Is Breathing Meditation Permissible?

Answered by Shaykh Irshaad Sedick

Question

The place where I work recently introduced a form of breathing meditation, supposedly secular, that promotes emptying the mind to focus on work more. It simply consists of focusing back on the breath when distracted, no mantra whatsoever.

While I understand that the act of breathing is not under the monopoly of a single religion, I have done some research that suggests this meditation has Buddhist origins.

It is like the meditation advised here:
Diaphragmatic Breathing Exercise

What advice do you give about the suggestion given by the website?

Answer

In the Name of Allah, the Most Merciful and Compassionate. May Allah alleviate our difficulties and guide us to what pleases Him, Amin.

Yes, it is permissible to engage in breathing meditation, and it can be beneficial in achieving the goals you mentioned. It’s worth bearing in mind that meditation has many forms; some involve just mindfulness, and others involve repeating statements such as ‘Om.’

Any other practices rooted in other religions should also be avoided. Many cultures base such practices on their belief systems, such as the Yoga poses centred around the sun. Doing them would be impermissible.

Perhaps Buddhists meditated this way, but that is not enough to categorize breathing meditation as a strictly Buddhist practice. As you mentioned, “breathing is not under the monopoly of a single tradition”.

The advice in the article appears sound, and Allah knows best.

I pray this is of benefit.

[Shaykh] Irshaad Sedick
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Shaykh Irshaad Sedick was raised in South Africa in a traditional Muslim family. He graduated from Dar al-Ulum al-Arabiyyah al-Islamiyyah in Strand, Western Cape, under the guidance of the late world-renowned scholar, Shaykh Taha Karaan. 

Shaykh Irshaad received Ijaza from many luminaries of the Islamic world, including Shaykh Taha Karaan, Mawlana Yusuf Karaan, and Mawlana Abdul Hafeez Makki, among others.

He is the author of the text “The Musnad of Ahmad ibn Hanbal: A Hujjah or not?” He has served as the Director of the Discover Islam Centre and Al Jeem Foundation. For the last five years till present, he has served as the Khatib of Masjid Ar-Rashideen, Mowbray, Cape Town.

Shaykh Irshaad has thirteen years of teaching experience at some of the leading Islamic institutes in Cape Town). He is currently building an Islamic online learning and media platform called ‘Isnad Academy’ and pursuing his Master’s degree in the study of Islam at the University of Johannesburg. He has a keen interest in healthy living and fitness.