Dhikr: Remembrance of Allah
Imagine a storm that catches you off guard. Surely you will seek refuge inside until it has passed. Now, imagine a different type of storm. Every day we are faced with emotional and spiritual struggles that are caused by our actions and those of others. How do we seek shelter from our own vices and those of others that seek to destroy us?
Dhikr (remembrance of God) is an act which brings us closer to Allah and our faith, while also helping us overcome both inner and outer conflicts.
It has sadly become customary for us to only remember God in times of difficulty, and as such, we remove the daily element of Imaan (faith) from our lives. The Holy Quran has stressed the rewards of remembering God, but at the same time, it has illustrated the consequences of not seeking refuge with Him. Indeed, the Quran was sent down as a lesson to man and to guide us from darkness to knowledge. Had we truly known the might and wisdom of Allah, we would sing His praise day and night. Our lack of dhikr stands as a testament of our ignorance of God's might and His bounties.
Dhikr in the Qur'an and Hadith
When dhikr is mentioned, we subconsciously equate it with Tasbih or repeating certain phrases. The actual concept is much deeper and requires more effort on the part of the believer. Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (peace be upon him) clarifies:
‘By remembrance of God, I do not mean reciting subhanallahi, wa alhamdulillahi, wa la ilaha illa allahu wa allahu akbar. Although these are also regarded as dhikr, but what is meant is remembering God when encountering obedience and disobedience of God.’
The Quran is extremely clear on this subject, and gives directions to the believing men and women to seek refuge with the Almighty. Among the many verses pertaining to this subject:
‘And (all) the most beautiful names belong to Allah, so call on Him by them.’ (7:180)
‘And withhold yourself with those who call on their Lord morning and evening desiring His goodwill, and let not your eyes pass from them, desiring the beauties of this world's life; and do not follow him whose heart We have made unmindful to Our remembrance, and he follows his low desires, and his case is one in which due bounds are exceeded.’ (18:28)
‘And whoever turns himself away from the remembrance of the Beneficent Allah, We appoint for him a Shaitan, so he becomes his associate.’ (43:36).
‘And remember your Lord within yourself humbly and with awe, below your breath, at morning and evening. And be not you of the neglectful.’ (7:205)
When we remember God, we also realize that we are constantly in His presence, and thus we are liberated from the self-destructive habits that consume us. So often we are wronged by others, and the temptation to respond in a demeaning and un-Islamic manner is very strong. Fortunately, we can avoid wrong responses in the case of mistreatment by relying on Allah and knowing that He is the All-Knowing. When we take part in wrong responses, we fall victim to disobediences that lead the soul away from righteousness, and into the pits of retaliation and cruelty.
The late Ayatollah Behjat was once asked, ‘What is the best dhikr?’ He replied,
‘In the opinion of this simple servant, the best dhikr is the dhikr of action! What I mean is refraining from sinful beliefs (aqida) and sinful conduct (amal). Goodness and true success will only come from this way.’
‘Surely in Allah's remembrance do the hearts find peace.’ (13:28)
Those who seek God and remember Him will find contentment and joy in their lives with the knowledge that they are under the protection of Allah. When we utter praise to the Almighty and thank Him for his countless bounties, our hearts are filled with inner peace and reflection. How happy and blessed are those who seek refuge in their Lord, the Most Beneficent and Most Merciful Allah.
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