Zikr in Islam

A Summary of the Importance and Significance of zikr in Islam, according to the teachings of Islamic scholars and saints in all the lands of the Muslims for over 1000 years; and in particular, the teachings of Hadhrat Shaykh Asif Hussain Farooqui daamat barakatuhum as delivered to his students in the UK since the 1970s to the present day.

The simplest English translation of the Arabic term zhikr,  is Remembrance. It is a key term and concept in Islam, since it is mentioned in many places throughout the Holy Qur’an, and there are also frequent references to it in the compilations of the teachings and sayings of the Prophet Muhammad, may God’s peace and blessings be upon him.

Allah has explicitly told humanity in the Qur’an that Remembrance of Allah is a practice we must undertake frequently and abundantly. The concept is very wide in scope, in that everything in nature is doing zikr; in other words, everything in nature acknowledges and is aware of its Creator. Human beings have a unique propensity for becoming distracted by our passions and selfishness, and becoming forgetful of God, which is why it is particularly imperative for us to remember Him regularly and often.

There are two chief benefits to the practice of zikr, and the first is defined by Allah in the Qur’an: “Indeed, by the Remembrance of Allah do hearts find peace.” (Chapter 13, verse 28) Those who dedicate themselves to regular remembrance of God find peace and tranquility in their hearts, and a wonderful release from the stresses and strains of day-to-day life.

Since the heart is the central organ of a human being, the effect of a tranquil, peaceful heart has a profound effect on the body and mind of a human being. This leads to the second main benefit and objective of the practice, namely, to move away from bad habits and character traits, in order to manifest that peace and balance experienced by the heart in all areas of one’s life.

This desire to manifest the best qualities of a human being is the fruit of zikr. Our behavior towards those around us, our sympathy and kindness towards others, our desire for a just and equitable society, these are all qualities exhibited in abundance in the life of the Prophet Muhammad, may God’s peace and blessings be upon him. Emulation of his magnanimity, of his generosity toward friend and foe alike, of the consideration he showed to both family and strangers, of his desire to spread this message of peace and harmony is a key objective of zikr.

The word Islam itself means peace, so a person who has immersed himself or herself in zikr inevitably becomes an agent of harmony in the community, not of discord or enmity. The example of excellent manners that the Prophet showed, may peace and blessings be upon him, is that a Muslim should not distinguish between categories of human being, as in Muslim or non-Muslim, black or white and so on. He famously visited a neighbor of his when he was sick, even though the neighbor had openly persecuted him for years.

It is, in fact, impossible for a true person of zikr to be a source of harm or of pain for others. Allah mentions in the Holy Qur’an that the heart attains peace through zikr, so how could such a heart spread fighting or enmity or darkness of any sort? Anyone who says that zikr could lead to bad actions has, in fact, slandered Islam and has not understood the true nature of zikr.

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