Rivers of Truth
Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it. Norman Maclean
The origins of the word, “Shariah” signifies, “the path to the watering place” or in symbolic terms, a way to reach the heavens. In the desert the only way to obtain water is knowing the paths to various wells which provide water from deep, ancient aquifers. Those wandering in a spiritual desert also need to know where to obtain spiritual truth, or they too will die a slow death — a spiritual death. The path is a well defined way, and in Islam, this is the external direction based upon the Qur’an which includes laws and prohibitions.
There are times and places that are spiritual wildernesses — where the rivers of truth have dried up, and the only way to be refreshed with living water is from those whose faith is so deep they can tap into deep underground rivers to keep truth and religion alive. There are rivers flowing; deep vast rivers fed by underground springs that keep the surface rivers alive. These rivers in turn provide life, and flourish the earth with abundance.
But even the desert with no apparent surface life still has underground aquifers and rivers that sustains life at the deepest level. This is symbolic of religious truth. When a religion turns toward a more conservative, fundamentalist surface understanding of truth — and usually as a reaction to increasing immoral behavior and weakening religion, the believers are led back to moral behavior; but moral behavior based upon external controls is without the deeper spiritual understanding to maintain the behavior. Subsequently, the next pendulum swing in the opposite direction is increased mysticism, or a turning inward to obtain deeper spiritual truths. This is going into the deeper consciousness levels in the brain to tap into spiritual truths via the intellect combined with intuition. This is a spiritual representation of the physical — underground rivers.
What makes the desert beautiful is that somewhere it hides a well. Antoine de Saint-Exupery
A river that is not fed with underground springs is at risk for drying up and dying. And, only a select few can access the significant inner truths found in mysticism which has at its risk a desire for knowledge of Allah, but not necessarily with a transformation of external behavior which is the needed component to transform a society or civilization. However, having the capability to tap into those intuitive layers of consciousness requires a person with a faith whose roots are so strong and deep that they continue to flourish and grow even while living in a culture that is spiritually dying out.
Places on our earth that physically flourish are those with both spring fed surface rivers and underground aquifers. This is what is needed to provide the balance for a civilization’s spiritual life as well. Spiritual growth requires surface waters — the external representations in the form of laws to govern behavior as well as the underground waters to provide the deeper, intuitive spiritual truths that motivate a spiritual desire from the heart to follow the external laws — not out of fear of punishment, but arising out of the strong love for Allah and others.
This type of spirituality is mature, and full of wisdom. And, wisdom from Allah grows life abundantly in ways we can’t even imagine. Wisdom leads to submission to Allah, and submission leads to revelation of increasing spiritual truths, and increasing spiritual truths leads to His Kingdom being established on earth.
“Say, ‘Just think: if all of your water were to sink deep into the earth who could give you flowing water in its place?” (Surah 67:30)
In this verse, the angel Gabriel is responding to the Prophet’s Muhammad’s (pbuh) constant concerns over non-believers refusing to heed his warnings. It is a clear picture of the desert where Islam arose (Saudia Arabia), where most of the water is underground. This verse is a metaphor- the angel is referring to the Prophet who is the one providing the flowing water. Flowing water symbolizes the living water of spiritual truth which pours from Allah’s human vessels to a spiritual wilderness to grow and flourish abundantly. Subhan’Allah!