Reflection and Contemplation in the Quran

Peace, one and all…

In a famous tradition, the Prophet (alaihis salatu wa salam) is reported to have said: ‘He who knows himself, know his Lord’. 

From the little that I know, I am coming to realise the importance of self-knowledge in treading the Path.  As such, I wanted to post some ayat on reflection in the Quran.  Moreover, I’m currently working on a paper on this topic and so I thought I’d start by posting some of my primary material here.  Insha Allah, I’ll post more later on tonight.

The Quran repeatedly calls on humanity to reflect on God’s Signs (ayat).  As such, a large number of Quranic passages (ayat in their own right) refer to reflection (tafakkur), understanding and thought.  

‘They ask you concerning wine and gambling. Say: ‘In them is a great sin, and some profit for me; but their sin is greater than their benefit…Thus does Allah make clear to you His signs: in order that you may consider [la1alakum tatafakkarun]’ (2:219)

In this first ayah, on the topic of alcohol and gambling, we can see a very common Quranic method of argumentation.  The pros and cons of alcohol are discussed and Allah then gives His command on the matter.  We are then told that our reflection is a key component; in other words, we have to ponder the verse’s meaning in as broad a sense as possible.

And again:

‘Had We sent down this Quran on a mountain, indeed, you would have seen it humble itself and cleave itself asunder for the fear of Allah. Such are the similitudes which We propound to men, that may reflect [la`alahum yatafakkarun]’ (59:21)

Here, God is referring to the cosmic event of the Quran.  In this age of the Internet, it is perhaps easy to forget just what Islam teaches the Quran to be.  It is held to be the literal Word of the Creator of Heavens and Earth, Allah Jalla Jalaluhu. 

‘Does any of you wish that he should have a garden with date palms and vines and streams flowing underneath, and all kinds of fruit, while he is stricken with old age and his children are not strong – that it should be caught in a whirlwind, with fire therein and be burnt up? Thus does Allah make clear to you Signs: that you may consider [la`alakum tatafakkarun] (2:266)

Here, again, we are called to reflect on God’s message to humanity.  We are asked to reflect and then to respond.

That’s all for now, as I have to catch my train.

Ma’as salama,
Abdur Rahman 

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