The word Muraqaba is derived from the root letters ر ق ب .
رقب – يرقب (raqaba – yarqubu) means; to observe, to watch attentively, to heed, to inspect. In terms of Sharia, it refers to inspection and introspection of one’s Nafs (inner self) with certain forms of silent dhikr ( الذكر الخفى ) in an attempt to bring the Nafs in line with the injunctions and commands of Allah. In essence, it is derived from the following verses, إِنَّ اللَّهَ كَانَ عَلَيْكُمْ رَقِيبًا – “Verily Allah is ever-watchful over you” and أَلَمْ يَعْلَمْ بِأَنَّ اللَّهَ يَرَى – “Does he not know that Allah is watching?”
Generally, Muraqaba is carried out by clearing one’s thoughts of everything besides Allah. Thereafter, a person turns his spiritual gaze and attention completely and exclusively towards Allah Ta’ala. He meditates upon the fact that Allah Ta’ala is constantly watching and observant of every single move he makes and every thought that crosses his mind. When such a mindset becomes firmly established in an individual, he is said to have achieved the stage of Ihsan (excellence) as referred to in the following Hadith,
قال ما الإحسان ؟ قال أن تعبد الله كأنك تراه فإن لم تكن تراه فإنه يراك
Jibreel (AS) asked Rasulullah صلى الله عليه و سلم , “What is Ihsan?”
Rasulullah صلى الله عليه و سلم replied, “It is that you worship Allah as if you are seeing Him and if you are unable to see Him, then (know well) that He sees you.”(Bukhari, Hadith # 50, Dar Ibn Katheer – Beirut).
When a person is entrenched in the thought that Allah is watching over his every move and thought, how could such a person ever conceive of committing even the most venial of sins. Furthermore, such a person will worship Allah with full attention, reverence and subjugation which is the basic purpose of life as stated in the following verse,
وَمَا خَلَقْتُ الْجِنَّ وَالْإِنْسَ إِلَّا لِيَعْبُدُونِ
“And I have not created the Jinn or mankind except that they should worship Me.”(51:56)
The Mashayikh of Tasawwuf have divided Muraqaba into various types depending upon the aim and objective. There are many more types of Muraqaba but a few have mentioned hereunder by way of example:
- Muraqaba Dua’iyya : This is a type of meditation wherein the person ponders that his heart is making Dua and that the words of dhikr are emanating from his heart instead of his tongue.
- Muraqaba al-Maut: This is a type of meditation wherein the person sits in seclusion, closes his eyes and ponders about death and the conditions that will occur after death. He will imagine scenes such as his soul is being extracted from his body, his final Ghusl being performed, being buried in the earth etc.
- Muraqaba al-Ru’ya: This is a type of meditation wherein the person sits in seclusion and imagines that Allah Ta’ala is watching him. All the while he ponders over the verse أَلَمْ يَعْلَمْ بِأَنَّ اللَّهَ يَرَى.
- Muraqaba al-Ma’iyya: This is a type of meditation wherein the person imagines that Allah Ta’ala is with him all the time. However, Allah does not take any shape or form during such imagination and meditation.
All of the above-mentioned types of Muraqaba are permissible and praiseworthy. Such Muraqaba will lead a person towards establishing the desired object, namely, the quality of Ihsan as previously mentioned.
Mufti Ebrahim Desai
Darul Iftaa, Madrassah In’aamiyyah