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On the Recollection (Dhikr or Zikr) of God

Ghazali describes the method and effects of dhikr in a passage which Macdonald has summarized as follows:

"Let him reduce his heart to a state in which the existence of anything and its non-existence are the same to him. Then let him sit alone in some corner, limiting his religious duties to what is absolutely necessary, and not occupying himself either with reciting the Koran or considering its meaning or with books of religious traditions or with anything of the sort. And let him see to it that nothing save God most High enters his mind. Then, as he sits in solitude, let him not cease saying continuously with his tongue, 'Allah, Allah,' keeping his thought on it. At last he will reach a state when the motion of his tongue will cease, and it will seem as though the word flowed from it. Let him persevere in this until all trace of motion is removed from his tongue, and he finds his heart persevering in the thought. Let him still persevere until the form of the word, its letters and shape, is removed from his heart, and there remains the idea alone, as though clinging to his heart, inseparable from it.

So far, all is dependent on his will and choice; but to bring the mercy of God does not stand in his will or choice. He has now laid himself bare to the breathings of that mercy, and nothing remains but to await what God will open to him, as God has done after this manner to prophets and saints. If he fo11ows the above course, he may be sure that the light of the Real will shine out in his heart. At first unstable, like a flash of lightning, it turns and returns; though sometimes it hangs back. And if it returns, sometimes it abides and sometimes it is momentary. And if it abides, sometimes its abiding is long, and sometimes short."

Another Sufi puts the gist of the matter in a sentence, thus:

"The first stage of dhikr is to forget self, and the last stage is the effacement of the worshipper in the act of worship, without consciousness of worship, and such absorption in the object of worship as precludes return to the subject thereof."

Recollection can be aided in various ways. … The Indian practice of inhaling and exhaling the breath was known to the Sufis of the ninth century and was much used afterwards. Among the Dervish Orders music, singing, and dancing are favourite means of inducing the state of trance called 'passing-away' (fana), which, as appears from the definition quoted above, is the climax and raison d'ĂȘtre of the method.

In 'meditation' (muraqabat) sufis recognise a form of self-concentration similar to the Buddhistic dhyana and samadhi. This is what the Prophet meant when he said, "Worship God as though thou sawest Him, for if thou seest Him not, yet He sees thee." Anyone who feels sure that God is always watching over him will devote himself to meditating on God, and no evil thoughts or diabolic suggestions will find their way into his heart.

:: From the Book, The Mystics of Islam by Reynold A. Nicholson



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Technology of the Heart: On the Recollection (Dhikr or Zikr) of God
On the Recollection (Dhikr or Zikr) of God
Technology of the Heart
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