Tafakkur: An Islamic method of epistemology

Tafakkur means to think on a subject very deeply. It is a very humane activity and presumably the only activity that makes human beings superior to other creatures.  In Islamic thought it is suggested to think deeply on the things Allah(j.j) has created.

There is one ayat in Holy Quran which has effected Prophet Muhammad(saw) deeply. It is about the importance of “tafakkur” in Islam.

Here is the hadith that is about the ayat that made our prophet Muhammad(saw) cry upon reflection of that ayat:

‘Ataa’ said: “ ‘Ubayd ibn ‘Umayr and I entered upon ‘Aa’ishah (r.a) and Ibn ‘Umayr said to her, ‘Tell us of the most amazing thing you saw on the part of the Messenger of Allah (saw) . She wept and said, ‘He got up one night and said, “O ‘Aa’ishah, leave me to worship my Lord.”

I said, “By Allah, I love to be close to you, and I love what makes you happy.”

So he got up and purified himself, then he stood and prayed. He kept weeping until his lap got wet, then he wept and kept weeping until the floor got wet.

Bilal came to tell him that it was time to pray, and when he saw him weeping, he said, “O Messenger of Allah (saw), you are weeping when Allah has forgiven you all your past and future sins?”

He said, “Should I not be a grateful slave? Tonight some ayatt have been revealed to me; woe to the one who recites them and does not think about what is in them (interpretation of the meaning): ‘Verily! In the creation of the heavens and the earth…”

This ayat is:

Behold! in the creation of the heavens and the earth, and the alternation of night and day,- there are indeed Signs for men of understanding,- (Aal-E-Imran,190)

The following ayat is about the characteristics of the people who have the habit of contemplating on these miracles:

Men who celebrate the praises of Allah, standing, sitting, and lying down on their sides, and contemplate the (wonders of) creation in the heavens and the earth, (With the thought): “Our Lord! not for naught Hast Thou created (all) this! Glory to Thee! Give us salvation from the penalty of the Fire. (Aal-E-Imran,191)

One day Prophet Luqman(as) was sitting in a desolate place all alone and thinking. Someone asked him, “Wouldn’t it be better if you engage in social activities and converse with people”

He replied, “Long-term solitude is better for tafakkur. Keeping on tafakkur will lead a person to the path of Heavens.”



One Response to Tafakkur: An Islamic method of epistemology

  1. Pingback: Not just worship : Semantic layers of the word ibadah. | Islamoformation

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