ON DHIKR
REMEMBRANCE OF GOD

by Sh. G. F. Haddad

from 'NUZHAT AL-MAJALIS'
chapters:

[01] Introd
[02] Hadith
[03] Who Remember God Much
[04] Dhikr of Inanimate Objects
[05] Six Benefits of Dhikr
[5a] The Ranks of Dhikr
[5b] Note on Silent Dhikr
[06] Six Benefits of Dhikr (cont.)
[07] Remittance of Sins Thr. Dhikr
[08] Dhikr of the Frogs
[8b] Dhikr of the Prophet Jonah
[09] The Plagues of Egypt
[10] Lengthening of LA ILAHA ..
[11] More Benefits of LA ILAHA ..
[12] More Benefits of LA ILAHA ..
[12b] Inanimate Objects Testify
[13] More on LA ILAHA ILLALLAH
[13b] The Refusal of Tyrants to Utter It
[14] More on LA ILAHA ..
[14b] God's Similes For the Phrase
[15] cont.
[16] cont.
[16] food - health

other links on dhikr at our site
[1] ON DHIKR (REMEMBRANCE OF GOD) from 'NUZHAT AL-MAJALIS'

God, the Exalted, said: { Verily in the remembrance of God (dhikr Allah) do hearts find rest!} (13:28). If it is asked: How is the meaning of this verse reconciled with that of His saying: { They only are the true believers whose hearts feel fear (wajilat = tremble or shake) when God is mentioned (dhukir Allah)} (8:2), the answer is that in the latter the purpose of God's mention is to bring to mind His greatness and the intensity of His vengeance against those who disobey Him. This verse was revealed at a time when the Companions had a disagreement concerning the spoils of the battle of Badr. Therefore the mention or the remembrance of what is fearsome became appropriate. As for the former verse, it concerns whoever God guided and who has turned to God with love. Therefore the mention of God's mercy became appropriate.

The two meanings (of fearsomeness and mercy) are reunited in Surat al- Zumar: { God hath now revealed the fairest of statements, a Scripture consistent, wherein promises of reward are paired with threats of punishment, whereat doth creep (taqsha`irr = shudder or shiver) the flesh of those who fear their Lord, so that (thumma = and then) their flesh and their hearts soften to God's reminder (or: to the celebration of God's praises; or: to God's remembrance) } (39:23), meaning, to God's mercy and generosity.

The Prophet said: "He who remembers God much (man akthara dhikr Allah), God loves him (aHabbahu Allah)," and he said: "The night that I was enraptured to my Lord (laylata usra bi) I passed by a man extinguished within the light of God's Throne (mugheeb fi nûr al-`arsh). I asked, Who is this, and is he an angel? I was told No, and I asked again, Is it a Prophet? I was told No, and I said, Who then? It was said: This is a man who, while he was in the world, his tongue was (constantly) moist with the mention of God and his heart was attached to the mosques."

On the authority of Mu`adh ibn Jabal  raDiy-Allahu-anhu.gif , the Prophet said that God said: "No servant of Mine mentions Me in himself (fi nafsihi) except I mention him in an assembly of My angels, and he does not mention Me in an assembly except I mention him in the Highest Friend (fi al-rafeeq al-a`la)."

On the authority of Abu Hurayra  raDiy-Allahu-anhu.gif  who said: "While on the road to Mecca the Prophet passed on top of a mountain called Jumdân (= frozen in its place), at which time he said: Move on (seeru), for here is Jumdân which has overtaken the single-minded (al-mufarridûn). They said: What are the single-minded? He said: The men and women who remember God much (al-dhâkirûn Allah katheeran wa al-dhâkirât)." Muslim related it.

The version in Tirmidhi has: "It was said: And what are the single-minded? He replied: Those who dote on the remembrance of God [i.e. who love it much] and are ridiculed because of it (al-mustahtarûn bi dhikr Allah), whose burden the dhikr removes from them (yaDa`u `anhum al-dhikru athqâlahum), so that they come to God fluttering (fa ya'tûn Allaha khifâqan)!"

(Al-Mundhiri) said in 'al-thargheeb wa al-tarheeb' [The Encouragement to Good and the Discouragement from Evil]: "The single-minded and those who dote on the dhikr and are ridiculed for it: these are the ones burning with the remembrance of God (al-muwalla`ûn bi dhikrillah)."

[Nawawi writes in 'SharH SaHeeH Muslim', Bk. 48, Ch. 1, Hadith 4: "Some pronounced it 'mufridûn' (= those who single out themselves)... Ibn Qutayba and others said: 'The original meaning of this is those whose relatives have died and they have become single (in the world) with regard to their passing from them, so they have remained remembering God the Exalted.' Another narration has: 'They are those who (perpetually) shake at the mention or remembrance of God (hum al- ladheena ihtazzu fi dhikrillah),' that is, they have become fervently devoted and attached to His remembrance (lahaju bihi). Ibn al-I`râbi said: 'It is said that "a man becomes single" (farada al-rajul) when he becomes learned, isolates himself, and concerns himself exclusively with the observance of God's orders and prohibitions (tafaqqaha wa i`tazala wa khala bi murâ`ât al-amr wa al-nahi).'"]

[Abu Bakr ibn al-`Arabi writes in 'SharH SaheeH Tirmidhi', Book 45 (da`awât), Ch. 4: "If it is said that the times have become so corrupt that there is nothing better than isolating oneself, we say: one isolates oneself from people in one's actions, while he keeps mixing with them with his physical body, however, if he cannot succeed, then at that time he isolates himself from them physically but without entering into monasticism (ya`taziluhum bi badanihi wa la yadkhulu fi al-rahbâniyya) which is condemned and rejected by the Sunna."]

[Shaykh Hisham Kabbani's commentary from his book 'Dhikr in Islam' p. 20: "The mountain has overtaken the people because the mountain is reciting dhikr also. Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya (in 'Madârij al-sâlikîn') explains that the term mufarridûn has two meanings here: either the muwaHHidûn, the people engaged in tawhîd (i.e. who declare God's Oneness) as a group (i.e. not necessarily alone), or the âHâd furâda, the same people as (single) individuals sitting alone (in isolation). From this example it is evident that... in the explanation of Ibn al-Qayyim al-Jawziyya the Salafi teacher, sittings of dhikr can be in a group, and can be all alone. In another explanation of mufarridun (cited by Ibn Qayyim) we have 'those that tremble from reciting dhikrullah, entranced with it perpetually, not caring what people say or do about them.' This is because the Prophet said: 'Recite dhikrullah' -- and, as we said, the best dhikr is LA ILAHA ILLALLAH -- as much as you want, 'until people say that you are crazy and foolish' (Ahmad, Ibn Hibban, Hakim); and do not care about them!"]

[2]

The Prophet said:

"The-one-who-mentions-or-remembers-God (dhâkirullâh) among those who forget Him is like a green tree in the midst of dry ones";

"The one who mentions or remembers God among those who forget Him, God shows him his seat in Paradise during his life";

"The one who mentions or remembers God among those those who forget Him is like the fighter behind those who run away";

"The one who mentions or remembers God among those who forget Him, God looks at him with a look after which He will never punish him";

"The one who mentions or remembers God among those who forget Him is like a light inside a dark house";

"The one who mentions or remembers God among those who forget Him, God forgives him (sins) to the amount of every eloquent and non-eloquent speaker," that is, the number of animals and human beings;

"The one who mentions or remembers God in the the marketplace, will have light in every hair of his on the Day of Resurrection."

The Sufis say that: - dhikr has a beginning, which is a truthful application (tawajjuh Sâdiq); - it has a middle, which is a light that strikes (nûr târiq); - its has an end, which is a piercing difficulty (Hârr khâriq);

[Note: Truthfulness should not be confused with sincerity, since it is possible to act with sincerity but not to reach truthfulness, as Nawawi explained in his commentary to the second of his "forty hadiths" (hadith about islâm, imân, iHsân). Ibn al-Jawzi relates in 'Sifat al-Safwa' (4:98): "ManSûr said: I heard Mûsa ibn `Īsa say: I heard my uncle say: I heard Aba Yazîd (al-Bistami) say: 'If one time I could utter purely LA ILAHA ILLALLAH (there is no god except God alone), I would not care about anything after that' (law Safat li tahlîlatun ma balaytu ba`daha bi shay')."]

- it has a principle (aSl), which is purity (al-Safâ');
- it has a branch, which is loyalty (al-wafâ');
- it has a condition (sharT), which is presence (Hudûr);
- it has a carpet (bisâT),
which is righteous action (al-`amal al-SâliH),
- it has a peculiar characteristic (khâSSiyya),
which is the Manifest Opening (al-fatH al-mubîn) [cf. 48:1].

Abu Sa`îd al-Kharrâz  raDiy-Allahu-anhu.gif  said: "When God desires to befriend (yuwâli) a servant of His, He opens the door of dhikr for that servant. After the latter takes pleasure (istaladhdha) in dhikr, He opens the door of proximity (al-qurb) for him. After that, He raises him to the meetings of intimacy (majâlis al-uns) and after that he makes him sit on a throne of Oneness (kursi min al-tawHîd). Then He removes the veils (al-Hujub) from him and He makes him enter the abode of Singleness (dâr al-fardâniyya) and unveils Majesty (al-jalâl) and Sublimity (al-`aZama) to him. When the servant beholds Majesty and Sublimity, he remains without 'he' (baqiya bila hu). He becomes extinguished (fâni), immune (bâri') to the claims and pretensions of his ego (da`âwa nafsihi), and protected for God's sake (maHfûZan lillâh)."

Someone else said: "Dhikr is the medicine (lit. tiryâq = triacle) of the sinners, the familiarity of the estranged (uns al-munqaTi`în), the treasure of those who practice reliance (kanz al-mutawakkilîn), the repast of those who possess certitude (ghidhâ' al-mûqinîn), the adornment of those who are connected (Hilyat al-wâSilîn), the starting-point of knowers (mabda' al-`ârifîn), the carpet of those brought near Him (biSât al-muqarrabîn), and the intoxicant of lovers (sharâb al-muHibbîn)."

The Prophet also said: "Remembrance of God is certain knowledge of one's belief (`ilm al-îmân), immunity from hypocrisy (barâ'at min al- nifâq), a fortress against satan (HuSn min al-shayTân), and a guarded refuge from the fire (Hirz min al-nâr)." It was mentioned by (al-Layth) al- Samarqandi.

[3]

Ibn al-SalâH (rah.) was asked about the measure by which the servant is estimated to be among 'those who remember God much'.
He said: "If he perseveres in the (forms of) dhikr inherited (in the Sunna) morning and evening (and) in the various times (of the day), then he is of those who remember God much."

Mûsa (as) said: "O my Lord! Are you near, so that I may speak to you intimately (aqarîbun anta fa unâjîka) or are you far, so that I may call out to you (am ba`îd fa unâdîka)?" God inspired to him: "I am sitting next to the one who remembers Me." He said: "O my Lord, we are sometimes in a state of major impurity (janâba) and we exalt You from remembrance or fear to remember You (najilluka 'an nadhkuruka)." He replied: "Remember Me in every state." Al-Ghazâli mentioned it in the 'Ihya'.

(`Abd al-Rahim ibn al-Hasan) al-Isnawi (al-Shâfi`i, 1305-1370 M) said in his 'Alghâz' (Riddles): "A man in a state of minor impurity (Hadath) is forbidden from certain forms of dhikr, as illustrated by (the nullification of the act of worship incurred when) entering such a state during the Friday sermon (khuTba), because ritual purity (Tahâra) is a condition (sharT) for its validity."

Someone related in Qushayri's 'Risâla' (Treatise on tasawwuf) that he entered a jungle and found a man remembering God while attended by a huge beast. He asked: "What is this?" The man replied: "I have asked God to empower one of His dogs to watch me in case I became heedless (ghafaltu) from remembering Him."...

Ibrâhîm al-Nakha`i said concerning Allah's saying: { There is not a thing but hymneth his praise.} (17:44): "Everything praises Him, including the squeaking of the door."

[`Abd al-Hakîm Murâd: I. ibn Yazîd al-Nakha`i (d. c96/714-5) was a devout and learned scholar of Kûfa who opposed the writing of hadîth as an unjustified innovation. He studied under al-Hasan al-BaSri and Anas ibn Mâlik, and taught Abu Hanîfa, who may have been influenced by his extensive use of personal judgment (ra'y) in matters of jurisprudence. Sources: Ibn Hibbân, 'Mashâhîr `ulama al-amSâr' 101; M.M. Azami, 'Studies in Early Hadith Literature' 65-66; Ibn al-Jazari, 'Ghâyat al-nihâya' 1:29.]

[4]

On the Dhikr of Inanimate Objects:

{ The seven heavens and the earth and all that is therein praise Him, and there is not a thing but hymneth his praise; but ye understand not their praise. Lo! He is ever Clement, Forgiving.} (17:44)

Ibrâhîm al-Nakha`i said concerning God's saying: { There is not a thing but hymneth his praise } : "Everything praises Him, including the squeaking of the door." Someone else said: "The verse is general, and it applies particularly to the one endowed with speech (al-nâTiq), as in God's saying: { Everything (kullu shay') was destroyed, } whereas the houses of `Ād were not destroyed,* and in His saying concerning Sheba (Balqîs): "And I have been given all things" whereas she had not been given Sulayman's kingdom."

* 46:25: { Destroying all things by commandment of its Lord. And morning found them so that naught could be seen save their dwellings. Thus do we reward the guilty folk. }

It was also said that the verse (17:44) has a universal meaning whereby the one endowed with speech glorifies God by word, while the silent one glorifies through (his) state (bi al-Hâl). This is by virtue of his being in existence: he testifies to His Maker through having been made.

I have seen in (Taj al-Din) Ibn al-Subki's 'Tabaqât (al- shâfi`iyya al-kubra)', may Allah be pleased with him, that the interpretation favored by our school (Shafi`is) is that all things make glorification through actual utterance (bi lisân al-maqâl), because such a thing is not impossible and it is indicated by many proof-texts. God the Exalted said: { We have placed the mountains under his dominion, they praise (God) at nightfall and at sunrise. } The mountains' glorification through actual utterance does not necessitate that we hear it. I have seen in 'al-wujuh al-musfira `an ittisâ` al-maghfira' [The Faces Made Radiant By the Vastness of Mercy] (the following commentary): "It is more likely that they literally glorify, except that this phenomenon is hidden from the people and is not perceived except through the rupture of natural laws (kharq al-`âda). The Companions  raDiy-Allahu-anhu.gif  heard the glorification of food and other objects placed before the Prophet .

"Concerning God's saying at the end of the verse: { Lo! He is ever Clement, Forgiving }: it applies to the state of those addressed by the verse in three ways. First, in the vast majority of cases people are distracted from glorifying God the Exalted, unlike the heavens and the earth and all that is therein: these distracted ones become in need of clemency and forgiveness. Second, they do not understand the praise of all these objects, and this may be because they do not sufficiently contemplate and reflect upon them: they become in need of clemency and forgiveness. Third, the fact that they do not hear their praise may cause them to feel contempt towards them and drive them to neglect their rights: they again become in need of clemency and forgiveness.

"There is no doubt that he who beholds with full understanding the glorification of things in existence (al-mawjûdât), honors and magnifies them in respect to this glorification, even if the Lawgiver ordered him to disdain them in another respect."

The he (the author of 'al-wujuh al-musfira') cited the following story: "One of God's slaves sought to perform the purification (from going to stool) with stones. He took one stone, and God removed the veil from his hearing so that he was now able to hear the stone's praise. Out of awe he left it and took another one, but he heard that one praising God also. And every time he took another stone he heard it glorifying God. Seeing this, at last he turned to God so that He would veil from him their praise to enable him to purify himself. God then veiled him from hearing them. He proceeded to purify himself despite his knowledge that the stones were making tasbîh, because the one who reported about their tasbîh is the same Law-giver who ordered to use them for purification. Therefore in the concealment of tasbîh there is a far-reaching wisdom."

This is true, and I also saw in (Fakhr al-Din) Razi's 'Tafsir' (Koranic commentary entitled 'Mafatih al-ghayb') that what the scholars have agreed upon is that whoever is not alive is not empowered with speech (man lam yakun Hayyan lam yakun qâdiran mutakalliman), and it has been firmly established that inanimate objects praise God through the medium of their state (bi lisân al-Hâl). And God knows best.

[Note: The Shaykh of our Shaykh was told by his Shaykh that even when removing an obstacle from the road such as a stone according to the saying of the Prophet "Belief has seventy-odd branches, the lowest of which is to remove something harmful from the road," the God-wary one is not to kick the stone away but to pick it up and displace it by hand out of respect for its glorification of God.]

[5]

Six Benefits of Dhikr (Remembrance of God)

1. The Ranks of Dhikr

One of the commentators of Qur'an said concerning God's saying:
{ But of them are some who wrong themselves and of them are some who are lukewarm, and of them are some who outstrip others through good deeds, by God's leave } (35:32): that they are respectively the rememberer by tongue, the rememberer by heart, and the one who never forgets his Lord.

NOTE ON SILENT DHIKR:

[Hadith of the Prophet on the authority of Sa`d  raDiy-Allahu-anhu.gif : "The best dhikr is the hidden dhikr, and the best money is what suffices." It is related by Ahmad in his Musnad, Ibn Hibban in his Sahih, and Bayhaqi in Shu`ab al-iman. Nawawi said the hadith was not firmly established.

[In the "Fatwa fiqhiyya" of Ibn Hajar Haythami (p. 48): He was asked about Nawawi's saying at the end of the chapter entitled "Dhikr Gatherings" in his Commentary on "Sahih Muslim": "Dhikr of the tongue with presence of the heart is preferable to dhikr of the heart [without]." Ibn Hajar said: "It is not because it is an established worship in the lexical sense [i.e. consisting in specific formulae] that dhikr of the heart is preferable, but because through it one intently means, in his heart, to exalt and magnify God above all else. That is the meaning both of the aforementioned saying of Nawawi and of the saying of some that "There is no reward in dhikr of the heart." By denying there is a reward in it, one means "in the words which are not uttered"; and by establishing that there is reward in it, one means "in the fact that the heart is present," as we have just said. Consider this, for it is important. And God knows best."

[According to the Naqshbandi Sheikhs, dhikr in the heart is more useful for the murid for it is more efficient in shaking the heart from indifference and awakening it. Shah Naqshband said: "There are two methods of dhikr; one is silent and one is loud. I chose the silent one because it is stronger and therefore more preferable."

[Shaykh Amin al-Kurdi al-Naqshbandi said in The Enlightenment of Hearts (Tanwir al-Qulub) p. 522: "Know that there are two kinds of dhikr: "by heart" (qalbi) and "by tongue" (lisani). Each has its legal proofs in the Qur'an and the Sunna. The dhikr by tongue, which combines sounds and letters, is not easy to perform at all times, because buying and selling and other such activities altogether divert one's attention from such dhikr. The contrary is true of the dhikr by heart, which is named that way in order to signify its freedom from letters and sounds. In that way nothing distracts one from his dhikr: with the heart remember Allah, secretly from creation, wordlessly and speechlessly. That remembrance is best of all: out of it flowed the sayings of the saints.

["That is why our Naqshbandi masters have chosen the dhikr of the heart. Moreover, the heart is the place where the Forgiver casts his gaze, and the seat of belief, and the receptacle of secrets, and the source of lights. If it is sound, the whole body is sound, and if it is unsound, the whole body is unsound, as was made clear for us by the chosen Prophet .

["Something that confirms this was narrated on the authority of `A'isha  raDiy-Allahu-anhu.gif : "God favors dhikr above dhikr seventyfold (meaning, silent dhikr over loud dhikr). On the Day of Resurrection, God will bring back human beings to His account, and the Recording Angels will bring what they have recorded and written, and God Almighty will say: See if something that belongs to my servant was left out? The angels will say: We left nothing out concerning what we have learnt and recorded, except that we have assessed it and written it. God will say: O my servant, I have something good of yours for which I alone will reward you, it is your hidden remembrance of Me." Bayhaqi narrated it.

["Also on the authority of `A'isha: "The dhikr not heard by the Recording Angels equals seventy times the one they hear." Bayhaqi narrates it."]

One question: this post seemed to emphasize the silent dhikr a lot and conclusively gave proofs for its greatness. The question then, is why do the Haqqani branch of this great tariqa do dhikr loud?

wa alaykum as-salam, thank you for your question,

The rest of your post answers the question: the loud dhikr has a didactic purpose. Also, the Naqshbandi shaykhs have never been bound by their own predilections. They traditionally use the method that is best according to place, time, and temperament. Finally, the superiority of the silent over the loud dhikr does not preclude the use of the latter. The silent way requires more concentration. In any case, it is is not the shaykhs which follow the path but the path which follows the shaykh. We tend to expect the shaykhs to follow the path because we bring them down to our own level.
Allahu a`lam (God knows best).

Ramadan karim
Fouad 96-01-26

[6]

Six Benefits of Dhikr (continued)

1. The Ranks of Dhikr (continued)

Ibn `Ata' Allah [fn1 ] said: "The one who utters the Word of Oneness (kalimât al-tawhîd = La ilaha illallah = no god but the One God) needs three lights: the light of guidance (Nûr al-hidâya), the light of sufficiency (nûr al-kifâya), and the light of divine help (nûr al-`inâya). Whoever God graces with the first light, he is immune (ma`sum) from associating a partner to God; whoever God graces with the second light, he is immune from committing great sins and indecencies; and whoever God graces with the third light, he is protected (mahfuz) from the corrupt thoughts and motions that typify those given to heedless actions. The first light belongs to "the ones who wrong themselves," the second to "those that are lukewarm," and the third to "the ones who outstrip others through good deeds."

[fn1 Abu al-Fadl Ibn `Ata' Allah (d. 709/1309) of Alexandria, Egypt: One of the great sufi imams and a Maliki jurist, author of "al-Hikam" (Aphorisms), "Miftah al-falah" (The Key to Success), "al-qasd al-mujarrad fi ma`rifat al-ism al-mufrad" (The Pure Goal Concerning Knowledge of the Unique Name), "Taj al-`arus al-hawi li tadhhib al-nufus" (The Bride's Crown Containing the Discipline of Souls), "`Unwan al-tawfiq fi adab al-tariq" (The Sign of Success Concerning the Discipline of the Path), the biographical "al-lata'if fi manaqib Abi al-`Abbas al- Mursi wa shaykhihi Abi al-Hassan (The Subtle Blessings in the Saintly Lives of Abu al-`Abbas al-Mursi and His Master Abu al- Hasan), and others, five of which were transmitted with their chains by the hadith master and historian al-Sakhawi (d. 902/1497) to the Shadhili commentator Ahmad Zarruq (d. 899/1493). Ibn `Ata Allah was the student of Abu al-`Abbas al- Mursi (d. 686/1288), the second successor of Imam Abu al-Hasan al-Shadhili, and the shaykh of the Shafi`i imam Taqi al-Din al- Subki. He related from al-Shadhili the following saying: "This path is not monasticism, eating barley and bran, or the garrulousness of affectation, but rather perseverance in the divine commands and certainty in the divine guidance." Some sources: al-Zirikly, al-a`lam 1:221; `Asqalani, al-durar al- kamina 1:273; Subki, Tabaqat al-shafi`iyya 9:23 (Nuh Keller, Victor Danner).]

Al-Wasiti [fn2 ] was asked about the remembrance of God, may God have mercy on him. He said: "It is the exiting from the battlefield of heedlessness into the outer space of direct vision (mushahada) on the mount of victory over fear and intensity of love."

[fn2 Muhammad ibn Musa al-Wasiti (d. c320/932): A Sufi who associated with al-Junayd and al-Nuri in Baghdad and who later moved to Merv where he died. He was also an authority on fiqh. Sources: Qushayri, "Risala" 1:174; Sulami, "Tabaqat" 302-307 (Abd al-Hakim Murad).]

One of the special attributes of the remembrance of God is that it has been placed in direct correspondence with God's own remembrance of us. God the Exalted said: { Remember Me, and I shall remember you } (2:152). Moses said - peace be upon him: "O my Lord, where do you dwell?" He replied: "In the heart of my believing servant." The meaning of this is the heart's rest brought about by His remembrance. Something like this will be mentioned in the last chapter on love (mahabba) insha Allah.

[Note: Ibn Majah narrates from Abu `Anbasa, and Tabarani from Abu `Utba that the Prophet said: "God has vessels from among the people of the earth (lillahi aniyatun min ahli al-ard), and the vessels of your Lord are the hearts of His righteous servants, and the most beloved of those to Him are the softest and the most sensitive." Al-Jarrahi said in "Kashf al-khafa" that this was the basis of the saying attributed to the Prophet : "The heart of the believer is the house of God." al-Qari said that the latter, though not a saying of the Prophet , was correct in meaning. Imam Ahmad narrates in his "Kitab al- zuhd" from Wahb ibn Munabbih: "God opened the heavens to Ezekiel until he beheld the very Throne, whereupon he said: "Glory to Thee, what greatness is Thine, O my Lord!" God said: "Verily the heavens and the earth are unable to encompass Me, and the devoted, soft heart of My faithful servant is able to encompass Me."" Imam Ghazali mentioned it in his "Ihya' `Ulum al-din."]

Muhammad ibn al-Hanafiyya [fn3] said - may Allah be well pleased with him: "Verily the angels lower their gaze in the presence of the rememberer of God, just as the people lower their gaze before lightning."

[fn3 Abu al-Qasim Muhammad ibn `Ali ibn Abi Talib (c15 H- 73), named ibn al-Hanafiyya: A saintly son of sayyidina `Ali. He took hadith from him and from several other Companions including Jabir ibn `Abd Allah, the last of the Companions who died in Madina. Sources: Ibn `Adi, al-Kamil 2:113b; Ibn Hajar, "Tahdhib al-tahdhib" 9:354 (Azami). The Prophet gave Sayyidina `Ali special permission to name him both Abu al-Qasim and Muhammad, which he otherwise forbade: Tirmidhi (#2846) and Abu Dawud (Adab #4967).]

[7]

Six Benefits of Dhikr (continued)

2. Remittance of Sins Through Dhikr

It is related that a servant of God will join the gatherings of dhikr with sins the like of mountains and then rise and leave one such gathering with nothing left of them to his name. This is why the Prophet called it one of the groves of Paradise when he said: "If you pass by the groves of Paradise, be sure to graze in them," and someone said: "What are the groves of Paradise?" to which he replied: "The circles of dhikr." It will be mentioned again in the chapter on God-wariness (taqwa) insha Allah.

`Ata' said - may God the Exalted have mercy on him: "Whoever sits in a gathering in which God is remembered, God will remit for him ten evil gatherings of his."

Abu Yazid al-Bistami was told - may God be well pleased with him: "I have entrusted you with a secret for which you shall render Me an account under the Tree of Bliss (shajarat tûba)," whereupon he said: "We are under that tree as long as we remain in the remembrance of God."

[Note: Shaykh Hisham said: "May God bless his saints for their piercing awareness, and may He raise their stations higher and not prevent their benefit from reaching us. This statement of our master Bayazid, one of the early saints of the Naqshbandi- Haqqani Golden Chain, typifies the saints who are aware that were they to drift from God's presence even for a second they would cease to exist, even if they were in Paradise. This is why Bayazid elsewhere said: "Among God's servants in Paradise are those who, were they to be denied God's sight for even a single moment, would plead to leave Paradise the way the inhabitants of the Fire plead to be brought out of the Fire." Shaykh `Abd al-Qadir al-Gilani referred to them when he said that for the common person disbelief is a lifetime of heedlessness, whereas for the Most Truthful Saint (siddîq), it is but one second of the same.]

It is related on `Ali's authority - may God be well pleased with him - that God manifests Himself (yatajalla) to the rememberers during dhikr and the recitation of Qur'an. The Prophet said: "No group gathers and remembers God seeking nothing other than Him except a caller from heaven calls out to them: "Arise forgiven, for your bad deeds have been turned into good ones!"" Abu al-Darda' said that the Prophet said: "God verily will raise on the Day of resurrection people bearing light in their faces, carried aloft on pulpits of pearl, whom the people will envy. They are neither prophets nor martyrs." Upon hearing this a beduin Arab fell to his knees and said: "Show them to us (ajlihim), O Prophet of God!" - that is: "describe them for us." He replied: "They are those who love one another for God's sake alone. They come from many different tribes, countries, and cities. They gather together for the remembrance of God the Exalted, remembering Him."

Someone said concerning God's saying with reference to Solomon - peace be upon him: { I verily will punish him with hard punishment } (27:21) that it means: "Verily I shall drive him far from the gatherings of dhikr"... Al-Junayd said - may God be well pleased with him - concerning God's saying: { And (He is the One) Who causeth me to die, then giveth me life again } (26:81), that this means: "He causes me to die with heedlessness (of Him), then He causes me to live with remembrance (of Him)." Al- Hasan al-Basri said - may God have mercy on him: "No people sit remembering God the Exalted with one of the people of Paradise in their midst except God grants him to intercede for all of them."

[8]

Six Benefits of Dhikr (continued)

3. Dhikr of the Frogs

David said - peace be upon him: "I shall praise God with a kind of praise that none among his creatures ever used before." Thereupon a frog called out to him: "Do you pride yourself before God for your praise, while for seventy years my tongue has been moist from remembering Him, and I have eaten nothing in the past ten nights because I kept busy uttering two words?" David said: "What are these two words?" The frog replied: "O Praiser of Thyself with every tongue, O remembered One in every place!"

It is related in "Nuzhat al-nufus wa al-afkar" [The Recreation of Minds and Thoughts] that an angel once said to David: "O David, understand what the frog is saying!" whereupon he heard it saying: "Glory and praise to You to the farthest boundary of Your knowledge!" David said: "By the One Who made me a Prophet, verily I shall sing my Lord's praise in this way." The commentators have said that the frogs' words are: "Glory to the King, the Holy One!" (subhan al-malik al-quddus) while al-Baghawi has: "Glory to my Lord Most Holy!" (subhana rabbi al-quddus), and of `Ali's words - may God be well pleased with him - is "Glory to the One Who is worshipped in the abysses of the sea!"

4. Dhikr of the Prophet Jonah

`Ali said - may God be well pleased with him: "In the time of Jonah - peace be upon him - was a frog which had lived past the age of four thousand years. It never rested from glorifying God. One day it said: "O my Lord, no-one glorifies You like I do!" Jonah said: "O my Lord, I say what it says!" and he said: "Glory to You by the number of times each of your creatures says "Glory to You," and glory to You by the number of times each of Your creatures does not say "Glory to You," and glory to You according to the expanse of Your knowledge and the light of Your countenance and the adornment of Your throne and the reach of Yours words!"*

*Shaykh Hisham wrote in his "Angels Unveiled", chapter on Jonah:
{ And lo! Jonah verily was of those sent to warn when he fled unto the laden ship, and then drew lots and was of those rejected; and the whale swallowed him while he was blameworthy; and had he not been one of those who glorify God he would have tarried in its belly till the day when they are raised. } (37:139-144)
"God sent Jonah to the people of Nineveh in Iraq. He called them to God's message but they refused to listen to him. He was calling them night and day to no avail. Instead they harmed him and cursed him at every turn. This lasted for a long time. Jonah was unable to bear this situation any longer. He began to threaten them: "I am going to ask my Lord to send you a severe punishment which has never been seen before; to destroy your cities and burn your gardens; to make you barren and end your line." He then left them.
"Slowly, his people began to feel the approach of punishment in their daily life. They began to realize that they had made a big mistake.
"God is the Most Merciful; for at every moment in this world he will show His greatness and cause people to observe Him through many signs. He will do this by sending angels in order to direct the sincere, and, indeed, anyone who asks for guidance, to the light of happiness in life. God sent the people of Jonah the angels of Mercy and the angels of Safety in order to inspire their hearts to do good, and guide them to safety through the destruction that was descending on their heads.
"Abraham was protected from Nimrod's fire by the intervention of the angel of snow and the angel of peace. In the immense heat of this great fire where he had been thrown, surrounded by great destruction from above, from below, and from every side, Abraham was saved and protected. This was a message from God to tell His people: "I can save whomever I wish from any harm, whenever I like, no matter how bad their situation is."
"Jonah left his people in anger. They regretted what they had done to their prophet. Men, women, children, old people, and even the animals, both tame and wild, were heard and seen crying out, each in his own particular language. It was a tremendous event, and everyone asked for mercy and for the angels' intercession.
"God Most Merciful, Most Powerful, and Most Beneficent took away the destruction and saved them through his angels from this great havoc. Meantime, Jonah boarded a ship and took to sea. A big storm broke, and the ship was being torn apart and about to sink. The crew decided to draw lots and throw out one passenger as an expiation for the sin which was bringing death upon their heads. When they drew Jonah's lot, they loathed to throw him because he was the prophet, so they drew lots again. Every time, however, his lot kept coming out. In the end Jonah threw himself overboard, and a great green whale came from the bottom of the ocean and swallowed him.
"An angel appeared before the whale and instructed her not to crush Jonah but to keep him safe in her stomach. At that moment Jonah spoke to the angel and asked for his advice, saying: "Give me the glad tidings from your Lord. How did God teach you the knowledge of the Unseen?"
"Because I don't commit sin," said the angel. Jonah said: "Advise me."
The angel replied: "Be patient and not full of anger, for you are full of anger against your nation right now. Be a person who gives benefit, not harm -- for you were praying your Lord to destroy your people for harming you. Don't be happy with your pride and arrogance. Don't humiliate your nation with their sins, because you also have mistakes."
"Inside the stomach of the green whale, Jonah went into prostration and said: "O God, I prostrated for you in a place where no-one before has prostrated. O God, you have drowned me in the oceans of hope, and caused me to forget the day of my death. O Lord, you are the possessor of my heart and of my secret. I am the drowned one, so catch me by the hand and save me. Relieve me with Your perfection and inspire me with Your love! Let the angels of mercy reach down to me and pull me, O You who accept the prayers of the needy in the darkness of punishment. O the unveiler and remover of difficulties and harm, here I am coming to You and adoring You. Do not keep me from Your presence. Forgive me."
"God ordered the angel to move the whale through the farthest oceans of the world and take her to the saltiest, or most concentrated and deepest depths of the seas. There Jonah began to hear the praising of all whales, all fish, all corals and all creatures of the depths. Nothing remained except they praised God and lauded Him, and Jonah was praising Him also.
"God created a saint whom he endowed with such great powers of praising and remembering that he did not need to eat or sleep. Instead, he spent all his time praying to God, chanting his praise, and making intercession for other human beings. God placed him in a room at the bottom of the ocean. There he perpetuated God's praise unhindered for hundred of years. When that saint died the angels brought him before God Who asked him:
"O my beloved servant, shall I reward you according to your deeds or according to My forgiveness?" He replied: "O my Lord, according to my deeds, since you have granted that they consist solely in Your praise."
The angels placed the saint's deeds on one side of the scale and on the other side they placed God's generosity to that saint. God's generosity weighed heavier, and the saint fell prostrate and speechless, begging for God's forgiveness.
"The angel inspired Jonah to say: "O God, Most Exalted, no-one can thank You nor worship You as You deserve to be thanked and worshipped. You know the secrets and the deepest knowledge, You unveil everything hidden from Your servants, You know every slight matter in this world and the next, and accept the prayer from every creation, forgive me and accept me in Your presence as Your humble servant."
"God revealed to Jonah the following: { And mention the Lord of the Whale Dhul-Nun, when he went off in anger and deemed that We had no power over him, but he cried out in the darkness, saying: There is no God save Thee. Be Thou glorified! Lo! I have been a wrongdoer. Then We heard his prayer and saved him from the anguish. Thus We save believers. } (21:87-88).
"Then God ordered the whale to throw Jonah out onto the sea-shore, and ordered the angel to tell Jonah: "This is God's mercy. He can send it on anyone He likes, even in the midst of the greatest destruction and the surest death, far from any help."
Thus did God save Jonah, and the following story illustrates how God saves His people from the grip of destruction even against the greatest odds."
Shaykh Hisham Kabbani, "Angels Unveiled: A Sufi Perspective"
(Chicago: KAZI Publications, 1995).

[9]

Six Benefits of Dhikr (continued)

5. The Plagues of Egypt

The frog in a dream represents the righteous person. The frog poured water over Abraham's fire - peace be upon him - to help put it out. As for a multitude of frogs, they represent punishment.

The Exalted said: { So We sent them the flood and the locusts and the vermin and the frogs and the blood-a succession of clear signs. But they were arrogant and became guilty. } (7:133).
Al-Razi said: "... The nation of Pharaoh said to Moses - peace be upon him: "Whatever signs you bring us, to us it is nothing other than mere magic and we shall not believe in you." Moses invoked God against them,
and God sent down the flood upon them day and night. They sought help from Pharaoh, who sought help from Moses, who sought help from God.
God then withheld the rain from them and sent down the winds. The earth the sprouted vegetation and fruit in over-abundance. When they saw this they said: "This is what we were anxious about, and in fact it is a great good for us!" and they disbelieved again.
God then sent the locusts upon them, and they ate up all the vegetation until hardship became and the sun was covered by the swarm of the locusts. They sought help from Moses who sought help from his Lord.
God then sent on the locusts a wind which hurled them into the sea. At this they said: "Whatever is left from what we had planted is enough for us," and they disbelieved again.
God then sent the lice upon them. Sa`id ibn Jubayr said: "This is the maggot which issues from wheat." Tha`labi said: "It is a kind of tick." `Ata' al-Khurasani said: "It is the well-known lice, and it was said that it means mosuitoes, and also wingless locusts." These did not leave a single green leaf except it ate it, and something like smallpox smote their bodies. They sought help from Moses who sought help from his Lord.
God sent a hot wind which burnt the lice. They still did not believe, so God sent upon them a swarm of frogs like a pitch-dark night. The frogs entered their plantations, their food, and their beds cubit by cubit. They sought help from Moses again, and he sought help from his Lord.
God caused the frogs to die and he sent down rain which carried them to the sea. They still disbelieved. God then sent down blood upon them so that their rivers ran red with blood.
It is also said that God inflicted a state of permanent nosebleed upon them. For seven days they drank blood. Then they said: "O Moses, if you remove the filth (al-rijz) from us verily we shall pledge our belief for you." [Cf. 7:134: { If thou removest the terror from us we verily will trust thee and will let the Children of Israel go with thee.} ] Sa`îd ibn Jabir said that the "filth" (or "terror") was a sixth kind of punishment which is the plague, while others said that it is an expression for the five kinds already mentioned.
Al-Razi said - and this is the strongest opinion: "Wahb said that they underwent each affliction for a period of forty days."

[10]

Six Benefits of Dhikr (continued)

6. Lengthening the
Pronounciation of LA ILAHA ILLALLAH

Ibn `Abbas said - may God be well pleased with him and his father - that the Prophet said: "The day God created the heavens and the earth He created an angel and ordered him to say: "There is no god except God alone" (LA ILAHA ILLALLAH). The angel lengthens his delivery as he utters it and will not rest from this until the trumpet is blown." One of the Companions said that whoever says: "No god except God" and lengthens his pronounciation intending thereby to magnify God, God will remit for him four thousand grave sins with it, and if he did not commit four thousand, God will remit the difference for his family and neighbors. It is related in the hadith: "Whoever says "No god except God" and lengthens his pronounciation intending thereby to magnify God, four thousand of his sins are astruck thereby from the register of his sins." Hence it is praiseworthy to lengthen one's pronounciation upon uttering it, as Nawawi said, may God the Exalted have mercy upon him. The Prophet also said: "Whoever lengthens his pronounciation upon saying "No god except God," God will make him dwell in Paradise in the Abode of Majesty by which he has named Himself when He said: {There remaineth but the countenance of thy Lord of Might and Glory.} (55:27), and God will grant him to behold His gracious countenance."

Anas ibn Malik said - may God be well pleased with him - from the Prophet : "O human beings! Whoever says "No god except God" in astonishment at something, God creates from each letter of his utterance a tree with as many leaves as the days of this world, each leaf asking forgiveness for him and praising God on his behalf until the Day of judgment."... It has been related that this phrase has on the side of Iblis the effect which a gangrenous sore would have on the side of a human being. al-Qadi `Iyad [fn4] relates in the "Shifa" from Ibn `Abbas  raDiy-Allahu-anhu.gif  that written on the door of Paradise is the inscription: "There is no god but God alone, Muhammad is the Messenger of God: Whoever says this, I shall not punish him."

fn4 Abu al-Fadl `Iyad ibn Musa al-Yahsubi al-Maliki (d. 544 H) of Andalusia and Fes, Morocco. The imam of his time in the sciences of hadith, and a scholar of tafsir, fiqh, Arabic grammar and language, and Arab genealogy. He wrote many books including a commentary on the Sahih of Muslim which Nawawi used in his own great commentary. Ibn Farhun in "Dibaj al-dhahab" says of his book "al-Shifa": "No-one disputes the fact that it is totally unique nor denies him the honor of being the first to compose such a book. Everyone relies on it and writes about its usefulness and encourages others to read and study it. Copies of it have spread East and West." (Qadi `Iyad, "Muhammad Messenger of Allah: Al-shifa' of Qadi `Iyad," trans. Aisha Abdarrahman Bewley, Granada, Spain: Madinah Press, 1991, p. 511).

[11]

More Benefits of "LA ILAHA ILLALLAH" ("No god but the One God")

1. It Signifies Forgiveness

God has created a pillar made of ruby and light whose foundation is the pillar beneath the seventh earth and whose top winds around the base of God's throne. Every time a servant of God says: "There is no god but God, Muhammad is the Messenger of God," the earth, the whale [fn5], and the throne move, and God says: "Be still!" and the throne replies, "By Thy might, not until you forgive the one who said "La ilaha illallah."" But God says: "Be still, for I have made a covenant with Myself before I created My creation, whereby I shall not cause it to be spoken by the tongue of a servant of Mine except that I have forgiven him even before he says it."

fn5 Shaykh Hisham wrote in his "Angels Unveiled," in the chapter entitled "The Angel That Carries the Whale That Carries Creation": "In the beginning God Almighty in His majesty created a huge jewel of green peridot. No one but He knows its size. Then the Lord trained His gaze onto that jewel and looked on it with a glance of awe. Under the influence of God's gaze, this jewel became liquid and began to undulate. It turned into a sea and began to boil and churn and was moved from its depths. As it boiled, it began to evaporate, and steam rose up from it. This vapor continued to rise, and below it remained a thickening, coagulated, precious mass. From the layers of vapor the Lord of the worlds created the seven heavens, and from the remaining primordial mass he created seven layers which He then made into the seven earths. The thickness of each of the layers of heaven and earth was five hundred thousand light-years, and as for the space separating each of them from the next only God knows it as He said:

{ Have not the unbelievers then beheld that the heavens and the earth were a mass all sown up, and then we unstitched them and of water fashioned every living thing? Will they not believe?} (21:30)

After creating the heavens and the earth, God created a great angel. Between his eyebrows there is a distance of five hundred light-years. He has two wings decorated with great constellations. They spread their lights like flickering fires over his majestic shoulders. One wing represents the East, the other the West. The angel was ordered to bend down his neck. With both his arms he lifted up the whole of creation spanning the East and the West. He carried this burden until he came to rest right beneath the divine Throne. There he will remain until Judgment Day.

When he lifted his burden, the angel saw that his feet remained suspended in mid-air. God then ordered the angels to bring from the highest Paradise a stone of red ruby. This heavenly rock was placed beneath the angl's feet so that he found a place for his feet. Now this red ruby remained suspended in mid-air. So the Lord brought an enormous ox which had seventy-thousand legs from Paradise. This ox was so huge that its horns reached from the highest heaven to the foot of the divine Throne. It was immeasurably greater in size than the angel carrying the heavens and the earth. The angels placed the red ruby stone between the horns of the ox where it was firmly grounded; except there was nothing to support the feet of the ox. God, therefore, fashioned a dome-shaped vessel; its breadth was a distance of seven hundred thousand light-years. The angels placed this vessel beneath the feet of the ox. The ox now stood firm. But the vessel was left hanging in the air. From the perfection of His divine power, God created a whale by the name of Lutia. He then ordered the angels to place the vessel on its back, and the ngels obeyed. By the will of God, the vessel stood fast. Now only the whale remained in the air. So God created an angel more beautiful than the new crescent moon. Half of it is fire and half snow. Its constant prayer is: "By the Lord who has made this fire cohabit in peace with this snow, may God bless and forgive His human beings." Thus God made the angel that carries the universes stand on top of the red ruby, placed on top of the ox that rested on the dome-shaped vessel that sat on the whale Lutia who swam in the palm of the angel of opposites like a ring lost in the midst of a great desert."

[12]

More Benefits of "LA ILAHA ILLALLAH" ("No god but the One God") (continued)

2. It Possesses Secrets

"La ilaha illallah" possesses secrets among which are the following: - All its letters are palatal (hurufuha jawfiyya), which is a subtle indication that to utter it is an act that proceeds from one's innermost, which is the heart. - None of its letters is dotted, a subtle indication of its freedom from any deity other than God. - It has twelve letters (l-a-i-la-ha-i-ll-a-a-l-la-h), which is the number of the months of the year, four of which are sacred, and that is the Name of Majesty (a-l-la-h). One letter stands alone (a), three are connected (l-la-h), and the four together are the best of the twelve, just as the sacred months are the best of the year: dhu al-Qi`da, dhu al-Hijja, al-Muharram, and Rajab (three of them consecutive, and Rajab standing alone). Therefore whoever says it sincerely, his sins for the entire year are remitted. - The night and the day are twenty-four hours, and the two Phrases of Witnessing are twenty-four letters:

l - a   i - la - ha   i - ll - a   a - l - la - h

mu - ha - mma - dun   ra - s - u - l   u - l - la - h

Each letter thus remits the sins of an hour. - They are seven words in all, and the entrances to Gehenna are seven: each word thus blocks one entrance for the person who utters them.

3. Inanimate Objects Testify to Its Utterance

I have read in the book "al-Haqa'iq" (The Spiritual Realities) that a man who stood on `Arafat with seven pebbles in his hand said: "O pebbles, be witness that I testify that there is no god but God alone, and that Muhammad is God's Messenger." Then he threw away the pebbles. That night he dreamt that the Rising of the dead had taken place and that his bad deeds had been found to ountumber his good ones. The order was given to thrown him into the Fire. He then saw the same pebbles blocking the entrances to Gehenna in front of him. The entire host of angels gathered to remove one of the stones but they could not. Then they took the man and went under the Throne. The stones followed after them and began to intercede for him. The order was given to take him to Paradise, whereupon the stones preceded him to the doors of Paradise, and each stone was saying: "O servant of God, enter by my side!"

4. It Remits the Sins of a Lifetime

In the time of Moses - peace be upon him - lived a man who had disobeyed his Lord for four hundred and eighty years. God bestowed His kindness upon him unceasingly, until that man came to Moses and said: "There is no god but God, Moses is God's Messenger." Gabriel descended and said: "O Moses, God has forgiven him the sins of four hundred and eighty years." This is because of a phrase of twenty-four letters, each letter remitting the sins of twenty years, and the phrase "Muhammad is God's Messenger" is better than "Moses is God's Messenger." Therefore it is no wonder, for example, that God remits the sins of seventy years when the believer says: "No god but God, Muhammad is God's Messenger."

The Prophet said: "No-one on earth says: "There is no god but God alone, and God is Greater, and there is no change nor power except with God, the Exalted, the Tremendous" except his sins are remitted even if they are as abundant as the foam of the sea." Tirmidhi narrated it and he said it is a sound tradition.

[13]

More on "LA ILAHA ILLALLAH" ("No god but the One God")

The Refusal of Tyrants to Utter It

I saw the following account as part of the explanation of God's saying: { And speak (O Moses and Aaron) unto him (Pharaoh) a gentle word. } (20:44): Moses said: "O Lord, how can a word be gentle?" God replied: "Say to him: "Would you like a good compromise? You have followed your own self for four hundred and fifty years; follow our intent but for one year, and God will forgive you all your sins. If not one year, then one month; if not, one week; if not, one single day; if not, one single hour. If you do not (wish to humor us) for all of an hour, then say in a single breath: "There is no god but God" so that I shall be able to bring peace to you."

After Moses conveyed the message, Pharaoh gathered his armies and said to them: { I am your Most High Lord! } (79:24) At this the heavens and the earth shook and pleaded before God the Glorious and Exalted that Pharaoh be put to death. God said: "He is like the dog: only the stick is good for him. O Moses, cast your staff" (cf. 7:117, 27:10, 28:31). Moses cast his staff (which became a huge snake) and the magicians (of Pharaoh's court) immediately submitted. Pharaoh fled to his bedchamber. Moses said: "If you don't come out, I shall order it to enter where you are." Pharaoh said: "Give me a little respite." Moses answered: "I have no permission to respite you." But God the Exalted inspired to him: "Respite him, for verily I am the Clement, I do not hasten to punish."

Pharaoh began to relieve himself forty times a day while previously he would relieve himself only once every forty days. Moses gave him respite until the Day of adornment (yawm al-zîna) which will be explained in the section on the merit of excellent manners in the chapter on death insha Allah. When the day came Pharaoh exceeded his bounds and rebelled. God therefore { seized him and made him an example for the afterlife and the former } (79:25); that is, He punished him with drowning because of his former word ("I am your Most High Lord") and He punished him with Gehanna because of his latter word, when he said: "I know not that ye have a god other than me" (28:38). Ibn `Abbas  raDiy-Allahu-anhu.gif  said: "This is the former word, while the other came later, and between them lay forty years."

I saw mentioned in the book "Zumrat al-`ulum wa zuhrat al-nujum" (The Array of the Sciences and the Brightness of Stars) from the Prophet : He said: "Gabriel told me: "I stood in wait before God at the time Pharaoh said: { And what is the Lord of the Worlds? } (26:23) whereupon I outstretched two of my wings to smite him with punishment, but God the Exalted said: "Wait, O Gabriel! He hastens to punish who fears the lapse of time."

It was also mentioned in that book that when Pharaoh said: { I am your Lord the Most High } (79:24) Gabriel wanted to shake the earth from under his feet, but when he sought permission from his Lord the Exalted He did not give it to him and ordered him to disregard Pharaoh instead.

Al-`Ala'i (the author of "`Umdat al-Qari", a massive commentary on Bukhari's "Sahih") said in his explanation of the sura of the Story (al-qasas) that Iblis entered Pharaoh's presence as the latter was in the bath and said: "O Pharaoh, I enticed you with every transgression, but I never told you to claim absolute Lordship!" Then he gave him forty lashes and left him in anger. Pharaoh said to him: "O Iblis, should I take back this claim?" He replied: "It would not be right for you to take it back after making it."

A group of the disbelievers of Quraysh gathered among whom was the Pharaoh of this Community -- Abu Jahl -- at Abu Talib's house during the latter's last illness. Abu Jahl said to him: "You know what has taken place between us and your brother's son. Therefore obtain what is rightfully ours from him and what is righfully his from us before you die." Abu Talib called the Prophet and said: "O my nephew, these are the nobility of your people, so leave them be and they shall leave you be." He replied: "Do they agree to obey me if I ask them to say but one word?" Abu Jahl said -- may God curse him: "Nay, we shall obey you if you ask us to say ten!" The Prophet then said: "Say: La ilaha illallah," whereupon they said: "Are you asking us to reduce all our gods to only one? Truly you are asking us for the strangest thing!" and they dispersed. Abu Talib said: "O Muhammad, you have asked them for nothing excessive." That is: You have not asked them for anything difficult.

Concerning God's saying: { Judge aright between us and be not unjust (lit. do not exceed the proper bounds) } (38:22) -- that is: Do not swerve in your judgment -- the Prophet hoped that his uncle would profess Islam, so he said to him: "Say it (the phrase: There is no God but God alone), so that I will be permitted to intercede for you on the Day of the rising." Abu Talib replied: "Were it not that people -- that is: the Quraysh -- might think that I said it out of fear (of death), indeed I would say it." More will be said about this matter in the section on the Prophet's miracles insha Allah.

Al-Razi said in his explanation of the sura of Cattle (al-an`am): "Abu Talib said: "Ask me to say other than this because your people hate it." The Prophet replied: "I will never say other than this even if they were to dislodge the sun from its place and put it in my hand." They said: "Then stop cursing our gods, otherwise we will curse you and Him Who orders you to do this," whereupon God's saying was revealed: { Revile not those unto whom they pray beside God lest they wrongfully revile God through ignorance } (6:109).

If it is said: "To curse the idols is among the most meritorious acts of obedience to God; why then did God forbid it?" The answer is: God forbade it because cursing them might lead to the gravest of transgressions -- exalted is God far above the saying of wrong- doers -- namely cursing God and His Messenger, and it is an obligation to take precautions against it.

[14]

More on "LA ILAHA ILLALLAH"
("No god but the One God") (cont.)

God's Similes For the Phrase of Oneness

God compared the Phrase of Declaring Oneness (kalimat al- tawhid):

- to water because water cleanses: similarly this phrase cleanses from sins;
- to soil because the soil gives forth much in exchange for a single seed: similarly this phrase multiplies its return;
- to fire because fire burns and this phrase burns sins;
- to the sun because the latter sheds light on the worlds, and this phrase illumines even the grave;
- to the moon because it dispels the darkness of night, and this phrase sheds light with the same certainty;
- to the stars because they are guides for travellers, and this phrase is a guide for the people of misguidance to follow the right way;
- to the date palm when He said: { A goodly tree, its root set firm, its branches reaching into heaven, giving its fruit at every season by permission of its Lord } (14:24-25).
- The date palm does not grow in every land; similarly this phrase does not grow in every heart.
- The date palm is the tallest fruit tree: similarly the root of this phrase is in the heart and the top of its branches are under the Throne.
-The value of the fruit does not diminish because of the pit: similarly the value of the believer does not diminish despite the disobedience lodged between himself and God the Exalted.
- The bottom of the date palm is thorns while its top is moist dates; similarly the initial stages of this phrase are duties: whoever fulfills them reaches the fruit which is to behold God the Exalted.

The Phrase of Oneness is the key to the Garden of Paradise; "every key must have teeth,"* and its teeth are to forsake all that is forbidden and do what is ordained. God the Exalted says: { Therefore know that there is no god but God alone } (47:19) and the Prophet said: "Whoever said: There is no god but God alone, taking care that it is unalloyed (mukhlisan bihi) and from the heart, enters Paradise." It was asked in what being-unalloyed (ikhlas) consisted. He said: "In barring one from what God the Exalted has declared forbidden." The Prophet also said: "O Abu Hurayra! Every good deed on your part shall be weighed on the Day of rising except the Witnessing that there is no god but God alone, for verily it can never be placed in the Balance."
*A saying by Wahb ibn Munabbih reported by Bukhari in the title of the first chapter of the Book of Funeral Prayers (Jana'iz).

[15]

More on "LA ILAHA ILLALLAH" ("No god but the One God") (continued)

God's Similes For the Phrase of Oneness (continued)

The king of the Byzantines wrote to our Master `Umar ibn al- Khattab  raDiy-Allahu-anhu.gif  - may God be well please with him: "O Commander of the Faithful, God's Messenger has related to me that you have a certain tree whose fruit grows like the ears of donkeys, then splits into clusters more beautiful than pearls, then turns green so that it resembles emerald, then reddens and yellows like fragments of gold and ruby, and when it ripens it is more delicious than the soft honey-cake (faludhaj), and when it dries it is nourishment for the dwellers and provision for the travellers. If he spoke the truth, then verily this is a tree from Paradise!" `Umar ibn al-Khattab wrote back: "Yes, he spoke the truth, and this is also the tree under which Jesus was born (cf. 19:23) and therefore it never invokes another god together with God."

Al-Razi said that there is a relation and a resemblance between the palm tree on the one hand and animals and human beings on the other which does not exist between the latter and the other types of trees; this is why the Prophet said: "Honor your stepmother the palm tree for she was created from the remainder of Adam's clay." This is because when Adam fell to earth his hair grew long and his body became soiled, whereupon Gabriel came with scissors, cut his hair and nails, removed the dirt from his body, and buried everything under the ground. Then Adam slept and when he woke up he saw that God had created the palm tree by his side: its body -- that is its trunk -- was from his body, its fiber or luffa was from his hair, and its stalks were from his nails. It drinks from the top down while other trees drink from the bottom up.

Our Master `Ali said -- may God be well pleased with him: "The first tree that stood on the face of the earth is the palm-tree." God the Exalted mentioned it in the Qur'an : { Tall date-palms with shoots of fruit stalks, piled one over another } (50:10).*

*[Cf. 6:99, 6:141, 18:32, 19:23, 19:25, 20:71, 26:148, 54:20, 55:11, 55:68, 69:7, 80:29.]

The Prophet used to tell people to eat balah or green dates together with tamr or dried ripe dates [fn6] for when the sons of Adam eat them shaytan is angry and says: "The sons of Adam are eating the new together with the old!" This is because green dates are cold and dry while dried ripe ones are hot and moist, and each possesses benefits that complement those of the other. The Prophet would join together cucumbers, rutab or fresh ripe dates, sha`ir or barley bread, and tamr or dry ripe dates, as well as mix cold water with honey and drink it on an empty stomach. All this makes for lasting good health, because good health endures when (foods of) hot and cold (elements) are joined. Physicians forbid eating fish together with eggs, or fish together with yogurt, and they forbid drinking honey with cold water after eating fish or before sleep, also drinking water after sexual intercourse, and entering the bath after drinking milk. Al- Samarqandi said in "al-Bustan": "Whoever enters the bath on a full stomach and becomes afflicted with colic has no-one to blame but himself."

[fn6 The various Arabic names of the date corresponding to its different stages are: tal`, khalal, balah, busr, rutab, and tamr or suyyab.]

The Prophet said: "Let the one who fasts break his fast with rutab or fresh ripe dates," for fasting weakens the stomach and the liver, and sugar reaches the liver fastest because it likes sugar and accepts it, especially rutab. The Prophet said: "When the (time of) rutab comes, wish me well, O `A'isha."

Tamr or dry ripe dates are the best food in any land. The pith of the palm (jummar) confines the stomach and helps against jaundice and fever. Adding to its benefit is the consumption of ginger preserve following it. This will be addressed later insha Allah. Finally, there is nothing better than rutab for the menstruating woman, and nothing better than honey for the sick.

[16]

More on "LA ILAHA ILLALLAH"
("No god but the One God") (cont.)

If someone's tongue moves with the utterance of the declaration of divorce but does not hear himself say it divorce does not take place, whereas if his tongue moves with the phrase "There is no god but God" and he does not hear himself say it, Allah rewards him for it.

Ibn `Abbas said  raDiy-Allahu-anhu.gif  -- may God be well pleased with him and his father: "God the Exalted taught Gabriel a certain invocation and ordered him to teach it to the Prophet . Whoever says it, God will record for him 70,000 good deeds and erase from his record 70,000 bad ones, and He will raise his station 70,000 levels. This invocation is:

"There is no god but God as much as all things say:
There is no god but God, and as much as it is obligatory
for them to say: There is no god but God, and as it
befits His gracious countenance and the might of His majesty;

"and all praise to God as much as all things praise Him,
and as much as it is obligatory for Him to be praised,
and as much as it befits His graceful countenance and
the might of His majesty;

"and glory to God as much as all things glorify Him,
and as much as it is obligatory for Him to be glorified,
and as much as it befits His graceful countenance and
the might of His majesty;

"and God is Greater as much as all things magnify God,
and as much as it is obligatory for Him to be magnified,
and as much as it befits His graceful countenance and
the might of His majesty."

It is related in the hadith that when a servant of God says "La ilaha illallah" an angel ascends carrying it, and another angel descending from heaven meets him, to whom the first angel asks: "From where are you coming?" whereupon the second asks: "And you, where are you going?" The first replies: "I am ascending carrying So-and-so's witnessing to take it to his Lord." The second says: "And I am descending carrying his exemption (bara'atahu) from the fire."

One of Jesus' inheritors (awsiya') passed by little boys playing and stopped to play with them. Among them was the vizier's son. Later, the vizier's son took him to his house so that his father could honor him appropriately. The latter brought him some food, whereupon devils appeared. As soon as he said: "In the name of God the Beneficent, the Merciful" (bismillah al-rahman al-rahim) they fled. The vizier enquired about it and he replied: "I am one of Jesus' companions. He sent me to you so that you would believe in God alone and forswear idols." Upon hearing this the vizier submitted. Then he said: "The king's horse died today." The disciple said: "If the king should do as I say, God will return life to his horse." The vizier told the king and the latter acquiesced, whereupon the vizier brought the disciple to his court. The disciple said: "O king, hold one of the legs of the horse, let your father hold another, your son the third, and your mother the fourth, and repeat after me: LA ILAHA ILLALLAH." They did as he said. Each limb began to move in the hand of its holder, and behold! the horse jumped up and was alive again by God's permission -- Exalted is He.

It is related in Ibn Sa`d's "Layers" (Tabaqat) that the Prophet was asked who was meant in the saying of God the Exalted: { Those who spend their wealth in the night and the day, in secret and in the open, they have their reward with their Lord, and there is no fear for them, nor shall they grieve } (2:274). He said: "They are the owners of horses" (used in the service of jihad). Ibn `Abbas  raDiy-Allahu-anhu.gif  said: "In battle the horse says: Most glorified and sacntified is the Lord of the angels and the Spirit." `Umar  raDiy-Allahu-anhu.gif  said: "Get the mares, for their bellies are a treasure and their backs a rampart."

Horse meat expels gases but is not good for delicate constitutions because it is viscous and bilious (sawdawi). It is forbidden to eat according to Abu Hanifa alone... No poor-tax (zakat) is due on the horses one owns according to the majority of scholars, while Abu Hanifa declared it obligatory (wajib) if they are mares or mixed, but not if they are only males. For each of the herd on which poor-tax is due the owner must give one dinar, or else estimate their collective value and give five dirhams for every two hundred dirhams.

GF Haddad ©
[1 Feb 1996]

 







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