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What Is the Role of Meditation in Islam?

By Eugene P.
Updated Feb 23, 2024
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There is a long tradition of meditation in Islam, and it can have many different roles in daily life. Some acts of meditation are meant to clear the mind, allowing for acceptance of teachings that might have been learned during the day. Some forms of meditation, such as the salat, or formal prayers, are meant to bring a person into closer contact with Allah. Contemplative meditation on a topic can be used to attain knowledge or understanding and is one of the most respected practices in Islam. There also is a philosophy that the ultimate goal of performing meditation in Islam is to achieve a meditative state that persists throughout the day and into sleep at night.

The history of meditation in Islam begins with the prophet Muhammad. While staying in the city of Mecca, he would visit a nearby mountain and find a cave there. He would meditate in the cave, seeking knowledge, understanding and closeness with Allah. It was during these meditations that he started to receive the revelations of the Quran.

The salat also is considered a form of meditation by some. This is a series of formal prayers that are performed at five specific points in the day. Performing the salat does not begin until the person is already at peace and in a semi-meditative state. The repetition of words and movements is very much like other forms of meditation that are performed around the world. While the salat is primarily done to commune with Allah and to give thanks, it also helps to clear the mind and brings a sense of peace to worshipers before they face the turmoil of rest of the day.

Tafakkur, which can be loosely translated to mean "contemplation," is a form of meditation in which the mind is turned inward to examine and understand different aspects of life. The term is mentioned in the Quran and is intended to help a person to better understand and know himself so, in turn, he can better know Allah. There are different practices, such as Quranic and breath meditations, associated with tafakkur.

The role of meditation in Islam is one of aiding in the discovery of knowledge and understanding. Several verses from the Quran show that knowledge is of great value to the religion and is a way to help understand Allah and the world. The prophet Muhammad even taught that the value of contemplation was equal to or more valuable than that of just worship.

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Discussion Comments
By literally45 — On Sep 06, 2013

I'm a Muslim too and after I started taking yoga classes, I noticed the similarity in some yoga movements to the movements that we do while we pray in Islam. Like when we do sajda-- where we bend down and put the hands and forehead on the ground. It's very calming like yoga.

By bluedolphin — On Sep 06, 2013

@burcidi-- Meditation is very much a part of Islam but it's usually not referred to as such. The meditation that takes place in Islam occurs through worship. I'm a Muslim and I pray five times a day and I also use prayer beads. But I don't do any of this with the intention to meditate. Meditation happens on its own while I'm praying.

The five daily prayers are a great form of meditation because like the article said, it involves repeating prayers and movements which helps to calm the mind. We are also required to try our best not to think anything while praying and concentrate on our prayers and Allah. So there is definitely a sense of calmness and peace that comes with Islamic prayers.

I also love using prayer beads to recite God's name and glorify Him. Since it involves repeating the same words, this is a form of meditation as well.

By burcidi — On Sep 05, 2013

I had no idea that there is meditation in Islam. I thought that meditation was only practiced in Buddhism and Hinduism. I would like to try meditation in the Islamic way.

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