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Importance of Dhikr

A person who is heedless of the remembrance of Allah subhana wa ta’ala is a living person who is dead. In contrast, one who is constantly engaged in the remembrance of Allah subhana wa ta’ala is one who’s heart has been awakened. As seekers on a path to reach the realization of Allah subhana wa ta’ala, we must aim to annihilate our hearts. This state of Fina-e-Qalbi is a good state. It is as the Prophet Sallalahu Alayhi Wasalam said, “Die before you die, and if you want to see a dead man walking, then look at Abu Bakr as-Siddiq RadiAllahu Anhu.” He the As-Siddiq had succeeded at truly devoted his heart to Allah subhana wa ta’ala, always rushing to be the first in what is good.

Through the abundant dhikr of Allah subhana wa ta’ala our dead hearts will insha’Allah be transformed into living ones. This light of nisbah (spiritual connection) is such a blessing that it gives life to an already dead heart that is devoid of all remembrance of Allah.

Different people will display different signs of the attainment of this light. In the language of our mashaykh (spiritual elders) this light is also called faidh, barakah, rahmah, and noor. Regardless of the word, the result, the meaning, and the blessing is the same. Attainment of faidh means attainment of illumination. When a person takes a Shaykh of Tasawwuf as his/her spiritual guide and engages in the remembrance (dhikr) of Allah, he/she attains faidh through it. The heart will then be filled with noor. As a result, the heart will be at peace.

Know that dhikr will bring noor, and noor will bring peace. Darkness and light cannot co-exist in the same place. Similarly, ghafla (heedlessness) and dhikr (remembrance) cannot co-exist at the same time and neither can peace and conflict. When darkness engulfs the heart, it will cause anxiety, unrest, and confusion. In contrast, when noor enters your heart, it will attain tranquility, ease, and peace.

Engaging in different acts of worship such as, Muraqabah, Salaat, Dhikr, etc., are all things that pull Allah subhana wa ta’alas Mercy and Noor towards us. When this takes place, the effects will fight off the anxiety that one feels when facing hardships and tribulations. As humans and as Muslims, we all face problems in our daily lives. They come from different angles and at different times. Allah subhana wa ta’ala has said that “This dunya is a prison for the believer.” Allah tests those He loves, and He tests them with what they love. Despite all the tribulations, if one is able to attain tranquility in the heart and say Alhamdulillah with a true sincerity, this is the very proof of attaining faidh.

This sincerity in our worship of Allah subhana wa ta’ala and the contentment of the qadr Allah has set for us, is a glad tiding from Allah subhana wa ta’ala. There are however, several different ways in which we may receive the glad tidings of Allah. Similarly, there are different ways in which we may receive warnings of our heedlessness. For example, we may begin to dream more intensely. If we are persistently heedless, we might experience frightening or even wicked dreams. These may continuously burden a person time after time. If however, we stick with our dhikr and Muraqabah, we will insha’Allah continue a path that grants us faidh. Another indicator of attainment of faidh is pleasant dreams. At times, we might be visited by the friends of Allah (awliya), the Prophet Sallalahu Alayhi Wasalam, or even Allah subhana wa ta’ala. In such situations one should consider themselves to be among the fortunate and humbly supplicate to Allah subhana wa ta’ala for these glad-tidings (Mubasharaat) and have shukr.

Faidh can be experienced in several different ways. Although an increase in the love for Allah is inevitable, some will experience a true increase in the burning love of Allah and the desire to please Him. These individuals would experience the love for Allah so intensely that its heat would be felt throughout the entire body. Others would encounter ease in the body and heart that results in a sleep-like state during Muraqabah. It is important to note that this is similar to sleeping state yet still different altogether. It is a drowsiness that in Arabic is called nuaas. In the Holy Qur’an Allah subhana wa ta’ala states:

“Remember he covered you with a sort of drowsiness (nuaas), to give you calm as from Himself” (Surah Al-Anfaal, Verse 11).

On the night of the Battle of Badr, Allah subhana wa ta’ala sent His sakina (serenity) down onto the Prophet Sallalahu Alayhi Wasalam and the Sahabas (Noble Companions). This specific sakina was in actuality nuaas, about which Allah says:

“But Allah did pour His calm (sakina) on the Messenger and on the Believer” (Surah At-Tawba, Verse 26).

The descent of this kind of sakina is a mercy, and we also know from the sayings of the Prophet that a deep tranquility descends upon those who remember Allah . When sakina descends it overwhelms the heart and the person experiences a state akin to drowsiness that an ordinary person mistakenly assumes is sleep as he cannot distinguish between the two.

However, sleep is different from the drowsiness felt due to the descent of the mercy of Allah . A person who consumes an intoxicating drug might experience a state mirroring the effects of sleep. The person is not physically experiencing sleep but the drug is altering the state of his mind. Similarly a person's mind can attain a state of drowsiness because of this rahmah.

This is one reason why our elders have said that one should not worry if one experiences drowsiness during muraqaba because it is in fact a sign of the mercy of Allah . The example of such a person is like that of a beggar who waits outside the door of a rich and generous person in the hope of being given something. He waits there all day and during that time drowsiness or even sleep may overtake him. Now when the owner of the house asks his attendants the length of time that the beggar has been sitting at his doorstep, will they subtract from their estimate the one or two hours that the beggar might have dozed off or rather say that he had been sitting there since Fajr? Indeed they will say that he came after Fajr and the time he napped will be included in his waiting time.

Similarly, even if a person dozes off after having sat down with the intention of muraqaba, the time he dozed will be included in his muraqabah. These days it is even easier to understand this concept. If we connect our cell phones with a charger it makes no difference whether the screen is on or off because the charging takes place in either case. Similarly in muraqabah whether the screen of the person is on or off he continues to benefit from the faidh because the connection has been established.

Other manifestations of faidh are that hearts become more attentive towards the Hereafter; towards the grave, resurrection and Paradise. Furthermore, faidh softens a person's heart and it overflows with the love and remembrance of Allah . Now what are the consequences of the attainment of this faidh on the heart of the believer?

If a person regularly and abundantly engages in dhikr a time comes when his heart becomes jaari (set in motion). What is meant by the heart becoming jaari? This has several meanings.

One is that a person experiences a movement in his heart. Just as we may feel a muscle in our body quiver at times, the heart muscle of a person also gains some movement because of dhikr. His heart experiences intense attention towards the name of Allah . It is important to distinguish between the regular palpitation of the heart and the heart being jaari. The beating of the heart is the pumping of blood seventy to eighty times a minute, but movement due to abundant dhikr is two to three times faster than the beating of the heart and is experienced as a delightful tickling in the heart. This is referred to as taharruk (movement) which soon after transforms into tazakkur (remembrance) where the person actually perceives his heart calling out the name of Allah (swt).

The heart is the control center of the body and the limbs respond to the decisions that the heart processes. Hence the limbs will act righteously only if the heart is pure and vice versa. Consequently some elders have said that the heart becoming jaari means that the commands of the righteous heart are accepted by every other part of the body and thus the body becomes subservient to such a heart. Another opinion is that a heart becomes jaari when a person's body begins to obey the commands of Allah , the shariah.

If a person thinks that his heart is jaari he should see if he is obeying the commandments of Allah. It is a blessing if he is but if not, then what is the use of dhikr if it does not take one towards the inculcation of the sunnah of the Prophet ? These blessings are attained with muraqabah and and we should try to perform dhikr abundantly so that Allah will bless us with His favors.

Once a heart becomes jaari one attains such immense pleasure that he cannot forget Allah for an instant even if he tried. We should all ask Allah for this blessing because this is a grand station from which there is no return. About this our elders have said that a fani (one who has achieved annihilation) never returns.

Some people raised objections to this and asked why it is that a fani cannot return. To this objection our elders responded by asking whether a fully ripened fruit can ever return to its former stage of growth? Can a child ever return to infancy after having attained maturity? The answer to both these questions is negative. Similarly, once a person has attained this blessing Allah protects him from sin in such a manner that the question of him falling back into error does not arise. This is called fina-e-qalbi.