One of my classes this semester is Religion & Spirituality in Europe. Are Europeans becoming less religious? Does the fact that fewer and fewer people go to church mean anything? How many people still believe in God? So far, we’ve found that actually the majority of Dutch people do believe in God, but are simply detaching themselves from religious institutions like the Church. A new type of religiosity is forming, that includes aspects of new-age spirituality for example. Religion now seems to be much more personal & private.
A comment during one class struck me. Someone mentioned that for many Dutch people (and probably other Europeans too), God is not something they think about a lot. Maybe once a while one may spend some time thinking about life, God, death, etc, but it is not a conscious every-day experience. This made me realize how it is the opposite for me, as a Muslim. A large part of my day is spent either thinking about God, or worshiping him – consciously and unconsciously.
There is, of course, prayer. But aside from that, I find that God is always on my mind, or at least somewhere in the back of my mind. Every decision I take involves thinking about what God would think, whether it was right, whether it is sunnah, etc. So in effect, God-related thoughts are often in my head.
This is truly one of my favourite things about Islam. There is a constant connection between you & God. And this connection is very beneficial for society in general. If I’m in a rush and all I want to do is push the slow-walking people in front of me but I refrain from doing so because I know it’s wrong and God wouldn’t be very happy about it, I’m doing something good. Of course we should all we doing these things anyway – if something is wrong I shouldn’t do it, without having to use God’s displeasure as another reason. But realistically, there are many small things I’m tempted to do every day (even though I know they’re wrong) and I usually refrain because I know God wouldn’t be happy.
This personal relationship is amazing. It strikes me as being so much better (for us humans) than a relationship with a distant deity that I only stop and think about once in a while, or during the “big moments”. These small moments make up life, and by thinking of God during them, I’m ensuring that God is a constant part of my life. It also means that I’m constantly realizing things that I’m not sure of the Islamic position on, and this encourages me to find them out and thus acquire more knowledge.
“But we are nearer to him than his jugular vein.” 50:16