Zikr: Remembrance of God. By Maulana Wahiduddin Khan


The Quran repeatedly tells us to remember God. This is what is known as Zikrullah. One should remember God as often as one can. There may be some distractions in which you are engaged or some work in which your mind is focused, but even these may also lead, in an indirect manner, to the remembrance of God. When your own divine feelings, your remembrance of and love and praise for God, take expression in words, that is zikr. These words could be in your own mother- tongue or in the Arabic language.
It is very simple to remember God, to engage in zikr,and it is also quite natural. For instance, when you are walking, you can bring to your mind the fact that you are doing so entirely because of the blessings of God. While outdoors, you see the sun up in the sky, and you remember that it is God who is providing you sunlight. You breathe in fresh air while taking a stroll and you remember that it is He who is supplying you with oxygen. When you put your foot down on the ground and lift it up, you remember that it is He who has created gravity, otherwise you would be floating in the air and would not be able to walk on the ground at all. And so on. You bring to your mind the realization that without these divine blessings—of the sunshine, of the air, of gravity and so on—you would not be able to go out for a stroll. If you recount all these divine bounties associated with your morning walk, then you are remembering God, you are engaging in zikr while walking. So, in this way, at every moment, no matter what activity you may be engaged in—it may be your morning walk or something else—you can be doing zikr, remembering God and praising and glorifying and thanking Him.
This is a way in which you can engage in zikr—remembrance of God—throughout your everyday life, and not just for a few minutes a day, but, rather, all through the day, no matter what work you may be doing. So, you can be engaged in this zikr or remembrance of God while you are washing your clothes, and all the while you may remember God, thinking that your washing your clothes is entirely because of God’s blessings. You may recall that the water that you use is supplied by God, the cotton that your clothes are made of, the soap, the washing powder and so on, all these have been provided by God. If you reflect on these bounties of God while washing your clothes, you are remembering God. You are engaging in zikr.
Remembering God is not alien to your being. It is interwoven in your being, like energy is. You and energy are apparently separate, but in fact both are one and the same. So, at every moment there are bounties of God all around you which you can remember. If you awaken in yourself this consciousness at every moment, then you are remembering God at every moment. This is a way in which you can be engaged in the constant zikr of God.
In a report contained in the Sahih al-Bukhari, the Prophet’s wife Aisha reports about the Prophet: Kana an-nabiyuyazkurullahalakulliahyanihi. It means that the Prophet used to remember God on each occasion by making it a point of reference for God’s remembrance. So, for the Prophet, remembering God, or zikrullah, and other tasks were not two separate activities. Rather, both were intermingled.
The human mind has enormous potential. An American writer, Walt Whitman, has said: “I am large enough to contain all these contradictions.” He said this in a different context. However, this saying applies here as well. While being engaged in different tasks throughout the day, we can be engaged in zikr as well, reflecting on God’s bounties in the context of the tasks we are doing or the things we are seeing, and so on. Zikr means living with divine consciousness. When you have attained this state of consciousness, at every moment you will be in a state of zikr, even though you may not be uttering any specific words.
Sometimes, you may find yourself lamenting the past, experiencing negative feelings and thinking about negative experiences. In this way, your mind is diverted from zikr of God. This is a very common occurrence. But you can convert even this into a means to remember and thank God. If you have had some painful or negative experience in the past, when you recall it today you can convert it into something to be thankful to God for. You can think of it as yet another reason for shukr, or thankfulness to God. You can thank God that He did not make you stay on in that negative moment, and that, instead, He made you reach a better situation today. So, in this way, you can even make the memory of a past negative or painful experience into yet another opportunity to engage in zikr or remembrance of God.
Bura Jo Dekhan Main Chala, Bura Naa Milya Koye
Jo Mann Khoja Apnaa, To Mujhse Bura Naa Koye
[I set off searching for bad people, but I found not a single one.
Then I searched myself, and I found that there was no one worse than me]
(Kabir Sahib)

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