Prophet Ibrahim’s-AS Prayer:
“Our Rabb! Raise up from them a Messenger from among them who will recite to them Your Revelations and will teach them the Book and wisdom, and will purify them. Surely, You Alone are Mighty, Wise! (2:129)
The Prayer is Answered:
“Assuredly has Allah conferred a benefit on the believers when He raised up to them a Messenger from amongst themselves, who rehearses to them His Revelations and purifies them, and teaches them the Book and wisdom, while they were afore in an error manifest. (3:164)”
Allah sent his Prophets and Messengers-AS for the benefit and guidance of mankind.
What is meant by Benefit and Guidance?
The purpose of raising Prophets is:
(1) To correct beliefs.
(2) To reform human conduct.
(3) To imbue sincerity in both.
The Scholars fulfill the first, Jurists the second and the Sufis the third. (Tafhimat-e-Ilahiyah)
The word “uzakeyhim” is derived from zakat meaning purification, cleansing (Mu‘arif al Quran). A human being comprises:
(1) A Physical Body: Created from Four Elements: clay, water, fire and air with a soul (Nafs), as the by-product or chemical reaction of these Four Elements yet subtle. Subtle is something that can neither be seen with the physical eye nor held by the hands, like fragrance in a flower. It has five vital organs: the brain, the physical heart, the kidneys, the lungs and the liver. A vehicle for the real human being or a residence for it. Bears all responsibility during the temporal life.
(2) The Ruh (Spirit): It is celestial, originates from the Realm of Command and is the real human being, who took a Covenant with the Rabb on the Day of the Covenant soon after its creation. Again has five vital organs called Lataif (Subtleties): Qalb, Ruh, Sirri, Khafi and Akhfa. (Tasawwuf by Shaikh Allah Yar Khan)
“And they ask you regarding the Spirit, Say you: It is by the Command of my Rabb and of knowledge you have been given only a little (17:85)”
“They when I have formed him and breathed into him of My Spirit, fall down unto him, prostrate. (15:29)”
The origin of the Ruh is the Realm of Command, while the human soul originates from the Realm of Creation. The Creator ordained love between the two to accept commands and the tribulations of the worldly life. The Ruh is a foreigner and the body a native. So be mindful of your responsibilities towards this guest. (Tafsir-e-Kabir by Imam Razi)
Ruh Originates from the Realm of Command (‘Alam-e-Amr):
The Realm of Command does exist but is beyond the reach of experience and imagination. Being boundless and devoid of all matter, it cannot be measured in terms of time and space. (Risala-e-Ruh by Imam Ghazali)
The Realm of Command comprises incorporeal beings: Ruh and its vital organs called Lataif, the Qalb, Ruh, Sirri, Khafi and the Akhfa, all above the Tremendous Throne. They flow in human beings, angels and Jinn as the rays of the sun flow onto a mirror. These Lataif are attributed to the Realm of Command because they have not been created from any matter but through His direct Command. (Tafsir-e-Mazhari, Vol: xiv, p: 407)
Ruh gives movement to the body, while it gets its own life and movement from Divine Lights. My dear reader! It is not possible to completely comprehend this without continuous Zikr and contemplation, and spiritual voyage to the celestial worlds, impossible without the sincerity of the seeker and Tawajjuh of an Accomplished Shaikh.
(Fatawah-e-‘Aziziah, v: 2, p: 112 by Shah ‘Abdul ‘Aziz)
Qalb (The Subtle Heart):
The Focal Point of Responsibility
The entrusting of responsibility is subject to the possession of sense and perception:
“And do not you go after that of which you have no knowledge. Verily the hearing, the sight, and the (subtle) hearts, each of them shall be questioned about. (17:36)”
(Here, the hearing and the sight are linked with the subtle heart (Qalb) because these act as aides to its perception)
Vision of Qalb
“Have they not journeyed in the earth, so that there might become unto them (subtle) hearts to understand with, or ears to hear with? Surely, it is not the sights that are blinded, but blinded are the (subtle) hearts that are in the breasts. (22:46)”
The Seat of Piety is the Qalb
“Verily! Those who lower their voices in the presence of Messenger of Allah! Those are they whose (subtle) hearts Allah have disposed towards piety; theirs will be forgiveness and splendid wage. (49:3)”
The Recipient of Revelation is the Qalb
(1) “Say you: whoso is an enemy to Jibril then surely it is he who has brought down this Revelation, by Allah’s Command, to your (subtle) heart confirming what went before, and a guidance and glad tidings to the believers. (2:97)”
(2) “Verily it is Revelation of the Rabb of the worlds. The Trusted Spirit has brought it down; upon your (subtle) heart, that you may be of the warners. (26: 192,193,194)”
(3) “Verily, herein is an admonition to him who has a (subtle) heart, or gives ear while he is heedful. (50:37)”
Reckoning Dependent on Qalb
“Allah shall not take you to task for the vain in your oaths, but He shall take you to task for what your (subtle) hearts have earned, and He is Forgiving, Forbearing. (2:225)”
Incompatibility of Knowledge and Perception directly related to Qalb
(1) “Allah has set a seal on their (subtle) hearts and on their hearing, and on their sight is a covering. And for them shall be a torment mighty. (2:7)”
(2) “And they say: Our (subtle) hearts are in a covering. Nay! Allah has cursed them because of their infidelity: little, therefore, is that which they believe. (2:88)”
(3) “Assuredly We have created for Hell many of the jinn and mankind. They have (subtle) hearts, yet do not understand with; they have eyes yet do not see with; and they have ears yet do not hear with. They are like cattle, nay even further astray. Those! They are the heedless ones. (7:179)”
(4) “By no means Aye! Encrusted upon their (subtle) hearts is what they have been earning. (83:14)”
(5) “The believers are only those whose (subtle) hearts quake with awe when Allah is mentioned and when His Revelations are rehearsed to them, it increases their faith and they put trust in their Rabb. (8:2)”
(6) “Is not the time yet come for those who believe that their (subtle) hearts should humble themselves to Allah’s admonition and to the truth which has been revealed, and that they do not become as those who were given the Book before, and the time was extended to them, and so their (subtle) hearts were hardened? And many of them were ungodly. (57:16)
(7) “The Day whereon neither wealth nor sons will be of any avail, except him who brings to Allah a (subtle) heart at peace. (26:88, 89)”
Now we know that the subtle heart (Qalb) means something different from the four-chambered blood-pumping organ and Qalb-e-Saleem is a guarantee for eternal success. Qalb is the vital organ of the Ruh while the pumping station is the vital organ of the physical body. Mark the difference! Qalb-e-Saleem (Qalb at Peace) is:-
(a) Free from ailments listed by the Quran, namely:
(3) Incredulity and sensuality
(b) Wholesome food are the Divine Lights attained through Zikr-e-Qalbi, bringing in its trail the coveted Qalb-e-Saleem for the believers.
Now let us see what is meant by Zikr, used at least in fifteen (15) different meanings and contexts in the Quran.
(1) “Then, after that, your (subtle) hearts were hardened and became as stones or even worse in hardness. (2:74)”
(2) “Then after him We sent Messengers to their people, they brought them clear proofs, but they would not believe what they had already rejected beforehand. Thus, We seal the (subtle) hearts of the transgressors. (10:74)”
(3) “It is He Who has sent down to you (Muhammad-SAW) the Book. In it are verses that are entirely clear, they are the foundations of the Book and others not entirely clear. So, as for those in whose (subtle) hearts there is a deviation they follow that which is not entirely clear thereof, seeking mischief, and seeking for its hidden meanings. (3:7)”
(4) “And when Allah Alone is mentioned, the (subtle) hearts of those who believe not in the Hereafter are filled with disgust and when besides Him are mentioned, behold, they rejoice. (39:45)
(5) “And conceal not the evidence for he, who hides it, surely his (subtle) heart is sinful. And Allah is All-Knower of what you do. (2:283)”
It is enjoined by the categorical injunctions of the Quran in scores of verses with emphasis on its frequency. It is absolute as to the quantum and manner, i.e., neither any upper nor lower limit of its duration is laid, nor any restrictions on its method (individually, collectively, standing, sitting or reclining) are imposed. Therefore, this Commandment covers every manner and method, for example:
Zikr Besides Salat
Following categorical injunctions of the Quran prove beyond doubt that besides Salat there is some other form of Zikr too:
(1) “When you have performed Salat, remember ALLAH, standing, sitting and reclining. And when you are in safety observe proper worship verily the Salat is prescribed to the believers at definite times. (4:103)”
(2) “Men whom neither trade nor sale diverts from Allah’s Zikr nor from performing Salat, nor from giving the Zakat. They fear a Day when (subtle) hearts and eyes will be overturned. (24:37)”
(3) “And when Salat is ended then disperse in the land and seek of Allah’s bounty and remember Allah much. (62:10)”
Zikr Besides Recitation of the Quran and Salat
“Recite you what has been Revealed to you of the Book and establish you the Salat; verily Salat forbids indecency and dishonor. And the remembrance of Allah is the greatest. And Allah Knows what you perform. (29:45)”
(1) Zikr is enjoined here as the most superior with reference to reciting and the Salat because Zikr is the moving spirit behind both.
(2) The Holy Prophet-saw is reported to have said:
“Be resolute in recitation of the Quran and Allah’s Zikr. In return you will be remembered in the heavens and it will be a source of light for you on earth.”
This Hadith is in the form of a wish which the Holy Prophet-SAW expressed to one of his Companions, Abu Zar Ghaffari-RAU. The recitation of the Quran and Zikr are mentioned with a conjunction, establishing their separate entities.
(3) Zikr is distinct from the recitation of the Quran for which the word ‘reading’ or ‘reciting’ is used. The term Zikr has been used for the Quran itself but not for its reading or recitation.
Frequent Zikr Enjoined
Wherever Zikr is enjoined in the Quran, the condition of frequency has been invariably added, for example:
(1) “O you who believe! Remember Allah with much remembrance. (33:41-42)
Ibn-e Kathir while explaining the verse writes: “Ibn-e-‘Abbas-RAU explains that Allah has not enjoined any worship on his bondsmen of which a limit has not been prescribed and the excuse of a handicapped not accepted. The only exception to the rule where neither a limit is imposed, nor has the excuse of anyone been accepted save that of a lunatic, is Zikr. It is enjoined under all circumstances, i.e., sitting, standing, reclining, day or night, by word of mouth or within the heart, on land or on the sea, static or in motion, in prosperity or adversity, in sickness or health irrespective of the state (eating or drinking, selling or buying, asleep or awake”. (Ibn-e Kathir vol: III, p: 495)
(2) “Assuredly, there has been an excellent pattern, for you in the Messenger of Allah, for him who hopes in Allah and the Last Day and remembers Allah much. (33:21)”
(3) “….. And the men and the women who remember Allah much, Allah has promised them forgiveness and a great reward. (33:35)”
(4) “O you who believe! When you meet any army hold firm and remember Allah much so that you may be successful. (8:45)”
Types of Zikr
There are three types of Zikr:
Practical, i.e. Zikr-e-F‘eli
Oral, i.e. Zikr-e-Lisani
Secret, within the heart, i.e. Zikr-e-Qalbi
The First Type. All actions of day-to-day life taken in accordance with the Sunnah of the Holy Prophet-saw are listed as Zikr, for instance, the method of drinking water, the etiquettes of eating and dressing etc.
The Second Type. Comprises loud as well as with low tone. According to the consensus of the scholars, the former is a heresy except where prescribed, for example, Azan, Takbir (pronouncement heralding the commencement of Salat), formal sermon as on Friday and Salat-e-Eid Congregations, etc. (Tafsir-e-Mazhari vol: III, p: 410.) The latter comprises Tasbihat enjoined morning and evening in the first verse quoted above under Frequent Zikr Enjoined.
The Third Type is Zikr-e-Qalbi. This has nothing to do with words of mouth, and as such, cannot even be discerned by the Kiram an-Katibin (The Recording Angels). Imam Abu Y’ala reports with reference to Hadhrat ‘Ayeshah that the Holy Prophet-saw had once said:
Zikr-e-Khafi (the Secret Zikr) which cannot be discerned by the Kiram an-Katibin is seventy times superior to other types. On the Day of Judgement, mankind will be called to reckoning by Him and the Kiram an-Katibin directed to produce the Register of Conduct of every person. These Angels will be commanded to re-examine the records to see if any of their good deeds remained unrecorded. They would submit that everything within their reach had been duly put down. Allah shall then inform them that a good deed which they could not discern and hence were unable to record was Zikr-e-Qalbi. I, the narrator, assert that Zikr-e Qalbi neither snaps, nor is liable to any interruption. Tafsir-e-Mazhari vol: III, p:41:1.
Superiority of Zikr-e-Khafi Qalbi in the Quran / Hadith
(1) “And do you (O Muhammad) remember your Rabb within yourself, with humility and awe, below your breath, at morn and evening. And do not be of the neglectful. (7:205)”
Maulana Banori explains this verse in his Nafkhat-al-‘Amber-mun-Hadi ash-Shaikh Anwar. (p:135) The Shaikh said: “We confine ourselves strictly to the meaning of this verse. It pertains to Zikr and not to Salat, though the latter is also a form of Zikr. It implies Zikr-e Qalbi whereas Salat is Zikr-e Lisani. That is why the condition of humility and awe has been added here, both being the acts of the human subtle heart.
Remember “within yourself” is Khafi
“Humility and awe” being the states of the Qalb is Qalbi
Hence the terminology Zikr-e-Khafi Qalbi.
(2) “They are the (true) believers whose (subtle) hearts feel awe when Allah is mentioned. (8:2)”
Reports Hadhrat Abu Sa‘eed Khudri, a renowned Companion, that he heard the Holy Prophet-saw saying: The best Zikr is Zikr-e Khafi. (At-Targhib vol: IV, p: 160) This has been corroborated by Hadhrat S‘ad bin Abi Waqqas (at Targhib vol: II, p: 537).
Though absolute Zikr is enjoined yet we have drawn only on the one in vogue, inherited from the righteous of the past and the veteran Sufis, the superiority of which is amply expounded by the Quran and Hadith. Fully conscious of the order of precedence, we consider all Obligations (towards Him or His creation as enjoined by Him) as the capital, all supererogatory acts as the dividend, and Zikr-e Khafi, as the most superior of all types of Zikr. It enlivens all acts of worship. This is in conformity with the teachings of the Book and the Sunnah; the purification of the heart which guarantees real success is obtained through it.
This discussion establishes the following:-
Zikr here means Zikr-e-Qalbi.
Zikr-e Qalbi is superior to Zikr-e-F‘eli and Zikr-e Lisani.
Zikr is the moving spirit behind all worships.
Zikr is ordained morn and eve and
A defaulter is regarded as neglectful by Him.
The Holy Prophet’s-saw Constant Occupation in Zikr
Reports Hadhrat ‘Ayeshah, “He occupied himself in Zikr “kul-e ahyanehi” (all of his time).” (Sahih Muslim) Note that the expression ahyan, proceeded by kul, means continuous Zikr without a break, whereas the Quran speaks of the numerous engagements of the Holy Prophet-saw.
“Surely, you have by day a chain of business (73:7)”
And there are some occasions when Zikr-e-Lisani is not possible (e.g. during meals, sleep, or conversation), while in some it is prohibited (e.g. during coitus or while answering the call of nature etc). Obviously, such occasions are only covered by Zikr-e Qalbi.
Zikr Superior to all Forms of Worship
(1) The Holy Prophet-saw Graded Zikr Superior to all Worship Hadhrat Abu Sa‘eed Khudri-RAU records his conversation with the Holy Prophet-SAW, “I asked him what type of worship would be held in the highest esteem on the Day of Judgement?” He replied. “Those who constantly remember Allah will be the most esteemed ones.” I sought a clarification whether they would also surpass the one who strives in the way of Allah. He replied: “If the said striver wields his sword against infidels till is breaks and is himself besmeared with blood, even then those who remember Allah would surpass him.” (Kitab az Zikr p: 19)
(2) Zikr-Superior to both Physical and Fiscal Worship Hadhrat Abu Dardah-RAU quotes the Holy Prophet-saw: “Should I not inform you of the most virtuous deed, far superior and rewarding, which shall raise you highest in His esteem, is better than spending gold and silver in His Cause, and is also preferable to waging war against infidels …… “ The Companions-RAU replied that they would be honored to know it. The Holy Prophet-saw is reported to have said: “Zikr is by far the best deed.” (Kitab az-Zikr P: 20)
(3) Zikr is the Believer’s Fortress The Holy Prophet-saw once addressed his Companions-RAU: “I command you to constantly remember Allah. It will provide you protection like a fortress to a fugitive pursued by a fast moving enemy. Likewise, Zikr is the only effective refuge against the onslaughts of the devil.”
Some of the Rewards of Zikr
A promise to the believer of a bounty par-excellence and immediate:
“Therefore, remember Me, I will remember you… (2:152)
This promise is exclusively for the one engaged in Zikr. None can be luckier than him who is remembered by Allah. His remembrance means His Rahmah (Mercy and Grace) in turn.
(1) “They are those who believe and whose (subtle) heart finds comfort in the remembrance of Allah. Lo! In the remembrance of Allah do (subtle) hearts find comfort. (13:28)”
Mark that there is no Peace of Mind outside the pale of Islam
(2) “………………..remembering men and women – for them Allah has got ready forgiveness and a mighty reward.”
Some of the Punishments
Allah assigns a devil to those shunning Zikr in addition to the other agents of Iblis working round the clock according to his plans, on every human being to lead mankind astray as pronounced at the time when he was accursed. In other words, it is a devil on special duty assigned as a Divine Punishment:-
(1) “And he who loses sight of or shuns Zikr, We assign to him a devil who becomes his (constant) companion. (43:36)”
(2) “The devil has engrossed them to forget Zikr. They are the devil’s party. (58:19)”
Both of these verses clearly establish that shunning Zikr amounts to cultivating friendship with the devil. Obviously, a heedless person leaves Allah’s Party and enters that of the devil. May Allah protect us all!
(1) This is the Zikr practised in Naqshbandiah Owaisiah Order.