“Verily, in the Remembrance of Allah do hearts find rest.” [Qur’an 13:28]
Muraqaba is a form of dhikr, which involves the act of turning one’s heart towards Allah through meditation and deep focus. By concentrating the heart solely upon the Creator, one is able to feel His Presence intensely and contemplate on His Remembrance. For the saalik (seeker of the spiritual path of Tasawwuf) this leads to an increase in Taqwa; it brings life to the heart’s core using the divine knowledge that, He is fully aware of our deeds and actions: “And Allah is [fully] acquainted with what you do.” [Qur’an 2:234] And that He is indeed also aware of the state of our hearts: “Allah knows well the secrets of your hearts.” [Qur’an 5:7]
The origin of muraqaba comes from the practice of the Beloved Messenger of Allah, may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him, who would frequently resort to the Cave of Hira at night to seek comfort in the Remembrance of Allah.
Sayyida Aisha, may Allah be pleased with her, narrates:
“The commencement of the Divine Inspiration to Allah’s Messenger was in the form of good dreams which came true like bright day light, and then the love of seclusion was bestowed upon him. He used to go in seclusion in the Cave of Hira where he used to worship (Allah alone) continuously for many days before his desire to see his family…” [Bukhari: Vol 1, Book 1, Hadith no. 3]
From this, we can establish that the Beloved Messenger of Allah would isolate himself in the cave for days, described by his beloved wife Sayyida Aisha as ‘love of seclusion’, so that he could worship Allah in total submission and engage fully in dhikr.
Status of Muraqaba as a Form of dhikr
The Beloved Messenger of Allah says in a Hadith, “…If your state of mind is always the same as it is at the time of dhikr (remembrance of Allah), the Angels would shake hands with you and would greet you on the path by saying, ‘Assalamu alaykum.’” [Muslim: Book 37, Hadith no. 6624]
In his commentary of Sahih Muslim, Imam al-Nawawi says regarding this Hadith, “This kind of sight is shown to someone who persists in meditation (muraqaba), reflection (fikr), and anticipation (iqbal) of the next world.”
It is said that every saint performed muraqaba, attaining proximity to Allah through it, although not all saints prescribed it to their followers; some kept it private. The wisdom behind this is best left to the Shaykhs themselves; it could be that they gave preference to other forms of dhikr for their Mureeds (disciples, or those under their spiritual guidance).
Regarding the preference of silent dhikr, it is reported that the great Imam and Master of the Naqshbandi Tariqa, Khwaja Shah Baha’uddin al-Naqshband said, “There are two methods of Zikr: the silent and the audible. I preferred the silent because it is stronger and more advisable.”
It is said that ordinary people receive guidance in their dreams, the elite during Muraqaba (meditation), and the elite of the elite “in a waking state”.
This can be explained by the fact that through constant dhikr, one is able to reach such a level that his/her heart is constantly in deep contemplation (fikr or tafakkur) of Allah, which grants such a closeness to Him that they are enlightened by Him throughout their journey.
Such an example of guidance is reported in the Holy Qur’an regarding Sayyida Maryam, the greatest Walia or lady saint of God, during her time of hardship. Whilst she was enduring labour pains, she ran to a palm-tree in her anguish where she heard a Voice calling out to her with words of Guidance. Thus she received guidance from Allah in a waking state due to her piety, purity, patience and steadfastness in faith:
“And the pains of childbirth drove her to the trunk of a palm-tree: she cried (in her anguish), ‘Ah! Would that I had died before this! Would that I had been a thing forgotten and out of sight!’ But (a voice) cried to her from beneath the palm-tree: ‘Grieve not! For your Lord has provided a stream beneath you; And shake towards yourself the trunk of the palm-tree, it will let fall fresh ripe dates upon you. So eat and drink and be contented…” [Qur’an 19:23-26]
Methods of Muraqaba
For muraqaba, it is advisable to sit quietly and alone in a dark peaceful room where one is able to focus all thoughts and attention on receiving enlightenment.
It is reported that Imam Junayd al-Baghdadi said, “My teacher in the Way of muraqaba is the cat: One day, I was passing in the street, and I saw a cat sitting and watching the hole of a mouse, so absorbed in it watching this hole that not one of its hairs was moving. I was bemused by its concentration and watchfulness, and felt a call within me: ‘O you with the lowly determination! Do not let Me be in your purpose less than the mouse, and you, in seeking, do not be less than the cat.’ So I awoke, adhered to this Way of muraqaba (i.e. complete focus and watchfulness), and achieved the results that I did.”
The main forms of Muraqaba taught in our Tareeqa, or spiritual chain, Maizbhandari is:
• Muraqaba-e-Isme Zaat or Remembrance the Sacred Name:
Zikr (Remembrance) i.e. La Ilaha Ilallah, upon his/her heart and therefore focuses on the attributes of Allah leaving no other thought but Him. All focus must be upon the Creator.
The devotee of this Maizbhandari order doing Zikr (Remembrance) to purify the seven layers of soul follows a complex pattern of Nafsiat Zikr located at naval, Ruh under the right chest, Akfah (Mind) and Qualb under the left chest. Zikr is essential to purify seven Nafs. Nafs are described as Nafs-E Ammara, Nafs-E Lawwama, Nafs-E Mulhima, Nafs-E Mutmainah, Nafs-E Rajia, Nafs-E Morjia, Nafs-E Kamila. Above method also done by Kadria devotee for meditation. Dancing during Zikr is another main principle of practicing devotee of Maizbhandari order to purify whole body. A Maizbhandari devotee uses Semah as a form of prayer which makes connectivity with human body and soul leads to Almighty Allah. This Semah practice is inspired from Chistia order. Founder of Maizbhandari order also took some other methods and techniques to guide devotees which are very simple and sound in practice to attain success here and here after.
Mureed visualises their Shaykh’s face, allowing their own heart to reflect his spiritual light and guidance.
Zikr (Remembrance) for “La Ilaha Illallah”, the eyes must be closed, recite the words ‘La’ whilst breathing in through the nose strat from Latifa e Nafs located at naval, touch Latifa e Ruh under the right chest, reach Latifa e Akfah (Mind) recite the words ‘Ilaha’ with stop the breath and recite the words ‘Illallah’ force on Qualb under the left chest whilst exhaling through the mouth..
In this manner, the breathing of such a person becomes engaged in repeating ‘La Ilaha Illallah’ with every breath thus making the heart say the Name of God.
It is reported that Imam al-Ghazali said, “dhikr is, in its reality, the progressive Power of the Named One on the heart, while the dhikr itself wears away and disappears.”
This is in reference to the deep absorption and intensity which pure hearts are able to attain when involved in Muraqaba. Eventually only the Presence of Allah remains in such a heart, whilst the Name, having completed its purpose, fades away.
Permission or Ijaza for Muraqaba
One must have the permission of their Shaykh before beginning on the journey of Muraqaba, or indeed any type of Wazaa’if (recitation); your Shaykh is your source of guidance, and he knows what is best for your current state and condition.
Khwaja Shah Baha’uddin al-Naqshband said regarding this, “The permission for the dhikr must be given by the Perfected One (your Shaykh), in order to influence the one who is using it; just as the arrow from a master of archery is better than the arrow thrown from the bow of an ordinary person.”
collected from bahamodina.com-edited