Jesus Christ has said: “Man cannot live by bread alone.” (Matthew 4:4) This is also a teaching of the Qur’an. Apart from physical food, a person also needs spiritual food. Physical food is needed for your body and spiritual food is necessary for your intellectual development. Addressing the Prophet the Qur’an says in the chapter Ta Ha (Ta Ha): Do not regard with envy the worldly benefits We have given some of them, for with these We seek only to test them. The provision of your Lord is better and more lasting. (20:131)
We take physical food through our digestive system and we take spiritual food through thinking and observation. Both are not two different items, in fact, both are one and the same. In the very items that we take as food, there is spiritual content also. We can extract this spiritual item through thinking and contemplation. For example, if you take some food like bread and rice or vegetable and fruit, you should think of how it was possible that soil was able to produce such beneficial items. Then you discover that it was due to God’s blessing. This kind of thinking inculcates love towards God Almighty. Acknowledging God Almighty, you say: ‘O Lord you are so merciful and compassionate towards mankind.’
Then, again you think that although these things were on the earth, but were there in terms of potential. Who made this potential into actuality? Then you realize that there are farmers, agriculturists, horticulturalists, and others who performed great labor on soil and so it was possible for the soil to yield such products useful for people. This discovery inculcates in your heart great love towards mankind. You say: ‘O people I am thankful to you. Due to your valuable contribution, it was possible that I could have such nice and delicious items for my lunch and dinner.’ This is an example of spiritual extraction from physical items. This extraction, on the one hand, makes you able to acknowledge God’s blessing, and on the other hand, it enables you to acknowledge man’s contribution towards you and towards civilization. These spiritual experiences are highly valuable to the spiritual development of the personality of a true believer.
“Divine provision” in the above verse is not used in the sense that the reward will be given to the believer only in the later period of life. Certainly, believers will receive rewards in the world hereafter. But in the present world also they will receive provision. This provision will be spiritual provision—the provision that a believer extracts from worldly experiences. These spiritual experiences are highly valuable to the spiritual development of the personality of a true believer. In one sense a believer is a spiritual personality, and this spiritual personality is developed in a person through those spiritual lessons which he drives through contemplation in the world around him. Spiritual food is a kind of inspirational food, the source of this inspiration is twofold: contemplation in the glory of God and deriving lessons from experiences had in daily life. The Qur’anic spirituality is not mysterious spirituality; it is based on the mind and can be received through applying wisdom in daily experiences.