The scientific mind is not enough to grasp religious truths, to really grow spiritually one must develop the spiritual mind that is in our hearts.
By Dr. Nabi Raza Abidi
Alhamdulilah, the SABA Islamic Center in the Bay Area is known throughout America for its high concentration of engineers and doctors. Great stress is put on the education of the mind. By the mind, it is not the Qur’anic concept of the ʿaql – the spiritual intellect/mind that is located in the qalb or metaphysical heart – but the industrial and technical mind. It is said that the lives of the youth will amount to nothing without the proper education of this mind. But I find this approach to life needs to be revisited.
Sometimes our greatest lessons in life are not taught to us by people who have the most formal education, but by our elders who may not necessarily have ivy league first-tier degrees. What they sometimes teach us are not issues that relate to the industrial mind, but matters of the heart (qalb) or spiritual intellect (ʿaql).
The education of the industrial mind is an important facet of our lives. That is how the world goes around nowadays. It is our means for survival and supporting our families and as such, no one is downgrading its importance. However, we put our souls and ultimate salvation in danger when we solely educate our minds without building our spiritual hearts. It is the heart, that is, the core intellective center of our souls that perceives God and sets the platform through which we act in the cosmos. It fashions the way we interact with others, our environment and ultimately the divine.
Our hearts are also the seats of our emotions. When we panic, have anxiety attacks, get fits of depression or feel extraordinarily calm and tranquil, the core sense through which these states take place in is the metaphysical heart. The physical manifestations that we experience spring from this center.
How can we then dismiss the importance of developing our qalb? It is the qalb that is at the center of our being, the container of our ʿaql and the lens through which our souls perceive the world. As long as we are immersed in heedlessness and acedia (ghaflah), pride and sin, our hearts will only grow in darkness and thus endanger not only our success in the next life, but our inner peace will also be compromised.
The reception of a prestigious academic degree may reward us with a sense of accomplishment in this world and take us far ahead, but it is the development of the heart that will rehabilitate our soul’s relationship with God and bring us true and lasting inner peace.
Dr. Nabi Raza Abidi
Resident Imam of the SABA Islamic Center