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Islamic Meditation?

 
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crschatz
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 10, 2008 6:45 pm    Post subject: Islamic Meditation? Reply with quote

Salaamun alaikum Brothers and Sisters,
Is there such a thing as "Islamic Meditation" by which I mean a type of meditation that wouldn't violate the Qur'an? Some of my friends meditate, and they tell me about its benefits, but they go to various Buddhist or Hindu religious centers to do it. Does anybody have advice on how I could try meditation without violating the Deen. I've tried just sitting and "clearing my mind" but it seems that a million thoughts come up. Do (some) Muslims repeat certain Islamic expressions or verses of the Qur'an? (I would really appreciate advice so I don't get into a strange area here.)
Thanks for any help.

Wassalam,
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Dr. Shabbir
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Joined: 24 Dec 2006
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 11, 2008 4:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dear little sister,

Meditation in the sense of clearing your mind of all thoughts is an exercise in futility since it is practically impossible.

In the Qur'anic sense, meditation is deep reflection whether in the Qur'an or in the universe or on day to day challenges. The Book is replete with admonition to think and reflect. You may do it in the privacy and peace of your home with much more benefit.

See here just two example?

34:46 Say, "I ask you to do just one thing: For the sake of God! Stand up in pairs and singly, and then think. There is no madness in your companion. He is only a warner to you in the face of a terrible doom."

35:27 Have you not seen that God causes water to fall from the height. Then, with it We produce fruit of different colors and kinds. And in the mountains are tracts white and red, of diverse colors, and raven-black.

35:28 And of human beings, the crawling creatures and related animals, and the cattle have diverse colors and properties. This is why of all His servants only those with knowledge of sciences can get some idea of the glory of God (by examining the wonders in nature). Surely, God is Almighty, Absolver of imperfections.

[Dawwab = Crawling creatures and insects. Ulama = Scientists = Men and women of scientific knowledge. The above two verses clearly define ‘Ulama’. Please reflect how many sciences are mentioned here: Meteorology, Water Cycle, Botany, Geology, Topography, Anthropology, Human soma and psyche, Biology, Zoology, Nematology, Parasitology, Livestock, Nutrition etc! The term does not apply to clergy (Mullahs) who can only tell about petty rituals, things such as which side to sleep on and not to sleep on, prayers to recite when you wake up or step in and out of home, how to rinse your nose and mouth, do wudhu or wash the private parts]

35:29 Those who read the scripture of God (in Nature) and follow God's commands, and spend on others the provision We have given them, secretly and openly, are conducting business that will never perish.
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UmeAimon



Joined: 28 Jan 2007
Posts: 141
Location: UAE

PostPosted: Mon Jul 14, 2008 7:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Salam crscatz,

I used to get very fascinated by the so called meditation techniques and I tried many myself but nothing worked for me. As much as I know all one needs is a little time alone with him/herself Smile

I realized that people who came up with these techniques need it because of very obvious reasons. They need to fill that emptiness inside and hunger of their souls which remains the same in the end because cutting oneself off from the real world can help for the time you’re in that state only but never really works long term.

What really affects our souls? What really keeps it happy and satisfied? We know without this satisfaction our existence has no meanings and we will always feel empty and unfulfilled. This need for fulfillment is again, something in human nature which not only helps us live but die comfortably as well. Because the soul knows quite well what it is carrying and how it will be brought back even if we keep it shut most of the time, it will not let us rest in peace!

In Quran Allah SWT referred to this satisfied soul as Nafs e Mutma’enna!

The easiest way to attain this satisfaction and to feed this hunger inside is not through any kind of meditation but by making out and acknowledging the truth and fairness at all levels of our daily lives first. But remember mere acknowledgment will not help; it’s doing something about it, by choosing the best path for us and doing well for others as well! You’ll see you don’t need any meditation, for your soul will never feel empty again and people will literelly come to you asking what techniques you are using to keep you so satisfied? Wink

So keep on the right path and just keep doing the good deeds while being mindful of Allah and that’s all you need to have that Nafs e Mutmaenna!

Thanks

UmeAimon
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Dr. Shabbir
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Joined: 24 Dec 2006
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 14, 2008 9:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Excellent response from my honorable Sister UmmAimon!

89:27 But Oh! You human beings that have attained inner peace! [By living a life upright 13:28, 91:9] "NAFS-IL-MUTMAINNAH"

89:28 Return to your Lord, pleased and approved.

89:29 Enter, then, together with My servants.

89:30 Yes, enter My Paradise! [9:119]

Let me add to my sister's response that, in general, acts of beneficence also require due contemplation. Thought must precede action. Good acts that help others do take place reflexly but it is a rarity e.g. in emergencies. But here again, a brisk thought must come first. Am I right?
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UmeAimon



Joined: 28 Jan 2007
Posts: 141
Location: UAE

PostPosted: Mon Jul 14, 2008 1:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Salam,

True indeed, every step of the way! How can one decide which path to choose or whats the right thing to do without thinking and if one does not choose how can he be held responsible for his actions? So that goes without saying we need to contemplate on whatever we do Smile

jazakAllah

UmeAimon
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Quasim Hamdani



Joined: 23 Dec 2006
Posts: 24
Location: Illinois, USA

PostPosted: Sun Jul 20, 2008 1:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I believe that the practice of meditation where the mind is shut-off is impossible to achieve for most of the people. Our brains control the interpretations of signals from our six senses and present them as thoughts and emotions that in turn propel us to action – good or bad.

It is also widely recognized that we humans begin to identify with certain thoughts and emotions, which in turn define our mental / emotional state. Concepts like lucky, unlucky, loser, fortunate and many others are outward reflection of our inner thinking. We also know that the vast majority of humanity lives with uncertainty, fear, anxiety, envy and other mental conditions. The power of these negative feelings make people indulge in addictive substances, hide behind dogmas, follow astrology, and other activities that promise to either help you forget / suppress these powerful feelings or engage in a life style that promises a rewarding outcome – your religion. Most people engage in both. Unlike other creatures on Earth, humans exist and survive from their superior intellect.

Human intellect is so critical to survival both here and in the hereafter that Allah has always presented us with guidance – tools for our intellect. It is also conceivable that humans could have been given supernatural powers to fend of our enemies, but certainly that is not the case. We also know from empirical data that our mind is both an asset and a liability. Look at the devastation that human mind was wrought and the benevolence it has imparted through the ages – the battle between Iblees and Nafs. Our mind is available to both of these forces.

I find that the Quran has clearly defined the concepts to help us strengthen our Nafs and one of the most powerful is to stay steadfast (Sabr). QXP explains it as follows:

Sabr = Patience = Facing adversity with courage = Steadfastness = Resolve = Perseverance in hardship as well as ease.

Saabir = Steadfast = Persevering = Determined = Patient in ease and adversity.

As we know that every human action is preceded by thoughts and emotions, therefore to practice Sabr requires a state of mind that very few people have mastered. Buddhist practice of meditation is by and large inculcating Sabr in you. The most powerful thesis on Sabr, the author does not classify it as such, is by Eckhart Tolle in his book the Power of Now. After reading this book, and I do not agree with every assertion in the book, I believe that a Saabir is an individual who has control of these aspects:

1) Complete, undying faith in the laws of Allah
2) Ability to live without the burden of his/her past. Accept the good and the bad and move beyond it
3) Ability to suppress the desire to project the future and get emotionally tied to these projections. To get emotionally vested in outcomes can be harmful. It is more important to go through the process with knowledge, awareness, good intentions, and faith in the laws of Allah
4) Embrace the present moment, the Now, and with full presence and awareness participate in it. This will clear your mind and create a space for you to tackle the present circumstance. I can visualize the Prophet, his companions, and other Muslims in battles where they dealt with the enemy in complete state of presence and faith in the laws of Allah. This state of mind gave them advantages that the boggled the enemy
5) Decrease the influence of chatter, the thoughts, in your emotional makeup. Recognize the thoughts, but do not identify with them – a bad thought does not mean that bad things will happen and vice versa. By reducing this identification with thought, you let your Nafs shine through

I personally practice meditation to help my Nafs come through. I assume a comfortable sitting position, close my eyes and focus on my breathing. As thoughts emerge I acknowledge them, but do not identify with them. In this process your body’s aches and pains also become pronounced – just acknowledge them. After 5 to 10 minutes I experience stillness, awareness, presence and at this point I remember Allah and profusely express my gratitude for all the blessings and ask for increase in knowledge. With the knowledge of Quran in your head this is the most enlightening experience.

I hope this is helpful.
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May Allah Bless You.

Quasim
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Quasim Hamdani



Joined: 23 Dec 2006
Posts: 24
Location: Illinois, USA

PostPosted: Sun Jul 20, 2008 3:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I believe that the practice of meditation where the mind is shut-off is impossible to achieve for most of the people. Our brains control the interpretations of signals from our six senses and present them as thoughts and emotions that in turn propel us to action – good or bad.

It is also widely recognized that we humans begin to identify with certain thoughts and emotions, which in turn define our mental / emotional state. Concepts like lucky, unlucky, loser, fortunate and many others are outward reflection of our inner thinking. We also know that the vast majority of humanity lives with uncertainty, fear, anxiety, envy and other mental conditions. The power of these negative feelings make people indulge in addictive substances, hide behind dogmas, follow astrology, and other activities that promise to either help you forget / suppress these powerful feelings or engage in a life style that promises a rewarding outcome – your religion. Most people engage in both. Unlike other creatures on Earth, humans exist and survive from their superior intellect.

Human intellect is so critical to survival both here and in the hereafter that Allah has always presented us with guidance – tools for our intellect. It is also conceivable that humans could have been given supernatural powers to fend of our enemies, but certainly that is not the case. We also know from empirical data that our mind is both an asset and a liability. Look at the devastation that human mind was wrought and the benevolence it has imparted through the ages – the battle between Iblees and Nafs. Our mind is available to both of these forces.

I find that the Quran has clearly defined the concepts to help us strengthen our Nafs and one of the most powerful is to stay steadfast (Sabr). QXP explains it as follows:

Sabr = Patience = Facing adversity with courage = Steadfastness = Resolve = Perseverance in hardship as well as ease.

Saabir = Steadfast = Persevering = Determined = Patient in ease and adversity.

As we know that every human action is preceded by thoughts and emotions, therefore to practice Sabr requires a state of mind that very few people have mastered. Buddhist practice of meditation is by and large inculcating Sabr in you. The most powerful thesis on Sabr, the author does not classify it as such, is by Eckhart Tolle in his book the Power of Now. After reading this book, and I do not agree with every assertion in the book, I believe that a Saabir is an individual who has control of these aspects:

1) Complete, undying faith in the laws of Allah

2) Ability to live without the burden of his/her past. Accept the good and the bad and move beyond it

3) Ability to suppress the desire to project the future and get emotionally tied to these projections. To get emotionally vested in outcomes can be harmful. It is more important to go through the process with knowledge, awareness, good intentions, and faith in the laws of Allah

4) Embrace the present moment, the Now, and with full presence and awareness participate in it. This will clear your mind and create a space for you to tackle the present circumstance. I can visualize the Prophet, his companions, and other Muslims in battles where they dealt with the enemy in complete state of presence and faith in the laws of Allah. This state of mind gave them advantages that the boggled the enemy

5) Decrease the influence of chatter, the thoughts, in your emotional makeup. Recognize the thoughts, but do not identify with them – a bad thought does not mean that bad things will happen and vice versa. By reducing this identification with thought, you let your Nafs shine through

I personally practice meditation to help my Nafs come through. I assume a comfortable sitting position, close my eyes and focus on my breathing. As thoughts emerge I acknowledge them, but do not identify with them. In this process your body’s aches and pains also become pronounced – just acknowledge them. After 5 to 10 minutes I experience stillness, awareness, presence and at this point I remember Allah and profusely express my gratitude for all the blessings and ask for increase in knowledge. With the knowledge of Quran in your head this is the most enlightening experience.

I hope this is helpful.
_________________
May Allah Bless You.

Quasim
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