In recent time, involvement of Muslims in meditation has been increased tremendously due to their staying away from Salat (Islamic way of prayer) and not having enough knowledge about Islamic Sariah and benefit of performing Salat. Muslims are trying to relieve their stress, anxiety, depression, loneliness, pain and increase compassion, immune, positive emotion, control over emotion through meditation but all of these are available in Salat. Despite knowing the Salat as the most important worship in Islam and knowing the punishment of Avoiding this Ebadat, Muslims are avoiding Salat due to not realizing its importance from which they can get all things they are trying to get from Meditation.
Meditation: Marriam webstar Dictionary defines, “Meditation can be defined as a practice where an individual uses a technique, such as focusing their mind on particular object, thought or activity to achieve a mentally clear and emotionally calm state.”
Salat: Salat is a physical, mental and spiritual act of worship that is observed five times every day at prescribed times and it is mandatory for every adult Muslim.
The number of Muslims involved in meditation is increasing widely. The Muslims, who are feeling depression, anxiety, loneliness, mental pain and seeking resolution to be relieved from these but don’t perform Salat and not have enough knowledge on its benefits, are going to take meditation.
Number of Muslims involved in Meditation
The number of meditation centers is also increasing in Muslim world. There are more than 15 meditation centers in Bangladesh. Not only in Bangladesh but also in other Muslim countries including Pakistan, Turkey, Malaysia, Egypt, Abu Dhabi, Palestine, and several other Muslim countries the meditation centers are increasing tremendously where millions of Muslims are taking Meditation. It is difficult to know the exact number of Muslims taking mediation but we can assume the approximate number by looking at the widely increasing number of Meditation centers around the Muslim world where majority populations are Muslim.
Reasons of being involved in Meditation
The main reason of Muslims’ being involved in meditation is that they are staying away themselves from Salat which result in the increasing of depression, stress, loneliness, anxiety because Salat protects its performers from such kind of things and increase dependency on Allah (SWT), Immune, Compassion and all other positive things. The other reasons for involvement in meditation are not having enough knowledge about the benefits of performing Salat , lack of realization its importance. Lacking of the dependency on Allah (SWT) is another reason of involvement in meditation. Muslims are not much interested in getting Islamic knowledge. They are interested in seeking for other types of knowledge rather than Islamic knowledge; for this reason they don’t have adequate consciousness regarding Prayer/Salat which results the involvement in meditation.
Provisions of Meditation in Islam
Islam is a way of life which is not only a religion. Thus It indicates the rules in every sphere of human life. Islam shows the way of eliminating depression, anxiety, feeling loneliness, mental pain. Islam has an activity named as “Zikr” which means “remembrance” through which a person can relieve those things. As Allah (SWT) says in the Quran
“Those who believe (in the oneness of Allah – Islamic Monotheism), and whose hearts find rest in the remembrance of Allah, verily, in the remembrance of Allah do hearts find rest.” (Raad 13:28)
So if a Muslim will seek rest of mind in another way avoiding ‘Zikr’ that will not be acceptable and he will be punished thereafter. Allah SWT said in the another verse of the Holy Quran as
“And whoever seeks a religion other than Islam, it will never be accepted of him, and in the Hereafter he will be one of the losers”. (Al Imran 3:85)
Meditation is prohibited in Islam. The main reason of prohibition of meditation is that worship of Hinduism and Buddhism is the origin of meditation but Islam doesn’t allow the form of worship of another religion. Focusing on a particular object, thinking or activity which are not really happened are the main condition for effective meditation. But Islam doesn’t allow to think about such thing which is not really occurred or not existed. According to prominent Islamic scholar in Bangladesh late Dr. Abdullah Jahangir, Meditation is Mubah in first step but it becomes Haram in some particular steps. He also said that the benefits which can be gained from after 15 minutes of‘Zikr’ (remembrance of Allah) can’t be gained after performing meditation 2 hours’ or more. According to Another Prominent Scholar Dr. Zakir Naik , We pray to Allah (SWT), We communicate to the almighty god directly and this is the hot relation between us and god. In meditation the performer has to confine god in a structure but Allah has not structure so confining Allah SWT within a format is ‘Shirk’ (the biggest offense in Islam). That is why Meditation or Yoga is haram (prohibited in Islam). Dr. Monjur-e-Elahi Says, “When someone doesn’t get peace in Islam he goes for meditation seeking for peace, but Islam provides the way of peace.” Though few scholars support meditation but they are not much prominent and little in number.
Comparison between Salat and Meditation
Salat provides almost all facilities which a person gets from meditation but a lot of advantages are provided by Salat not available in meditation. These are:
1. The tranquility which is gained after performing Salat for 15 minutes which can’t be gained even after meditating during two hours or more.
2. Salat is the way to build up and increase relation with the almighty Allah where meditation is not like that.
3. Salat provides the way for seeking forgiveness for seen to Allah (SWT) but Meditation doesn’t provide such way.
4. Salat is the key of Jannat but Meditation is not.
5. Allah (SWT) revealed about 82 verses in the Holy Quran about Salat so when a person offers salat automatically obey these verses through only one task but meditation is not like that.
6. Salat let its performer stay away from all kinds of sin as Allah (SWT) says in the holy Quran
“Certainly salat prevents from all kinds of great sin” (Ankabut, 29:45) but meditation doesn’t let this.
7. Salat is an obligatory task for every Muslim. So after performing this persons perform an obligatory task where meditation is prohibited task in Islam.
8. Wudu (Ablution) is required for offering Salat which leads to preventing germs from the body, helps to relax the nervous system and eases tension, stress and anxiety, removes allergens and dust particles, helps to minimize the infection regarding nose and lots other benefits regarding face, nasal, ear, feet, etc those are not available in meditation
9. Salat leads to keep unity among muslims whether meditation is an individual task.
10. A certain amount of money is required for meditation courses but this is not required for Salat.
11. Salat is considered as an effective physical exercise due to the movement of organs conducted during Salat.
12. Each segment of Salat provides different physical benefits such as Ruk’u that helps to ease backbone pain, control backache and vertebral column related deseases. Ruk’u is also effective in developing flexibility to shoulder, elbow wrist, knees and ankle region. Sajdah strengthens the thigh and calf muscle good for digestion and keeps spine firm and erect. Sala’am is helpful in loosening the neck joints and also helps to relax the shoulder and hyper back muscles.
Besides these, Salat has lots of other advantages regarding spiritual, physical, economical, social life, which are not available in Meditation. To get all of the benefits of performing Salat, one must offer it with full concentration, realizing whatever is read in Salat, conducting every movement smoothly, thinking that Allah is observing every move, urging to Allah (SWT). Mohammad (SM) says in a hadith named “HadiseJibrayil” as “perform worship as you see Allah if you are unable to see him think that he sees you.” Salat is the way of showing gratitude to Allah (SWT) for his incalculable which he provides. Through offering Salat one can get different types of benefits but meditation provides just one segment of benefits and spending more time is required where Salat provides lots of benefits within a little amount of time. Becoming interested in offering Salat is the main way to stay away from meditation otherwise the number of Muslims will be increased tremendously to be involved in mediation.
The writer is an undergraduate student of the University of Dhaka.