27: Sincerity, Vigilance, Meditation, Reflection on Death – Renewing Religion: Overview of Ghazali’s Ihya – Ustadh Amjad Tarsin

In this lesson of Renewing Religion, Ustadh Amjad Tarsin, reflects upon the chapters from Imam Ghazali’s Ihya on sincerity, self examination, meditation and reflecting on death.

Ustadh Amjad begins with the chapter on sincerity, explaining that true sincerity can lead habits to be acts of worship if they are done with the right intentions. Many of the companions would actually hide a lot of their acts of good and worship so that they would ensure its sincerity. Thus sincerity is the defining factor of our actions that determine whether our actions will be accepted or not.

The second chapter that is examined in this lesson is that on self examination. Ustadh Amjad mentions that many of the righteous would remember their mistakes years after so that it would push them to improve to the better. The Prophet, peace be upon him, says if you do not feel shame then do as you will. Here, he points to the importance of self examination and understanding that all your actions have a consequence.

Ustadh Amjad gives an overview of the chapter on the importance of meditation and reflection. Spending time in nature calms the soul and really allows our internal sounds to quiet so we can start to think about deeper matters. The second type of reflection that one should seek is reflecting on blessings and be thankful for them. The third, is reflecting upon the nature of the world, life, death and the hereafter. This allows a person to prepare for meeting their Lord.

Lastly, reflecting upon death is the last chaper of the Ihya. Reflecting upon death forces people to get done now what they would have otherwise delayed. That is why the Prophet, peace be upon him, advises us to take advantage of our free time before we become busy. Imam Ghazali likens every breath one takes to a prescious jewel becuase it can never be brought back once it is taken. The fruit of all this will be realized at the time of death if one has lived their life preparing for it then they will welcome it when the time comes but if they have lived their life headless of it they will be terrified of dying.

In this brief overview of Imam Ghazali’s opus magnum, Ihya Ulum al-Din (Renewing the Religious Sciences), this series will serve as blueprint for how the believer can bring to life their religion. It will aim to help the believer to not just practice the form of the religion properly, but to also practice it with excellence.

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