Zikr and Meditation

His Eminence advises his followers to search the company of those who remember Almighty Allah [Exalted is He], so much so, till their last breath, they may still continue to sing the praise of Allah (Zikr). If we follow the footsteps of our spiritual Masters with as much love as we can muster, our garden would always bloom. Love and respect shown to the lovers of Allah is much appreciated, added His Eminence. Our Pir-i-Tariqat advised the invocation and remembrance of Almighty Allah’s name, as he is nearer to us than our jugular vein. All disciples must strengthen their contact with the beloved Prophet Mustafa (Allah bless him and give him peace), Hazrat Sayyiduna Abdul Qadir Jilani (may Allah be pleased with him), Imam Ahle Sunnat Ahmad Raza Khan (may Allah be pleased with him) and other great Spiritual luminaries of Islam.

For this purpose, the recitation of Zikr is necessary to cleanse the heart from forgetfulness and the veils of rust, so that we can reach Almighty Allah. It is also a sign of gratitude and thankfulness to Him. The mind that concentrates on Almighty Allah purifies the heart, which is then filled with Divine love. Thus Zikr is a religious practice that has been observed throughout the ages and has taken various forms according to the Sufi Order (Tariqa), which the spiritual leader follows. 

According Sayyiduna Abdul Qadir Jilani (may Allah be pleased with him), the Prophet Muhammad (Allah bless him and give him peace) is reported to have said: "These hearts get rusty, and the polish they need is the recitation of the Quran and attendance at sessions of remembrance." Oh you who are proud of your affluence and pure serenity! Soon your pure serenity will turn into disturbance, your affluence into poverty and your ease into hardship. Do not be conceited of whatever state you are in. You must keep on attending sessions of remembrance (Halqa Zikr), thinking well of the Shaikhs who have put their knowledge into practice, listening to them and accepting their words.

Sultan Auliya, Sayyiduna Abdul Qadir Jilani (may Allah be pleased with him) gives the following explanation of Zikr (remembrance):

Almighty Allah, the Eternal Lord, the All-Powerful Himself shows the way to those who seek to remember Him. Sura Baqara, verse 198 mentions, "Remember Allah as He has guided you…" This verse means to remember that your Creator has brought you to a certain level of consciousness and faith and that you can only remember Him in accordance with this ability. Our beloved Master the Prophet Muhammad (Allah bless him and give him peace) says, "The best declaration of remembrance is the one which I and all the prophets before me recite, which is the divine phrase La ilaha illa Llah (there is no God but Allah)."

There are many different levels of Zikr and each has different ways. Some form of remembrance are expressed outwardly with audible voice, some felt inwardly, silently, from the center of the heart. At the beginning the seeker should declare in words what one remembers, then progressing, stage by stage, the Zikr (remembrance) spreads throughout one’s being: descending to the heart, then rising to the soul, then still further it reaches the realm of the secrets, further to the hidden, to the most hidden of the hidden. How far the Zikr penetrates, and the level it reaches, depends solely on the extent which Almighty Allah in His bounty has guided one.

Zikr and Meditation

Whatever work we may be doing, the breath goes on working automatically. When we are working, does the breath stop working? Whatever work we may do, doesn’t the blood keep on circulating? Does the blood stop circulating because we are busy working? No, it does not. Whenever we do anything, our breath always flows continuously. It is our artificial and highly specialized intellectual life with unnecessary concern and worries which destroys the rhythm of the heartbeat. Meditation is the task of escaping from the control of the lower mind and living in the heart. It is only when the consciousness is in the heart that the soul can be free. By "heart" is meant not only the physical heart but also all that is physical that is connected with the heart, and at the same time it includes all the higher emotions, purer thoughts and deep intuitions.

After the inhalation, hold your breath, and look for the sensation of your heartbeat anywhere in your body. The longer you hold your breath, the more pronounced your heartbeat would become. There are 2 ways to meditate: upward and downward. Budhism and Vendanta exemplify the upward form of meditation. By contrast, meditating downwards focuses on the infinite consciousness into a center, strengthening the heart and this technique is fully developed in Sufi Dhikr, where meditating downwards focuses the mind on the heart, producing increased central nervous system activity and an extremely regular heartbeat. Both these directions on meditations have their usefulness, but the downward method is especially designed to be practical in life.

[Downward] meditation draws all strength to the center of one’s being, to the heart, and from there it radiates to all parts of body and mind [Hazrat Inayat Khan].

Hazrat M.R. Bawa Muhaiyaddeen (may Allah be pleased with him) indicated that our intention and our faith in Almighty Allah must always be with us, just as our breath moves continuously. Our iman [faith] must be constant. Those thoughts, that intention of Almighty Allah, that breath, that look, and that sound should operate continuously as do the automatic functions of the body. That is what is called Dhikr, the remembrance of Almighty Allah [Exalted and Invisible is He]. If you always intend Allah, just as the functions always work inside your body, than that is what is called worship or prayer. Is this a heavy burden to carry? Everything else works automatically; if this too can work automatically, then it is called grace, Allah’s rahmat.

All the weights and heavy things that we have collected during our lives are like this. We try to carry them with us – we carry our desires, we try to carry the air, we carry our attachments and our love for our relations. These things are heavy because we are carrying them against the gravity of the earth.

But if you let each breath carry the vibration of La ilaha ill-Allahu -- there is no God but God, and God exists; if you can take all this weight and burden and hand it over to that Hu, ill-Allahu, it is like handling over all those weights to the ship. Then you have no weight. You will have no burdens to carry. Just as the water was able to support the ship, Almighty Allah will carry all your burdens. They are not heavy to Him. If you surrender to Almighty Allah [Invincible and Exalted is He] in that state, there is no burden or weight for you at all. Then we become like a bubble on the ocean.

We have a huge world within us, and creatures that exist outside, exist inside of us in the form of shadows. They exist in the form of demons, vampires and ghosts; they exist as foxes and dogs, rats and cats. Each of then attacks and destroys the other. One kills and tortures the other; one drinks the blood of the other. The viruses and germs, the thoughts, demons, and Satan’s, all devour each other. We have to clean our hearts from this dangerous jungle growing inside.

Hazrat M.R. Bawa Muhaiyaddeen (may Allah be pleased with him) had an instruction placed on the face of a mosque he had constructed in Philadelphia, USA [May 1984] . That inscription says: Qadiriya Sufiya Tariqat