Islamic Garden

Islamic Garden
Islamic Garden in Lausanne, Switzerland

Monday, September 15, 2008

Siratal Mustaqim - A Jihad of Self-Refinement

Azmina Suleman's inspiring memoir about her NDE addresses the issue of the responsibility of every soul to pursue the process of self-refinement or as it is described in Eastern spiritual traditions: "Self-Cultivation". She urges us to consider working on what she calls "the emotional self," which might be interpreted as a psychoanalytic or Depth Psychological approach to a deeper Jihad of the Siratal Mustaqim, and one that she describes in her own journey of self-discovery:

"By bringing reason and intellect to bear upon our emotions, we theoretically have the ability to get past our emotions and regain control over our lives. But in reality it is not quite as straightforward as it seems, as I found myself asking the question, "What about those emotions that were already contaminating my system and preventing me from thinking rationally in the first place?"

I recognized that there was no easy way around that problem. The only way to penetrate the dense wall of my emotions was to honestly and openly acknowledge those fears and emotions, and then courageously facing up to those emotions. Therefore, in order to heal myself emotionally, I realized that I would first have to clear away the toxic emotions already clogging up my system. In other words, I would have to go through that painful process of opening up the festering wound of my emotions and allowing it to drain before I could rid myself of all the putrefying emotions in my life.

Thus, it struck me that the only way to heal my emotional wounds, was to systematically uncover the various layers of my emotion through the process called "catharsis." Through the conscious application of the three R's of catharsis - namely, "Revisiting," "Reliving" and then finally "Releasing" the negative memories associated with emotions - I could once again allow the light of truth and reason to enter my heart. I knew that once I stopped identifying myself with my ego or emotional self and realized that I was more than the sum total of my feelings and emotions, I had the very real ability to once again connect with that true and authentic part of myself just waiting to be discovered.

All the pent up emotion in our lives, I realized, acted like a "tarnish" upon the clear mirror of our souls that created a distinct fuzziness and distortion in our perception of reality. And I knew that only through the process of consciously recreating those emotions and looking them squarely in the eye, would we finally be able to desensitize and release ourselves from the gross distortions and errors in judgment associated with those emotions.

The often slow and painful process of getting in touch with our true feelings and laying our pasts to rest, however, requires that we be brutally honest with ourselves. Unless we are willing to confront the truth about ourselves - our fears, our negativity, and our own role in creating our problems - we cannot heal ourselves emotionally. It is a process that requires a critical self-examination of ourselves. We need to reflect upon both our inner motives as well as outward actions and subject ourselves to a thorough psychoanalysis - either privately, if we are capable of being totally honest with ourselves, or professionally if we are not."

~ Excerpted from "A Passage to Eternity" by Azmina Suleman (2004, pp. 80-81).

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