…That they may contemplate!

“I contemplated over this worldly life and its pleasures and desires and took lessons from it. As soon as one fulfills the desires it has, it (the joy of the desire) is ruined by the bitterness of its (evil) consequence. If there are no lessons in it for those who ponder, it certainly has admonishment for those who contemplate”

One of the Salaf passed by a baker who was baking some bread, and started to look at the fire, and then broke into tears and cried very hard. When people asked him about the reason for his crying, he said: "I remembered the fire of Hell." This is how the righteous Salaf, may Allaah have mercy on them, were and this was their contemplation, so will we take them as examples and follow in their footsteps? Contemplation is one of the great actions of the heart and one of the best acts of worship. It is the key to the light of guidance, the basis of certitude and the source of knowledge and understanding. "Make your heart live by admonishments and enlighten it through contemplation"(Tafseer Ibn Katheer), a scholar once said.

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 favours 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 pleasantness. However, few men actually contemplate as Allah says: “And how many a sign in the heavens and the earth they pass by, while they are averse therefrom. And most of them believe not in Allah except that they attribute partners to Him (i.e. they are polytheists)” {Yusuf, 105-106}.

There are many verses where Allaah, the Magnificent, mentioned contemplation in the Qur'aan coupled with signs and examples, and commanded His slaves to contemplate over these examples. He, the Exalted says: “Verily, the likeness of this worldly life is as the rain which We send down from the sky; so by it arises the intermingled produce of the earth of which men and cattle eat: until when the earth is clad in its adornments and is beautified, and its people think that they have all the powers of disposal over it, Our Command reaches it by night or by day and We make it like a clean-mown harvest, as if it had not flourished yesterday! Thus do We explain the verses in detail for a people who reflect” {Yunus, 24}.

People are commanded to contemplate on the final outcome of the nations before them and why they were destroyed: were they weak people who could not stand the punishment that befell them or they were powerful and strong nations but could not stand in the face of the soldiers of Allaah? Allah says: “Do they not think deeply concerning themselves? Allaah has not created the heavens and the earth and what is between them except in truth and for a specified term. And indeed, many of the people who deny the meeting with their Lord are disbelievers. Have they not traveled through the earth and observed how the end of those before them was? They were greater than them in power, and they plowed the earth and built it up more than they [i.e. the pagans] have built it up, and their messengers came to them with clear evidences. Surely, Allaah would not ever have wronged them, but they were wronging themselves” {Ar-Rum, 8-9}. ‘Ataa’ narrated that the Prophet said: “Woe unto the one who recites it (the Qur’an) without thinking deeply about it” {Ibn Hibban, 620}. One of our Salaf, Abu Sulayman Ad-Daaraani, used to say: “Get your eyes used to crying and your heart to contemplating” (Hilyatul Awliyaa).

Contemplation has boundaries which a Muslim must know and stay within and not allow himself to go beyond these limits. A Muslim should not contemplate the essence of Allaah, the Exalted, or how His attributes are. "Contemplate over everything except the essence of Allaah”, Ibn Abbaas said. If you find yourself contemplating over something like this (i.e. the essence of Allaah and His attributes), you should immediately stop and seek refuge in Allaah from such thoughts, and start thinking of other things. There are examples of dispraised contemplation that are of no benefit for the slave of Allah in this life and in the Hereafter. One may contemplate over how a certain footballer performs in a match and how he does what he does during the match. Some people may contemplate over the way a singer rehearses or how one of their favourite actors acts in his movies. Some deep thinking may even be considered forbidden like contemplating the beauty of a woman.

"An important rule is that evil and virtue result from contemplation, because contemplation is the origin of will and determination in everything, asceticism, refraining from doing something, loving something or hating something. The most beneficial types of contemplation are contemplation over the following:

Ø  Things that would result in a benefit for the Hereafter;

Ø  The way to attain such benefits;

Ø  How to protect oneself against matters that harm in the Hereafter;

Ø  The way to avoid such harmful matters;

Ø  Things that would result in a benefit for this worldly life;

Ø  The way to attain such benefits;

Ø  How to protect oneself against matters that harm in this worldly life;

Ø  The way to avoid such harmful matters.

These eight categories are the types which sound-minded people contemplate over. The most important type in the first category is contemplating over the signs and favours of Allaah, His prohibitions and commands, how to learn about Allaah, His Names and Attributes, His Book (the Qur'aan), the Sunnah of His Prophet and things leading to this knowledge" {Al-fawaaid, 198}

Also, it is good to contemplate over one ’s self. Allah says: “Do they not contemplate concerning themselves” {Ar-Rum, 8}. By contemplating over one’s self, one would think deeply over the way Allaah created man, his body, his shape and instilled his sense of hearing and sight. One would also contemplate over one’s faults. This is very important because one cannot correct oneself if one does not contemplate in order to recognize one’s faults and areas of weakness. If one contemplates correctly, one will be able to discover one’s mistakes and faults, work on changing oneself, correcting it and refrain from committing them again. One should also contemplate over one’s family, wife and children; Allaah created for us spouses from ourselves, and our children came out from our backs (i.e. the sperms that are instilled in the man's back). We are also part of our fathers and mothers. Therefore, contemplating over these people is part of contemplating over one's own self. One should contemplate over their conditions, deeds, the problems and faults in the family that must be addressed and the best way they can be reformed.

The heart which does not contemplate over the creation of Allaah and His signs is a dead heart. A person should contemplate a lot because it leads to the pleasure of Allaah, comforts the heart, brings tranquility to it, results in fearing Allaah, makes a person gain wisdom, knowledge and insight and revives the heart.

Dear reader! Remember the place you are heading towards; contemplate over the portion of your life which has already passed: are you sure what you did in it will grant you salvation and save you from the punishment of your Rabb? Or will you find sins and shortcomings which will lead you to destruction? Do not feel secure while leading an oblivious life, the life of the people of desires and vain transgressors. We pray Allah make us contemplate on His signs and wonders, and make us adherents of Jannah.



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