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Self-Reflection Practices Through the Lens of Islam

by Farida Haji

The Importance of Self Reflection in Islam

Our daily lives are filled with infinite distractions. Our mind, heart, and body need regular detoxification. Prophet Muhammed ﷺ took time to reflect on his thoughts and feelings in the cave of Hira. The life of Prophet Muhammed ﷺ  itself is an example of developing the ability to acknowledge our emotions, no matter how uncomfortable. Dealing with difficult decisions and looking for answers.

When the revelations began, Rasulullah ﷺ  was in a state of surprise, he confided in his wife Khadija, who understood and supported him. She became the first believer to bring Islam. Self-reflection is not just helping yourself, it is self-love, and knowledge of your strengths and weaknesses. It makes you stronger mentally, spiritually and increases emotional resilience.

5 Ways to Practice Self-Reflection

As Muslims, we are taught values that bring us closer to Allah. Through this article, you can explore how integrating the Islamic lifestyle will enhance your self-reflecting abilities, and improve the way you deal with yourself and others.

mirror reflecting the clouds on grass

1. Practicing Mindfulness or Muraqabah

Mindfulness is to be aware of yourself and be present in your surroundings. Every living moment we are distracted. Practicing mindfulness becomes extremely difficult. So we turn to our religious beliefs and practices. Muraqabah is an Arabic word for meditation. However, it is slightly different from meditation as it is a religious practice. Salah is one way to practice muraqabah.

Pray 5 times daily with mindfulness, being aware that you are standing in front of Allah. It is not a coincidence that our prayers have repetitive forms and movements. Physical comparisons of the movements of Islamic prayers to yoga asanas reveal they are beneficial for relaxation, aiding to mental and physical wellness.

Abu Huraira reported that the Prophet ﷺ said:

وَحَدَّثَنَا هَارُونُ بْنُ مَعْرُوفٍ، وَعَمْرُو بْنُ سَوَّادٍ، قَالاَ حَدَّثَنَا عَبْدُ اللهِ بْنُ وَهْبٍ، عَنْ عَمْرِو بْنِ الْحَارِثِ، عَنْ عُمَارَةَ بْنِ غَزِيَّةَ، عَنْ سُمَىٍّ، مَوْلَى أَبِي بَكْرٍ أَنَّهُ سَمِعَ أَبَا صَالِحٍ، ذَكْوَانَ يُحَدِّثُ عَنْ أَبِي هُرَيْرَةَ، أَنَّ رَسُولَ اللهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم قَالَ ‏ “‏ أَقْرَبُ مَا يَكُونُ الْعَبْدُ مِنْ رَبِّهِ وَهُوَ سَاجِدٌ فَأَكْثِرُوا الدُّعَاءَ ‏“‏ ‏.‏

The nearest a servant comes to his Lord is when he is prostrating himself, so make supplication (in this state).

[Sahih Muslim, no. 482]

Close-up shot of a Muslim young man worshiping in a mosque

Praying 5 times a day with our entire focus and devotion to Allah distances our minds and bodies from our mundane lives. It filters unwanted thoughts and meaningless chatter that every part of our brain indulges in in every moment!

2. Profession of Faith

The first pillar of Islam is our profession of Faith, the acceptance and love for Allah. The appreciation of this splendid dunya. Allah says in the Holy Quran:

Surah An Nahl 78 Self Reflection Practices Through the Lens of Islam

And Allah has extracted you from the wombs of your mothers not knowing a thing, and He made for you hearing and vision and hearts [i.e., intellect] that perhaps you would be grateful.

[Surah Al-Nahl, 16:78]

We need to liberate ourselves and our senses from all that distracts and corrupts us. Only when we love and appreciate ourselves can we appreciate the love of Allah. We shall all depart and journey towards Allah. Let your heart be full of love, grace and humility. Have tawwakkul (trust in Allah) that He has a plan for you.

Surah At Talaq 3 Self Reflection Practices Through the Lens of Islam

And will provide for him from where he does not expect. And whoever relies upon Allah – then He is sufficient for him. Indeed, Allah will accomplish His purpose. Allah has already set for everything a [decreed] extent.

[Surah Al-Talaq 65:3]

3. Journaling or Me-Time

Express yourself, it can be through words or actions. Be vulnerable, ponder upon important, deeper questions. They can be anything that might aid your reflection process.

  • What’s the best way to love Allah?
  • For what purpose has Allah created us?
  • Does Allah test you more if you are closer to Him?
  • Will Allah answer my duas if I don’t pray?

It may feel like a petty idea but cultivate mindful practices. The language doesn’t matter, the letters don’t matter, draw if that works for you. There is nobody to judge your thoughts except you.

Don’t be too harsh on yourself. Everyone plays multiple roles in life. Some roles might be more demanding than others; write down your roles and evaluate yourself. It is simply you, your thoughts, and recognizing the compassion you can develop for yourself.

muslim woman thinking and journaling on her tablet

4. Read

Instead of rushing to your library hunting for self-help books. Spend some time after fajr or maghrib and make time to read and understand the ultimate book, Al-Quran. The words of Allah. Iqra, to read, was the first revelation upon Muhammed ﷺ by Jibrael.

Surah Al Alaq 1 Self Reflection Practices Through the Lens of Islam

Recite in the name of your Lord who created.

[Surah Al-Alaq 96:1]

Allah commands us to venture, explore, seek knowledge and imbibe good characteristics that encourage us to live a prosperous life.

5. Manifesting Positivity

Surah Al Zalzalah 7 Self Reflection Practices Through the Lens of Islam
Surah Al Zalzalah 8 Self Reflection Practices Through the Lens of Islam

So whoever does an atom’s weight of good will see it.
And whoever does an atom’s weight of evil will see it.

[Surah Az-Zalzalah  99:7-8]

Challenge your perspectives and thought processes. Being rigid will only enhance your critical voice, and in turn, power self-limiting thoughts. This will give rise to negative self-perceptions and the chain will continue. Sincerity, honesty and willpower are the ingredients to hold your affirmations together. Manifest them every day.

Praise and glorify Allah. Start from there! You will require courage to practice self-reflective methods. However, the benefits of self-reflection, mindfulness and meditation will reduce stress and enhance the quality of your life.

Read Al-Quran

To Love Yourself Is To Love Allah

Admire and appreciate Allah’s creation. For you are His finest.

Surah Ard 11 Self Reflection Practices Through the Lens of Islam

For him [i.e., each one] are successive [angels] before and behind him who protect him by the decree of Allah. Indeed, Allah will not change the condition of a people until they change what is in themselves. And when Allah intends for a people ill, there is no repelling it. And there is not for them besides Him any patron.

[Surah Ar-Ra’d 13:11]