Fiqh-us-Sunnah, Volume 4: Azh-zhikr (remembrance of Allah)
Allah, the Exalted, ordered that He should be remembered a lot. Describingthe wise men and women who ponder His signs, the Qur'an mentions, "thosewho remember Allah standing, sitting and on their sides,'' Qur'an 3.191 and"those men and women who engage much in Allah's praise. For them has Allahprepared forgiveness and a great reward.'' Qur'an 33.35 Mujahid explained,"A person cannot be one of 'those men and women who remember Allah much'as mentioned in the above verse of the Qur'an, unless he or she remembers Allahat all times, standing, sitting, or lying in bed."
When asked how much zhikr one should do to be considered as one of"those who remember Allah much," Ibn Al-Salah said that"much" is "when one is constant in supplicating, in the morningand evening and in other parts of the day and the night as reported from theProphet, peace be upon him." Concerning the above Quranic verses 'Ali b.Abi Talha relates that Ibn 'Abbas said, "All obligations imposed upon manby Allah are clearly marked and one is exempted from them in the presence of agenuine cause. The only exception is the obligation of zhikr. Allah has set nospecific limits for it, and under no circumstances is one allowed to benegligent of it. We are commanded to 'remember Allah standing, sitting andreclining on your sides,' in the morning, during the day, at sea or on land, onjourney or at home, in poverty and in prosperity, in sickness or in health,openly and secretly, and, in fact, at all times throughout one's life and inall circumstances."
Sa' id b. Jubair said, "Anyone engaged in obeying Allah is in factengaged in the remembrance of Allah." Some of the earlier scholars tied itto some more specified form. 'Ata said, "The gatherings of zhikr are thegatherings where the lawful and the prohibited things are discussed, forinstance, selling, buying, prayers, fasting, marriage, divorce, andpilgrimage." Al-Qurtubi said, "Gatherings of zhikr are the gatheringsfor knowledge and admonition, those in which the Word of Allah and the sunnahof His Messenger, accounts of our righteous predecessors, and sayings of therighteous scholars are learned and practiced without any addition orinnovation, and without any ulterior motives or greed."
The purpose of zhikr is to purify hearts and souls and awaken the humanconscience. The Qur'an says, "And establish regular prayer, for prayerrestrains from shameful and unjust deeds, and remembrance of Allah is thegreatest thing in life, without doubt.'' Qur'an 29.45 In other words, theremembrance of Allah has a greater impact in restraining one from shameful andunjust deeds than just the formal regular prayer. This is so because when aservant opens up his soul to his Lord, extolling His praise, Allah strengthenshim with His light, increasing thereby his faith and conviction, and reassuringhis mind and heart. This refers to "those who believe, and whose heartsfind satisfaction in the remembrance of Allah, for without doubt in theremembrance of Allah do hearts find satisfaction.'' Qur'an 13.28
And when hearts are satisfied with the Truth, they turn to the highestideals without being deflected by impulses of desire or lust. This underscoresthe importance of zhikr in man's life. Obviously it would be unreasonable toexpect these results just by uttering certain words, for words of the tongueunsupported by a willing heart are of no consequence. Allah Himself has taughtus the manner in which a person should remember Him, saying, "And do bringyour Lord to remembrance in your very soul, with humility and in reverence,without loudness in words, in the mornings and evening, and be not of those whoare unheedful.'' Qur'an 7.205
This verse indicates that doing zhikr in silence and without raising one'svoice is better. Once during a journey the Prophet, peace be upon him, heard agroup of Muslims supplicating aloud. Thereupon the Prophet, peace be upon him,said, "Give yourselves a respite, you are not calling upon someone deaf orabsent. Surely He Whom you are calling upon is near you and He listens to all.He is nearer to you than the neck of your mount." This hadith underlinesthe love and awe a person should feel while engaged in zhikr.
A part of this etiquette is the requirement that a person wishing to dozhikr be clean in body and dress, and smell sweet and fragrant. This will givehim a fresh zeal and he will feel invigorated. One should face the qiblahduring zhikr, for the best assemblies are those that face the Ka'bah.
Joining the assemblies or circles of zhikr is a commendable practice asshown by the following hadith: Ibn 'Umar reported, "The Prophet, peace beupon him, said, 'When you pass by a garden of Paradise, avail yourselves ofit.' The Companions asked, 'What are the gardens of Paradise, O Messenger ofAllah? ' The Prophet, peace be upon him, replied, 'The assemblies or circles ofzhikr. There are some angels of Allah who go about looking for such assembliesof zhikr, and when they find them they surround them'."
Muslim reports that Mu'awiyyah said, "The Prophet, peace be upon him,went out to a circle of his Companions and asked, 'What makes you sit here?'They said, 'We are sitting here in order to remember Allah and to praise Himbecause He guided us to the path of Islam and he conferred favors upon us.'Thereupon he adjured them by Allah and asked if that was the only purpose oftheir sitting there. 'They said, By Allah, we are sitting here for this purposeonly. ' At this the Prophet, peace be upon him, said, 'I am not asking you totake an oath because of any misapprehension against you, but only becauseGabriel came to me and informed me that Allah, the Exalted and Glorious, wastelling the angels that He is proud of you'."
Abu Sa'id Al-Khudri and Abu Hurairah reported that the Prophet, peace beupon him, said, "When any group of men remember Allah, angels surroundthem and mercy covers them, tranquility descends upon them, and Allah mentionsthem to those who are with Him."
Qatadah reported that Anas ibn Malik said, "The Prophet, peace be uponhim, said, 'When a human is laid in his grave and his companions return and hehears their footsteps, two angels will come to him and make him sit and askhim, "What did you say about this man, Muhammad, may peace be uponhim?" He will say, "I testify that he is Allah's servant and HisMessenger." Then it will be said to him, "Look at your place inHell-Fire. Allah has exchanged for you a place in Paradise instead ofit".' The Prophet, peace be upon him, added, 'The dead person will seeboth his places. As for a non-believer or a hypocrite, he will respond to theangels, "I do not know, but I used to say what the people used to say !" It will be said to him, "Neither did you know nor did you seekguidance from those who had knowledge." Then he will be hit with an ironhammer between his two ears, and he will cry and that cry will be heard by allexcept human beings and jinns'." (Bukhari and Muslim)
Abu Hurairah reported that the Prophet, peace be upon him, said, "Whena servant of Allah utters the words la ilaha illa'Allah (there is none worthyof worship except Allah) sincerely, the doors of heaven open up for these wordsuntil they reach the Throne of Allah, so long as its utterer keeps away fromthe major sins.'' (Tirmizhi, who says it is a hasan gharib hadith)
Abu Hurairah also reported that the Prophet, peace be upon him, said,"Renew your faith." "How can we renew our faith?" theyasked. The Prophet, peace be upon him, replied, "Say always, 'La ilahaill-Allah'.'' (Reported by Ahmad with a sound chain of authorities)
Jabir reported that the Prophet, peace be upon him, said, "The bestremembrance of Allah is to repeat La ilaha ill-Allah and the best prayer isalhamdu li-Allah (All Praise is due to Allah).'' (Reported by Nasa'i, IbnMajah, and Al-Hakim, who considers its chain sound)
Abu Hurairah reported that the Prophet, peace be upon him, said, "Thereare two phrases that are light on the tongue but heavy on the scale of rewardsand are dear to (Allah) the Gracious One. These are, subhanallah wa bi-hamdihi(All Glory is to Allah and all Praise to Him), and subhanallah al-azim(Glorified is Allah, the Great).'' (Muslim, Bukhari, and Tirmizhi) Abu Hurairahalso reported that the Prophet, peace be upon him, said, "I love repeatingsubhanallah, wal-hamdulillah, wa la-ilaha ill-Allah, wa-Allahu akbar (Glorifiedis Allah, all praise is due to Allah, and there is no God but Allah, Allah is thegreatest) more than all that the sun shines upon.'' (Muslim and Tirmizhi)
Abu Zharr reported, "the Prophet, peace be upon him, said, 'Shall Itell you the words that Allah loves the most?' I said, 'Yes, tell me, OMessenger of Allah.' He said, 'The words most dear to Allah are subhan-Allah wabihamdihi (Glorified is Allah with all praise due to Him)'." This isnarrated by Muslim and Tirmizhi. In Tirmizhi's version, we also find thefollowing: "The words most dear to Allah which He has chosen for His angelsare subhana Rabbi wa bihamdihi, subhana Rabbi wa bihamdihi (Glorified is myLord with all praise due to Him, Glorified is my Lord with all praise due toHim)."
Jabir reported that the Prophet, peace be upon him, said, "Whoever saysSubhan-Allah-al-Azim wa bihamdihi (Glorified is Allah, the Great, with allpraise due to Him), will have a palm tree planted for him in Paradise.''(Reported by Tirmizhi who considers it a sound hadith.)
Abu Sa'id reported that the Prophet, peace be upon him, said, "Performthe enduring goods deeds more frequently." The asked, "What are theseenduring deeds?" The Prophet, peace be upon him, replied, At-Takbir,(Saying Allahu akbar i.e., Allah is the greatest) At-Tahlil, (Saying la ilahaill-Allah, i.e., there is no god but Allah) At-Tasbih, (Saying subhan-Allahmeaning, Exalted and far removed is Allah from any weakness) al-hamdu li-Allah,(This means: All praise belongs to Allah alone) and la hawla wala quwwata illabillah. (There is no power nor any authority except with the permission ofAllah) This is reported by An-Nasa'i and Al-Hakim, who consider its chain ofauthorities sound.
Abdallah reported that the Prophet, peace be upon him, said, "Duringthe Night Journey I met Ibrahim who said to me, 'O Muhammad, convey mygreetings to your ummah, and tell them that the Paradise is of pure land, itswater is sweet, and its expanse is vast, spacious and even. And its plants areSubhan-Allah, wal-hamdulillah, wala ilah illallah, wa-Allahu akbar'.''
Samura ibn Jundab reported that the Prophet, peace be upon him, said,"The dearest phrases to Allah are four: Subhan Allah, (Glorified isAllah), al-Hamdulillah (All praise be to Allah), Wa la ilaha ill-Allah (There isno God but Allah), and Allah-o-Akbar (Allah is the Greatest). There is no harmin beginning them in any order you choose while remembering Allah.'' (Muslim)
Abu Mas'ud reported that the Prophet, peace be upon him, said, "Ifanyone recites the last two verses of Surat al-Baqarah, they will suffice forhim,'' (Bukhariand Muslim) that is, these two verses will bring him a rewardequivalent to that of a night prayer, and will safeguard him from any hurtduring that night. Ibn Khuzaimah in his Sahih has also mentioned it under thechapter "The Recitation of the Qur'an Equivalent in Reward to a NightPrayer."
Abu Sa'id reported that the Prophet, peace be upon him, asked, "Cananyone of you recite a third of the Qur'an during the night?" TheCompanions considered this rather difficult and they said, "Who among uscan do so, O Prophet of Allah?" Thereupon the Prophet, peace be upon him,said, "(Say:) He is Allah, the One and Only; Allah, the Eternal, Absolute;He begetteth not, nor is he begotten; and there is none like unto Him.'' (Thereference here is to recitation of Surah 112 (Suratul Ikhlas) of the Qur'an,which the Prophet, peace be upon him, described as equivalent to recitingone-third of the Qur'an. This hadith is reported by Bukhari, Muslim, and Nasa'i)
Abu Hurairah reported that the Prophet, peace be upon him, said,"Whoever says, 'La llaha illa-Allahu wahdahu la sharika lahu, lahul-mulkuwa lahul-hamd wa huwa 'ala kulli shai'in qadir' a hundred times during a daywill have a reward equivalent to the reward for freeing ten slaves. Besides, ahundred good deeds will be recorded for him and a hundred bad deeds of his willbe wiped off, and it will be a safeguard for him from Satan that day untilevening, and no one will be better in deeds than such a person except he whodoes more than that.'' (Bukhari, Muslim, Tirmizhi, Nasa'i, and Ibn Majah) Inthe version of Muslim, Tirmizhi, and Nasa'i, we find this addition: "Andwhoever says subhan Allah wa bi-hamdihi a hundred times during a day, will haveall his sins wiped off even if they were as numerous as the foam on the surfaceof the sea."
Anas reported that he heard the Prophet, peace be upon him, saying thatAllah says, "O son of Adam, whatever you asked Me and expect from Me Iforgave - respecting that which you owed to Me - and I don't care [how greatthis was]. O Son of Adam, even if your sins pile up to the sky and then youseek My forgiveness I will forgive you, and O son of Adam, even if you have anearthful of sins but you meet Me without associating any other thing with Me Iwill forgive you.' (Reported by Tirmizhi, who considers it a hasan sahihhadith)
Abdallah b. 'Abbas said, "If one supplicates without fail forforgiveness from Allah, He finds a way out for him to get out of every distressand difficulty, and gives him sustenance through ways utterly unthought of.''(Reported by Abu Daw'ud, Nasa'i, Ibn Majah, and Al-Hakim, who says its chain ofauthorities is sound.)
Juwairiyah (One of the wives of the Prophet, peace be upon him) reportedthat one day the Prophet, peace be upon him, left her apartment in the morningas she was busy observing her dawn prayer in her place of worship. He came backin the forenoon and she was still sitting there. The Prophet, peace be uponhim, said to her, "You have been in the same place since I left you?"She said, "Yes." Thereupon the Prophet, peace be upon him, said,"I recited four words three times after I left you and if these were to beweighed against what you have recited since morning these would outweigh them,and these words are: Subhanallah wa bihamdihi 'adada khalqihi wa rida' nafsihiwa zinata 'arshihi wa midada kalimatihi (hallowed be Allah and praise is due toHim to the extent of the number of His creation and to the extent of Hispleasure and to the extent of the weight of His Throne and to the extent of inkused in recording words for His Praise).'' (Reported by Muslim and Abu Daw'ud)
Sa'd ibn Abu Waqqas reported that once the Prophet, peace be upon him, saw awoman who had some date-stones or pebbles which she was using as beads toglorify Allah. The Prophet, peace be upon him, said to her, "Let me tellyou something which would be easier and more excellent for you than that."So he told her to say instead Subhan-Allah 'adada ma khalaqa fil-ard wa subhanAllah 'adada ma khalaqa bayna zhalika wa subhan-Allah 'adada ma huwa khaliq waAllahu akhar mithla zhalik wa la ilaha illa-Allahu mithla zhalik wa la hawla wala quwwata illa mithla zhalik (Glory be to Allah as many times as the number ofwhat He has created in Heaven, Glory be to Allah as many times as the number ofwhat He has created on Earth, Glory be to Allah as many times as the number ofwhat He has created between them, Glory be to Allah as many times as the numberof that which He is creating, Allah is the most great a similar number oftimes, praise be to Allah a similar number of times, and There is no god butAllah a similar number of times, and there is no might and no power except withAllah a similar number of times).'' (Reported by the Compilers of the Sunan andAl-Hakim, who says it is a sound hadith according to the criterion of Muslim)
Ibn 'Umar reported that the Prophet, peace be upon him, told them, "Aservant of Allah said 'My Lord! All praise is for You as much as Your Glory andSublime Majesty rightly deserve. ' This was too much for the two angels torecord. They did not know how to record it. So they soared to the heaven and said,'Our Lord! Your servant has said something which we don't know how to record?'Allah asked them--and, of course, He knew what the servant had said--'What didMy servant say?' They said, 'He has said, "My Lord! All praise is for Youas much as Your Glory and Sublime Majesty rightly deserve." Allah said tothem, ' Write it down as My servant has said until he should meet Me and Ireward him for it'.' (Reported by Ahmad and Ibn Majah)
Yusairah reported that the Prophet, peace be upon him, commanded them (theemigrant women) to be regular in remembering Allah by saying, "Allah isthe most great," "Glory be to Allah, the Holy," and "Thereis no God but Allah," and never to be forgetful of Allah and His Mercy,and to count them on their fingers, for the fingers will be questioned and willspeak. (Reported in the Sunan and by Al-Hakim with a sound chain ofauthorities)
Abdallah b. 'Amr b. al-'As reported, "I saw the Prophet, peace be uponhim, counting the glorifications of Allah on his right hand's fingers.''(Reported in the Sunan)
Abu Hurairah reported that the Prophet, peace be upon him, said, "Ifpeopie sit in an assembly in which they do not remember Allah nor invoke ablessing on the Prophet, it will be a cause of grief for them on the Day ofJudgment." This is reported by Tirmizhi, who says it is a sound hadith.
In the version of Ahmad, however, we read, "If people sit in anassembly in which they do not remember Allah, it will be a cause of sorrow forthem, and if a man is walking and does not remember Allah, it will be a causeof sorrow for him, and if a man lies down on his bed and does not rememberAllah, it will be a cause of sorrow for him." Another version says,"It will be a sorrow for them, even if they are given Paradise inreward."
The author of Fath al-'Allam says, "This hadith proves that it isincumbent on one to remember Allah and invoke blessings on the Prophet whilesittmg in an assembly, for whether we take the words 'cause of grief or sorrow'to mean torment of fire or any other chastisement, obviously a punishment isincurred only when an obligatory act is neglected or a forbidden act iscommitted, and here it is both the remembrance of Allah and the invoking ofblessings on His Prophet that are apparently incumbent."
Abu Hurairah reported that the Prophet, peace be upon him, said, "Ifanyone sits in an assembly where there is much clamor and says before gettingup to leave, Subhanaka Allahumma wa bihamdika, ashadu an-la illaha illa-anta,astaghfiruka wa atubu ilayka (Glory be to You, O Allah, and I begin withdeclaring all praise is due to You, I testify that there is no god but You; Iask Your pardon and turn to You in repentance), he will be forgiven any sinthat he might have committed while in that assembly. (Tirmizhi and Al-Baihaqi,(Kitab ad-D'wat Al-kabir))
It is related that the Prophet, peace be upon him, said, "The atonementfor backbiting [and slander] is to pray for forgiveness of the person who wasslandered and to say, 'O Allah, forgive us and him'."
The preferable course in this regard is to pray for forgiveness of theperson who was the target of the slander and to mention his good qualities.This will wipe off the effects of such backbiting, and it is not necessary toannounce such a thing.