Contemplation: qualities of the virtuous

Thursday، 08 March 2018 08:24 PM

Deliberation most certainly leads to knowledge, which, in turn, results in action. Hence, if people ponder the magnificence of Allah The Almighty, they will surely refrain from His disobedience. Moreover, contemplation is a mirror that reflects one’s good and evil deeds. It is one of the best acts of worship, for not only does it bring about wisdom, it endows the heart with life and instills the fear of Allah The Almighty in it. 
That is why Abu Sulaymaan Ad-Daaraani, may Allah have mercy upon him, would say, “When I go out and see anything, I notice the blessing of Allah in it and take a lesson from it.” Similarly, when the wife of Abu Ad-Dardaa’, may Allah be pleased with them, was asked about her husband’s best act of worship, she replied, “Contemplation and consideration.”
It was also reported that Muhammad ibn Ka‘b al-Qarathi, may Allah have mercy upon him, said, “I would rather read [only] the chapters Az-Zalzalah (The Earthquake) and Al-Qaari’ah (The Sudden Calamity) all night long and ponder on their meaning, than recite the Qur’an quickly without reflection.” 
Taawoos, may Allah have mercy upon him, narrates, “The disciples said to ‘Eesa (Jesus), may Allah exalt his mention, ‘O soul of Allah! Is there anyone on earth like you today?’ He replied, ‘Yes; he whose utterances comprise the remembrance of Allah, silence is meditation and gazes are introspective, is like me.” Therefore, one should contemplate the blessings of Allah The Almighty and all things, and must only avoid questioning His entity, for, as He Says (what means): {There is nothing like unto Him, and He is the Hearing, the Seeing.} [Qur’an 42:11]
There are many verses that refer to deliberation, reflection, meditation and consideration in the Noble Qur’an; Allah The Almighty Says (what means): 
{Thus Allah makes clear to you the verses [of revelation] that you might give thought.} [Qur’an 2:219] 
{“Say, ‘Is the blind equivalent to the seeing? Then will you not give thought?’”} [Qur’an 6:50] 
{Do they not contemplate within themselves? Allah has not created the heavens and the earth and what is between them except in truth and for a specified term. And indeed, many of the people, in [the matter of] the meeting with their Lord, are disbelievers.} [Qur’an 30:8] 
It is related that ‘Ataa’, may Allah be pleased with him, said: “Once, I went with ‘Ubayd ibn ‘Umayr to ‘Aa’ishah, may Allah be pleased with them, who said to him: ‘It is about time you visited us.’ He, may Allah be pleased with him, replied, ‘I repeat the wise saying that goes – visit people once in a while, so that they would love you more.’ She said, ‘Let go of this nonsense.’ Ibn ‘Umayr, may Allah be pleased with him, then asked, ‘Please tell us about the most remarkable thing that you saw the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, do.’ She paused for a moment, then responded, ‘One night, the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, said to me, ‘O ‘Aa’ishah! Let me worship my Lord tonight.’ I told him, “By Allah, I love being close to you and I love what pleases you.” He, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, then performed ablution and started praying. He started weeping until his lap was soaked. Then, he started weeping until his beard became wet; and [he continued so] until the ground became damp. Bilaal, may Allah be pleased with him, then came to perform the Athaan (call to prayer) and found the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, weeping, so he asked, ‘O Messenger of Allah, why are you in tears when Allah has forgiven what has preceded of your sins and what will follow?’ He, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, answered,‘Should I not be a grateful slave? Indeed, a verse was revealed to me tonight; woe to the one who recites it and does not ponder its meaning. [The verse is:] {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.} [Qur’an 3:190].’”
On another occasion, Huthayfah, may Allah be pleased with him, narrates: “Once, I prayed with the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam; he started reciting the chapter of Al-Baqarah (The Cow). I thought that he would bow after one hundred verses, but he went on. Then, I assumed he would recite the whole chapter in one standing, but he then read the chapter An-Nisaa’ (The Women), finished it and continued reciting the chapter Aal-‘Imraan (The Family of ‘Imraan). Whenever he would come across a verse of Allah’s praise, he used to glorify Him; and if he would happen upon a verse mentioning good things, he would pray to Allah for them. Also, if he would read a verse that mentions bad things [like Hell], he would seek refuge from them in Him. When he finally bowed and uttered, ‘Subhaana Rabbi Al-‘Atheem (Glory be to my Lord, The Great)’ and his bowing was almost equivalent in length to his standing. After that, he said, ‘Sami’ Allahu liman hamidah (Allah hears the one who praises Him)’. Then, he stood for a lengthy period and prostrated for a similar amount of time, saying: ‘Subhaana Rabbi Al-A‘la (Glory be to my Lord, The Most High).’” [Muslim]
Likewise, ‘Abdullaah ibn Mas‘ood, may Allah be pleased with him, relates: “The Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, said to me, ‘Recite the Qur’an for me.’ I replied, ‘O Messenger of Allah, how could I read it to you when it was revealed to you?’ He said, ‘I like to listen to it being recited by others.’ I read out the chapter An-Nisaa’; when I reached the verse (which means): {So how [will it be] when We bring from every nation a witness and we bring you, [O Muhammad] against these [people] as a witness?} [Qur’an 4:41], I lifted my head, or a man beside me nudged me so I looked up, and saw the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, in tears.”[Al-Bukhari and Muslim] Many other reports from the Sunnah confirm this quality and all of them prove the Prophet’s, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, constant contemplation and consideration. 
He, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, would also remind us that a person who reflects and “remembers Allah in seclusion and his eyes flood with tears” is among the seven types of people, whom Allah The Almighty will shelter in His shade on the Day of Judgment, when there will be no other shade. [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]
Others from our righteous predecessors would similarly advise us; Al-Hasan, may Allah have mercy upon him, said, “Deliberation for one hour is better than praying all night long.” It is also told that the wise man Luqmaan, may Allah have mercy upon him, would habitually sit in solitude; his slave would ask him about that, telling him that it would be better for him to remain in the company of people. But he, may Allah have mercy upon him, used to tell him that staying alone for long periods of time is better for contemplation and that deep reflection leads to Paradise. 
It was also narrated that ‘Umar ibn ‘Abdul-‘Aziz, may Allah have mercy upon him, once wept when he was among his friends; when questioned about his behaviour, he replied, “I thought of life and its pleasures and desires; I learnt from it that all its desires are eventually followed by what is bitter. Verily, these realities should be warnings for those who are heedful.” 
Moreover, the most beneficial thoughts are those that pertain to the Hereafter and the favours of Allah The Almighty, His blessings, ordinances, prohibitions and means of true knowledge of Him, His names and attributes. Indeed, such thoughts instill in an individual love of Allah The Almighty and knowledge of Him and His religion. That is because when one ponders the next life, its honour and perpetuity, and this life and its meanness and transience, he or she would aspire to the Hereafter and forsake this world. Moreover, when one contemplates this ephemeral existence and the impossibility of a longer lifespan, he or she would become more serious and endeavour to make the optimum use of his or her time. 
On the other hand, thinking of only this world and other nonsense is the door to all kinds of evil. That would include concerning oneself with notions about what we have not been ordered to ruminate over, such as the essence of Allah The Almighty and matters that surpass human intellect. As for one who is mean in his or her thoughts, he or she will display the same narrow-mindedness in all affairs. 
Therefore, Mugheeth Al-Aswad, may Allah have mercy upon him, would instruct: “Visit the graves every day so they would remind you [of death]. Imagine the situation with your hearts [and minds], looking at both groups when they are led either to Paradise or Hell. Let your souls and bodies not forget [the latter] and its maces of iron.” Another factor that stimulates contemplation is fasting, which is why it was said: “When the stomach is full, thinking becomes dormant, wisdom shuts down and the organs stop performing acts of worship.” 
A person should think of his first priority and primary motive of a deed; if it is for Allah The Almighty, he or she should proceed, but if it is for someone or something else, he or she should stop. Indeed, deliberation is good in all matters, except what affects one’s Hereafter. Ash-Shaafi‘i, may Allah have mercy upon him, said, “Think before you decide and contemplate before you take a step forward.” Ibn Mas‘ood, may Allah be pleased with him, would also advise his friends: “In your time, the best among you is the one who hastens toward good deeds; however, there will be a time when the best among people will be those who reflect on and verify everything, because of the rampant false talk.”
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