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ISLAM: There are two forms of meditation in the Islamic religion. The first is described in the Qur'an and Sunna (works detailing how the Prophet Muhammad thought, spoke, and acted). This original concept of meditation is based on contemplation, or tafakkur. Tafakkur means reflection, or thinking deeply, systematically, and in detail about a subject. Such reflection nourishes the spirit and the soul. Studying the Qur'an and reflecting on it is part of a life of spiritual joy leading to belief, and then to knowledge and love of God. Whereas reflection begins with God, studying the universe is a means of studying God's forms of existence.

The second form of Islamic meditation was developed later by the Sufism sect, and is based on mystical exercises. This "inner pilgrimage," or spiritual journey toward God, has different stages, corresponding to the different levels of Sufi involvement. First an aspirant, then a seeker, a traveler, and an initiate, the mystic seeks a goal of union with God and annihilation of the self. Often spoken of as "the Way of the Sufis" (al-tariq), it begins with an affirmation of divine unity (al-tawhid), in which the soul progresses from the limited state of separate existence to a state of inner order and oneness. As the soul advances through various states and stations in its return to the Source and Origin of life, it passes through the desolate state of poverty (faqr) on the way to the dark cloud (al-ama? of non-being. Here, upon entering the station of annihilation (fana), one experiences the death of the self. As one acquires the ability to survive in this crucible of annihilation, one discovers Allah as a hidden treasure, becomes adorned with virtues, and experiences the transformation of one's own substance.

Text courtesy of the Museum of World Religions.

Traditions of Meditation:

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