Meditation In Islam: 3 Mentions In Hadith & Quran

Khadija Ahmed

July 12, 2023
Muslim man meditating as part of his spiritual practice

What does Islam say about meditation? Firstly, the word meditation comes from the Latin word meditatum, which means 'to ponder'. In Arabic, this word is referred to as Murāqabah. It refers to turning inward and looking at one's own Nafs (inner self) with certain forms of silent dhikr in an attempt to bring the Nafs in line with the commandments of Allah.

Mankind has been pondering about its existence since around 1500 BCE using meditation as a form of spiritual practice, and Islam too encourages this same spiritual journeying and thinking.

Meditation has been mentioned in several authenticated hadith and they tell us about the importance and benefits of the ancient practice most commonly associate with Buddhism. 

1. The importance of Friday prayer 🕌

We were guided aright to Friday (as a day of prayer and meditation), but Allah diverted those who were before us from it. [Sahih Muslim 856b]

Huraira reported that the Prophet Muhammad (SAWS) said that our Ummah has been guided to Friday and that the purpose of this day is for prayer and meditation. In fact, prayer itself can be considered as a form of meditation as it is a time to be in the present, worshipping God, clearing the mind of any worldly affairs and practising submission.

Muslims attend Jumuah prayers every Friday in order to stand in collective worship and again, this collective act could be seen as a form of meditation too.

Muslim woman praying at home

2. Devoting time to meditation 🧎🏽‍♂️

In this long narration, Hanzala Usayyidi, who was one of the scribes of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) reported:

I met Abu Bakr. He said: Who are you? He (Hanzala) said: Hanzala has turned to be a hypocrite. He (Abu Bakr) said: Hallowed be Allah, what are you saying? Thereupon he said: I say that when we are in the company of Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) we ponder over Hell-Fire and Paradise as if we are seeing them with our very eyes and when we are away from Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) we attend to our wives, our children, our business; most of these things (pertaining to After-life) slip out of our minds. Abu Bakr said: By Allah, I also experience the same. So I and Abu Bakr went to Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) and said to him: Allah's Messenger, Hanzala has turned to be a hypocrite. Thereupon Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) said: What has happened to you? I said: Allah's Messenger, when we are in your company, we are reminded of Hell-Fire and Paradise as if we are seeing them with our own eyes, but whenever we go away from you and attend to our wives, children and business, much of these things go out of our minds. Thereupon Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) said: By Him in Whose Hand is my life, if your state of mind remains the same as it is in my presence and you are always busy in remembrance (of Allah), the Angels will shake hands with you in your beds and in your paths but, Hanzala, time should be devoted (to the worldly affairs) and time (should be devoted to prayer and meditation). He (the Holy Prophet) said this thrice.

In this hadith, we can again see that the Prophet (pbuh) reminds us of the need to dedicate portions of the day to prayer and meditation as a way of constantly remembering Allah and the hereafter which is promised to everyone.

Woman in Jannah enjoying the the paradise around her

3. The story of Jurajj 🤲

This lengthy hadith, reported by Abu Huraira, recounts the story of Juraij, a pious man devoted to prayer and meditation. Juraij faced accusations of committing sins he did not commit, and his faith was tested. The story highlights the significance of Juraij's meditation and devotion to prayer, even amidst these damaging false accusations. It exemplifies the idea that meditation and remembrance of Allah can strengthen an individual's resilience in the face of adversity.

What does the Quran say about meditation? 📖

There are a number of Quranic verses which also mention meditation:

The worshipers of the Most Gracious are those who tread the earth gently, and when the ignorant speak to them, they only utter peace. In the privacy of the night, they meditate on their Lord, and fall prostrate. And they say, "Our Lord, spare us the agony of Hell; its retribution is horrendous. It is the worst abode; the worst destiny." [25:63-66]

And put your trust in the Almighty, Most Merciful. Who sees you when you meditate during the night. And your frequent prostrations. He is the Hearer, the Omniscient. [26:217-220]

Again we can see that there is common interchange or relationship between prayer and meditation. When a Muslim prostrates to Allah, they must try and clear their mind of everything except remembrance. As a result, it could be argued that prayer itself is a form of meditation. And Allah knows best.

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