Sufism -- Sufis -- Sufi Orders

Sufism: Remembering God

The Qur'an instructs Muslims to remember God, whose reality encompasses and pervades both the unmanifest and manifest worlds (al-ghayb wa-al-shahadah). Sufis have developed this into the quintessential Sufi practice of silent and vocal dhikr (remembrance). An inherent problem in dhikr, however, is the difficulty in remembering God when one has little or no awareness of God. To start with, Muslims begin with a name of God, such as "Allah," which is often called the "comprehensive" name (al-ism al-jami'). It is comprehensive in the sense that it comprises all of the infinite names of God, which refer to the source of the awareness of all of reality. In down to earth terms, the ultimate source of one's awareness of the words on this page, for example, is the reality of one of the names of God, all of which are encompassed by the name Allah. In short, the source of one's present awareness--whatever that awareness may be--is encompassed by the name Allah. Thus, remembering God can begin quite simply and ordinarily with the awareness of two things: one's present awareness and the name Allah--even when one has no awareness of the reality to which the name Allah refers. (to be continued...)

The hadith scholar al-Mundhiri (d. 656/1258) compiled a collection of hadith that could inspire desire for God and those that could inspire fear of God. This collection, called the al-Targhib wal-al-tarhib, was abridged by the scholar Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani. The hadiths that are related to dhikr in Ibn Hajar's work can be accessed in English translation on the web page of the Muslim scholar Ayesha Bewley called Chapter on Dhikr..

Ibn 'Ata' Allah al-Iskandari (d. 709/1309), a Shadhili shaykh, wrote the treatise Miftah al-falah, (The Key to Success). See the following section On Dhikr, translated by Ayesha Bewley.

The on-line book Dhikr, Remembrance of Allah, (link down as of Nov. 24, 2001; the new link may be Questions on Dhikr (Remembrance of Allah)), chapter 9 in the Encyclopedia of Islamic Doctrine) is an on-line book written by the as-Sunnah Foundation-- which is affiliated with the Naqshbandi Shaykh Hisham as well as with his shaykh, Shaykh Nazim-- discusses in detail many aspects of Dhikr.

Dhikr: Remembrance of God, written by scholars affiliated with the Naqshbandi order, is a concise article in which the following topics are discussed: dhikr in the Qur'an and Sunnah, opinions of great Muslim scholars on dhikr, and the two major forms of dhikr: vocal and silent.

Dhikr in Islam (offline 20 February 2008) excerpted from the book The Naqshbandi Sufi Way, written by the contemporary Naqshbandi, Shaykh Hisham Kabbani, this is a concise article focusing on the Islamic basis for the practice of dhikr. (See an archived copy of the previous article at Dhikr in Islam)

Dhikr from Nuzhat al-majalis (Offline 20 February 2008) Translated by scholars affiliated with the Naqshbandi order, this passage on dhikr from a medieval Arabic text is accompanied by the translator's notes in brackets. (See an archived copy of the previous article at Dhikr from Nuzhat al-majalis. (Fixed, 1 October 2000.)

Continue reading the introductory essay on Sufism

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