The Transformative Power of Positive Thinking
In Islam, emphasis is placed on the power of positive thinking and reflection, as we tend to think about and focus on what we love the most. Our thoughts revolve around our affections, and we strive to please and be close to the subject of our thoughts. In simple words, we can say that we worship that subject. Even during challenging times, our thoughts are consumed by it, to the extent that our dreams are often centered around it.
Difference between Intention and Thinking/Reflection
The intention is created before any specific action or devotion. For example, intention to offer salat, fast etc. Whereas, a person is always thinking different things. His mind is surrounded by various thoughts always.
Thought and Sharia:
The importance of thought can be understood in the context of sharia, where the acceptance of actions is closely tied to the purity of thoughts. If our thoughts are pure, our actions will undoubtedly be pure as well. For instance, if a person intends to perform Hajj with a sincere intention but fails to purify his thoughts about family, business matters, or worldly desires, how can he claim to be sincere in Divine court?
Fatimah bint Mohammad – A True Role Model
We are advised to keep our thoughts occupied with remembrance of Allah at all times, while fulfilling our worldly obligations.
- The best example of this can be seen in the life of Fatimah-tuz-Zahra. She managed all the household tasks while remaining engrossed in the remembrance of Allah.
- Salman Farsi narrated that Fatimah-tuz-Zahra used to recite the Holy Quran even while grinding grains. (Zikr-e-Khatoon-e-Jannat)
- Ali ibn Abi Talib also mentioned that Fatimah bint Mohammad engaged in boundless worship of Allah, but she never neglected her household chores. (Zikr-e-Khatoon-e-Jannat)
In Islam, the power of thought and reflection is highly valued, as it influences our actions and forms the essence of worship. By maintaining a constant focus on the remembrance of Allah, one can achieve a profound level of devotion, just as exemplified by Fatimah-tuz-Zahra.
Ali ibn Abi Talib’s Perspective on Thought:
- Ali ibn Abi Talib said: ‘Thinking (reflection) is the real devotion.’
- He further stated, “A person is rewarded for their noble and good thoughts, even if those thoughts are not manifested in good deeds. Because thoughts are pure from pretence.”
In fact, devotion or worship is a reflection of one’s thoughts. Just as a vessel spills out what it contains, humans express through their thoughts.
The Relationship between Thought and the Path of Sufism
The human mind or thoughts are a tool through which beneficial results can be obtained or harm can be caused. It depends on the individual whether they prioritise positive or negative thoughts. The path of Sufism is an inward journey which is closely connected to our thoughts, reflection and contemplation. Throughout the history, the perfect Fakirs and Sufi Saints have highlighted the significance of transformative power of positive thinking.
Sultan-ul-Ashiqeen Sultan Mohammad Najib-ur-Rehman says,
- The real power that humans possess is their thoughts.
- Besides thoughts, humans have nothing.
- Thoughts are the essence of human beings. Transforming thoughts into positivity is the pinnacle of Sufism.
- Faqr is a centre, and that centre is the perfect and accomplished spiritual guide. Whoever focuses on that centre attains Faqr.
Keeping the focus on the ‘centre’ means directing one’s thoughts and attention towards the same Essence (perfect and accomplished spiritual guide), whether in solitude or in gatherings, in sorrow or in happiness.
Direction of Thoughts towards Perfect and Accomplished Spiritual Guide
The “self” of a human being is their thoughts, and when one successfully turns their thoughts towards the perfect spiritual guide, they gain control over their self. The proximity and companionship of the perfect spiritual guide redirect the seeker’s thoughts towards Allah. The perfect spiritual guide purifies the seeker’s thoughts, provides relief from mental distractions and confusion, thereby strengthening the soul. Thoughts are like the powerful steed upon which the reins of Divine obedience can be placed through the obedience of the perfect and accomplished spiritual guide.
The Cure for Contaminated Thoughts
Just as different parts of the human body require specialists for their treatment, the purification of thoughts and remedies for contamination can only be provided by the perfect spiritual guide. As various organs of the body fall ill, our thoughts also become diseased due to narcissism, worldly attachments, love of wealth, love of children, pride, arrogance, and negative assumptions. The cure and prescription to purify thoughts can only be attained through the gaze and companionship of the perfect spiritual guide.
The Power of Silence
We know that our outward appearances, conversations, actions, and relationships are influenced by our thoughts and contemplation. Similarly, our esoteric selves, solitude, and silence are also connected to our thoughts and contemplation. Islam teaches us the significance of both expression and silence.
Silence as Worship in Light of Islamic Teachings
♦ Prophet Mohammad (pbuh)
- The Holy Prophet (pbuh) said: “Silence is considered superior to sixty years of worship.” (Shuab al-Iman 4953)
- Another Hadith states: “Silence is the highest form of worship.” (al-Daylami)
- The saying further explains: “Silence is the conversation of the inward with Allah.”
However, one must understand what kind of silence is considered worship. It is the silence that involves contemplation, reflection, and the observation of Divine presence and gnosis.
♦ Prophet Isa (Jesus)
Prophet Jesus said: “Speech devoid of the remembrance of Allah is idle talk, silence without contemplation is negligence, and sight without lesson is blindness. Fortunate is the person whose speech involves the remembrance of Allah, whose silence is filled with contemplation, and whose sight is for learning lessons.”
♦Ali ibn Abi Talib said:
“Conversation without remembering Allah is useless, silence without contemplation is heedlessness, and sight without lesson is blindness.”
♦ Imam Shafi
Imam Shafi states in his book ‘Kitab al-Umm,’ “When you desire to speak, it is essential to reflect upon your words. If they serve a purpose, speak; if there is doubt, remain silent until the purpose becomes clear.”
He states in his book ‘Asrar-e-Qadri,’ ‘Know that there are seventy thousand wisdoms of Divine Beneficence in silence. Such silence is connected to observing the Divine presence and gnosis.’
He describes different types of silence, stating that the third type belongs to those whose inwards are enlightened through contemplation, invocation, reflection, meditation, and connection with Allah. Their silence is because they are always engrossed in Divine vision and they are forever in proximity of Ever-Merciful. (Qurb-e-Deedar)
Thoughts and Science
All human progress and development on earth has been achieved through thoughts and reflection. When humans ponder upon a matter, work hard for it, and progress step by step, they reach their destination. Fruits have been falling from the trees for centuries. But it was Isaac Newton who reflected that why things fall towards the Earth and what force or attraction causes them to do so? By pondering upon it, he discovered gravity.
Sultan-ul-Faqr VI Sultan Mohammad Asghar Ali states,
When we think and contemplate to understand any knowledge or thing, it is called reflection or contemplation. The world today stands on the foundation of scientific progress and materialism, which is the result of the reflection and contemplation of scientists. Reflection and contemplation are hidden behind every invention and discovery. (Sufism – The Soul of Islam)
The Impact of Thoughts on Human Personality
Our thoughts have a profound impact on our personality.
Renowned philosopher and psychologist William James stated: ‘Thoughts become perception, perception becomes reality. Your thoughts alter your reality. The world we live in, its quality and character, is nothing but a reflection of our own minds.’
♦ Barbara Fredrickson
Her “Broaden and Build Theory” provides insight into positive thinking, stating that it can expand our thinking process and play a crucial role in balancing thoughts, leading to better mental and physical well-being.
♦ Masaru Emoto
Masaru Emoto, in his book ‘The Hidden Messages in Water,’ presented remarkable research on the impact of positive and negative words on water.
Two samples of water were taken—one with positive words written on it, and the other with negative words. The water with positive words formed beautiful molecules, while the water with negative words displayed distorted structures. If the impact of words on water is so profound, imagine the impact of words or thoughts circulating in the mind of a human being, who is composed of 70% water.
Positive Thinking – New Approaches in Treatment
Positive thinking not only influences mental health but also affects our physical well-being. In recent times, there has been a significant shift in the medical community, with some doctors treating their cancer patients through mountain climbing, encouraging them to strengthen their mental and physical health.
Holistic medicine is also gaining momentum, focusing not only on curing diseases but also prioritising a patient’s lifestyle and improving mental well-being. In Japan, the ‘Japan Holistic Medical Society’ has been established to promote such treatments.
The Relationship Between Positive Thinking and Allah
Allah Almighty says in a Qudsi Hadith, ‘I am as My servant thinks I am.’
This implies that our thoughts determine our relationship with Allah and what we perceive about Him.
In her novel ‘The Forty Rules of Love,’ Elif Shafak suggests that when we think about God, we are actually reflecting our own thoughts about our own selves. If thoughts about God only evoke fear and apprehension, it indicates that we have accumulated a lot of fear and apprehension within ourselves. Conversely, if Divine love and compassion are visible to us, it means that we ourselves are filled with love and compassion.
How can one adopt positive thinking?
The direct and profound connection to making thoughts positive and strengthening our relationship with Allah is through gratitude.
Allah says in Quran,
Meaning: ‘If you are grateful, I shall surely increase you [in favour].’
This golden principle emphasises that making our thoughts positive can make life beautiful and easier, while negative thoughts lead to ingratitude and suffering.
The Company of the Perfect Fakir and Positive Thinking
How can our thoughts reach the level of worship?
The human mind is a whirlpool of thoughts. Through the company of the perfect Fakirs and Sufi Saints, the love of Allah enters the realm of thoughts. In this way, thoughts are rectified, and the inward becomes illuminated with Divine love. This allows the manifestations of Divine presence to descend upon the inward.
Sultan Bahoo, referring to the company of the perfect Fakirs and Sufi Saints says:
‘When iron comes in contact with the philosopher’s stone, it instantly turns into gold.’
Sultan-ul-Ashiqeen Sultan Mohammad Najib-ur-Rehman
The perfect Fakir and Universal Divine Man of this era is Sultan-ul-Ashiqeen Sultan Mohammad Najib-ur-Rehman. He transforms the self of seeker through his spiritual sight and attention. Hence, diverting his attention and thoughts from the worldly matters towards the closeness to Allah.
Invocation and Contemplation of Ism-e-Azam
The best way to keep thoughts positive and strengthen our relationship with Allah, as taught in the teachings of Prophet Mohammad, is to remain engaged in the invocation of Allah.
Prophet Mohammad (pbuh) said,
Meaning: Everyone has counted breaths. The breath which passes without the invocation of Allah is dead.
Human tranquility and inner peace reside in the invocation of Allah.
Allah guides in Quran:
Meaning: Know that it is the invocation of Allah (Ism-e-Allah Zaat) alone that brings calm to the inwards. (13:28)
Sarwari Qadri Order
Divine seekers are bestowed with the great blessing of invocation and contemplation of Ism-e-Allah Zaat in Sarwari Qadri order. On the first day of pledging bayah, they are blessed with invocation of Sultan-ul-Azkar ‘Hoo’ and contemplation of ‘Ism-e-Allah Zaat’ which is written in golden colour.
Contemplation carries the meanings of imagination, concentration, reflection, and meditation. Through the contemplation of Ism-e-Allah Zaat on inward; positive effects manifest on the individual’s mental and esoteric self. The inward gets liberated from all worldly and sensual desires.
Invocation directs thoughts and attention towards Allah.
The power of thoughts and their impact on our relationship with Allah cannot be underestimated. By focusing on positive thoughts, gratitude, and engaging in the invocation and contemplation of Ism-e-Allah Zaat, we can strengthen our bond with Him and experience spiritual and mental well-being.
Embracing the company of the perfect and accomplished spiritual guide further enhances this journey of spiritual growth. Let us strive to cultivate positive thoughts and keep our hearts and minds connected to the remembrance of Allah, as it holds the key to a beautiful and fulfilling life.
- Sufism- The Soul of Islam by Sultan-ul-Ashiqeen Sultan Mohammad Najib-ur-Rehman
- Nur-ul-Huda Kalan by Sultan Bahoo
- Asrar-e-Qadri by Sultan Bahoo
- Qurb-e-Deedar by Sultan Bahoo
- Sultan-ul-Ashiqeen by Sultan-ul-Faqr Publications
- Khamoshi Kay Mohasin by Abdul Khabir Ashrafi Musbahi
- Islam and Modern Science by Dr Mohammad Tahir-ul-Qadri
- The Hidden Messages in Water by Dr. Masaru Emoto (Translated by David A. Thayne)
- The Forty Rules of Love by Elif Shafak
- Your Body Speaks Your Mind by Deb Shapiro
- The Role of Positive Emotions in Positive Psychology
- The Broaden and Build Theory of Positive Emotions by Barbara L. Fredrickson
This is English translation of Urdu article اصل عبادت سوچ ہے which appeared in July 2023 issue of monthly Sultan-ul-Faqr magazine. Mrs. Fatima Burhan wrote the original article.
Dr. Mohammad Waseem Akram has translated it in English with some editing.
- How positive thinking can be achieved?
The best way to keep thoughts positive and strengthen our relationship with Allah, as taught in the teachings of Prophet Muhammad, is to remain engaged in the invocation of Allah. Prophet Mohammad (pbuh) said,
Meaning: Everyone has counted breaths. The breath which passes without the invocation of Allah is dead.
Sultan-ul-Ashiqeen Sultan Mohammad Najib-ur-Rehman is the Universal Divine Man of the era. On the first day of pledging bayah, Sultan-ul-Ashiqeen blesses Divine seekers with invocation of Sultan-ul-Azkar ‘Hoo’ and contemplation of ‘Ism-e-Allah Zaat’ which is written in golden colour.
- What is the significance of positive thinking in Sufism?
The human mind or thoughts are a tool through which beneficial results can be obtained or harm can be caused. It depends on the individual, whether they prioritise positive or negative thoughts. The path of Sufism is an inward journey which is closely connected to our thoughts, reflection and contemplation. Throughout the history, the perfect Fakirs and Sufi Saints have highlighted the significance of transformative power of positive thinking.
Sultan-ul-Ashiqeen Sultan Mohammad Najib-ur-Rehman says, ‘The real power that humans possess is their thoughts.’