Praise and gratitude is due to Allah, He the One, who sent
the Final Messenger with the Guidance and the True Way.
Peace and Salutations be upon the Final Messenger Muhammad .
Dhikr - Remembrance of Allah
Dhikr is the means by which Stations yield their fruit, until the seeker reaches the Divine Presence. On the journey to the Divine Presence the seed of remembrance is planted in the heart and nourished with the water of praise and the food of glorification, until the tree of dhikr becomes deeply rooted and bears its fruit. It is the power of all journeying and the foundation of all success. It is the reviver from the sleep of heedlessness, the bridge to the One remembered.
The shaikhs strive to remember their Lord with every breath, as the angels are always in the state of dhikr, praising Allah. One of our shaikhs said, "I remembered You because I forgot You for a moment, and the easiest way for me is to remember You on my tongue." If the seeker will mention his Lord in every moment, he will find peace and satisfaction in his heart, he will uplift his spirit and his soul, and he will sit in the Presence of his Lord. The Prophet said in an authentic hadith mentioned in Ahmad's Musnad, "The people of Dhikr are the people of My presence." So the gnostic is the one who keeps the dhikr in his heart, and leaves behind the attachments of the lower worldly life.
Dhikr of Allah
Abu Darda narrated that Rasool Allah said, “Should I not tell you of such a thing, which are the best and purest deeds in the court of your Lord, high in ranks (darajat), better for you then spending gold and silver (in Allah’s path), and better than slaying the neck of the enemy during war? The Sahaba said, “Yes, Oh Rasool Allah! .” He said, “It is Zikr of Allah.” (Tirmizi)
Abu Huraira narrated that Rasool Allah said, “Any gathering in which people sit and do not do Zikr of Allah and do not send Durood upon their Prophet is of loss for them. If Allah wills, give them azab (punishment) and if wills, forgive them.” (Tirmizi)
Abu Huraira narrated that Rasool Allah said, “Allah Tabaraka wa Ta’ala says when a person moves his lips for Zikr of Allah, I am with him. “ (Bukhari)
Abu Huraira narrated that Rasool Allah said, “Allah Tabaraka wa Ta’ala says I am closer to my slave than his supposition of which he keeps of me. And when he/her does Zikr of Allah, I am with him/her. If he does Zikr in his heart, I do his Zikr near MY proximity (closeness) and if he does Zikr in a gathering, I mention him in a gathering Afdhal (better) than it. (Bukhari)
Abu Musa Ash'ari narrated that Rasool Allah said, “He/She who does Zikr of Allah and he/she who doesn’t, their example is of like an alive and a dead. (Bukhari)
Abu Huraira said that Rasool Allah said, “The angels look for those who do Zikr of Allah on the paths. When they find those who are doing Zikr of Allah then they call each other, “Come, your desired has been found.” Then those angels cover those are doing Zikr of Allah up to the skies of this world with their wings. And Allah Rabbul Izzat says about them to those angels “What are my slave doing?” Though Allah knows more than those angels. The angels say, “Those people are doing your Tasbeeh, Tahmeed, and Tamjeed.” Rab Ta’ala says, “Have they seen me?” The angels say, “We swear by your pure Entity, they have not seen you.” Rab Ta’ala says to them, “If they had seen me then what would be their state?” The angels say, “If they could’ve seen you then they would do your Tamjeed and your Tasbeeh even more."
Rab Ta’ala says, “What slaves are asking from me?” The angels say, “They are asking for Jannat from you.” Rab Ta’ala says, “Have they seen Jannat?” The angels say, “We swear by Your Pure Entity, they have not seen Jannat.” Rab Ta’ala says, “If they had seen Jannat then what would be their state?” The angels say, “If these people had seen jannat then their greed, desire, and inclination for it would increase. Rab Ta’ala says, “What else are they doing?” The angels say, “They are seeking refuge.” Rab Ta’ala says, “From what are they seeking refuge?” The angels say, “They are seeking refuge from Hell.” Rab Ta’ala says, “Have they seen Hell?” The angels say, “Oh Rab, we swear by Your Pure Entity, they have not seen it.” Rab Ta’ala, “If they had seen it then what would be their state?” The angels say, “If they had seen it then they would run even further away from it and fear it even more.
Rab Ta’ala says, “angels, Be witnesses that I have forgiven them.” An angel says, “There is one person amongst them who is not part of those who do Zikr, he is there for some necessity of his/her.” Rab Ta’ala says, “These are such people that even those sitting among them are not deprived.” (Bukhari)
Anas narrated that Rasool Allah said, “When you pass by gardens of paradise, eat fruits of them. The Sahaba said, “What are the gardens of Paradise?” He said, “The gatherings of Zikr.” (Tirmizi)
Abu Huraira narrated Abu Saeed Khudri said that Rasool Allah said, “Whenever a Jama'at (a group of people) sits for Zikr of Allah, the angels surround it. Blessing covers that Jama'at. And peace and calm descends on them. And Allah mentions them to the angels present in HIS court. (Muslim)
Ameer Muaviah narrated that the Rasool Allah passed by a Jama'at and asked them, “Why have you gathered here?” Some people of the Jammat replied, “We have gathered here for the Zikr and Hamd of Allah because by guiding us towards Islam He did favor on us. Rasool Allah said, “By Allah, have you gathered only for this (purpose)?” They said, “By Allah, we have gathered here only for such purpose. Rasool Allah said, “I did not give you oath because of any imputation (doubt) rather it is because Jibraeel came to me and told me that Allah Azzawajal boasts of you in the gathering of the angels. (Muslim)
Abdullah Bin Abbas narrated that Rasool Allah said, “The Shaitan sticks to the heart of the child of Adam. When he does Zikr of Allah, he (the Shaitan) runs away from him. And when the child of Adam becomes careless from the Zikr of Allah, the Shaitan begins to put was-wasah (evil suggestions) into his heart. (Bukhari)
Abdullah Bin Umar narrated that Rasool Allah said, “Don’t have a conversation [without] Zikr of Allah. Because talking too much without Zikr of Allah is the reason for the heart’s hardness and wretchedness. And that person becomes distant from Allah in whose heart there is wretchedness. (Tirmizi)
Abudullah Bin Bisr narrated that one person asked, “Ya Rasool Allah! There are many commands on me of Islam. Tell me of such a thing which I may hold on to steadfast. Rasool Allah replied, “Always keep your tongue wet from Zikr of Allah.” (Tirmizi)
Abdullah Bin Bisr narrated that a villager came to the Holy Court of Rasool Allah and asked, “Which man is the best?” Rasool Allah said, “It is the luck and good-fortune of that person whose life is long and his deeds are good.” He asked, “Ya Rasool Allah! Which deed is the best?” Rasool Allah said, “Your tongue be wet from Zikr of Allah when you part from this world. (Tirmizi)
Muaaz bin Jabal narrated that Rasool Allah said, “The people of Jannat will only regret that moment which had been empty of Zikr of Allah.” (Beheqi)
Mention of Dhikr in the Qur'an
Dhikr is mentioned in many places in the Holy Qur'an, and in most verses, what was meant by the word dhikr is tasbih, glorifying; takbir, exalting; tahmid, praising; and praising and praying upon the Prophet .
Allah said in Surat al-Baqara, 152: "Remember Me and I will remember you." [2:152]
He said in Surat ali cImran, 41, "...and remember your Lord much and glorify Him in the evening and in the early morning." And again, 191, "Those who remember Allah while standing, sitting, and lying on their sides..." [3:41, 191]
He said in Surat al-Racd, 28, "Those who believe, and whose hearts find their rest in the remembrance of Allah--for, verily, in the remembrance of Allah hearts do find their rest." [13:28]
And He said in Surat al-Ah zab, 35, "...and men who remember Allah much and women who remember Him..." And again, 41,42, "O you who believe! Remember Allah with much remembrance; and glorify Him morning and evening." [33: 35, 41-42]
There are many, many other verses of Qur'an mentioning dhikr. Imam Nawawi said in his book, "Futahat ar-Rabbani cala-l- Adhkar an-Nawawiyya," vol. 1, p. 106-109, "All scholars of Islam have agreed on the acceptance and permissibility of Dhikr by heart and by tongue, for the adult men and women, for children, for the one who has ablution, and for the one without ablution; even for the woman during her menses. Moreover, dhikr is allowed by all scholars in the form of tasbih, tahmid, takbir and praising and praying for the Prophet ".
Dhikr polishes the heart and is the source of the Divine breath that revives the dead spirits by filling them with the Blessings of Allah, decorating them with His Attributess, and bringing them from a state of heedlessness to the state of complete wakefulness. If we keep busy with Dhikrullah, happiness and peace will be granted to us. Dhikr is the key to happiness, the key to joy, and the key to Divine Love.
Mention of Dhikr in the Sunnah
According to Bukhari, Abu Musa al-Ashcari related that the Prophet said, "The difference between the one who makes dhikr and the one who doesn't make dhikr is like the difference between the living and the dead."
Tirmidhi narrated from Anas (r) that the Prophet said, "If you pass by the Paradises of Heavens stay there." They asked, "Ya Rasul-Allah, what are the Paradises of Heavens?" He said, "The associations of Dhikr!"
Bukhari narrated in his book from Abu Huraira that the Prophet said, "Allah, Almighty and Exalted, has angels who seek the people of Dhikr. If they find the people of Dhikr they encompass them until they reach the first heaven. And Allah asks his angels, 'What are my servants doing?' The angels say, 'O Allah, they are praising You and glorifying You and they are making Dhikr.' Allah says, 'Did they see Me?' The angels answer, 'No, they didn't see You.' Then Allah asks, 'How would it be if they were to see Me?' The angels reply, 'O Allah, if they were to see You, they would be making more praise of You and more glorification of You and more Dhikr of You.' And Allah asks 'What are they asking for?' The angels say, 'They are asking for Your Paradise.' Allah asks, 'Did they see My Paradise?' The angels answer, 'No, Our Lord.' Allah continues, 'How would it be if they saw My Paradise?' The angels reply, 'They would be more attracted and more eager to reach it.' Then Allah asks them, 'Of what are they afraid?' And the angels say, 'They are afraid of hellfire.' and Allah asks, 'How would it be if they saw my Hellfire?' and they reply, 'They would be running more and more away from it and asking more and more protection from it.' Then Allah said,' I am making you all My witnesses: that I am forgiving them of all their sins.' Then one angel asked, 'O our Lord, there is among these people one who is not from them, he came only to ask for something from one of them.' Allah said, 'Those are my beloved ones who are making My Dhikr. Anyone who comes into their circle will be forgiven, and I am forgiving him.'"
In Bukhari and Muslim it is narrated from Abu Huraira that the Prophet said, "As my servant thinks about Me so will I be for him. I am with him if he will remember Me. If he calls on Me in himself I will call him in Myself, and if he calls on Me in a group of people, I mention him in a better group in My presence. If he approaches Me one handspan, I will approach him one arm's length; if he approaches Me one arm's length, I will approach him by a cubit; if he comes to Me walking, I will come to him running."
Tirmidhi and Ibn Majah narrated on the authority of Abi Darda that the Prophet said, "Do you want me to tell you of your best deeds, and the most honored and praised and sanctified to Your Lord, and the highest in its reward; better than spending gold and better than meeting your enemy and cutting their necks in the jihad?" They said, "Yes, Ya Rasulallah." He said, "Dhikrullah."
The Prophet said, "Everything has its polish and the polish of hearts is dhikrullah."
Mu'adh bin Jabal (r) said, "Nothing saves you from Allah's punishment except Dhikrullah."
There are many, many other hadith about the benefits and blessings of Dhikr such that it is impossible to quote all of them here.
From the Sayings of Imams and Scholars about Dhikr
Ibn Abbas (r) said "Allah, Almighty and Exalted, put a limit on all the obligations that He ordered human beings except for Dhikr. For it there is no limit."
Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya said in his book, Al-Wabil as-Sa'ib, p. 52, "There is no doubt that the heart oxidizes, just as copper and silver oxidize. Its polishing is the dhikr, which will make it like a white mirror. The oxidation of the heart is due to heedlessness and sin. Its polishing is by means of two actions: repentance and dhikr. If someone's heart is cloudy, the reflections of images will be unclear, he will see falsehood as truth and truth in the image of falsehood (batil). When there is too much oxidization on the heart, the heart will be darkened, and in the darkness the images of the Truth and Reality never appear. The best way to polish it is through Dhikrullah."
Ibn cAta'illah as-Sakandari said, "By Dhikr you leave behind heedlessness and forgetfulness, and you keep your heart Present with Allah, Almighty and Exalted. The best way to approach His Presence is by reciting the name 'Allah,' in the heart or on the tongue, or by reciting any of His Names." [Miftah al-Falah, p. 4]
Abul Qasim al-Qushayri said, "Dhikr is the strongest support in the way of Allah, 'Azza wa Jall. No one can reach the Divine Presence except by continuing to recite Dhikr." [Risalat al-Qushayriyya]
Mulay al-cArabi ad-Darqawi said, "Do not say, 'I am nothing'; neither say, 'I am something.' Do not say: 'I need such and such a thing'; nor yet: 'I need nothing.' But say: 'Allah,' and you will see marvels." [Letters of a Sufi Master]
We see from what has been mentioned that all guides and perfect shaikhs advised the seeker in the Way of Allah to make continuous dhikr in all states of their lives and to keep the company of the people in associations of Dhikr. We see that the Holy Qur'an and the Sunnah of the Prophet (s) and the scholars are all in accordance on this matter.
The Types of Dhikr
Dhikr can be can be done both silently or aloud. The Prophet encouraged people to do both kinds. Among the scholars of shari'ah and the Sufi shaikhs, some preferred the loud dhikr and some preferred the silent dhikr.
Bukhari narrated that Abu Huraira (r) reported that the Prophet said, "If My servant mentions Me in himself, I will mention him in Myself. If he mentions Me in a group, I will mention him in a group in My presence." We understand from this hadith that to mention Allah in a group indicates loud dhikr. Some scholars determined from this that using loud dhikr is permitted.
Bukhari narrated in his book of hadith, that Ibn 'Abbas (r) said, "In the time of the Prophet the people used to raise their voices in Dhikr."
Bukhari narrated in his book of hadith, that Abu Ma'bad (r), the freed slave of Ibn 'Abbas (r), said: "Ibn 'Abbas told me, 'In the lifetime of the Prophet ,it was the custom to celebrate Allah's praises aloud after the obligatory congregational prayers.'" Ibn 'Abbas (r) continued, "When I heard the Dhikr, I would know that the congregational prayer had ended."
Imam Ahmad, Abu Dawud and Tirmidhi related that as-Sa'ib (r) preported that the Prophet said, "Jibril came to me and ordered me to order my Companions to raise their voices in takbir."
It is narrated by Bukhari and Muslim and mentioned by Jalaluddin as-Suyuti, from other collections, that 'Ali bin Abi Talib (r) said, "I asked the Prophet one time, 'O Messenger of Allah, guide me to the shortest way to Allah's Presence, and the easiest way to worship, and the best way for Allah, Almighty and Exalted. The Prophet said, 'O 'Ali, you have to be continuously making Dhikrullah, silently and aloud.' I replied, 'O Prophet ,all human beings are making dhikr. Give me something special.' The Prophet said, 'O 'Ali, the best of what I, and all prophets before me, said is, la ilaha illallah. If all the heavens and earth were placed on one side of the balance and la ilaha illallah were placed in the other, la ilaha illallah would be heavier. Judgment Day will never come as long as there are people on this earth saying la ilaha illallah.' Then I said, 'How should I recite.' The Prophet said, 'Close your eyes and listen to me reciting la ilaha ill-Allah three times. Then you say it three times and I will listen to you.' Then the Prophet said it and I repeated it in a loud voice."
In the narration of Imam Ahmad and Tabarani this hadith is continued, describing how the Prophet taught his Companions the dhikr. "'Ibada bin Samit said that the Prophet said, 'Is there any stranger among you?' And we said, 'No, Ya Rasul-Allah.' He said, 'Close the door.' Then he said, 'Raise your hand and repeat after me La ilaha illallah' We raised our hand and said, la ilaha illallah. Then the Prophet said, 'Praise be to Allah that He sent me to this world with this kalimah, and He ordered me with it, and He promised me the Paradise with it, and He never changes His Promise.' Then the Prophet said, 'Be happy! Allah has forgiven you.'"
Jalaladin as-Suyuti mentioned in an article called "Natijat al-Fikr fi Jahri-dh-Dhikr," the Benefits of Loud Dhikr, twenty-five authentic hadiths which mention doing loud dhikr.
Allah mentioned in Surat al-Acraf, 205, "And remember thy Lord in thy self with humility and fear, and without loudness of speech, in the mornings and evenings; and be not of the neglectful." [7:205]
Imam Ahmad narrated, "Abu Huraira reported that the Prophet said that Allah says, 'I am with my servant when he remembers Me and by his remembrance of Me his lips move." Commenting on this hadith, Imam Nawawi said, "Allah is with the one who remembers Him and calls Him in his heart, and calls Him on his tongue, but we must realize that the dhikr of the heart is more perfect. The rememberer made dhikr of the tongue in order to reflect the occurrence of the dhikr in his heart. When the love of Allah and His Remembrance overwhelms the heart and the spirit, the tongue is moved and the seeker brought near."
Sheikh Amin al-Kurdi said in The Enlightenment of Hearts (Tanwir al-Qulub) p. 522: "The dhikr by tongue, which combines sounds and letters, is not easy to perform at all times, because buying and selling and other such activities altogether divert one's attention from such dhikr. The contrary is true of the dhikr by heart, which is named that way in order to signify its freedom from letters and sounds. In that way nothing distracts one from his dhikr, as the poet says:
With the heart remember Allah, secretly from creation, wordlessly and speechlessly.
That remembrance is best of all: out of it flowed the sayings of the saints.
"That is why our Naqshbandi masters have chosen the dhikr of the heart. Moreover, the heart is the place where the Forgiver casts his gaze, and the seat of belief, and the receptacle of secrets, and the source of lights. If it is sound, the whole body is sound, and if it is unsound, the whole body is unsound, as was made clear for us by the chosen Prophet .
"Something that confirms this was narrated on the authority of cA'isha (r): 'Allah favors dhikr above dhikr seventyfold (meaning, silent dhikr over loud dhikr). On the Day of Resurrection, God will bring back human beings to His account, and the Recording Angels will bring what they have recorded and written, and Allah Almighty will say: See if something that belongs to my servant was left out? The angels will say: We left nothing out concerning what we have learnt and recorded, except that we have assessed it and written it. Allah will say: O my servant, I have something good of yours for which I alone will reward you, it is your hidden remembrance of Me.' Bayhaqi narrated it.
"Also on the authority of cA'isha: 'The dhikr not heard by the Recording Angels equals seventy times the one they hear.' Bayhaqi narrates it."
The Methods of Dhikr, Remembrance of Allah
||There are a number of hadiths which are directly relevent to the methods of dhikr used by various Sufi turuq. I have grouped them below, under the titles "Posture is Irrelevent to Dhikr," "Dhikr in Assembly and in a Circle," "Dhikr Saying `La ilaha illa Allah,'" "Dhikr by saying `Allah,'" and "No Limits to doing Dhikr."
Posture is Irrelevent to Dhikr
The Qur'an says in meaning:
Lo! In the creation of the Heavens and the earth and in the night and day are tokens (of His sovereignty) for men of understanding, such as remember Allah, in standing, sitting, and reclining. [Qur'an 3:190-191]What this part of the Qur'an establishes is that posture is not important in performing dhikr - standing, sitting, or reclining. Presumably other postures are also okay, so criticisms about posture during dhikr is irrelevent.
Dhikr in Assembly and in a Circle
The following ahadith is about those Sahaba who did dhikr in assembly and in a circle, and were praised by Rasulullah (s.a.w.) for it:
Hadhrat Abu Sa`eed Khudri relates that once Hadhrat Mu`awiyah visited the mosque and saw a circle (of reciters). He asked,
[From Sahih Muslim, and also in the Riyadh us-Saliheen of Imam Nawawi.]
"What has made you sit?"
They said, "We have assembled here to remember Allah."
He [Mu`awiyah] said, "By Allah you did not sit except for this purpose?"
They affirmed, "We did not sit except for this."
Hadhrat Mu`awiyah then told them, "I did not ask you to swear on account of any malice. None of you can match me for scanty narration of the Prophet (s.a.w.) (and as such have narrated very few traditions about him). The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.) once visited a gathering of his companions and inquired,
`What has made you assemble here?'
They answered, `We have gathered to remember Allah and praise Him for having led us to Islam and granted this favour to us.'
The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.) inquired, `Do you affirm by Allah that it is so?'
The Holy Prophet's Companions affirmed, `By Allah we are sitting here for this purpose only.'
He [the Prophet s.a.w.] said, `I have not put you on oath on account of any doubt, but angel Jibreel had visited me and told me that Allah felt proud of you among the angels.'"
Here is another hadith, which shows the benefit of doing dhikr in assembly.
Ibn `Umar reported, "The Prophet, peace be upon him, said, `When you pass by a garden of paradise, avail yourselves of it.' The Companions asked, `What are the gardens of Paradise, O Messenger of Allah?" The Prophet, peace be upon him, replied, `The assemblies of dhikr. There are some angels of Allah who go about looking for such assemblies of dhikr, and when they find them they surround them.'"[Quoted from Fiqh us-Sunnah compiled by As-Sayyid Sabiq, vol. 4, ch. 6.]
There is also this important hadith about dhikr in general, and dhikr in an assembly:
On the authority of Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him), who said that the Prophet (may the blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) said: Allah the Almighty says:
[It was related by al-Bukhari, and also by Muslim, at-Tirmidhi and Ibn Majah. From "Forty Hadith Qudsi," selected and translated by Ezzeddin Ibrahim and Denys Johnson-Davies (Dar Al-Koran Al-Kareem, Lebanon, 1980), hadith no. 15.]
I am as My servant thinks I am. I am with him when he makes mention of Me. If he makes mention of Me to himself, I make mention of him to Myself; and if he makes mention of Me in an assembly, I make mention of him in an assembly better than it. And if he draws near to Me a hand's span, I draw near to him an arm's length; and if he draws near to Me an arm's length, I draw near to him a fathom's length. And if he comes to Me walking, I go to him at speed.
Doing Dhikr by saying "La ilaha illa Allah"
One of the ways of doing dhikr is by saying "La ilaha illa Allah." Here are some hadiths which mention this....
Hazrat Jabir relates that he heard the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.) having said:
[From Tirmidhi, also related in the Riyadh us-Saliheen of Imam Nawawi]
"The best remembrance of Allah is `La ilaha illa Allah.'"
Another hadith about saying `La ilaha illa Allah' for dhikr is this....
Abu Hurairah reported that the Prophet, peace be upon him, said, "Renew your faith." "How can we renew our faith?" they asked. The Prophet, peace be upon him, said, "Say always, `La ilaha illa Allah'."[From Ahmad, with a sound isnad. Quoted in Fiqh us-Sunnah compiled by as-Sayyid Sabiq, vol. 4, ch. 6.]
Doing Dhikr by saying "Allah"
Regarding using the names of Allah in dhikr, the hadith I am aware of at present regarding this topic is the following....
The Prophet said, "The Hour will not arise before `Allah, Allah' is no longer said on earth."[Sahih Muslim]
No Limits to doing Dhikr
Now, some criticize those on the Sufi path for doing too much dhikr. However, Ibn Abbas (r.a.) is related as having said there is no limit to dhikr.
The following quote I took from the book "Fiqh us-Sunnah" by as-Sayyid Sabiq. The saying of Ibn Abbas goes....
Ali b. Abi Talha relates that Ibn Abbas said, "All obligations imposed upon man by Allah are clearly marked and one is exempted from them in the presence of a genuine cause. The only exception is the obligatin of dhikr. Allah has set no specific limits for it, and under no circumstances is one allowed to be negligent of it. We are commanded to `remember Allah standing, sitting, and reclining on your sides,' [Qur'an 3:191] in the morning, during the day, at sea or on land, on journey or at home, in poverty and in prosperity, in sickness or in health, openly and secretly, and, in fact, at all times throughout one's life and in all circumstances."Dhikr is a very blessed practice, praised in the Qur'an and hadiths.
May Allah help bring us satisfaction in our hearts through remembrance of Him.
Say: "Truly Allah leaves to stray whom He will, but He guides to Himself those who turn to Him in penitence -- Those who believe, and whose hearts find satisfaction in the remebrance of Allah, for without doubt in the remembrance of Allah do hearts find satisfaction. [Qur'an 13:27-28]