“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 just any hour of reflection. The scholars explain that this is a specific, highly specialized type of reflection upon Allah and His Signs. Nonetheless, we must realize the lost art of reflection in our lives.
“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 thus points straight 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 in order get closer to our Lord.4
Thinking even broader, we realize that reflecting deep enough into anything leads back to their originator: Allah, His glory be glorified.
“Our scientific power has outrun our spiritual power. We have guided missiles and misguided men.” —Dr. 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 any writing: to capture reality with the mind and express it as language. Doing this is more magical than turning lead into gold—but thankfully it’s a bit more common!
“Some 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.” —Bishr al-Hafi6
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 it’s the wise who prefer silence and are most worthy of speech.
And this 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.” —Leonard Bernstein
These last three quotes are the most self-explanatory, and shape my attitude towards writing. Especially the last one 😉.