‘He, therefore, is a wise and prudent man, who, after morning prayer, spends an hour renewing his own spiritual reckoning, and says, “My soul, you only have one life; no moment that has passed can be recovered, and in God’s mind the number of your breaths has been set down and cannot be increased. When life is done, no spiritual highways will hold the traffic of your freighted soul, therefore what you would do, you must do now; so treat this day as if your life were spent, and this, an extra day, was granted you by special favor of Almighty God. What folly greater than to lose this chance?”
– Selection from Al-Ghazali’s Alchemy of Happiness, interpreted by Javez L. Van Cleef
The Alchemy of Happiness (Kimiya’e al Saadat) by one of the most celebrated Muslim mystic of all time, Imam Al Ghazali, is considered a timeless spiritual masterpiece. It is an abridgment of Ghazali’s magnus opus, his famous treatise on mystical Islam, The Revival of the Religious Sciences (Ihya Ulum al-Din).
It is often considered as a manual for finding happiness in life and joining with God after death. In this work, the master mystic details advice for seekers and traveler of the Way for attaining of the goal which he calls “spiritual happiness.” In the Alchemy, Ghazali has provided the seekers with a critique of faith and a detailed guidebook for the pure ecstasy of the loving Divine Presence: absolute spiritual happiness.
In the spirit of restoring the oral tradition, contemporary poet and author Jabez L. Van Cleef has done a wonderful contribution to the genre of religious literature for our time by producing the complete book, ‘The Alchemy of Happiness’ into an audio book or pod cast.
In his production, Jabez L. Van Cleef has interpreted the text in iambic pentameter verse with occasional mix of tunes. His lucid voice brings out an ethereal quality of this already mystical text in such a way that it penetrates the heart of the listener.
A text like this by no mean an easy read for all and an opportunity to listen to it reconfirms the power of oral tradition, a universal approach appreciated and emphasized especially in the Islamic tradition.