What is the shortest way to to Allah?
The realm of the heart, just like those that we see, provides boundless grounds for contemplation. The below parable by Mawlana Rumi –Allah have mercy on his soul- beautifully underlines the importance of muraqabah, the contemplation of that inner world:
“A Sufi went to an adorned garden, to raise his spirits and to thereby throw himself deep in contemplation. He became infatuated with the vibrant colors of the garden. Closing his eyes, he began his muraqabah and contemplation. An ignorant man passing by thought the Sufi was asleep. Astonished and upset, he scolded the Sufi:
‘Why are you sleeping?’ he asked. ‘Open your eyes and stare at the vines, the booming trees and the greening grass! Gaze at the works of Allah’s mercy!’
The Sufi replied:
‘Know one thing very well, you ignorant man, that the heart is greatest work of Allah’s mercy. The rest are like its shadow. A stream flows amid the trees. From its crystal water, you can see the reflection of trees on both sides. What is reflected on the stream is a dream garden. The real garden is in the heart, for the heart is the focus of Divine gaze. Its elegant and slender reflections are to be found in this worldly life, made of water and mud. Had the things in this world not been the reflection of the cypresses of the heart’s joy, the Almighty would not have called this dream world the place of deception. It is said in the Quran:
‘Every soul shall taste of death, and you shall only be paid fully your reward on the resurrection day; then whoever is removed far away from the fire and is made to enter the garden he indeed has attained the object; and the life of this world is nothing but a provision of vanities.’ (Ali Imran, 185)
The ignorant who presume the world to be Paradise and exclaim ‘here is Paradise!’ are those fooled by the sparkle of the stream. Those who are left distant from the true gardens, who are the righteous servants of Allah, incline to that reverie and are deceived. A day will come when this slumber of ignorance will come to an end. The eyes will open, the truth shall be seen. But what is the worth of seeing that sight during the final breath? A great joy to he who has died before death and whose spirit has had a scent of the truth of this garden…”
Muraqabah forms a vital path to reaching the Almighty and acquiring knowledge, wisdom and keys to mysteries. It is one of the most precious and inspirational ways, in tasawwuf, of spiritual progression.
A Muslim who wishes to do muraqabah first prepares his heart to it, and sitting just like in ritual prayer, tilts his head forward towards his knees. Gathering his entire concentration, he then turns to the Almighty, and in that state of mind contemplates on the truth that, ‘Allah constantly sees me all the time; He is with me at all times, closer to me than myself.’ Consequently, the Divine light which encompasses all things begins to trickle into his heart.
The people of love esteem muraqabah as the shortest way to obtain closeness to Allah, glory unto Him. Turning to the Almighty with the heart is definitely more effective and important than turning to Him with the other parts of the body. Anyone can turn their hearts to the Lord at any given time, with ease, whereas moving other parts of the body to offer deeds of worship can become difficult with injury or old age.
Sufis say that “A calm breath of muraqabah for Allah is better than owning the treasures of Solomon.”
As reported by the Prophet –upon him blessings and peace-, some people are to be shaded under the Throne on the Day of Judgment, a day in which there will be no other shade. One of such fortunate people will be those who remember Allah, glory unto Him, all alone in secluded places and shed tears of emotion. (See, Bukhari, Adhan, 36; Muslim, Zakat, 91)
Source: Osman Nuri Topbaş, Contemplation in Islam, Erkam Public.