with talents and successes, and when I do not pay enough spiritual attention to the reality of the Divine will, I will attribute my talents and successes to my ability.  This is the disease of self-admiration or vainglory (‘ujb).  I become infatuated with myself, self-centred and veiled from the Giver of the bounties Himself.

    No matter what my accomplishments are, I am and will always be in a state of destitution to the Divine.  My reality is utter poverty on two counts: First, my essence before my creation was non-being; and second, I am in need of Divine sustenance in every moment of my existence.  If such sustenance were withdrawn, even momentarily, I would lapse, once again, into nothingness.

    Incidental characteristics – good health, wealth, intelligence and status, for example – do not alter my original reality of poverty. Those conditions are merely temporary. They will pass; they cannot endure.

    Tests and trials, as we are reminded by our saintly scholars, are there to remind me of my essential poverty and indigence to the Divine.

    While we often conceive of trials as occasions of terrible want and constriction, it is the subtle trials of plenty and sufficiency that often pose more serious challenges.  And while we often conceive of trials as occasions of terrible material, social and political challenge, it is often the subtle trials of intellectual and spiritual challenges that are more dangerous to one’s faith.

    Islamophobia is a challenge, for sure. But have I ever considered the certain, toxic effects of a spiritual disease such as self-admiration (‘ujb) – a disease that veils me from true, spiritual happiness and freedom?  And, if this is so – and it is – should the activist not devote at least as much energy to freeing herself from inner injustices to the Divine even as she strives to free others from outer inequities?







    There is no inherent disco

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