Contemplation and thinking— tafakkukr—is the source of Islamic spirituality. Contemplative spirituality is received through a thinking process rather than the cessation of intellectual activity. The Quran attaches great importance to reflection and serious thought. As mentioned in the Quran, the process of contemplation, tafakkur, is the beginning of spiritual activity. Several verses in the Quran indicate that innumerable signs of God are extant in the heavens and the earth. The observance of God’s signs is the most significant source of spirituality. Man can discover God by pondering upon and contemplating His signs spread throughout His creation. Man can learn lessons from these signs to start living a God-oriented life.

The concept of spirituality in Islam is based on the principle of God-Realisation. God is the treasure house of all virtues. Moreover, when man’s contact with God is established at the psychological level, an unseen, inner revolution is brought about within a person, called spirituality. As the Quran tells us, “Prostrate yourself and draw near.” (96: 19). God is always close to us—closer than the jugular vein (50: 16). By total surrender to God, the soul can attain nearness to God. When man engages himself in proper devotion, he comes close to God. Through an invisible cord, he comes in contact with God. His entire existence comes to be pervaded by this indescribable feeling, which is called spiritual experience. This has been termed Rabbaniat in the Quran (Be people of the Lord.) (3: 79).

Rabbani means one whose thinking, the focus of life, and actions are God-oriented. When an individual attains spirituality, he appears to live in this world, but he has found another far superior world. Everything in the universe seems to convey to him a divine message. Due to his high state of receptivity, he reaches the stage where the wavelength of God and man become one. Moreover, he is enabled, in the words of the Prophet: “to see with God’s eye, to speak with God’s tongue, to walk with God’s foot, to hear with the ear of God.”



Jesus Christ once said: “Man does not live by bread alone.” (Matthew 4:4) This is an important teaching of all religions. This means that all men and women need two kinds of nourishment: the physical and the spiritual. Everyone knows the importance of physical nourishment but, where spiritual nourishment is concerned, people remain in ignorance of how vital it is.

Man cannot afford to live in a state of physical starvation, for physical starvation brings on weakness and disease. Everyone, being aware of how debilitating this can be, makes sure that he or she has proper sustenance.

The same is true of spiritual starvation. Spiritual starvation makes you a weak personality. It erodes the faculty of wisdom. It deprives you of moral values. Spiritual starvation may go to such an extreme that one may face spiritual death.

To keep spirituality alive, spiritual food is at all times a necessity. The source of that spiritual food is thinking or contemplation. Moreover, one should develop the habit of not taking things at face value. The deeper aspect of things must be gone into so that their inner meaning may be discovered. This requires an uninterrupted intellectual process.

Source: Spirit of Islam October 2018

One of the major concerns of the Quran is to inculcate in every man and woman the spirit of contemplation. A verse of the Quran states:

“There are certainly signs in that for those who can learn a lesson.” (15:75)

Natural phenomena as well as historical events have great lessons for those who go deeply into them and contemplate to learn lessons from them. The Quran, in referring to them, attempts to develop the thinking habit, so that readers may gain from them intellectually.

The individual must keep his mind alive every day and every night. When he studies a book and contemplates its verses, when he observes a scene, and when he is confronted by a historical event, he must properly activate his mental faculties in order to learn some spiritual lesson from it. He must endeavour to turn his experiences into meaningful lessons.

Source: Quranic Wisdom

Tafakkur (contemplation) aims at bringing man closer to God. The Quran states: “In the creation of the heavens and the earth, and in the succession of night and day, there are signs for men of understanding; those that remember God when standing, sitting, and lying down, and reflect on the creation of the heavens and the earth (saying): ‘Lord, You have not created these in vain. Glory be to You! Save us from the torment of the fire, Lord.” (3: 190-191)

Man established a rapport with God when he thinks of Him, worships and remembers Him, when his heart is turned towards Him with full concentration, and when he makes a request or a plea. In the words of the Hadith, at that particular moment he comes to whisper with his Lord. He has the tangible feeling that he is pouring his heart out to God and that God in turn is answering his call.

Spirituality in Islam is the direct result of the kind of intellectual development that takes place when a believer ponders over the Creator and His creation. The source of Islamic spirituality is observation and reflection and contemplation.

When this communion is established between God and man, man can feel himself becoming imbued with a special kind of peace. His eyes are moist with tears. He starts receiving inspiration from God.

According to a Hadith the Prophet Muhammad said the highest form of worship is to pray as if you were seeing God. We learn from this Hadith the true sign of a superior form of worship. The true sign is for man to sense the presence of God during worship, and feel that he has come close to God. That is when he can experience the refreshing, cooling effect of God’s love and blessings for man. It is this feeling of closeness to God that is the highest form of spiritual experience. In chapter 96, the Quran says:

“Do Sajdah (prostration) and come nearer to God.” (96: 19)

This Sajdah is the highest form of meditation. Sajdah is a form of unification of soul and body. According to this Quranic verse, Sajdah is the meeting point between God and man.

Sajdah is the sign of submission or surrender, for it is only in a state of submission or surrender that we can meet God Almighty. Sajdah is the final position of submission for acquiring a place very close to God.

Source: Spirit of Islam October 2018


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