Meditation Prohibited Islam?
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Is Meditation Prohibited in Islam?

Questioner

Anonymous

Reply Date

May 02, 2017

Question

Assalamu alaikum, Is meditation prohibited in Islam?

Consultant

Answer


Salam,

Thank you very much for your question and for contacting Ask About Islam.

First of all, we need to consider whether the Quran, which is Allah’s Book of Guidance for us, as well as the Sunnah of the Prophet (peace be upon him), approves of the practice of meditation.

In the following verses of the Quran we come across several expressions that are close to the concept of meditation:

{Had We sent down this Qur’an on a mountain, verily, thou wouldst have seen it humble itself and cleave asunder for fear of Allah. Such are the similitudes which We propound to men, that they may reflect.} (Quran 59:21)

Here we are encouraged to reflect on the revelation of the Quran to mankind. 

{Verily, in the creation of the heavens and the earth, and in the succession of night and day, there are indeed messages for all who are endowed with insight, [and] who remember God when they stand, and when they sit, and when they lie down to sleep, and [thus] reflect on the creation of the heavens and the earth: “O our Sustainer! You have not created [aught of] this without meaning and purpose. Limitless art You in Your glory! Keep us safe, then, from suffering through fire!} (Quran 3:190-191)

In the above two verses we find how those who are endowed with insight are constantly engaged in the remembrance of Allah and the reflection on the wonder and beauty of His creation.

The above are only three of the dozens of verses that urge the believers to live in remembrance of God by meditating on His marvelous creative power.

Islam at the individual level is realized outwardly in the formal obligatory ritual prayer, zakah, fasting, the hajj etc., while dhikr (i.e the meditative remembrance of God) serves as its inner spiritual essence, without which the external forms of worship are meaningless.  

Also, we must not lose sight of the fact that Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) had been meditating for several days in the Cave of Hira, when he received the first revelation from Allah Almighty. Contemplation and remembrance of God is the key to real contentment and mental tranquility. Allah says:


{ […] Those who believe, and whose hearts find their rest in the remembrance of God – for, verily, in the remembrance of God [men’s] hearts do find their rest.} (Quran 13:28)

All this points to the spiritual bedrock on which the edifice of Islam is firmly established. At the same time, the ideals of Islam are realized not just in the realm of the spirit. Remember, the Prophet after receiving his first revelation, came out of the Cave of Hira to lead people against the fortresses of shirk (polytheism) and kufr (unbelief).

He never visualized Islam as the way of a spiritual recluse; but as a middle way of balance between the inner world and the outer world. And as long as humans are what they are, their spiritual development is possible only in this world, and not outside of it.

And Islam teaches that humans are the vicegerents of God on earth; and to fulfill this mission of theirs, they should also be engaged in regulating the affairs of this world in the way God wants them to be regulated.

In Islam, spiritual development is synonymous with nearness to God; and nearness to God can be achieved only through unconditional obedience to Him.

Hence, religious people should unconditionally submit their wills to the will of God. The first expression of this submission is the ritual prayer called salah, in which the worshiper has got to be in a meditative frame of mind five times a day.

Similarly, dhikr and contemplation are at the center of fasting in the month of Ramadan. We may say, Islamic meditation is actually “tafakkur mentioned in the Quran, which (as indicated above) is a reflection upon the wonders of the universe leading to a worshipful appreciation of Allah Almighty’s creative power.

Some mystical forms of meditation, developed in a later period of Islam are controversial, as they sometimes lead to practices antithetical to Islamic teachings. Proper Islamic meditation is in conformity with the principles and practices of the teachings of the Quran and the Sunnah of the Prophet.

Meditation is a widely used term, which includes a variety of techniques and practices linked to the particular religious group that promotes it. Hence “meditation” is not always the same concept or practice as is understood by the follower of any particular religion.  

Meditation promoted by a religious or cultural group – such as the Art of Living group for instance – contains acts, positions, or chants that are antithetical to the norms of Islam. Such type of meditation or yoga practices – which have polytheistic elements in them – are not allowed for a Muslim.

The Meditation supported by the Islamic Sharī’ah is tafakkur (contemplation) and dhikr (remembrance), which can be reworded as contemplation that brings solace, serenity, and tranquility to the soul:  

{[…]Verily, in the remembrance of God [men’s] hearts do find their rest […]} (Quran 13:28)

I hope this helps answer your question and please keep in touch. 

Salam.

Please continue feeding your curiosity, and find more info in the following links:

Prophet Mohammed’s Advices of Healing with Prayers

Islamic Oases From Daily Stress

Meditation in Different Religions




About Professor Shahul Hameed

Professor Shahul Hameed is an Islamic consultant. He also held the position of the President of the Kerala Islamic Mission, Calicut, India. He is the author of three books on Islam published in the Malayalam language. His books are on comparative religion, the status of women, and science and human values.


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