Islam is a very spiritual religion and our outward actions have a spiritual effect. For example, for congregational salah Rasulullah صلى الله عليه وسلم instructed “Straighten your rows [thrice]. By Allah you should indeed straighten your rows or Allah will cause your hearts to differ.” [Abu Dawood ]
In addition, ilm is priceless and the journey towards it is a very spiritual experience. The manner by which a person sits as well as the place where he sits in a gathering of knowledge determines how much he will benefit spiritually. Sayyiduna Anas رضى الله عنه narrates that “Rasulullah صلى الله عليه وسلم was preaching to the companions when three men arrived. One found a place to sit near the front, the second sat where he was and the third person turned away. Rasulullah صلى الله عليه وسلم said, “As for the first one, he came forward so Allah brought him forward. As for the second he stayed where he was so Allah left him where he was, and as for the third he shied away so Allah shied away from him.” [Al Mustadrak of Imam Hakim]
Again this story highlights the spiritual effect of one’s actions. The person who sat at the front of the gathering, Allah سبحانه وتعالى in reward for his eagerness and zeal brought him forward spiritually and enhanced his connection with Him. As for the person who sat wherever he found himself, Allah سبحانه وتعالى left him where he was spiritually, and as for the third person who turned away, he was left behind spiritually.
[This short excerpt is based on a brothers' majlis (gathering for spiritual training) held by Shaykh Abu Yusuf Riyadh ul Haq on 10th November 1999]