Question: What is the importance of tafakkur in Islam?
Tafakkur is an important act of worship in Islam. Tafakkur is to meditate over your sins, creation, yourself and to take lessons from the things Allahu ta’âlâ has created. When the good people are praised in the Qur’ân al-karîm, it is declared as follows:
(They always remember Allah while they are standing, sitting, lying on their sides, and they meditate over the creation of the heavens and earth. They say, “O our Lord! You did not create them in vain. You are far from it [from creating useless, meaningless things]. Protect us from the torment of Hell.”) [Sûrat-u Âl-i ‘Imrân, 191]
It is stated in hadîth-i sharîfs:
(A momentary meditation on Allahu ta’âlâ’s Grandeur, Paradise, and Hell is better than spending a night in worship.) [Abûshshaikh]
(Tafakkur is half the ibâdah.) [I. Ghazâlî]
(No other act of worship is so valuable as meditation.) [Ibni Hibbân]
(Meditating for a while is more valuable than one year’s [supererogatory] worship.) [K. Sa’âdat]
(How can I not cry when there is the âyat, “There are exemplary signs for people of wisdom in the creation of the heavens and earth, in the alternation of night and day [their lengthening and shortening]” [Sûrat-u Âl-i ‘ımrân, 190]. Shame upon him who has read this âyat but has not made tafakkur.) [I. Hibbân]
(Meditate over the things Allah has created, but do not meditate over His Dhât.) [Bayhaqî]
(He whose silence is tafakkur, whose glance takes lessons and who makes repentance much is saved.) [Daylamî]
Islamic scholars state:
Tafakkur makes a person knowledgeable. A knowledgeable person, in turn, does good deeds. (Wahb bin Munabbih)
Tafakkur is a mirror that reflects both one’s goodness and evils. (Fudail bin ‘Iyâd)
A human being who contemplates Allahu ta’âlâ’s grandeur cannot be disobedient to Him. (Bishr-i Hafî)
Tafakkur sharpens one’s intelligence. (Imâm-i Shâfi’î)
Reflecting on this world veils the Hereafter, but reflecting on the Hereafter saves you from oblivion and makes you speak wisdom. (Abû Sulaiman Dârânî)
We should very often reflect on the things Allah has created. For example, we should look at our hands and think: if we did not have fingers, it would be very difficult for us to grasp and take an object. Or if our fingers did not bend, if we did not have hands, eyes, or if our eyes were placed on a different part of the body, what would our situation be then? If our teeth grew continuously like our nails, what would be? If they did not separate from the jaw bone, how would they be pulled in case of decay? We should ponder over the fact that eyebrows and eyelashes do not grow longer unlike hair. What would happen if humans grew taller day by day like a poplar? We should contemplate the creation of plants, fruit and the harmony between stars and planets. We should be thankful that Allahu ta’âlâ has created them so perfectly. By this way, our îmân strengthens, too. However, it is very dangerous to busy ourselves with meditation at all times and to neglect to learn necessary fiqh knowledge.
Tafakkur can be done in four ways:
1. Pondering about the beautiful arts and benefits which manifest on Allahu ta’âlâ’s creatures causes one to believe in Him and love Him.
2. Pondering about the rewards promised by Him for the worships causes one to perform those worships.
3. Pondering about the punishments informed by Him causes one to fear Him and thereby inhibits one from committing sins and wronging others.
4. Pondering about one’s having enslaved oneself to one’s nafs and committing sins and living in a state of heedlessness regardless of all the blessings bestowed by Him causes one to have shame towards Allahu ta’âlâ. Allahu ta’âlâ loves those who observe the terrestrial and celestial creatures and take lessons from them.
One of the Believers from Hadrat Mûsâ’s ummat performed acts of worship for 30 years. The shadow of an overhanging cloud was protecting him against the sun. One day, the cloud did not show up, so that he had to stay under the sun. When he asked his mother what the reason could be, she said that he probably committed a sin. When he said that he had not committed any sins, his mother inquired, “If you have not looked at the skies or at flowers and if you have not thought of the grandeur of the Creator when you saw them, is there any other fault bigger than this?”
He created everything in an orderly fashion
Question: How to strengthen our îmân?
People who have learnt the facts about to be mentioned will have a stronger îmân. In the same way, if faithless people go into them carefully, and if they have fairness and are blessed with the lot, they will believe in Allah’s existence and power. Some of the signs that reveal Allah’s existence and power are as follows:
What a great phenomenon it is that human beings can remain and live solely by the gravitational force on a spherical planet, which internally is full of molten metal and which revolves by itself in space at full speed. And what a great power it is that, thanks to this power, mountains, rocks, seas, innumerable kinds of living beings and plants come into being, grow, and exhibit so many different properties. Some animals walk on the earth, while others fly in the sky or live in water.
The sun produces the highest grade of heat, effects the growth of plants and makes chemical changes in some of them to bring about the existence of flour, sugar, and other substances.
When you look at your body, you probably do not notice what a stupendous factory and laboratory it is. In fact, breathing is an astounding chemical event by itself. Oxygen, inhaled from the air, is used in the burning process of the body, and exhaled out of the body as carbon dioxide.
As for digestion, it functions like a factory. After the food and drink taken through the mouth are decomposed and digested in the stomach and bowels, the parts useful to the body are percolated in the small intestines and transfused into the blood, while the dregs are excreted through the bowels. This extraordinary process is done automatically with the utmost precision, resulting in the body working like a factory.
The human body does not only contain apparatuses producing various kinds of substances with intricate formulas affecting various chemical reactions, doing analysis, treating illnesses, purifying, annihilating poisons, curing boils, filtering various kinds of substances, and giving energy, but it also embodies an immaculate network of electricity, leverage, an electronic computer, an alarm system, an optical set, an apparatus for receiving sounds, an apparatus for making and controlling pressure, and a system for fighting against microbes to annihilate them. And the heart is a stupendous, ever-working pump. There remains the fact that, alongside this material perfection, human beings have very great immaterial powers, such as comprehension, thinking, memorizing, remembering, reasoning, and deciding. It is impossible for people to assess the value of these powers. Moreover, humans have souls as well as bodies.
Those who believe in the existence of a Creator by observing the delicate order in the living and lifeless beings are not Muslims unless they believe in all of what our master the Prophet communicated.
The palace in the human body
(The following text has been prepared by medical authorities.)
If the human body, which has been created to be the most perfect of all beings, is examined, it will be seen that it is a gigantic palace containing numberless rooms. In this palace are various factories. All the devices of the palace are fully equipped. There are all the necessary establishments, such as a stupendous food storeroom, an alarm system, heating installations, apparatuses for receiving sounds, emergency squads, military bases, radar systems, enormous inter-connecting roads joining the rooms, modern modes of transportation, refectories, sewage systems, observatories, burial ground and so on. Anyone who goes on an outing to this palace will encounter countless wonders.
How can it be possible that a human who has knowledge of the human body does not believe in the Creator? There are multifunctional organelles within a cell which can be seen only through an electron microscope. Each organelle is tasked with a different function. How are organelles that fulfill so many tasks nestled within such a small place? Is it a collection of coincidences?
Organelles are little organs, specialized subunits within a cell. The role of an organelle for a cell is the same as the role of an organ for the body.
All human cells have 46 chromosomes, while germ cells have 23 chromosomes in all. Is it by chance?
Once a sperm fertilizes an egg cell, an embryo comes into being. Afterwards, tissue, organs, and the whole body come into being from this one cell. If it is by chance, why does it not become only muscle, only bone, only hair, or only the same organ but becomes such perfect organs as eyes, ears and brain? That this genetic code is stored within a cell is a coincidental occurrence? If the information below is read by bearing in mind this question, it will be much more beneficial.
Blood is composed of plasma and organelles. Constituents of blood are erythrocytes, leukocytes, thrombocytes, electrolytes, antibodies, and substances enabling it to coagulate. In brief, it contains all necessary things for a human body. How can they be by chance? The functions of blood in body are many. For example, it provides necessary nutrients for cells; transports oxygen, which is essential for food to turn into energy, to cells; protects the body against foreign pathogens trying to penetrate it; throws waste products out via various ducts; regulates the body temperature, etc. These functions are performed by cells which have different tasks. For instance, red blood cells are charged with transporting oxygen. As for white blood cells, they disarm the pathogens that have succeeded in entering the body.
Apart from them, blood has thrombocytes that help it coagulate; thus, they prevent hemorrhages. However, even one cell cannot be manufactured in our technologically advanced age. As for the soul that gives life to the cell, it is impossible to make it. Whence have these superb things come? Why have they come? Who has made them? A wise person should ponder over the matter.
The movements of limbs are achieved through muscles. Nerves stimulate muscles, and muscles stimulate limbs. In addition to skeletal muscles that withstand external blows, there are smooth muscles that work not under our control. Though cardiac muscles are striated, they do not function under conscious control. If they functioned under our control like skeletal muscles, the heart would stop working in case of a minor negligence. Moreover, a device would be needed to make it work when we slept. The contraction of cardiac muscles is an electrical phenomenon. The heart is powered by an unknown electricity without conscious thought. Whence have these superb things come? Why have they come? Who has made them? A wise person should ponder over the matter.
Muscles are included in the musculoskeletal system. The energy needed for them is provided by themselves. Muscles relax between two contractions. If they continuously contract without relaxation, it results in cramps. If they continuously relax without contraction, then humans fall down. How can such a perfect mechanism be called a chance existence?
If a thorn pricks our feet, we are informed of it by the nervous system. This system is made up of the brain, spinal cord and nerves. It controls activities of vital importance, such as the medulla oblongata, respiratory, urinary, and circulatory systems. The spinal cord directs reflex actions and the workings of our inner organs and glands. The formation of a stimulus by nerve cells called neurons is like electric current. As there is a disorder in the nervous system in case of a paralysis, the limbs cannot make voluntary movements. Though such people have two feet, they fail to move. Who has granted the power of this kind to nervous system?
Stimuli received from sensory organs go to certain centers by means of sensory nerves. They are processed at these centers, and responses are sent to organs instantaneously via motor nerves. Organs function as per these instructions. Can it ever be called a collection of chance events that millions of cells perform their tasks without any disruption?
Bones, pillars of the body
There are hundreds of bones of differing types in a human body. Each of them fits neatly into its place. How can a wise person consider such a perfect placement to be the result of coincidental events? Why aren’t there long bones in the skull instead of flat bones? This means to say that because their Creator is perfect, His deeds and creation are perfect, too.
Bones keep the body supported and provide the communication between muscles. The spine is body’s main pillar. If it is damaged, there occur paralyses. The spinal cord is protected by three membranes and the outermost part is surrounded by the vertebral column, which is invulnerable. When humans walk, the vertebrae—which rub against each other—are abraded. In order to prevent this abrasion, there should be something, like a gasket, between parts: cartilage. Cartilage precludes the abrasion between vertebrae. Bones, having such an importance role as moving the body, are created to be having not only rigidness but also enabling elasticity. The bones of such limbs as hands, arms, legs and fingers bend and move. Whence have these superb things come? Why have they come? Who has made them? A wise person should ponder over the matter.
The circulatory system
Transportation in the body is fulfilled by the circulatory system, whose center is the heart. Blood reaches to the remotest corners of the human palace via blood vessels thanks to the heart’s beating at a steady pace. The deoxygenated blood is purified in the lungs. If the heart, which works beyond our control, stops working for a while, then the human palace comes tumbling down. On the other hand, the heart, too, needs resting as any limb or machine does. It has been created in such a manner that it rests while functioning. After every systole and diastole, it pauses for rest for a split second. The blood pumped by the heart circulates through the body by means of the arteries, and by means of the capillaries, it reaches tissues. Thus, nutrients and oxygen in blood are carried to tissues as much as they are needed. Here the nutrients are burned by oxygen to produce energy whereby the machine (human body) runs. Who makes everything work in an orderly style beyond our control?
The food taken in is broken down into smaller parts by teeth and saliva in the mouth. The breaking down process of carbohydrates starts in the mouth. Protein, on the other hand, is digested in the stomach. A wide variety of enzymes take part in it. The digestive juice produced by the stomach dissolves concrete if it is poured on it. But why does it not do any damage to the stomach? The reason for it is that there are protective enzymes and mucus. How can these things that entail fine-tuning be by chance? The required enzymes for the breakdown of food entering the small intestine after the stomach will come from the pancreas. But who ordered the pancreas to release them? Besides them, the bile is necessary to dissolve the fats. It is secreted by the liver, stored in the gallbladder, and released into the large intestine. How can these be coincidental? Then the food entering the small intestine will be absorbed and sent to the body. This absorption is performed by villi. Villi are intestinal protrusions responsible for absorption of nutrients and their flowing into blood. Is it reasonable to link all these events to sheer coincidence?
Food and energy
Energy is needed in order for the body to do action. Allahu ta’âlâ has created cutting and molar teeth to tear food to pieces. The morsels, which are converted into doughy form with the help of the secretion from salivary glands, are swallowed easily. When food is swallowed, the epiglottis closes over the trachea to prevent food from going to a wrong path and to direct it to the stomach. Thus, it enters the stomach. With the contraction of the muscles surrounding the wall of the stomach, food is made ready for digestion. In a bag made of meat, meat and other foods are broken down. If we obey the commandments of our religion, the stomach serves for the human palace in good running order during our lifetime. If we abide by the rule of our religion and do not eat excessively, and if we do not do damage to it by consuming alcohol and other harmful substances, the stomach serves without failure until the end of our lives.
While nails, if not cut, grow much, why do eyelashes, eyebrows and teeth not grow continuously? If teeth grew, it would be very difficult to cut the end of them. Who orders eyebrows and teeth to stop and so ends their growing? A wise person should ponder over the matter and find the answer.
The creation of teeth is superb, too. If front teeth were thick, they could not tear food. If molars were thin, they could not grind up food. If the tips of teeth were alive, we would feel pain when eating. If there were not nerves in their roots, we could not be aware of dental decay. Which of these is by coincidence?
The respiratory system
The food ingested is burnt in order for it to turn into energy. After necessary oxygen is gained and burning in cells takes place, carbon dioxide is pumped out. This process is called respiratory system. What we eat is burnt in cells with oxygen and transformed into energy. The carbon dioxide, which emerges following this process, is given out through exhalation. When air, which serves the function of blood purification in lungs, is breathed out, it vibrates vocal cords, resulting in sound. Though the exhaled dirty air meets the inhaled clean air, it does not make it dirty. Do all of them happen by themselves? Why do they run as regular as clockwork? Who directs them? A wise person should ponder over the matter.
How easy it is to inhale! But it would be very difficult from an asthma sufferer’s point of view. We have both nose and mouth for breathing. If we did not have one of them, how would we eat food? When our noses are congested because of flu, we inhale through our mouths. How could it be possible but for the mouth? What an act of mercy and knowledge even it is. Can they be called “coincidental occurrences”? There is the diaphragm muscle in the abdominal cavity. It facilitates the entry of air into lungs. If this muscle does not function, it will be very difficult to breathe in. How did this muscle enter there? Alveoli, which are like bunches of grapes and responsible for purification of blood in the lungs, enable much more air to be purified. If it were not so, less air would be purged and we would have to breathe in and out at even shorter intervals than we do now. However, it would tire us out and we could not work. How can all of them be by chance?
The excretory system
While waste substances of food are excreted from the body through bowels, food wastes in blood and cells and other harmful substances are filtered and excreted through kidneys. But for these two elimination systems, the body would turn into a cesspool, organs would be poisoned, and moreover, there would not be the chance of ingesting new food. Such substances as urea, uric acid and salt are brought to kidneys through blood and are accumulated in the urine pool. If it were not for the urinary bladder, urine would keep flowing out continuously. Who created our each organ properly?
Do all of them happen by themselves? Why do they run as regular as clockwork? Who directs them? A wise person should ponder over the matter.
Kidneys, the cleaning organs, eliminate harmful substances and take the useful ones; they do not release useful matter into urine. Our entire blood passes through kidneys and it is filtered by them. How do kidneys, chunks of meat, distinguish useful substances from harmful ones? Why do they always remove harmful things? Have they come into being by chance?
The liver, which has a wide range of functions, is a factory possessing a food storeroom. The nutrients released into blood after being absorbed by the small intestines are stored in the liver. Sugar and acids are converted into glycogen and stored in the liver so as to be used when they are required. It also secretes bile that facilitates the digestion of fats. Bile’s poisonous wastes, filtered by liver cells, are excreted through bowels. If it were not for the gallbladder, it would be impossible to digest fatty food. If a part of the liver is excised, the remaining cells grow in number and make up the removed part. That is, it is self-repairing.
The liver is the store and detoxification place of the body. Harmful bile acids and ammonia, a poisonous gas, are cleared of in the liver. Bile acids are stored in the gallbladder. Ammonia, on the other hand, is converted into urea and expelled from the body via kidneys. Which coincidence can give an explanation for all these mentioned facts?
Do they happen by themselves? Who directs them? A wise person should ponder over the matter.
The speech organ
The tongue helps digestion process by turning the morsels in the mouth, detects the flavor of substances, and produces sound. The flavor of food is divided into four categories: bitter, sour, sweet and salty. The taste of food is detected by means of the properties given to the tongue, and what is beneficial is distinguished from what is harmful. The smell of food increases taste sensitivity and triggers an appetite. Thus, eating does not become a burden but pleasure. The role of the tongue in speaking is important, too. Whence have these properties come? Why have they come? Who has made them? A wise person should ponder over the matter.
The outer covering
The skin, which covers the body, differs from race to race. One can recognize a Japanese, a black, or a Turk by looking at skin color. The skin is the sensory organ for touch. It protects the body against external factors, heat and cold. The outermost layer of the skin is composed of dead cells. Though hair, hairs, eyebrows and eyelashes on the skin have the same type of tissue, eyebrows and eyelashes stop growing after they have grown to a certain length. If eyelashes grew further, we would have difficulty in seeing and we would always have to shorten them. Our Rabb, who has created lifeless hairs in living cells, is the owner of hikmat. If these hairs were living, we would feel terrible pain when having a shave. Likewise, nails are lifeless. We cut and throw them, not feeling any pain. Who created such lifeless things as hair and nails in living body? Have they happened by chance?
But for the skin covering the body, how frightening a person would seem. It beautifies humans. The outer layer of the skin does not have nerves or blood vessels. It consists of dead cells. If it were living, everything we touched would cause us pain. How can it be said that these are the result of coincidental events?
Eyes, organs of seeing, consist of three layers. The external layer is the tough layer and made up of thick fibers. However, they are transparent in the front part and compose the cornea. Who makes them transparent? The second layer contains blood vessels. Whereas it is completely closed in the back part, in the front part it turns into a hole—that is, the pupil—and the iris that gives the eye color.
Even though each organ is important, eyes have a more considerable importance. They are very sensitive. Eyebrows prevent sweat from flowing into eyes. Eyelids do not work under conscious control. Eyelashes, too, precludes dust and harmful particles from entering eyes. Who has created the capability of seeing in eye cells? Why has He not given this capability to other cells? If it were not for eyes, everybody would be blind. If it were not for ears, everybody would be deaf. If it were not for hands and feet, everybody would be disabled. If it were not for the tongue, everybody would be dumb. Each organ has been put in its proper place. Then how can a wise person say that these are coincidental existences?
The ear receives sounds through auditory nerves. If auditory nerves were in ears and optic nerves were in eyes, they could not function. Who has created each cell properly and perfectly? There is a channel from the middle ear to the trachea in order for the eardrum to be taut and not to be affected by sound waves. If a ball bursts when our mouth is open, our eardrum does not burst. Even if the mouth is closed, sounds entering through nostrils balance the sounds entering through ears. If ears were created with the aptitude for hearing high-frequency and low-frequency sounds, the sounds in the atoms of matter would mix up. Then we would neither hear what was being said nor manage to live in a noisy environment. Everything has been created with a purpose. There is nothing in the body and in the universe created coincidentally or aimlessly.
Ears, placed in bones, are excellent organs. The pinna collects external sounds. At the same time, it gives an aesthetically pleasing appearance. The eardrum is at the end of the ear canal. As well as increasing the vibration of sounds and transmitting them, the eardrum also protects the inside of the ear. There are three bones in the middle ear. In a very tiny place are three tiny, shaped, wonderful bones, the inner ear, balance canals, other canals that aid hearing. How can they be by chance?
Water in the human body
Water constitutes two-thirds of the human body. The fluids of endocrine glands flow into blood and play roles in processes of vital importance. Digestion of food, blood circulation, and regulation of the balance of substances, such as salt and sugar, are fulfilled by means of these glands.
The hypophysis prevents blood loss. It keeps the water in the body stable. If it does not function properly and secretes excessive hormone, this situation leads to acromegaly. If it secretes less than the necessary amount, this results in dwarfism. Whence have these properties come? Why have they come? Who has made them? A wise person should ponder over the matter.
The pancreas, through enzymes it secretes, enables food to turn into a useful state for the body. It produces insulin hormone, thus regulating the sugar in blood. If insulin production diminishes, it results in diabetes.
The thyroid gland secretes thyroxine hormone that contains iodine. If we do not consume iodine sufficiently, it results in goiter. Who has created this gland and why?
Protoplasm, the living matter of the cell, is like a machine that has a very tiny and perfect design. The cell is the first unit of life. Living organisms have been composed of cells, and the cell of the human is like an electric machine, a radio. The human body is a stupendous factory made up of 30 trillion cells. Whence have these properties come? Why have they come? Who has made them? A wise person should ponder over the matter.
Humans have 5 to 6 liters of blood. There are red blood cells and white blood cells in blood fluid called plasma. One cubic millimeter of blood contains five million red blood cells. After working for 30 to 40 days, they grow old. So the lien takes these old cells from blood and kills them. The number of red blood cells in blood decreases in case of blood loss or some other diseases. Even if the amount of blood does not change, debility and heart palpitations arise as there is a decrease in the number of red blood cells. This state is termed anemia.
The lymphatic system
Leukocytes are the defenders of the blood. There are about six to eight thousand leukocytes in one cubic millimeter of blood. Moreover, the number of them mushrooms when a germ enters the body. In the battle against germs, leukocytes are killed. Pus is the mass formed by dead leukocytes.
The lymphatic system destroys germs that have entered the body. Lymph nodes manufacture leukocytes. In addition to them, it also manufactures some proteins that help defend against a second invasion by bacteria. Of old, the functions of the palatine tonsils were not known. Today it is known that they, too, manufacture proteins against bacteria invasion. Their other functions may be brought to light in the course of time. The lien is also known to perform the same function.
The bacteria, which are held and kept after the first invasion, are changed for a new invasion and used as defenders for the defense of the body. Bacteria, soldiers of enemies, are stripped of the attribute of being enemies in lymph nodes and they themselves wage a battle against new bacteria. Furthermore, the lymphatic system carries digested fats to veins. In addition to being the defense line of leukocytes, the lymphatic system also delivers nutrients to cells. It is self-evident that what stupendous systems all these mentioned processes are. They are not chance existences. The glory of Allahu ta’âlâ, who has created everything in a well-organized manner, is very exalted. A wise person should ponder who has created these properties properly and perfectly.
You have created all things properly and perfectly,
But their genuine nature is a mystery to everybody.