Wednesday, September 17, 2014
Note: constructive criticism is a positive thing and is essential to keep a reality check. However, this letter is targeted to the self-righteous IK-slanderers.
Let me start by stating quite equivocally I am not an IK/PTI supporter, although presently I agree with IK and heart-fully support what he is standing up to and against. I do not support PTI/IK due to personal reservations and those are something of a different or rather spiritual nature, if ever I get a chance I will seek to discuss them in person, however I do not see the point of stating them here.
Nonetheless, I can relate to IK and understand his internal struggle of self-realization and self-reformation to quite an extent. He has been struggling to correct his thinking, beliefs and character, which is far more than what I can say for the majority of this nation. Majority of us are born to Muslim families, given Islamic names and our default religion is Islam, and when we die, all too conveniently our default setting is ‘shaheed’. Majority of us take our religion and its preaching and our supposed beliefs for granted and never quite bother to really ponder about the gravity of any of it or endeavor to gain any spiritual depth. We are quick to judge others who sin differently from us and assume salvation for ourselves. I believe that the Judgment Day would prove to be a source of great shock and discomfort for a vast majority of us who believe in the Mercy of Allaah for ourselves and believe in extremity of harshness for others. I think it would be great if we could voluntarily climb off our high horses right now and focus on self-correction, rather than defamation of others, before it’s too late.
I am writing today because a friend emailed me and stated the following “…it really pains me sometimes how some people are assassinating his character and justifying NS's corruption regardless of his performance, …" Funnily enough I had been feeling similar sentiments and had written my letter to IK earlier because of these feelings. The thing was that although I do not support IK in general, however I would clearly be ridiculous to not agree with the very obvious points he has been standing up for. They are all those things that any sane, sincere and patriotic person has been harping about and complaining for quite some time now. It was then that I realized and recognized that there was one adjective lacking amongst the ones I mentioned earlier and that was ‘religious’. Anyone sane, sincere, patriotic and most of all religious has a huge inhibition when it comes to IK and it was more or less for the reasons I mentioned in my earlier letter.
When writing that letter I wasn’t even sure if it would ever reach him, but I took the time out and said whatever I had to, thinking that I am only answerable before Allaah for whether or not I made the effort, how far reaching the result may or may not be is entirely in Allaah Kareem’s Hands. It was way better than just sitting around and doing Imran Khan’s gheebat or character assassination based on some vile assumptions, hearsay.
Hence, I wrote the letter in conformity to Sunnah, as the Prophet-SW wrote letters to various leaders inviting them to the correct path. How the leaders responded to those letters decided their fate. I believed once I had done my bit, if Allaah kareem actually allowed for that letter to reach IK, the ball would be in his court as to whether he chooses to respond to it like Najashi the Abyssinian King or like the King of Persia, Chosroes Apervez.
Before I go any further I would like to share the following:
(49: 11) - "O ye who believe! let not some men among you laugh at others: it may be that the (latter) are better than the (former): nor let some women laugh at others: it may be that the (latter) are better than the (former): nor defame nor be sarcastic to each other, nor call each other by (offensive) nicknames: Ill-seeming is a name connoting wickedness, (to be used of one) after he has believed: And those who do not desist (and repent), are (indeed) doing wrong (evil &' unjust)."
I would like to express my disgust over the way Anti-Ik-ists, especially supposedly religious ones, who seem to have taken it upon themselves to character assassinate IK. The kind of things I have come across, some of them are so pathetic that it took me this long to get myself to write in regard to them. Nonetheless, I felt it imperative to discuss this behaviour in the light of the Quran and Sunnah.
Over here I’d like to remind us Muslims of the one characteristic or disease of the heart which is revolting and unacceptable to Allaah Kareem. PRIDE!
(16:23) - "Indeed, He-SWT does not love the proud."
(16:29) - "So enter the gates of Hell to dwell therein. Indeed evil is the abode of the proud.”
Hadith - "Four things are among my followers from the traditions of jahiliyyah which will not leave: pride of lineage, slandering kinship, use of astrology for rain, and wailing." [Muslim]
Hadith - "If you were not sinners, I would fear for you what is worse for you: Pride, pride." [Al-Bayhaqi, hasan hadeeth]
Hadith - "Pride is dissatisfaction with the truth, and belittling the people." [Muslim]
Hadith - "He will not enter Paradise who has even a speck of pride in his heart." [Muslim]
In the light of the above mentioned Ayaat and Hadith, I believe our primary concern should be self-focus and self-correction. We need to get off our high horse of self-righteousness and holier than thou attitude, and try and meditate upon our own sins, disobediences and lack of humility, seeking earnest forgiveness from Allaah Kareem and His help in turning us into the people He-SWT would like for us to be. We are only accountable for our own selves, our own actions and our own neeyat (intention), so might as well spend our energies to straighten our own accounts!
(24:19) - “Those who love (to see) scandal published broadcast among the Believers, will have a grievous Penalty in this life and in the Hereafter: God knows, and ye know not.”
We need to recognize that it is sheer arrogance on our part when we are busy deriding someone on the basis of some sins they may or may not have committed, saying things like “This is Maulvi/Maulana IK with his yahoodi wife bla bla bla …” and declaring that the ‘Sita White scandal’ is enough to take him to hell. I have suffered this kind of rubbish at a much lesser scale myself. The past 18yrs of my journey towards Islam, have been laced with such malice and rubbish hurled at me from supposed liberals as well as supposed pious religious people. Saying nonsense like ‘Maulani Raana, haw tum bla bla bla…’ My reply to people would be a simple one “just because I have started offering my prayers or covering my head doesn’t mean I have made any declarations of becoming a perfect Muslim and neither have I made claims to be a better Muslim than you all. I am now practicing these two injunctions of Islam, you guys might be practicing some other ones which are less obvious. I do not judge you, I am only attempting to correct myself”.
(49:12) - “O ye who believe! Avoid suspicion as much (as possible): for suspicion in some cases is a sin: And spy not on each other, nor speak ill of each other behind their backs. Would any of you like to eat the flesh of his dead brother? Nay, ye would abhor it...But fear God: For God is Oft-Returning, Most Merciful.”
It has been an unnecessarily tough ride towards righteousness, because we live in very trying times, possibly the worst since the advent of Islam. And to make things worse, everyone seems to take it upon themselves to start picking on anyone who dares to attempt to change and begin a journey of transformation towards what is right, contrary to their previous actions and beliefs. Let me just ask here that the people of Makkah before the advent of Islam, what sins did they not commit? How many of them continued to do so even after the advent of Islam? Even down to the time of Fatah-e-Makkah? And thereafter once they made their choice to revert to Allaah and His Command and believe in His Messenger-SW and the Judgement Day, they earned a status so high, the status of Sahabeeyat, which none of us can earn even if we spent a lifetime in sujood! You believe anyone of them could have done so, if the Prophet-SW had decided to throw their previous sins at their face and mock and jeer at them? What kind of behavior is this that we have picked up as a nation? How do we justify it?
I quote from the article by Ahmed Rashid, ‘Imran Khan from the heart’ “He discusses his pre-marital “hedonism” and calls it “a mirage”: “The hurt I caused and the feeling of emptiness I experienced in transitory relationships far out-weighed the moments of pleasure” (p.91).” I have heard IK clearly acknowledging he was devoid of Eemaan earlier and that is something he has endeavoured to develop over time.
Hadith - The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “The one who repents from sin is like one who has never sinned.” (Narrated by Ibn Maajah, 4240; classed as saheeh by al-Busayri in al-Zawaa’id, commentary on Sunan Ibn Maajah).
Hadith - The Messenger of Allaah (Allaah bless him and give him peace) said: “That person who taunts and ridicules his Muslim brother over a sin from which he has repented, will not die until he himself commits that same sin.”
(Tirmidhi, Qiyamah, 53, no: 2507; Bayhaqi, Shuabu’l-Iman, 5/315, no: 2778; Kashfu’l-Khafa, 2/265).
Be wary of one thing that what you all go around mocking is bound to manifest itself in you. So if you loath it so much, it’s better for you to pray for the correction of the person indulging in it rather than backbiting about it and broadcasting it. It is even better if you could privately speak to this person and guide him regarding it. If you have already done so and have clear evidence that this person is continuing in the gravest of crimes, which can cause much degeneration to society, then take him into the Shariah Court, provide the relevant evidence and have this tried there. However if this is not a possibility then I suggest you do not go around leaving written evidence of your gheebah as a negative sadqah-e-jariyah for yourselves, it might be enough to send YOU to hell instead of the person you have declared hell bound!
Hadith - Jundub-RUA narrated that a man said: “I swear by Allaah that Allaah will not forgive so and so.” Then, the Prophet-SW said: "Allaah said: “Who is this person who swears that I will not forgive so and so, indeed, I have forgiven so and so and I nullified your (own good) deeds.” [Muslim]
Hadith - The Prophet-SW said: "Any person who says to his brother: 'O Kaafir (disbeliever)', so it falls back on one of them. If it is true, it is as he said, otherwise it returns back upon him (i.e. the one who said it)." [Al-Bukhaari and Muslim]
Hadith - the Prophet-SW said: "O those who are Muslims by tongue whereas faith has not entered their hearts! Do not harm Muslims, or scoff at them or pursue their faults; for whoever pursue the imperfection of his Muslim brother, Allaah will pursue his imperfection, and whoever Allaah pursue his imperfection, He will disgrace him even if he hides himself in his own home." [Ibn Hibbaan who graded it as Saheeh (sound)]
There is something else I would like to point out here, it’s very easy to be born into a religious family and become considerably pious. However, to be born into a liberal home and to then ponder about Allaah and Islam and become Muslim out of choice, thereafter seeking to follow a path of self-correction while still having the same social circle is another ball game! I have seen women throwing themselves at IK while he stands there seemingly indifferent and aloof, a tad bit abashed and estranged, and this is a phenomenon he experiences world over. He is charismatic; it’s an aazmaaish (trial) from Allaah-SWT. Hazrat Yousuf-AS was a Prophet-AS and the Quran mentions the following prayer of Hazrat Yousuf-AS when Zulekha and her friends attempted to allure him-AS:
(12:33) - He said: "O my Lord! Prison is more to my liking than that to which they invite me. Unless You turn away their plot from me, I will feel inclined towards them and be one of those who commit sin and deserve blame or those who do deeds of the ignorants."
He-AS was a Prophet and had Allaah Kareem’s protection, he-AS was innocent and could not indulge in sin. Yet he-AS feared that he might succumb to the alluring of these women. So before you set out to judge IK on this pretext, maybe you need to ask yourselves, had you been him how well would you have been able to resist? “But by the Grace of Allaah, there go I”. Allaah Kareem has reserved all judgment for Himself and the Judgment Day, let us not arrogantly take it upon ourselves to do Allaah Kareem’s job. In the light of the ayat below; the Quran and the Sunnah at an individual or personal level are there for self-analysis, self-preservation, self-discipline and self-correction, unless you are a Mufti or a Qadhi of a Shariah Court, reserve your judgment for yourselves!
(4:80) - He who obeys the Messenger, obeys Allah: But if any turn away, We have not sent you to watch over their (evil deeds).
If I could I would like to suggest to Ik, that if he wishes to seek Allaah Kareem’s help regarding temptation, he should perhaps recite the dua Hazrat Musa-AS made when he-AS had run away and was left with nothing. Allaah Kareem answered his-AS prayer by bestowing One of His-SWT choicest blessings, a pious woman whom he-AS married. May Allaah Kareem bless him with an understanding, supportive, pious wife, who becomes a source of extreme happiness and blessings for him in both the worlds and brings him closer and closer to Allaah Kareem earning him much of His-SWT Love and the Prophet-SW’s pride. Aameen!
(28:24) - So he watered (their flocks) for them, then he turned back to shade, and said: "My Lord! Truly, I am in need of whatever good that You bestow on me!"
You might ask how is it justified or ok to say negative stuff about NS and his clan. Well the answer to that is simple, they have been in power multiple times, there is enough clear and visible evidence that they have been stealing from us. So much so that now they don’t even give a damn about the mandate of people since they have established that they can steal that too. Right now they are self-imposed Kings sitting on our head, fleecing us individually and our Country by and large. The day I give a dime to IK and he steals or swindles it, I can take him to court and scream about it to the entire universe to stop them from suffering at his hands. However, until then I have a choice to simply not accept him as a leader and not follow him for whatever reason I may have, but I don’t have the right to go around spilling garbage all over him and that too based on hearsay or some high-headedness and conceit.
In the past, I was an ardent believer that IK could well be a Jewish/Zionist agent, and honestly for me that was the one main reason I had grown to feel rather repulsed by him because he for one had no reason to go and sell his soul like this. Nonetheless, I realized that this argument was immaterial since for that matter please tell me which one our supposed rulers/politicians isn’t a Zionist/Jewish/American or some other form of agent. All I know is after having heard Ik on a daily basis during the past month, I can safely recognize one thing, that he is not an agent of any sort, he is PATHAN! Someone once rightly said “Pathan aik zaat nahin, aik kaifeeyat ka naam hai, jo kissee bhee waqt taaree ho saktee hai!” ‘Pathan’ is not a name of a race, it is the name of an emotion, which can over-power/overwhelm our being at any point and time, and there upon we are volatile and come what may there is no stopping us! Being a Yousafzai Pathan myself, I know this to be true! Unfortunately for NS, he has triggered that ‘kaifeeyat’ in IK and his constant stupid handling of the matter is just making IK more and more “PATHAN” by the minute!
IK is not anyone’s agent for sure, although someone or some powers may always be adamantly attempting to manipulate him, nonetheless they would be doing so coyly and never be blatant enough to attempt buying him off (unless they are stupid) because he would never voluntarily sell his soul! I truly believe that. However, if by some remote chance he is an agent of sorts with some ulterior Machiavellian agenda, then all one can do while waiting for it to come to light, is pray. May Allaah Kareem turn IK’s heart towards Himself, illuminating it with His Nur and filling it with overwhelming love of the Prophet-SW and His-SWT preferred Din Islam, guiding him and altering all his actions and plans to translate for the betterment of not only Pakistan, but the entire Muslim Nation and Humanity at large. Aameen!
The fact is whether IK is Jewish agent or not is something that is between him and Allaah and unless someone has some verifiable proof of it, they should not go around making such declarations. In the past I too may have indulged in such rubbish and May Allaah Kareem forgive me for that.
We as people can only see what is before us, we cannot know what is in a person’s heart, which is exactly why Allaah Kareem has not made us a judge upon anyone. Allaah Kareem has solely reserved all Judgment to Himself and He is certainly swift in His Judgment. If we are so eager to judge someone let us take time out to judge ourselves, because that is who we will be questioned about on the day of Judgment. So let all of us not be so sure of our own salvation, it might be that IK ends up doing one such act that Allaah Kareem forgives all his sins and blesses him with the highest ranks of Jannah while people like us keep sitting with our useless propaganda and self proclaimed salvation. May Allaah Kareem forgive us and guide us. Aameen! Anyway, I’d like to conclude that all of us need to focus on self-correction, if we love Allaah Kareem, His-SWT Prophet-SW, His Din (Islam), our Country, our Nation and ourselves! In the light of the Ayaat and Hadith below, qalbi-zikrullah is the best way to achieve this! May Allaah Kareem grant us all the taufeeq to practice qalbi-zikr with its true essence, not for self-conceit and superiority, but for humility and self-correction. Aameen!
(13:11) - For each one are successive [angels] before and behind him who protect him by the decree of Allaah. Indeed, Allaah will not change the condition of a people until they change what is in themselves. And when Allaah intends for a people ill, there is no repelling it. And there is not for them besides Him any patron.
Hadith - On the authority of Abu 'Abdullah al-Nu'man bin Bashir (ra) who said: I heard the Messenger of Allah(sas) say: "The halal is clear and the haram is clear, and between them are matters unclear that are unknown to most people. Whoever is wary of these unclear matters has absolved his religion and honor. And whoever indulges in them has indulged in the haram. It is like a shepherd who herds his sheep too close to preserved sanctuary, and they will eventually graze in it. Every king has a sanctuary, and the sanctuary of Allah is what He has made haram. There lies within the body a piece of flesh. If it is sound, the whole body is sound; and if it is corrupted, the whole body is corrupted. Verily this piece is the Qalb (subtle heart, spiritual brain center)." [Bukhari & Muslim]
Hadith: (According to Abdullah bin 'Umar): "There is a shine for everything, and the shine (or polish) for the hearts is Allah's remembrance (or Zikrullah)." (Behiqi)
(13:27-28) - "And Allaah guides to Himself all who turn to Him, who have believed and whose hearts (Qulub) have rest in the remembrance of Allaah (zikrullah). Verily in the remembrance of Allaah (zikrullah) do hearts (Qalb) find rest!”
Hadith: (According to Ibne 'Abbas) : "The devil sits clinging to a person's heart (Qalb). When he remembers Allah, the devil gets lost but when he forgets, the devil puts evil thoughts" (Bukhari)
Ps: I want to make another point very clear, I am in no way justifying IK’s past or his mistakes, all I am saying is we all make them and it takes a lot more courage to recognize them, own up to them, seek forgiveness and make an earnest attempt to repent and reform!
Sunday, September 14, 2014
Dhikr of Allah is the most excellent act of Allah's servants and is stressed over a hundred times in the Holy Qur'an. It is the most praiseworthy work to earn Allah's pleasure, the most effective weapon to overcome the enemy, and the most deserving of deeds in reward. It is the flag of Islam, the polish of hearts, the essence of the science of faith, the immunization against hypocrisy, the head of worship, and the key of all success.There are no restrictions on the modality, frequency, or timing of dhikr whatsoever. The restrictions on modality pertain to certain specific obligatory acts which are not the issue here, such as Salat. The Shari`a is clear and everyone knows what they have to do. Indeed, the Prophet said that the People of Paradise will only regret one thing: not having made enough dhikr in the world! Are not those who are making up reasons to discourage others from making dhikr afraid of Allah in this tremendous matter?
Allah says in His holy Book: "O Believers, make abundant mention of ALLAH!" (33:41) And He mentions of His servants "Those who remember their Lord standing, and sitting, and lying on their sides" (3:191), in other words at all times of the day and night. He said (3:190-191): "The creation of heaven and earth and the changes of night and day are signs for people who have wisdom: -- consider who is described as having wisdom -- Those who remember (and recite and call) Allah standing up, sitting, and lying on their sides." `A'isha said, as narrated by Muslim, that the Prophet mentioned/remembered Allah at all times of the day and night.
The Prophet said: "If your hearts were always in the state that they are in during dhikr, the angels would come to see you to the point that they would greet you in the middle of the road." Muslim narrated it. Imam Nawawi in his Sharh sahih muslim commented on this hadith saying: "This kind of sight is shown to someone who persists in meditation (muraqaba), reflection (fikr), and anticipation (iqbal) of the next world."
Mu`adh ibn Jabal said that the Prophet also said: "The People of Paradise will not regret except one thing alone: the hour that passed them by and in which they made no remembrance of Allah." Narrated by Bayhaqi in Shu`ab al-iman (1:392 #512-513) and by Tabarani. Haythami in Majma` al-zawa'id (10:74) said that its narrators are all trustworthy (thiqat), while Suyuti declared it hasanin his Jami` al-saghir (#7701).
Allah placed His remembrance above prayer in value by making prayer the means and remembrance the goal. He said:
"Lo! Worship guards one from lewdness and iniquity, but verily, remembrance of Allah is greater/more important." (29:45)
"He is successful who purifies himself, and remembers the name of his Lord, and so prays." (87:14-15)
"So establish prayer for My remembrance." (20:14)
Ibn Hajar in his Fath al-bari (1989 ed. 11:251) relates Qadi Abu Bakr Ibn al-`Arabi's explanation that there is no good deed except with dhikr as a precondition for its validity, and whoever does not remember Allah in his heart at the time of his sadaqa or fasting, for example, then his deed is incomplete: therefore dhikr is the best of deeds because of this.
Dhikr is, therefore, something of tremendous importance. Abu Hurayra said that the Prophet said, Peace be upon him: "The earth and everything in it is cursed, except for dhikr and what attends dhikr, and a teacher (of dhikr) and a student (of dhikr)." Narrated by Tirmidhi who said it is hasan, Ibn Majah who said the same, Bayhaqi, and others. Suyuti cites it in al-Jami` al-saghir from al-Bazzar's similar narration from Ibn Mas`ud and he declared it sahih. Tabarani also narrated it in al-Awsat from Abu al-Darda'.
By the words "the world and everything in it" is meant here all that claims status or existence apart from Allah instead of in Him. In fact, all creation does dhikr because Allah said that all creation does praise to Him constantly, and tasbih is a kind of dhikr. Allah said of the Prophet Yunus, when the whale swallowed him: "Had he not been one of My glorifiers (musabbihin), he would have remained inside the whale's stomach until Judgment Day." (37:143-144)
The one who engages in dhikr has the highest rank of all before Allah. The people who call on Allah without distraction have been mentioned in Qur'an, as well as the effect that calling has on their heart: "In houses which Allah has allowed to be raised to honor and for His Name to be remembered in them; He is glorified there day and night by men whom neither trade nor sale can divert from the rememberance of Allah" (24:36-37). "Those who believe, and their hearts find satisfaction in the rememberance of Allah: By remembering Allah, truly satisfaction comes to the heart" (13:28).
During the night of Isra' and Mi`raj, the Prophet was taken up to a point where he heard the screeching of the Pens (writing the divine Decree). He saw a man who had disappeared into the light of the Throne. He said: "Who is this? Is this an angel?" It was said to him, no. He said: "Is it a Prophet?" Again the answer was no. He said: "Who is it then?" The answer was: "This is a man whose tongue was moist with Allah's remembrance in the world, and his heart was attached to the mosques, and he never incurred the curse of his father and mother." Shaykh Muhammad `Alawi al-Malaki cited it in his collated text of the sound narrations on that topic entitled al-Anwar al-bahiyya min isra' wa mi`raj khayr al-bariyya.
In Ahmad, Tirmidhi and Ibn Majah, and Ibn Hibban declared it fair (hasan): A man came to the Prophet and said, "O Rasulallah, the laws and conditions of Islam have become too many for me. Tell me something that I can always keep (i.e. in particular, as opposed to the many rules and conditions that must be kept in general)." By reading that the man said there were too many conditions to keep, one must understand that he was unsure that he could keep them all. He wanted something that he would be sure to keep always. The Prophet said: "(I am advising you in one thing:) Keep your tongue always moist with dhikrullah."
It is well-known in Islam that the best work in the path of Allah is jihad. Yet the Prophet, Peace be upon him, placed dhikr even above jihad in the following authentic hadiths.
Abu al-Darda' narrates: The Prophet once asked his companions: "Shall I tell you about the best of all deeds, the best act of piety in the eyes of your Lord, which will elevate your status in the Hereafter, and carries more virtue than the spending of gold and silver in the service of Allah or taking part in jihad and slaying or being slain in the path of Allah? The dhikr of Allah." Related in the Malik's Muwatta', the Musnad of Ahmad, the Sunan of Tirmidhi, Ibn Majah, and the Mustadrak of Hakim. Al-Bayhaqi, Hakim and others declared it sahih.
Abu Sa`id narrates: The Prophet was asked, "Which of the servants of Allah is best in rank before Allah on the Day of resurrection?" He said: "The ones who remember him much." I said: "O Messenger of Allah, what about the fighter in the way of Allah?" He answered: "Even if he strikes the unbelievers and mushrikin with his sword until it broke, and becomes red with their blood, truly those who do dhikr are better than him in rank." Related in Ahmad, Tirmidhi, and Bayhaqi.
`Abd Allah ibn `Umar said that the Prophet used to say: "Everything has a polish, and the polish of hearts is dhikr of Allah. Nothing is more calculated to rescue from Allah's punishment than dhikrof Allah." He was asked whether this did not apply also to jihad in Allah's path, and he replied: "Not even if one should ply his sword until it breaks." Bayhaqi narrated it in Kitab al-da`awat al-kabiras well as in his Shu`ab al-iman (1:396 #522), also al-Mundhiri in al-Targhib (2:396) and Tibrizi mentions it in Mishkat al-masabih, at the end of the book of Supplications.
Meanings of Dhikr
The word dhikr has many meanings. It means:
- Allah's Book and its recitation;
- Learning and teaching: The author of Fiqh al-sunna said:
Sa'id ibn Jubayr said, "Anyone engaged in obeying Allah is in fact engaged in the remembrance of Allah." Some of the earlier scholars tied it to some more specified form. `Ata said, "The gatherings of dhikr are the gatherings where the lawful and the prohibited things are discussed, for instance, selling, buying, prayers, fasting, marriage, divorce, and pilgrimage."
Qurtubi said, "Gatherings of dhikr are the gatherings for knowledge and admonition, those in which the Word of Allah and the sunnah of His Messenger, accounts of our righteous predecessors, and sayings of the righteous scholars are learned and practised without any addition or innovation, and without any ulterior motives or greed."
- Invocation of Allah with the tongue according to one of the formulas taught by the Prophet or any other formula;
- Remembrance of Allah in the heart, or in both the heart and the tongue.
We are concerned here with the last two meanings, that of mention of Allah, as in the verse, "The believers are those who, when they hear Allah mentioned, their hearts tremble" (al-Anfal), and the Prophet's saying in Tirmidhi and Ibn Majah from Ibn Jubayr: "The best dhikr is La ilaha illallah." The Prophet did not say, "the best dhikr is making a lecture"; or "giving advice"; or "raising funds." We are also concerned here with the meaning of remembrance through the heart, as in the verse: "The men and women who remember Allah abundantly" (33:35). The Prophet both praised and explained what is in the latter verse when he said, as it is related in Muslim, "The single-hearted are foremost." When he was asked, "O Messenger of Allah, who are the single-hearted?" he replied, "The men and women who remember Allah abundantly." The Prophet further elucidated the role of the heart in effecting such remembrance when he said to Abu Hurayra: "Go with these two sandals of mine and whoever you meet behind this wall that witnesses that there is no god except Allah with certitude in his heart, give him glad tidings that he will enter Paradise." (Narrated by Muslim.)
Dhikr may sometimes mean both inner remembrance and outward mention, as in the verse "Remember Me, and I shall remember you" (2:152) when it is read in the light of the hadith qudsi, "Those that remember Me in their heart, I remember them in My heart; and those that remember Me in a gathering (i.e. that make mention of Me), I remember them (i.e. make mention of them) in a gathering better than theirs." We return to the explanation of that important hadith further below. Suffice it to say that, broadly speaking, there are three types of dhikr: of the heart, of the tongue, and of the two together.
Ibn Hajar in Fath al-Bari (1989 ed. 11:251) explained that what is meant by dhikr in Abu al-Darda's narration of the primacy of dhikr over jihad is the complete dhikr and consciousness of Allah's greatness whereby one becomes better, for example, than those who battle the diebelievers without such recollection.
In another hadith narrated by Bukhari, the Prophet compared doers of dhikr among non-doers, to those who are alive among those who are dead: mathalu al-ladhi yadhkuru rabbahu wa al-ladhi la yadhkuru rabbahu mathalu al-hayyi wa al-mayyit. (Book of da`awat ch. 66 "The merit of dhikrullah") Ibn Hajar comments it thus in his Fath al-Bari (1989 ed. 11:250):
What is meant by dhikr here is the utterance of the expressions which we have been encouraged to say, and say abundantly, such as the enduring good deeds -- al-baqiyat al-salihat -- and they are: subhan allah, al-hamdu lillah, la ilaha illallah, allahu akbar and all that is related to them such as the hawqala (la hawla wa la quwwata illa billah), the basmala (bismillah al-rahman al-rahim), the hasbala (hasbunallahu wa ni`ma al-wakil), istighfar, and the like, as well as invocations for the good of this world and the next.
Dhikrullah also applies to diligence in obligatory or praiseworthy acts, such as the recitation of Qur'an, the reading of hadith, the study of the Science of Islam (al-`ilm), and supererogatory prayers.
Dhikr can take place with the tongue, for which the one who utters it receives reward, and it is not necessary for this that he understand or recall its meaning, on condition that he not mean other than its meaning by its utterance; and if, in addition to its utterance, there is dhikr in the heart, then it is more complete; and if there is, added to that, the recollection of the meaning of the dhikr and what it entails such as magnifying Allah and exalting Him above defect or need, it is even more complete; and if all this takes place inside a good deed, whether an obligatory prayer, or jihad, or other than that, it is even more complete; and if one perfects one's turning to Allah and purifies one's sincerity towards Him: then that is the farthest perfection.
Fakhr al-Din al-Razi said: "What is meant by the dhikr of the tongue is the expressions that stand for tasbih, tahmid, and tamjid -- exaltation, praise, and glorification. As for the dhikr of the heart, it consists in reflection on the proof-texts that point to Allah's essence and His attributes, on those of the obligations including what is enjoined and what is forbidden so that one may examine the rulings that pertain to them, and on the secrets of Allah's creation. As for dhikr of the limbs, it consists in their being immersed in obedience, and that is why Allah named prayer: "dhikr" when He said: "When the call is proclaimed on Jum`a, hasten earnestly to the dhikr of Allah" (62:9). It is reported from some of the Knowers of Allah that dhikr has seven aspects:
dhikr of the eyes, which consists in weeping (buka');
dhikr of the ears, which consists in listening (isgha');
dhikr of the tongue, which consists in praise (thana');
dhikr of the hands, which consists in giving (`ata');
dhikr of the body, which consists in loyalty (wafa');
dhikr of the heart, which consists in fear and hope (kawf wa raja');
dhikr of the spirit, which consists of utter submission and acceptance (taslim wa rida')."
The importance of silent dhikr
The author of Fiqh al-sunna writes:
The purpose of dhikr is to purify hearts and souls and awaken the human conscience. The Qur'an says:
"And establish regular prayer, for prayer restrains from shameful and unjust deeds, and remembrance of Allah is the greatest thing in life, without doubt." (29:45)
In other words, the remembrance of Allah has a greater impact in restraining one from shameful and unjust deeds than just the formal regular prayer. This is so because when a servant opens up his soul to his Lord, extolling His praise, Allah strengthens him with His light, increasing thereby his faith and conviction, and reassuring his mind and heart. This refers to:
"those who believe, and whose hearts find satisfaction in the remembrance of Allah, for without doubt in the remembrance of Allah do hearts find satisfaction." (13:28)
And when hearts are satisfied with the Truth, they turn to the highest ideals without being deflected by impulses of desire or lust. This underscores the importance of dhikr in man's life. Obviously it would be unreasonable to expect these results just by uttering certain words, for words of the tongue unsupported by a willing heart are of no consequence. Allah Himself has taught us the manner in which a person should remember Him, saying:
"And do bring your Lord to remembrance in your very soul, with humility and in reverence, without loudness in words, in the mornings and evening, and be not of those who are unheedful." (7:205)
This verse indicates that doing dhikr in silence and without raising one's voice is better. Once during a journey the Prophet, peace be upon him, heard a group of Muslims supplicating aloud. Thereupon the Prophet, peace be upon him, said, "Give yourselves a respite, you are not calling upon someone deaf or absent. Surely He Whom you are calling upon is near you and He listens to all. He is nearer to you than the neck of your mount." [Muslim]
This hadith underlines the love and awe a person should feel while engaged in dhikr.
It is related from Sa`d that the Prophet said: "The best dhikr is the hidden dhikr, and the best money is what suffices." Ahmad narrates it in his Musnad, Ibn Hibban in his Sahih, and Bayhaqi inShu`ab al-iman. Nawawi said the hadith was not firmly established.
In the Fatawa fiqhiyya of al-Haytami (p. 48): He was asked about Nawawi's saying at the end of the chapter entitled "Dhikr Gatherings" in his Commentary on Sahih Muslim: "Dhikr of the tongue with presence of the heart is preferable to dhikr of the heart [without]." Ibn Hajar said: "It is not because dhikr of the heart is an established worship in the lexical sense [i.e. consisting in specific formulae] that it is preferable, but because through it one intently means, in his heart, to exalt and magnify Allah above all else. That is the meaning both of the aforementioned saying of Nawawi and of the saying of some that "There is no reward in dhikr of the heart." By denying there is a reward in it, one means "There is no reward in the words, which are not uttered"; and by establishing that there is reward in it, one means "in the fact that the heart is present," as we have just said. Consider this, for it is important. And Allah knows best."
According to the Naqshbandi masters, dhikr in the heart is more useful for the murid or student for it is more efficient in shaking the heart from indifference and awakening it. Shah Naqshband said: "There are two methods of dhikr; one is silent and one is loud. I chose the silent one because it is stronger and therefore more preferable."
Shaykh Amin al-Kurdi said in his book Tanwir al-qulub (Enlightenment of Hearts) p. 522:
Know that there are two kinds of dhikr: "by heart" (qalbi) and "by tongue" (lisani). Each has its legal proofs in the Qur'an and the Sunna. 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: 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 `A'isha: "Allah favors dhikr above dhikr seventyfold (meaning, silent dhikr over loud dhikr). On the Day of Resurrection, Allah 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 `A'isha: "The dhikr not heard by the Recording Angels equals seventy times the one they hear." Bayhaqi narrated it.
Dhikr with the name "ALLAH"
Allah said in His Book: "And mention the name of your Lord and devote yourself to Him with a complete devotion" (73:8). Qadi Thana'ullah Panipati said in his Tafsir Mazhari (10:111): "Know that this verse points to the repetition of the name of the Essence (ism al-dhat)," that is: "Allah." The same meaning is intimated also by the end of verse 6:91 in Surat al-An`am: "Say ALLAH. Then leave them to their play and vain wrangling."
The Prophet said: "The Hour will not rise before Allah, Allah is no longer said on earth." And through another chain: "The Hour will not rise on anyone saying: Allah, Allah." Muslim narrated both in his Sahih, Book of Iman (belief), chapter 66 entitled: dhahab al-iman akhir al-zaman "The Disappearance of Belief at the End of Times."
Imam Nawawi said in his commentary on this chapter: "Know that the narrations of this hadith are unanimous in the repetition of the name of Allah the Exalted for both versions, and that is the way it is found in all the authoritative books." (Sharh Sahih Muslim, Dar al-Qalam, Beirut ed. vol. 1/2 p. 537)
Imam Muslim placed the hadith under the chapter-heading of the disappearance of belief (iman) at the end of times although there is no mention of belief in the hadith. This shows that saying "Allah, Allah" stands for belief. Those who say it show belief, while those who don't say it, don't show belief. Therefore those who fight those who say it, are actually worse than those who merely lack belief and do not say "Allah, Allah."
Nawawi highlights the authenticity of the repetition of the form to establish that the repetition of the words "Allah, Allah" are a sunna ma'thura (practice inherited from the Prophet and the Companions) as it stands. Ibn Taymiyya's claim that the words must not be used alone but obligatorily in contruct, e.g. with a vocative form ("Ya Allah"), contradicts the Sunna.
One who knows that the dhikr "Allah, Allah" has been mentioned by the Prophet himself, is not at liberty to muse whether it was used by the Companions or not in order to establish its basis. It suffices for its basis to establish that the Prophet said it.
One who knows that Allah, Allah is a dhikr used by the Prophet, is not at liberty to object to similar forms of dhikr such as HU and HAYY and HAQQ. "To Allah belong the most beautiful names, so call Him by them" (7:180). As for the hadith of the ninety-nine names, it does not limit the names of Allah to only ninety-nine, as Nawawi made clear in his commentary of that hadith.
It is established that Bilal used to make the dhikr Ahad, Ahad while undergoing torture. Ibn Hisham says in his Sira: Ibn Ishaq narrates [with his chain of transmission] saying: "Bilal was a faithful Muslim, pure of heart... Umayya ibn Khalaf used to bring him out in the hottest part of the day and throw him on his back in the open valley and have a great rock put on his chest; the he would say to him: You will stay here until you die or deny Muhammadand worship al-Lat and al-`Uzza. He used to say while he was enduring this: ahad, ahad -- One, One!" Ibn Hajar cites it in al-Isaba(1:171 #732).
It is noteworthy that the Siddiqi translation of Sahih Muslim mistranslates the first narration cited above as: "The Hour (Resurrection) would not come so long as Allah is supplicated in the world" and the second as "The Hour (Resurrection) would not come upon anyone so long as he supplicates Allah." This is wrong as translation goes, although it is right as a commentary, since saying Allah, Allah is supplicating Him, as is all worship according to the hadith of the Prophet: "Supplication: that is what worship is." (Tirmidhi and others narrate it.) However, concerning accuracy in translation, the word form highlighted by Nawawi must be kept intact in any explanation of this hadith. It is not merely "supplicating Allah." It is saying: Allah, Allah according to the Prophet's own words.
Dhikr "hu", "hayy", "haqq"
- "Hu" and "Hayy" are a pronoun and name of Allah Almighty in the Qur'an according to ayat al-Kursi:
Allahu la ilaha illa HU AL-HAYY al-Qayyum (2:255)
Allah! There is no god except HE, the LIVING the Self-Subsistent
- "Haqq" is one of the names of Allah in the hadith in Bukhari and Muslim enumerating the ninety-nine Names (see below).
Furthermore, the Prophet prayed to Allah with the following invocations:
(a) "Labbayka ilah al-Haqq" [At your command, O the God of Truth]. It is narrated in the book of Hajj in al-Nasa'i's Sunan, and in the book of Manasik in Ibn Majah's.
(b) "Anta al-Haqq" [You are Truth]. Bukhari and Muslim.
- Allah said: "Wa lillahi al-asma' al-husna fad`uhu biha" : To Allah belong the Most beautiful Names, so call Him with them (7:180). These names are not confined to ninety-nine, as Nawawi explicitly stated in his commentary on the hadith in Bukhari and Muslim whereby the Prophet said: "Inna lillahi ta`ala tis`atan wa tis`ina isman, mi'atan illa wahidan, man ahsaha dakhala al-jannat...": "There are ninety-nine names which belong to Allah, one hundred less one, whoever memorizes (or recites) them enters Paradise..."
- The Prophet used to call Allah by ALL His Names: "Allahumma inni ad`uka bi asma'ika al-husna kulliha": O Allah, I invoke You with all of Your beautiful Names. Narrated by Ibn Maja, book ofDu`a; and by Imam Malik in his Muwatta', Kitab al-Shi`r.
On Seclusion (khalwa, `uzla)
Silent dhikr is the dhikr of the servant who secludes himself away from people. Narrated Abu Sa'id Al-Khudri: A bedouin came to the Prophet and said, "O Allah's Apostle! Who is the best of mankind?" The Prophet said, "A man who strives for Allah's Cause with his life and property, and also a man who lives (all alone) in a mountain path among the mountain paths to worship his Lord and save the people from his evil." (English Bukhari, Volume 8, Book 76, Number 501) [Arabic: Ja'a a`rabiyyun ila al-nabi faqala ya rasulallahi ayyu khayru al-nas? qala rajulun jahidun bi nafsihi wa malih...]
Abu Sa`id al-Khudri said: I heard the Prophet say: "There will come a time upon the people when the best property of a Muslim man will be his sheep which he will take to the tops of mountains and to the places of rainfall to run away with his Religion far from trials. (English Bukhari, Volume 8, Book 76, Number 502) [Arabic: ya'ti `ala al-nasi zamanun khayru mali al-rajuli al-muslim...]
Malik narrates in his Muwatta': that Humayd ibn Malik ibn Khuthaym was sitting with Abu Hurayra in his land of al-`Aqiq when a group of the people of Madina came to him. They dismounted and came to him. Humayd said: Abu Hurayra said [to me]: "Go to my mother and say to her: Your son send his salam and asks you to send us a little food." I went and she gave me three loaves of bread and some olive oil and salt. I carried it to them. When I put it in front of them Abu Hurayra said: "Allahu akbar. Praise be to Allah Who has sated us with bread after the time when our only food was the two black ones: water and dates." The people did not leave anything except they ate it. When they went away, he said: "Son of my brother: be kind to your sheep, wipe their mucus from them, improve their pastures, and pray in their vicinity, for they are from the animals of Paradise. By the One in Whose hand is my soul, there will soon come a time upon people when the flock of sheep will be dearer to its owner than the sons of Marwan [= human company?]."
Muslim and Tirmidhi narrate on the authority of Abu Hurayra who said: "While on the road to Mecca the Prophet passed on top of a mountain called Jumdan (= frozen in its place), at which time he said: Move on (siru)! Here is Jumdaan Mountain: and the single-minded (al-mufarridun) are foremost. They said: What are the single-minded? He said: The men and women who remember Allah much (al-dhakirun Allah kathiran wa al-dhakirat)." Muslim related it in his Sahih, beginning of the book of Dhikr.
The version in Tirmidhi has: The Prophet said: "The single-minded (al-mufarridun) are foremost. They said: What are the single-minded? He said: Those who dote on the remembrance of Allah and are ridiculed because of it (al-mustahtirun bi dhikr Allah), and whose burdens the dhikr removes from them (yada`u `anhum al-dhikru athqalahum), so that they come to Allah fluttering (fa ya'tun Allaha khifaqan)."
al-Mundhiri said in al-Tharghib wa al-tarhib [The Encouragement to Good and the Discouragement from Evil]: "These are the ones who are fired up with the remembrance of Allah (al-muwalla`un bi dhikrillah)."
Nawawi writes in Sharh Sahih Muslim, Bk. 48, Ch. 1, Hadith 4: "Some pronounced it mufridun (= those who isolate themselves)... Ibn Qutayba and others said: The original meaning of this is those whose relatives have died and they have become single (in the world) with regard to their passing from them, so they have remained remembering Allah the Exalted. Another narration has: They are those who are moved at the mention or remembrance of Allah (hum al-ladhina ihtazzu fi dhikrillah), that is, they have become fervently devoted and attached to His remembrance. Ibn al-I`rabi said: ‘It is said that "a man becomes single" (farada al-rajul) when he becomes learned, isolates himself, and concerns himself exclusively with the observance of Allah's orders and prohibitions.'"
Dhikr in isolation or seclusion (khalwa) is corroborated by the hadith in Bukhari: "Seven people will be shaded by Allah..." The seventh is: "A person who remembers Allah in seclusion (dhakara Allaha khaaliyan) and his eyes get flooded with tears."
In Tirmidhi: `A'isha relates: "In the beginnings of Allah's Messenger's Prophethood, at the time Allah desired to bestow honor upon him and mercy upon His servants through him, he would not have any vision except it came to pass as surely as the sun rises. He continued like this for as long as Allah wished. Most beloved to him was seclusion (al-khalwa) and there was nothing he loved more than to be alone in seclusion." Tirmidhi narrates it and said: hasan sahih gharib. Bukhari and Muslim narrate something very similar through different chains and the word khala' is used instead ofkhalwa.
Ibn Hajar said in Fath al-Bari in the commentary on Bukhari's chapter on seclusion:
Ibn al-Mubarak relates in Kitab al-raqa'iq from Shu`ba from Khubayb ibn `Abd al-rahman from Hafs ibn `Asim that `Umar said: "Take your part of fortune from seclusion." And what a good saying is al-Junayd's saying, may Allah grant us the benefit of his baraka: "Undergoing the difficulty of seclusion is easier than mixing with society unscathed." al-Khattabi said in his "Book of Seclusion" (Kitab al-`uzla): "If there were not in seclusion other than safety from backbiting and the sight of what is forbidden but cannot be eliminated, it would have been enough of an immense good." Bukhari's title [Chapter on Seclusion As Rest From Keeping Company Towards Evil] refers to the hadith cited by al-Hakim from Abu Dharr from the Prophet with a fair (hasan) chain: "Isolation is better than to be sociable in committing evil." However, what is usually retained is that it is a saying of Abu Dharr or Abu al-Darda'. Ibn Abi `Asim cited it... al-Qushayri said in his Risala: "The method of the one who enters seclusion is that he must have the belief that he is keeping people from his evil, not the reverse, for the former presupposes belittlement of himself, which is the attribute of the humble, while the latter indicates that he considers himself better than others, which is the attribute of the arrogant."
Abu Bakr ibn al-`Arabi writes in Sharh Sahih Tirmidhi, Book 45 (da`awat), Ch. 4:
If it is said that the times have become so corrupt that there is nothing better than isolating oneself, we say: one isolates oneself from people in one's actions, while he keeps mixing with them with his physical body, however, if he cannot succeed, then at that time he isolates himself from them physically but without entering into monasticism(ya`taziluhum bi badanihi wa la yadkhulu fi al-rahbaniyya) which is condemned and rejected by the Sunna.
Dhikr in Dim Surroundings
- Allah said to the Prophet: "Wa min al-layli fa tahajjad bihi nafilatan laka" : "And some part of the night awake for it, a largess for thee" (17:79), and He said: "Lo! the vigil of the night is a time when impression is more keen and speech more certain." (73:6).
The superiority of prayer at night is knows in all books of hadith and fiqh because of the elimination of worldly distractions at that time. That is why Imam Ghazali wrote on that topic: "The root of thought is the eye... He whose niyyat (intention) is fine and who aims high cannot be diverted by what occurs in front of him, but he who is weak fall prey to it. The medicine is to cut off the roots of these distractions and to shut up the eyes, to pray in a dark room, not to keep anything in front which may attract attention and not to pray in a decorated place. For this reason, the saints used to worship in dark, narrow and unspacious rooms." Ihya' `Ulum al-Din, Book of Salat.
Movement during dhikr
We have already mentioned above the version of the hadith of Muslim whereby the Prophet praised the mufarridun or those who are single-minded in their remembrance of Allah: Nawawi said: Another narration has: "They are those who shake or are moved at the mention or remembrance of Allah (hum al-ladhina ihtazzu fi dhikrillah), that is, they have become fervently devoted and attached to His remembrance."
Imam Habib al-Haddad said in Key to the Garden (p. 116):
Dhikr returns from the outward feature which is the tongue to the inward which is the heart, in which it becomes solidly rooted, so that it takes firm hold of its members. The sweetness of this is tasted by the one who has taken to dhikr with the whole of himself, so that his skin and heart are softened. As Allah said: "Then their skins and their hearts soften to the remembrance of Allah" (39:23).
The "softening of the heart" consists in the sensitivity and timidity that come as a result of nearness and tajalli [manifestation of one or more divine attributes]. Sufficient is it to have Allah as one's intimate companion!
As for the "softening of the skin." this is the ecstasy and swaying from side to side which result from intimacy and manifestation, or from fear and awe. No blame attaches to someone who has reached this rank if he sways and chants, for in the painful throes of love and passion he finds something which arouses the highest yearning....
The exhortation provided by fear and awe brings forth tears and forces one to tremble and be humble. These are the states of the righteous believers (abrar) when they hear the Speech and dhikr of Allah the Exalted. "Their skins shiver" (39:23), and then soften with their hearts and incline to dhikr of Him, as they are covered in serenity and dignity, so that they are neither frivolous, pretentious, noisy, or ostentatious. Allah the Exalted has not described them as people whose reasons have departed, who faint, dance, or jump about.
Types and frequency of Dhikr
Because dhikr is the life of the heart, Ibn Taymiyya is quoted by his student Ibn Qayyim as saying that Dhikr is as necessary for the heart as water for the fish. Ibn Qayyim himself wrote a book, al-Wabil al-sayyib, on the virtues of dhikr, where he lists more than one hundred such virtues, among them (Quoted in Maulana M. Zakariyya Kandhalvi, Virtues of Dhikr (Lahore: Kutub Khana Faizi, n.d.) p. 74-76:
- It induces love for Allah. He who seeks access to the love of Almighty Allah should do dhikr profusely. Just as reading and repetition is the door of knowledge, so dhikr of Allah is the gateway to His love.
- Dhikr involves muraqaba or meditation, through which one reaches the state of ihsan or excellence, wherein a person worships Allah as if he is actually seeing Him.
- The gatherings for dhikr are gatherings of angels, and gatherings without dhikr are gatherings of Satan.
- By virtue of dhikr, the person doing dhikr is blessed, as also the person sitting next to him.
- In spite of the fact that dhikr is the easiest form of worship (the movement of the tongue being easier than the movement of any other part of the body), yet it is the most virtuous form.
- Dhikr is a form of Sadaqa -- charity. Abu Dharr al-Ghifari said: "The Messenger of Allah said: "Sadaqa is for every person every day the sun rises." I said: "O Messenger of Allah, from what do we give sadaqa if we do not possess property?" He said: "The doors of sadaqa are takbir (i.e. to say: Allahu Akbar, Allah is Greater); Subhan Allah (Allah is exalted high); al-hamdu lillah (all praise is for Allah); La ilaha illallah (there is no god other than Allah); Astaghfirullah (I seek forgiveness from Allah); enjoining good; forbidding evil.... These are all the doors of sadaqah from you which is prescribed for you, and there is a reward for you even in sex with your wife." Narrated by Ahmad and Ibn Hibban, and there is something of similar effect in Muslim.
All words of praise and glory to Allah, extolling His Perfect Attributes of Power and Majesty, Beauty and Sublimeness, whether one utters them by tongue or says them silently in one's heart, are known as dhikr or remembrance, of Allah. He has commanded us to remember Him always and ever. Allah says:
"O you who believe! Celebrate the praises of Allah, and do so often; and glorify Him morning and evening." (33:41-42)
If anyone remembers Allah, He remembers that person:
"Remember me, I shall remember you." (2:152)
Remembrance of Allah is the foundation of good deeds. Whoever succeeds in it is blessed with the close friendship of Allah. That is why the Prophet, peace be upon him, used to make remembrance of Allah at all times. When a man complained, "The laws of Islam are too heavy for me, so tell me something that I can easily follow," the Prophet told him, "Let your tongue be always busy with the remembrance of Allah." [Narrated by Ahmad with two sound chains, also Tirmidhi and Ibn Majah through other chains, and Ibn Hibban who declared it sahih as well as al-Hakim.]
The Prophet, peace be upon him, would often tell his Companions, "Shall I tell you about the best of deeds, the most pure in the sight of your Lord, about the one that is of the highest order and is far better for you than spending gold and silver, even better for you than meeting your enemies in the battlefield where you strike at their necks and they at yours?" The Companions replied, "Yes, O Messenger of Allah!" The Prophet, peace be upon him, said, "Remembrance of Allah." (Narrated by Tirmidhi, Ahmad, and Hakim who declared its chain of narrators sound.)
Remembrance of Allah is also a means of deliverance from Hell Fire. Mu'adh reported, "The Prophet, peace be upon him, said, 'No other act of man is a more effective means for his deliverance from the chastisement of Allah than the remembrance of Allah." (Narrated by Ahmad.)
Ahmad also reports that the Prophet, peace be upon him, said: "Whatever you say in celebration of Allah's Glory, Majesty, and Oneness, and all your words of Praise for Him gather around the Throne of Allah. These words resound like the buzzing of bees, and call attention to the person who uttered them to Allah. Don't you wish to have someone there in the presence of Allah who would call attention to you?"
The required amount of dhikr is as much as possible
Allah ordered that He should be remembered abundantly. Describing the wise men and women who ponder His signs, the Qur'an mentions:
"Those who remember Allah standing, sitting and on their sides," (3:191), and
"Those men and women who engage much in Allah's praise. For them has Allah prepared forgiveness and a great reward." (3:191, 33:35)
The author of Fiqh al-Sunna mentioned that Mujahid explained: "A person cannot be one of 'those men and women who remember Allah much' as mentioned in the above verse of the Qur'an, unless he or she remembers Allah at all times, standing, sitting, or lying in bed," and that when asked how much dhikr one should do to be considered as one of "those who remember Allah much," Ibn as-Salah said that "much" is "when one is constant in supplicating, in the morning and evening and in other parts of the day and the night as reported from the Prophet, peace be upon him."
Concerning the above Qur'anic verses `Ali ibn Abu Talha relates that Ibn `Abbas said, "All obligations imposed upon man by Allah are clearly marked and one is exempted from them only in the presence of a genuine cause. The only exception is the obligation 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,' in the morning, during the day, at sea or on land, on journeys 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."
We see by the above evidence that there is no such thing as too much dhikr. The Prophet is related to say: "He who loves something mentions it much." (Narrated by Abu Nu`aym in the Hilya and Daylami in Musnad al-firdaws. Sakhawi cites it in al-Maqasid al-hasana p. 393 #1050 and does not comment upon it.) We love Allah and His Prophet, and therefore we mention Allah and His Prophet. No one may declare a limit to such mention except those who do not have such love and they are undoubtedly the enemies of Islam.
Imam Ghazali said in the fortieth book of his Ihya' entitled "The Remembrance of Death and The Afterlife" (p. 124 in the translation of T.J. Winter, `Abd al-Hakim Murad):
It is man's soul and spirit that constitute his real nature... Upon death his state changes in two ways. Firstly he is now deprived of his eyes, ears and tongue, his hand, his feet and all his parts, just as he is deprived of family, children, relatives, and all the people he used to know, and of his horses and other riding-beasts, his servant-boys, his houses and property, and all that he used to own. There is no distinction to be drawn between his being taken from these things and these things being taken from him, for it is the separation itself which causes pain....
If there was anything in the world in which he had found consolation and peace, then he will greatly lament for it after he dies, and feel the greatest sorrow over losing it. His heart will turn to thoughts of everything he owned, of his power and estates, even to a shirt he used to wear, for instance, and in which he took pleasure.
However, had he taken pleasure only in the remembrance of Allah, and consoled himself with Him alone, then his will be great bliss and perfect happiness. For the barriers which lay between him and his Beloved will now be removed, and he will be free of the obstacles and cares of the world, all of which had distracted him from the remembrance of Allah. This is one of the aspects of the difference between the states of life and death.
On the same topic Imam Habib al-Haddad said (Key to the Garden p. 104):
Time and days are a man's capital, while his inclinations, desires, and various ambitions are the highway robbers. The way in which one profits on this journey lies in succeeding in coming to Allah and in attaining everlasting happiness, while one loses by being veiled from Allah, and being consigned to the painful torment of the Fire.
For this reason the intelligent believer transforms all his breaths into acts of obedience, and interrupts them only with the dhikr of Allah.
One of the basic methods of Meditation for calling out to Allah (zikrullah) (to be done for atleast 5-10 min twice a day, the longer you do this the better it is for you, in the morning and evening):
1. Sit in a comfortable relaxed position.
2. Close your eyes.
3. Concentrate on your breathing.
4. Inhale deeply and exhale with deliberate force.
5. When you inhale recite the word ‘Allah’ in your heart.
6. Visualize the word ‘Allah’, descending on you in the form of light and penetrating into your soul, going straight into your heart (Qalb).
7. When you exhale, recite the word ‘Hoo’ in your heart.
8. Visualize the light that seeped into your heart now coming out of your heart and flowing out with your breath, only to come back and strike at your heart again.
9. Continue this exercise until you feel that you want to stop.
10. Now you may stop the deliberate breathing, and come back to your natural pace.
11. Continue the exercise for a few minutes in shallow, passive normal breathing.