This short advice on contemplation is an extract from an ebook written by Sheikh Muhammad Saleh AlMunajjid
All perfect praise is due to Allaah Who rose above the worlds in rank and essence; He overwhelmed His creation with His glory, might and power and commanded us to contemplate His verses and creation with our hearts and minds. His might and exaltedness confounds the hearts of those seeking His pleasure.
Whenever they think they have reached the answer in their quest to know about Him, His endless astonishing might makes them give up and stop attempting to find the limit and boundaries of His might and glory.
And when they attempt to give up, they are called to persevere in their search and ponder upon His attributes through the eye of servitude; they are called to contemplate upon their own creation to realize the extent and magnitude of His bounties, and to express gratitude for every bounty and glorify Him for every one and for the number of times these bounties are renewed.
They are called to reflect on His Decrees and how they result in distinguishing people between believers and disbelievers, losers and winners, good people and evil people, and the appreciative and ungrateful.
May Allaah exalt the mention of Prophet Muhammad, sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam, the master of the children of Aadam, who did not consider his lofty status something to brag or boast about, and may Allaah exalt the mention of his household and his Companions who became shining stars.
The Virtue of Contemplation
Contemplation is one of the great actions of the heart; in fact, it is the absolute best deed. 'Umar ibn 'Abdul-'Azeez, may Allaah have mercy on him, said:
“Contemplating on the bounties of Allaah is the best act of worship.”
Contemplation is the key to the light of guidance, the starting point of certitude and the source of knowledge and understanding. A wise scholar once said:
“Make your heart live by admonishments and enlighten it through contemplation.”
Many people know the virtue of contemplation but are unaware of its reality and fruits. However, few are those who actually contemplate. Allaah Says (what means):
“And how many a sign within the heavens and earth do they pass over while they, there from, are turning away And most of them believe not in Allaah except while they associate others with Him.”
The best gatherings are those in which people contemplate on:
the Names and Attributes of Allaah,
His Paradise and Hell,
His reward and punishment,
His favors and signs which He mentioned in His Book and can be observed in the universe, and His creation.
The one who is blessed to attend such gatherings will surely taste its sweetness and goodness.
1 Hilyat Al-Awliyaa' (314/5). , 2 Tafseer Ibn Katheer (305/3).
What is Contemplation?
What is the definition of contemplation?
What is the ruling of contemplation?
What are the fields and areas one should contemplate on?
What are the fruits and benefits of contemplation?
How were our Salaf with regards to this great act of worship?
The definition of contemplation Linguistically:
It means to think, reflect, and observe. It is extracted from the word Fikr. It also refers to the heart thinking again and again about something with the intention of extracting lessons admonishments.
It is when the heart searches for implications of what it observes. It was also said that it refers to the heart searching for the meaning or essence of things. At-Taahir ibn 'Aashoor, may Allaah have mercy on him, said:
”Contemplating is when the heart looks to benefit from sound knowledge.”
1 At-Tahreer Wat-Tanweer (Page 1299).
The ruling of contemplation
Many evidences prove that contemplating is an obligation upon the believers, whether it is upon the Qur'aanic verses, the creation of Allaah, one's own creation, the punishment of Allaah, the fire of Hell, or upon the reward of Allaah and His Paradise.
Allaah Says (what means):
“And We Sent not before you except men to whom We revealed [Our message] so ask the people of the message [i.e. former scriptures] if you do not know [We sent them] with clear proofs and written ordinances. And We revealed to you the message [i.e. the Qur'aan] that you may make clear to the people what was sent down to them and that they might contemplate.”
The verses show that the revelation of the Qur'aan was intended for nothing else except so that people would contemplate on it.
Allaah The Almighty praised in His Book His slaves who contemplate, Saying (what means):
“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 Allaah while standing or sitting or [lying] on their sides and contemplate on 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 Our Lord, indeed whoever You admit to the Fire-You have disgraced him, and for the wrongdoers there are no helpers.”
'Ataa`, may Allaah have mercy on him, said:
”Once, 'Ubayd ibn 'Umayr and I visited 'Aa`ishah, may Allaah be pleased with her. 'Ubayd ibn 'Umayr said to her: 'Tell us the most extraordinary experience of the Messenger of Allaah, sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam.' She kept silent for a while, wept and said: ‘Everything about him was extraordinary. One night, he said: 'Let me worship my Lord.' I said to him: 'By Allaah, I enjoy your closeness and I like to see you worshipping your Lord.' He, sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam, got up, performed ablution without using a lot of water. Then, he started praying and cried until he wet his beard. He prostrated in Sujood and cried until he wet the floor. Then, he lay down on his side and cried. When the time of the Fajr Prayer came, Bilaal came to announce it and said to the Prophet, sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam: 'Why are you crying while Allaah has forgiven your first and last sins?' The Prophet, sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam, replied: 'Allaah has revealed tonight the following verse (which means):
“Verily in the creation of the heavens and the earth, and the alteration of the night and day, there are indeed signs for men of understanding…”
He, sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam, added:
“Woe unto the one who recites it without thinking deeply about it.”
This narration proves that the one who does not contemplate on these verses is threatened with punishment, and Allaah does not threaten to punish for something unless it opposes His command, which means that contemplating is an obligatory matter.