Zikr is an Arabic word that literally means to invocate, remember, and speak and to recall or repeat something over and again. In short, to remember something with the heart or tongue. Above all, the term invocation refers to the remembrance of the true Beloved Allah, His praise and glory.
Al-Raghib al-Isfahani explained the following aspects of Divine Invocation:
To call His name
Shah Mohammad Zoqi states about Divine invocation in his book Sare Dilbran:
Invocation means remembrance of Allah. In Divine remembrance, the effort to seek closeness and companionship of the Almighty with the presence of the inward by forgetting everything other than Allah is known as invocation. Therefore, everything that is the source of Divine remembrance whether it is a name or a ritual, an action or a body, a word, a prayer or recitation of the Quran, blessings to the beloved Holy Prophet, any feeling or object or condition which leads to Allah and creates a link between them is referred to as invocation in Sufism. (Sare Dilbran)
The meaning of Divine invocation is that a person should remember Allah at all times and in all circumstances while sitting, getting up, or lying down. One must never forget to remember Him.
The Objective of Divine Invocation
In this age of materialism, our living conditions are deteriorating as a whole. The souls are polluted and sick and hearts have become rusty. Our relationship with Allah is gone and our inward is tainted with greed and lust, hatred and enmity, malice and envy, pride and arrogance, luxuries and conveniences, selfishness and egoism. The Remembrance of Allah is desperately needed to heal and purify our sick souls, to make the inward as clear as a mirror hence for the enlightenment of the inward. Divine invocation is of utmost importance for the gnosis of Allah as well as to restore the broken relationship with Allah.
What does Quran say about Divine Invocation?
So remember Me, I shall remember you. And always be thankful to Me and never be ungrateful to Me. (2:152)
Those who believe and their hearts become calm and contented with the remembrance of Allah, know that it is the remembrance of Allah alone that brings calm to the hearts. (13:28)
Indeed, only he who is purified (from the afflictions of his ill-commanding self and pollution of sins) will triumph, and the one who remembers the Name of his Lord and offers prayers (regularly and abundantly). (87: 14-15)
The believers are only those whose hearts, when Allah is mentioned (before them), are filled with awe (at the very idea of Allah’s Greatness and Might). And when His Revelations are recited to them, they increase their faith, and they (maintain) their trust in their Lord alone. (8:2)
And remember your Lord when you forget and say: ‘I believe my Lord will show me the path of guidance which is (even) nearer than this one.’ (18:24)
And remember Allah much so that you may attain prosperity. (62:10)
And the men who remember Allah abundantly and the women who remember Allah very much, Allah has prepared for all of them forgiveness and a mighty reward. (33:35)
Authority of Divine Invocation according to Hadiths
Abu Musa al-Ash’ari narrates that the Prophet of Allah said, “He who invokes Allah and he who does not are like the living and the dead, respectively.” (Muslim 779)
Abu Hurairah narrates that the Holy Prophet stated: “Allah says, ‘I am near to the thought of My seeker as he thinks about Me, and I am with him as he remembers Me. And if he remembers Me in his heart, I also remember him in My heart. Above all, if he remembers Me in the assembly, I remember him in assembly even better than his (remembrance). Similarly, if he draws near Me by the span of a palm, I draw near him by the cubit, and if he draws near Me by the cubit, I draw near him by the space (covered by) two hands. In short, if he walks toward Me, I rush towards him. (Muslim 2675)
Abu Hurairah narrates that the Holy Prophet said, “Allah has some angels who look for those who invocate the praises of Allah on the roads and paths. And when they find some people involved in the Divine invocation they call other angels saying, ‘Come to the object of pursuit’. (Bukhari 6408)
It was narrated that Abu Hurairah and Abu Saeed bore witness that the Holy Prophet said: “No people sit in a gathering remembering Allah, but the angels surround them, mercy covers them, tranquility descends upon them and Allah remembers them before those who are with Him.” (Ibn Majah 3791)
Invocation of Allah is the source of purification
Said al-Khudri narrates that the Holy Prophet said,
“Invocate Allah so often that people will call you insane (desperate in love).”
Abu Hurairah narrates that the Holy Prophet said, “There are three kinds of people whose supplications are not rejected by Allah: the one who remembers Allah abundantly, the oppressed and the just ruler.” (Al-Bayhaqi, Sh’ab al-Iman 1:419)
Makhool the Companion narrates that the beloved Prophet stated: “Surely the remembrance of Allah is healing while remembrance of people is sickness. (Al-Bayhaqi, Sh’ab al-Iman 1:459))
Abu Hurairah narrates that the Holy Prophet said, “He who invocates Allah frequently is cleansed of hypocrisy.” (Al-Tabarani, Al-Mujam Al-Aswat)
“There is always something that makes things shine and invocation of Allah makes heart shine.” Al-Bayhaqi, Sh’ab al-Iman 1:396)
Sultan Bahoo and Divine Invocation
دل کر صیقل شیشے وانگوں باھو، دور تھیون کل پردے ھوُ
Explanation: Make your inward clear like a mirror then all your veils will be removed. In other words, the cleaner the mirror of inward, the clearer is the reflection of the light of Allah. (Abyat-e-Bahoo Kamil)
The inward becomes rusty because of two things, negligence and sin. Also, two things cleanse it, asking forgiveness and invocation of Allah. The more one wastes time in negligence and laziness regarding the invocation of Allah, the more the rust on the inward freezes and the mirror of the inward becomes black. Falsehood appears in the form of truth and truth in the form of falsehood. This is because the inward is darkened and does not reveal the facts in their original form. It has neither the capacity to accept truth nor the ability to deny falsehood. That is why it neither accepts the truth nor disapproves of falsehood and this is the greatest calamity upon the heart. This is because of negligence and the fulfillment of one’s desires.
Invocation of Allah through breathing
The Holy Prophet said:
“Everyone has counted breaths. The breaths which passes without the invocation of Allah are dead.”
Sultan Bahoo explains the hadith as follows:
جودَم غافل سو دَم کافر، سانوں مرشد ایہہ فرمایا ھوُ
My spiritual guide has taught me the lesson that a breath without the invocation of Ism-e-Allah Zaat
(The personal name of Allah) makes one a pagan.
In short, every single breath of a person should be spent only in the invocation of Allah. If not than he is not a believer.
Sufyan ibn Uyaynah says,
“When people gather for the invocation of Allah, Satan and the world are separated from them. Satan asks the world, ‘Do you see what they do.’ The world replies, ‘Let them do it, when they are free I will catch them and bring them to you.’” (Husn-e-Amaal)
Why is Divine invocation important?
The purpose of the creation of all humans and jinn is to worship Allah. The purpose of worship is the remembrance of Allah. Every worship and good deed includes the invocation of Allah. A Prayer is an obligatory form of worship, the purpose of which is to keep the remembrance of Allah at all times. Fasting is abstaining from the desires of inciting innerself for a certain period of time. It is to purify the inward from adornments and to incline towards the invocation of Allah. In the same way, visiting Kabah and other places for Hajj is to incline towards the remembrance of Allah. Most importantly, recitation of the Holy Quran is the best worship because it is full of invocation of Allah.
Aisha bint Abu Bakr narrated that the Holy Prophet said,
“When a man loves something, he mentions it very often.” (Kunzal Iman)
Allah remembers them who invocate Him
Humans remember Allah through various words such as His greatness, Divine beauty and majesty. This describes His glory but how can Allah remember a person? The answer is that when Allah mentions the remembrance of His seeker, He sends it down to the earth and puts it in the hearts of the people. As a result, people begin to love this seeker of Allah until he becomes the highly regarded person, to whom the creation refers.
Perfect Fakir and saints
The perfect Fakir and saints have been engaged in the invocation and reflection of Allah throughout their life. They have not neglected the remembrance of Allah for a moment. Allah Almighty has spread their remembrance among the people of earth. They are still part of discussions even after hundreds of years of their demise. Such as, Shaikh Abdul Qadir Jilani, Sultan Bahoo, and Ali Hujwiri (Data Ganj Baksh). Even after their demise, their remembrance has continued in creation even today.
Sultan Bahoo says:
نام فقیر تنہاں دا باھوؒ، قبر جنہاں دی جیوے ھوُ
Explanation: Perfect and accomplished Fakirs are those who are immortal and their graves are the epitome of beneficence and blessings.
That is to say, those who engage in the invocation of Allah remain alive even after death. Above all, their remembrance is imprinted in the hearts of the people. There shrines are always crowded with people who pray in the court of Allah giving their reference.
What are the types of invocation?
There are two main types of invocation.
1. Verbal invocation
Verbal or linguistic invocation Glorification of Allah with a loud voice or tongue.
Inculcating goodness, enjoining lawful, enforcing lawful and pure deeds, asceticism, speaking of piety and purity etc. are all included in the remembrance of Allah and this is the verbal remembrance.
2. Invocation by the Inward (Silently)
Invocation by the inward means such remembrance that is hidden, as in remembrance of Allah from heart. Moreover, inward invocation is the contemplation of Allah’s name in the inward. In this, both tongue and mouth do not move. Every breath passes in the invocation of Allah.
Importance of invocation by inward
The Quran mentions this invocation:
“So, (O Muslims,) when you have finished your Prayers, remember Allah (in all postures) standing, sitting and (lying down) on your sides. (4:103)
Invocation while lying down on sides refers to the invocation of Allah while sleeping. And while sleeping one can only invocate inwardly. As verbal invocation involves tongue.
About invocation by the inward Quran says,
“And remember your Lord in your heart with humility and tearful submissiveness and fear and repentance.” (7:205)
The Holy Prophet says:
“The best invocation is that of inward, silent and hidden.”
(Sahih Ibn Hibban 809)
Aisha bint Abu Bakr narrated that the Holy Prophet said, “When the Day of Resurrection will come, Allah will gather all the creatures for their reckoning. The angels responsible for writing deeds will present what they have written, then Allah will ask, ‘Look, if there is anything missing from his deeds?’ The angels will say, ‘Our Lord, we did not leave out anything that came to our notice and we saved it and wrote it down. Then Allah Almighty will say to this person that you have a secret deed in my knowledge but you do not know it and I will inform you about it and that deed is an invocation by inward done silently. (Majma uz zawaid 16796)
Invocation by the inward is a way to remember Allah at every moment. If one remembers Allah with one’s tongue, it is not possible to remember at all times. Above all other tasks such as speaking and eating involves the tongue. Therefore, oral or verbal invocation gives high levels and rewards. Invocation of Ism-e-Allah Zaat is required to open the lock of inward. One invocate Allah through each breath. This is called Sultan of invocations i.e. Hoo. That is to say, the invocation of Mystics. Above all, it leads to the recognition of Allah because Allah created this universe for His own recognition. Therefore, man’s purpose in life is the gnosis of Allah Almighty. Most importantly, the perfect spiritual guide grants Divine Vision and gnosis of Allah through inward invocation.
Perfect Spiritual Guide
Sultan Bahoo says in Punjabi poetry:
الف اللہ چنبے دی بوٹی، میرے من وچ مرشد لائی ھوُ
Explanation: In this quatrain, Sultan Bahoo has likened Ism-e-Allah Zaat with jasmine. Sultan Bahoo is the pioneer Mystic who has used the metaphor of jasmine for Ism-e-Allah Zaat. Its seedling is sowed into the earth, it grows slowly into a plant, and is laden with flowers whose fragrance envelops the surroundings. Similar to it, when a spiritual guide bestows the seeker with contemplation and invocation of Ism-e-Allah Zaat, he sow’s a seedling in seeker’s inward and under the care of spiritual guide. As a result, the light of Ism-e-Allah Zaat gradually envelops the whole being of the true seeker illuminating it. (Abyat-e-Bahoo Kamil)
Saying of Allama Ismail Haqi
Allama Ismail Haqi says, “In terms of invocation, it is also necessary that the one who do invocation should get permission from those who does invocation as in the ones closer of Allah.”
Living with the people of Allah makes one like them and being like them unites with Allah.
اللہ اللہ کرنے سے اللہ نہیں ملتا
یہ اللہ والے ہیں جو اللہ سے ملا دیتے ہیں
Explanation: One cannot reach Allah only by invoking His name superficially or silently and through physical prayers but the perfect spiritual guide can take the seekers of Allah close to Him. (Sufism The Soul of Islam)
Sultan-ul-Ashiqeen Sultan Mohammad Najib-ur-Rehman is the perfect spiritual guide of this era. After the seeker pledges oath of allegiance, he grants Sultan of invocations i.e. Hoo on the very first day. This purifies from outward and inward impurities and establishes the relationship between Allah Almighty and the seeker through remembrance of Allah. This leads to gnosis and closeness to Allah, and man attains his purpose in life.
This is an English Translation of Urdu article which appeared in the March 2022 issue of Mahnama Sultan ul Faqr Magazine. Miss Noreen Sarwari Qadri wrote the original article. Abeeha Malik Sarwari Qadri has translated it in English.
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