Home Faqihul Ummah Mawa`iz (Discourses) Discourse 16 - The Effect of Zikr

Discourse 16 - The Effect of Zikr

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نحمده و نصلي على رسوله الكريم

Hadhrat Moulana Rasheed Ahmad Gangohi (rahimahullah) once advised:

“No matter how unmindful a person may be, but when he takes the name of Allah Ta‘ala, it certainly has an effect on him.”

The thought may arise that when we sit down to make zikr, numerous thoughts plague the mind, hence what benefit does such zikr have? It is incorrect to think in this manner; what benefit is derived from this type of zikr? Zikr performed inattentively also has its merit. Has Allah Ta‘ala not made it possible for the tongue to engage in zikr?

This indeed is a very great favour of His. We should express our gratitude to Allah Ta‘ala for this favour and plead to Him to make our hearts more attentive. Both the tongue and heart are in the control of Allah Ta‘ala. He has made it possible for the tongue to take His name so He will also ensure that the heart is affected by it. We may be unable to perceive this effect, but we should place our trust in Him.

The hakeem and the saint

A prince had taken ill. During that era, the pious would visit the sick with a tasbeeh in one hand and a staff in the other. A pious person, upon reaching the home of the prince, found Bu Ali Seena (Avicenna) also in attendance to the prince. Bu Ali Seena was the king’s personal doctor and the head of the medical fraternity. He was considered a master in the field of medicine. He was feeling the prince’s pulse to diagnose the sickness.

The pious man came in, placed his hand on the prince’s stomach and read something. He then blew upon the prince.

Bu Ali Seena felt uncomfortable and annoyed and bellowed, “O old man, what do you think you are doing? What are you reading? Words are ineffective. Words are intangible. Few letters escape your lips and are finished. This child has a blockage in his stomach. He requires medication with properties of heat, by means of which this blockage can be cleared. How will your reading and blowing help?”

“What did you say, dog?” enquired the saint.

Bu Ali Seena became enraged and the colour of his face changed to a crimson red. The pious man continued reading and blew again upon the child. He glanced at Bu Ali Seena and said: “Have you not understood yet, donkey?”

He was insulted by being called a donkey and a dog in the royal household. Bu Ali Seena’s condition changed completely. His mouth began frothing, his veins began showing and his entire body began to tremble. The pious man read something for the third time and once again blew on the child.

“What is wrong, Hakeem Sahib?” enquired the saint. “Why is your face so red and why are you trembling like that? Why is your mouth frothing?”

“You have just called me such names that have caused a fire to be ignited in my body,” replied Bu Ali Seena, enraged.

“You said that words are ineffective and intangible. They leave your tongue and are then finished. How can such words be effective?” The buzurg then added, “Some words change a person’s condition just as yours has changed. Is it not then possible that I may read a few words and blow on him by means of which, heat is created and the blockage is cleared?”

Hakeem Sahib was still diagnosing the problem when Allah Ta‘ala made it such that the blockage was removed and the child was cured.

Hence, we may not witness any effect, but the One who has created that effect knows very well what is taking place in the heart. No action is void of some form of effect. Allah Ta‘ala has put this quality of effect into everything. At times, the action may be very small, but its effect is very great.

A scorpion is a very small creature, but just one sting will result in death. Only a foolish person will proclaim: “What is this scorpion? What can it do? A small sting, that is all!”

Paragon of Allah’s creation

A person once asked me (Hadhrat Mufti Mahmood Sahib (rahimahullah)): “Can jinnaat trouble humans?”

“Yes they can,” I assured him.

“Man is known as ashraf-ul-makhlooqaat (the best of all creation), who can then trouble him?” he questioned further.

“Let a hornet sting you on your face and see what happens to this ashraf-ul-makhlooqaat,” I replied. “From where did you get this definition of ashraf-ul-makhlooqaat? The definition is that Allah Ta‘ala has kept limitless abilities in man to progress to great heights, despite the fact that he has been made of sand.”

Every soul possesses certain fundamental powers that control our thoughts and actions. One is the power of anger, the other is the power of lust and the remaining three are the powers of imagination, the power of thought and, finally, the power of intellect. A true soul is that soul wherein the power of intellect is so domineering that, the other four are pale in comparison; it is as if they do not even exist.

Man and animal

That soul wherein the powers of anger and lust are overpowering and domineering, reducing the others to a state of insignificance, is known as the ‘animalistic soul’ and in the animal kingdom, there are two types of animals, the carnivorous and the non-carnivorous.

The carnivorous animals are adept at ripping apart the food they are eating, such as a dog, lion, leopard, etc. They are consumed with the power of anger. That is why they are termed “carnivorous”. Those animals wherein the power of lust dominates are known as non-carnivorous animals.

When the dominating powers are that of imagination and thought, this is known to be the jinnaat; and that soul wherein Allah Ta‘ala has made all these five powers balanced, is known as insaan (man). Man has been titled ashraf-ul-makhlooqaat because Allah Ta‘ala has created him in such a manner that these five powers have been made in equilibrium. He has been afforded the opportunity to progress by virtue of being guided by his power of intellect and the other four – that is the powers of imagination, thought, anger and lust are subservient to it, resulting in him progressing even further.

If the power of anger dominates, he will always be shouting and scolding, hitting people, killing them, disfiguring them, etc.

If the power of lust overpowers him, he will commit such acts that even animals will be ashamed of.

If the power of imagination and thought overpowers him, he will be able mesmerise people and even achieve the feat of flying. He will close his eyes and reach from one place to another.

Insaan has been titled “The most noble of all creations” in the aayat of the Qur’aan:

وَلَقَدْ كَرَّمْنَا بَنِي آدَمَ

“We have indeed honoured the children of Aadam.” (Bani Isra’eel: 70)

This honour has not been granted so that he may expose his power of anger or his power of thought and suspicion. Rather, he has been granted this honoured status, since he still goes on to progress and attain Allah Ta‘ala’s proximity and reap from the great treasures of Allah Ta‘ala, despite being created with all these powers in equal proportions.

Natural instinct

Animals have been created with instinctive abilities. Take swimming, for example. Puppies, kittens, foals, fish, frogs, etc. can swim naturally, but insaan on the other hand, will not acquire this skill unless he learns how to swim. Similarly, other qualities found in animals are instinctive and utilised from childbirth.

The gist of the aforementioned paragraph is that Allah Ta‘ala has sent His Rasul (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) as a role model for mankind. Our lifestyle should conform to that of Nabi (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam). Allah Ta‘ala wants us to lead our lives according to the manner that Nabi (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) led his life.

Allah Ta‘ala’s pleasure lies in seeing all of mankind follow this path. Therefore, to whatever extent an individual can follow Nabi (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) to that extent will he become the beloved to Allah Ta‘ala. This is the benchmark. Whosoever strives to attain this benchmark, will acquire Allah Ta‘ala’s proximity.

Proximity is not a quality that can be perceived by the eye, neither is it such that it could be heard by the ear or even tasted by the tongue. Allah Ta‘ala says:

وَنَحْنُ أَقْرَبُ إِلَيْهِ مِنْ حَبْلِ الْوَرِيدِ

“And We are closer to him than his jugular vein.” (Qaaf: 16)

Allah Ta‘ala’s grandeur and greatness is such that His proximity cannot be likened to anything in this world. Just as Allah Ta‘ala’s being is beyond all comprehension and He cannot be perceived, so too is His proximity. It is beyond man’s comprehension and therefore, can neither be perceived nor can it be compared to anything.

Seeing our beloved Nabi (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam)

Some pious servants of Allah Ta‘ala perform great miracles and have the ability to witness extraordinary events as well. For example, witnessing the blessed countenance of Nabi r in a wakeful state.

It is recorded in Faidh-ul-Baari that Allamah Jalaaluddeen Suyooti (rahimahullah) saw Nabi (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) eight times in a wakeful state. However, such sightings of Nabi (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) will not promote one to the rank of a Sahaabi.

Moulana Madani (rahimahullah) and the Rowdha-e-Mubaarak (the blessed grave of Nabi (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam)

Hadhrat Moulana Husain Ahmad Madani (rahimahullah) was once conducting a lesson in Musjid-un-Nabawi, near Baab-ur-Rahmah, when the discussion arose concerning Nabi (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) being alive in his qabr. Hadhrat Moulana furnished the necessary proofs. The pupils objected to the proofs presented and Moulana answered their objections. However, they remained adamant and refused to accept Moulana’s explanations. For a third time, they objected and Moulana answered them.

Suddenly, Moulana turned and looked towards the Rowdha-e- Mubaarak and the students turned and looked as well. They did not see any Rowdha or any building. The place was clear, and present there was Nabi (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) himself. Everyone present had witnessed this.

“Are you still objecting?” queried Moulana. “What objections can you raise now?”

After this, he turned his attention to the kitaab and the students followed suit. When the students once again turned their gazes towards the Rowdha-e-Aqdas, it had returned to its normal state. Allah Ta‘ala reveals these types of occurrences to His servants from time to time.

Once, Hadhrat Shaikh (rahimahullah) posed a question as to whether it is superior to see Nabi (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) in a dream or in a wakeful state. Each person responded in accordance to what he felt. I was also present in this gathering. Thus, he asked me as well.

I replied, “Hadhrat, seeing Nabi (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) in a dream is more superior than seeing him in a wakeful state.”

“Why is that,” he queried.

“It is more superior,” I answered, “since a guarantee has been given for the one who sees Nabi (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) in a dream,

إن الشيطان لا يتمثل بي من رآني فقد رآني

Verily Shaitaan cannot assume my form. Whoever sees me he has definitely seen me.

“This guarantee has been given that one who sees Nabi (sallallahu 'alaihi wasallam) in a dream has indeed seen him.”

Hadhrat Shaikh (rahimahullah) then commented on my answer and asked: “Does Shaitaan then possess the ability to assume the form of Nabi (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) while a person is in a wakeful state?”

I replied that Shaitaan cannot do this, but there is always the possibility that a person’s power of imagination can conjure up such an image, whereas this is not possible in the event of a dream. The focal point is that in a dream, what has been witnessed is definitely true, whereas in the other scenario lies the possibility of one’s imagination conjuring up an image. A person’s power of thought can conjure up many images. To elucidate this further: when a person goes out in the jungle, how many an object appears to be something totally different and only upon nearing it, does he realise what it actually is.

Hence, whether we see it or not, we are attaining Allah Ta‘ala’s special proximity. Our Imaan is based upon the Qur’aan; and credibility based upon witnessing with our eyes is not a reliable factor.

Believing is seeing

What have we seen? Have we seen Jannat or Jahannum? Have we seen the ‘Arsh, Kursi and the Lowh? Have we seen the Howdh-e-Kauthar? We have not seen any of these things. Have we seen the spectacles occurring in the grave with our own eyes? Have we witnessed the angels Munkar and Nakeer in the grave? Have we seen or not seen the light that illuminates the grave and the door that leads to Jannat?

We bring Imaan on the unseen. We bring Imaan on everything that Nabi (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) has said. Imaan is not based upon that which we can see, but rather on that which has not been observed. That is why, when man is about to pass away and the realm of the hereafter unfolds before him and he brings Imaan on Allah Ta‘ala, such Imaan will not be accepted. Imaan is based upon the unseen.

After a person passes away and he witnesses the events of the next abode, which Nabi (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) had informed us about, he will say:

أَبْصَرْنَا وَسَمِعْنَا فَارْجِعْنَا نَعْمَلْ صَالِحًا

“We have seen and heard, so please return us (back to the dunya) so that we can do righteous deeds.” (Sajdah: 12)

This request will be rejected because it does not fall under the ambit of bringing Imaan upon the unseen.

The son of Nabi (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam), Hadhrat Ebrahim (‘alaihis salaam), passed away in infancy (when he was about 16-17 months old). He was still being breastfed at that time. One day, his mother revealed to Nabi (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) that her milk was still flowing quite strongly on account of not completing the breast-feeding stage.

Nabi (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) assured her that her child no longer required her milk because arrangements had been made in Jannat for him. If she desired, he (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) will show her his appearance or, if she wished, she could hear his voice.

“No, never!” she spontaneously exclaimed. “I do not need to see him, and I do not need to hear him. You have assured me of his condition. That is more than sufficient for me.”

The point we are trying to make is that, if Nabi (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) has mentioned or did something and, despite this statement or action of his, our conviction only comes about after witnessing it, this will be contrary to bringing faith on the unseen. This narration is found in Ibnu Maajah. The Imaan of a believer is at its zenith when his belief is in the unseen.

Our eyes can deceive us. On how many an occasion was an experienced, intelligent person’s statement proven to be false? But in the statement of Nabi (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam), there can be only absolute truth. The stronger a person’s conviction is in this aspect, the closer he comes to Allah Ta‘ala.

The more he resembles Nabi (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) in his way of life, the more he becomes the beloved of Allah Ta‘ala. This is why the name of Allah Ta‘ala is such that, despite it being taken in negligence, it is not rendered worthless. It has an indelible effect.

A poet says:

بر زباں تسبیح و در دل گاؤخر

ایں چنیں تسبیح کے دارد اثر

There is a tasbeeh in our hands, but we are engaged in other talks and activities.

How can this tasbeeh have an effect?

However, some buzurgs have changed the second stanza with these words:

ایں چنیں تسبیح ہم دارد اثر

Yet this tasbeeh still has an effect

Another poet has stated:

سبحہ در کف ، توبہ بر لب ، دل پر از ذوق گناہ

معصیت را خندہ می آید بر استغفار ما

A tasbeeh is in the hand, taubah is on the lips yet the heart is still filled with thoughts of vice, (to do this sin and commit that evil).

 Even evil itself laughs at the type of repentance we make.

A saying of Hadhrat Sariy Saqati (rahimahullah)

There is a saying of Hadhrat Sariy Saqati (rahimahullah):

استغفارنا يحتاج إلى استغفار كثير

Our istighfaar is in need of more istighfaar.

The reason for this is that the meaning of istighfaar is, “O Allah Ta‘ala, I ask Your forgiveness.”

The lips are uttering this supplication, but does the heart really mean it? If the heart is submerged in the anticipation for sin instead of desiring forgiveness from sin, then we are actually saying something which is not supported by the heart.

يَقُولُونَ بِأَفْوَاهِهِم مَّا لَيْسَ فِي قُلُوبِهِمْ

“They say such things which are not in their hearts (but in actual fact is hypocrisy).” (Aal Imraan: 167)

That is why it is said: “Our istighfaar is in need of more istighfaar.”

Allah Ta‘ala has bestowed us with the ability to make His zikr. May Allah Ta‘ala make these tongues truthful together with the hearts. May Allah Ta‘ala make our lives such, that they are in conformity with His pleasure. Aameen.

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