Contemplating on: “This life, the afterlife, and the calls of the prophets (pbut)”
Main axes of the subject:
– Principles of contemplation and submission to Allah (The Exalted)
– Contemplating on: “This life, the afterlife, and the calls of the prophets (pbut)”
Contemplation is the only method for knowing Allah (The Exalted).
Exporting the subject:
“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.”
A man named Ata’a said that Obaid Bin Omeir asked Aisha to tell us about the most amazing thing of the messenger of Allah (a.s.). He said: She cried and said: His affair in its entirety was amazing. One night he approached me until his skin touched my skin and said: let me worship my lord (The Exalted). Hence, he took the bottle and performed the ritual purification (Wudu). Next, he stood up and started praying and cried until he soaked his beard after which he prostrated and soaked the ground. Then, he lay down on his side until Bilal came asking his permission to call for the morning prayers. He said: O messenger of Allah, what made you cry knowing that Allah has forgiven you for your past and future sins? He said: Woe unto you Bilal! Nothing can stop me from crying because Allah inspired me this night saying: “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.”
Then he said: “Woe unto he who reads it without contemplating on it.”1
There is no doubt that contemplation is the shortest and quickest way for us to reach the knowing of Allah and the remaining necessary parts of knowledge that will lead us to human perfection. Therefore, this issue was stressed continuously by the holy Quran. This includes the following words of his Exaltedness: “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 aimlessly; exalted are You [above such a thing]; then protect us from the punishment of the Fire.”2
This perhaps indicates to contemplation as being the fastest way and method to knowing Allah (The Exalted). The narrations that mentioned comparison between worship and contemplation rendered one hour of contemplation as better than one year of worship, other narrators went even beyond this level.
How do we practice contemplation?
Al Hassan al Saiqil was quoted as saying: “I asked Abu Abdullah (a.s.) about the peoples’ saying that (one hour of contemplation is better than staying awake a full night in prayers), he said: yes, Allah’s messenger (s.a.a.w.) said: one hour of contemplation is better than one night in prayers. I asked: how does one contemplate? He said: He passes by the graveyard and by the houses, hence contemplating by saying to them: Where are your residents? Where are your builders? Why don’t you speak?”3
Issues upon which one contemplates:
One can contemplate upon the signs of Allah. This issue was indicated by several verses of the holy Quran such as:
“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 aimlessly; exalted are You [above such a thing]; then protect us from the punishment of the Fire..”4
This reflection leads to the knowing and unification of Allah as well as reminds us of the tasks and the necessity of obedience and belief to be salvaged from damnation.
– Sometimes meditation can be upon the graces of Allah and his generosities such as the following verse of his exaltedness: “And of His signs is [that] He shows you the lightening [causing] fear and aspiration, and He sends down rain from the sky by which He brings to life the earth after its lifelessness. Indeed in that are signs for a people who use reason.”5
– In other cases, contemplation can be upon the holy book of Allah or upon supplication and prayers. This issue was indicated in the commandment of the prophet (a.s.) to Abi Zar (RIP): “O Aba Zar, two short prayers in contemplation are better than a full night in prayers with absentmindedness.”6
– In other cases, contemplation can be upon the soul and the reasons for its damnation and the methods for its cure and salvation. For example, Habba al Arrani said: “While Nauf and I were asleep in the courtyard of the palace, suddenly we saw commander of the faithful (a.s.) in the remaining time of the night placing his hand on the wall saying: “… Indeed, in the creation of the heavens and the earth …” He said: he began reading these verses and said to me: Are you asleep O Habba or awake? I said: awake. He said: this is you performing this issue. What would be of us? And his eyes watered and started crying. Then, he said to me: O Habba, there is a stance before Allah and we will have a stance before him; nothing of our deeds will be concealed from him. O Habba, Allah is nearer to you and me than that of our jugular veins. O Habba, nothing will conceal you or me from Allah.
He said: then he asked: are you asleep Nauf? He said: No O commander of the faithful. Also this night I cried for long. He said: O Nauf, if you’re crying for long this night in fear of Allah (The Exalted), then your eyes will find happiness tomorrow when you stand before Allah (The Exalted)…”7
Conclusion about the aim behind contemplation:
Most of the illnesses that strike mankind in this world are the psychological and spiritual illnesses. The holy Quran stated that the survivors and winners are the owners of the sound hearts that are clear of these illnesses, as in the words: “But only one who comes to Allah with a sound heart.” The illnesses of the hearts are the worst followed by the cruel hearts and inadvertence. The benefit of contemplation is that it works as a warning that alarms the heart out of its inadvertence. Vigilance is the first of such behavior. This issue was pointed out by commander of the faithful (a.s.) when he said: “Alarm your heart by contemplation.”
1- Al Mahajja al Baida’a, Vol. 8, P. 194
2- The Holy Quran, Surat A’l Imran (Family of Imran): verse 191. Also see verses 21-224 of surat Ar-Rum (the Romans).
3- Al Kafi, Vol. 2, P. 54. H. 2. Also Mishkat al Anwar, P. 81
4- Surat A’l Imran (Family of Imran), verses 191-191.
5- Surat Ar-Rum (the Romans), verse 24
6- Al Bihar, Vol. 77, P. 82.
7- Al Bihar, Vol. 41, P. 22.