A Beginner’s Guide to Islamic Meditation

Islam is a complete way of life. Allah has sent guidance to human kind for every aspect of life. Through his last and final Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) He guided the Muslim community on how to obtain His blessings and how to live a peaceful, harmonious and content life.

Worshiping Allah is both a sign of gratitude to Allah for the tremendous blessings He has bestowed upon us, as well as a sign of our complete neediness of Him.

Worshiping Allah also means to reflect on and contemplate His blessings and His Might. It means to think about His creation or to ponder His nearness and closeness to us.

Worshiping Allah

Our ritual five daily prayers have been given to us by Allah. Five times a day we face Makkah, we face His house and we bow down to Him.

We praise him, we ask His forgiveness, we ask for guidance, we admit that there is no God but Him and that the Prophet Muhammad is His Messenger. Our forehead touches the ground and it is on the ground that we feel closest to Allah.

However, unfortunately, many times we get distracted during our prayer. We think of many things but forget to concentrate on our prayer and on the most important aspect in our prayer: Allah. Sometimes we feel in a rush and hurry to complete the prayer.

Other times we would like to spend more time reflecting on and contemplating our Creator. However, maybe we do not fully understand the meanings of the verses that we recite during our prayer and that prevents us from appreciating, recognizing and feeling the meaning and from taking it all into our heart.

That is why some of us need some extra time outside prayers to spend in extra supererogatory worship of Allah.

According to the scholars of Islamic spirituality, this supererogatory worship of Allah can help us to improve our ritual prayers and to love and fear Allah more.

Contemplating Him

How does this extra time worshiping Allah look like? The scholars of Islam agree that one should engage in abundant remembrance of Allah. We should try to remember Allah wherever we are, whether standing, sitting or lying down.

One special way of remembering Allah is to contemplate Him or about one of His characteristics or about a verse from the Quran.

For example, Allah says in the Quran that He is with the believer. He also says that He is the close protecting Friend of those who believe. And Allah tells us that He is closer to us than our own selves.

What does that mean? How does that feel?

We can try to sit down and contemplate these verses. And we can try to contemplate and feel what they mean. We can even do walking contemplation if we don’t have the time to sit down in a dedicated sitting.

For example, on your way to work or school or university try to contemplate on what Allah says on being near. Try to feel that Allah is near to you although you are constantly changing your position because you are walking.

Contemplation, deep reflection and pondering Allah’s nearness and closeness will bring peace and contentment into your heart, inshaAllah, because you will feel that Allah is always with you wherever you are. And once we know that Allah is always with us, our ritual prayers facing Allah five times a day will gain quality.

Detach Yourself From This World

Another way to find peace, quietude, tranquility and contentment is to try to detach ourselves from the busyness and noisiness of this world.

Again, we can try and do that in a dedicated sitting. We can sit on our prayer mat facing the direction of Makkah, in the state of ritual purity. Then we try to empty our hearts and minds of thoughts of this world.

Instead of leaving our hearts and minds empty, we fill them with the remembrance of Allah, with thoughts of and love for Allah.

Whenever a thought of this world knocks on the door of our mind and heart, we try to softly brush it aside and concentrate again on our most beloved Creator.

However, detaching ourselves from this world and trying to erase the love for this world from our hearts is an on-going process. It is a state of the heart and mind.

When we try to detach ourselves from this world, it is more difficult to get disappointed of this world or the people therein. The more we detach ourselves from this world, the more inner peace we will feel and the closer we will become to our Creator. Our focus will shift from chasing this life to trying to please Allah.

Techniques From Quran and Sunnah

Many times we hear that meditation is not part of Islam. That is not true. The definition of meditation states that it is a technique to achieve a state of emotionally clarity and calmness.

Contemplating Allah, His nearness, His blessings and trying to detach ourselves from this world, slowly erasing the love of this world from our hearts and filling it with the love for Allah are all ways to achieve emotional clarity and calmness.

What makes meditation and contemplation in Islam different to meditation outside of Islam is the fact that our end goal is not emotionally clarity and calmness.

By contemplating and pondering, by re-making our hearts and re-fashioning our minds, we want to become more pleasing to Allah. We want to love Allah more. And we aim to obey Allah more.

The techniques above are ways that our pious scholars of Islamic spirituality derived from the Quran and the Sunnah of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).

These techniques are transmitted to us from our respected scholars of Islam. InshaAllah, they can help us to become better Muslims, to become better in our worship and to worship Allah as He deserves to be worshiped.

(From Discovering Islam’s archive.)

About Claudia Azizah
Claudia Azizah is originally from Germany and mother of two children and writer. She served as Assistant Professor at the International Islamic University in Malaysia until August 2019. She is co-founder of the Ulu-Ilir-Institute in Indonesia. She regularly writes for the German Islamic newspaper. She is interested in Islamic spirituality, art and Southeast Asia. You can follow her on Twitter and Instagram: #clazahsei