The Importance and Power of Dhikr
By Fariha Sikondari
Sometimes life can feel like a never-ending merry-go-round, from going to work, coming home dealing with chores and taking care of the family, to spending weekends running errands and visiting relatives. Don’t get me wrong. All of these are valuable activities; however, sometimes we can end up neglecting our spiritual side in the daily pursuit of the material world.
This can be especially true of women who are often unfairly left with the brunt of chores and family responsibilities, despite holding down careers of their own. It can sometimes be hard to achieve the right balance between deen and dunya, and it can be hard to find the time to reflect on our religion and spiritually to gain the most from it.
We may intend and want to read more Quran every day, or gain more knowledge about our deen, or do nafil prayers but due to our hectic lives we are unable to do so. This is where dhikr, the Remembrance of Allah (God), can become a vital part of your day. Dhikr is a very powerful and simple way to worship Allah when we have a lack of time, which carries many benefits and virtues. I thought I would write on this topic as some people might not be that familiar with this form of worship.
Most of us after the obligatory salaah usually recite ‘Subhanallah’ (Glory be to God) or longer translation (High is Allah above every imperfection and need: He is pure and perfect), ‘Alhamdulillah’ (All Praise be to God) and ‘Allah Akbar’ (God is the Greatest) thirty three times each. Although we may recite these words regularly after salaah, we may do it absent-mindedly and without really contemplating on the actual words.
Allah has made Islam so easy for the believers that even the shortest Surahs and words/phrases can receive the greatest reward. For example, the reward of reciting ‘Alhamdulillah’ is that it will fill the scales on the Day of Judgement with good deeds. As dhikr is so easy and carries great reward, this is a form of worship that we should strive to increase in our daily lives.
“O you who believe! Remember Allah with much remembrance” [Quran 33:41].
Effects of Dhikr
Many of us often recite Surahs and phrases in Arabic without understanding their meaning. By understanding what you are reciting you can receive the full benefit of the recitation. Although life can be fast-paced it is good to spend some time reflecting on the words in the Quran and way of life that is described in the Sunnah.
By praising and glorifying Allah we are showing our gratitude to Him and acknowledging His majesty. We are acknowledging that we have no power without Him, as He has power over all things. Once we have truly understood this we can understand that we are not actually in control of our lives, and it is only with the help and will of Allah that we can achieve things in our lives.
Dhikr is a very direct and powerful way of strengthening your relationship with God, as you begin to depend on Allah for all things and not depend on other people. Allah loves the one who praises and glorifies him, and His love for you increases. It is through Allah’s love and mercy towards you that your duas are answered. This is a very special relationship that is especially experienced through this easy, pure and excellent form of worship.
You can increase the amount of dhikr you do by simply doing it at different times in your day, not just after salaah. For example, on your daily commutes, travelling, when you are waiting for something such as a doctor’s appointment, when you are carrying out your chores, when you have a spare ten minutes to yourself, when you are apprehensive about something (to calm your nerves) and so on.
When you have made it a habit to do dhikr regularly in your day you will find that you feel more connected to Allah (God), which is a great feeling. This is because the act of dhikr focuses your mind continuously on Allah, much like how meditation works to block out distractions from your mind. It also has an instant calming feeling over your mind and body, and removes negative thinking from your mind. The more you practice dhikr the more you will want to do it.
“Verily, in the remembrance of Allah do hearts find rest” [Quran 13:28].
Sincerely increasing the amount of dhikr you do in your day will have a substantial impact on other areas of your life. By the very essence of constantly being connected to your Creator your iman will naturally increase, and this will motivate you to implement other habits/ways of life instructed by the Quran and Sunnah. As dhikr focuses your mind solely on Allah, you will also start to think of what else you can do to sincerely please Allah on a daily basis, thus developing ikhlas (sincerity in worship).
Types of Dhikr and their Virtues
Dhikr is a form of worship that carries the highest of rewards. Generally dhikr pleases Allah and wipes away our sins. There are many different types of dhikr.
The First Kalimah or tahleel, ‘La illaha ill Allah Muhamadur-Rasul Allah’ (There is no God but Allah, Muhammad is the messenger of Allah) is an essential dhikr, as it is the declaration of faith.
The first part, ‘La illaha ill Allah’ (there is no God but Allah) is considered to be the best dhikr. Abu Huraira (RA) reported that the Prophet (SAW) said: “When a servant of Allah utters the words La illaha ill Allah sincerely, the doors of heaven open up for these words until they reach the Throne of Allah, so long as the utterer keeps away from the major sins”[At-Timiridhi]. Reciting this first part is also a way to renew our faith.
‘Subhanallahi wa bihamdihi, subhanallahil azeem’ (Glory be to Allah and Praise, Glory be to Allah, the Greatest). Abu Huraira (RA) reported that the Prophet (SAW) said about these words: “There are two statements that are light on the tongue to remember, heavy upon the scales and dearest to the Merciful.” [Al-Bukhari and Muslim].
‘La hawla wala quwwata illa billah’ means there is no power nor might without Allah. This dhikr is a treasure from amongst the treasures of Paradise.
‘SubhanAllah wal hamdulillah, wa laa ilaha illAllah wAllahu akbar’ means ‘Glory be to Allah, All Praise is for Allah, There is No God but Allah, Allah is the Greatest. These are most beloved to Allah and have been encouraged in many hadith of the Prophet (saw).
‘Astaghfirullah’ means I seek Allah’s forgiveness. This is another dhikr that can be recited abundantly to wipe away our sins. The Prophet (saw) is reported to have done this more than seventy times a day.
Learning Allah’s ninety nine names/attributes is another way to do dhikr. The constant recitation of the names can be the remedy to many problems in your life. Allah (swt) commands us to supplicate to Him by invoking His beautiful names.
When Allah is mentioned in a gathering, Allah remembers those believers in a higher gathering in the heavens amongst angels. When you try to get closer to Allah, Allah draws even closer towards you.
This is just a small selection of dhikr and virtues. We can easily research other phrases and increase our knowledge in this area. There are also numerous other benefits of dhikr which affect our dunya as well as akhirah which I have not mentioned here.
Dhikr is a vast and deep topic that impacts many areas of Islam as it goes to the core of Islam – belief in God. The purpose of this article is to highlight the power of dhikr in our lives and also to encourage people to increase the amount of dhikr they do in their daily lives. It is good to reflect on the meanings of dhikr to understand the role of Allah in your life, and to understand the purpose of our existence i.e. to worship Allah (God). Some of the most beloved dhikr to Allah are very similar in words, I think this is because they are essentially affirming the same beliefs about God i.e. that God is great and there is no God or power but Allah.
I hope that readers find this article helpful and benefit on a spiritual level from the constant recitation of Allah’s beloved phrases. Our levels of iman can fluctuate during the day and this is an immediate way to remember Allah. Life can be complex and hectic but Islam fundamentally is very simple and easy to implement in our lives if we make the effort and have sincere intentions. Whilst we still have to take care of matters of the dunya, we can escape now and again in a sort of meditative form of worship that is dhikr and try to balance the amount of time we spend on deen and dunya.