Where do we perceive God from? We perceive Him, just like beauty, through our hearts and not just our industrial minds.
We have two types of minds, one is the industrial, analytical or empirical mind, and the other is the spiritual mind. Through the industrial mind (ʿaql-i abzārī) we relate to the world through our basic physical senses but it is through the spiritual mind that we relate to Allah and develop a trusting, intimate relationship with Him.
The spiritual mind is just another word for the metaphysical heart or soul (qalb) of the human. The heart that is the perceptive mechanism of the human spirit and is the faculty through which one experiences Allah. Faith or īmān is thus found in the heart and not the industrial mind. Those who look for divine truth with the industrial mind will have success to some degree at the beginning, but its long-term effects will only be surface deep.
What does this mean? We often try to understand the world of creation and God’s existence through scientific and empirical observation. Although this approach does have its benefits, it is not enough to establish a healthy spiritual relationship with God which we call īmān. Without a habitual effort to relate to God on an inward and esoteric level through correcting our akhlāq (manners), grounding humility in our beings, performing dhikr (remembering God through the inward meditation of the heart) and instilling love within us for His creation, simple rational facts will not take us too far.
If we want to find Allah, we must bring our industrial minds into our hearts. As the qalb is the core of human self-awareness, the energy of the industrial mind must move within the metaphysical heart for it to find its true potential. Depending on the industrial mind only will often bring spiritual emptiness and lack of true īmān in the long term.
As the Qur’an says, to truly perceive God, we must reason with our hearts (qulūbun yaʿqilūn) and not simply restrict ourselves to an industrial view of the world or else we run the risk of missing out on the truth and being blinded.
Allah says in the Qur’an:
So have they not traveled through the earth and have hearts by which to reason and ears by which to hear? For indeed, it is not eyes that are blinded, but blinded are the hearts which are within the breasts. (Surah al-Hajj, verse 46)
A tree is not just the sum of its material parts with leaves that grow on minerals and photosynthesis, it is also a beautiful piece of art whose beauty only the qalb can perceive and not the industrial mind.
Perceiving beauty is an activity of the heart, not the industrial mind and it is through this perception of beauty that God can be found in.
Nabi Raza Abidi
Resident Imam of the SABA Islamic Center