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Monday, December 25, 2017

Dhikr/remembrance of Allah is a Quranic concept

One may understand dhikr to be a practice mentioned in a few hadith. Mostly in reports that are rare/gharib or hasan/good. So how can we build on something on weak foundations? One speaker even claimed that there is no benefit in sitting in a gathering and repeating statements. We are going to look at all these opinions and answer them all.


Dhikr means divine remembrance. It can be done verbally or internally. It can be done in solitude or in a gathering.

The word dhikr is incorrectly spelt and pronounced in the indo-pak world. Zikr is also a common statement used in the Turkish region too. The problem is when we mispronounce the word is changes its meaning from remembrance to focus.

Although this is semantics and might be a waste of time to some, I like to use the original pronouncement of the word. To avoid possible misunderstandings of the incorrect usage of the word.

ذكر   turns into  زكر

The first means divine remembrance and the second means focus. So if you pronounce it incorrectly then it changes divine remembrance to focus! Anyway, moving swiftly on!

The original Arabic word has many meanings: remember, recall, speak, talk, name, indicate, etc (Han Wehr p.310). The word dhikr means divine remembrance or 'incessant repetition of certain words or formula in praise of God' (Ibid).'

Different types of dhikr

"There are several types of remembrance. The remembrance of the names of Allah, Mighty and Glorious be He, the remembrance of His attributes, and praising Him and thanking Him. All of these can take the form of saying, for example, 'Glory be to Allah,' 'praise be to Allah,' 'there is no deity except Allah." Purification of the soul various P39.

There are forms of dhikr that can be done silently in the heart. Zakariyah (upon him peace) was told to praise Allah in the morning and evening but he was silent because it was a sign of that he was about to have offspring. This proves that Dhikr can be done internally without words.

Dhikr in all states

ٱلَّذِينَ يَذۡكُرُونَ ٱللَّهَ قِيَـٰمً۬ا وَقُعُودً۬ا وَعَلَىٰ جُنُوبِهِمۡ

"Remember Allah, standing, sitting, and reclining." Quran: 3:191

Imam Tabari (may Allah show him mercy) said standing is prayer, sitting is in testification and reclining is in their sleep. This Quranic passage is also used as proof for the hadra of the Sufis. It can also be understood to be remembering Allah in all states. Thus, this would cover some of the movements in the hadra. 

"The best form of remembrance is the Quran." Purification of the soul various P.40

"This remembrance takes many forms each school of Sufism focuses on a different form of ritual dhikr to enable the seeker to approach the divine presence, varying from individual silent recitation and chanting to vocal group sessions." Sheikh Muhammad Hisham Kabbani Jihad p.131.

The Quran

The meaning of the word dhakar means different things: it can mean male 

وَلَيْسَ ٱلذَّكَرُ كَٱلأُنْثَىٰ

"The male is not similar to the woman." Quran 4:36. Note that this is not that men are superior but when the mother of Maryam prayed for blessed male, she gave birth to Maryam and her mother did not expect that. Yet, Isa/Jesus (upon them peace) was the son of Maryam.

It can mean the Quran 

  ذٰلِكَ نَتْلُوهُ عَلَيْكَ مِنَ الآيَاتِ وَٱلذِّكْرِ ٱلْحَكِيمِ

These are passages recited to you and a wise remembrance." 4:58

إِنْ هُوَ إِلاَّ ذِكْرٌ لِّلْعَالَمِينَ

"It [the Quran] is but a reminder for the universe." 38:87

  إِنَّا نَحْنُ نَزَّلْنَا ٱلذِّكْرَ وَإِنَّا لَهُ لَحَافِظُونَ

"We [Allah] have sent down the remembrance [Quran] and We preserve it." 15:9 This is a promise from Allah that the Quran will always be protected. Also, note the reason why Allah uses the plural Arabic form is because of His majesty. Kings often used the words 'we' out of might.

Importance of dhikr

إِنَّمَا يُرِيدُ ٱلشَّيْطَانُ أَن يُوقِعَ بَيْنَكُمُ ٱلْعَدَاوَةَ وَٱلْبَغْضَآءَ فِي ٱلْخَمْرِ وَٱلْمَيْسِرِ وَيَصُدَّكُمْ عَن ذِكْرِ ٱللَّهِ وَعَنِ ٱلصَّلٰوةِ فَهَلْ أَنْتُمْ مُّنتَهُونَ

"Satan only wants to sow enmity and hatred between you by alcohol and gambling; preventing you from the remembrance of Allah and prayer; are you aware of this?" 5:91 When one is making dhikr he is preventing himself from evil.

Saying bismillah over food

فَكُلُواْ مِمَّا ذُكِرَ ٱسْمُ ٱللَّهِ عَلَيْهِ إِن كُنتُمْ بِآيَاتِهِ مُؤْمِنِينَ

"Mention the name of Allah over it [food] if you are believers of its passages." 6:118

Heart are moved by the mention of Allah

إِنَّمَا ٱلْمُؤْمِنُونَ ٱلَّذِينَ إِذَا ذُكِرَ ٱللَّهُ وَجِلَتْ قُلُوبُهُمْ

"The believers are only those who when Allah is mentioned their heart quake." 7:2

If this is one mention of Allah then how would several mentions of the divine name?

Finding rest and tranquillity

ٱلَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ وَتَطْمَئِنُّ قُلُوبُهُمْ بِذِكْرِ ٱللَّهِ أَلاَ بِذِكْرِ ٱللَّهِ تَطْمَئِنُّ ٱلْقُلُوبُ

"Those who believe; whose hearts find tranquillity the dhikr of Allah. Only by the dhikr of Allah do hearts find rest and tranquillity." 13:28

Said ibn Al-Mussayib was asked by a man when in Mecca, "Tell me a lawful thing in which there is nothing unlawful." He replied, "Remembrance of Allah is a lawful thing in which there is nothing unlawful, and praise of aught else is an unlawful thing in which there is nothing lawful, because your salvation lies in the former and your perdition in the latter." Kashaf Al-Mahjoob by Ali Al-Hujwiri p.87.

Ask the people of remembrance for Knowledge

فَٱسْأَلُواْ أَهْلَ ٱلذِّكْرِ إِن كُنْتُم لاَ تَعْلَمُونَ

"Ask the people of remembrance when you know not." 16:43 This is reference to asking the scholars according to many scholars and notice that the scholars should maintain remembrance.

Not being distracted

رِجَالٌ لاَّ تُلْهِيهِمْ تِجَارَةٌ وَلاَ بَيْعٌ عَن ذِكْرِ ٱللَّهِ وَإِقَامِ ٱلصَّلاَةِ وَإِيتَآءِ ٱلزَّكَـاةِ

"Men who do not allow trade nor selling take them away from the remembrance of Allah, maintaining prayer and giving zakat." 24:37 notice the word order that dhikr is before prayer and giving charity. The obligatory prayer is five times a day but if someone is making the dhikr of Allah can maintain that constantly. Charity is also important but it is not a constant state because people will run out of money but being in a state of dhikr is free!

يٰأَيُّهَا ٱلَّذِينَ آمَنُوۤاْ إِذَا نُودِيَ لِلصَّلاَةِ مِن يَوْمِ ٱلْجُمُعَةِ فَٱسْعَوْاْ إِلَىٰ ذِكْرِ ٱللَّهِ وَذَرُواْ ٱلْبَيْعَ ذَلِكُمْ خَيْرٌ لَّكُمْ إِن كُنتُمْ تَعْلَمُونَ

"O you believe when you are called for prayer on Friday, hasten to the remembrance of Allah, leave trade because that is much better for you, if only you knew." 62:9 This is especially relevant to the Quraysh because their primary economy was trade and when they are told that, the remembrance of Allah is better for them than trade. Then it must cause reflection because even now many people allow their work to take them away from prayer. When work is supposed to support us in our worship and work is not meant to be the end of everything.

يٰأَيُّهَا ٱلَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ لاَ تُلْهِكُمْ أَمْوَالُكُمْ وَلاَ أَوْلاَدُكُمْ عَن ذِكْرِ ٱللَّهِ وَمَن يَفْعَلْ ذَلِكَ فَأُوْلَـٰئِكَ هُمُ ٱلْخَاسِرُونَ

"O believers do not allow your wealth and children from the remembrance of Allah because whoever does that is one of the losers." 63:9 This is another warning because allowing the world to be a distraction from the remembrance of Allah. If they do that then are one of the losers. The losers in the afterlife and in the world because they have lost the opportunity to make dhikr.

Real prayer prevents sin

إِنَّ ٱلصَّلاَةَ تَنْهَىٰ عَنِ ٱلْفَحْشَآءِ وَٱلْمُنْكَرِ وَلَذِكْرُ ٱللَّهِ أَكْبَرُ

"Prayer truly prevents one from obscenity and vileness; yet the remembrance of Allah is greater." 29:45 Prayer that is done correctly with all its inward and outward pillars in place but yet the remembrance of Allah is greater because when one is busy with the dhikr of Allah then this keeps him busy from sin. When one is busy with goodness, they are prevented from evil.

Warning against not making dhikr

فَوَيْلٌ لِّلْقَاسِيَةِ قُلُوبُهُمْ مِّن ذِكْرِ ٱللَّهِ أُوْلَـٰئِكَ فِي ضَلاَلٍ مُّبِينٍ

"Woe betide those who are harsh hearted that do not make the remembrance of Allah; they are clearly misguided." 39:22 Notice that a person who does not make dhikr becomes harsh hearted because he did not make dhikr. The one who makes dhikr correctly will see a change in his heart to become soft hearted.

وَمَن يَعْشُ عَن ذِكْرِ ٱلرَّحْمَـٰنِ نُقَيِّضْ لَهُ شَيْطَاناً فَهُوَ لَهُ قَرِينٌ

"Whoever is devoid from remembrance of the all-Merciful is undone by satan and is one of his companions." 43:36 This is another reminder that the dhikr of Allah has benefits of keeping satan away because it hates the praise of Allah.

ٱسْتَحْوَذَ عَلَيْهِمُ ٱلشَّيْطَانُ فَأَنسَاهُمْ ذِكْرَ ٱللَّهِ أُوْلَـٰئِكَ حِزْبُ الشَّيْطَانِ أَلاَ إِنَّ حِزْبَ الشَّيْطَانِ هُمُ الخَاسِرُونَ

"Satan has mastered because he made them forget the remembrance of Allah; they are the party of satan and are they but those in perpetual loss." 58:19 A party of satan are trying to make people forget the remembrance of Allah. Satan tricks differ depending on the person and one of the subtle tricks is making people delay good actions.

فَذَكِّرْ إِنَّمَآ أَنتَ مُذَكِّرٌ

"Remind; you are but a reminder." 88:21 This passage explains that the Prophet (may Allah bestow peace and blessings upon him) was a reminder, a bringer of glad tiding and a warner etc.

يٰأَيُّهَا ٱلَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ ٱذْكُرُواْ ٱللَّهَ ذِكْراً كَثِيراً وَسَبِّحُوهُ بُكْرَةً وَأَصِيلاً

"O believers remember Allah frequently and praise Him in the morning and evening." 33:41 This is one of the primary passages that we focus on the Quranic narrative of dhikr. Allah the Exalted is commanding us to do a lot and this is reflected in the word remember being the imperative. As well as praising Allah in the morning and evening. This is also a time in which many spiritual paths instruct their adherents to make supplications or wirds.

Abu Al-Abbas Al-Hadrami (may Allah be pleased with him) said, "Maintain constant dhikr and abundance prayers upon the Messenger of Allah (may Allah bestow peace and blessings upon him) it is ascent, upward [trajectory], training to Allah when the individual is not sought a training spiritual guide." (Qawaid Al-Tasawwaf by Sidi Ahmed Zarruq p.78)

فَاذْكُرُونِي أَذْكُرْكُمْ

"Remember Me; I will remember you." 2:152 Ibn 'Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him) said that it means when the servant remembers Allah; Allah remembers by forgiveness. That alone should be enough to inspire one to move to being in a state of remembrance. Imam Al-Maturdi (may Allh show him mercy) gave a few insights to this passage, "Remember me,' by obedience in the world, 'I will remember you,' in the afterlife by pardoning your sins. Remember me in ease and happiness and I will remember you in hardship and distress. Remember me alone and I will remember you in a group of people or I will remember you in a group of angels. Remember me with gratitude of what I have blessed you and I will remember you with increase."

Warning against those who have forgotten

وَاذْكُرْ رَبَّكَ إِذَا نَسِيتَ

"Remember your Lord if you forget."

Abu Bakr Al-Kalabadhi said in Al-Tarif Limadhab Ahl Al-Tasawwaf, "The reality of dhikr is forget everything except what is mentioned in dhikr because of the speech of the Exalted, "Remember your Lord if you forget." (Al-Kahf 18:24) It means forget everything except Allah [then one has achieved] the remembrance of Allah." (p73)

Sahl Al-Tustri said, "I cannot consider a greater tribulation worse than forgetting the Exalted Lord." (Risala Al-Qushayri p.260).


وَاذْكُرُوا اللَّهَ كَثِيراً لَعَلَّكُمْ تُفْلِحُونَ

"Remember Allah frequently to attain salvation." Jummah 62:10. Again, it is in the command order and here it has an interesting word. Falah meaning success but what is success for a believer? Being close to Allah and attaining salvation and dhikr is one of the ways one can move toward his goal.  

In Al-Mufakhir Al-'Aliyyah fi Al-Mithar Al-Shadhali by Sheikh Ahmad ibn Muhammad Al-Shadhali, "O dear brother, [verbally] mentioning is necessary to make dhikr, to be secure from the punishment of Allah in the world and afterlife, cling to it and maintain it. It is to say all praise belongs to Allah, I seek the forgiveness of Allah and there is no might or power except Allah."  (p.59)

Al-Harith Al-Muhasabi said in Risala Al-Mustadrisheen, "Be constant in remembrance of Allah to achieve closeness." (p.109)


وَٱلذَّاكِـرِينَ ٱللَّهَ كَثِيراً وَٱلذَّاكِرَاتِ أَعَدَّ ٱللَّهُ لَهُم مَّغْفِرَةً وَأَجْراً عَظِيماً

This Quranic passage should be enough to spur anyone on. "The men and women who remember Allah; Allah  prepared forgiveness and a great reward for them." 33:35 This is a special type of mercy because it is prepared for them or ready for them. So what do you get for all this effort? A great forgiveness is granted to you as well a reward! Imam Al-Samarqandi says their forgiveness is in the world and reward in the afterlife.


الَّذِينَ هُمْ عَلَى صَلَاتِهِمْ دَائِمُونَ

"Those who are constant in prayer." 70:23 How are you constantly in prayer? In supplication and praise of Allah the Exalted because the original meaning of prayer is supplication/dua and supplication constant praise.

فَإِذَا قَضَيۡتُم مَّنَـٰسِكَڪُمۡ فَٱذۡڪُرُواْ ٱللَّهَ كَذِكۡرِكُمۡ

"When you have performed your holy rites remember Allah." Quran: Al-Baqarah 2:200 Holy rites meaning once hajj is completed, remember Allah (the Exalted). Thank Allah for such a great bounty of completing Hajj and remember Him by praise.

Realities of Sufism by Sheikh Abdul Qadir 'Isa said, "The Sufi remembers his Lord in all his moments, thus, he finds expansion in his chest, contentment in his heart and loftiness in his spirit." (p.96)

Dhikr better than wealth and children?

ٱلْمَالُ وَٱلْبَنُونَ زِينَةُ ٱلْحَيَاةِ ٱلدُّنْيَا وَٱلْبَاقِيَاتُ ٱلصَّالِحَاتُ خَيْرٌ عِندَ رَبِّكَ ثَوَاباً وَخَيْرٌ أَمَلاً

"Money and offspring are the beauty of life yet the everlasting good actions are better with your Lord and a greater hope." Al-Kahf 18:46. What are these everlasting good works? Ibn 'Abbas says that they are the five prescribed prayers. Supplications according to Sulayman, Suhaib and Khabbab. Imam Al-Badawi mentions them as the five pillars. Imam Al-Samarqandi, Imam Al-Nasafi and others say it is to say Subhanullah, Al-Hamdullah and Allah Akbar 

سبحان الله والحمد لله ولا إله إلا الله والله أكبر

Unmarried people often wonder about having children and here they are giving a genuine recourse is the repetition of these blessed words. Ponder how you have something better much better than children and money. Because they fade and go away, eventually but actions done sincerely for Allah remain forever. Say them whenever you feel the pain of not having children or wealth.

Methods of dhikr

Dhikr can be made verbally on the tongue, internally in heart or by one actions. In a group or alone.

Following a path: Results of dhikr

Sheikh Al-Alawi Al-Mustghanimi said in Knowledge of God, "His [Allah] is not recited except when the door is closed and the veil is lowered. When He opens the door to you, delight in the presence and flee from remembrance to witnessing the remembered." (p.174)

The result of being in a gathering of dhikr is a feeling of being uplifted. However, if one goes into a gathering with an expectation of something then he might not get anything. The best manners is to go for the sake of Allah (the Exalted) and not for any ulterior motive. People who make dhikr for a 'buzz' are missing the point.

Dhikr is an action that can refresh the person by being present with others. When a person remember Allah alone he only affects himself when he with others then they are all affected by each other. Group dhikr has a power that is unlike being on one's own. When you are in a group, the transformative effect is palpable. The soul can be transported and there is a spiritual uplifting. The sounder ones intention the better the experience.

Though the power of dhikr only occurs when one is clean from sins, as much as one is able, outside gatherings. Otherwise, the dhikr does not have the desired effect.


Because I am concerned about correct pronunciation I would like to see gathering in which the Quran is recited correctly in Arabic tones and not sung like a pop song! 

Also, correct rules of the pronouncement of the letters because this is often left for wanting.

Is Salawat better than reciting the Quran?

This is a silly argument but because some have spoken about it, it needs clarification. First of all, one should not compare the Quran to anything because it is unfavorable to what it is being compared to. As for the aspect the Salawat is accepted and we are unaware if other actions are accepted is falsehood. We do not know that any of our actions have been accepted period. 

The Salawat is rewarded for tenfold  per single Salawat but the Quran is rewarded tenfold per letter. Therefore, the comparison is not correct and should not be made. Beware of such people who make claims such as this. These are two very different acts of worship. Each one will be rewarded per the intention of the doer.

Only those without faith do not benefit from good actions, as for everyone else. They will benefit in different degrees according to their sins and so forth.

In the Secret of Secrets by Sheikh Abdul Qadir Al-Jilani said, "When one has passed through these stages of remembrance, a different state of spirit, as if a different soul, is born in one." (p.46)

Final points

The one who makes dhikr is in a better state than he is who does not but that does not make one a better person. A person at that point of remembrance is the best state of his week.

We set out to prove that making dhikr is part of the Quranic narrative. The quotes that have been referenced prove this and then some. 

Dhikr is another thing we have abandoned, may Allah forgive us.

You do not need permission to recite for something generally in the Quran and Sunnah; just when the dhikr is specific for a certain Sufi group. 

So the opinion that there is no benefit in making dhikr is falsehood and this is denying the Quran. Because dhikr is a Quranic concept. 

Take time out to grace in the places of divine remembrance and if this does not make you move to gatherings of dhikr, nothing will! Or simply use the dhikr mentioned in the Quran or hadith...