Muslims and Meditation

This is an interesting question I received from one of my students a few years ago. I am sharing this with you because I felt you may find it beneficial and thoughtful. . .

“Do you have any books to recommend? I’ve been reading through Muhammad: A Prophet for our Time by Karen Armstrong. Also, I’m very involved in the practice of mindfulness meditation, in there any place for this within the framework of Islam?”

In the Name of God, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful:

My personal favorite is Martin Lings book Muhammad: His Life Based on the Earliest Sources. It is very readable and engrossing, really bringing the trials and triumphs of the Prophet (pbuh) into focus.

As for mindful meditation, there is a Sufi tradition (which is loosely based on the Prophet’s tradition) of Dhikr. This literally means remembrance, but in Islam it refers to the recitation and contemplation of the names and attributes of God, as well as supplications of thanks and praise to God. These recitations and prayers were said by the Prophet in the morning and evening after the dawn and sunset prayers. The Sufi tradition extends on this. However, some went too far in their interpretations and fell into unorthodox ideas or practices. However, modern scholars have said that so long as the names and invocations are those that were said by the Prophet or his companions, there is no harm in saying them on a regular basis.

The Indian Sufi Mystic Pir Vilayat Khan said, “Reciting and meditating upon the Beautiful Names (Asmâ’ ul-Husnâ) of Allâh can be a very powerful and productive practice. This practice may be used to promote the conscious emergence and continual awareness of these Divine Qualities in one’s own life as a means of connecting to the Divine Presence.”

You can find a list of the Names of Allah (as well as their meanings and reflections) HERE.

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