by Mufti Samir Wahid (Atlanta, Georgia)
Autumn is in full swing, and it is an excellent reminder for us all to step outside and appreciate the beauty of Allah’s creation. As the leaves change colors and fall off trees and cool breezes flow, fall is the perfect time for us to reflect upon the little things that we may otherwise often overlook.
Pondering over and reflecting upon the creation of Allah played a key role in the life of the Prophet ﷺ, so much so that before the first verse was revealed he ﷺ would go into seclusion for months at a time. Allah used this seclusion to prepare him ﷺ for the greatest task to ever befall a human being.
Our mother, ‘Aisha (Allah be pleased with her), narrates:
“The beginning of the wahy (Divine Inspiration) to Allah’s Messenger ﷺ was in the form of true dreams, which were so vivid that when he would wake up, it was as if the scene he dreamed would manifest in front of him. About six months before the first revelation, Allah made seclusion beloved to the Prophet ﷺ. He would seek seclusion for several days at a time in the Cave of Hira. He would take a few days’ worth of food with him, and come back to see his family when his provisions ran out. This continued for several months before the first ayahs were revealed to him in the Cave of Hira.” [Bukhari]
It was a habit of the Prophet ﷺ that whenever he would wake up for the night prayer, he would wipe his face and recite the last ten verses of Surah Aali Imran. They begin with: “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.” [Bukhari]
We see in his ﷺ example the importance of starting one’s day by meditating and reflecting upon the creation of Allah.
Several recent studies have also shown the most successful people are those who meditate in the morning. Oftentimes, the first thing we do is check our text messages or emails when we wake up. Rather, we should start our day unplugged from this world and plugged into our Creator.
Why is Reflection so Important?
It is easy to get trapped in the rat-race of daily life. We finish one task and move onto the other, but the list never seems to end. As such, our minds become so occupied with work, school, and other activities that we barely have time or space in our minds to think about Allah, making it difficult to have proper concentration and devotion in our salah (prayer) and other acts of worship.
The great tabi`, Hasan (Allah have mercy upon him), said: “Reflecting for a moment is better than standing in prayer at night.” [Ihya]
Hasan (Allah have mercy upon him) was referring to the fact that if one does not control his mind, his mind will be occupied with many things and will not be able to concentrate on the task at hand. Reflecting helps build concentration in salah, and other acts of worship.
Before we step outside of our houses, we should have already prepared our minds to be reminded of Allah by everything around us.
Once `Ata and `Ubaid (Allah be pleased with them), visited `Aisha (Allah be pleased with her), and asked her, “What was the most amazing thing you saw from the Prophet ﷺ?” She stayed quiet for a moment and then went on to say, “One night the Prophet ﷺ asked me to leave him tonight to worship Allah. I told him that I love him and I want him to be happy. Throughout the night he wept so much that his lap became wet. Then he continued crying until his beard became wet. Then he continued crying until the floor became wet. At that moment, Bilal (Allah be pleased with him) called the adhan for Salat al-Fajr. Bilal (Allah be pleased with him) came to the house of the Prophet ﷺ and saw him crying and asked him, “Why are you crying so much when Allah has forgiven your future and past sins?” The Prophet ﷺ responded and said, “Shall I not be a grateful slave? Allah has revealed an ayah to me tonight, woe to the one who recites them and does not contemplate,
“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. Who remember Allah while standing or sitting or [lying] on their sides and give thought to the creation of the heavens and the earth, [saying], “Our Lord, You did not create this in vain; exalted are You; then protect us from the punishment of the Fire.” [Sahih ibn Hibban]
In essence, reflection should lead us to feel that nothing around us has been created in vain and that Allah has created everything with a purpose. Shaykh Sulaiman Ad-Darani (Allah have mercy upon him) said:
“Whenever I leave my house, my eyes do not fall upon anything except that I see a blessing of Allah in it and that there is in it a lesson for me.” [Tafseer ibn Kathir]
The great and famous worshiper, Rabi`ah (Allah have mercy upon her) said, “I never heard the adhan (call the prayer) except that it would remind me of the caller on the Day of Judgement, I never saw snow except that I would remember the flying pages (of the book of deeds), and I never saw locusts except that I would remember the gathering (on the Day of Judgment).” [Siffat us Safwa]
How to Reflect
Reflection can be done anywhere and anytime throughout the day; however, it is best done in the morning or evenings in seclusion. Empty your mind of everything, and ponder upon the creation of Allah. Think about the greatness of Allah, remember the blessings Allah has bestowed upon you, think about those times you have disobeyed Allah, ask forgiveness, and think of ways to improve. Also think about your day from start to finish and how you can have a productive day as Muslim.
During reflection, do not think about the Being of Allah. Rather, think about the Creation of Allah. Ibn Abbas (Allah be pleased with him) said, “Reflect upon every [creation of Allah] and do not reflect upon the Being of Allah.” [Ad Durul Manthoor]
Attaining the recognition of Allah is not attained by pondering upon the Being of Allah. Rather, it is attained by pondering about the Creation of Allah.
Just as the change from summer to fall is evident, we should change our hearts with the season as well. Allah has already created an environment for us to reflect over and a world full of reminders that are signs back to Him.
- Take out 10-15 minutes every day for reflection. Start with 5 minutes, and work your way up to 15 minutes.
- Reflection should lead you to the ma`rifa (Recognition of Allah). It helps establish a connection between you and Allah.
- Reflection enables us to be content with what we have and to appreciate the blessings of Allah.