The Humble I

Knowing, Doing, Becoming

Dhikr: To Be in the Presence of the One

GlassesMasters of the inward life say that remembrance of God, or dhikr, is the cornerstone of the spiritual path, the key to sanctification (wilayah) and the weapon of the seeker. In fact, it is the goal behind all acts of worship, as the Qur’an itself teaches: Establish prayer for My remembrance. [20:14]

Dhikr is for the heart to feel the presence of the One being remembered, by freeing it of distractions, maintaining its constant attentiveness and making it aware of what the tongue is uttering. For the best dhikr, and the one yielding the greatest fruit, is one that involves the heart and tongue together; if not, then the heart; and then just the tongue.

In his customary minimalist fashion, Ibn Juzayy (whom we encountered in a previous post which can be read here) distils for us the reality of dhikr. While commenting on God’s words: Remember Me and I shall remember you [2:152], he wrote:


‘Know that remembrance of God (dhikr) is the best of all works in general, even if in some hadiths other acts, like the prayer, are given superiority. For this is only due to what they contain of the meaning of dhikr and of being present (hudur) with God. The proof for the superiority of God’s remembrance can be seen from the following three angles:

Firstly, the texts that are related about its merits over all other works. The Messenger of God ﷺ said: ‘Should I not inform you which of your deeds is best? Which purifies you most before your Sovereign? Which raises you higher in rank and is better for you than giving away gold and silver; better than facing your enemies that you might slay them or be slayed by them?’ They said: O Messenger of God, inform us! He replied: ‘The remembrance of God.” [Tirmidhi, no.3377]

The Messenger of God ﷺ was asked: Which deed is best? He replied: ‘Remembrance of God.’ It was said: Is remembrance better even than jihad in God’s path? He said: ‘Even if he should smite the non-believers until his sword breaks and blood flows, the one who remembers God is of a loftier rank.’ [Tirmidhi, no.3376]

Secondly, God, exalted is He, wherever He instructs us with remembrance, or extols it, stipulates that it be done profusely and abundantly: Remember God abundantly. [33:41] Those who remember God abundantly. [33:35] This is not the case for any other deed.

Thirdly, remembrance has a quality particular to it and it alone: being present in the loftiest Presence (hudur fi’l-hadrat al-‘aliyyah) and arriving at closeness – expressed in hadiths that speak of “sitting” and “being with” God. God says: ‘I sit with the one who remembers Me.’ Also: ‘I am as my servant thinks Me to be, and I am with him when he remembers Me.’ [Bukhari, no.7536]

People intend by their dhikr one of two stations. For the general Muslims, it is to earn rewards (iktisab al-‘ujur); for the elite, it is to draw near to God and be in His presence (al-qurb wa’l-hudur). What a tremendous gulf there is between the two stations. What a difference there is between one who takes his reward from behind a veil, and one who is drawn close and becomes of the elite lovers!’1

1. At-Tashil li ‘Ulum al-Tanzil (Beirut: Maktabah al-‘Asriyyah, 2003), 1:159-60

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13 thoughts on “Dhikr: To Be in the Presence of the One

  1. The only regret of the people of Paradise will be not having made more dhikr. SubhanAllah, their ONLY regret. May Allah make us of those who remember Him, for Him…abundantly.

  2. Truly a goal (THE goal) to aspire to. Thank you for your inspirational comment.

  3. Muhammad Saleem Anwar on said:

    It would be interesting to know whether there has ever been any scholarly view at variance with the one at hand. Why then do we find many Muslims (scholars and laity alike) having lost ‘the focus’ for some decades?

  4. Scholarly view concerning the importance of dhikr itself, or that it is the goal and purpose of all worship?

  5. Imran Mohiuddin on said:

    Excellent article Ustadh, it reminds me of the famous hadith (correct me if i am wrong) that one who remembers Allah abundantly and the one who doesnt, is like comparing the living and the dead!…

    We lead very busy lives and back to the ‘rat race’ after Ramadan, how can we maintain the constant remembrance of God – and what daily routine outstide the daily prayers is the best form of active remembrance ?

    • Masters of the inward life tell us that filling our hearts with God’s love and remembrance happens by degrees; bit by bit. One works to learn and act on the outward demands of the shari’ah, while trying to fill one’s heart with awareness, gratitude and reverence of God.

      Detoxing from an inordinate love of dunya is essential in all of this.

      Every act of obedience is a form of dhikr. The most beloved acts are those that are personal obligations owed to God, as well as those where we are in the service of others. Dhikr includes having a daily litany of learning useful religious knowledge, reading Qur’an and making plenty of du’as for oneself and for others.

      We ask Allah for tawfiq and taysir.

  6. I tried doing constant thikr ie 60/60/24/7 thikr ie saying subhanallah wa bi hamdih over and over again in my mind/heart etc, but I ran into many problems? What is the interpretation of that those in paradise will wish they did more dhikr? Should we literally do 24/7 thikr??? Is this Bidah? Did the prophet sallallahu alaihi wa sallam do that???

    • Salams kamal, sorry for the delayed reply.

      Although, as a general rule, it is certainly true that the more dhikr the better. Nonetheless, if we have inclinations to make dhikr constantly, 24/7, I strongly advise you to find/consult a shaykh of suluk who can best advise you.

      The issue is not necessarily of bid’ah, but of what the best way is for an individual to attain presence of heart with Allah in one’s worship and remembrance. No doubt, dhikr is a tremendous means to that, and a powerful medicine. But there is such a thing as “over dosing”. Hence it is best to get a suitable “prescription” from a qualified “doctor of the heart”.

      The fact that you “ran into many problems” when you did try constant dhikr reinforces my point. These things are best done in moderation and in degrees. Start of with a little, morning and evening, seeking to make this little a constant practice in one’s daily life.

      But as I said, you are urged to seek out a specialist and put yourself under his worthy direction and prescription. And Allah knows best.

      Your brother, in dire need of his Lord’s mercy, Surkheel Abu Aaliyah.

      • jazak Allah khayran, thanks. I think you’re right I should ask a knowledgeable sheikh about this…Allah told the prophet sallallahu alaihi wa sallam in the Quran to remember Him in his self without loudness of speech and not to be among the negligent…something to think about…may Allah make it easy for you, wa alaykum al salam

  7. rasheed on said:

    please recite this often with presence

    اللهم دلني على من يدلني عليك و اوصلني الى من يوصلني اليك

    Allahumma dulani ‘ala man yadulluni ‘alayk, wa awsilni ila man yusiluni ilayk.

    Oh Allah! Direct me to those whom You have directed to Yourself, and connect me to those whom You have connected unto Yourself

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