Muraqaba (مراقبة, an Arabic word meaning “to watch over”, “to take care of”, or “to keep an eye”), has been translated from Arabic as meditation. Muraqaba implies that through this ‘watching’ of ones self , a person takes care of his spiritual heart (or soul), and acquires knowledge about it, its surroundings, and its Creator, Allah swt.
Muraqaba is available to anyone and can be experienced anytime, but is especially effective during Ramadan as a fast track, detox, psycho-spiritual therapy! Ramadan is primarily the month of the Quran, and within the Quran we are taught that through knowledge and application of this book we can elevate ourselves to eternal peace and everlasting love. One way to assist with this elevation is to fast in Ramadan. The believer is prescribed fasting so that the veils of distraction (such as water, food, sex, negative behaviour) are suspended from fuelling and assisting negativity in our selves (or nafs). Through this restraint over long periods of time (dawn till sunset for a lunar month) channels of communication between ourself and our Creator, Allah swt are opened to elevate our soul.
Viewing Ramadan as fast track therapeutic rehabilitation can make the whole process more rewarding, purposeful, not to mention life changing! Ramadan really is similar to counselling and psychotherapy in so many ways. For example this year client Nafs has come to Ramadan with low motivation, bouts of anger and depression. Intentions to read Quran, pray extra, unplug the TV set, have not yet been realised and they feel a sense of defeat and failure.
The Muraqaba therapist asks ‘what does fasting mean to you?’, they say; ‘it means abstaining from food that I need to get through the day !’. A Muraqaba dialogue begins;
Muraqaba Therapist: ‘so food gets you through your day, what happens when food is not there?’
Client: ‘food helps me to do all i want to do and when its not there time goes slow, i guess food distracts me’
MT: ‘so food distracts you , and what is it that you want to be distracted from?’
Client: ‘my sadness. food makes me feel happy and satisfied , like being hugged or loved ,when its not there I’m sad, empty’
MT: ‘so you eat food and feel loved?’
Client: ‘yes, thats how love was given in our family, happiness = a good meal, a gift, a replacement for a hug, or a reward for good behaviour but it was also used to control, it was taken away sometimes as a punishment or forced in angry situations’.
MT: ‘so food is an unhealthy attachment used to replace love, are there any alternative ways to experience love, positive, lasting love? what does your guidance teach?’
Client: ‘ it says in the Quran that the only love that lasts is with Allah ‘
Mt: ‘Well lets us read some more about that love with Allah, and how we can experience it ”
The Muraqaba therapist listens, doesn’t judge, doesn’t criticise, gives praise and encouragement . The Muraqaba therapist highlights the negative but looks for a positive. The aim is to see themselves and check it out against truth. This truth can be found through education, questioning, reasoning, practicing, experiencing.
The murqaba therapist reflects with the nafs on ‘how they now feel?’, checks out ‘if its true for them and what makes it so? if it is in line with their goals based on their guidance of choice, the Quran? They ask to confirm expectations, reason and find logic based on a the scale, their guidance, the Quran. Does is fit with what is eternally good for them, others and the environment? Together they form new ways of thinking and practice new ways of behaving, all in manageable doses and with consistency.
A new contract/goal is made, together the muraqaba therapist and nafs work together and something changes in the self, they experience a part of themselves that is more secure, more real, more balanced, more loved, they experience the soul. The soul resides in the heart and as the self watches with muraqaba it begins to understand and it masters part of the nafs. In turn the soul emerges stronger and moves further up the path of the believer. The Muraqaba therapist, nafs and soul end the days session, with some positive affirmations and self talk in the form of remembrance of the higher purpose, dhikr; ‘alhamduillah, subhanAllah, Allah akhbar, la Allah ha illAllah’ and then make another appointment for the next fast!
The Muraqaba therapist is available for free for anyone at anytime for it is your mind, nafs and soul working in harmony to experience sweetness of faith and everlasting love. Ramadan Mubarak!