Muhammad Yousuf : The word intellectuality is derived from the word intellect which relates to human ability to think and understand things, specially complicated ideas. Contrary to that the word Spirituality has various meaning depending on the mindset of the speaker/writer. To some, it is the concept of having a connection of all spirits to its source which is our creator. To others, it means connection with the source of knowledge by means of a system (Tarikat) not practiced or taught in general academic curriculum, be it in western or eastern society. One need not be in any defined religion or sect to believe in spirituality. Hinduism or Buddhism also shows some spiritual linkage , though power and magnitude may differ. On the other hand, intellectuality is a quality of a human being that can be attained by having long and in-depth study on related subjects, provided she/he is blessed with the necessary faculty needed to achieve it. Purpose is to define these two terminologies at conceptual level.
Intellectuality relates to knowledge and wisdom while spirituality relates to faith and connection. Spirituality can be attained without religious principles, but it will lack the sweetness and entirety which can touch a soul. It cannot be attained without the guidance of a monotheistic religion, but intellectuality does not require religious support. To qualify this argument, one can look at the life sketch of many spiritually enlightened peoples in history. It will tell us that in most cases intellectually enlightened personalities surrendered themselves to spiritual leaders/masters of their time. There is another form of spirituality which is basically anti spirituality, attaining some mystic power from devilish connection; they are also called devil’s worshipers, falls under the category of occult science.
Intellectuality may accompany negative or counterproductive traits but for spirituality; purity is a fundamental requirement. We know very well that many intellectually enlightened people had unstructured, indiscipline and abnormal lifestyle. On the other hand, true spiritually rich people are clean, pure and possess the gift of luminosity that emits through their actions, speeches and lifestyle that symbolizes peace and tranquility.
There may be some character assassination initiative by a group against any spiritually enlightened person but finally they were always proven to be work of people with foul intention. Like many, Abdul Qadir Zilani,(R) a designated spiritual leader of his century (Mujaddid) was declared as kafir by some so called Islamic scholars of that time. The utmost responsibility of devil is to prevent people from getting connected with the Creator. So, he has no problem when people pursue intellectuality, but devil is in real crisis when people pursue spirituality or try to get connected with Creator the ultimate source of all knowledge and power.
Technical and philosophical difference may be moderately easy to comprehend between honesty and integrity, but pretty much difficult to figure out the difference between intellectuality and spirituality. One simple example offered by an Indian think tank Shiv Khera, “Father asking son, Son if you get a wallet full of dollar suppose 5000 and none has seen while you pick that up, what you would do? Tell me honestly.” With a thoughtful pause son replied,” Probably I would keep it!” Father responded saying, “ I am happy that you are honest in saying but I expect you to be a man of integrity, had you had integrity you would not have touch that wallet or try to return that to the owner”. A man with integrity is a one man army. If honesty is liked by the people, integrity needs to be worshiped by the people. This very integrity is one of the pillars of spirituality.
To understand power of spirituality we need to look at the history. Throughout the history, it is the victor who has enforced / influenced their faith and culture over the mass of vanquished land, but it is only Islam that made a unique difference. Number of Muslim countries collapsed in the face of Mongol army’s offensive tsunami. Mongols accepted Islam being victorious over the Muslims. Astonishing, no such example is available in world history!
According to general understanding before 600 AD there was not a single Muslim in the world, today, it is 1.7 billion and rapidly expanding, whereas strong religious believes already existed on the face of the earth at the advent of Islam. Discussion of religion is very much a mandatory topic while discussing spirituality, as it originates from religion. There may be some magic or caricature to mesmerize general public, but those are part of occult science. In Arabic, miracles are rated based on the origin, whatever Allah Pak shows is “Kudrat”, whatever Nabi (sallallahu Alaihe Wasallam) showed were “Mujeja”, and whatever Walis/Awlias (friend of Allah) shows are called “Karamat”. Once someone is genuinely connected with the creator, showing miracle is a piece of walk for them. Like dividing the water of Red sea by Nabi Musa Alaihi wssallam (Mosses), remaining comfortably alive inside fire by Nabi Ibrahim Alaihi Wasallam (Abraham), bringing a dead person to life by Sayidina Issa Alaihi Wasallam (Christ) and dividing the moon by Nabi Karim Sallallahu Alaihe Wasallam (Prophet Muhammad) fall in this category.
In the west, Spirituality and intellectuality are like 2 different disciplines of pursuit and human being should try to understand the difference between the two (http://bit.ly/2J8wF3P). Islamic perspective about these 2 are different, when someone achieves spiritual emancipation, he automatically attains balance in every facets of human life let alone intellectuality. Potentials of intellectuality are limited but for spirituality it is limitless. That is why Newton or Einstein could produce groundbreaking scientific theories and inventions, but they could never perform miracles like that of Moses, Abraham, Issa/Jesus or Prophet Muhammad.
These are the acts of physical manipulation of nature by the prophets, contrary to those Intellectuals who could only play with the nature; they have no power to violate the nature’s laws. They can only invent/explore existing nature’s power by applying law hitherto unknown to the people. Thereby by inventing existing power of the nature they become famous not only for their insight, foresight or wisdom, they are further credited as visionary. Too much of intellectuality some time may have abject effect to spirituality. Let me give one example that how an intellectual person was given spirituality in his heart (Qalb). Imam Fakhruddin Razi Rahmatullah Alaihe was a prolific Islamic think tank, intellectual of his time, once he decided to learn tasawwuf (spirituality) from a Sufi saint. He went to shaykh Nojibuddin Kubra Rahmatullah Alaihe. After physically touching his Qalb (heart), with his fingertip, the shaikh said, “Qalb is full of knowledge and there is no room for spirit to accommodate”. Imam Fakhruddin Razi was advised to go to jungle and meditate as per prescribed Tarikat (system) for 2 years, he was forbidden to study any book during that period. Razi came back after 2 years and touching the Qalb “Shayk said, Qalb is more densely filled with knowledge than before, did you study any book in last 2 years?” No, “then what have you done?” I have translated holy Quran Shareef with commentaries and that took 40,000 pages. Shaikh Nojibuddin Kubra said, “That is why Knowledge has further increased. Go back for more 2 years, this time no reading and no writing only prayer, recite holy Quran and follow Tarikat with meditation.” Imam Razi was finally given the spiritual linkage after 4 years of hard work.
The lesson is, one can be intellectual by dint of hard work basing on his potentials but to be spiritual one needs to have a Sheikh, Waly/Aulia or a spiritual guide to start with. However, in either case one must have the inherent capacity and blessing to receive those.
Spiritual teachers’ states are completely different. It is said that these teachers can mend and heal spiritual diseases and help raise the level of knowledge and understanding. Modern day intellectuals argue that there is no need of spirituality in our day to day life even if there is a serious spiritual vacuum in our society. It is like saying, we can go to a doctor for physical disease but for spiritual treatment no such avenue is available.
It is the holy Quran which has mentioned clearly at the beginning, “This is the book in which there is no doubt, a guide for the righteous, those who believe in unseen” (Sura 2, Ayath 2&3). If one does not believe in unseen and does not believe in whatever Quran has said, probability of perfect spiritual enlightenment reduces substantially. So, to develop spiritually one must have the faith first. One may try and achieve such enlightenment following other religion as well, but the scope is expected to be limited as none can guaranty the correctness or effectiveness of their basic religious books as they have not been able to preserve them in their original state.
Absolute correctness of holy Quran often come under challenge by non-believers and believers of other faith. However, none could find an iota contradiction or mistake in Holy Quran except few hateful misinterpretations by anti-spirituals by taking sentences out of context. While conducting an in-depth research of the holy Quran all most all fortunate researchers reverted to Islam. They could decipher that the holy Quran is the living linkage to establish communication with the Creator through spirituality. That is why the holy Quran is also known as living document and also as a miracle.
Spirituality is on a much higher plateau than intellectuality, history provides us the best examples. At the advent of Islam, world was bipolar. World power was divided between Byzantine and Persia. They were not only rich economically and academically; they had the most technologically advanced armies. At that time no proper state craft was operating in Arabian Peninsula. Tribal leaders used to rule these nourished economically handicapped people and remain busy in internecine clash. However, with the arrival of Islam these people got spiritually linked with the source of all power blew those 2 superpowers simultaneously (700 century) like haystacks in a super typhoon. That was the true unbelievable power of spirituality.
The second Caliph/khalifa of Islam Khalifa Umar (Radiallahu Taala Anhu) before accepting Islam was a large framed flamboyant person, a great fighter, used to move with an aura of deterrence. Being totally fed up with the activities of a new religion Islam, he decided to give a final shot to the preacher of Islam. He was rushing towards Holy Prophet Muhammad (SAW) with his big open sword to close the issue of Islam once and for all by taking his life. At that point someone gave him a message that his own sister and brother-in-law have accepted Islam very recently. Being outraged by the news he rushed to his sister’s house to check the reality and found them reciting holy Quran. He beat both of them mercilessly. Being very tired from the exhaustion he ordered his sister to show him what they were reciting. His sister gave him part of (Sura number 20,Sura Toaha) that they were reading. Reading some sentences of that Sura, he could not resist himself, clearly understood that these messages cannot be from anybody but the Creator of the universe. Instantly he accepted Islam and rushed to Nabi Sallallahu Alaihe Wasallam, this time not to assassin but to surrender and submit him to the last Prophet Nabi Sallallahu Alaihe Wasallam by placing his sword at his feet and taking complete allegiance. That was a tiny miracle of living Quran.
With intellectuality there is no guarantee for heaven after death. However, from Islamic perspective heaven is guaranteed if someone can establish spiritual linkage even at the terminal period of his life journey. Therefore spirituality is an invaluable line of pursuit for every surviving believer. People of all three monotheist religions believe that spirituality is the vessel that carries a believer’s soul to the Creator.