Although seldom spoken about, Islam is a way and a path that is deeply connected to the natural world and the cycles of the Universe. One of the most important realizations that come directly from the teachings of the blessed and noble Prophet Muhammad ﷺ and the Holy Qur’an is the fact that the entire Universe is alive and that we live in an ocean of consciousness.
The Universe is Alive and Conscious
Allah Almighty affirms throughout the Qur’an that the heavens, the earth and all between them are conscious, alive and praising their Lord, Creator and Sustainer.
The seven heavens and the earth and all that is within them glorify He. There is not a single thing that does not celebrate His praise, yet you do not understand their glorification. Verily, He is the Forbearing, the Forgiving!
— Surah al-Isra (Holy Qur’an, 17:44)
From these blessed and sacred verses, and many others like unto them, it is clear that the entire Universe is alive and conscious, and that it joyously glorifies and praises its Creator.
To Be a Muslim is to Be in Harmony
The Muslim is, by definition, he or she who is in harmony with all that is through deep internal spiritual surrender. By relinquishing internal resistance to the Will of God as it manifests in the present moment, the believer awakens to the reality that the Universe is alive.
Through deep and unconditional internal spiritual surrender, the Muslim surrenders through their breath, which directly connects the human being to his or her Creator. Deep and conscious breathing not only connects the human being to the Universe, but also to the Divine Presence of God.
I created him and breathed into him of My Spirit.
— Surah al-Hijr (Holy Qur’an, 15:29)
Breath is the Key to Surrender
Carrying deep secrets of creation, conscious breathing is so important in Islam and in spiritual development that the great Shaykh Abdul Khaliq al-Ghujdawani (qs) who lived in the 12th Century of the Common Era established it as the very first pillar of the spiritual path in his famous 8 Principles Spirituality of the Khawajagan Naqshbandi Masters of Central Asia.
Every breath which is inhaled and exhaled with presence is alive and connected with the Divine Presence. Every breath inhaled and exhaled with heedlessness is dead and disconnected from the Divine Presence.
— Shaykh Abdul Khaliq al-Ghujdawani (qs)
While life based in fear results in tension, contraction and compromised breath, living in faith and presence through surrender and relaxation results in expansion, connection, healing and spiritual awakening.
By focusing on and becoming one with your breath, you transcend the mind, time and the world and awaken heart and soul-based consciousness. In this state, one becomes increasingly aware that the entire Universe is alive and conscious. Through such conscious awareness and spiritual surrender, one increasingly becomes selfless through transcendence of ego-based consciousness, thereby rising in God-consciousness and awareness in the Divine Presence of Truth.
The Universe is Alive
By becoming aware that the Universe is alive, the believer begins to develop a deep connection, love and reverence for all things and for all lifeforms. The Muslim thus acts and lives with excellence in every dimension of his or her life, and each act is conscious, intentional, aware and infused with love and compassion.
Such a conscious and connected state and way of life is indicative of a living heart, the ultimate goal of the spiritual path and of religion itself. It is for this reason that Shah Naqshband (qs), in addition to the 8 Principles established by Shaykh Abdul Khaliq al-Ghujdawani (qs), added an additional three for a total of eleven, the last and final being Heart Based Consciousness.
Tension which is a result of the ego-mind and its inherent fear can be transcended through surrender, relaxation and conscious breathing, thus elevating the individual in consciousness and awareness, and enabling the seeker to progress in the journey from the self to the Divine.
Relax, breathe deep, surrender, believe and trust in your Lord and Sustainer, and deepen your connection with the Universe.
To your divine and eternal success.