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Meditation in Islam – History – How To

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Meditation in Islam described as the elaboration between body, heart, and mind in the state of  religious contemplation, while the terms of meditation is a practice where a person controls the mind or induces a method  of consciousness, either to realize value or for the mind to simply recognize  the content without becoming identified with the content.

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Meditation in Islam has a greater scope about development of  the body, soul and mind presentation while a person perform it in contemplating and worshiping. It is crucial for spiritual development and benefits from prayers. Without meditation, the Jihad Akbar (self-struggle against the great temptations) cannot truly take place except in a most disorganized manner. When a one has a bad story of the past and he/she decide to leave so that they need to contemplate for asking a forgiveness to God because he/she did a sin before.

There is any kind of meditation based on the religion, faith, and according to the local tradition. However in Islam, meditation is almost equal with the Zikr, which means a recitation remembering and mentioning Allah repeatedly. It is a little bit different comparing meditation performing by sufism or Islamic mysticim.

The History

The history of meditation in Islam happened when Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) used to go for seclusion before his first revelation from Jibril. One day, in Mouth Hira near Mecca, he had his spiritual seclusions and extended retreats of meditation and he started to reveal the revelation. That moment is during one of the meditation retreats in the holy month of Ramadhan. It was later known as the first time Qur’anic revelation as the first time Mohammed got his first revelation by his meditaton result. He then recited the revelation in front of his companions and the companions memorizing and reciting to others by teaching, until it was compiled and written in Quran manuscript.

Nobody knows for sure about the exact method of meditation that Prophet Mohammed used in Mount Hira. The aspect of meditation and methods probably was most passed down to the closer relations such as Ali, Abu Bakr, Fatima who are known for their spiritual progress. The true statement can be derived from his companion as Ali and Abu Bakar which both able to reach the intense concentration and very-conscious stages during their obligatory prayers. They were taught how to reach concentration during their prayer and that is basically the meaning of meditation.

The Islamic mysticism of Sufi performs meditation as Prophet used to do and transmitted to his different companion. Islam has the concept of dhikr (the remembrance of Allah) which interpreted into various meditation in Sufism of Islamic mysticism. It is one of the important elements of Sufism as systematizing in 11-12th  century. It is compared between fikr (think) which lead to knowledge. The practice of Sufism meditation included specific techniques, then, the people practiced breathing controls and the repetition of religious words, after 12th century.

Form of Meditation in Islam

There are some form of meditation in Islam, as follows:

1. Tasbih

Tasbih (to praise) is the most common form of Zikr, or Islamic Meditation. It involves the repetitive utterances of short sentences in the praise and glorification of Allah. However, this common meditation practicing could be perform in daily without concentrating and expecting for divine presence. By meditating in a state of focus in Tasbih, you will increase the effectiveness of this wonderful practice.

In tasbih, Moslems often use Misbaha which is a set of prayer beads, or it is called tasbih as well. Others use phalanges of the right hand. It is important when we do tasbih since it will keep tracking and easier for counting.

Tasbih Fatimah

The tasbih of one of the Fatimah Azzahra, the daughter of Prophet, begins in the early years of her marriage with Ali bin Abi Talib. Ali did not have enough money afford a servant for Fatimah. Because no servant, Fatimah did all the house’s work causing her hands were chafed for grinding the fluor, her neck were sore because she carried water by her neck with the rope  ; her clothes had become dirty. Ali was aware that thfor e prophet had some servants, and they asked the Prophet one of his servants. The prophet did not accept their request because he would sell some of his servants for helping the orphans starving to feed them. Then, the Prophet promised he will give them a better thing than servants. He taught them a special manner of dhikr which is known as the tasbih of Fatimah. The tasbih is as written below:

  1. Subhan’Allah or Tasbih (Glory be to Allah) – repeated 33 times.
  2. Alhamdulillah or Tahmid (Praise be to Allah) – repeated 33 times.
  3. Allahuakbar or Takbir (Allah is Greater) – repeated 34 times.

The Prophet’s advice to both Fatimah and Ali about the tasbih according to sahih Al-Bukhari:3502 that:

“Shall I not teach you something better than what you asked for? When you go to your bed, magnify Allah thirty-four times, glorify Him thirty-three times and praise Him thirty-three times. That is better for you than a servant”

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Salawat for Praising the Holy Prophet

Salawat Praising the Holy Prophet (S) is one of the most worthy and blessed acts from a Moslem can engage in. This express from a follower with light and grace, and refer to the sincerity, humility and love of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). The name of the Prophet “Mohammed” means “The Praised One”. In the Holy Quran is not only a matter of Allah’s command but also Allah stated that He and the angels are praising the Prophet. By then, sending lobe and blessing upon the Prophet is really important. According to Quran 33:56 (Al-Ahzhab):

Indeed, Allah dan the Angel send blessing upon the Prophet. O you who have believed, send blessing upon him and greet him with greetings

A simple Salawat is a phrase, “Allahumma Salli ‘Ala Muhammadin Wa ‘Ala Ali Muhammadin Wa Sallim.”

To practice Tasbih, choose one of these key phrases, known as azhkar, and begin reciting them on a misbaha (the praying beads). Close your eyes, relax, and focus on the holy phrase. Allow the energy and blessings surrounding you, inside and out. Take your time and relax. There is no need to rush. Enjoy the practice. Allow yourself to naturally find the rhythm that feels appropriate.

It is recommended that in order to maintain a consistent daily practice, you keep count of the number of repetitions you perform. You may begin with one hundred, and increase the amount of any particular Zikr when it feels appropriate to do so.With appropriate practice, Tasbih is one of the most potential ways to enter a state of Divine Presence.

2. Taffakur

Taffakur means “to think,” “to contemplate,” “to reflect.” Taffakur is simply sitting and taking a few moments to reflect, to contemplate, to think. When you do this, the soul which wants you to know will begin to become known.

Nowadays, the practice of Taffakur is absolutely essential, especially when the modern culture is mostly aimed for entertaining and distracting a human being far from religious activity.

We generally have a little time to reflect to ourselves and thinking, so that we end up with the unresolved thoughts, ideas, fears and beliefs. Consequently, this lead to stress and anxiety as well inducing the abuse and excess in drugs and alcohol and we lack for reaching a peaceful of mind.

There are two main ways to practice Taffakur, as follows:

A. Contemplate and Reflect.

Simply sit and allow to emerge what will. Analyze it, resolve it, cut off the wrong thoughts and beliefs with the truth. According to – Surah Al-Isra (Holy Qur’an, 17:81)

And say, “Truth has come, and perished the falsehood. Indeed is the falsehood [by nature], bound to depart.”

The untruth cannot persist if we surrounded by the light of understanding. It is only in the unexamined state of unconsciousness that fear, doubt and disbelief worsen.

The unexamined life is not worth living.” – Socrates –

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When you find a false thought that may you feel bad, you will feel relieving as you are able to discard it when you become aware what is your underlying thought are and analyze them in the light of truth. It is no different with the poison in the body which is must be cleaned immediately or it will make the system of the body will sick.

B. Think and Affirm

In Taffakur, the term thinking is is to think intentionally, constructively, purposefully and positively. This is radically different than the negative, unconscious, and erroneous thinking human beings normally perform.

Think by consciously is choosing your thoughts. Choose thoughts that help you and serve you rather than thoughts that harm you and disempower you.

Affirmations are powerful tools to be used, the typical affirmation being the Kalima Tayyiba “La Ilaha Il Allah”  (There is no god but God). This is the fundamental thought and belief upon which everything rests, the substance of all truth, and it will guide your thinking from going astray.

We must eliminate negative thoughts, yet affirm positive ones. Only positive thoughts are real, because only God is real, and God is Good. Negative thoughts and thus negative realities are creations of human beings, especially when we impersonate as the person and uses our capability to manifest other than truth and goodness. According Qur’an, 4:79 (An-Nisaa):

“Whatever befalls you, the good is from God, and whatever befalls you is the evil is from yourself.And we have sent you as the messenger (Mohammed) and it is sufficient that Allah is a witness.”

Thus, Taffakur is an exercise in responsibility and through it, we learn to change our lives and experiences by changing our thoughts and beliefs.

It is helpful to look at the example of Iblis, who worshipped more than any other being. It is said that there is not space the width of a hand on earth upon which he did not make prostration. Yet what was the benefit of all his striving and worship? Instead of cultivating humility and gratitude as worship is meant to, his worship increased him in pride and arrogance. And so he fell. One of the Prophet Mohammed’s quote:

An hour of contemplation is of more value than seventy years of worship.”

Taffakur is an essential practice which we purify our intentions. The intention can make our worship purposeful, meaningful and beneficial, while the wrong intention can actually render our deeds harmful to us as well to others.

C. Muraqaba

Muraqaba is the form of meditation which is progressing from Tasbih. While in Tasbih we are active in the recitation of azhkar, in Muraqaba we enter into stillness, silence, pure presence and awareness. Both of the forms of meditation are sublime.

In Islam, the path of spirituality to a person is from self to God, after leaving the self all behind, a person succesfully enters the Divine Presence. This meditation method actually trains a person into the stage of freedom and nonattachment apart to the body. Therefore, through Muraqaba, he/she who perform it able to enter into highest state of spiritual awarenes.  As the literal meaning “to observe,” you become a witness, an observer, a still presence in muraqaba. You will become your true self before manifestation into form and identity.

By practicing Muraqaba, you will gradually become aware of the self, the ego, that otherwise takes up the whole of our consciousness and keeps us asleep in identification with it. The depth of this holy practice knows no end.

To practice Muraqaba, just simple, you have to sit. Keep your attention on your breath, and begin to become aware of any thoughts that begin to form. Observe them and watch them. Do not judge, do not comment,  even do not criticize. Observing your thoughts and be totally indifferent, regardless of what your mind may come up with, then transcend your thoughts and transcend your self. By simply observing without attachment in this way, you begin to detach from your own thoughts, even to yourself.

You will see and recognize your ego in muraqaba. It will have no place in your unconsciousness to hide. Through muraqaba, all the ego will dissolve and the veil that covers you from Divine Presence will dissolve.

It is cannot be said and it is to be experienced in a state of wonder, beauty beyond description.

D. Murabita

Murabita is one of the forms of Islamic Meditation to cultivate a spiritual relationship with the Prophet (S) and his offsprings, and the true and sincere intellectual by beyond the time and space. According to Qur’an 9:11 (At-Tawba):

“O you who believe! Fear with Allah and be with those who are true”

The word Murabita derived from “Irtibat” means “joining” or “connection”, so that the Murabita is about a spiritual connection which open the soul and limitless potential for transcend beyond the time and. It is based on the understanding that the most powerful form of progress is through association, absorbing and learning from one more advanced. To practice Murabita, just sit and make the intention (niyat) that you are focus your mind in the presence of the Prophet, you then will engage of his being, resemble his personality, as well his character.

With this practicing, you can quickly increase in spiritual knowledge, in sincerity, humility, piety, wisdom and understanding.

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How to Do Meditation in Islam

Meanwhile, Islam is also telling us for how to do meditate in Islam in proper way, as follows:

  1. Perform Ablution (Wudhu)

As before we do some prayer in Islam, before meditation, it is recommended begin by doing wudhu, or ablutions. It is consisting of washing your hands, face, arms and feet. Although it is not required to be in a state of wudhu before meditating, by purifying yourself  and intention, you will gain much more benefit and Presence.

2. Make the Intention

Before we do something, it is appropiate if you make an intention or niyat. This will focus your practice to a specific purpose and will increase your level of consciousness and awareness, as well as significantly improving the results. It is the same way before you perform obligatory prayin as well. As the Prophet Mohammed said:

The value of an action is based upon the intention.”

You can say, “I intend to sit here, in this place, and allow my soul to increase in Divine Light and spiritual energy.” In this way, your intention would focus your meditation more towards this specific intention, in this case, stimulating healing and the cultivation of positive energy.

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3. Sit

There are three main positions that you can sit in meditation. Use what you feels comfortable and appropriate at the time:

  • Jalsah. Jalsah is the sitting position when one is in prayer, with the legs folded underneath the body. This is an excellent position if you are going to be perform Tasbih after prayer.
  • Cross-Legged. This is commonly the most comfortable position. You can use a wall or other vertical surface to support your back in an upright position.
  • Lam-Alif Position. The Lam-Alif Position, also commonly known as the lotus position, is where your legs are crossed but your feet are resting on your knees. This is a more difficult position for the beginner. It is the most conducive for proper posture and deeper immersion. You should cover your feet with a cloth, shawl or blanket as part of Islamic manners,

If you have difficulty in sitting on the ground, you may sit on a chair with your feet flat on the ground, being mindful of your posture.

4. Hand Position

There are three main hand positions in Islamic Meditation. You may use which you may feel comfortable and appropriate at the time.

  • Palms Down. You can rest your palms facing downwards on your legs. This palm position is most conducive to relaxation.
  • Palms Up. Rest your palms face upward while resting on your legs. This palm position is more conducive to drawing and attracting spiritual energy.
  • Allah-Hu Position. This position is where the thumb and index finger are joined, as if forming the Arabic phrase Allah-Hu. This hand position is most conducive to spiritual and may be used together with either palms facing up or down.

5. Relax

Starting with in a state of relax. When you are in the state of reax, you must recognize that you begin entering a Divine Presence and a Holy Space. You will be blessed by Grace and Goodness by surrendering. Become mindful of your posture as well aware of any tension in your body, and gradually let it go. Meditation is meant for dissolving state of surrender and peace, and this is the meaning of Islam.

6. Breathe Gently

Focus on your breath and allow your breathing to normalize itself. As you release tension from your body, your breathing will naturally relaxed, nourishing your mind and body much more effectively. Gently continue with your breath. Allow thoughts to fade, and simply stay with your breath.

Thus, the article show above describe about the form of meditation in Islam and how to do it properly. Hopefully it will take any benefit to all of the readers who seek about meditation in Islam.

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