Meditation in IslamBy Maulana Wahiduddin Khan
There are two concepts or schools of meditation in Islam. One is that which is described in the Qur’an and Sunnah, another is that which has been developed by the Sufis in later times (that is, after the first phase, considered the ideal phase of Islam).
The original concept of meditation is based on contemplation, called tafakkur in the Qur’an. That is, reflection upon the universe to gain food for thought. To put it differently, this is a form of intellectual development which emanates from a higher level, i.e. from God.
his intellectual process through the receiving of divine inspiration awakens and liberates the human mind, permitting man’s inner personality to develop and grow so that he may lead his life on a spiritual plane far above the mundane level.
The second form of meditation, the one developed by the Sufis, is largely based on mystical exercises. However, this method is controversial among Muslim scholars. One group of Ulama, Al-Ghazzali, for instance, have accepted it, another group of Ulama, Ibn-Taimia, for instance, have rejected it as an innovation.
The root of the word TAFAKKUR is F-K-R. This root appears in Quran about 18 times. It has the following meanings:
- To think upon, consider or examine a thing
- To consider a thing in order to obtain a clear knowledge of it
- To employ one’s mind, thought or mental consideration upon something
- To reflect, think on, ponder over
- To consider, contemplate, ponder with care, attention and endeavour
- Arranging of known things [in the mind] in order to attain [the knowledge of] unknown [thing]
Importance of thinking, contemplation and reflection according to Quran
Please refer to the following verses:
Say, “I only exhort you to do ONE thing: That you rise for the sake of Allah in pairs or singly and THINK & REFLECT!...” [34:46]
Say, “Are the ones who are blind in respect of the mind equal to those who are endowed with mental perception and understanding? Will you not then THINK & REFLECT?” [6:50]
Allah makes clear to you Al-Ayaat, so that you may THINK & REFLECT [2:219, 2:266]
Verily, in the creation of the heaven and the earth, and in the alteration of night and day, there are indeed signs for men of understanding-those who remember [the Guidance of] Allah standing, sitting and lying down on their sides, and THINK & REFLECT about the creation of the heavens and the earth… [3:190-191]
We explain in detail Al-Ayaat for the people who THINK & REFLECT [10:24]
And it is He who spread out the earth, and set thereon mountains standing firm and (flowing) rivers: and fruit of every kind He made in pairs, two and two: He draweth the night as a veil o'er the Day. Behold, verily in these things there are Ayaat [proofs, evidences, lessons, signs, etc.] for those who THINK & REFLECT! [13:3]
It is He who sends down rain from the sky: from it ye drink, and out of it (grows) the vegetation on which ye feed your cattle. With it He produces for you corn, olives, date-palms, grapes and every kind of fruit Behold, verily in these things there are Ayaat [proofs, evidences, lessons, signs, etc.] for those who THINK & REFLECT! [16:10-11]
We have sent down unto thee the Message; that you may explain clearly to men what is sent for them, and that they may THINK & REFLECT! [16:44]
And thy Lord inspired the bee, saying: Choose thou habitations in the hills and in the trees and in that which they thatch; Then eat of all fruits, and follow the ways of thy Lord, made smooth (for thee). There comes forth from their bellies a drink divers of hues, wherein is healing for mankind. Lo! herein is indeed a portent for people who THINK & REFLECT [16:68-69]
Do they not THINK & REFLECT in their own selves [or minds]? Not but for just ends and for a term appointed, did Allah create the heavens and the earth, and all between them: yet are there truly many among men who deny the meeting with their Lord (at the Resurrection)! [30:8]
And among His Signs is this that He created for you mates from among yourselves, that ye may dwell in tranquillity with them, and He has put love and mercy between your (hearts): verily in that are Signs for those who THINK & REFLECT [30:21].
It is Allah that takes the souls (of men) at death; and those that die not (He takes) during their sleep: those on whom He has passed the decree of death, He keeps back (from returning to life), but the rest He sends (to their bodies) for a term appointed verily in this are Signs for those who THINK & REFLECT [39:42].
And He has made subservient to you whatsoever is in the heavens and whatsoever is in the earth, all, from Himself; most surely there are signs in this for a people who THINK & REFLECT [45:13].Had We sent down this Quran on a mountain, you would certainly have seen it falling down, splitting asunder because of the fear of Allah, and We set forth these parables to men that they may THINK & REFLECT [59:21].