Alhamdulillahi rabbil aalameen. Was salaatu was salaamu ala ashraful mursaleen sayyidina Muhammadi wa ala aali sayyidina Muhammadi wa ashaabihi ajma’een.
All praise is due to Allah, the Cherisher and Sustainer of the entire universe. And the peace and blessings of Allah be upon Muhammad (saw) his family and his companions.
Allah (swt) says in the Holy Quran: “Yaa ayyuhalladheena aamanudhkurullaha dhikran katheera. Wa sabbihoohu bukratan wa aseelaa – O you who believe! Remember Allah with much remembrance. And glorify Him in the morning and the evening.” The topic for today will insha Allah be about the dhikr of Allah (swt). In this ayah just mentioned, Allah (swt) commands the believers to engage in His dhikr. And He (swt) then clarifies how this should be done by saying “dhikran katheera” which means that it should be done in abundance. One should always try to be in a state of dhikr and engage in it as much as one can.
For most deeds there is a limit to it, but for dhikr there is no limitations placed on it. It is even stated in a hadith that the Prophet (saw) said: “Akthiroo dhikrallah hattaa yaqooloo: majnoon – Increase abundantly the dhikr of Allah until they say ‘A crazy person.’” Meaning that you should do so much dhikr that people will start to call you a mad or a crazy person. So the more dhikr one does, the better. The ayah also states: “Wa sabbihoohu bukratan wa aseelaa – And glorify Him in the morning and the evening.” Meaning that you should keep your tongue busy with saying Subhanallah, Alhamdulillah, Allahu Akbar and Laa ilaaha illa Allah. And this should be done in whatever state one is in whether in a state of purity or impurity, minor or major.
Another ayah of the Holy Quran states: “Alladheena yadhkuroonallaha qiyaaman wa qu’oodan wa ‘alaa junoobihim – Those who remember Allah, standing, sitting and lying on their sides.” So this ayah again emphasis the point made before that dhikr can and should be done in all situations. It can be done while one is standing, sitting or lying down. It should be done during the night and the day, on land and on sea, on travel and during residency, in richness and in poverty, in health and in sickness and secretly and openly.
Allah (swt) also says in the Holy Quran: “Fadhkuroonee adhkurkum – Remember Me and I will remember you.” This is another ayah which commands us to engage in dhikr. And the reward for it as mentioned here is that Allah (swt) will in turn remember us. This indicates towards the nobility of dhikr in that for all other good deeds, the reward for it is delayed and will be found in the aakhirah. But the response of dhikr is immediate. At the time that you engage in dhikr Allah (swt) responds to it by remembering you. This is why one of the pious predecessors used to say: “I know exactly when Allah (swt) remembers me.” He was asked how this could be. And he replied by quoting this ayah.
According to Sai’d bin Jubair (ra) the meaning of this ayah is: “Remember Me with obedience and I will remember you with reward and forgiveness.” And he also said: “Dhikr means obedience to Allah. Because the one who does not obey Him does not remember Him even if he does a lot of tasbih, tahlil and recital of the Quran.” And support for this is found in the hadith of the Prophet (saw): “Man ataa’allah faqad dhakarallah wa in aqalla salaatahu wa sawmahu wa sanee’ahu lil khair. Wa man ‘asallah faqad nasiyallah wa in kathura salaatahu wa sawmahu wa sanee’ahu lil khair – Whoever obeys Allah remembers Him, even if he only has a little Salah, fasting and good actions. And whoever disobeys Allah forgets Him, even if he has a lot of Salah, fasting and good actions.”
What all of these ayat and ahadith indicate is that dhikr is the best of all good actions. Out of all of the innumerable good deeds there are, such as giving charity, calling people to Islam, fighting in the path of Allah and so on, none of them are as great as dhikr. If there are ahadith which state other deeds as being the best, such as performing Salah, then this is only because of what is contained within them of remembrance of Allah (swt). Meaning that Salah is only regarded so highly because of it being a kind of dhikr.
One hadith which mentions the superiority of dhikr over all other deeds is the following: the Prophet (saw) said: “Shall I not tell you of the best of your actions, and the most pure of them with your King, and the most exalted of them in your ranks, those which are better for you than your meeting your enemy and striking their necks and they striking your necks?” They said: “Certainly, Messenger of Allah.” He said: “Dhikr of Allah.” So even waging Jihad in the path of Allah (swt) and being martyred while doing so, does not compare to the greatness of dhikr.
One the qualities of dhikr which makes it superior to all other deeds is that it brings nearness to Allah (swt) and presence with Him. The evidence for this is that He (swt) has said in a hadith qudsi: “Ana ma’a ‘abdee maa dhakaranee wa taharrakat bee shafataah – I am with My slave when he remembers Me and his lips move with My mention.” So by engaging in dhikr one is drawn close to Allah (swt) and enters His presence.
Dhikr is of three kinds: dhikr of the tongue, dhikr of the heart and dhikr of both the tongue and heart. Dhikr of the tongue means to recite certain phrases of remembrance such as Subhanallah, Alhamdullillah, Allahu Akbar and so on. And the dhikr of the heart means to remember Him within oneself. The best kind would be to combine the dhikr of the tongue with that of the heart.
As mentioned before, there are various phrases of dhikr. Tasbeeh means to say Subhanallah which is “Glory be to Allah.” So when saying this we should be aware that Allah (swt) is Perfect and free from all defects. Tahmeed means to say Alhamdulillah which is “All praise and thanks be to Allah.” When reciting this, we should try to feel within ourselves a sense of gratitude to Allah (swt) for all the favours He has bestowed on us. Takbir means to say Allahu Akbar which is “Allah is the greatest.” So we should try to be aware of our weakness and shortcomings compared to Allah (swt)’s Greatness and Majesty. Istighfar means to say Astaghfirullah which is “I seek the forgiveness of Allah.” So when reciting this, we should feel repentant and regretful for all the sins that we have committed.
Some phrases of dhikr have been singled out in certain ahadith. One of these is: “Kalimatan habibatan ilaa al-Rahman, khafeefataan ‘ala al-lisaan, thaqeelataan fil meezaan: Subhanllah wa bi hamdih, Subhanllahil azeem – Two phrases are beloved to the Most Merciful, light on the tongue but heavy on the scales: ‘Glory be to Allah and I praise Him’ and ‘Glory be to Allah the Most Great.’” And out of all these different phrases and ways of making dhikr the best one is to say: “Laa ilaaha illa Allah – There is none worthy of worship but Allah.”
There are many ahadith which speak about the virtues of dhikr. One is that Mu’adh (ra) narrates from the Prophet (saw) who said: “Maa ‘amilabnu aadam ‘amalan anjaa lahu min ‘adhaabillah min dhikrillah – A man does nothing better to rescue himself from Allah’s Punishment other than remembering Allah.” So to be safe from the Fire and the punishment of the Hereafter, we should try to increase our dhikr of Allah (swt). Another hadith states that the Prophet (saw) was once asked: “Who will have the highest rank with Allah on the Day of Qiyamah?” He (saw) said: “Those who remember Allah (swt) in abundance.”
Some people are opposed to the making of dhikr in Jama’ah. And there are others who allow it. One hadith which can be used in support of this view is the following: the Prophet (saw) said: “When you pass by the gardens of Paradise, avail yourselves of them.” The Companions asked: “What are the gardens of Paradise, O Messenger of Allah?” He replied: “The circles of dhikr. There are roaming angels of Allah who go about looking for the circles of dhikr, and when they find them they surround them closely.”
There is also a hadith which states: “Maa jalasa qawmun majlisan yadhkuroonallaha feeh, illaa haffathumul malaa’ikah wa ghashiyathumu rahmah, wa dhakara humullahu fee man ‘indahu – People will not sit in a gathering in which they remember Allah without the angels surrounding them, mercy covering them and Allah mentioning them among those who are with Him.” So from this we can see the great rewards which lie in the coming together of people for the sake of remembering Allah (swt). Those who do so are in the company of the malaa’ikah. Allah (swt) sends down His Mercy upon them and He forgives them their sins. In a different hadith it is mentioned that even the one who simply passes by such a gathering and sits with them, he too will also be forgiven.
As we can see from all of this, the reward of dhikr with Allah (swt) is very great. In fact it is the best deed that one can do. There are no limitations placed on it – it can be done at all times and in all situations. If one does engage in it, then Allah (swt) in return remembers Him. So we should all of us try to always be in a constant state of dhikr and we ask Allah (swt) to make this easy for us.
Wa aakhiru da’waanaa ‘anil hamdu lillahi Rabbil ‘aalameen.