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Texts supporting Zikr (Dhikr)

There follow some extracts from Encyclopedia of Islamic Doctrine Vol 2: Remembrance of Allah and Praising the Prophet (saw), compiled by Shaykh Muhammad Hisham Kabbani (1998, 2nd ed. ISBN: 1-871031-86-9). A book that condenses some of the key islamic scriptural authorisations, recommendations and indeed obligations to perform dhikr (zikr). It seems that such works have become necessary due to uncertainty from some quarters about the legitimacy of dhikr within islam.

These extracts are lengthy, but represent only a small fraction of the book. We place these online merely as a clarification for people who may be confused about the status of dhikr within islam and in answer to some of the questions that we have been asked regarding dhikr. As this text has been edited for brevity [edit], there may be points that are not expounded as fully as one might wish therefore we strongly recommend that you refer to the book or the source works for a more complete study. May Allah (swt) forgive me for any errors on these pages that might have arisen from poor transcription or editing of this text.

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Remembrance of Allah (dhikr): the greatest obligation and a perpetual divine order

Remembrance of Allah (dhikr), is the most excellent act of Allah's servants, and is stressed over a hundred times in the Holy Quran. It is the most praiseworthy practice to earn Allah's pleasure, the most effective weapon to overcome the enemy, and the deed most deserving of reward. It is the flag of Islam, the polished heart, the essence of the science of faith, the immunization against hypocrisy, the foremost worship, and the key of all success.

There are no restrictions on the method, frequency, or timing of the remembrance (dhikr) whatsoever. Any restrictions on method pertain to certain specific obligatory acts that are not the issue here, such as the prescribed prayer (salat). The Sharia is clear and everyone is aware of these obligations. Indeed, the Prophet (saw) said that the People of Paradise will regret only one thing, not having remembered Allah enough in the world!

Allah says in His Holy Book,"O believers, make abundant mention of Allah!" (33:41) He says His servants are "Those who remember their Lord standing, and sitting, and lying on their sides" (3:191); in other words, those who remember Him at all times of the day and night.


Aisha said, as narrated by Muslim, that the Prophet (saw) remembered Allah at all times of the day and night. The Prophet (saw) said, "If your hearts were always in the state that they are in remembering Allah, the angels would come to see you to the point that they would greet you in the middle of the road."1 Imam Nawawi commented on this hadith saying, "This kind of sight is shown to someone who persists in meditation (muraqaba), reflection (fikr), and anticipation (iqbal) of the next world."2

Muadh ibn Jabal said that the Prophet (saw) 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."3

Allah placed His remembrance above prayer in value by making prayer the means and remembrance the goal. He said:

Lo! Worship guards one from lewdness and iniquity, but verily, remembrance of Allah is greater, more important (29:45).
He is successful who purifies himself, and remembers the name of his Lord, and so prays (87:14-15).
So establish prayer for My remembrance (20:14).


The remembrance of Allah (dhikr) is something of tremendous importance. Abu Hurayra said that the Prophet (saw) said, "The earth and everything in it is cursed, except for those who perform the remembrance of Allah (dhikr), the teacher and the student."5 By the words "the earth and everything in it," the Prophet (saw) refers to all that which claims status or existence apart from Allah, instead of in Him. In fact, all creation remembers Allah (dhikr) because Allah said that all creation praises Him constantly, and tasbih is a kind of dhikr. Allah said of the Prophet Jonah (as), when the whale swallowed him, "Had he not been one of My glorifiers (musabbihin), he would have remained inside the whale's stomach until Judgment Day" (37:143-144).

The hadith of the Prophet (saw) just cited also stresses the importance of following a teacher of knowledge, since to not do so incurs curse instead of blessing. This is what Abu Yazid al-Bistami meant when he said, "Whoever has no shaykh, his shaykh is satan." This is confirmed by two other hadiths of the Prophet (saw):

Abu Bakrah said:

I heard the Prophet (saw) say: Become a learned person (alim), or a student of knowledge (mutaallim), or an auditor of knowledge (mustami), or an amateur of knowledge (muhibb), but do not be the fifth one for you will perish.6

Sakhawi said: Ibn Abd al-Barr said, "The fifth one is one who shows enmity towards the scholars and contempt of them, and whoever does not love them shows contempt for them or is on the brink of having contempt for them, and there lies destruction."7

In houses which Allah has allowed to be raised to honor and for His Name to be remembered in them, He is glorified there day and night by men whom neither trade nor sale can divert from the remembrance of Allah (24:36-37).
Those who believe, and their hearts find satisfaction in the remembrance of Allah: By remembering Allah, truly satisfaction comes to the heart (13:28).

During the night of the Night Journey (isra and miraj), the Prophet (saw) was taken up to a point where he heard the screeching of the Pen, which signifies the writing of the divine Decree. He saw a man who had disappeared into the light of the Throne. The Prophet (saw) said, "Who is this? Is this an angel?" It was said to him, "No." He asked, "Is it a prophet?" Again the answer was no. He asked,, "Who is it then?" The answer was, "This is a man whose tongue was moist with Allah's remembrance in the world, his heart was attached to the mosques, and he never incurred the curse of his father and mother."10


It is well-known in Islam that the best work in the path of Allah is jihad. Yet the Prophet (saw) placed dhikr even above jihad in the following authentic hadiths. Abu al-Darda narrates: The Prophet (saw) once asked his companions, "Shall I tell you about the best of all deeds, the best act of piety in the eyes of your Lord, which will elevate your status in the Hereafter, and carries more virtue than the spending of gold and silver in the service of Allah or taking part in jihad and slaying or being slain in the path of Allah? The dhikr of Allah."12


(The next page cites some texts discussing the meanings of dhikr.)

1 Muslim narrated it.
2 Nawawi, Sharh sahih muslim
3 Narrated by Bayhaqi in Shuab al-iman (1:392 #512-513) and by Tabarani. Haythami in Majma al-zawaid (10:74) said that its narrators are all trustworthy (thiqat), while Suyuti declared it hasan in his Jami al-saghir (#7701).
5 Narrated by Tirmidhi who said it is hasan, Ibn Majah who said the same, Bayhaqi, and others. Suyuti cites it in al-Jami al-saghir from al-Bazzar's similar narration from Ibn Masud and he declared it sahih. Tabarani also narrated it in al-Awsat from Abu al-Darda.
6 Al-Haythami said in Majma al-zawaid (1:122): "Tabarani narrated it in alMujam al-saghir (2:9), al-Mujam al-awsat, and al-Mujam al-kabir, also al-Bazzar [in his Musnad], and its narrators are considered trustworthy." It is also narrated by Abu Nuaym in Hilyat al-awliya (7:237) and al-Khatib in Tarikh baghdad (12:295).
7 Sakhawi, al-Maqasid al-hasana (p. 88 #134). See Ibn Abd al-Barr's Jami bayan al-ilm wa fadlih (1:30).
10 Shaykh Muhammad Alawi al-Maliki cited it in his collated text of the sound narrations on that topic entitled al-Anwar al-bahiyya min isra wa miraj khayr al-bariyya.
12 Related in Malik's Muwatta, the Musnad of Ahmad, the Sunan of Tirmidhi, Ibn Majah, and the Mustadrak of Hakim. Al-Bayhaqi, Hakim and others declared it sahih.

(May Allah (swt) forgive me for any errors I may have introduced through transcription or editing of this text.)