بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
In the name of God, The Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful
Dhikr- the remembrance of God
“Dhikr” is literally remembrance- remembering God, whenever and wherever we may be. It constitutes one of the ‘ibaadaat (acts of worship), yet this one is a little different. While prayer needs us to be in a state of ritual purity, facing the qibla and so on, dhikr can be almost any place and at any time, and one engaging in it doesn’t have to perform the ablution beforehand, or to be covered as in prayer. It is one of the simplest acts of worship and yet can give us the most rewards as well as a restful heart. It is a way to connect to God and be close to him.
Believers are sometimes weary of themselves because they cannot commit to being pious people- they try, but it tires them to the effect that it is a chore. The answer lies in the verse in the Qur’an, where Allah says “and remember Allah much” (Surat Al-Anfaal, 8.45). The word “much” suggests that it is limitless- engage in the remembrance of God as much as you can.
But why does this act of worship require us to perform it “much”? The word ‘remembrance’ is the opposite of ‘forgetfulness’. When you are not ‘remembering’ God, you have forgotten Him. The word “much” indicates profound thinking and reflection of God. Is it possible to just think at night, or in the morning? We must always be thinking of God, while we are on the tube or in the car, when we are walking and when we are sitting. ‘Much’ denotes hundreds of times. One of the taabi’een would say “SubhanAllah” 100,000 times a day. This is, of course, a great station and we are not suggesting that it is either that or nothing- but using it as an example to compare to ourselves.
The Prophet (pbuh) would often tell his Companions:
“Shall I tell you about the best of deeds, the most pure in the sight of your Lord, about the one that is of the highest order and is far better for you than spending gold and silver, even better for you than meeting your enemies in the battlefield where you strike at their necks and they at yours?”
The Companions replied, “Yes, O Messenger of Allah!”
The Prophet (pbuh) said, “Remembrance of Allah.” (Tirmidhi, Ahmad, and Hakim)
Moreover, the Prophet Sulayman (pbuh) was passing by a peasant at a time when he was at the height of his wealth and riches. He looked at the peasant and told him that a “tasbeeha” (i.e. saying Subhaan Allah) was greater than all of Sulayman’s possessions put together, because all these possessions would fade away with time, but the tasbeeha will remain in your book until Judgement Day.
It is also important to remember Allah much to establish a relationship with Him that is as opposed to those who remember Allah a little, as even hypocrites remember Allah sometimes:
“Surely the hypocrites strive to deceive Allah, and He shall requite their deceit to them, and when they stand up to prayer they stand up sluggishly; they do it only to be seen of men and do not remember Allah save a little.” (Surat An-Nisa, 4.142)
And also to avoid falling into the calamity of not remembering Allah at all:
“But whosoever turns away from My Message, verily for him is a life narrowed down, and We shall raise him up blind on the Day of Judgment.” (Surat Taha, 20:124)
Which is basically telling us that we will be distracted from God, and the Devil will be our partner.
BENEFITS of DHIKR
Perhaps the most beautiful and rewarding thing about dhikr is shown in the following verse of the Qur’an:
Therefore remember Me, I will remember you, and be thankful to Me, and do not be ungrateful to Me (Surat Al-Baqara, 2:152).
This is probably the most satisfying reward of all, that God remembers us in the Heavens. This in turn, gives us inner peace, as seen in the verse below:
“Those who believe and whose hearts are set at rest by the remembrance of Allah; now surely by Allah’s remembrance are the hearts set at rest” (Surat Ar-Ra’d, 13.28)
Thus with dhikr our hearts are at peace, and we are never alone, literally but also emotionally. Moreover, remembrance of God helps to keep us away from sins, especially the greater sins. This is most evident in the story of the Prophet Yusuf (pbuh), when the wife of the ‘Azeez was trying to tempt him. The fact that his heart was always engaged in the remembrance of Allah allowed him to be righteous.
A man once came to the Prophet (pbuh) and said, “O Messenger of Allah, the laws and conditions of Islam have become too many for me. Tell me something that I can always keep (i.e. in particular, as opposed to the many rules and conditions that must be kept in general).”
When reading that the man said there were too many conditions to keep, one must understand that he was unsure that he could keep them all. He wanted something that he would be sure to keep always. The Prophet said: “(I am advising you in one thing:) Keep your tongue always moist with the remembrance of God” (Ahmad, Tirmidhi, Ibn Majah, Ibn Hibban)
The Prophet (pbuh) also said: “The People of Paradise will not regret except one thing alone: the hour that passed them by and in which they made no remembrance of Allah.” (Tabrani)
Some specific remembrances of the Prophet (pbuh)
It must be noted that we should not only be saying these words with our tongues, but truly tasting the meaning behind them. When we say astaghfirAllah, for example, we should feel regret in our hearts, recognize our sins even if they seem small to us, and ask Allah for forgiveness.
The Prophet (pbuh) “If one supplicates constantly for forgiveness from Allah, He finds a way out for him to get out of every distress and difficulty, and gives him sustenance through ways utterly unthought of.” (Abu Dawud, Nasa’i, Ibn Majah, and Hakim)
The Prophet (pbuh) used to say it at least 100 times a day. It is very important for us to remember also that we ask forgiveness especially for the smaller sins that we perhaps don’t even notice, and yet they are black dots on our heart- without asking God for forgiveness they remain, eventually enveloping our hearts with a black sheet that makes us numb to the bad things we do and sins in general.
The Prophet (pbuh) asked his Compananions “Do you want 1000 hasana (rewards)?” They replied “Yes” He then told them to say “Subhana Allah 100 times- you will have 1000 hasana, or Allah will wipe away with it 1000 sins” (Muslim)
Easy as that!
3- Subhan Allah wa bihamdih
The Prophet (pbuh) said, “Whoever says, ‘Subhan Allah wa bihamdihi,’ one hundred times a day, will be forgiven all his [minor] sins even if they were as much as the foam of the sea.” (Bukhari)
4- Subhan Allah wa bihamdih, Subhan Allah Al-‘adheem
The Prophet (pbuh) said: “There are two phrases that are light on the tongue but heavy on the scale of rewards and are dear to the Gracious One. These are: Subhan Allah wa bi hamdih, “Glorified is Allah with all praise to Him,” and Subhan Allah al-`adheem, “Glorified is Allah, the Great.” (Bukhari, Muslim, and Tirmidhi)
What is especially beautiful about this specific remembrance is that these words are beloved to Allah- meaning if we are successful in saying them throughout the day, that He is pleased with us! (i.e. a person who is particularly horrible will find it more difficult to say them because after all, it is God who allows us to remember Him)
5- La Ilaha ila Allah
The Prophet (pbuh) said,
“Renew your faith.”
“How can we renew our faith?” they asked.
The Prophet replied: “Say always: la ilaha ila Allah.”
The Prophet (pbuh) also said “”The best remembrance of Allah is to repeat la ilaha ila Allah and the best prayer (du’a) is al-hamdu lillah (all praise belongs to Allah).” (Nasa’i, Ibn Majah, and Hakim)
With regards to renewing our faith, this is especially important- we all go through phases where we feel our Eman is lower than it was previously, and the cure for that is repeating the essence of our faith, as the Prophet (pbuh) mentioned.
6- La ilaha ila Allah wahdahu la sharika lah, lahu al-mulk wa lahu al-hamd, wa huwa `ala kulli shay’in qadir
The Prophet (pbuh) said: “Whoever says: la ilaha ila Allah wahdahu la sharika lah, lahu al-mulk wa lahu al-hamd, wa huwa `ala kulli shay’in qadir — There is no god but Allah, alone, without partner. His is the sovereignty, and His the praise, and He has power over everything — a hundred times a day will have a reward equivalent to the reward for freeing ten slaves. In addition, a hundred good deeds will be recorded for him and a hundred bad deeds of his will be wiped off, and it will be a safeguard for him from Satan that day until evening, and no one will be better in deeds than such a person except he who does more than that.” (Bukhari, Muslim, Tirmidhi, Nasa’i and Ibn Majah)
A small note:
These may look very lengthy, and many of them require us to say them 100 times, but I promise you I tried it- it used to take me 25 mins to get to LSE, I said all of the athkar above in maybe half that time, and came to LSE feeling very at rest 🙂 But don’t take my word for it, try it yourselves
Shukr- thanking God
Shukr is thanking God for specific blessings. It is slightly different from “al-hamd”, which is more encompassing- it is to praise, to thank, to appreciate and to have gratitude for the Creator. Whatever you have shukr or thanks for, you obviously say alhamdillah, but not necessarily vice versa. For example, if a calamity has befallen you, you may say “Alhamdillah ‘ala kul haal” (i.e. alhamdillah for every situation)- this signifies your acceptance and contentment with the will of God, but you would not say “Laka al-shukr” (To You is thanks) because you are not “happy” with your affliction e.g. a relative dying.
WHY SHOULD WE THANK?
Thanking God is basically your recognition that it is He who has given you your blessings. For example, if someone gives you a car, you would thank that person. If you do not, it is ingratitude, and even contempt for the person who gave it to because you are not recognizing that because of him, you actually have a car.
If we look at the broader picture, EVERYTHING in our lives is from God. He says in the Qur’an:
And He gives you of all that you ask Him; and if you count Allah’s favors, you will not be able to number them; most surely man is very unjust, very ungrateful. (Surat Ibrahim, 14.34)
While His gifts are innumerable, our thanks for them, unfortunately, is. We should all attempt to be like the Prophet Moosa (pbuh), who said,
“O Lord! How can I thank you when thanks itself is a blessing from You”
He said: “Now you have truly given thanks to Me, for you have realized that it is a blessing from Me.”
Thus we only truly thank God when we comprehend that everything, even our prayers are blessings from Him, because it is indeed He who guides and not ourselves. Also, we should try and compare our calamities to our blessings- while we can actually count all of the former, it is impossible to count the latter and this helps to put things into perspective.
BENEFITS OF SHUKR
With our dealings with other people, it a norm to thank others for favors that they have done. This is taught to us when we are young (2 magic words: please and thank you!). The person who we have thanked obviously will feel no duty to give us more just because we have thanked him, as we owe him thanks for what he has done.
But the Generosity and Mercy of God is obviously infinitely greater than that of humans, as evidenced in the following verse:
“And when your Lord made it known: If you are grateful, I would certainly give to you more, and if you are ungrateful, My chastisement is truly severe” (Surat Ibrahim, 14.07)
The more we thank God, the more blessings are showered upon us. The Prophet (pbuh) has also said that whenever a servant of God thanks Him, a blessing becomes obligatory for him (Ibn Majah), and that saying alhamdillah fills our scales.
It is important to remember, that the more we think of God and remember Him, the more we will be able to acknowledge all the He has given us, and in turn be thankful for it. It is also important to remind ourselves and each other of these great blessings, especially when remembering other people around the world, who live in conditions that we would not be able to bear. Most of all we should be thankful for the guidance that Allah has given us, and always ask for more.
I truly ask God to make every single one of you in Paradise, and to make the grave rest as opposed to punishment, and to give us all the pleasure of meeting Him and seeing Him. I also ask God to always keep us in good company in this life, and allow us all to meet with each other in al-Janna.