Zikr. ( Sent by Habibies. )
Islam stands for self-surrender and submission to God. It calls on men to fashion their lives according to the Divine Will. It wants them to be loyal to Him in all circumstance and in every sphere of their conduct, personal as well as social. This can be possible only when our mind’s eye is fixed permanently on the Almighty, and the consciousness of His lover and Glory overshadows all our thoughts and actions.
It is, as such, one of the special teachings of Islam that we remember God much and often and keep our tongues fresh with the recital of His names, praises and attributes. It is an excellent and well-tried method for producing in our hearts His love and the consciousness of His Greatness. It is natural for a man’s heart to be filled with the love of anyone whose splendour and excellence his mind dwells all the time.
In any way, it is a fact that frequent remembrance kindles the flame of love and lends strength to it and so also that the life of complete loyalty and submission to God which is the essence of Islam can be possible only through Divine love. It is love alone that makes one the willing bondsman of another.
As a Persian verse says:
What love is?
Say: “To be the beloved’s bondsman.”
Consequently, a very great stress has been laid in the Quran and by the Prophet on Zikr (God remembrance).
The Quran reads:
O ye who believe! Celebrate the Praises of God, and do this often; and glorify Him morning and evening. (XXXIII: 41-42)
And celebrate the Praises of God much and often: that ye may prosper. (LXII: 10)
There are two things, which lead one to forget God when one gets absorbed in them. These are wealth and family. So the Quran names them specifically and warns Muslims against becoming a prisoner to them.
O ye who believe! Let not your riches or your children divert you from the remembrance of God. If any act thus, the loss is their own. (LXII: 9)
The five daily prayers (Namaz) are obligatory for Muslims. These prayers, certainly, are a means of remembering God and a very good one too. But it would not be proper for a Muslim to stop at them considering that if he had offered the Namaz he had done all that was required of him by way of God remembrance and there was no need to do anything further. It is a clear commandment of Islam that, in addition to Namaz, one should also not neglect Zikr in whatever state one may be. It is said in Sura-I-Nissa:
When ye pass (congregational) prayers, celebrate God’s Praises standing, sitting down or lying down. (IV: 103)
Thus, even those engaged in Jehad are enjoined to carry out the Zikr of God keenly and enthusiastically. Says Sura-I-Anfal:
O ye who believe! When ye meet a force, be firm and call God in remembrance much (and often); that ye may prosper. (VIII: 45)
This verse, as the verse from Sura-I-Jum’a we have quoted earlier, “And celebrate the Praises of God much and often: that ye may prosper”, shows that Zikr, by no means, constitutes an unimportant factor in the success and felicity of the believers. As against it, the verse from Sura-I-Munafiqoon we mentioned a few lines ago candidly declares that those who neglect the Zikr do a very wrong thing. They are at a great loss. In Sura-I-Ra’ad, further, it is stated as a characteristic of Zikr that it imparts peace and tranquility to the mind and the soul.
For without a doubt in the remembrance of God do hearts find satisfaction. (XIII: 28)
It is related that once the Prophet was asked who would be the most exalted among the servants of God on the Last Day. The Prophet replied, “Those who do the Zikr of God be they men or women”.
Hazrat Abu Moosa relates from the Prophet that, “Those who remember God and those who do not are like those who are alive and those who are dead (i.e. those who remember God and celebrate His praises are alive while those who don’t are dead)”.
Relates Hazrat Abdullah bin Omar that the Prophet once said. ‘There is a polish for everything; for the hearts it is the Zikr of Allah. Nothing is more effective then Zikr for deliverance from Divine chastisement.”
It should be understood clearly that the real meaning of Zikr is that a man should never be without the thought of God. In whatever circumstances he may be placed, with whatever thing he may be occupied, he must not allow himself to become unmindful of God, His laws and ordinances. Though for this it is not necessary that the tongue should also always be repeating His names, attributes etc., such a state of permanent and all-pervading God consciousness is commonly found only in devout servants of the Lord who succeed in producing within themselves and everlasting awareness of God and a feeling of infinite devotion to Him through frequent Zikr. There is developing a tendency among some of the modern educated people to hold the Zikr as futile. This is a grave folly. Zikr is a most valuable instrument for forging a living and all-embracing link with God. The Prophet was very clear about its worth and importance.
It is related by Hazrat Abdullah bin Busr that once a man presented himself before the Prophet and said, “O Prophet of God, there are numerous teachings of Islam. Please tell me something which I may hold fast forever”. The Prophet replied, “Keep your tongue wet always with the Zikr of Allah.
Another Tradition related by Hazrat Abu Huraira reads; “God says, ‘when anyone remembers Me and his lips move in My Zikr, I am by his side’”.
Some Zikr formulas of the Prophet
The value and importance of Zikr would have become apparent from the Quranic verses and Traditions we have just quoted. We have seen how Zikr of Allah promotes and strengthens Divine love in our hearts. Below we give some of the favourite Zikr formulas of the holy Prophet.
Foremost Relates Hazrat Jabeer from the Prophet that: “The best of all Zikrs is the Zikr of .”
Narrates Hazrat Abu Huraira that the Prophet once remarked: “When anyone recites from the depth of his heart the gates of the heavens open for the Kalima till it reaches the seventh heaven provided, of course, that the devotee abstains from the major sins.”
According to another tradition the Prophet is reported to have said, “Once Moses begged the Lord to tell him something through which he could do His Zikr. The Lord told him to do so through the Kalima of upon which Mose said, “This is what every one does. I want something special. Came the reply, ‘If the seven heavens and all the heavenly creatures and the seven climes on the earth and all that is contained in them are placed on one side of the balance and the Kalima of one the other, the later shall turn out to be heavier.”
Such, indeed, is the splendour of People, unfortunately, take it to be a mere phrase. The present writer himself has heard it from an inspired devotee of the Lord in a moment of rare spiritual feeling that, “If someone with the entire wealth of the world at his command were to tell me to give him one Kalima of recited by me in return for his treasures this humble self shall refuse to do so.”
The Third Kalima Relates Hazarat Sumara bin Jundub that the Prophet once said that of all the spoken words and the Kalimas the most excellent were these four: Narrates Abu Haraira that the Prophet said, “The Kalima of is dearer to me than the entire world on which the sun shines.
This Kalima is most complete and comprehensive and all the aspects of Divine Praise are covered by it. In some Traditions the phrase is also included in it. It occurs after . A revered spiritual mentor used to explain the import of the Kalima to the present writer in following manner:
‘Glory be to God, Free from all faults and blemishes and other things that are not worthy of His Glory . ‘Praise be to God, He is the embodiment of perfection and the center of every kind of virtue, (therefore) all praise is for Him, and when such is His Glory that He is absolutely blemishless and all the wonderful virtues are assembled in Him, He alone is our Lord and the sole object of our heart’s desire . ‘There is no God save Him, We are His own helpless slaves and of no one else . ‘God is Great, He is Most Powerful, Almighty. We can never acquit ourselves of our duties to Him as His slaves nor can we ever gain nearness onto Him except that he himself blesses us with His grace.
‘There is no power or virtue but in God.”
A well-known Tradition of the Prophet has it that the Prophet’s beloved daughter (and Hazrat Ali’s wife), Hazrat Fatima, used to perform all the domestic duties with her own hands. She had even to draw water from the well and to carry it home and to grind the corn in the millstone. One day she begged the holy Prophet to provide her with a domestic servant upon which the Prophet observed, “I will tell you of something that will serve you better than a domestic servant. Recite 33 times, 33 times, and 34 times after each Namaz and on retiring to bed. This will be of greater value to you than a servant.”
Another Tradition says, “Whoever will recite after each Namaz 33 times, 33 times, and 34 times, and, at the end of it, the Kalima of (There is no God but one God. He is alone. No partner hath. He Him belongs sovereignty and unto Him belongs Praise and He is all-Powerful) all his sins will be forgiven even if they be as profuse as the foam of the sea.”
Subhan Allah we Behamdhi
It is related by Hazrat Abu Huraira that the Prophet said, “He who will recite a hundred times morning and evening regularly no one shall take with him a greater provision of virtue to the Hereafter than him save the person who recited it even more.”
Another Tradition related again by Hazrat Abu Huraira says: “Two phrases sit very lightly on the tongue but are very heavy in the Balance of Deeds and God loves them very much. These are .” And .
There are many other Zikr-formulas commended by the Prophet. But the few we have given here are quite sufficient for anyone to adopt for regular recitation.
As regards the reward and recompense in the Hereafter promised in the Traditions it needs be noted that there is not fixed measure or a standard yardstick for it. Whoever will recite a Kalima of Zikr sincerely and with no other object than the propitiation of God will, Insha Allah, merit the full reward no matter how many times and at what hour he does so. But when a spiritual guide prescribes a Zikr for anyone for a particular purpose like the kindling of Divine love or the awakening of the heart and the creation of a permanent consciousness of God or for the eradication of a moral or spiritual ailment it is necessary to follow the routine he lays down and to do the Zikr as many times as he tells. Without this the desired results cannot be obtained by the devotee. For example, if a person recites the Sura of Al-Hamd-o-Sharif or any other Sura of the Quran as an act of religious merit there is no harm if he does so once in the morning, once at noon, once in the afternoon, once in the evening and couple of times in the night, but if he wants to learn the Sura by heart, also, he will have to recite it scores of times during one sitting. Otherwise he will not be able to memorize it. This is exactly the difference between an ordinary Zikr aimed only at Divine reward and the special Zikr which spiritual mentors prescribe to disciples for the cure of a spiritual morbidity or as a means for the attainment of any other objective of a similar category. Many people get caught in confusion because of not knowing this difference. This is why these few lines have been added here.
The reading of the Quran:
The reading of the Quran is also a very good Zikr. A Tradition says:
“The superiority of the Word of God over any other word is the same as the superiority of God over any of His creature.”
And Hazrat Abdullah bin Masood relates from the Prophet that: “He who reads one letter of the Quran for him there is one virtue and the reward on this virtue is equal to that on ten other virtues. When I say this I do not mean that is one letter but that is one letter, another and the third.”
Yet another Tradition, as related by Hazrat Abu Imama, reads:
“O People, read the Quran. On the Day of Judgment the Quran will intercede for those who will have been reading it (in their lives).”
1. There is no need for those in whose hearts Zikr of Allah has come to dwell permanently as a result of constant endeavour and become a part of their existence to follow a set routine or to make a special effort in this respect. But if common people like us want to strengthen their bond with God and to partake of its auspiciousness and blessedness they must practise the Zikr at a fixed time and in a fixed number according to their individual circumstances. Better still, they should seek the advice of a spiritual guide while choosing a Zikr formula, for themselves. Or, they can select a Kalima from the Kalimas we have given above which may be most suited to their temperament. Time should also be set aside daily for the reading of the Quran.
2. As far as possible, the meaning of the Kalima used for Zikr should be kept in mind during the recitation. The Zikr should be done with an active awareness of Divine Glory and Magnificence and with the feeling and the belief that God was near, right there, listening to every word that was being recited.
3. Wazu is not necessary for Zikr. It can be done freely without the Wazu. The reward will not suffer because of it. But the effulgence and spiritual effectiveness of the Zikr is very much enhanced when it is done with Wazu.
4. It has been seen earlier that the third Kalima is the most comprehensive one among all the Kalimas. If it is adopted for recitation it can fulfill all the needs. This writer has seen that spiritual mentors generally prescribe it to their disciples along with Durood Sharif and Istighfar.