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The Adab of Dhikrullah

The Benefits of Dhikrullah Series, Vol 8

Mawlana Shaykh Hisham Kabbani

26 July 2012 Fenton Zawiya, Michigan

Suhbah after Fajr

A`oodhu billahi min ash-Shaytani 'r-rajeem. Bismillahi 'r-Rahmani 'r-Raheem.

Nawaytu 'l-arba`een, nawaytu 'l-`itikaaf, nawaytu 'l-khalwah, nawaytu 'l-`uzlah,

nawaytu 'r-riyaadah, nawaytu 's-sulook, lillahi ta`alaa fee haadha 'l-masjid.

Allahumma salli `ala Sayyidina Muhammad (s) hatta yarda Sayyidina Muhammad (s)!

A`oodhu billahi min ash-Shaytani 'r-rajeem. Bismillahi 'r-Rahmani 'r-Raheem.

O Muslims! Believers! `Alayna bi ‘l-ittiba`, “We must follow.” We have to keep following those who came before us from the `ulama al-ummah, scholars of the nation of the Prophet (s), and from all the imams to whom Allah (swt) gave intelligence, fiqh and understanding of Holy Qur'an, Hadith and Shari`ah, to make it easy for us to follow (and to follow is better than to try to make yourself a mufti), and from those imams to the Sahaabah (r) and from Sahaabah (r) to the Prophet (s). Al-ittiba`, to follow, is the way of Ahlu ’s-Sunnah wa ’l-Jama`ah.

Allah (swt) ordered us in Holy Qur'an when He revealed to Sayyidina Muhammad (s) a very important ayah:

قُلْ إِن كُنتُمْ تُحِبُّونَ اللّهَ فَاتَّبِعُونِي يُحْبِبْكُمُ اللّهُ وَيَغْفِرْ لَكُمْ ذُنُوبَكُمْ وَاللّهُ غَفُورٌ رَّحِيمٌ

Qul in kuntum tuhibboona 'Llaaha fattabi`oonee yuhbibkumullaahu wa yaghfir lakum dhunoobakum w 'Allaahu Ghafooru 'r-Raheem.

Say (O Muhammad), "If you (really) love Allah, then follow me! Allah will love you and forgive your sins, and Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful. (Surat Aali-`Imraan, 3:31)

If you really love Allah--which means if you really obey Allah, as love is obedience--then follow Sayyidina Muhammad (s). Sahaabah (r) followed the Prophet (s) and imams followed the Sahaabah until today, so why do we have to create a headache and say, “We don't take from anyone except from Allah directly!” Allah (swt) is saying, “If you really love Allah, follow the Prophet (s).” And to follow the Prophet (s) we must follow the Sahabaah (r). Were the Sahaabah not following the Prophet (s)? Are you better than the Sahaabah? Stand up if you know more than the Sahaabah!

خير القرون قرني ثمّ الّذين يلونهم ثم الّذين يلونهم

Khayra ‘l-qaroon qarnee thumma-Lladheena yaloonahum thumma-Lladheena yaloonahum.

The best of people are my generation, then those who follow them, then those who follow them.

(Bukhari and Muslim)

This includes the three centuries after which came the later imams, whom that hadith includes, so why reinvent the wheel? To follow is easier; they are shepherds and we follow them.

أصحابي كالنجوم بأيهم اقتديتم اهتديتم

As-haabee ka 'n-nujoom bi ayyihim aqtadaytum ahtadaytum.

My Companions are like stars (on a dark night); whichever of them you follow, you will be guided.

(`Abd ibn Humayd, ad-Daraqutnee, ibn `Adiyy, ibn `Abd al-Barr, with unsound chains but the meaning is sound)

Although they may say, “This hadith is not sufficient,” it is still there. When you follow the ship at night, do you follow the moon or the stars? You follow the stars, as that is adab. The moon is the Prophet (s) and the stars are the Sahaabah (r). There are too many stars, meaning doors to the Prophet (s). The moon is one and the sun is one, and some scholars say the Prophet (s) is the sun. We follow adab by following the stars, which means, “Follow your guides, follow the Sahaabah,” whom Prophet (s) described are guides. Where do they take us? To the Prophet (s)! Can you go directly to the Prophet (s) with your dirtiness? No, that is not adab.

That is why in Hajj they say, “First complete your Hajj and then visit the Prophet (s).” You must clean yourself first and then go to the Prophet (s) clean.

Haram al-Makki is full of angels all around that descend on the Ka`bah. If that was not the case, there would be no attraction from the Ka`bah to people. It is dressed in every moment, and not only with one khil`a every year, but in every moment Allah dresses His House with beautiful dresses that you cannot describe! You can only say that they are beautiful, heavenly dresses that come on the Ka`bah, and as soon as you enter, those heavenly dresses are dressed on you! So what happens then? It cleans you and you become sinless, as if you are newly born, and then you go to Madinah clean because in Madinah there is an ocean. To visit the Ka`bah is a cleaning process. Allah can clean you, and if He doesn't want to, no one can clean, not even the Prophet (s). But Allah said to him, “I gave you permission to clean,” and that is shafa`a. So the adab with Prophet (s) is to visit Mecca first and then Madinah, which is what the Prophet (s) did: first he came in Mecca, then he migrated to Madinah. Today it is too crowded, so innama ‘l-`amaalu bi ’n-niyyaat. “Every action is according to (its) intention.”

We were discussing about scholars and what they said about dhikrullah. In his book, al-Adhkaar, Imam an-Nawawi (r) has mentioned many ahadith of the Prophet (s) and many aayaat that encourage and urge Muslims to do dhikr, both loud and silent. You can go back to this book and check everything as they gave it to you on a platter. Today Allah has made it easy for everyone to go on the computer and on ash-Shamila, the comprehensive Islamic library website, you have all these books and you only have to click on one key and all these ahadith come to you easily by Allah's Grace.[1] We will mention one of the big scholars, Imam as-Suyuti (r), who said:

عمَّا اعتاده الصوفية من عَقْد حلق الذكر، والجهر به في المساجد، ورفع الصوت بالتهليل، وهل ذلك مكروه أم لا ؟

You asked, may Allah honor you, concerning the Sufi practice of setting up circles in the masaajid for the purpose of dhikr, in particular the raising of their voices (when reciting ‘Laa ilaaha illa-Llah’). Is this hated, or disliked (makrooh) or otherwise? (Imam Suyuti, Natijat Al-Fikr Fil-Jahr bidh-Dhikr)

He was asked about the “people of turuq.” We mentioned the hadith before about angels, lillah malaa’ikati yatalammasoona at-turuq. The plural of tareeq is “at-turuq.” Sufi people used to sit in associations making dhikrullah aloud, wa rafa` as-sawt bi ’t-tahleel, raising their voices in glorifying and praising Allah, and Imam as-Suyuti was asked is it accepted or not, as some people today say it is not allowed.[2] He answered, “There is no dislike for that and you can do loud or silent (khafee) dhikr.” He continued by saying that there are too many hadith which say to do dhikr aloud; that it is accepted and there are ahadith that tell you to do it secretly, depending on what setting you are in. If the setting is in a masjid and people are praying or if a group is reading Holy Qur’an, it is not appropriate to do dhikr with a loud voice as you will disturb them, and Islam does not permit you to disturb people.

As we said before, Imam Nawawi (rahimahullah) mentioned about doing dhikr or reading the Holy Qur'an in a loud voice or quietly in order not to disturb people, and Imam as-Suyuti said there is no dislike whatsoever in raising your voice in dhikrullah. Sayyidina `Ali al-Khawwaas (rahimullah), one of the big shaykhs, said that it is an obligation when you do dhikr to do it with a very strong voice and with all your power, because when someone is sick or has an accident or a problem, he screams out of sickness, so we also have to scream, not because Allah (swt) doesn't hear, haasha! Allah (swt) hears everything, but you to have raise your voice and do it with full power, as Allah (swt) likes when someone is sick or in pain and calls out, “Yaa Rabbee! Cure me.”

We are sick in our egos, so what to do dhikr in loud voice. Some people do dhikr in a very low voice, but we say raise your voice (loud). Shaytan comes and says "shhhh," (shushes them) to bring them down, then you have to tell them another time to raise their voice! So Sayyidina `Ali al-Khawwaas (rahimullah) is saying try to make dhikr with as much power as you can because it will focus you and bring your attention to what you are reciting and to Whom you are remembering. So it is so essential to raise your voice, not to shout, but to keep the same tone with a stronger voice that will be so influential that it will bring your hearts together from being scattered everywhere.

During dhikr, too many people’s minds wander, which is why you see they drop their dhikr as they begin to think about here and there, so the power of dhikr falls. wa yambaghee lahu an yadhkur ma` al-jama`ah. It is important for him to do dhikr in a group, unless you are alone then you do it alone. If you do dhikr with jama`ah, that does not include your daily wazifa that you do by yourself, but also do dhikr in association, and if two do it their voices will be higher. That doesn't mean Allah's angels don't hear, but rather it shows unity, as Allah (swt) said:

وَاعْتَصِمُواْ بِحَبْلِ اللّهِ جَمِيعًا وَلاَ تَفَرَّقُواْ

W `atasimoo bi hablillaahi jamiyy`an wa laa tafaraqoo.

Hold fast to Allah's rope and don't separate. (Surat Aali-`Imraan, 3:103)

So holding tight together and making dhikr, if there are three, ten, twenty or a hundred people participating it’s better, as it shows you are holding fast to the Rope of Allah, which is dhikrullah, and also the Rope of Allah is the Prophet (s), and without that rope you cannot reach. What do you do with a rope? Hold tight to the Rope of Allah. Do you tie each other with a rope? No. That Rope is the Prophet (s), who showed us how to please Allah (swt) by doing dhikrullah, by reciting Holy Qur'an and hadith. When you have a rope you climb, so it lets you take away all the hujub, veils. So as you are in a larger crowd of people more veils are taken because you are sharing the power together, then Allah takes the veils away from everyone. The veils He takes from you He might not take from someone else. It might be hundreds of veils are taken when they do dhikr together in jama`ah instead of one veil being taken when you are by yourself. Awliyaullah know this reality and know the hadith:

يد الله مع على الجماعة

Yadullahi ma` al-jama`ah.

The Hand of Allah is with the congregation. (Tirmidhi)

Allah’s Hand or Power will be with the group. Everyone will be granted something that will be shared with the whole jama`ah at the end. Allah (swt) is Generous! When He removes a hundred veils from a group of a hundred people, He takes away a hundred veils from everyone, and whatever He gives they share with each other so that instead of one veil, hundreds of veils are taken from you!

Allah (swt) described the hearts of people as stones, as it is difficult to break the ego; however, it is well known that a stone cannot be broken except by the power of the group, not by one person. If you have ten people beating on a stone with a hammer, that stone will eventually crack, but if by yourself you beat on it all your life, it will not crack. So a group of people doing dhikr will crack the stone, the hardened heart, after which appears a beautiful flower or diamond. Also, the rudeness of the heart does not disappear except by a group of people sitting together with one heart, combining all their hearts on the love of Allah (swt) and the love of the Prophet (s)! This will enable you to crack the stones of the ego and eventually be free from Shaytan. What Allah (swt) rewards for each person differs from one to another and yet everyone receives so that when these rewards are combined and shared, it becomes a big reward for everyone!

Imam ash-Sha`arani (q) said, and this is very important, “If you enter a jama`ah and see people doing dhikr, even if their dhikr is different than yours (because they are from a different tariqah), you must still follow them.” It is bad manners to leave a jama`ah upon entering and seeing a group of people doing dhikr; you must not leave! If you entered you must go in to join them, even if they are reciting dhikrullah different from your Shaykh. Don't say, “I can’t go in because my Shaykh doesn't allow us to do dhikr with another group.” No, if you entered you must go in. Prophet (s) said that Allah (swt) said:

هُمْ الْجُلَسَاءُ لَا يَشْقَى بِهِمْ جَلِيسُهُمْ

Humu ‘l-qawmu laa yashqaa bihim jaleesuhum.

Those who join their company do not remain deprived. (Bukhari)

These are a people whose gatherings are neither failed nor saddened, which means anyone who comes and enters becomes from them, as he will be written with whatever rewards they take. This doesn’t mean you betrayed your teacher! Forty years ago in Damascus, Mawlana Shaykh Nazim (q) and I used to go to the Shadhili dhikr, a standing dhikr known as “hadrah.” The first time we made hadrah in Cyprus, for which we asked permission from Grandshaykh `AbdAllah (q) and he said, “Of course, go ahead!” it was a very well-organized hadrah, not like today which, I am sorry to say, became like dancing! In the Shadhili dhikr they stand in a big circle and in the middle the Shaykh is leading the dhikr, while everyone moves and recites in the same style and rhythm. However, now it evolved from hadrah, a rewarded dhikr, to “madarra,” a harmful thing, because Shaytan introduced every unacceptable thing into it. The problem is that too many converts have their own understanding of movement, so they begin to dance. We hope they go back to the traditional hadrah, not to “hard rock” hadrah or pop rock or break dancing hadrah! I was surprised to see someone doing break dancing in a so-called “Sufi Festival” in Germany. We don't agree on that as it is not from tasawwuf and is against Shari`ah. In real tasawwuf, anything against Shari`ah is not accepted. You must follow the Shari`ah of Allah (swt) and His Prophet (s). It’s okay if converts or new ones make a mistake, but it is not okay for the one leading the hadrah to do so. And some people break dance on their heads! SubhaanAllah!

The Prophet (s) said that Allah (swt) said, yuhsharoona `alaa ru'oosihim, “They come on the Day of Resurrection walking on their heads,” Sayyida A`yesha (r) asked, “Is it possible for them to walk on their heads?” and he replied, “The One Who made them walk on their feet will make them walk on their heads!” This is a prophecy mentioned by the Prophet (s) 1400 years ago that is now coming true. People are “walking” on their heads in break dancing, which indicates we are in the Last Days. They dance on their heads and they don't fall, and by this Allah (swt) is showing the sinners, “I will bring you like that!” May Allah forgive us.

So we have to make dhikr in the same tone and voice. Don't do the opposite and be different (harmonizing), because then you will disturb them. Also don't sit silent or sleeping, even if you enter a different person's dhikr, but rather participate. Today even in their own dhikr they don't participate, they sleep!

Imam ash-Sha`arani (q) also said, ukhidh `alayna al-`uhood, “They took a promise from us that if any follower of the Shaykh is absent from Salaat al-Jama`ah or from the association of dhikr, the Shaykh must tell his follower, ‘What you did was wrong.’” So dhikr is a must, which is why Grandshaykh (q) said, “You cannot leave it, you must do it at least once a week as it is a cleansing process.” And when they sit together, no one is allowed to leave for any reason except to renew one’s wudu and no one is allowed to speak except to do dhikr. The only time you are allowed to leave is if you look at your Shaykh and he gives you the okay sign; otherwise, you have to sit. Today children run in and out of the dhikr, and parents carry them and go! What can you do? Before, they were very traditional, pious and sincere, and they did not accept to have any disturbance tothe Shaykh or the halaqah! Grandshaykh (q) said, “If you even scratch your head while I am giving suhbah, the level of the subhah is lowered by seven levels! You have to be focused on me! It is not about what the suhbah will give you, but rather every time I speak, a whole new tajalli comes. Even if I repeat the same suhbah or story one-thousand times, with every repetition Allah (swt) sends a different dress.” So look at what Allah (swt) is sending, not at what you are hearing! Don’t say, “We heard this many times.” No! It is coming with a new tajalli, which is what you are after, not the story.

Awliyaullah sit with their followers for rahmah to come down on them, as the Prophet (s) mentioned:

عند ذكر الصالحين تنزل الرحمة

`Inda dhikri ‘s-saaliheen tanzilu ‘r-rahmah.

With remembrance of the pious ones, Divine Mercy descends. (Imam Ahmad in az-Zuhd)

So when you sit with pious people or mention their names, rahmah comes down, which is what is important, not only what the suhbah is about. The suhbah is a means to attract Allah's Gaze upon us with His Heavenly Look. That gaze from Allah (swt) and the Prophet (s) is what is important, which is why we say, “Nazhra! Look at us, yaa Rasoolullah!” as his gaze will raise you, like someone who shoots up a ball. One gaze from the Prophet (s) will shoot you up to the Divine Presence like a rocket, to a place where there is no more gravity or the pull of dunya on you. Spaceships are a sign of that, to teach you they can send them to a place above the earth’s atmosphere where there is no gravity and to circumambulate earth.

When you pull yourself away from the gravity of this dunya, the Prophet (s) will throw you up to the Divine Presence, not like a rocket, which is nothing compared to the power of the Prophet (s); rather you will be there in a moment, turning in the Divine Presence with Allah’s Beautiful Names and Attributes descending on you, which is your Mir`aaj! The Divine Presence has no beginning and no end, and therefore, every time you ascend with the power of the Prophet (s), it will be as if you didn’t move, although in reality you did. Veils will be opened but not given to you until death, because you cannot carry that, but some awliyaullah can carry.

Not everyone is a wali, but everyone can follow a wali and follow the Way to reach the Prophet (s). So don't lose the Way: do your dhikr with power and strength, with one tone and one sound. The more you raise your voice, the more Allah (swt) will reward you and be happy with you as you are showing the power and zeal that, "O my Lord! I am trying to call on You with all my effort!" Those who want to reach the Divine Presence have to feel that Allah (swt) is happy with them, which is He said:

أَنَا جَلِيْسُ مَنْ ذَكَرَنِي

Ana jaleesun man dhakaranee.

I sit with him who remembers me. (Ahmad, Bayhaqi)

Allah (swt) does not physically sit, but it means, “I will bless and remember him in a place better than where he is. I will mention him and make him remembered by angels.” May Allah (swt) bless us!

The sign of a wali is that he does lots of dhikr. Abu `Ali al-Dakkak (q) said, “Dhikr is the proclamation of sainthood.” In Paradise when it is proclaimed that someone is a wali, it means his heart is alive, that not one moment passes except his heart is in dhikrullah. So when you do dhikrullah, counting on your beads, “Allah, Allah Allah, Allah...” loud and silent, as you do daily, your heart will eventually begin to work by itself and it will not stop doing that. Try it! Close your eyes and say, “Allah, Allah, Allah...” You will see and perceive that your heart is continuing that dhikrullah, because the veil of sound is taken away and you will feel it.

May Allah (swt) make us feel His Love and love of the Prophet (s).

Wa min Allahi 't-tawfeeq, bi hurmati 'l-habeeb, bi hurmati 'l-Fatihah.


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[1] See http://islaamiclibrary.wordpress.com/2009/03/01/thecomprehensivelibrary/

[2] Imam al-Suyuti (r) is very famous and they study his teachings everywhere. He compiled half of Tafseer al-Jalalayn, and the other half was compiled by al-Mahali. He wrote the explanation of half of the Holy Qur'an, up to Surat al-Kahf, ma`anee, the meaning, and his friend wrote the other half, which everyone also studies. He also wrote the book ad-Durr al-Manthur.