Unlike other holidays, the Holy Week is not a holiday for merrymaking but that of meditation. While Muslims do not observe the Holy Week as it is a Non-Muslim holiday, it is great to be reminded that man, whatever his religion may be, needs to meditate more often than in a once a year event.
Meditation is using your mental, physical and spiritual abilities to achieve clarity or enlightenment by focusing on relevant thoughts and keeping away the irrelevant. Man, as a sentient being is in need of constant meditation but for a Muslim, being in a meditative state should be his default state.
In the Quran, it wasn’t the Muslims only who are required to contemplate. Allah also addresses the Non-Muslims in the verses where meditation is mentioned. One such verse that directly addresses the Non- Muslims is when Allah said, “Then do they not reflect upon the Qur'an? If it had been from other thanAllah, they would have found within it much contradiction.” Quran 4:82.
Prophets and messenger have been reported to have lived in solitude before prophethood and more so after becoming among the chosen people of God to bring the message to mankind. Noah, Moses, Jesus and Prophet Muhammad have all been reported to have isolated themselves away from civilization for a few days at a time to seek seclusion in a remote area or a cave that they leave only to go back to their families to get food and supplies. Prophet Zakaria has also been reported to have received the good news of having a son, John the Baptist, despite his old age while he was staying inside his praying chamber. Virgin Mary received the good news of her virgin birth to Jesus in her prayer chamber too.
For ordinary humans, meditation is an act through which we arrive at the truth and find deeper meaning in life. Meditation in Islam could be divided into different kinds depending on the context. It could mean tafakkur or deep thought, tadabbur or contemplation on the deeper meanings and tawassum of the reflection we make of the events around is or within us. Muslims are encouraged by Allah to contemplate upon his surroundings and the greatness of Allah’s creations because they mirror the
greatness of the Creator. We may not see God directly, but we feel the effect of His existence which is manifested in His creation. Allah said in the Quran, “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. Those who remember Allah while standing or sitting or lying on their sides and give thought to the creation of the heavens and the earth, and they say, “Our Lord, You did not create this aimlessly; exalted are You above such a thing; then protect us from the punishment of the Fire.” Quran 3:190-191.
Although sometimes being connected to the occult, meditation in Islam is never a mystic ritual where a Muslim will chant unintelligible words, in order to reach a supposed higher state of being. Meditation in Islam is not like the meditation that is being done by the Hindus and the Buddhist. Real meditation in Islam is not even like what some deviant sects who call themselves as Muslims do who meditate by dancing and swinging their heads. Muslims do not meditate by posing themselves in a posture. The meditative state could be reached while doing some other things.
The best thing to contemplate upon are the meanings of the Quran. For regular readers of the Quran,they find the answers they needed in the pages that they read as if Allah is guiding them through the Quran. The Quran guides them in their course of actions and life decisions while relying upon Allah with full reliance that He is the best of planners and whatever He may have decreed is a decree made with His infinite wisdom and knowledge and we should submit ourselves to it with full submission, whether that decree is something we desire or not. This meditative state strengthens the believers’ reliance upon Allah even more.
Real meditation for Muslims is a default state of mind that the Muslim should be meditative or contemplative all the time – by being God-conscious all the time. The Muslim longs for the pleasure of his Lord all the time that all his actions are dedicated to Him only and no one else. A Muslim’s actions should never be intended for ulterior or worldly motives or benefits. Any good deed that a Muslim does or a bad deed that he avoids should be done sincerely for the sake of Allah.
Being in a constant meditative state make a Muslim much more aware of his sins that because of this,he is aware that he may be sinning or not, even without being reminded by others or even before suffering any legal or social consequence of his bad deeds. Being in a constant meditative state puts the Muslim in a state that he keeps weighing himself in terms of his good and bad deeds, that if there should have been vices or other bad deeds that he may have knowingly or unknowingly committed – he is always prepared to repent to Allah immediately. A Muslim, because of this, humbly asks his Lord for forgiveness most often by words of devotion in asking for forgiveness, knowing that anytime, he may die and therefore lose all the ability to ask Allah for forgiveness.
Being in a constant meditative state is not only for the spiritual benefit of one’s self, as it does manifest in how we treat others too. Being God-conscious make us love being just and hate being oppressive.
Knowing that one is accountable for every big or small good or bad deed is enough deterrent and motivation for anyone to avoid sinning and do as many good deeds as he can. Having these kinds of individuals in a society, even if only a small percentage of us will sow the seeds of kindness, social justice, and love, even in the community level.