Islamic Meditation

Meditation and mindfulness are often associated with several eastern traditions such as Buddhism and Yoga, yet few know the essential position of meditative spiritual practice within Islam. In this seven week course, wSufis, Tasbih, تسبيح, Misbaha, مِسْبَحَة, Ahadith, dua, prayer beads, Meditative quiescence, khushoo, muraqaba, Tafakkur, tadabbur,Sufisme will learn about the fundamental importance of meditation and mindfulness within the Islamic context, as well as work together in establishing a practice that is rich, rewarding and rooted in the Prophetic model. Topics to be covered will include the development of presence (khushoo), as well as the practices of observation (muraqaba), remembrance (dhikr) and transcendence (fana). We will also explore the fundamental differences between meditative spiritual practice in Islam in contrast with other paths, and ultimately discover how this approach to faith can not only reduce stress, fear and anxiety, but also help us to create a real and profound relationship and connection with our Creator.

A Muslim is obligated to pray five times a day: once before sunrise, at noon, in the afternoon, after sunset, and once at night. During prayer a Muslim focuses and meditates on God by reciting the Qur’an and engaging in dhikr to reaffirm and strengthen the bond between Creator and creation, with the purpose of guiding the soul to truth. Such meditation is intended to help maintain a feeling of spiritual peace, in the face of whatever challenges work, social or family life may present.

The five daily acts of peaceful prayer are to serve as a template and inspiration for conduct during the rest of the day, transforming it, ideally, into one single and sustained meditation: even sleep is to be regarded as but another phase of that sustained meditation.

Meditative quiescence is said to have a quality of healing, and—in contemporary terminology—enhancing creativity. The Islamic prophet Muhammad spent sustained periods in contemplation and meditation. It was during one such period that Muhammad began to receive the revelations of the Qur’an.

The cave Hira in the mountain Jabal al-Nour where, according to Muslim belief, Muhammad received his first revelation

A Sufi saint in Muraqaba meditation, c. 1630.

Following are the styles, or schools, of meditation in the Muslim traditions:

  • Tafakkur or tadabbur, literally means reflection upon the universe: this is considered to permit access to a form of cognitive and emotional development that can emanate only from the higher level, i.e. from God. The sensation of receiving divine inspiration awakens and liberates both heart and intellect, permitting such inner growth that the apparently mundane actually takes on the quality of the infinite. Muslim teachings embrace life as a test of one’s submission to God.
  • Meditation in the Sufi traditions is largely based on a spectrum of mystical exercises, varying from one lineage to another. Such techniques, particularly the more audacious, can be, and often have been down the ages, a source of controversy among scholars. One broad group of ulema, followers of the great Al-Ghazzali, for example, have in general been open to such techniques and forms of devotion, while another such group, those who concur with the Ibn Taymiya, reject and generally condemn such procedures as species of bid’ah (بدعة) or mere innovation.

Numerous Sufi traditions place emphasis upon a meditative procedure similar in its cognitive aspect to one of the two principal approaches to be found in the Buddhist traditions: that of the concentration technique, involving high-intensity and sharply focused introspection. In the Oveyssi-Shahmaghsoudi Sufi order, for example, this is particularly evident, where muraqaba takes the form of tamarkoz, the latter being a Persian term that means concentration.

See Sufism

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