Thursday, October 25, 2007

A Very Exciting Project: The Art of Tadabbur and Tafakkur

Assalamu 'alaykum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh

At one of the prominent institutions that I was teaching, I was asked by the Director to teach a module on Qur'anic Vocabulary (Mufradat al-Qur'an) - may Allah reward him for affording me the opportunity to explore a whole new world. The course materials that I had at my disposal proved inadequate at the time, and I decided to devise my own. The result was astonishing. Never had I developed such an appreciation for the Qur'an as I did then. I was forced to make use of my then current linguistic skills and develop new ones to deal with the task at hand. These skills I used in conjunction with the tafsir literature that I had access to. For me it was if an entirely different world was opening up - a world that I'd never experienced before. For the first time I began to understand why the Quran was talking about itself in such majestic terms [Furthermore I call to witness the Places of the Stars - and that is indeed a mighty oath if you but knew - that this is indeed a Qur'an Most Honourable in a Book well-guarded which none shall touch save the purified, a Revelation from the Lord of the Worlds (Surah al-Waqi'ah verses: 75 - 80)]. For the first time did I understand why the Qur'an urges us to constantly reflect, contemplate and ponder. It is as if you had stopped breathing air and in its place you are breathing the Qur'an that goes into your whole system like oxygen flows into your blood bringing about rejuvenation of the body. The Qur'an on the other hand brings about the rejuvenation of the soul. When the Qur'an touches you it touches you very deeply, and makes you shiver inside, and for the first time you undertsand the meaning of the Qur'anic verse in Surah al-Hashr: [Had We sent down this Qur'an on a mountain, verily, thou wouldst have seen it humble itself and cleave asunder for fear of Allah. Such are the similitudes which We propound to men, that they may reflect. (Surah al-Hashr verse: 21)]. There are numerous verses in the Qur'an that refer to the impact of the Qur'an on its listeners.

Realising what it is that I had discovered, I decided to pursue it further even after I had left the institution. I had in the process added another component to the study that deals with contemplation of the ayat (signs) in the Universe as well in addition to the ayat (verses) in the Qur'an. Al-Hamdulillah, I have managed to collect some really valuable materials along the way, and managed to develop a skill which I had not hitherto known about. I then thought of how it might be possible for others to develop this skill which I have meanwhile called "Fann al-Tadabbur wa al-Tafakkur" (The Art of Contemplation of the Qur'an and the Universe) or "Fiqh al-Ayat Fil-Qur'an wa Fil-Kawn" (A Deep Understanding of the Ayat in Both the Qur'an and the Universe). I thought that the best way would be to lay out its components to see how this can be developed into a course outline for a course that can be offered as a module. I have meanwhile also thought about writing a complete manual or textbook on "Fann al-Tadabbur wa al-Tafakkur". Insha Allah, I hope all this can materialise soon, and then maybe others can develop and refine it further.

What follows is a tentative structure or outline that I've come up with which is posted on the Lisanularab Discussion Forum, and which I'm importing here. Insha Allah, I hope to develop this topic in this blog from now onwards. This format of the envisaged course was before I introduced the al-Tafakkur component. So, insha Allah, aspects of the al-Tafakkur component will be brought in as separate posts. Your comments will be appreciated.


(a) Definition of al-Tadabbur, lughatan and shar'an
(b) Defining related terms such as tafakkur, i'tibar, tadhakkur, nathar, sayr fil-ard, etc. also terms denoting other human activities vis-à-vis the Qur'an, e.g. qira’ah, tilawah, tartil, sam’ & istima’ and so on. Moreover, these human activities can be divided into two groups: positive activities and negative activities. The aforementioned activities are all positive. Negative activities include kufr (both in the sense of "rejection / denial" and "being ungrateful"), juhuud (rejection), taktheeb (rejection, belying), istikbaar (haughtiness and arrogance), i'raadh (turning away, ignoring), nisyaan (forgetting), etc.
(c) Excellence of al-Tadabbur from Qur'an & Sunnah, and scholarly opinions.
(d) Aim and Benefits of al-Tadabbur
(e) Keywords: al-Tadabbur, Qalb, Aqfal, Qur'an, al-Fafakkur, al-I'tibar, Ayat, 'Ibrah, etc.

Exploring al-Tadabbur, al-Tafakkur, & other related concepts in the Qur'an:

Components / Elements of al-Tadabbur:

(a) the Object of al-Tadabbur (i.e. the Qur'an) – verbal / written Qur’an & visual Qur'an (i.e. ayat quraniyyah & ayat kawniyyah)
(b) the Subject (al-Mutadabbir)
(c) the Method of al-Tadabbur

Types of al-Tadabbur:

Linguistic Aspects (Grammatical & Rhetorical Devices)
Scientific Aspects
Historical Aspects
Divine Aspects (e.g. Divine Attributes, Beautiful Names)
Prophetic Aspects
Narrative Aspects
Eschatological Aspects (e.g. Final Day, Hereafter, Resurrection, Different Names & Attributes for Last Hour / Day, Death, Grave, etc.)

Instrument(s) of al-Tadabbur:

The Heart
The Mind / Intellect

Factors that Enhance / Curtail al-Tadabbur:

(a) presence or absence of locks (aqfal) on the heart [i.e. locks that are specific to hearts (aqfaluha)]
(b) subject’s spiritual level
(c) time of day or night (early hours of the day)
(d) setting / environment
(e) mental state / condition (motivated, tired, etc.)
(f) etc.

Al-Tadabbur & the Organizational Structure of the Qur'an & its Surahs:

Rules of al-Tadabbur:

Examing Instances & Examples of al-Tadabbur from the Qur'an & Tafsir literature:

Use of Modern Media, Tools and Aids for Enhancing the Activity of al-Tadabbur:

(a) Recordings of selected Qur'anic portions recited by renowned Qur'anic readers (e.g. Muhammad Siddiq al-Minshawi, Mustafa Ismail, AbdulBasit Muhammad AbdulSamad), recordings of Tarawih renditions, recordings of whole Qur'an by renowned Qur'anic readers, etc.
(b) The Qur'anic reader's use of musicality and variation of maqamat in highlighting particular Qur'anic meanings for the purpose of creating heightened spiritual effect

Key Readings & Studies for Developing the Skill of al-Tadabbur:

(1) ‘Ilm Ma’rifat Fawatih al-Suwar wa Khawatimiha
(2) ‘Ilm Tanasub al-Ayat wa –al-Suwar
(3) ‘Ilm Ma’rifat Aqsam al-Qur'an wa Amthalihi
(4) ‘Ilm Binyat al-Suwar
(5) ‘Ulum al-Balaghah
(6) ‘Ilm Ma’rifat Mufradat al-Qur'an
(7) Al-Furuq al-Lughawiyyah
(8) ‘Ilm Ma’rifat Dala-il al-I’jaz
(9) ‘Ilm al-Sarf (‘Ilm al-Ishtiqaq), ‘Ilm al-Nahw, ‘Ilm al-Lughah (Fiqh al-Lughah)
(10) Some Tafasir that deal with the aforementioned subjects

1 comment:

siraj said...

assalamu alaikum,

Sh., why don't you teach a course online? It's pretty simple, all you need are a few students and a program like paltalk, where the students and you can join a room and you can teach over the net?

if you are considering this, please let me know, my wife and I would love to take a class with you again.

assalamu alaikum,