“One hour of reflection competes with 60 years of worship.”
—The Prophet of God,1 peace and blessings upon him
It’s important not to be misled by this powerful saying. The “one hour of reflection” mentioned is not any hour of reflection. The scholars explain that this is a specific, highly specialized type of reflection upon Allah and His Signs.
“He who knows himself knows his Lord.”
—Yahya ibn Mu’adh ar-Razi 2
“The fruit of reflection is love of God.”
—Imam al-Haddad 3
I think of these as a commentary on the previous quote. By knowing ourselves, we can realize our humble position in the world and neediness—clarifying our relationship with Allah. Inside each of us is a natural disposition for belief in God. Reflecting inward points to Him.
Beyond that, knowing our own traits and peculiarities lets us use our strengths and abilities for His Pleasure. By learning about ourselves we can treat our faults and improve and get closer to knowing our Lord.4
Thinking even broader, we realize that reflecting deep enough into anything leads back to Allah, His glory be glorified.
“Our scientific power has outrun our spiritual power. We have guided missiles and misguided men.”
—Martin Luther King, Jr.
Switching gears, we must notice the state of the world today. Dr. King’s assessment holds even truer now than it did in his time.
“The true alchemists do not change lead into gold; they change the world into words.”
—William H. Gass
The gold standard for writers: capturing reality in their words. Doing this is more magical than turning lead into gold—but thankfully it’s a bit more common!
“Verily some eloquent rhetoric is as effective as magic.”
—The Prophet of God,5 peace and blessings upon him
We’ve all experienced words like this. Magically lifting us, waking us, shaking us, and calling us to something greater.
“If speech gives you pleasure, then remain silent; and if silence pleases you, then talk.”
It’s this kind of paradoxical statement that is an example of powerful speech. People who love speaking are the least qualified to do so, and only the wise prefer silence.
Although it refers to oral speech I think it applies just as much to the written word.
“Sincerity is a sword that is never used against anything without cutting it.” —Imam al-Haddad
“When nothing seems to help, I go back and look at the stonecutter hammering away at his rock perhaps a hundred times without as much as a crack showing in it. Yet at the hundred and first blow it will split in two, and I know it was not that blow that did it — but all that had gone before.” —Jacob Riis
“To achieve great things, two things are needed; a plan, and not quite enough time.”
These last three quotes are the most self-explanatory, and shape my attitude towards writing. Specially the last one 😉.
- Sourced from here, but explained better here although cited with different wording. [return]
- Mentioned by Ibn Hajar and al-Sakhawi [return]
- Wording from here, but the complete and accurate quote is probably here. [return]
- Shaykh Yusuf al-Qaradawi explains the benefits and importance of self-reflection and self-account [return]
- Sourced from here but the translation is from somewhere else… [return]