References of Ethics
Qur'an • Nahj al-balagha • Misbah al-shari'a wa miftah al-haqiqa • Makarim al-Akhlaq • Al-Mahajja al-bayda' fi tahdhib al-ahya' • Tanbih al-khawatir wa nuzhat al-nawazir • Jami' al-sa'adat • Mi'raj al-sa'ada • Al-Muraqabat
Dhikr (Arabic: ذِكْر) is mentioning something or someone by the heart and by the tongue and in religious terminology, it refers to remembering God.
The word "dhikr" and its derivatives are mentioned about three hundred times in the Qur'an, most of which are about remembering God and His blessings and signs. "Dhikr" is categorized in two types of verbal and by heart. Faith, God-wariness, belief in the hereafter and divine books are mentioned among the causes and grounds of the actualization of the dhikr of God.
Calmness and tranquility of the heart, fearing God, knowledge and wisdom, salvation, remembering people by God, divine forgiveness and entering the paradise are mentioned among the fruits of "dhikr". Some obstacles are mentioned for dhikr including arrogance, Satan, dominance of ignorance over the hearts of disbelievers by God and deviant friends.
Turning away from remembering God has grave consequences mentioned in religious texts including the difficulty of gaining the means of living, association with Satan, blindness on the Day of Judgment and the punishment of God.
"Dhikr" is defined as remembering and reminding something or someone by the heart, the tongue or both which is sometimes mentioned against ignorance and sometimes it refers to keeping something in the mind. In general conversations of people and especially religious people, the word "dhikr" refers to remembering God.
The word "al-Dhikr" is mentioned among the four names and attributes of the Book of God beside "the Qur'an", "Furqan" and "Kitab" and is mentioned more than thirty times in the verses of the Qur'an. In these verses, the revelation of dhikr or its inspiration upon the Prophet (s), hearing and reciting dhikr (the Qur'an), following it and keeping it are mentioned.
The concepts opposite to dhikr mentioned in the Qur'an and hadiths are forgetfulness, ignorance, forgetting the remembrance of God and His advice.
Position and Importance
Derivatives of the word "dhikr" are mentioned about three hundred times in the Qur'an. In the view of the Qur'an, dhikr is so important that it has been mentioned in Qur'an 20:14 as one of the wise philosophies of the prayer (the most important act of worshipping God). Also, in different verses, the prophets (a) and believers are ordered to show no indolence regarding dhikr of God.
In Shi'a and Sunni hadith collections too, the importance of dhikr and its educational fruits in individual and social lives and also its fruits in the hereafter are emphasized and regular practice of the dhikr of God in all times and places is among the instructions of the Prophet (s) and the Ahl al-Bayt (a) to Muslims to such an extent that in some hadiths, dhikr of God is introduced as the philosophy of the obligation of some acts of worship such as hajj and jihad and many hadiths too have explained it in the verses of the Qur'an.
Dhikr has a great importance and position to mystics and they consider it the most important and sometimes the only means of reaching and getting close to God. To mystics, the goal of dhikr is annihilation of the one who practices dhikr in the One who is the subject of dhikr (i.e. God) and when this level is reached, it is called the true dhikr.
"Jalis" (communicating), "hudur" (presence), "shuhud" (witness), "fikr" (contemplation) and supplication can be mentioned among the terms close to dhikr in mystical terminology.
Dhikr is categorized in two types of verbal and by heart.
- Verbal dhikr which is also known as "dhikr by the tongue" and the "Jali (explicit) dhikr" referring to remembering God by the tongue. This type of dhikr is considered the first level of dhikr when a person mentions the name of God and His attributes by the tongue and he may sometimes mention them unmindful of their content and meaning.
- Dhikr by the heart or "khafi" (hidden) is that the one who practices it remembers God by the heart and considers Him in private and in public, as Present and Watchful and avoids doing any action which may be against His consent. Dhikr by the heart is considered as the highest level of dhikr from which remembering God flows and then it flows on the tongue; such as when a person remembers the greatness of God when he is studying and pondering upon the world of creation and seeing the order of the universe.
Causes and Grounds
Different causes and grounds are mentioned for dhikr of God which are related with internal attributes and external states of the person who practices dhikr. In religious texts, faith, God-wariness, belief in the hereafter, divine books, the Prophet of Islam (s), the blessing of guidance and noting the benefit of dhikr are mentioned among the causes and grounds of the dhikr of God.
- Faith: the Qur'an addresses the people of faith and orders them to practice the dhikr of God bountifully and admonishes those who forget the dhikr of God after acquiring faith due to forgetfulness and hard-heartedness and orders them to become humble before the dhikr of God.
- God-wariness: Based on the verses of the Qur'an, when God-wary people commit slips and sins due to ignorance, the attitude of God-wariness prevents them from lesser and greater sins and the oppression they commit against their souls and provides them with the means of repentance and return to the right path of life through the dhikr of God. Dhikr of God in such times causes removing ignorance from their eyes and ears and bringing about wisdom.
Some manners are mentioned for practicing the dhikr of God. Sincerity, imploration, fearing of God, abandoning loud voice (saying dhikr in whispering manner), losing hope in anyone other than God, choosing the dhikr which agrees with divine teachings, purity, humility and awe, presence of heart, spiritedness and holding gatherings of dhikr are among the manners of dhikr.
Some fruits upon the body and the soul of the one who practices dhikr of God are mentioned including the tranquility and confidence of heart, God-wariness, knowledge and wisdom, salvation, remembering people by God, divine forgiveness, the paradise, dignity, happiness, association with the Beloved, life and development, flourishment of the intellect and cure of the heart.
- Tranquility and confidence of heart: under the Qur'an 13:28, Allama Tabataba'i said that the generalness of this verse includes all humans unless the heart reaches to the point where it cannot be called heart due to loss of wisdom and growth.
- Remembering people by God: In several hadiths about the phrase "Remember Me, and I will remember you" in Qur'an 2:152, remembering God's worship and servitude is considered to result in remembering humans by God with blessings, mercy, doing goodness to and forgiveness.
- Salvation: under Qur'an 62:10, Allama Tabataba'i conditioned salvation and deliverance to dhikr of God.
- 'Knowledge and Wisdom: under Qur'an 7:201, exegetes considered dhikr of God rescuing and the cause of developing wisdom and thought in human against the temptation of Satan which frees a person from ignorance.
- Flourishing intellect: According to some hadiths from Imam Ali (a), the light of heart and flourishment of intellect are brought to human through the dhikr of God.
According to religious teachings, sometimes due to wrong actions of human being, obstacles are created for having the dhikr of God including ignorance by God upon the hearts of disbelievers, following Satan, deviating friend, pile of wealth and boastfulness, properties and children, conceit, far-reaching dreams and following carnal desire.
- Conceit: with regards to Qur'an 7:12, where Satan says, "'I am better than him,' he said. 'You created me from fire and You created him from clay'", exegetes have introduced conceit and arrogance among the most important obstacles for the dhikr of God.
- Creating ignorance by God upon the hearts of disbelievers: Sometimes, in order to punish those who stand against the truth, God dominates ignorance over their hearts so that they forget dhikr and remembrance of God and are afflicted with the aftermaths of turning away from the dhikr of God.
- Properties and Children: According to Qur'an 63:9, although properties and children are considered among divine blessings, sometimes the excessive love of them and being occupied with them causes ignorance from the remembrance of God and prayer.
- Satan: According to several verses of the Qur'an including Qur'an 7:91, Satan, as the sworn enemy of humans, prevents humans from remembering God using different devices including the development of enmity and rancor among people and prevalence of alcohol drinking and gambling.
- Deviant friends: According to the explicit appearance of Qur'an 53:29, God prohibits His Messenger (s) from associating those who prevents people from remembering God and the Qur'an.
Aftermaths of Turning Away from Dhikr
For turning away from dhikr and remembrance of God, grave aftermaths and consequences are mentioned in religious sources including the difficulty of gaining the means of living, dominance of Satan over human beings, blindness on the Day of Judgment, association with Satan and the punishment of God.
- Dominance of Satan over human beings: In the interpretation of Qur'an 43:36 and 37, it is said that when a person becomes ignorant of the remembrance of God, Satan will become his associate and will dominate over him and will never leave him and by making his actions looking good, covers his eyes and ears and draws him anywhere he wishes.
- Difficulty of gaining the means of living: under Qur'an 20:124 which mentions the difficulty of gaining the means of living for those who become ignorant of dhikr and remembrance of God, Allama Tabataba'i says that for a person who forgets remembering God and cuts his connection with Him, nothing will remain except this world and he will take it as his sole desire; thus, he would do all his efforts exclusively to achieve it, but this limited extent of living would not satisfy him and he would have greed for more and would be permanently envious of what others have and his envy would never end. Therefore, he would always be poor and have difficulty in gaining the living he wishes and he will have a desire for what he would not have.
- Deviation: In the interpretation of verse of Qur'an 39:22 , al-Tabrisi considers getting close to disbelief and being obstinate about it, a cause of the hardness of the heart, lack of the influence of remembering God on the heart and deviation from the path of God.
- Divine punishment: According to Qur'an 18:100 and 101, turning away from the remembrance of God will not have any result other than the hell.
Most Beloved Dhikrs
According to verses and hadiths, dhikr of God at any time and place is recommended. However, according to some hadiths, some dhikrs including "La ilah-a illallah", tasbih of Lady Fatima al-Zahra (a), al-Tasbihat al-Arba'a, "La hawl-a wa la quwwat-a illa billah" and Salawat are among the most beloved dhikrs before God.
- Qur'an 15:6, Qur'an 16:44, Qur'an 38:8
- Qur'am 54:25
- Qur'an 68:51, Qur'an 3:58
- Indeed I am Allah—there is no god except Me. So worship Me, and maintain the prayer for My remembrance.
- Qur'an 20:42, Qur'an 3:41, Qur'an 7:205, Qur'an 33:41, Qur'an 2:152
- —those who have faith and whose hearts find rest in the remembrance of Allah.’ Behold! The hearts find rest in Allah’s remembrance!
- and remember Allah much so that you may be felicitous.
- When those who are Godwary are touched by a visitation of Satan, they remember [Allah] and, behold, they perceive.
- Indeed Satan seeks to cast enmity and hatred among you through wine and gambling, and to hinder you from the remembrance of Allah and from prayer. Will you, then, relinquish?
- and on that day We shall bring hell into view visibly for the faithless.—Those whose eyes were blind to My remembrance and who could not hear.
- The material for this article is mainly taken from ذکر in Farsi WikiShia.