Allah, the Almighty, said:

{…but none will remember except he who turns back [in repentance].} [Ghâfir 40:13]

قَالَ اللهُ عَزَّ وجَلَّ: "وَمَا يتَذَكَّر إِلَّا مَنْ يُنِيبُ"

Remembrance is superior to reflection, for reflection is a pursuit [of something] and remembrance is finding it.75

التَّذَكُّرُ فَوْقَ التَّفَكُّرِ، فإنَّ التَّفَكُّرَ طَلَبٌ، وَالتَّذَكُّرَ وُجُودٌ.

Remembrance stands on three pillars:

  1. benefiting from the exhortations

  2. insightful recognition of the lessons76

  3. reaping the fruits of reflection77

وأَبنِيَةُ التَّذَكُّرِ ثَلَاثَةُ أَشْيَاء

  1. الِانْتِفَاعُ بالعِظَة

  2. واستِبصارُ الْعبْرَةِ

  3. وَالظَّفَرُ بِثَمَرِ الفِكْرَةِ

Benefiting from the exhortation depends upon three things:

  1. pressing urgency for it 78

  2. blindness to the flaws of the exhorter (preacher)

  3. remembrance of the promises and warnings [of Allah]

وَإِنَّمَا يُنْتَفَعُ بالعِظَة بعد حُصُول ثَلَاثَة أَشْيَاء

  1. بِشدَّة الافْتِقارِ إِلَيْهَا

  2. والعَمَى عَن عَيْبِ الْوَاعِظِ

  3. وبِذِكْرِ الْوَعْدِ والوَعِيدِ

Insightful recognition of the lessons depends on three things:

  1. the vitality of the intellect

  2. recognition of the days79

  3. cure from (unbefitting) wants [and biases]

وَإِنَّمَا تُسْتَبْصَرُ الْعبْرَةُ بِثَلَاثَةِ أَشْيَاء

  1. بحَياة الْعَقْل

  2. وَمَعْرِفَةِ الْأَيَّامِ

  3. والسَّلامَةِ مِن الْأَغْرَاضِ

Harvesting the fruits of reflection depends on three things:

  1. paucity of hope [in longevity]

  2. reflection on the Qur’an

  3. limiting mixing with others80, wishful thinking81, attachments82, satiety, and sleep

وَإِنَّمَا تُجْنَى ثَمَرَةُ الفِكْرَةِ بِثَلَاثَةِ أَشْيَاء

  1. بِقِصَرِ الأمَلِ

  2. والتَّأمُّلِ فِي الْقُرْآن

  3. وَقِلَّةِ الْخُلْطَةِ وَالتَّمَنِّي والتَّعَلُّقِ والشِّبَعِ والمَنَامِ

75For tadhakkur—which is not merely the repetitive enunciation of sacred speech—is to bring back (invoke) the fruits of tafakkur (reflection) to the center of one’s attention and take them to heart. Also, through the utterance of His names, a different level of meta-rational (not counter-rational) recognition is reached.
Tafakkur and tadhakkur must go together in a symbiotic and self-correcting relationship. Al-Ḥasan has said:

"مَا زَالَ أهْلُ العِلْمِ يَعُودُونَ بالتَّذَكُّرِ عَلَى التَّفَكُّرِ وبِالتَّفَكُّرِ عَلَى التَّذَكُّرِ ويُنَاطِقُونَ القُلُوبَ حَتَّى نَطَقَت."

“People of knowledge continue to augment thought with remembrance, and remembrance with thought, imploring the hearts to speak until the hearts spoke [with wisdom].”

Although tafakkur and tadhakkur are mentioned as stations, they are also the necessary gear for the journey to recognition and devotion. In other words, they are of the epistemic constants of the path.
76 Every day, Allah teaches us new lessons through good and bad occurrences. Reflecting on those events will allow us to intellectually penetrate the outer crust and realize their inner realities and truths. Tadhakkur will permit us to internalize those findings and make them operative, generating the primordial ground for other stations, such as shukr (gratefulness), ṣabr (patience), tawakkul (reliance on Allah), rajâ’ (hope), khawf (fear), tawbah (repentance), etc.
77 To bring it back to the center of awareness and build on it, whereby tafakkur is not limited to the cognitive function of self-reflection, but goes beyond that to impact the emotional, psychological, and spiritual experiences of the meditator, reshaping him or her and changing their outlook and behavior.
78 Do you notice how water tastes very different to a thirsty man?
79 This is, either about one’s own days, meaning the increases and decreases in one’s state, or the days of Allah, meaning His dispensations regarding those who obeyed Him and those who disobeyed Him.
80 Mixing with people and being consumed with their affairs.
81 Such as deferring the return to Allah in penitence and counting on His forgiveness without seeking it.
82 Attachments to others besides Allah.

Manâzil as-Sâirin


Shaykhul-Islam Abu Isma‘il Abdullah ibn Muhammad al-Ansari al-Harawi (396-481H)

Translation and Footnotes


Hatem al-Haj