A new book offers heartfelt perspectives on Islamic theology and also walks readers through practical exercises that inspire love, strengthen faith, and increase reliance on and intimacy with God. “Secrets of Divine Love: A Spiritual Journey into the Heart of Islam” by A Helwa draws upon the inspirational words of the Quran and Prophet Muhammad and shares lessons through stories from the world’s greatest spiritual masters.
The author-poet says though her book is about Islamic spirituality and practices, she believes God is bigger than any one religion or philosophy. “I choose Islam as my faith, but I offer you these words from the Quran not to change you, but to remind you how much you are loved by God. I believe that just as wisdom teachings from other faiths have enriched my relationship with God, the deeper dimensions of Islam may also inspire you, regardless of what path you choose to walk,” she says.
Helwa believes that every single person on earth is deeply loved by the divine. She started her blog while obtaining her masters in divinity as a means of helping others overcome personal and spiritual struggles on their journey of experiencing divine love. According to the author, “Secrets of Divine Love” was written for the longing heart, for the one who is searching for something they have not been able to find. “For the one who sometimes spirals into hopelessness and cannot help but feel too imperfect for a perfect God to love.”
This book is for the one who is at the edge of their faith, who has experienced religion as a harsh winter instead of the life-bearing spring it was sent to be by God, she says. “Whether you are on the path of Islam or just seeking to know God, ‘Secrets of Divine Love’ uses the language of spirituality to transform your relationship with God, yourself, and the world around you,” Helwa writes in the book, published by Penguin Random House.
She says her book takes readers on a journey through the mysterious nature of God and His unconditional mercy and love for all. “It then delves into who you are and how the Quran can be used as a map for manifesting your greatest potential. By unveiling the spiritual secrets that are hidden in the heart of Islam’s pillars, principles and practices, this book calls you to contemplate the divine beauty that is imbedded in every atom of existence,” she writes.
For her, awakening to faith is not a one-time event, but a continuously unfolding reality. “The journey of faith is not a race, but a marathon of love that each person walks at a different pace.” Although each person’s experience of God is unique to them, Helwa says in writing this book, she felt guided to share her story, as a testimony that God’s love and mercy have the power to change every heart they touch.
She says she visited mosques around the world, lived in a monastery, had spiritual experiences meditating with Buddhist monks, studied Taoism and Kabbalah, but still couldn’t find the inner peace she was seeking.
“In my early twenties, I was travelling through a small town in Turkey called Cappadocia, when the divine spark of faith reignited within me like lightning. All it took was my eyes to fall upon a woman who was drowned in her worship of God. I watched her pray in an old 17th-century animal barn, as if nothing in the world existed but her divine lover.
“She did not robotically repeat words of prayer like a formula; rather, every word she uttered came with a silent ‘I love you, my beloved Lord.’ Her words were like synchronised dancers swimming in unison in the ocean of love that poured out of her. She was the first person I had ever seen in my life that not only prayed but she herself became the prayer. I knew instantly that she had everything my soul had been seeking…” Helwa writes.