I begin by quoting from Madarij as-Salikeen, the section on Muraqabah. Translated by anwar awlaki (may Allah increase him in knowledge and iman)
The Station of Muraqabah (Knowing that Allah is watching over us)
Imam ibn qayyim al jaziyyah rahimahullah
Muraqabah is knowing that Allah is watching over us. Allah, Subhannahu wa ta ala says,
“And know that Allah knows what is in your minds, so fear Him.” (2:235)
“And Allah is Ever a Watcher over all things” (33:52)
“And He is with you whrever you may be” (57:4)
There are may other similar verses stating the same concept.
In the hadith of Jibril (alayhis salam) when he asked the Prophet (salalahu alayhi wa salam) about ihsan (goodness and excellence), the prophet (salalahu alayhi wa salam) replied, “Ihsan is to worship Allah as if yous ee Him, but since we do not see him we should know that He sees us at all times” (Bukhari and muslim) The meaning of this hadith is the definition of muraqabah. Namely, the endurance of the servant’s knowledge and his conviction and certainty that Allah is watching over his internal and external affairs. To have this knowledge and certainty at all times is called muraqabah. It is the fruit of the servant’s knowledge that Allah is his Watcher, Over-seeing him, Hearing his utterances, and observing all of his deeds at all times.
Al-Junaid (rahimahullah) said, “The one firm in muraqabah fears the waste of even a moment for other than his Lord.”
Dhun-nun(rahimahullah) said: “The sign of muraqabah is to favor what Allah has sent down (of the revelation), to glorify what Allah has glorified, and to despise what Allah has despised.”
Ibrahim al-khawas (rahimahullah) said: “Muraqabah is the sincerity of both the internal and external to Allah.” It has been said that “The best that man may cling to on this road to Allah is muhasabah (Recokoning of the self), muraqabah, and overning his conduct with knowledge.”
The people of true knowledge have unanimously agreed that having muraqabah for Allah in one’s hidden thoughts is a means for it to manifest in the deeds and the behavior externally. So, whoever has muraqabah for Allah in secret and internally, Allah will preserve him in his actions and behavior, both internally and externally.
One of the finest definitions for muraqabah is the following: Muraqabah of Allah is being on the way to Him at all times with over-whelming glorification, inciting nearness and urging joy. The overwhelming glorification is to have the heart filled with glorification of Allah. Such a state makes the servant unconcerned with glorifying others or paying attention to others beside Allah. A servant should always have this state, especially when he is remembering Allah. To be with Allah provides one with intimacy and love. If these are not associated with glorification, they may take one outside of the limits of servitude. Any love that is not associated with glorification of the Beloved One is a reason to distance him away from the Beloved and lose His respect.
The overwhelming glorification includes five components: walking towards Allah, constantly walking towards Him, presence within the heart for Him, glorification of Him, and being overwhelmed by His glorification to be concerned with others. The inciting nearness is the closeness to Allah that incites the servant to have these five components. This closeness makes him glorify Allah in a manner that he pays no attention to himself or others. The closer the servant becomes to Allah, the more he glorifies Hima nd the less mindful he will be for others. The urging joy is happiness and glorification. it is the delight one finds in this nearness. There is nothing in this world comparable in any way to the joy and happiness of the heart and delight of the eye with Allah and His closeness. This is one of the states in Paradise. A knowledgeable person said, “there are times when I would say that if people of Paradise can be in a state like this, they are indeed living a good life.” This joy, no doubt, urges him to be constant in walking to Allah and doing his best to seek Allah’s pleasure. If one didn’t achieve this joy or even a portion of it, then one should doubt their faith and deeds. Faith has grace and sweetness. If one has not tasted it, then one should go back and achieve the true faith and its sweetness.