Lesson 16 (Zikr)

Chapter No.: 

Islam stands for self-surrender and submission to Allah. It calls on men to fashion their lives according to the Divine Will. It wants them to be loyal to Him in all circumstance and in every sphere of their conduct, personal as well as social. This can be possible only when our mind's eye is fixed permanently on the Almighty, and the consciousness of His lover and Glory overshadows all our thoughts and actions.

It is, as such, one of the special teachings of Islam that we remember Allah much and often and keep our tongues fresh with the recital of His names, praises and attributes. It is an excellent and well-tried method for producing in our hearts His love and the consciousness of His Greatness. It is natural for a man's heart to be filled with the love of anyone whose splendour and excellence his mind dwells all the time.

In any way, it is a fact that frequent remembrance kindles the flame of love and lends strength to it and so also that the life of complete loyalty and submission to Allah which is the essence of Islam can be possible only through Divine love. It is love alone that makes one the willing bondsman of another. As a Persian verse says:

What love is?

Say: "To be the beloved's bondsman."

Consequently, a very great stress has been laid in the Quran and by the Prophet (Peace be upon him) on Zikr (Allah remembrance). The Quran reads:

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا اذْكُرُوا اللَّهَ ذِكْرًا كَثِيرًا () وَسَبِّحُوهُ بُكْرَةً وَأَصِيلًا ()

O ye who believe! Celebrate the Praises of Allah, and do this often; and glorify Him morning and evening. (33:41-42)

وَاذْكُرُوا اللَّهَ كَثِيرًا لَعَلَّكُمْ تُفْلِحُونَ ()

And celebrate the Praises of Allah much and often: that ye may prosper. (62:10)

There are two things, which lead one to forget Allah when one gets absorbed in them. These are wealth and family. So the Quran names them specifically and warns Muslims against becoming a prisoner to them.

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا لَا تُلْهِكُمْ أَمْوَالُكُمْ وَلَا أَوْلَادُكُمْ عَنْ ذِكْرِ اللَّهِ وَمَنْ يَفْعَلْ ذَلِكَ فَأُولَئِكَ هُمُ الْخَاسِرُونَ ()

O ye who believe! Let not your riches or your children divert you from the remembrance of Allah. If any act thus, the loss is their own. (63:9)

The five daily prayers (Salaah) are obligatory for Muslims. These prayers, certainly, are a means of remembering Allah and a very good one too. But it would not be proper for a Muslim to stop at them considering that if he had offered the Salaah he had done all that was required of him by way of Allah remembrance and there was no need to do anything further. It is a clear commandment of Islam that, in addition to Salaah, one should also not neglect Zikr in whatever state one may be. It is said in Sura-I-Nissa:

فَإِذَا قَضَيْتُمُ الصَّلَاةَ فَاذْكُرُوا اللَّهَ قِيَامًا وَقُعُودًا وَعَلَى جُنُوبِكُمْ

When ye pass (congregational) prayers, celebrate Allah's Praises standing, sitting down or lying down. (4:103)

Thus, even those engaged in Jihaad are enjoined to carry out the Zikr of Allah keenly and enthusiastically. Says Sura-I-Anfal:

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا إِذَا لَقِيتُمْ فِئَةً فَاثْبُتُوا وَاذْكُرُوا اللَّهَ كَثِيرًا لَعَلَّكُمْ تُفْلِحُونَ ()

O ye who believe! When ye meet a force, be firm and call Allah in remembrance much (and often); that ye may prosper. (8:45)

This verse, as the verse from Sura-I-Jum'a we have quoted earlier, "And celebrate the Praises of Allah much and often: that ye may prosper", shows that Zikr, by no means, constitutes an unimportant factor in the success and felicity of the believers. As against it, the verse from Sura-I-Munafiqoon we mentioned a few lines ago candidly declares that those who neglect the Zikr do a very wrong thing. They are at a great loss. In Sura-I-Ra'ad, further, it is stated as a characteristic of Zikr that it imparts peace and tranquility to the mind and the soul.

الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَتَطْمَئِنُّ قُلُوبُهُمْ بِذِكْرِ اللَّهِ أَلَا بِذِكْرِ اللَّهِ تَطْمَئِنُّ الْقُلُوبُ ()

For without a doubt in the remembrance of Allah do hearts find satisfaction. (13:28)

It is related that once the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) was asked who would be the most exalted among the servants of Allah on the Last Day. The Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) replied, "Those who do the Zikr of Allah be they men or women".

Hazrat Abu Moosa relates from the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) that, "Those who remember Allah and those who do not are like those who are alive and those who are dead (i.e. those who remember Allah and celebrate His praises are alive while those who don't are dead)".

Relates Hazrat Abdullah bin Omar that the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) once said. 'There is a polish for everything; for the hearts it is the Zikr of Allah. Nothing is more effective then Zikr for deliverance from Divine chastisement."

It should be understood clearly that the real meaning of Zikr is that a man should never be without the thought of Allah. In whatever circumstances he may be placed, with whatever thing he may be occupied, he must not allow himself to become unmindful of Allah, His laws and ordinances. Though for this it is not necessary that the tongue should also always be repeating His names, attributes etc., such a state of permanent and all-pervading Allah consciousness is commonly found only in devout servants of the Lord who succeed in producing within themselves and everlasting awareness of Allah and a feeling of infinite devotion to Him through frequent Zikr. There is developing a tendency among some of the modern educated people to hold the Zikr as futile. This is a grave folly. Zikr is a most valuable instrument for forging a living and all-embracing link with Allah. The Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) was very clear about its worth and importance. It is related by Hazrat Abdullah bin Busr that once a man presented himself before the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) and said, "O Prophet of Allah, there are numerous teachings of Islam. Please tell me something which I may hold fast forever". The Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) replied, "Keep your tongue wet always with the Zikr of Allah. Another Tradition related by Hazrat Abu Huraira reads; "Allah says, 'when anyone remembers Me and his lips move in My Zikr, I am by his side'".

Some Zikr formulas of the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam)

The value and importance of Zikr would have become apparent from the Quranic verses and Traditions we have just quoted. We have seen how Zikr of Allah promotes and strengthens Divine love in our hearts. Below we give some of the favourite Zikr formulas of the holy Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam).


Relates Hazrat Jabeer from the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) that: "The best of all Zikrs is the Zikr of."

Narrates Hazrat Abu Huraira that the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) once remarked: "When anyone recites from the depth of his heart the gates of the heavens open for the Kalima till it reaches the seventh heaven provided, of course, that the devotee abstains from the major sins."

According to another tradition the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) is reported to have said, "Once Moses begged the Lord to tell him something through which he could do His Zikr. The Lord told him to do so through the Kalima of upon which Mose said, "This is what every one does. I want something special. Came the reply, 'If the seven heavens and all the heavenly creatures and the seven climes on the earth and all that is contained in them are placed on one side of the balance and the Kalima of one the other, the later shall turn out to be heavier."

Such, indeed, is the splendour of People, unfortunately, take it to be a mere phrase. The present writer himself has heard it from an inspired devotee of the Lord in a moment of rare spiritual feeling that, "If someone with the entire wealth of the world at his command were to tell me to give him one Kalima of recited by me in return for his treasures this humble self shall refuse to do so."

The Third Kalima

Relates Hazarat Sumara bin Jundub that the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) once said that of all the spoken words and the Kalimas the most excellent were these four:

سبحان الله و الحمد لله و لا اله إلا الله و الله اكبر

[Tranaliteration: Subhaa-nallaahi wal-hamdu lillaahi wa laa ilaaha illal laahu wal laahu akbar]

Glory be to Allah and all praise be to Allah, and there is no deity (worthy of worship) save Allah, and Allah is Great.

Narrates Abu Haraira that the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) said, "The Kalima of is dearer to me than the entire world on which the sun shines.

This Kalima is most complete and comprehensive and all the aspects of Divine Praise are covered by it. In some Traditions the phrase is also included in it. It occurs after . A revered spiritual mentor used to explain the import of the Kalima to the present writer in following manner:

Subhaa nallah, 'Glory be to Allah, Free from all faults and blemishes and other things that are not worthy of His Glory .

Alhamdu lillah, 'Praise be to Allah, He is the embodiment of perfection and the center of every kind of virtue, (therefore) all praise is for Him, and when such is His Glory that He is absolutely blemishless and all the wonderful virtues are assembled in Him, He alone is our Lord and the sole object of our heart's desire .

Laa ilaaha illalaah, 'There is no Allah save Him, We are His own helpless slaves and of no one else.

Allahu Akbar, 'Allah is Great, He is Most Powerful, Almighty. We can never acquit ourselves of our duties to Him as His slaves nor can we ever gain nearness onto Him except that he himself blesses us with His grace.

Laa howla walaa quwwata illa billaah, 'There is no power or virtue but in Allah."


A well-known Tradition of the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) has it that the Prophet's beloved daughter (and Hazrat Ali's wife), Hazrat Fatima, used to perform all the domestic duties with her own hands. She had even to draw water from the well and to carry it home and to grind the corn in the millstone. One day she begged the holy Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) to provide her with a domestic servant upon which the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) observed, "I will tell you of something that will serve you better than a domestic servant. Recite Subhaa-nallaah 33 times, Alhamdu lillaah 33 times, and Allahu Akbar 34 times after each Salaah and on retiring to bed. This will be of greater value to you than a servant."

Another Tradition says, "Whoever will recite after each Salaah 33 times Subhaa-nallaah, 33 times Alhamdu lillaah, and 34 times Allahu Akbar, and, at the end of it, the Kalima of ‘Laa ilaaha illal laahu wahdahu laa sharika lahu lahul mulku wa-lahul hamdu wa huwa alaa kulli shay-in qadiir’. (There is no Allah but one Allah. He is alone. No partner hath. He Him belongs sovereignty and unto Him belongs Praise and He is all-Powerful) all his sins will be forgiven even if they be as profuse as the foam of the sea."

Subhan Allah we Behamdhi

It is related by Hazrat Abu Huraira that the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) said, "He who will recite Subhaa-nallahi wa bihamdihi a hundred times morning and evening regularly no one shall take with him a greater provision of virtue to the Hereafter than him save the person who recited it even more."

Another Tradition related again by Hazrat Abu Huraira says: "Two phrases sit very lightly on the tongue but are very heavy in the Balance of Deeds and Allah loves them very much. These are ." Subhaa-nallahi wa bihamdihi, Subhaa-nallahil adhiim”.

There are many other Zikr-formulas commended by the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam). But the few we have given here are quite sufficient for anyone to adopt for regular recitation.

As regards the reward and recompense in the Hereafter promised in the Traditions it needs be noted that there is not fixed measure or a standard yardstick for it. Whoever will recite a Kalima of Zikr sincerely and with no other object than the propitiation of Allah will, Insha Allah, merit the full reward no matter how many times and at what hour he does so. But when a spiritual guide prescribes a Zikr for anyone for a particular purpose like the kindling of Divine love or the awakening of the heart and the creation of a permanent consciousness of Allah or for the eradication of a moral or spiritual ailment it is necessary to follow the routine he lays down and to do the Zikr as many times as he tells. Without this the desired results cannot be obtained by the devotee. For example, if a person recites the Sura of Al-Hamd-o-Sharif or any other Sura of the Quran as an act of religious merit there is no harm if he does so once in the morning, once at noon, once in the afternoon, once in the evening and couple of times in the night, but if he wants to learn the Sura by heart, also, he will have to recite it scores of times during one sitting. Otherwise he will not be able to memorize it. This is exactly the difference between an ordinary Zikr aimed only at Divine reward and the special Zikr which spiritual mentors prescribe to disciples for the cure of a spiritual morbidity or as a means for the attainment of any other objective of a similar category. Many people get caught in confusion because of not knowing this difference. This is why these few lines have been added here.

The reading of the Quran

The reading of the Quran is also a very good Zikr. A Tradition says:

"The superiority of the Word of Allah over any other word is the same as the superiority of

Allah over any of His creature."

And Hazrat Abdullah bin Masood relates from the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) that: "He who reads one letter of the Quran for him there is one virtue and the reward on this virtue is equal to that on ten other virtues. When I say this I do not mean that is one letter but that is one letter, another and the third."

Yet another Tradition, as related by Hazrat Abu Imama, reads:

"O People, read the Quran. On the Day of Judgment the Quran will intercede for those

who will have been reading it (in their lives)."

Some Suggestions

1. There is no need for those in whose hearts Zikr of Allah has come to dwell permanently as a result of constant endeavour and become a part of their existence to follow a set routine or to make a special effort in this respect. But if common people like us want to strengthen their bond with Allah and to partake of its auspiciousness and blessedness they must practise the Zikr at a fixed time and in a fixed number according to their individual circumstances. Better still, they should seek the advice of a spiritual guide while choosing a Zikr formula, for themselves. Or, they can select a Kalima from the Kalimas we have given above which may be most suited to their temperament. Time should also be set aside daily for the reading of the Quran.

2. As far as possible, the meaning of the Kalima used for Zikr should be kept in mind
during the recitation. The Zikr should be done with an active awareness of Divine Glory
and Magnificence and with the feeling and the belief that Allah was near, right there,
listening to every word that was being recited.

3. Wazu is not necessary for Zikr. It can be done freely without the Wazu. The reward
will not suffer because of it. But the effulgence and spiritual effectiveness of the Zikr is
very much enhanced when it is done with Wazu.

4. It has been seen earlier that the third Kalima is the most comprehensive one among all
the Kalimas. If it is adopted for recitation it can fulfill all the needs. This writer has seen
that spiritual mentors generally prescribe it to their disciples along with Durood Sharif
and Istighfar.

May Allah grant us the good fortune to full our hearts and wet our tongues with Zikr, and favour us with the fruit of its illuminations and blessings.