One of the main teachings of tazkiyah is muraqabah. Most people think that muraqabah is to sit in a dark room with one’s head bowed and meditate. The original meaning would literally mean ‘to watch over and monitor oneself’. We should, in general, meditate and reflect over our condition all the time, whenever we have a few moments to think.

The ulama (scholars) would make their students do muraqabah in a formal manner to train them. The ulama did not introduce muraqabah as a form of ibadah (worship).  This is similar to dhikr i.e. formal dhikr is a form of training. The idea is that a person can then engage in dhikr at all times.

Meditation in other faiths such as Buddhism is done to give a person focus and forget about their worries and temporarily achieve tranquillity and relaxation. In Islam, muraqabah is monitoring whether you have deviated from the deen (religion) of Allah e.g. any misbehaviour etc. If this is done properly, then the person will not look at the fault of others but will bring about change in himself.

The Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم said ‘Fortunate is he whose faults keep him preoccupied so that he does not have time to look at the faults of others’. [Reported by Bayhaqi].

[This short excerpt is based on a brothers’ majlis (gathering for spiritual training) held by Shaykh Abu Yusuf Riyadh ul Haq on 11th January 2009].