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Reflection – The Profound Step in the Journey to Allah

(Ibn Ata’s Words of Wisdom: Part 6)

“Bury yourself in the land of anonymity. A seed that is never buried underground will never produce.

There is nothing more beneficial for the heart than an isolation that allows it to enter a state of reflection.”

This step is about isolation and reflection.

This is a profound way to come closer to Allah (SWT), and to actualize what we did in the previous steps. The repentance, the awe, the sincerity could be actualized by isolating yourself and reflecting.

This is a word of wisdom inspired by the Quran of course.

Indeed, in the creation of the heavens and the earth and the alternation of the night and the day are signs for those of understanding. Who remember Allah while standing or sitting or [lying] on their sides and give thought to the creation of the heavens and the earth, [saying], “Our Lord, You did not create this aimlessly; exalted are You [above such a thing]; then protect us from the punishment of the Fire. (3:190-191)

A Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad

Al-Tafakkur (reflection) is also another Qur’anic concept, that the sheikh is highlighting here, and from the Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) al-tafakkur always comes best with isolation.

When he (peace be upon him) would isolate himself before Islam and after he received the message, in the I’tikaf, (spiritual seclusion), and sometimes just out in the desert to reflect upon the creation of Allah (SWT).

And when you read the Quran, there is a lot of calling for reflection:

Do you not see that Allah sends down rain from the sky, and We produce thereby fruits of varying colors? And in the mountains are tracts, white and red of varying shades and [some] extremely black. And among people and moving creatures and grazing livestock are various colors similarly… (35:27-28)

Allah (SWT) is giving all the variations in different animals and plants, and then He said:

Only those fear Allah, from among His servants, who have knowledge. Indeed, Allah is Exalted in Might and Forgiving. (35:28)

Gaining Knowledge

The reflection will bring this awe and will add knowledge in your mind and in your heart. And that is the context when Allah mentions (al-ulama’), those people of knowledge.

‘ilm in Islam is not just the ‘ilm of hadith, tafsir and fiqh. Al ‘ilm is the ‘ilm of the rocks and the mountains and the plants and the water, that are mentioned in that same verse, because that ‘ilm is what you get when you do reflection.

When you think about the universe in an astronomical sense, or a biological or chemical sense, this is all reflection. This is all part of the ‘ibadah, part of the ‘ilm, that will make those ulama’ who fear Allah (SWT).

And the sheikh here is saying that whatever you do in life, not only if you are a person who studies the Quran and the Sunnah in a formal way, if you are a person who studies anything you do reflection.

You isolate yourself and reflect upon the wisdom of the creation of what you study, and that will bring you knowledge in the Islamic sense and will take you closer to Allah (SWT).

That’s why the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) had these retreats, these i’tikafs, in the masajid. And that’s why his wives did that after him. And this is a Sunnah that you go sit in a mosque and reflect upon Allah’s universe. Or go out in nature and reflect upon Allah’s universe. And Allah (SWT) will take you through the next steps.

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About Dr. Jasser Auda

Jasser Auda is a Professor and Al-Shatibi Chair of Maqasid Studies at the International Peace College South Africa, the Executive Director of the Maqasid Institute, a global think tank based in London, and a Visiting Professor of Islamic Law at Carleton University in Canada. He is a Founding and Board Member of the International Union of Muslim Scholars, Member of the European Council for Fatwa and Research, Fellow of the Islamic Fiqh Academy of India, and General Secretary of Yaqazat Feker, a popular youth organization in Egypt. He has a PhD in the philosophy of Islamic law from University of Wales in the UK, and a PhD in systems analysis from University of Waterloo in Canada. Early in his life, he memorized the Quran and studied Fiqh, Usul and Hadith in the halaqas of Al-Azhar Mosque in Cairo. He previously worked as: Founding Director of the Maqasid Center in the Philosophy of Islamic Law in London; Founding Deputy Director of the Center for Islamic Ethics in Doha; professor at the University of Waterloo in Canada, Alexandria University in Egypt, Islamic University of Novi Pazar in Sanjaq, Qatar Faculty of Islamic Studies, and the American University of Sharjah. He lectured and trained on Islam, its law, spirituality and ethics in dozens of other universities and organizations around the world. He wrote 25 books in Arabic and English, some of which were translated to 25 languages.

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