Here and Now: Islam

Islam’s recognition of present-moment living flows from the sense of God’s comprehensive presence.  It shares this perception with other religions, but I write of it here because it is a major emphasis in Islam.

The Quran describes it this way: “Wheresoever you turn, there is the Face of God (2:115). [1]  Among other things this means we do not have to look to the past or to the future to experience God.  God is present here-and-now.  This includes the belief that God is omnipresent, but it is more than being.  God’s presence is active, noted by commentators in four ways: giving direction, offering forgiveness, being generous, and especially in showing mercy.  In the present moment our relationship with God is one of blessing and benefit.

Related to this, we can note that our awareness and receptivity to God’s presence is enhanced through reading and reflecting on the Quran.  In ways akin to lectio divina, the Quran is viewed as a text that is not only informative, but also formative.  When used in this way, the Quran itself becomes a present-moment text “a guide for the attainment of beatitude even in this world.” [2]

The basic understanding of beatitude in Islam is joy born out of reverence (taqwā).  This is fundamentally expressed in worship and prayer, but it is also a disposition of the heart in which we experience “other qualities as trust (tawakkul), hope (rajāʾ), piety (birr), fear (khawf), and contentment (riḍā).” [3]

So in Islam, as in the other religions we are looking at, present-moment living is the aim.  Attentiveness is the means through which we recognize that God is with us, and the means by which we live abundantly here and now.

[1] ‘The Study Quran: A New Translation and Commentary’ (HarperOne, 2015).

[2] Ibid., xxvii.

[3] Ibid., 14.

About Steve Harper

Retired seminary professor, who taught for 32 years in the disciplines of Spiritual Formation and Wesley Studies. Author and co-author of 31 books. Also a retired Elder in The Florida Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church
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