Assalamualaikum lovely souls! How have you guys been? We recently launched a tool to help you process your thoughts better. In that, the practice of meditation is mentioned as one of the activities to help you change your emotional state when feeling overwhelmed. Today’s post will be a detailed guide on how to meditate the Islamic way.
An Introduction to Islamic Meditation
What is meditation anyways? It is a mental state of self-awareness that is achieved by focusing on the present moment. It teaches you to not just react to your thoughts and emotions but rather to separate ourselves from it and to choose the right course of action.
My meditation journey started back in 2018, when my disturbing thoughts started to make me really anxious and I didn’t know what to do about it. I downloaded the meditation app called Headspace. I think it’s an amazing app if you are just starting out and want to get down to the basics. However, ever since we have started Two Souls One Chai, I always ask myself if my Deen has a similar tool that would allow me to deepen my practice.
And guess what? Islam does have a form of meditation called Muraqabah. Muraqabah is also a state of self-awareness but with respect to our relationship with Allah in heart, mind and body. It’s knowing that Allah is watching over us both inwardly and outwardly. And that realisation leads to inner peace. At the same time, it makes us more mindful of our own actions, thoughts, feelings and inner states of being. As is mentioned in the Quran,
Remember that God knows what is in your souls, so be mindful of Him.
[2:235 The Quran]
It is also interesting to note that Muraqabah is a way to reach the highest spiritual state in Islam called Ihsan (spiritual excellence). It is to be fully aware and mindful of Allah at all times, knowing that He is always around you. As the Prophet ﷺ defined in the famous hadith of Gabriel, spiritual excellence is,
“to worship Allah as if you see Him, for if you do not see Him, He certainly sees you.”
A Step By Step Guide
Now that we understand the concept of Islamic Meditation, it’s time to dive deep into the practice itself.
Step 1: Deep Breathing
Find a place where you won’t be interrupted and choose a comfortable posture . You can sit up on a chair, sit on the floor with your legs crossed or even lay on your side or back in bed, if you are doing it just before sleeping. Whatever that is convenient for you and works best for you.
Start the practice by taking deep breaths. Breathe in through your nose and let your tongue rise to the roof of your mouth, allowing your breath to say “Al.” As you exhale through your mouth, let your tongue drop down allowing your outward breath to say, “lah.” Take 3-5 such deep breaths while saying Al-lah. Notice how you feel.
Step 2: Body Scanning
Close your eyes and relax your body. Start scanning your body from top to bottom. Notice how you feel in each and every part of your body. Bring into your awareness that Allah is there with you at all times and let His light shine upon you as if it’s dissipating all the tensions in your body.
Step 3: Gratitude and Acknowledging His Presence
He is with you wherever you are
[57:4 The Quran]
Bring awareness to your natural breathing. Remember that you are not breathing, but rather you are being breathed (by Allah); that Allah is closer to you than you can imagine. In turn, you will feel a deep sense of gratitude for this life that Allah has given you.
Step 4: Find An Anchor
As you continue to focus on your natural breathing, chances are that you will get distracted by your fleeting thoughts and emotions. That is perfectly normal. Do not judge yourself. Simply bring yourself back into the present moment where Allah is by finding an anchor. Seeking forgiveness (by saying Astaghfirullah) was one of the Prophet’s ﷺ anchors, so nothing could be better. You can also use one of the beautiful names of Allah as an anchor to remember Him every time you get lost in your thoughts.
Step 5: Observe Your Surroundings
Towards the tail-end of your practice, observe your surroundings. The sounds around you, the air you feel around you, any smell, the taste in your mouth. Slowly open your eyes whenever you are ready.
Now at this point you can do a little stretch and say Alhamdulillah for how you feel after the practice.
Also, this may seem like a long process but it usually only takes 5-10 mins. You can choose the duration for yourself! But stick to a timing that you can be consistent with.
While Muraqabah is a formal practice of meditation, our Deen however, has also given us many more tools to practice mindfulness. Our 5 obligatory prayers, the act of making supplication (dua), the recitation of Quran and pondering upon it, are many such mindfulness tools that Allah has bestowed upon us.
If a formal meditation practice is too much for you to commit to right now then simply tying meditation to your daily prayers also provides the same benefits. When I was researching this topic, I read something about the act of praying that truly touched my heart. I will end this blog off by quoting it here.
“When you raise your hands up to say Allahu Akbar and throw your hands up, you throw all of the Dunya behind your shoulders”
[Dr Rania Awaad]
Till then, Allahafiz and take care.
Rabail and Umair Khan