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Just sitting and focusing on breath (no chanting Buddha and Hindu deities and such involved). Is it allowed?

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The short answer is no. Clearing one's mind can in fact be helpful in salat (prayer) and thikr Allah (remembrance of Allah, calling His name as worship). Not everything under the sun is micromanaged in the Sunnah, even less so in the Quran. Is it haram or halal to walk down the street? Take a walk in the park? Read books not written by Muslims? Go to art museums where nude women are painted? Give a baby a pacifier? Watch TV?

The Quran enjoins us to use our minds, to think. Afa laa t'aqiloon? Or "will you not think/ understand/ use your minds?" Is a frequently mentioned aya in the Quran. So we were given the ability to think and to comprehend for a reason and we are responsible to use them. We should not have a faith based on read-only memory, but one based on our own powers of reason and experience and that settles in "the heart" which in the Quran is the core of our selves and also our thoughts.

I myself have used mindfulness techniques and later found them immensely helpful in concentrating in salat. So it can be good. I suppose if you replaced salat with meditation that would be bad. If someone took a walk in the park to kill an innocent person that would be bad. It's what you make of it in that case. But in and of itself...I think you can understand.

  • But we also need to justify our thinking based on the whole of Quran and Sunnah. That is why it is important to follow what has been agreed by Islamic scholars – Syakur Rahman Oct 11 '17 at 13:01
  • @SyakurRahman Excellent point: especially with the word "the whole of" so we do not look for only one hadeeth, for example, or take an aya from the Quran out of context, and ignore the overall message. But what if there is no agreement between Islamic scholars, especially historical ones, on an issue that came up only in modern society? For that we need "haqma" or the wisdom to apply the whole of the message, starting with the Quran (some hadeeths may be contradictory), to a specific issue. This wisdom requires study, and I will try to update my answer to incorporate such sources. – S Karami Oct 25 '17 at 5:34
  • To add another point in response to @SyakurRahman. What I said in my answer was that we do not want to be micromanaged by replacing our own decision-making capabilities, perhaps out of fear or error, with those of others written centuries ago. And by that I mean only Sunnah and hadeeths as well as fatwas, which have been shown to be subject to human error in transcription or other ways, not the Quran which is divine revelation and which has, tellingly, been sent down in such a way that one cannot micromanage one's life, spiritually or practically, using it. It is a guide not a personal coach – S Karami Nov 11 '17 at 22:02

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