Invocation and Contemplation

Some Mystical Orders, like the Tariqa Aliyyah Qadiriyyah Casnazaniyyah of Shaikh Sayyid Muhammad al-Casnazani al-Husseini who lives in Hay Hutten, Baghdad, the circle of zikr is accompanied with tambourines and a special drum that Shaikh Sayyiduna Abdul Qadir Jilani (may Allah sanctify his soul) introduced for it's beneficial effects on the heart of the disciple.

Of the spiritual practices adopted by the Qadiriyah Order, dhikr (reciting the Name Allāh) is the most important. 32 Various degrees of intensity and emphasis are involved in the performance of dhikr. There is dhikr with one stroke, two strokes, three strokes, and four strokes. Dhikr with one stroke means repeating the Name Allah with long drawn breath firmly, as if from high above, with force of heart and throat, and then stopping so that the breath returns to normal. This is to be repeated continuously for a long time. The dhikr with two strokes means sitting in the posture of prayer and invoking the Name Allah first on the right side of the breast and then on the heart. This is done repeatedly without interval and with force. It is deemed effective in developing concentration of heart and in dispelling worries and distractions. The dhikr with three strokes is performed sitting cross-legged and repeating the Name Allah first at the right side, second at the left, and the third time on the heart. The third stroke is to be with greater intensity and is to be continued longer. The dhikr with four strokes is also performed sitting cross-legged and consists of uttering the Name Allāh first on the right side, second on the left, the third time toward the heart, and the fourth time in front of the breast. The last stroke is expected to be stronger and longer.

These dhikr practices can also be performed by groups, loudly or silently, sitting in circles after morning and afternoon prayers. If a man utters Allah four thousand times a day regularly for two months, he is usually expected to have qualified for some kind of spiritual experience.

After dhikr the Qadirīs recommend pas-i anfas, which means regulating the breath in such a way that in the process of inhaling and exhaling, the Name Allah circulates automatically in the body. Then comes the muraqabah (contemplation). One is advised to concentrate on some Quranic verse or Divine Quality and become completely absorbed in contemplation.

Some of the practices developed by the later followers register local influences and are inexplicable with reference to the saint's own ideas and ideals. For instance the followers of the Qadiriyyah Order in North Africa, who are called Gīlanīs, have developed the practice of the khalwah (spiritual retreat) in a very special manner. Reeds are planted between heaps of stones, rags are attached to them by women, and benzoin and styrax are burnt. Both men and women visit this type of khalwah and pray for the fulfillment of their wishes.

An almost inevitable concomitant of such practices was the deification of the saint by extreme groups. Those who did not go to that length attributed a remark to him: "All the saints are under my feet" 33 --an expression that, if uttered by the Shaykh, could best be interpreted as referring to an extreme condition of spiritual elation without any other implications. 34 But later admirers wrote to defend his position and sought to establish his preeminent place in the mystical hierarchy. Even an otherwise very cautious and critical scholar such as Shaykh 'Abd al-Ḥaqq Muḥaddith of Delhi paints the Shaykh in colors borrowed from these exaggerated hagiological tales. The greatness of Shaykh 'Abd al-Qādir lay not in his miracles, but in his "God-conscious" existence and dedication to the supreme ideal of Islamic mysticism: to realize God, to show people the way to God, and to bring happiness to disturbed hearts and distracted souls.

Courtesy: Khaliq Ahmad Nizami