Muraqaba has been defined as watching, supervising, controlling, and living in
the consciousness of being controlled (by God). Sufis take this further, by
defining it as setting one’s heart solely on God, abandoning any attachment
to that which is other than Him, denying to one’s carnal self all that is
forbidden, acting in the certainty that the Divine Knowledge encompasses all
things, and living in accordance with Divine commandments.
We can also
interpret muraqaba as trying to observe what-ever God wills, and leading
a life in unwavering sincerity and in the consciousness of His constant
supervision. Such an attitude is possible when the servant knows that the
Almighty is aware of all that he or she does, says, knows, and thinks, as
stated in the Qur’an: In whatever state you may be, and whichever part of
the Qur’an you recite, and whatever deed you do, We are witnesses over you
when you are deeply engrossed therein (10:61).
means closing one’s heart to all that displeases Him and separates one from
Him, and opening the spirit to receive the radiances, gifts, and favors coming
from Him, then we must close what we must and open what we must. The first
steps to muraqaba are to accept as great what God has decreed as great,
to accept as worthless what He has decreed as worthless, and to prefer His Will
and desires over our own. Thinking of the depth of God’s Mercy increases and
strengthens one’s love of God and desire to worship Him, and fear and awe of
Him causes one to lose any appetite for sin and to live a careful life. Muraqaba
leads men and women to discard anything that harms their worship, and to
maintain the purity of their thoughts, actions, and intentions even when they
are alone, in the consciousness of His continual observation.
is one of the most important and direct ways of reaching God without a guide.
It resembles the type of sainthood attained through succession to the Prophetic
mission, which is conveying the Divine Message to people, without following a
spiritual order. Such travelers can turn to God at any time or place in
awareness of their helplessness and destitution, and be admitted to a
“private meeting” with Him based on their need. They feel God’s constant
supervision while they are watching nature, and so avoid whatever is other than
Him; they are deaf to all sounds and voices that are not related to Him; and
they praise His Beauty and Grace, and regard it as useless to mention something
that is not concerned with Him.
As a matter
of fact, if one’s eyes do not remind one of His Seeing, one’s ears of His
Hearing, and one’s tongue of His Speech, how can these organs be used other
than as pieces of flesh? Rumi says:
Almighty described Himself as the All-Seeing in order to warn you against evil,
He described Himself as the All-Hearing to admonish you not to say anything
bad, and He described Himself as the All-Knowing to inform you that He knows
you and therefore to exhort you to be alert to corrupt thoughts and
self-supervision as a protecting screen from evil emotions, thoughts, passions,
and acts, and considers it the safest way to be attentive to Divine rights.
step in self-supervision is voluntary submission to the Divine Will and wishes
in the conviction that He is present everywhere and is aware of all our
thoughts, intentions, and deeds: God is Watcher over all things (33:52).
The second step is to turn to God with a heart at rest and patiently anticipate
the flow of Divine gifts and blessings into one’s heart.
not require any physical or spiritual attachment to or relationship with a
guide, or the regular recitation of God’s Names. However, if one wishes to
follow a guide and regularly recite His Names in accordance with the Shari‘a,
it will certainly be much better. To the extent that an initiate, whether on
the first or second step, can act according to the meaning of the Prophetic
Tradition: Perfect goodness is that you worship as if seeing God, for even if
you do not see Him, He certainly sees you,54 and that, always seeing himself or
herself as helpless, destitute, and needy before God, believes Him to be the
sole point of reliance and source of help, he or she may be traveling safely on
the path of self-supervision and therefore be secure against deviation. Over
time, those who follow such a path will acquire a peace of heart that will
allow their conscience to remain open to Divine gifts and receive radiances
from the One of Unity.
of the most important mechanisms of self-supervision is muhasaba
(self-criticism). As this method of self-control allows believers
to become aware of personal faults and their causes, they
can find the truth in their hearts and then display it in
their conduct. In this spirit, the meaning and mystery of:
Glory be to Him Who sees me, knows my place and hears my speech
manifests itself. Such people know that the Divine Knowledge
and Will always keep them under control and, regardless of
location or action, seek only God’s pleasure by trying to
act in accordance with His wishes.