Dhikr: Remembrance of God

Dhikr: Remembrance of God

from 'Nuzhat al-Majalis' translation of Chapter 1 by GF Haddad

God, the Exalted, said: "Verily in the remembrance of God (dhikr Allah) do hearts find rest!" (13:28).

If it is asked: How is the meaning of this verse reconciled with that of His saying: "They only are the true believers whose hearts feel fear (wajilat = tremble or shake) when God is mentioned (dhukir Allah)" (8:2), the answer is that in the latter the purpose of God's mention is to bring to mind His greatness and the intensity of His vengeance against those who disobey Him. This verse was revealed at a time when the Companions had a disagreement concerning the spoils of the battle of Badr. Therefore the mention or the remembrance of what is fearsome became appropriate.

As for the former verse, it concerns whomever God guided and whomever has turned to God with love. Therefore the mention of God's mercy became appropriate. The two meanings (of fearsomeness and mercy) are reunited in Surat al- Zumar: "God hath now revealed the fairest of statements, a Scripture consistent, wherein promises of reward are paired with threats of punishment, whereat doth creep (taqsha`irr = shudder or shiver) the flesh of those who fear their Lord, so that (thumma = and then) their flesh and their hearts soften to God's reminder (or: to the celebration of God's praises; or: to God's remembrance)" (39:23), meaning, to God's mercy and generosity.

The Prophet said: "He who remembers God much (man akthara dhikr Allah), God loves him (aHabbahu Allah)," and he said: "The night that I was enraptured to my Lord (laylata usra bi) I passed by a man extinguished within the light of God's Throne (mugheeb fi noor al-`arsh). I asked, Who is this, and is he an angel? I was told No, and I asked again, Is it a Prophet? I was told No, and I said, Who then? It was said: This is a man who, while he was in the world, his tongue was (constantly) moist with the mention of God and his heart was attached to the mosques." On the authority of Mu`adh ibn Jabal (r), the Prophet said that God said: "No servant of Mine mentions Me in himself (fi nafsihi) except I mention him in an assembly of My angels, and he does not mention Me in an assembly except I mention him in the Highest Friend (fi al-rafeeq al-a`la)."

On the authority of Abu Hurayra (r) who said: "While on the road to Mecca the Prophet passed on top of a mountain called Jumdaan (= frozen in its place), at which time he said: Move on (seeru), for here is Jumdaan which has overtaken the single-minded (al-mufarridun). They said: What are the single-minded? He said: The men and women who remember God much (al-dhaakirun Allah kathiran wa al-dhaakiraat)." Muslim related it.

The version in Tirmidhi has: "It was said: And what are the single-minded? He replied: Those who dote on the remembrance of God [i.e who love it much] and are ridiculed because of it (al-mustahtaroon bi dhikr Allah), whose burden the dhikr removes from them (yaDa`u `anhum al-dhikru athqaalahum), so that they come to God fluttering (fa ya'toon Allaha khifaaqan)!" (

Al-Mundhiri) said in 'al-thargheeb wa al-tarheeb' [The Encouragement to Good and the Discouragement from Evil]: "The single-minded and those who dote on the dhikr and are ridiculed for it: these are the ones burning with the remembrance of God (al-muwalla`oon bi dhikrillah)."

[Nawawi writes in 'SharH SaHeeH Muslim', Bk. 48, Ch. 1, Hadith 4: "Some pronounced it 'mufridoon' (= those who single out 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 God the Exalted.'

Another narration has: 'They are those who (perpetually) shake at the mention or remembrance of God (hum al- ladheena ihtazzu fi dhikrillah),' that is, they have become fervently devoted and attached to His remembrance (lahaju bihi).

Ibn al-I`raabi 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 God's orders and prohibitions (tafaqqaha wa i`tazala wa khala bi muraa`aat al-amr wa al-nahi).'"]

[Abu Bakr ibn al-`Arabi writes in 'SharH SaheeH Tirmidhi', Book 45 (da`awaat), 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-rahbaaniyya) which is condemned and rejected by the Sunna."]

[Shaykh Hisham Kabbani's commentary from his book 'Dhikr in Islam' p. 20: "The mountain has overtaken the people because the mountain is reciting dhikr also. Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya (in 'Madaarij al-saalikeen') explains that the term mufarridoon has two meanings here: either the muwaHHidoon, the people engaged in tawhid (i.e., who declare God's Oneness) as a group (i.e., not necessarily alone), or the aaHaad furaada, the same people as (single) individuals sitting alone (in isolation). From this example it is evident that... in the explanation of Ibn al-Qayyim al-Jawziyya the Salafi teacher, sitting for dhikr can occur in a group or all alone.

In another explanation of mufarridun (cited by Ibn Qayyim) we have 'those that tremble from reciting dhikrullah, entranced with it perpetually, not caring what people say or do about them.' This is because the Prophet said: 'Recite dhikrullah' -- and, as we said, the best dhikr is LA ILAHA ILLALLAH -- as much as you want, 'until people say that you are crazy and foolish' (Ahmad, Ibn Hibban, Hakim); and do not care about them!"]

Copyright: GF Haddad Courtesy: Living Islam Web Site.

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