There are five senses, one of touch, taste, smell, sight and hearing associated with the human body; there is yet another, a sense of thought also. The information processed by them directly affects the Qalb(Heart). If the eye sees something beautiful, a beautiful flower, a lovely picture, the Qalb(Heart) also feels delighted; if it sees something ugly, the Qalb(Heart) also feels distressed. If the ear hears something good or bad, or if the tongue indulges in noble or loose talk, the Qalb(Heart) feels their effect. Similarly, the thought process of the brain also affects the Qalb(Heart). When, it is advised to close the eyes during Zikr(Remembrance), lock the tongue, move the body slightly and focus the mind on ‘Allah Hoo’, all these steps are aimed at reducing the external effects on the Qalb(Heart). If the Qalb(Heart) is distracted, it will divide its attention and consequently its connection with Zikr(Remembrance) Allah will be lost. It means the Qalb(Heart) can remain attentive to only one thing at one time. The ‘power of concentration’ is, in fact, one of the yoga practices and worship of Hindus. These are exercises of the brain that are similar to telepathy. This power is attained by focusing the entire mental energy at one point. Such people start with constantly gazing at the flame of a candle for five minutes in the beginning and gradually extend this time to several hours. Those who become experts can continue gazing at the sun for hours at a time. They do this to attain the ability to focus the entire mental energy at one point. Having attained it, they use this ability to transfer their thoughts to other people’s minds or to read their minds to some extent. During these times, you are using machines for similar purposes.
1. Acceptance of the Faith is an act. Remembrance of Allah-swt is present in it, hence it is Zikr(Remembrance).
2. Acquisition of knowledge about the Deen is an excellent act and it contains the Remembrance of Allah, hence it is Zikr (Remembrance) .
3.(a). Every action whether it is a Farz (Obligatory), Wajib (Necessary), Sunnah, or Mubah (proper/permissible), includes the Remembrance of Allah, and is therefore Zikr (Remembrance) . This covers everything from worship to worldly affairs, and is known as Zikr-e Amli (Practical Zikr). It also includes Zikr-e Lisani (Oral Zikr), as recitation during Salah(Prayer) and Tasbihaat(Recitals) are Zikr-e Lisani. Similarly, studying and teaching Deen, Tableegh (preaching) are all included in Zikr, because Remembrance of Allah-swt is present in all of them. (b). The next form is Zikr-e Lisani; Tasbihaat, Darood Sharif and Recitation of the Quran are all included in Zikr-e Lisani.
(c). Further, the third form is Zikr-e Qalbi(Remembrance of Heart). Qalb(Heart) is a subtle body placed within the lump of flesh about which the Holy Prophet-saws reportedly said, „There is a lump of flesh in the body; if that is healthy the whole body is healthy, and if that is sick the whole body is sick. Know that it is the heart (Qalb)‟, (or as said by the Messenger-saws of Allah-swt). Divine Injunctions about this (Zikr-e Qalbi) are also present, so much so that the author of Tafseer-e Mazhari has written that acquisition of Zikr-e Qalbi(Remembrance of Heart) is mandatory for every Muslim man and woman, and he has presented just two references of Divine Commands: 1) The command of Allah-swt, when dispatching Hazrat Musa-as and Hazrat Haroon-as to Fir„aun (Pharaoh): And slacken not in keeping Me in Remembrance. (Ta Ha: 42)…meaning My Zikr (Remembrance) should not become secondary in your attention. Now, every cell of a Prophet‟s body is not only a Zakir (engaged in Allah-swt‟s constant Zikr) in itself, but it is a Zakir-maker, as anything that touches him also becomes a Zakir. Therefore, it is not possible for a Prophet‟s greatness to be ever unmindful of Zikr. However, to invite Firaun(pharoah), a cruel despotic ruler and a self-proclaimed god, possessor of pomp and splendor, and grandeur and might, to accept the Unity of Allah-swt – that too, from a position of want and poverty; this task could only be undertaken by a Prophet of Allah-swt . It was emphasized (by Allah Kareem) that even in that situation, the primary attention should be focused towards His Zikr (Remembrance) , and the conversation with Fir„aun be consigned a secondary status. This state can be none other than Zikr-e Qalbi.
2) The other reference is found in Surah Muzzammil(Chapter of Quran): the Holy Prophet-saws is addressed: Remember the Name of your Rabb and devote yourself to Him wholeheartedly. (Al Muzzammil: 8) That is, keep on doing the Zikr (Remembrance) of your Rabb‟s Name, keep repeating „Allah Allah Allah‟ to such an extent that there remains no other awareness except that of Allah-swt. Here, the Command to recite the Quran has already been given separately. Therefore, this reference is only to the Zikr (Remembrance) of the Personal Name and to Zikr-e Qalbi. Yes, it is with Allah-swt, to grant the capacity to understand this.
With complete concentration and attention, breathing should be so managed that the Personal Name ‘Allah’ should descend into the depths of the heart (Qalb) with every breath going in and the word ‘Hoo’ should strike the Qalb(Heart) with every breath coming out. When doing the second Latifah(Spiritual Organ), the Personal Name Allah should descend into the depths of the Qalb(Heart) with every breath going in and the word ‘Hoo’ should strike the second Latifah (Spiritual Organ) with every breath coming out. Similarly, when doing the third, fourth and the fifth Latifah(Spiritual Organ) , the Personal Name Allah should descend into the depths of the Qalb(Heart) with every breath going in and the word ‘Hoo’ should strike the Latifah (Spiritual Organ) under Zikr(Remembrance) with every breath coming out. The Method of doing Zikr(Remembrance) on the Sixth Latifah (Spiritual Organ) The Personal Name Allah should descend into the depths of the Qalb(Heart) with every breath going in and a flare of ‘Hoo’ should come out of the forehead with every breath coming out. The Method of doing Zikr(Remembrance) on the Seventh Latifah (Spiritual Organ) The Personal Name Allah should descend into the depths of the Qalb(Heart) with every breath going in and a flare of ‘Hoo’ should come out of every cell and pore of the body with every breath coming out. After doing Zikr(Remembrance) on the seventh Latifah (Spiritual Organ) , the first Latifah (Spiritual Organ) is done again, whose method had been given in the beginning. During Zikr(Remembrance) the breathing should be rapid and forceful, accompanied by the movement of the body, which starts automatically with rapid breathing. It should be borne in mind that no breath is left without Zikr(Remembrance). Attention should be focused on the Qalb(Heart) and the continuity in Zikr (Remembrance) should not break.
Indeed in the creation of the heavens and the earth and in the alternation of the night and day are signs for men of understanding. Those who remember Allah standing and sitting and lying on their sides and reflect on the creation of the heavens and the earth; our Lord! You have not created all this in vain. Hallowed be You! Save us You from the torment of the Fire. (3:190-191)
Apparently, the world is touching the zenith of advancement, but does material progress, beautification of the body, abundance in food and wealth represent the pinnacle of human excellence? Is man just the name of a body alone? No, not at all! Man is a magnificent creation of Almighty Allah. The human body has a role in worldly affairs only, while the reality lies within this visible form. It permeates every cell of the body and is called the Ruh (spirit) – a wonder of Divine creation. When the holy Prophet‑SAWS was questioned about it, the reply was given by Almighty Allah, Say: the Ruh is by my Lord’s Command. (17:85). Command is an Attribute of Allah. How then was the Ruh(Soul) created from this Sublime Divine Attribute? Was it created through its image or reflection? In response, it was said, And of knowledge you have been given but a little. – 17:80. It is beyond human intellect to comprehend this point, you haven’t been granted the ability to understand it.
The real human dwells inside this body, a body which is made from the earth and its clothing, food and medicines all come from the earth. It can sustain itself even with the minimum of provisions and can live on ordinary food, cheap clothes and cheap shelter. But can it survive if its connection with the earth is totally severed? The Ruh (Soul) is a creature of the Realm of Command. When its connection with the Realm of Command breaks, it resembles a body whose connection with the earth is severed; it cannot remain alive. When the Ruh (Soul) of a person is not alive…what is the life of the Ruh? The body gets its life when the Ruh(Soul) flows into it. Similarly, the Ruh (Soul) gets its life when the light of Faith flows into the Qalb(Heart). The Ruh (Soul) of a person is dead whose heart is without this light or is filled with Kufr. If you watch a Kafir, he would be more like an animal and less like a human being. He would be selfish, immoral, wicked and be inclined, like a snake, to bite and destroy fellow creatures. If we look at our society the question becomes, ‘Why has everybody turned against each other, why is it that everyone is out to harm others?’ The basic reason is that the Ruh (Soul) has died.
Prophets were sent to teach human qualities to the children of Adam-AS. The word insan (human) is derived from uns (love). When life flows into Ruh, it generates love and kindness. One starts thinking about the good of Allah’s creation: how can I help a human being, how can I benefit others? This is the difference between the life and death of the Ruh (Soul) . When the Ruh (Soul) is given life, a special consciousness develops, the thought process is modified, horizons of perception are broadened and one’s conduct is reformed. This extended perception does not remain confined to this world only, even the Last Day can be perceived. When the Ruh (Soul) becomes unconcerned with the apparent form of deeds and instead envisions their consequences in the Hereafter and on the Day of Judgement, it certainly reforms its conduct. But what keeps the Ruh (Soul) alive, healthy and strong? The holy Quran has emphasised on numerous occasions that your most common action in life should be Allah’s Zikr(Remember): Perform Allah’sZikrmost frequently. – 33:41. Now taking food is an act, earning livelihood is an act, going about is an act, maintaining relations and doing business are also acts, but there are other actions that we keep on doing throughout our lives. We breathe without interruption and our hearts beat without a break – life halts when these stop. If we have to perform ‘most frequent Zikr’, we will have to do it more than our breathing and more than our heartbeats – but how is this possible?
It is a living miracle of the holy Prophet-SAWS that he made possible this ‘impossibility’. When those people who attended his blessed company and came to be known as the Companions went to him, the light reflected by his blessed Qalb(Heart) instantly illuminated each cell of their bodies – Then mellowed their skins and hearts towards Allah’s Zikr. – 39:23. The reflection of Prophetic lights infused them, from the outermost to the innermost parts of their bodies, with Allah’s Zikr(Remembrance) and each cell of their bodies began performing Allah’s Zikr (Remembrance) . Now, one can only breathe once at any given moment, but at that same moment, there would be billions of cells performing Allah’s Zikr(Remembrance) . This way, Allah’s Zikr(Remembrance) would accordingly exceed respiration. Similarly, the heart may beat only once in a moment, but the billions of cells that it is made of, alongwith the countless cells of the rest of the body, would be performing Allah’s Zikr(Remembrance) . Within that one heartbeat, the body would perform Allah’s Zikr(Remembrance) zillions of time. But there is only one way – only one: attain those blessings from the holy Prophet Muhammad-SAWS! Allahsays there are signs in the creation of the heavens and the earth, and in the alternation of days and nights, for a person with the Light of Faith, the one whose nature is still pure, who hasn’t yet turned into an animal and still retains some human qualities.
The creation of the heavens and earth, the days and nights, the unending process of creation that produces innumerable forms of life on earth every moment, fruits that ripen, trees that bloom, crops that grow and the blades of grass that take root, all of these contain visible signs. Nobody can count the things that are being created or destroyed each moment. The continuous process of change, creation and extinction contain magnificent signs of Allah’s Greatness for the wise. Who are these wise men? The holy Quran explains, ‘Wise are … those who remember Allah standing, sitting and reclining’; that is, they remember Allah at all times, in all the states, not even a moment is spent without Allah’s Zikr (Remembrance) – they are the wise! When this constant Zikr (Remembrance) is achieved, the vision is broadened ‘and they reflect upon the creation of the heavens and the earth.’ They acquire wisdom and reflect upon the creation of the heavens and the earth, the systems supporting the universe, life and death, and the phenomenon of ‘rise and fall’. The sun rises pale, turns into a fireball at noon and turns pale again as it sets. Similarly, the seeds sprout, grow into huge trees and finally fall to become firewood. Crops grow and sway in the fields like waves, to finally dry and perish. It is a cycle, permanent and continuous, without the slightest bit of deviation. The world has been in existence since time immemorial, yet if only a single ray of sunlight had been extinguished everyday, by now the sun would have become cold and the solar system frozen; if only one ray (of sunlight) had been increased each day, the solar system would have been incinerated by now. But there is someone…someone who has kept in check everything under His Command, so that nothing happens before or after its appointed time. These are signs for the wise, they will reflect, they will understand; the faculty of contemplation would develop with them; but how… ‘those who remember Allah standing, sitting and reclining.’ Zikr(Remembrance) is a vast term and in plain words it means ‘to remember’. All of our actions that are in accordance with Shari’ah comprise Allah’s Zikr (Remembrance) . That is Zikr (Remembrance) by deeds or practical Zikr (Remembrance) , whether it be earning a livelihood, doing business, maintaining relationships, carrying out Jihad, fighting on the battlefield or living within the family. If our verbal communication is in accordance with the Shari’ah, it is oral Zikr (Remembrance) . We may read Darud Sharif(Salutations on Holy Prophet SAW), engage in Allah’s Tasbeeh, recite His Book, worship or may talk about Him, etc, all of this is included in oral Zikr (Remembrance) . But there are times when all deeds get suspended. Man is a strange machine, he requires as much time to rest as he does to work. He works during the day and rests at night for the natural maintenance of his body. A loss of energy due to work is recouped; bones, flesh, veins and nerves are refreshed and toned up again and when he gets up in the morning, he is ready to work again. Now during this period of rest, he has not done any Zikr(Remembrance) by way of deeds. Therefore, practically, constant Zikr(Remembrance) by deeds is not possible. Even for oral Zikr (Remembrance) , it is not possible that all of his talking during the day comprises Allah’s Zikr(Remembrance) . If we write down all that we say during the day and review it in the evening, we would realize how we have wasted our day because there may be only a few sentences of any worth or value. Then, when we go to sleep, oral Zikr (Remembrance) also stops but the breathing continues and so does the heartbeat. Similarly, if one gets sick or falls unconscious, the tongue may get tied, eyes may close, hands and feet may stop working but even then, the breathing would continue and so would the heartbeat.
The Prophetic way of beneficence was that, anyone who went to the holy Prophet‑SAWS with the light of Faith was immersed in an ocean of light, each organ and cell of his body started performing Zikr(Remembrance) . These blessings were there during the time of the Companions and anyone who went to them became a Tab‘i. They were distributed in a similar manner during the time of the Taba‘in and anyone who attended their company came to be known as a Taba‘ Tab‘i. These three periods are known as Khair ul-Quroon – the best of all times. The holy Prophet-SAWSsaid, ‘My time, the time that follows it and the time after that are, respectively, the best of all times.’ After Khair ul-Quroon, religious knowledge was categorised, righteous scholars compiled and then organised the traditions of the holy Prophet‑SAWS – the Ahadith, and the Book of Allah was translated into the native languages of the countries that it reached. Scholars fulfilled their duty of spreading religious knowledge to the masses in a most befitting manner and are discharging their blessed duty even today – may Allah forevermore keep this nation under their patronage! It is their favour that they expound Allah’s Message and the holy Prophet’s‑SAWS traditions to people. There was another category that also came into being which, alongwith knowledge, strove to acquire Prophetic blessings and spent a lifetime in absorbing Prophetic lights, radiated by the blessed bosom of the holy Prophet-SAWS into their bosoms. They came to be known as Sufis and Mashaikh. Such people were rare because the commodity they possessed was extraordinarily precious. You can find a grocery store around the corner of every street but if you want to buy diamonds, you won’t find them at every store, even in big towns there won’t be many jewellers. These Prophetic lights and blessings that radiated from the blessed bosom of the holy Prophet‑SAWS were incomparably more precious than diamonds and therefore were very rare. Fortunate were those who searched across the globe for their bearers and acquired these blessings from them.
How much did people strive for these blessings…this you can comprehend from a small incident. There is a tomb of a saint near our lands here and in the 6th century he travelled to Baghdad on foot, as no other means of transport were available then. There, he became a student of the grandson of Shaikh Abdul Qadir Jilani-RUA. He stayed there for many years, learnt Allah’s Zikr (Remembrance) , initiated his Qalb(Heart) and body with Zikr (Remembrance) and finally returned after an arduous journey of an indefinite period. During that time there were no telephones, telexes or televisions, it was impossible to know where to find such a person. People would set out in their pursuit from village to village and if they found someone they would stay, else they would carry on to the next village and then the next. He went from here to Baghdad on foot and returned on foot – isn’t it strange? But these people are somewhat different. He had built a small mosque near here and though centuries have passed by, nearby inhabitations have vanished and generations have gone by, nobody knows who had ever lived there, since there is no one to tell, yet the mosque still stands. Someone would just come and repair it. The mosque in which he remembered Allah is still there.
So my brother, Zikr (Remembrance) is important for the reason that without Zikr (Remembrance) , without constancy in Zikr (Remembrance) , it is not easy to reform one’s conduct and deeds. It is not easy to keep the Ruh(Soul) alive and retain the spiritual qualities that make a human being humane and generate humanity. You were enemies (of each other), and he (My Prophet) joined you hearts together. – 3:103. We who beg door to door for a piece of bread and endure insults while seeking a livelihood; shouldn’t we try to knock on a door where this Divine favour is available – the blessings of the holy Prophet Muhammad-SAWS? Shouldn’t we look for someone who gives us Allah’s Zikr (Remembrance) , suffusing us in the same way as water saturates each particle of a flowerbed? These blessings should not only illuminate the Qalb(Heart) and the whole bosom, but also initiate Allah’s Zikr(Heart) in every cell of the body, in every piece of flesh, skin and bones and in every drop of blood. If one gets to this level of Zikr(Heart), it is only then that he starts to understand the reality of human life and humanity. Vision is diverted towards the creation of the heavens and contemplation is stimulated. One starts recognising Allah, according to one’s capacity, and feels like prostrating before Him and starts enjoying worship, one likes being in the Divine Presence and starts enjoying it. One feels like undertaking Jihad in His Cause and takes pleasure in getting his throat slit and his chest slashed. Such pleasure is the lot of a believer only and has shaken the Western world, they cannot understand why a Muslim sets out of his home only to die. It is strange. People join wars to capture booty, to get a salary and to earn money, for as the saying goes, ‘It is better to die rich than a pauper.’ But this army is strange, they say, ‘Take everything from us, just let us fight and let us die, our goal is to die.” What do they get in death? The West cannot understand this philosophy, because they don’t believe in Allah, they don’t know His beloved Prophet-SAWS. Allah says, ‘It is not death, it is the death of death! It is eternal life for the dead.’ Do not call those slain in Allah’sCause as dead. – 2:154. The interpreters have explained that those ‘people of God’, whose hearts and bodies get saturated with Allah’s Zikr(Remembrance) , those who achieve continual Zikr(Remembrance) , may meet death in any form but they are granted the status of Shahadat (martyrdom) and they achieve eternal life. This is because their total effort in life is devoted to Allah, seeking His Good Pleasure. They are the ones who have lost their lives during life. They can lay down their lives, but they cannot neglect Allah’s Zikr (Remembrance) . They can die but cannot leave HisZikr (Remembrance) .
Someone asked a question through an email the other night, ‘Doesn’t one practically remain in Allah’s Zikr (Remembrance) all of the time? One utters His Name every now and then, during work one would say, ‘God willing, this would be done’, one would remember Allah when meeting friends or parting with them. That way, one always remains engaged in Allah’ Zikr (Remembrance) in some form or the other.’ Basically the contention is correct; belief in Allah is also a form of Zikr (Remembrance) . All deeds within the framework of Shari’ah also constitute Zikr (Remembrance) , but performing Zikr(Remembrance) that gives a taste of acquaintance is something totally different. Spending one’s life is one thing, but to enjoy the pleasures of life is something else. Reciting Allah’s Name every now and then is one thing, but the simultaneous vibration of billions of cells with His Zikr (Remembrance) , that transform a human being into an ocean of Divine Refulgence is something absolutely different – it is an experience in itself! The one who tastes this does not differentiate between life and death, wealth and affluence lose their charm. The concept of union or separation loses its meaning and each moment of his life remains in the Divine Presence; every breath whispers a saga of Divine Greatness. This pleasure is known only to him who has tasted it- by Divine Grace.
So in my opinion, my brother, from what I have understood from the Book of Allah, the traditions of the holy Prophet-SAWS and the knowledge of a lifetime granted by Allah, life without Zikr (Remembrance) is no life, it is only a pastime. The real taste and pleasure of life is in Allah’s Zikr(Remembrance) . My suggestion, for the one who wants to know more, is that he should start performing Zikr (Remembrance) himself. The Mashaikh(Spiritual Teachers) have defined numerous ways of performing Zikr (Remembrance) , and all of the methods that are not contradictory to the Shari’ahare permitted. Nevertheless, being permitted is one thing, the method that draws more lights, blessings and beneficence is another matter. When someone asks us, naturally we would talk about and teach him our method that we have adopted for a lifetime, but he may perform Zikr (Remembrance) by any other method that he likes – performing Zikr (Remembrance) is mandatory. However, no restriction has been laid on the method of Zikr(Remembrance) either by Allah or by His holy Prophet‑SAWS. Therefore, no one can impose any such restriction by one’s own opinion. Learn it from any Shaikh(Spiritual Teacher), learn it from any ‘man of God’, but my earnest recommendation is that if you really want to enjoy life, you must learn Allah’s Zikr (Remembrance) . You will be able to taste its pleasure once it gets absorbed into your being and you would also understand how tasteless life is without Zikr(Remembrance) .
May Allah favour everybody to do His Zikr (Remembrance) . May He illuminate our hearts, bosoms and bodies, and forgive us our mistakes and sins.
Human beings have been blessed with two types of knowledge which make them superior to the other creatures. The first type relates to the physical body and every human being whether good or bad, believer or a disbeliever can acquire it. The second type is related to the Divine Being which cannot be acquired through intellect or experience but is granted by Allah Himself to Prophets and then acquired by their followers. Its seat is the human Qalb (heart). The Divine Word was similarly revealed unto the heart of the holy Prophet (Sall Allah-o Alaihi wa Sallam). But only those people whose hearts were illuminated with the light of Faith could benefit from him. Although every believer and disbeliever saw him-saw alike, yet the holy Quran asserts that the disbelievers did not see him … looking toward thee, but they see not – 7:198. They saw him with physical eyes; their hearts being devoid of Divine love, they tried to judge him with mundane intellect and as such failed to perceive his real self. They saw him as Muhammad-saw – the son of Abdullah and not as Muhammad-saw – the Messenger of Allah.
Arwah Bin Masood Saqfi (who had not accepted Islam till then) was representing the Makkans during the Truce of Hudaibiyyah. While writing the truce document, Hadhrat Ali (Radhi Allah Unho) inscribed ‘Muhammad – the Messenger of Allah’ in the opening sentence. Arwah instantly reacted and said, “That is the only dispute between us. If we accept him-saw as Allah’s Messenger, then why would we block his way to Allah’s House? His name should be written as Muhammad-saw – the son of Abdullah.”: he was right, in his own way. Unless the heart is revived and its faculties fully restored, it cannot discern reality. Also, this knowledge is beyond the realm of the intellect which can confirm only what it receives through its physical senses, it cannot perceive the intangible.
This earth has seen many periods of material progress; there have been great scientists, scholars and intellectuals of high eminence before our time and the process of amazing discoveries and miraculous inventions has continued all along. The other day, scientists discovered the remains of an ancient civilisation under the sea bed where they unearthed houses, utensils, bones and skulls. The design and beauty of those old houses even excel the present standard of our construction. It was a continent once, but those people were probably seized by Divine punishment and buried underwater. This world has witnessed many turns of time; it has seen nations rise, fall and perish forever. But despite all of the material progress and development, the intellect has only discussed a very small portion of human life, that which starts from birth and ends at death. Nobody could disclose anything about his remaining eternal life of the Hereafter, nor could provide any information about his Ruh (The Spirit). No philosopher or thinker could claim any knowledge about the Divine Being, His Attributes or the nature of His relationship with man. This aspect of knowledge is beyond the access of the human mind and intellect. There has been only one group, that of Allah’s Messengers and Prophets, who provided sure knowledge about the transcendental truths. They were blessed with knowledge from the Divine Presence and their hearts were its treasure-houses.
My friend, if the intellect acquires knowledge while the heart is dark, it works more for human destruction than for its peace, it generates more distress than comfort. If you analyse the Western society, it is devoting more funds for armament research than for medicine. But if the heart comes alive, it starts guiding the human intellect. It works for the betterment of humanity and not for its destruction. It consciously migrates from vice to virtue. The life of the heart (Qalb) is related to Allah’s remembrance. Man has only to implant Allah’s Name firmly in his heart, what follows is really amazing. Although the eyes cannot see Him, yet the belief becomes surer than visual observation. The hands cannot feel Him, the mind cannot grasp Him but the heart recognises Him vividly. It cannot describe Him but it discerns Him, hears Him, establishes a relationship with Him, entreats Him, obeys Him and acts according to His Will.
This is an abstract state which cannot be verbalised. If you ask a lover about love, how will he describe it? Similarly, if a person who has never remained hungry asks about hunger, how can he be told? Keep him hungry for sometime and he would understand it himself. Similarly, ask the person who wants to know about love to start loving, he would himself taste love and discover its logic. We ourselves experience these natural instincts quite often. Similarly, faith is also an arcane state of the heart. It can be experienced only after it is professed. The holy Prophet-saw has said, “Worship Allah as if you see Him”. Now, to conceive an impossibility is naturally impossible. If you ask a man to imagine giving birth to a child, he would never succeed even after years of mental effort. The holy Prophet-saw has commanded the believers to worship Allah as if they see Him, while according to Quran, the human sight cannot encompass Allah. It signifies that there must be some other way to perceive His Transcendence. This is achieved through the esoteric state of Qalb(Heart), which discerns Him and assures man of His Omnipresence.
The majority of the early Muslims belonged to a poor class who were slaves of the Makkans through generations. They were tuned towards instinctive and unqualified obedience of their masters. When they professed Islam, the Makkan masters employed all means of torture to dissuade their helpless and destitute slaves. Through inhuman persecution, they demanded their slaves to renounce the Absolute Unity of Allah. The newly converted Muslims replied that it was not possible for them to comply because they knew for sure that Allah was actually, absolutely One. Their hearts had achieved that state where they perceived Allah to be present before them. Had their hearts been veiled from Divine Presence (as ours have been) they could not have resolutely withstood that suffering and may have succumbed to it – may Allah forgive us! Our hearts are so unmindful of Him that we sin, steal and lie, right in His Presence. On the other hand, we never sin in the presence of other human beings, even children, due to fear of disclosure and subsequent humiliation. If we are equally convinced that our Lord is ever Present with us, we would never dare to sin. This conviction is absent from our faith because even when our intellect accepts this fact, our hearts remain void of Divine observation. Hearts that perceive Divinity, behave differently!
I read in the biography of Ba Yazid Bustami-rua that once he went for Hajj. Travelling was difficult during those times; people went on foot or on camels and horses. Now, air travel has reduced the time and increased the comfort, and the House of Allah always remains full of pilgrims, day and night, throughout the year, like in the Hajj season. However, during earlier times it was possible to get a moment of solitude in the Inviolable Precinct. Ba Yazid Bustami-rua went there at night hoping to worship alone. As he entered, he heard the Angel’s shout, “Get out of My House!” He froze with fear and thought that it was he, who was the target of Divine retort. But, he instantly observed a man, going round the K’abah and frantically crying “I am present, O my Lord! I am present”. After a few moments, he again heard the angel shout, “Get out, don’t pollute My House, don’t make any noise here!” When that man passed in front of Ba Yazid-ruahe was shivering from top to toe. Ba Yazid-rua held him by the arm and said, “Why are you bent upon getting the whole world destroyed? Don’t you hear the Divine reprimand?” The man replied, “Isn’t it me who is being addressed? If you can hear it, why can’t I?” Ba Yazid-rua said, “Then, why don’t you get out? Why are you inviting destruction for the whole area?” The man said, “I would leave but I know of no other door to go and cry at! Whether He accepts or rejects, He is the Only One for me; there is nobody else!” Ba Yazid-rua saw that as soon as the man uttered these words, he was instantly covered by Divine Refulgence and blessing.
An illuminated heart always turns towards Allah, whether He accepts or rejects. But a gloomy heart declines His call for prayers five times every day. That indeed is a great difference. We hear His call, accept it mentally but do not answer it on one pretext or the other. At times we claim that we have more important business to attend or that our clothes are not clean for the prayers or that we feel indisposed. But when the heart is alive, Allah Himself grants it the strength to worship. Then He proudly presents such slaves before the angels who have said that man would work corruption on the earth. “Look at My slaves!” He says, “If there are corrupt ones, well there are good ones like these too! Where can the devil take them? Even when I reproach them, they do not leave My door.” He had similarly addressed Satan on the First Day, Lo! As for My slaves, thou have no power over any of them – 15:42. That is, ‘You have no power over those who become My slaves but if anyone chooses to be your minion, I do not care about him.’
The life of the heart, its light and peace depend upon Allah’s Zikr (remembrance). How can it be acquired? There is a fundamental difference between knowledge given by Prophets and knowledge given by others. A non-Prophet offers only words, but a Prophet also distributes certain invisible feelings along with his words. The beneficence of Prophethood comprises two distinct divisions of knowledge and blessings. Recites His verses unto them and makes them grow (spiritually) and teaches them the Book and Wisdom – 62:2. The religious preaching is followed by purification of the hearts and subsequently knowledge of the Book and Wisdom. Unless the heart is purified, the mind can only remember words but cannot assimilate these feelings. A gloomy heart would definitely command the mind to devour prohibited things and perform sinful acts.
The teachings of the holy Prophet-saw contained so much strength, that even after fourteen centuries, anybody who professes Islam can still discriminate between right and wrong. It is indeed an extremely strange phenomenon that a person who lives in a jungle, far from civilisation, can instinctively differentiate between lawful and taboo, and between virtue and vice. But then why doesn’t everybody act according to his knowledge? It is because knowledge influences the mind, but the mind cannot transform knowledge into practice. No positive change can occur unless the Qalb(Heart) realises that the Divine Word is addressing it directly. This is through the beneficence of the holy Prophet-saw. As far his teachings are concerned, both direct and indirect recipients were equally benefited. But his blessings were only available to those who found his august company. His blessings instantly elevated everyone who accepted Islam and came to him-saw to the status of Companionship notwithstanding the misdeeds and gross misconduct of his past life. Companionship is not just a label – it denotes the highest level of piety and morality after Prophethood. During the present times, it has become a custom to criticise the Companions we grade them as our equals (or even lower) and criticise them without any reservations. This happens when we are completely ignorant of the exalted status of Companionship; as stated earlier, it denotes the acme of human excellence. The dust raised by the shoes of a Companion is more valuable in the sight of Allah than the collective sainthood of the entire Ummah. Someone asked Imam Abu Hanifah-rua about the relative status of Hadhrat Amir Muawiyah-rau and ‘Umar Bin ‘Abdul Aziz-rua. He replied that Hadhrat Muawiyah-rau was decidedly better. The questioner was amazed and submitted that ‘Umar Bin ‘Abdul Aziz-rua was a Tab’a Tab’i and the holy Prophet-saw had prophesied that he would be the best person of his time in the whole World. The Imam-rua replied, “Millions of such ‘Umar Bin ‘Abdul Aziz-rua can be sacrificed for the dust gathered in the nostrils of the horse which Hadhrat Muawiyah-rau rode while in the company of the holy Prophet-saw – he was a Companion!”
Unquestioned adherence to the holy Prophet-saw is obligatory for the believers. His blessed company purified the beliefs and conduct of his followers to the highest conceivable level. It is the singular distinction of his Companions that their adherence has been made obligatory for the entire humanity for all times to come. And the first to lead the way, of the Muhajirin and the Ansar and those who followed them in goodness – 9:100. There are only two groups in Islam – the group of the Companions and of those who followed them in earnest – there is no third group. The point which merits consideration is that the Companions were neither Prophets, nor they were innocent – then why have they received so much importance? That is because they had completely submitted themselves before the holy Prophet-saw – they represented his will and pleasure. Once someone asked the holy Prophet-saw, “After all, they are human beings and they would interpret your instructions according to their different levels of intellect. What should be done in case of their difference of opinion?” The holy Prophet-saw replied, “Follow any one (of them) and you would be rightly guided.” That is, even with different opinions they would follow the truth and would not go astray and their adherence would lead you to eternal salvation. Their mutual difference is a blessing which provides various courses for the remainders to follow – anyone can adopt the course of his choice.
After the Battle of the Trench, the holy Prophet-saw was commanded to attend to Bani Quraizah. The Companions had not yet laid down their arms when the holy Prophet-saw ordered them to offer their ‘Asar (afternoon) prayers at the location of this tribe. They were hurrying towards their destination which was about six or seven miles away when the prayer time came. Some opined that the prayers should not be delayed because the holy Prophet-saw had only desired them to reach their destination immediately. The other group maintained that the holy Prophet-sawhad explicitly ordered them to offer their prayers at the destination and that they would obey him in letter and spirit even if it delayed their prayers; each group acted according to its interpretation. Upon reaching the destination, the issue was placed before the holy Prophet-saw, he ruled that both groups had acted correctly. Their illuminated hearts were brim with sincerity for Allah and His Messenger-saw; therefore, their actions were not governed by worldly motives or personal impulses. The blessed company of the holy Prophet-saw had granted them this honour. The Quran has described their condition in a strange manner: So that their flesh and their hearts soften at Allah’s reminder – 39:23. It means that each cell of their bodies, from the outermost skin to the innermost compartment of the heart, was constantly engaged in His remembrance. This blessing was naturally available, distributed and acquired in the company of the holy Prophet-saw.
Khawajah Owais Qarni is famous for his piety, abstinence and love for the holy Prophet‑saw, who had desired that someone should meet him and requested of him to entreat Divine forgiveness for his-saw Ummah and so he directed Hadhrat ‘Umar Faruq-rau to convey his greetings to him. It was a great honour for Owais Qarni and in pursuance of the orders of the holy Prophet-saw, Hadhrat ‘Umar-rau searched for and met him. But despite this singular honour and his special relationship with the holy Prophet-saw, he could not become a Companion because he was unable to physically meet the holy Prophet-saw. These blessings did not fade during the Companions’ times, anybody who accepted Islam and came to them became a Tab’i. The Taba’in also enjoy a distinguished status within the Ummah. Then, all those who found their company became Tab’a Taba’in. Companionship was the greatest blessing but it was distributed without any discrimination. Everybody who accepted Islam and came to the holy Prophet-saw became a Companion; his further attainments depended on his subsequent endeavour and effort but they all commonly shared the title of Companionship. Again there was no precondition to become Tab’i except to attend the august company of a Companion. Similarly the Tab’a Taba’in had only to go to a Taba’i to acquire this status.
Every Muslim is blessed with a heart that can perform Zikr(Remembrance). The Quran and the holy Prophet-saw have repeatedly exhorted the believers to keep performing Zikr (Remembrance) . The Quran has enjoined Zikr (Remembrance) alongside every worship like Salah, Hajj and Jihad. The holy Prophet was himself commanded, “So remember the Name of thy Lord and devote thyself with a complete devotion.” – 73:8. This blessing was similarly distributed down through the ages. Some religious scholars devoted their lives for Tafsir (interpretation of the Quran), some dedicated themselves for Hadith and some others attained excellence in Fiqh (jurisprudence). But despite their diverse fields, all scholars of Tafsir, Hadith and Fiqh used to perform Zikr (Remembrance) and had acquired this blessing. If you look back only fifty years, you would discover that every religious scholar, after completing his education, went to some spiritual master to learn Allah’s Zikr (Remembrance) . It was only after acquiring this blessing that he set out for religious service. This has been their common practice, without exception. The objection that Zikr (Remembrance) is not necessary is the product of our time only. In reality, the life of the Qalb(Heart) is dependent upon Allah’s Zikr (Remembrance) , “Verily, in Allah’s remembrance do hearts find rest.” – 13:28. This Divine Verse asserts that the hearts can find peace only in Allah’s Zikr (Remembrance) and nowhere else. The holy Prophet-saw has said that the best provision is the one which just suffices, where one neither borrows nor accumulates and it is sufficient for his needs; and the best Zikr (Remembrance) is the hidden Zikr (Remembrance) and that which illuminates the heart. “There is a cleanser for everything and the cleanser for the heart is Allah’s Zikr”, he-saw is reported to have said.
Religious scholars have spent their lives in the company of those whose hearts performed Zikr (Remembrance) . They ardently endeavoured to absorb these lights in their own hearts and subsequently distributed them to other Muslims, that was the beginning of Shaikhdom in our religion. Most of the present day concepts which ascribe worldly powers to a Shaikh (spiritual guide) are outrightly false. The belief that anyone without a Shaikh would be subjected to distress and affliction is equally unfounded. A Shaikh is also a human being and also undergoes worldly trials and tribulations. How can he alleviate the miseries of others? A real Peer (Shaikh/spiritual guide) is the one who strives to acquire this light of the heart from an erudite spiritual guide and spends his life in total submission to Allah according to the Sunnah of the holy Prophet-saw. Allah grants him the strength to illuminate the hearts of those who come to seek his spiritual attention, such a seeker is called a Mureed(Spiritual Seeker) and the spiritual mentor is known as a Peer (Shaikh)(Spiritual Teacher). If there is no transfer of blessings, then this relationship is unnecessary and of no consequence whatsoever.
In the present time, Jews, Hindus and even atheists, who do not believe in Allah and His Prophet-saw rule countries, possess wealth and property. If everyone else can have all these worldly facilities and comforts, why can’t a Muslim get his basic provisions of life without a Peer? Allah Himself has proportioned the worldly provisions of everyone and a Peer has absolutely no say in this matter. If someone adopts virtue, Allah arranges his provisions from lawful and permitted means; but if some choose to adopt a sinful life, He directs his provisions through unlawful and wrong ways. But in both cases, each person gets only that which has already been divinely destined for him.
Hadhrat Ali-rau used to visit different areas during his caliphate. One day he was passing through a village when the time for ‘Asar (afternoon) prayers drew near. He arrived at the mosque slightly late, when people were coming out after offering their prayers, so he requested a passer-by to hold his mule so that he could offer his prayers in the mosque. While coming out, he decided to pay two dirhams to the man for this service, but when he came out he found the man missing along with the reins of his mule. He walked to the market to buy another set of reins, where he found the reins of his mule at a shop. “Would you sell them?” he asked the shopkeeper. “Of course, yes!” was his reply. Hadhrat Ali asked, “For how much?” The shopkeeper said, “For two dirhams.” After he purchased the reins, he asked the shopkeeper wherefrom he had procured them. “A man has just sold them to me for one dirham and I sold them to you for two.” Hadhrat Ali-rau said to himself, “I had decided to pay two dirhams to the wretched thief but he chose the wrong way and still got one. This shopkeeper told the truth and earned a lawful profit of one dirham.”
If someone decides to change the course of his life, his decision cannot increase his divinely ordained provisions, only the means of its acquisition are modified according to his new course – he still gets only that which has already been destined for him. A Peer or a religious scholar has simply no say in this matter. A Peer is the one whose own heart is illuminated and he can illuminate the hearts of others. The indication of an illuminated heart is the reformation of one’s belief and conduct and not the mere observation of Divine lights. If the heart rejects unsound belief and conduct, it has come alive and has started doing Zikr (Remembrance) ; otherwise it is still dead. The association with such a Shaikh(Spiritual Teacher) is a sheer waste of time, one should immediately search for another Shaikh(Spiritual Teacher) who is capable of reviving his heart. The speech and conduct of a Shaikh(Spiritual Teacher) should not be oriented towards self exaltation but towards acquisition of Divine Pleasure. He should not covet others’ riches but should earn his sustenance through lawful means. His conduct should corroborate his firm belief in the Omnipresence of Allah. His countenance should reflect Divine Lights and when he bows his head before his Rabb(Lord), the earth should quake with the grandeur of Divine Refulgence. If these blessings are available, this institution of Shaikhdom is of immense value.
The Gracious Lord has given complete freedom of choice in the method of Zikr (Remembrance) , “Such as remember Allah, standing, sitting and reclining.” – 3:191, “And remember your Lord when you forget.” – 18:24. Various Mashaikh(Spiritual Teachers) have adopted different methods of Zikr (Remembrance) for the common aim of illuminating the hearts; there may be many means of transport to reach the same city. Similarly, all these different methods aim at acquiring the Prophetic blessings that were transferred from one bosom to the other and can only be acquired in the company of their custodians. However, this freedom can be exercised within the limits prescribed by the holy Prophet-saw. The adoption of any method prohibited by the Shari‘ah would be incorrect under any pretext.
Allah has defined the form and frequency of all obligatory worship. The rak‘at (cycles) of Salah, various recitals therein and the timings of each Salah have all been laid down. Similarly, all details about Hajj and Saum have also been defined. Allah has however, not defined any form and frequency for His Zikr (Remembrance) . There is neither any pre condition nor any time limitation, even ritual purity or cleanliness of garments is not obligatory. It is not mandatory to perform Zikr (Remembrance) in the mosque, although ritual purity and the holy atmosphere of the mosque would definitely attract more blessings. Zikr (Remembrance) must continue at all times, under all circumstances and conditions. It must continue in mosque, in market, standing, sitting or reclining.
However, it is not possible to perform this continuous, uninterrupted Zikr (Remembrance) with the tongue, that is, orally. Every conversation would interrupt Zikr (Remembrance) and finally, during sleep, all organs would become listless and the tongue would also be quiet. But, if someone receives the attention that was distributed in the company of the holy Prophet-saw, it would saturate his heart with Allah’s Zikr (Remembrance) . Every beat of his heart would reverberate with Allah’s Zikr (Remembrance) and his every breath would be modulated with His Name. Each drop of his blood would carry His blessings to every part of the body, So that their flesh and their hearts soften at Allah’s reminder – 39:23. The condition of continuous and frequent Zikr (Remembrance) can be met only in the company of an accomplished Shaikh(Spiritual Teacher) when his attention initiates Allah’s Zikr (Remembrance) in every cell of the body. This is our primary need because only this attention can revive our hearts, a live heart observes Divine Splendour according to its capacity. This observation can only be experienced – it cannot be described, words fail to translate these indefinable feelings.
My brother, I am also a simple, delinquent person of the present time – may Allah forgive me and all of us! He blessed me to remain in the company of His Aulia (sing – Wali: lit. friends) for thirty years and I declare that while sitting in the mosque, I had never thought of becoming a Shaikh – I have always been afraid of this appointment. I had gone there for my own reformation but was assigned the responsibility to teach others, it is no favour but my duty to convey this blessing to you. Now, if someone accepts this, it is his sweet pleasure and if someone rejects this, it is his own choice. You have seen policemen on duty in the markets. People abuse them, scorn them and at times pelt them with stones and throw empty bottles at them. Do they run away? Of course not, because that is their duty.
Similarly this is my duty which I must perform under all circumstances. People insult me – some pass verdicts; once I was driven out of a mosque for teaching Allah’s Zikr (Remembrance) I do not have to care about the reaction of people nor do I have any expectations from anyone. I repose all my hopes and expectations in my Lord Who has assigned me this duty. I have learnt His name and He has so blessed me, that if you remain with me for a while and perform His Zikr (Remembrance) , you would also get these blessings – this is nothing difficult. It is incorrect to believe that only the son of a Peer can become a Peer – there is no truth in it. Every Muslim is a Shaikh and a Wali(Friend of Divine Being). If every Muslim could become a Companion, why should then Wilayah(Friendhsip with Divine Being) be the lot of a chosen few? There is no discrimination between male and female in this respect; Companionship, the highest title after Prophethood, was also achieved by men and women alike. While mentioning laudable human attributes in the Quran, the Gracious Lord concludes, And the men who remember Allah much and the women who remember Allah much. Here females have been bracketed with males because both are members of the same human race. Therefore, in our Order, every member is permitted to teach Zikr (Remembrance) to the ladies in his house, you can try it yourself. Whenever you give spiritual attention to your mother, sisters, wife or daughters during Zikr (Remembrance) , the hearts of all of them will be illuminated. Life becomes most pleasurable when the entire family, including all of the men, women and children, perform Allah’s Zikr (Remembrance) . At that moment even the walls, stones and bricks resound with His Name. The holy Prophet-saw has said that such houses appear like stars to the dwellers of the Heavens.
This is a blessing over which you have a claim, you have a share in it and it is your basic requirement as well. You should learn it and adopt it, for the sake of Allah, for the Hereafter and for attaining the good pleasure of the holy Prophet-saw – may Allah bless you! May He grant us His Zikr (Remembrance) during this life, death and Hereafter! May He raise us with His Zikr (Remembrance) on the Day of Resurrection and include us in the ranks of His slaves! Ameen!
Our method is called Pas Anfas, which, in Persian, means guarding every breath. Zikr(Remembrance) is performed with the heart using breath as the medium. Sit down facing the Qiblah (direction of Mecca; in case the direction is not known then any direction is alright), fully attentive towards Allah and close your eyes. Recite the Ta’awwuz and Tasmiah and start the Zikr(Remembrance). When you breathe in, imagine that the word Allah penetrates the depths of your heart and when you breathe out, the word ‘Hu’ strikes the heart or the Latifah(Spiritual Organ) on which the Zikr(Remembrance) is being performed. (The beginners may only do Zikr[Remembrance] on the Qalb[Heart]). Do Zikr(Remembrance) on each Latifah(Spiritual Organ) for suitable duration. When all seven Lata’if(Spiritual Organs) have been covered, return to the Qalb(Heart). After doing Zikr(Remembrance) on it for some more time, start the meditation. The body should now be relaxed and the mind set at ease. Concentrate on the Qalb(Heart) and imagine that the word ‘Allah’ rises from Qalb(Heart) and the word ‘Hu’ rises upwards to Allah’s Sublime Throne. This is the first meditation; it is known as Rabita (contact), it illuminates the Path for the Ruh(Soul) and facilitates its flight toward Allah’s nearness in subsequent meditations.
Remember that no worthwhile progress can be made without the Tawajjuh (spiritual attention) of a Shaikh(Spiritual Teacher), because the Barakah(Spiritual Blessings) that initiate a seeker along the Sufi path are transmitted only through him. The Companions got this blessing from the holy Prophet-SAWS and transmitted it to the Taba’in, who in turn passed it on to the Taba Taba’in. The Aulia (men of God) acquired this wealth of Barakah(Spiritual Blessings) from them, and it has similarly been transferred through the generations. Allah willing, this process will continue forever, and every believer, regardless of race, caste or gender can acquire these Barakah(Spiritual Blessings). Sound beliefs and sincerity are the only prerequisites for this acquisition. Constant Zikr(Remembrance) reforms the heart and initiates the journey from vice to virtue, from anxiety to contentment and from a lost life to Falah – success in this world and the Hereafter.
Allah ordains every soul in the Quran to Perform Zikr(Remembrance). This not only means reciting the Quran and Tasbeeh(recitals) but also Zikr-e Qalb(Remembrance of Heart). It is only through Zikr-e Qalbi(Remembrance of Heart) that Prophetic Lights reach the depths of human soul and purify it from all vice and evil. Zikr(Remembrance of Divine) infuses a realization of constant Divine Presence and a seeker feels great improvement in the level of sincerity and love towards Allah and the holy Prophet-SAWS. Such levels of sincerity, love and feelings of Divine Presence can never be obtained without Zikr(Remembrance).
It would be a mistake to believe that Zikr(Remembrance) may be a requirement only for the very pious and virtuous people. Zikr(Remembrance) provides the Prophetic blessings which are in effect the life line of every human soul. It transforms even the most corrupted humans into virtuous souls by bringing out the best in them.
The fact is that Zikr(Remembrance) is the only way to achieve true contentment and satisfaction in life. The holy Quran has pointed to this eternal fact that it is only through Zikr Allah(Rmembrance of Divine) that hearts can find satisfaction. Such satisfaction and peace are the ultimate requirements of every person, regardless of religion, race and ethnicity. Practicing Zikr(Remembrance) regularly removes all traces of anxiety and restlessness, and guides the human soul to eternal bliss and peace.