February 16, 2006

Guest Speaker Explores Spiritual Healing Through Islam

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Unveiling a plan to live a better life through Islam and other religions, Murat Baday from the University of Pittsburgh, spoke yesterday to a group of students in a lecture entitled “Spiritual Healing in Islam,” sponsored by the Cornell Institute for Islamic Spirituality.

Throughout the lecture, Baday spoke of the intermingling of physical and spiritual disease, and the influence of God in each.

“Your physical health is heavily influenced by your spiritual life, and vice versa. We must have both to lead a full life,” Baday said.

Baday offered examples of diseases and a path through faith by which one can overcome them. Citing “there is a reason for every problem,” he offered four steps to improving one’s spiritual health: realizing the problem, reasoning “within yourself,” self-criticism, and self-purification.

“One person may be causing disorder in himself and in the society around him, but may not realize that he is an angry or sick person. He needs to look inside himself and find out he is thankful for what he has,” Baday said.

Baday continually emphasized the overarching role of God in the universe, reading a few quotes from the Qur’an to support his point. According to Baday, God created everything on the Earth for the use of the human race.

“God created this world, and entrusted it to human beings alone. To know and to love God is man’s duty. By worshipping God in a devout way, he fulfills this duty,” he said.

Baday next spoke of man’s “many loves,” and how attachment to some of them too tightly, like money and position, can lead to “mental disorders.”

“The only way we can find real, true love is through God because he has given us all these things to love. He has set us a place for all time in the hereafter, and for this above all else, we should be thankful to him,” Baday said.

He encouraged people to find their own effective relationship with God, whatever religion they may be. He said to be patient and asking with God, and never to make terms with Him.

“He knows best. Be willing to accept what God provides, since he created it. Even if you lose somebody, it’s not the end, because you will see them again in the afterlife,” Baday said.

Baday also spoke of the “Infinite and Finite” games, where life was compared to one large game board. The goal of the finite life, Baday said, was to play for material things and reputations. The ultimate loss is death.

“However, the ‘Infinite Game’ is based on heart – it is full of peace and love. There is no way to lose in this game; death has no power here,” he said.

Baday spent the second part of his lecture speaking of how Islam could specifically bring God and humanity closer together, and how diseases could impart lessons as well as pain.

“It is easy to despair when we are afflicted by disease. But remember that these diseases change us and can be a lesson to appreciate what we have in the time that we are given,” he said.

He said there were also lessons to be found in recent natural disasters around the globe, reminders that God has ultimate control of our lives.

“Ultimately, we can’t have total control of our lives. When these disasters strike, they hurt many, but they can also make us closer to God in by reminding us of the value of human life,” Baday said.

The solution of life, he said, could be found in prescribed prayers. By declaring one’s faith, remembering their five daily prayers, fasting at Ramadan and other occasions, by giving charity, and making pilgrimages, one could find a closer relationship with God.

“Islam doesn’t ask for an extraordinary lifestyle,” he said.

Baday also said that by the wealthy giving charity, the gap between rich and poor is reduced and tensions are relieved.

“God blessed some of us with money, but we should give most of this back. With sharing, poor people lose their envy and jealously of the rich,” he said.

Baday concluded with a spiritual poem from the essential of Rumi, and several statistics showing the positive influence of religion on health. His lecture was warmly received by Islamic members of the audience.

“It’s a good perspective to have on Islam these days. It’s not something you hear discussed about Islam around campus,” said Sophia Majeed ’06.

“He talked about prayer in an interesting way; he pried it out of something we just do for habit and made it about getting closer to loving God,” said Sanaa Ghouzali grad, who also attended.

Archived article by William Cohen
Sun Staff Writer