When we try to learn a new skill or try to gain knowledge about it specific subject, we follow a guideline or a system, which demands that we pay attention to the subject to fully understand it. Our mind becomes curious to know the where, how and what of it. When we pay attention to the minor details, that minor point itself gains value. However, when we ignore the most important part and do not pay any cognitive attention to it then even that major point loses its value and importance. Through contemplation we gain knowledge about any object and the deeper that knowledge the more we learn about that object and its qualities.
Muraqaba is the name of that contemplation (tafakkur) through which man is able to gain the knowledge (ilm) which is the primordial knowledge of his Ego, Self, or Soul. After gaining that knowledge, anyone can gain access to his Ego or Soul.
It appears that the person performing Muraqaba is simply sitting in it pose with his or her ewes closed. However, merely shutting the eye and assuming specific pose does not serve the purpose. Muraqaba is infact angle of perception (tarz-e-fikr) through which the person doing the Muraqba frees himself or herself from outward (zahir) senses and begins thrir.jounry in the inward (batin) senses.
Now we are goring to look into whether or not the Muraqaba-like conditions or states exist in us, without adopting the specific pose of Muraqaba.
Freedom from outward senses happens in our daily life, both involuntarily and voluntarily. For example, we go to sleep and while sleeping our brain disconnects from outward senses. It is true that this disconnection is temporary however; this condition could not be termed as anything but disconnection from outward senses. Hence, we can say that Muraqaba is in fact a way of imposing a state of sleeping without going to sleep.
Every human being, from the time of birth to their death spends life in two states. In other words, in the human mind there are two types of conditions that prevail (very moment of our life. One of these conditions or states is wakening and the other sleeping or dreaming. In the wakening state, they are trapped in Time and Space while during dreaming they are free from the confines of spatiotemporal limitations. This freedom of Time and Space is sought through Muraqaba by converting the state of sleeping or dreaming into an awakened state. Because during Muraqaba, a person goes through the same conditions that he or she goes through while sleeping or dreaming.
The notion that dreams are nothing but thoughts is not correct. In all scriptures including the Qur’an (Koran), dreams have been mentioned. The dreams that were mentioned in the Qur’an show that the realm of dream is free from the restrictions imposed by Time and Space. When a person tries to impose the state of dreaming through Muraqaba, they free themselves from that spatiotemporal boundaries and they journey through the realm of dream the way they travel while fully wake. All existing things need foundation; without it they could not survive. This is not something that is hard to comprehend. For example the foundation of a chair is its legs. A house remains erect only when inside the earth its foundation is laid. Similarly, we can only learn a subject or a branch of knowledge when we know its basics. These basics (or formulas) are considered as the foundation of any branch of knowledge. God has revealed it in the Qur’an,
“Al-Lah is the light (nur) of the heavens and earth.”
In this Universe, there are several worlds and galaxies. The Essence and Reality of God is something only God knows or those with whom He has shared his Secrets. How much of this informafion God has shared with His chosen servants is not our concern. However, we do know that God created this entire universe for us humans. It is stated on several occasions in the Qur’an that the foundation of this universe is the Light (nur) of God. Based on this fact it is imperative that Man and all of his abilities be centered on one foundation.
It is our daily observation that not all of our actions, motions, whims, thoughts, imaginations, and feelings are dependent on the body of bones and flesh. Because when the Spirit disconnects its link with the physical body then this body of bones and flesh is unable to act on its own. As long as the Spirit is attached with the body, all the needs, and functions necessary for life are present. In other words, Spirit (ruh) is the foundation of the body.
According to the Qur’an, a limited knowledge of the Spirit is given. Nevertheless even this limited knowledge is still knowledge. What we are trying to emphasize is that what we consider Man is a body of bones and flesh, though that Man is nothing but fiction. The real Man is the one that protects that skeleton of flesh and keeps it in motion, whom the Qur’an calls ruh (Spirit). This ruh, in order to fulfill the needs of life uses a medium. We call this medium chromosomes. In the Qur’an, God has said that, “We poured Our ruh in him (Adam).” In other words, ruh created a medium and after that gave him the senses. Ruh is in fact a component of the Divine and in it all the knowledge (ilm) of Divine Discretions (mashiat) and Attributes (sifat) are present, which God so Willed. Just how this knowledge was acquired by the component, is a Divine Mystery, which could never be explained.
There are eleven thousand generators (latifa, plural lataif) at work inside man. According to Sufism, there are eleven thousand Divine Names as well. Every Divine Name is an Attribute (sifat) and every Divine Attribute is knowledge (ilm). This knowledge further expands into more and more spheres to become a manifestation of the Divine Attributes.
In order to enter the unseen world (a’larn al-ghayb) or to behold anything beyond Time and Space, we have to first free ourselves from the clutches of spatiotemporal restrictions. This is only possible when the vision that sees Time and Space frees itself from its boundaries. To activate that vision, certain exercises have been created through which even if the human mind is not totally free at least it is able to come close to it.
Now the next question is how and when the human senses could be freed from that restriction. One example is the state of dreaming. Sleeping actually is getting freedom from the diurnal senses, which are Time and Space. When we go to sleep then our senses are transferred to a realm where the state of Time and Space do exist but not in the chronological order in which we spend our life. The Second way is that while wake human mind could focus on any object with full concentration. For example when we read an interesting book, we often lost track of the time. When we finally look at our watch, we then realize that so much time has elapsed, though we were not aware of it.
In the Qur’an, the event of Moses receiving the Torah is mentioned in the following verse,
“And We promised Moses thirty nights and fulfilled it in forty nights.” Day and night are mentioned in the Qur’an in the following verses,
“And We enter night into the dray and let the clay enter into the night.” “We take the night out of the day and take the day out of the night.” “We cover the clay onto night and night into the day…”
When we read these verses of the Qur’an, we realized that day and night are in fact two senses. In other words, our life is divided into two senses. One of the senses is day the other one is night. During the day senses (diurnal senses) restricted with Time and Space while during night senses (nocturnal senses) we are free from these restrictions.
The Divine Statement, “We promised Moses thirty nights and fulfilled it in forty nights” is interesting. Because Moses did not simply spend forty nights there, his entire stay was forty days and forty nights. It was not that he was spending the nights at the place and coming back during the day. He did spend his entire stay at the Mount. Interestingly God did not mention days in the verse instead mentions only night. It clearly suggests that during those forty days and forty nights, Moses was under the influence of nocturnal senses, the same nocturnal senses which free us from the restrictions of Time and Space.
Hence, anyone who would impose the nocturnal senses during the period of day and night on themselves would be free from the confinement of Time and Space. This freedom from spatiotemporal restriction is the way to exploring the unseen realm (a’lam al-ghayb) and getting intuitive information.
During a battle, an arrow injured Imam Ali. It had entered his thigh and the pain was excruciating. The surgeons could not operate on it.Because of extreme pain he would not let them even touch it. One of his companions suggested to the surgeons that they wait until Imam Ali began his prayer. When Imam Ali began his prayer, the surgeons were able to operate on him without him showing any sign of pain. By the time he was done with his prayers, Imam Ali realized that the surgeon had already performed the surgery and the wound had already been stitched. This event is another example of the negation of Time and Space. When Imam Ali started his prayers, his senses went from diurnal state into nocturnal state. The moment his mind entered the nocturnal senses his focus was shifted away from the diurnal senses (restriction and pain). The foundation of Spirituality is based on the reality that Man has two senses, two brains, and two lives. Just like the two sides of a coin, it has two sides. One life is restricted; the other one is free. Constrained life is day, wakefulness, and consciousness. On the other hand, free life is the name of night, joy, peace and the contentment of the heart.
To gain that life the easiest method in Spirituality is Muraqaba. Muraqaba is in fact the name of an exercise, effort and the angle of perception. Through it, anyone can enter the nocturnal senses while keeping the diurnal senses active as well. Since entering from diurnal senses to nocturnal senses is not something that he is used to or familiar with in the beginning he faces challenges. This could become a burden on the consciousness and sometimes results in nervous breakdowns or other mental disorders. To avoid that situation, a person or teacher is needed who has gone through the different stages of learning and is quite familiar with the ups and down of it. This teacher would protect the student from any over-load on the consciousness. This learned and experienced teacher is called the shaykh (Sufi Master), pir, or murshid. The person who receives that training is referred as murid.
Allahumma lakal hamdu walakal shukr
(Praise and thankfulness be to God).