People are often distinguished by their thoughts and ideas, and a person is only ranked by his peers according to his level and depth of thinking. Likewise, by speaking to someone and listening to his/her speech, their level of intelligence, their depth of reflection and extent of contemplation is displayed.

Some statements regarding al-Tafakkur (Thought and Contemplation):

Salim ibn Abi al-Ja’d: I asked Umm al-Darda (radhiallahu `anha), ‘What was the best of Abu al-Darda’s deeds? She said, ‘al-Tafakkur (contemplation).’

Al-Hasan al-Basri: ‘Contemplation is a mirror that shows you your good and bad deeds.’

Wahb ibn Munabbih: ‘The believer is the one who contemplates, remembers and restrains (himself from evil). He contemplates such that tranquility raises him and he remains calm and peaceful such that it humbles him. He (the believer) was content so he did not fall into distress, he refused his desires so he became free, he cast off jealousy so love became widespread for him and he was ascetic in every temporal thing so his intelligence became complete. His heart is connected to his aspirations and his aspirations overlook his Hereafter. He does not take delight when the people of the world take delight; rather the reality of eternity has saddened him so he remains sad in his life. But when eyes fall asleep, then he takes delight; reciting the Book of Allah Ta’ala and repeating it in his heart — at one point his heart feels fear and at another point, his eyes weep. The night passes him by while he is reciting, and the day passes him by while is in seclusion, pondering over his sins and belittling his good deeds. Such a person will be called on the Day of Judgment in that great gathering at the head of all creation: ‘Stand up O’ noble one and enter Paradise!’

Ibn Abi al-Hawari: I said to Abu Safwan (‘Abdullah ibn ‘Abd al-Malik ibn Marwan), ‘Which of these two is better: That a man should go hungry and sit in contemplation or that he should eat and get up to pray?’ He said, That he should (first) eat then get up and contemplate in his prayer is more beloved to me.’ So I told that to Abu Sulayman and he said, ‘He (Abu Safwan) has told the truth. Contemplation during the prayer is better than contemplation outside of the prayer, because contemplation in the prayer is in reality two deeds (combined), and two deeds are better than one.’

Al-Hasan said to Sufyan ibn ‘Uyaynah: ‘Tafakkur is the key to Mercy. Don’t you see how a person contemplates and consequently repents?!’

Al-Fudhayl: ‘The speech of the believer is wisdom; his silence is contemplation and his vision is a lesson (for him). If you are like that, then you will not cease being in a state of worship.’ Then he read the verse, “I have not created Mankind or Jinn except to worship Me.”
[al-Dhariyat: 56]

Ka’b al-Ahbar: ‘Whoever wishes to attain the honour of the Hereafter, let him increase in contemplation for he will then become knowledgeable.’

[Translated from: نداء القمم في كيف تعلو الهمم by Dr. Sayyid al-'Affani]