Meditation in Islam
By 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.

by Shaykh Ahmad Hendricks

Many years ago a book called " Penny for your thoughts" was published. It would be interesting to see whom of the modern generation read this book or heard of it. The cliched title shouldn’t fool one. The intention of the author is to explore the content and quality of everyday thought. This book is not a treatise on logical thinking or the rules of correct reasoning. The systematic study of logic has to be looked for in other works and is usually the forte of experts and scholars. The subject of this book is more humble but extremely important. People you meet often are so deeply steeped in some thought or issue. A look of utter surprise comes into their faces when you ask them, " Penny for your thoughts?". What is of great interest to me is the fact that often people fail to recall the stream of thought that so deeply engrossed them. Yes we are aware of some of the many reasons why this happens. But for a Muslim to be so entirely taken over by everyday worries and concerns is not good enough. The author of this book suggests interesting and useful methods to help gain control over ones propensity to sink into purposeless thinking and well worth a read.
The quality of our thought is a very serious and important subject for any Muslim to consider. Says Allah, the Most High, in the Quran surah al ‘imran verses 190 – 191, " Surely in the creation of the heavens and the earth and the rotations of the day and night are signs for the ulul albab. Those who remember ( dhikr) Allah, the Most High, standing, sitting and whilst reclining on their sides and who think ( tafakkur) about the creation of the heavens and the earth, [ They say] O our Lord You have not created this in vain, Glory be to Thee and protect us from the fires of hell". In this verse Allah, the Most High, speaks highly of the ulul albab or literally the possessors of mind or the intellectuals. Qualities of this kind are mentioned in the Quran precisely because Muslims are expected to emulate them. The second important attribute of this level or quality of Muslim is remembrance (dhikr). We will discuss that in a later article. Our focus in this article is on the crucial matter of tafakkur.
Imam ‘Abdallah ‘Alawi al-Haddad says in his Book of Assistance, " Know that the reformation of both the din and the dunya depends on sound purposive thinking (tafakkur), and the individual who has mastered this ability has gained a portion of every possible good. It is said: Purposive thinking ( tafakkur) for an hour is better than a years worship. It is also related that Sayyidna ‘Ali, may Allah bless him, said: There is no worship ('ibadah) like purposive thinking (tafakkur). A certain gnostic is reported to have said: Purposive thinking ( tafukkur ) is the lamp of the heart, if it removed the heart has no light."
The reader will notice I’m translating the word tafakkur as "purposive thinking" not simply ‘thinking" or "contemplation". Imam Ahmad al-Haddad in his excellent book "Key to the Garden" defines tafakkur as follows: "And tafakkur is the focus and movement of the heart and mind through the meaning of things in order to reach the underlying intention, and by this, the pearls of truth is reached." Tafakkur is the art, if you like, of churning a matter around in ones mind. The intention driving this process must be to discover the truth behind a saying or clarify the real nature of a principle of belief. We shouldn’t be fooled, this is a skill one has to learn. Thinking to some purpose is a skill we have to acquire. It is also important to note that this kind of "quality thinking" formed an integral part of the texture and culture of Muslims since the time of the Prophet, may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him. A saying attributed to both ibn ‘Abbas and Abu Darda, may Allah be satisfied with both of them, goes like this " Tafakkur for an hour is better than a whole nights salaah." This ability and capacity to think deeply about things is the light of a Muslim. The author compares the human heart to a house and tafakkur to the lamp that provides the light in it. The heart is steeped in darkness without the light of tafakkur. Indeed the full and even basic understanding of our din is beyond the scope of the unthinking.
Tafakkur in the context of din is traditionally divided into four types.
The first is the level of the ordinary people (al-‘ammah). This level involves the search and discussion proofs and arguments to arrive at some conviction. Interesting to note is that the requirement or need for proofs before you believe in Allah, for example, is placed at the most basic level.
The second type of tafakkur is that of the worshippers ( al ‘abidin) whose main interest is to know the rewards of a particular ‘ibadah. They want to get on with the work. Knowledge of the rewards inspire them to greater activity.
A third type is the tafakkur of the ascetics (zuhhad). At this level the main focus is on the contingency of existence. They are deeply impressed by the truth of verses such as " everything will disappear and only the Face of Allah will remain". The results of that kind of thinking, which is often inspired by Allah, is a complete break from this world. They loose interest in wealth, fame, power and position.
The fourth type is the tafakkur of the gnostics (‘arifin). They are the great searchers of the truth behind the universe and its creation. They delve into the secrets of the Names and Attributes of Allah, the Most High. And often they speak of things that far exceed the capacity of ordinary people. They are also the great lovers of Allah, the Most High. Love flows from knowledge of the Beloved. The greater our knowledge of the Beloved the greater out love for Him. So as Imam Ahmad al-Haddad says, " Knowledge comes from tafakkur and from knowledge adoration, and from adoration love".

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].

There is no harm in meditation upon the creation of Allah, the stars, the moon, the sun, the nature because the Almighty says in the Qur'an... Al-Baqara (The Cow) - (Arabic)
Recite (Baset) - Recite (Hussari) - Recite (Minshawi)
- English Translation

2:164 Behold! in the creation of the heavens and the earth; in the alternation of the night and the day; in the sailing of the ships through the ocean for the profit of mankind; in the rain which Allah Sends down from the skies, and the life which He gives therewith to an earth that is dead; in the beasts of all kinds that He scatters through the earth; in the change of the winds, and the clouds which they Trail like their slaves between the sky and the earth;- (Here) indeed are Signs for a people that are wise.
Which is the explanation of this ayat?            To meditate upon Allah's creation!Ya Ali - O the Most High
In Alamut c’è posto per molti liberi pensatori che abbiano amore verso D-o, i suoi profeti (pace su di loro), le sue guide e sulla creazione. A chi pensa ci debbano essere classifiche su che meditare prendo spunto da Al Ghazali per dire che uno dei segni dell’Onnipotente è il Reame dei cieli e della terra e degli astri e il Reame è il tutto. Certo c’è chi con calcoli matematici realizza che il sole è la fonte maggiore di meditazione per il suo calore, la sua luce e quant’altro è utile ad accrescere la spiritualita’ non per niente è in base alle fasi solari che si delimitano gli orari delle preghiere, a differenza di quelle lunari che servono invece per delimitare i digiuni e altro del quale non mi dilungo ora.
La creazione pero’ è tutta da considerare, le meraviglie dei cieli, la terra, i mari e l’aria ed ogni corpo all’infuori dei cieli sono in rapporto a questi come una goccia nel mare o ancor di meno.
Nel libro di D-o sono elencati giuramenti fatti su di essi.
Per il cielo…Corano LXXXV 1,LXXXVI  1,LI 7, XCI 5 Per il sole e la sua luce …Per la luna XCI 1,2 Giuro per i pianeti correnti LXXXXI 15,16 Per la stella LIII 1 ecc.
Osserva il reame (quindi non solo il sole) vi scorgerai le meraviglie della Gloria e dell’Onnipotenza!
D-o ci chiede anche di meditare sull’occulto e non solo su una stella infatti disse ad Abramo: “E così mostrammo ad Abramo il Reame dei cieli e della terra” VI 75, D-o oltre a non fare differenza alcuna tra i profeti ci insegna qui di non farla sulla creazione e continua dicendo che Egli è colui che conosce l’Invisibile ed il Visibile (‘Alim al ghayb wa sh-shahadah VI 73) dovremmo seguire l’Eterno o le deviazioni di certi maestri che finirono per diventari angelolatri o adoratori del sole?
Nessuno comprende qualcosa della sua scienza se non ciò che egli vuole II 255.
Perfino i sapienti d’oriente pur riconoscendo un unico Signore si sono lasciati andare al panteismo della creazione e per questo nell’islam sono considerati politeisti ma se ognuno desse ad ogni cosa il giusto valore di deviati non ce ne sarebbero e si adempirebbe la profezia divina contenuta nel Corano che dice “Siete stati creati di popoli e culture diverse affinché vi conosciate…”.
O D-o mantienici nella retta guida!
Disse il Profeta Muhammad * Cercate la conoscenza dovesse essere pure in Cina! e
Cercate la conoscenza dalla culla alla tomba!
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