Dzikr: The Key to Success

بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ

The following is extracted from Miftah al-Falah by Imam Taj ad-Din Abu al-Fadhl Ahmad ibn Muhammad ibn ‘Abd Karim ibn ‘Atha’illah al-Maliki as-Sakandari (q.s.).

Dzikr is a fire which does not stay or spread, so if it enters a house saying, “I and nothing other than I,” which is one of the meanings of, ‘Laa ilaha illa Allah’, ‘There is no god but Allah’, and there is firewood in the house, it burns it up and it becomes fire.  If there is darkness in the house, it becomes light.  If there is light in the house, it becomes ‘light upon light’.

Dzikr expels from the body impure substances produced by excess in eating or from the consumption of unlawful food.  As for food which is lawful, it does not touch it.  So the harmful components are burned up and the good components remain.

Dzikr is heard by every part as if it were blowing on a trumpet.  When dzikr first occurs in the head, the sound of trumpets and cymbals is experienced there.  Dzikr is a sulthan – when it descends in a place, it descends with its trumpets and cymbals because dzikr is opposed to all that is other than the Truth.  When it descends in a place, it occupies itself with negating what is contrary to the Truth, as we find in the union of water and fire.  After these sounds, different sounds are heard: like the ripple of water, the sound of the wind, the sound of fire when it is kindled, the sounds of galloping of horses, and the sound of leaves of the trees rustling in the wind.

This is because man is a combination of every noble and low substance: dust, water, fire, air and earth, and heaven and earth and what is between them.  These sounds issue from every source and element of these substances.  Whoever has heard these sounds in dzikr, praises Allah  (s.w.t.) and glorifies Him with his entire tongue.  This is the result of the dzikr with the tongue with the force of complete absorption.  Perhaps the worshipper will reach the state where, if he falls silent from dzikr, the heart will stir in his breast, like the movement of the child in the womb, seeking dzikr.

Some say that he heart is like ‘Isa (a.s.), the son of Mary (a.s.) and dzikr is its milk.  When it grows and becomes strong, longing for the Truth audibly springs from it and pangs of yearning craving for dzikr and the One invoked.  The dzikr of the heart is like the sound of the bee, neither a confused high noise nor a very low hidden sound.  When the One invoked Takes Possession of the heart and the dzikr is obliterated and vanishes, and the invoker does not pay attention to the dzikr nor to the heart.  If during this, he notices the dzikr or the heart, that is a distracting veil.

This state is annihilation, fana’, and it is that man is annihilated in respect to his nafs, and he feels nothing in his limbs nor things outside of him or things inside of him.  If, during that, it occurs to him that he is totally annihilated in respect to himself, that then is a blemish and turbidity.  Perfection is that he be annihilated to himself and to annihilation, and the annihilation of annihilation is the goal of annihilation.  Annihilation is the earliest of the Path, thariq, since it is travelling towards Allah (s.w.t.), and then Guidance follows.  By Guidance is meant the Guidance of Allah (s.w.t.) as the Abraham (a.s.) said in the Qur’an:

He said, “I will go to my Lord!  He will surely Guide me!” (Surah asw-Swaffat:99)

This absorption is seldom stable and rarely continues.  If the invoker continues, it becomes a fixed habit and a permanent state by which he may ascend to the celestial world.  Then, the Purest Real Being Emerges and he is Imprinted with the nature of the invisible world, ‘alam malakut, and the Holiness of Divinity, Lahut, is Manifested to him.  The first thing Manifested to him from that world are the essences of the angels and the spirits of the prophets and saints in beautiful forms through which some of the realities overflow onto him.  That is the beginning.  This continues until his degree is higher than forms and he encounters the Truth in everything with clarity.

This is the fruit of the core of dzikr.  Its beginning is only the dzikr of the tongue; and then, the dzikr of the heart is stimulated.  Then, the dzikr becomes natural; and then the One invoked Takes Possession and the invoker is Obliterated.  This is the inner secret of the words of the Prophet (s.a.w.), “Whoever wish to abide in the Garden of Paradise should invoke Allah much,” and the secret of his words, “Hidden dzikr is seventy times preferable to dzikr which is heard by listeners.”

The sign of dzikr moving to the inner conscience, sir, is the absence of the invoker from dzikr and the One invoked, and the dzikr of the inner conscience is frantic thirst and drowning in it.  Among its signs is that when ones ceases doing dzikr, it does not leave him, and the ascendancy of dzikr in him stirs him from absence to presence.  Among its signs is that dzikr presses against ones heads and limbs so that they seem as if they were bound with shackles and chains.

Among its signs is that its fires do not abate and its light does not depart.  Rather one always see its lights rising and descending while the fires around im are pure, aflame and brightly burning.  When dzikr reaches the inner conscience, when the invoker falls silent from dzikr, it is as if needles had been thrust through his tongue or as if his entire face were a tongue invoking, light pouring from it.

We must know that every dzikr which our heart feels is heard by listeners if their awareness matches our awareness.  There is a secret in it: when our dzikr vanishes from our awareness since we have departed to the One invoked, our dzikr vanishes altogether from the awareness of listeners.  The dzikr of the letters is without the presence of the dzikr of the tongue.  The dzikr of the presence in the heart is the dzikr of the heart; and the dzikr of absence from presence with the One Invoked is the dzikr of the sirr, and it is hidden dhikr.


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