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Saturday, October 31, 2009

at-Tafakkur (Contemplation)

Bismillah, alhamdulillah wa-salaatu wa-salaamu 'ala Sayyidina Muhammad wa 'ala alihi wa sahbihi wa salaam tasleman katheera.

Dear family in faith, as-salaamu 'alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu. Among the galaxy of themes and lessons we discover in al-Kalaamul Rabbil'alameen -the perfect speech of the Lord of the worlds- the Great Qur'an, is the importance of tafakkur; the signs and blessings of those who do it and the signs and detestable consequences of those who don't.

And so what would bring us to understand this word "tafakkur", the root (F-K-R) of which is used no less than 18 times in the Qur'an? It's defined as investing serious thought, careful consideration or analysis of a thing to obtain a clear or better knowledge of it. To employ one's mind and faculty of reason upon something. Let's take for instance the meaning of what Allah says in Surah Ali-'Imran ayat 190-191:

"Indeed, in the creation of the heavens and the earth and the alteration of the night and the day are signs for those of understanding- Who remember Allah while standing, sitting or lying on their sides and contemplate the creation of the heavens and the earth, saying: 'Our Lord, You did not create this aimlessly or for any idle purpose; Exalted are You above such a thing; then protect us from the punishment of the Fire.'"

Also, in Surah ar-Rum ayah 8, Allah ta'ala describes those who are heedless of these clear signs and who care little or none at all contemplate upon them when He says what means:

"Do they not contemplate upon themselves? Allah has not created the heavens and the earth and what is between them except in truth and for an appointed term. And indeed, many of the people, in the matter of the meeting with their Lord (resurrection and day of judgment), are disbelievers."

Later, He uncovers their destination if they persist and die in such a state in ayah 16:

"...as for those who disbelieved and denied Our ayat (proofs, evidences, lessons, signs, etc.) and the meeting of the Hereafter, those will be brought into the punishment to remain."

It is my sincere intention and hope, in'sha'Allah, from here to explain the benefits of tafakkur. How it suits the believer and draws them closer to Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala. Contemplation and reflection is required in order that both our hearts and minds be present in our salah. As we sin and disobey our Lord, having no shyness before Him nor contemplation over the consequences of our deeds. We may stand in our salah noticing something feels amiss, and this is likely because without tafakkur, without contemplation over our deeds, we cannot truly attain humbleness and humility in front of Allah and consequently repent. Without tafakkur our hearts abandon us in our salah; and it is observed with very weak kushoo (concentration).

Without consistent contemplation we're paying no mind nor are we investing any real care or concern over our deeds, the good and the bad of them. Our late, classic scholar and second generation 'Tabi, al-Hasan al-Basri rahimahullah, said regarding this matter: "Tafakkur is a mirror that shows you your good and bad deeds." And in conversation with Sufyan ibn 'Uyaynah, Imam al-Hasan also stated: "Tafakkur is the key to Mercy. Don't you see how a person contemplates and consequently repents?"

Tafakkur (contemplation) and tawba (repentance) are of the main habits that distinguish the mu'min (true believer) from the fasiq (the one who sins without shame or guilt) and the munafiq (hypocrite). It is through these functions and good deeds besides them that the believer increases in iman, taqwa, ihsan and all the qualities Allah Loves and protects us from the Nar. In a beautiful and very profound hadith our beloved Rasul salallahu 'alayhi wa salaam explained the inherent qualities of the mu'min in saying:

"There is no believing slave of Allah except that he has a sin that he continually commits, it never leaves him until he leaves this world. Indeed, the believer is created muftannan, tawwaban, nassaa'an -when he is reminded, he remembers."

It is obvious from this statement that no believer among us is pure from disobeying their Lord. But as Muhammad salallahu 'alayhi wa salaam proceeded to explain, the believer is created muftannan, one who is tried and tested, nassaa'an, forgetful and finally the distinguished qualities of the believer is they are tawwaban -repentent- and when they are reminded, meaning of their purpose, their Akhirah and place with Allah azza wa jall, they remember and refresh their hearts and iman through tawba and devotion. As ar-Rasulullah salallahu 'alayhi wa salaam said: "the one who repents from a sin is like the one who never committed the sin in the first place."

This, my dear brothers and sisters, is why tafakkur is so crucial. If not for contemplation, how then would we recognize, let alone care for our faults, shortcomings and misdeeds? How then could we come to conduct a sincere tawba; begging and crying to Allah for His Mercy and Forgiveness? How then could we have humiliation and humbleness before Him, our Lord, in our salah?

One reminder that should help us to intensify our tafakkur even more, in'sha'Allah, and contemplate heavier and more deeply over our sins comes from Anas ibn Malik radiallahu 'anhu in his comment to one of the Tabi'een :

"I see you committing sins that you consider less weighty than the hair on your head, if we had done the same sins at the time of Muhammad salallahu 'alayhi wa salaam we would have thought we were destroyed."

Ya Muslimeen! If this was the perception of the sahahbi Anas ibn Malik radallahu 'anhu in the case of the Tabi'een whom Muhammad salallahu 'alayhi wa salaam said would be the best generation of Muslims after his own, imagine then what his perception would be in our case? Let us always be among those who contemplate our purpose and place in this world and in the Sight of Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala . Let us always be among those who reflect upon our deeds, repenting when sinful and always being grateful to Allah for everything, known and unknown, and looking forward to our Akhirah. Allahumma ameen!

Our late scholar and Tabi, al-Fudhayl bin 'Iyaad rahimahullah said:

"The speech of the believer is wisdom; his silence is contemplation and his vision is a lesson. If you are like that, then you will never cease being in a state of worship." He followed up in reading the ayah: "wama khalaqtu al-jinna waal-insa illa liya'budun." (I have not created the jinn or mankind except to worship Me.)

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