Man thinks about so many things during the flow of daily life. For example, he may think about the things to be done on that day, where to go, the pleasant or the unpleasant things said about him, what he has done or will do at his job or school, or about long term plans. Many such thoughts may keep one’s mind busy during the day. These are surely necessary thoughts, yet they should occupy the person only as is necessary because there are much more important subjects on which man needs to reflect, things that concern one’s eternal life.
Man should first think about how he and all the living beings that surround him have come into existence and how they continue to exist. Following this he should reflect on the attributes of Allah, Who created all these beings out of nothing and who maintains their existence. Then he should consider why our powerful and knowledgeable Lord, created him and what He wants him to do. He should develop the resolve to fulfil the commands of Allah in the best possible manner. In the meantime, he should always remember and act with awareness of the inescapable end which awaits him; death and the Hereafter. He should avoid frivolous thoughts, behaviour and speech which would distract him from these urgent matters, leading to heedlessness and thankless pursuits that are of no advantage to him in the next life.
The mental capacity of man is, in fact, very great. What is important is to know how to use it and not to let unnecessary thoughts occupy one’s mind.
One can reflect on these important matters while continuing with daily life. One can even consider each separate topic quite deeply in relation to the relevant Qur’anic verses. For example, a person who spends 9 or 10 hours a day at work or at school encounters so many things that he could think about during that time; different people whose characteristics are described in the Qur’an, or factors concerning the various circumstances he may find himself in throughout the day. One’s daily experiences give rise to hundreds of thought-provoking matters such as heeding the voice of one’s own conscience, not giving way to the urges of the self, struggling with feelings of jealousy, striving for modesty, putting trust in Allah and trying to be steadfast. Furthermore, one can ponder on these subjects in such a way as to increase the profundity of one’s understanding. Therefore, the important point is to seize these opportunities whenever they present themselves.
In addition, one can also give thought to the kind of things that we often take for granted, varying from the blossoming of plants, to birds flying in the sky, from the benefit of the oxygen we breathe, to our hearts which continuously beat. One who has an enquiring mind that does not stop at the most obvious or facile explanations, will start to think deeply. Allah states in the Qur’an that believers are people of reflection: