What can I practically do to inculcate beautiful character (akhlaq) by ensuring that my heart (qalb) does not fall prey to the selfish, evil and subtle snares of my lower-self (nafs)? How can I become more aware of what lurks within me? And how can I guard myself from character that the Divine despises?
While knowledge of the science of purification of the heart and its practice is a gradual means to cleanse the heart, one method of Divine remembrance is of particular help in the struggle for a noble character.
One of Allah’s Names is al-Raqib or the Ever-Watchful. Muraqabah is a word derived from the same root. Muraqabah, or Divine mindfulness or vigilance, is the effort to always be conscious of the watchfulness of the Divine over my senses (jawarih) and my heart (qalb).
Allah states in the Qur’an: Verily, Allah is Ever-Watchful over all things. His watchfulness is constant and lasting. His knowledge encompasses me in every way.
Not only does Allah watch over my words and deeds, but He is watchful over my inner states: my thoughts, emotions, feelings, drives, ideas – whether I am aware or unaware of them.
Muraqabah is a very powerful form of Divine remembrance (dhikr). The essence of dhikr (Divine remembrance) is that we remember Allah with our hearts. The external forms of dhikr (Divine remembrance) are a means to generate an internal consciousness of Allah. Dhikr (remembrance) is meant to penetrate our hearts. The most powerful and transformational remembrance is dhikr of the heart.
Though muraqabah (Divine mindfulness or vigilance), I will cleanse my heart. How? In addition to muraqabah being a blessed form of Divine remembrance, my awareness of the Divine’s watchfulness over me will make me more sensitive to what is happening inside me. When I know that Allah is watching my heart (qalb), I will become more uncomfortable with harbouring within me anything He does not love.
The more sensitive I am, the swifter is my consciousness of the impulses within me. I will not allow them to grow, to gain momentum, to become stronger, to turn into word and action. I will sever them at the roots by not indulging them, by turning the gaze of my heart away from them.
Muraqabah is a struggle. It does not come easy. It requires that we constantly strive to be aware of Allah’s watchfulness. And to re-set our consciousness when we forget.
And while muraqabah (Divine mindfulness) begins with a rational and conceptual knowledge of Allah’s watchfulness, it is meant to deepen and become experiential. Muraqabah is a consciousness of the heart (qalb) and not the mind. I am meant to feel that Allah is watching me. His watchfulness produces a spiritual emotion in the heart (qalb) of awe and reverence.
To coin an example: How would you feel when you know that a very noble, saintly person is watching you? We have all had that experience. We know how this feels; and we also know by experience what this does to naturally alter our behaviour in incredible ways.
Similarly, how would we feel when we truly know that Allah, the Infinite in majesty and beauty is watching us. Allah – who possesses all the attributes of perfection. Allah – Who is Infinitely-Loving but has the power to hold us to account for our misdeeds.
There is no inherent disconnect or contradiction between Islamic Spirituality and social or political activism. In fact, Islamic spirituality is not only relevant but essential to all forms of activism. This podcast with Shaykh Riad Saloojee will present a paradigm for a spiritually-inspired activism where activism achieves what it was always meant to be: a vehicle for nearness to the Divine through genuine individual and social ethical change.
This series will comprise of seven discussions that will explore 1. The foundations of Islamic spirituality; 2. The spiritual