Dzikr (Remembering Allaah)
Eemaan in Allaah is a condition where a person is so convinced of His Existence, Oneness, Uniqueness and Infiniteness that one’s heart and soul make one’s tongue sincerely declare Shahaadah: “There is no god, lord, authority, power, protector, sustainer, helper, provider or ruler except Allaah”. This kind of faith creates a profound feeling of Allaah Subhaanahu wa Ta`aala’s presence, a sense of sincere humility in front of His Majesty and a desire to surrender as a slave. When these feelings pervade a believer’s mind, this state of mind is called a state of Dzikr or remembrance of Allaah. Thus, if understood and believed properly, Eemaan makes a believer always remember Allaah and remembering Him frequently throughout the day is the first and foremost indication of the sincerity of faith (Shahaadah). It signifies that both the heart (emotions) and mind (intellect) of a person have really accepted Allaah as the Lord and Master. It is also the first step towards an Allaah-centred life that is the essence of being a Muslim.
After accepting oneself wholeheartedly to be Allaah’s slave, it is but natural that the believer will be continually thinking about his Master. Reflecting upon the magnificent universe Allaah has created, upon the systems of sustenance Allaah has provided, and upon many other of His signs is bound to overwhelm a believer with the feeling of His Greatness and His Infinity. It also makes us realize that our very limited and imperfect capabilities, coupled with the freedom given to us to make choices, can create a real mess in the world caused by our improper use of the freedom or inappropriate decisions and choices. This brings home the point about our accountability on the Day of Judgment and the fear of punishment for our mistakes as well as the hope of Allaah’s Mercy and His Forgiveness. This thinking and reflection, with its consequent consciousness of reality, should spontaneously and compulsively make our hearts, our souls and our lips move in remembrance of Allaah Subhaanahu wa Ta`aala. This scenario is described in the Holy Qur-aan as follows:
Verily, in the creation of the heavens and the earth and in the alternation of night and day, there are signs for the people of good sense and understanding. They are those who remember Allaah standing, sitting and reclining and who, while contemplating upon the creation of the heavens and the earth conclude, “Our Lord You have not created all this in vain.(It has been purposefully made a temporary abode to test our obedience to You for which we will be held accountable on the Day of Judgment when all those who fail the test will be punished in the Fire. When that happens, please), Glory be to You, save us from the punishment of Fire. Our Lord! Whoever You cast in the fire shall indeed be disgraced and none shall be able to help those wrongdoers (who shall be thrown in the Fire for misusing their freedom in this world by going their own way instead of submitting to You in slavery)“.
Note the emphasis on remembering Allaah standing, sitting and reclining. These three physical positions cover everything a person does in a day. People spend their time either in a sitting or a standing position (which includes walking, jogging etc.) or lying down for rest. It emphasizes the need to remember Allaah throughout the day frequently and abundantly. There is a deep relationship between the reflection and remembrance. Even in a Hadeeth, the Prophet Sall Allaahu `alayhi wa sallam emphasized the importance of contemplation (reflection) and Dzikr. It is reported in Mishkaah by Aboo Hurayrah that the Messenger of Allaah said:
“My Lord has commanded me nine things which in turn I command you. … That my silence be the silence of contemplation and that my talk be in Allaah’s remembrance and that my observation be for learning lessons …”
Although this remembrance should be a natural result of true faith, not all people may be at a level where they are able to reflect a lot or whose reflection always prods them to the remembrance of Allaah. To help those believers, Allaah SWT mercifully guides them in this direction by commanding that they should develop a habit of consciously remembering Him, frequently and abundantly:
“O believers! Remember Allaah through frequent remembrance and glorify Him day and night.”
The Messenger of Allaah Sall Allaahu `alayhi wa sallaam also emphasized the importance of Dzikr in his talks to Companions. For example,
A villager asked the Prophet about the best of the actions. He responded, “That you leave this world while your tongue is moist with profuse remembrance of Allaah..”
In another version, he asked for one thing from all sources of goodness to which can stick, without losing it or forgetting it. The Prophet responded, “Ensure that your tongue is always moist with remembrance of Allaah.”
This remembrance or Dzikr is a state of mind. It is a mental condition where Allaah Subhaanahu wa Ta`aala remains in our thoughts and in our consciousness. As human beings think in words, these feelings (mental state) take the form of words, which can be quietly said in one’s heart or verbalized. That is why some people think of Dzikr as utterance of words. They may think that abundant Dzikr of Allaah implies the mindless repetition of some words of glory or praise for Allaah countless times, but it does not. The real remembrance is mental remembrance. If mental remembrance simultaneously flows onto the tongue, it is much better. However, verbal remembrance without the presence of mind or without the consciousness of and reflection on the meanings and implication of the words being uttered is not true remembrance. What goes through the heart and mind of the believer is far more important than outward expressions or words:
“And remember your Lord in your heart, with humility and fear, and also in a low voice, morning and evening. And do not be one of those who are neglectful.”
Thus, Dzikr is a condition where a believer is under an overwhelming feeling of Allaah’s greatness and infinity with the mindset of total slavery and servitude to Him; seeking His pleasure, grace and forgiveness; in humility and with fear as well as with hopefulness and appreciation for His bounties and mercy. Dzikr performed with these kinds of sentiments may not only express itself in words but also in tears. Such Dzikr is extremely effective in Tazkiyah (purification and spiritual growth) of a believer. It also provides tranquility and peace of mind to a believer and relieves him from the stress caused by the pressures of daily life. Remembrance of Allaah as an essential attribute of the guided people and the peace of mind brought about by such remembrance are mentioned in the Holy Qur-aan as:
“Those who believed and whose hearts find comfort in the remembrance of Allaah. Know it! It is by the remembrance of Allaah that the hearts get comforted.”
Depending on the situation and the action, Dzikr may take many forms:
Reflecting on matters such as signs of Allaah, our obligations to Him, lifestyle changes needed to conform to His preferences, a paradigm shift needed to focus on seeking His pleasure, the Qur-aanic teachings and ways of putting them into practice, efforts needed to achieve Islamic objectives, etc.
Feelings and thoughts:
Being conscious of Allaah’s presence, feeling His love or fear in mind, thinking of Him fondly, yearning to seek His pleasure, being preoccupied with serving Him and obeying Him like a slave, feeling utmost reverence and devotion on hearing His name, seeing His Book or Hearing His word, etc.
Knowledge and Understanding:
Learning or teaching Qur-aan and/or Ĥadeeth, delivering or receiving Islamic education, participating in discourse and discussion until the message is clear and understood, etc.
Acknowledging Him and Giving Witness:
Consciously acknowledging by reciting Kalimah that there is no god, lord, authority, power, protector, sustainer, helper, provider or ruler except He; and passionately testifying with conviction about that fact by reciting Shahaadah.
Glorifying Him humbly while remembering His absolute perfection, infinite greatness and immense glory. The essence of glorification (Tasbeeĥ) is affirmation with conviction that He is above and beyond any imperfection, weakness, finiteness, human traits, human examples and our imagination. The word Tasbeeĥ is generally used for all other expressions of Allaah’s greatness, praise and glory.
Feeling immense gratitude for and appreciation of His countless favours and bounties, and expressing them through words of His praise that emanate from gratitude — especially for the guidance of Islam and the Qur-aan.
Invoking help and support for the action being undertaken, seeking guidance in that respect or supplicating for protection from or for avoidance of bad things, decisions or consequences. Making Du’aa reflects the realization that only He has the power, authority and means to make things happen as they should happen, thus we constantly need His help to achieve our personal and Islamic objectives. Allaah SWT loves when believers call upon Him for help in all significant and insignificant matters. It demonstrates that the person is humble in front of Allaah and knows that only Allaah can really help.
Seeking Forgiveness (Istighfaar):
It is a special Du’aa that comes from the heart of believer who feels true remorse for his incursions and mistakes. It reconnects an errant slave to the forgiving Master. It is extremely important for healing of the relationship to take place, as soon as possible after a mistake has been made. Because we make many mistakes, we must continue seeking forgiveness of Allaah on an ongoing basis, every time with sincere intention and a better determination of not to repeat that mistake. If the following words come out of your heart conveying your true feelings and reflections, this is the best way to seek Allaah’s forgiveness that is instantly accepted by Allaah Subhaanahu wa Ta`aala:
O Allaah, You are my Lord; there is no God except You; You have created me and, thus, I am Your slave. I stand by my covenant and commitment I made to You (through my faith) as much as I can. I seek your protection and refuge from the evil of my misdeeds. I acknowledge your favours and bounties on me, and I confess my sins. So forgive me, as there is none except You who can forgive sins.
Acts of Worship:
All acts of worship are designed for Allaah Subhaanahu wa Ta`aala’s remembrance.
Depending upon the routines of daily life and one’s circumstances, different forms of Dzikr will be more suited at different times. The important point is that it must be done in a variety of ways, frequently and abundantly. It should indicate a condition as if the believer is immersed in the love of and passion for Allaah SWT. A believer’s mind should always be preoccupied with the consciousness of the Master. Allaah’s servitude and His remembrance should become an obsession or a fixation for the believer. Wherever we are or whatever we are doing, our mind should keep turning towards Allaah SWT. Our discussions and our talks must revolve around Him, His glory and His grace. In fact, if that is not the case, it is an indication that our faith is withering away. Abdullah bin ‘Umar reported an exhortation from the Messenger of Allaah, Sall Allaahu `alayhi wa sallam in the following words:
“Do not talk much without Allaah’s remembrance because too much talk devoid of Allaah’s remembrance hardens one’s heart. And the person whose heart gets hardened gets farthest from Allaah.”
It is so crucial that the Prophet, Sall Allaahu `alayhi wa sallam said,
“A person who remembers Allaah is ‘living’, while the person who does not remember Him is ‘dead’.”
It may sound as though a believer should not do anything else in life but remember Allaah SWT. This, however, is not so at all. A believer must take full part in the daily activities of life and fulfill worldly responsibilities in an excellent manner. However, he must continually be conscious of Allaah and preoccupied with His remembrance, while doing all other things he needs to do in life. To illustrate this point, let us consider the example of people who have a passion for a certain hobby, obsession with a sport or craze for something. They do other things in life, as needed, but as soon as they have a chance, their mind goes to the thoughts of their favourite pastime. Rather, it continually remains hovering in their mind. It commands their attention day in and day out. It influences their imagination, vision, thoughts, preferences, choices, actions, emotions, likes and dislikes – everything. Similarly, they try to take as much time as possible from other activities to spend on their favourite activity. That is the kind of passion, obsession or craze a Muslim should have for Allaah, or rather, even more than that. That is what is implied by the following verse:
“Those who believe are even stronger in their love for Allaah.”
Therefore, a true believer becomes Allaah-centred and Allaah-obsessed. His mind is pre-occupied with consciousness of Allaah most of the time. He remembers him throughout the day. Allaah’s remembrance pervades his thoughts, emotions, aspirations, dreams and plans. It determines his choices, actions, decisions, likes and dislikes. It is the default operation of his mind. When not performing other actions, it automatically defaults back to the remembrance of Allaah. It is the last thing on his mind when going to bed and the first thing that comes up in his mind as soon as he wakes up. Allaah is in his conscious mind every step he takes and every move he makes. He remembers Allaah getting up as well as sitting down, entering a place or exiting one, before eating or drinking and after consuming it, riding a transport or disembarking, starting to travel or deciding to stay, starting to talk or finishing a meeting. The remembrance of Allaah is an inseparable companion of everything a believer does.
 Shahaadah means giving witness or testifying that there is no God except Allaah.
 I testify that there is no ilaah (god, lord, authority, power, protector, sustainer, helper, provider or ruler) except Allaah, and I testify that Muhammad is His slave and messenger. (Ash-hadu anlaa ilaaha illallaah wa ash-hadu anna muhammadan ‘abduhoo wa raooluhu.)
 Reported by Bukhaaree from Shaddaad Bin Ows.
(Reported by Ahmad and Tirmidzi from Abdullaah bin Busr)
(Reported by Tirmidzi from Abdullaah bin Busr)
(Reported by Tirmidzi)
(Reported by both Bukhaaree and Muslim)
(Al Baqarah 2:165)