On Spiritual Mentors, and Other Musings
Recently, I've begun thinking about spiritual mentors... actually, I stared thinking about it during the summer, when I was feeling dreadfully homesick and in desperate need of comfort (which I didn't get, unfortunately). It was when I felt that my Imaan was suffering that I felt especially in need of a spiritual mentor to whom I could turn to, on whose shoulder I could lean on and hear comforting words of wisdom from.
This feeling was compounded when, surfing the 'Net, I came across something about Sufis and their shaykhs. I'm not Sufi, of course, but something about it caught my attention. Reading the biography of Imam Sufyaan ibn 'Uyaynah (a great muhaddith of his time), I came across something similar, describing the need for a student of knowledge to have a good teacher.
Now, I am one of those who desires to become a student of knowledge, a Shaykha, bi ithnillaah. I try to learn whatever little I can about Islam, but simply reading books and listening to halaqas don't seem to really be enough for me. What I want, what I feel I need, is a spiritual mentor.
I've never really had a spiritual mentor, or a real religious teacher... I used to wish to be my father's student - it would've been perfect: he, the sheikh, and I, his devoted daughter and student... we could have been a great father-daughter team! - but Allah willed it otherwise, and it's never come to be... nor does it seem that it well ever be a reality. Ah, well...
The closest I've had to spiritual mentors are two women from my old Islamic centre, whom I've known for years - since I was about 9 or 10 years old. Technically, they're my mom's friends, but we all love each other dearly, so it's all good... :)
Anyway, these two women - may Allah reward them and grant them the best of this world and the Hereafter - are amazing! Both of them are converts - one of them, H., converted when she was 16, and is now studying Islam through an Islamic university by correspondence; and the other, A., converted a few years ago and has been with 'us' (our Islamic centre) ever since.
A. is by far one of my favouritest people EVER! She has a wonderful sense of humour - she can make anything and everything seem funny - and she tries to learn whatever she can about Islam while supporting her two kids (she's a single mom).
Both of them have always had the time to sit with me, talk to me, listen to me... we can talk about everything on the face of the earth, although we usually just talk about Islam and politics (my favourite subjects! Yay!). They have helped me SO much, especially with my personal struggle with identity and my goals in life.
In this new city of mine, I am utterly bereft of anyone who could possibly act as a mentor. Which totally sucks, because I really do need one. Right now, I'm trying to blunder through my life as best I can, pathetically trying to muster enough energy and motivation to finish my homework and do my chores. Spiritually, I feel very weak - may Allah forgive me and grant me strength! Reading books on Islam isn't enough... I feel that I need someone to really be there for me, to support me and help give me an Imaan boost when I need it...
Mind you, this blog and having you guys comment does help... but it's not the same, y'know?
Having a spiritual mentor is really important, I think - an older person whom you can look up to and learn from, as well as occasionally just hang out and have fun with. Someone other than a parent, because it can be easier to accept advice and criticism from friends than family.
The people of the past, the Sahaaba and the Taabi'een and others, they recognized the importance of having spiritual mentors and teachers. As youth, they sought out the people of knowledge and spent time in their company, learning all sorts of things from them, absorbing their wisdom... thus was the inheritance of the Prophets (peace be upon them all) passed down from one generation to the next!
There are many times that I wish that I could live 'back in the day' - the days of the Prophet (SAW), of the Sahaabah, the Taabi'een, and the Atba' at-Taabi'een - for various reasons. Some are obvious - those were the days when knowledge abounded, when the true scholars of Islam were at their peak, when the people weren't as lost as we are today.
One of the reasons that I wish I lived back then is that it would've been so much easier for me to dedicate my life to Islam, starting from a young age. I wouldn't have had to bother about things like high school, and my role as a young woman would have been much more clearly defined than it is right now. I would have the opportunity to attach myself to a shaykh or a shaykha, sitting at their feet, attending to them and learning from them... and I wouldn't have been distracted by such petty things as TV or the Internet and stuff.
In the Hadith that discusses the seven types of people who will recieve shade on the Day of Judgement, when there is no shade except that which Allah will grant to certain people, one of those mentioned is the youth who has dedicated him/herself to Allah since their childhood. I would dearly love to be one of these youth - but I wonder if I qualify!
Subhan'Allah, in today's world we are so easily distracted from the really important things, the things that will determine our fate in the Hereafter. We're so caught up with stuff like school, work, achieving material success... it consumes our lives, at the expense of our spiritual well-being!
Even me, just a teenager in high school... I often find it difficult to concentrate on the simple yet most important things, like salaah. I'm busy wondering and worrying about other things - did I finish my Math assignment? Did I begin researching a topic for one of my subjects? Did I clean the bathroom? Am I almost finished my library book? What's my brother doing in my room?
So much emphasis is placed on working hard to achieve material gains that we forget about just taking a break from it all and simply devoting ourselves to Allah and His Commands. It's so scary! Sometimes I wish that I could just run away and live in a small village out in the middle of nowhere, without TV or the Internet or other bothersome technologies. I'd like to live the simple life, not depending too much on material things, with more mental space to think about the important stuff, and more time to actually *do* the important stuff.
Yikes, I just realized how long this is! Sorry for rambling on like that... but it's something that's been buzzing around in my head for a while now, so I wanted to share it with you and see what you all have to say.
Your little sister in Islam,
Friday, January 12, 2007
On Spiritual Mentors, and Other Musings
Posted by AnonyMouse at 9:34 AM