The act of remembering Allah inwardly and outwardly
Dhikr (invocation) is an Arabic word which means to recall something or to repeat it in one’s mind. However, in Islamic terminology, dhikr or invocation means to remember Allah Almighty. There are different ways and types of invocation that people practise around the world. Below are the various types of invocations.
Various types of invocations
Invocation of the Inward
The invocation of the inward means that a person remembers Allah Almighty through the inward. That is to say their thought is always towards Him, even when the person outwardly may be busy in worldly matters. This is completely hidden type of invocation and the highest level of invocation. Only those people are blessed with this who love Allah ardently. It occupies their thoughts so much that they invocate Allah without realising when they are busy doing day to day things.
Invocation of the Tongue
As the name suggests, in this type of invocation, the invoker remembers Allah through the tongue. This is the moderate level of the invocation. Generally people prefer medium voice when doing this kind of invocation. But it is important to prevent oneself from pretence when invocating loudly. Reading Quran, performing daily prayers etc. are the examples of invocation of the tongue.
The practical invocation
This types of invocation means to invocate i.e. to remember Allah through one’s actions. All types of devotions such as salat, performing Hajj etc. all fall under this category. In addition, to obey what Allah has ordered and to refrain from what He has forbidden also comes under this type of invocation. This is the most difficult type of invocation. And today’s Muslims are largely void of this attribute. As Iqbal said:
عمل سے زندگی بنتی ہے جنت بھی جہنم بھی
یہ خاکی اپنی فطرت میں نہ نوری ہے نہ ناری
Explanation: Whatever man achieves is dependent on his efforts. Whether in the hereafter the person will enter heaven or hell, it all depends on his deeds. Human is neither purely light nor fire rather a blend of both i.e. good and evil both are inherent to him.
Excellence and Importance of Invocation through Quran and Hadith
The invocation earns one the pleasure and blessings of Allah and is the basis of success in both the worlds. Allah says in Quran:
وَاذْكُرُوا اللَّهَ كَثِيرًا لَّعَلَّكُمْ تُفْلِحُونَ
Meaning: And remember Allah much, so that you may attain success (in the world and hereafter). (al-Jumu‘ah : 10)
Due to our negligence towards invocation, we lack real peace and success in our lives.
Invocation and Sustenance
Invocation of Allah is a source of increase in one’s sustenance and turning away from invocation does the opposite. As Allah says in Quran:
وَمَنْ أَعْرَضَ عَن ذِكْرِي فَإِنَّ لَهُ مَعِيشَةً ضَنكًا
Meaning: And whoever turns away from My remembrance, his (worldly and in hereafter) sustenance will be narrowed. (Tāhā: 124)
The outward and obvious aspect of this verse is that the financial plight of today’s Muslims is due to negligence from Allah’s remembrance. There is no reduction in the sources of sustenance but in fact there is no barakah in people’s earnings hence the current state of affairs.
The real and esoteric aspect of this verse is the sustenance of the soul. The worldly sustenance one will get throughout the life is destined even before a person is born. Every person only gets the amount of worldly resources and riches what had already been destined before birth. However, the sustenance of soul is the invocation, closeness and vision of Allah. The souls, in pre-existence were in the state of perpetual Divine vision and this is how they received their strength and energy. However, in the worldly life, the soul gets its energy and sustenance in proportion to how much a person remembers Allah. The more a person invocates, the closer he or she gets and the stronger his soul becomes. And on the opposite when the person moves away from Allah’s remembrance, his soul becomes weaker.
The Consequence of Neglecting Allah’s Remembrance
As aforementioned, the remembrance of Allah is the source of strength and energy for the soul. People who neglect this remembrance will be raised blind on the Day of Judgement. As Allah says in Quran:
وَمَنْ أَعْرَضَ عَن ذِكْرِي فَإِنَّ لَهُ مَعِيشَةً ضَنكًا وَنَحْشُرُهُ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ أَعْمَى۔ قَالَ رَبِّ لِمَ حَشَرْتَنِي أَعْمَى وَقَدْ كُنتُ بَصِيرًا
Meaning: And We shall raise him blind on the Day of Resurrection (as well).’ He will say: ‘O my Lord, why have You raised me up blind (Today) whereas I had vision (in the world)?’ (Tāhā: 124 – 125)
The message in this verse is that the person who neglects Allah’s remembrance in this world will be raised spiritually blind on the Day of Judgement. He will not have gnosis of Allah. The one who didn’t strive and attain the gnosis of Allah in this life will not be able to gain His gnosis and vision in the life hereafter.
Allah Forgets the one who Neglects His Invocation
Allah forgets the one who doesn’t remember Him. As Allah says in Quran:
قَالَ كَذَلِكَ أَتَتْكَ آيَاتُنَا فَنَسِيتَهَا وَكَذَلِكَ الْيَوْمَ تُنسَى
Meaning: (Allah) will say: ‘In like manner, Our signs came to you (in the world), but you forgot them, and the same way you (too) will be forgotten Today.’ (Tāhā: 126)
Due to our negligence, Allah has left us on our own. It is His rule that He only helps those who take initiative.
Invocation is attribute of Momins
Invocation is a key attribute of Momins. Therefore they should invocate Allah abundantly. He says in Quran:
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا اذْكُرُوا اللَّهَ ذِكْرًا كَثِيرًا
Meaning: O believers! Keep remembering Allah abundantly. (al-Ahzāb: 41)
Momins are those whom nothing distracts from the invocation of Allah; neither innerself, nor Satan or the illusions of the world. They remain attentive towards Him wholeheartedly.
Benefits of Invocation
Invocation is the best of all devotions. Allah says in Quran:
وَلَذِكْرُ اللَّهِ أَكْبَرُ
Meaning: And verily, the remembrance of Allah is the greatest. (al-‘Ankabūt, 29 : 45)
However, the invocation only affects when it is done in accordance with what has been described in Quran and Hadith.
Invocation enlivens the Inward
A man’s inward is a sign of his spiritual life and death – the inward that is acquainted with invocation of Allah is alive and the one void of it is spiritually dead. A Hadith of Holy Prophet (pbuh) goes as: “The person who invocates Allah and the one who doesn’t are like alive and dead. The one who invocates Him is alive whereas the one who doesn’t is dead.”
The remembrance of Allah is a source of peace and calm for the soul. Allah says in Quran:
أَلاَ بِذِكْرِ اللّهِ تَطْمَئِنُّ الْقُلُوبُ
Meaning: Know that it is the remembrance of Allah alone that brings calm to the inwards. (ar-Ra‘d: 28)
There is no better means of gaining inward peace than the remembrance of Allah.
Cleansing of the Inward
Man is a combination of good and bad. When a person commits a sin, it leaves a dark spot on his inward. If he remembers Allah, that dark spot from his inward gets erased due to the light of Allah’s remembrance. However, if that person doesn’t correct his course and continues to commit sin and does not turn to invocation of Allah then gradually the sins keep adding darkness to his inward. The Holy Prophet (pbuh) said:
- The burnisher for the inwards is the invocation of Allah.
Thus, remembrance of Allah cleanses the inwards.
Invocation is the essence of devotions
The invocation is the essence of all devotions. The Holy Prophet (pbuh) said to his Companions once:
“Shall I not tell you about something that is best of deeds, the purest in the sight of your Lord, which raises your rank to the highest, which is better for you than spending gold and silver, even better than jihad?’ They replied: ‘Yes, indeed,’ and he said: ‘It is the remembrance of Allah.” (At-Tirmidhi)
The rank of Invoker in Allah’s court
The one who performs invocation of Allah continuously, becomes His beloved. Allah remembers him in His sittings with angels (according to His glory). Allah says in Quran:
Meaning: So remember Me, I shall remember you. (al-Baqarah: 152)
It is great honour and glory for those whom Allah remembers.
It is clear from the aforementioned Hadith and Quranic verses that there is no deed or action better than the invocation of Allah. However, what kind of invocation actually leads to self-recognition. It is this self-recognition that is a stepping stone to gaining recognition of the Almighty. About this the Holy Prophet (pbuh) said:
مَنْ عَرَفَ نَفْسَهُ فَقَدْ عَرَفَ رَبَّهُ
Meaning: Whoever recognises himself, recognises his Lord (Allah).
One type of invocation is the verbal invocation. This includes reciting Quran, Islamic creed, sending salutations upon the Holy Prophet etc. One earns reward through this type of invocation however, it doesn’t open the way to inward enlightening that eventually blesses one with Divine vision and closeness.
Which Invocation Leads to Inward Enlightenment?
The type of invocation that enlightens the inward is the invocation that is done with breaths. In Sarwari Qadri order it is called Sultan ul Azkar (king of invocations). As the Holy Prophet (pbuh) said about Salat; “The salat is incomplete without inward presence.” At another occasion, the Holy Prophet said; “Salat is Miraj for a Momin” The salat is outwardly performed following the prescribed method. However, salat only completes when the person is blessed with Divine vision and closeness during salat. And only such salat becomes Miraj. But such a salat is only possible through Sultan ul Azkar.
The other very important condition for gaining the aforementioned spiritual attributes is that they are only possible to realise in company of the Perfect Spiritual Guide. Without such a guide, no matter how hard someone try, he can never achieve inward enlightening.
The present Shaikh of Sarwari Qadri order, Sultan ul Ashiqeen Sultan Mohammad Najib ur Rehman is spreading the beneficence of Sultan ul Azkar to the masses. Numerous male and female disciples have benefitted from his Divine company. The seekers of Allah who are looking for a perfect spiritual guide are invited to pledge allegiance to the Universal Divine Man of present era. So that they may realise the purpose of their life which is to gain Divine vision and closeness.
May Allah bless us with the ability to remain in His invocation all the time. Ameen
This is an English translation of the Urdu article ذکر Farah Naz Sarwari Qadri penned the original article and Waheed Hassan Sarwari Qadri has translated it in English. Tap below to read the original Urdu article.
What is invocation?
Invocation is the act of remembering someone or something. However, in Sufi terminology it means to remember Allah Almighty inwardly and outwardly. The purpose of our life is to gain recognition and gnosis of Allah. However, that is only possible when the soul gets enlightened and gains the esoteric senses that enable it to observe the Divine theophanies. And the way to inward enlightenment is remembrance of Allah. The more a person remembers Him, the stronger his or her soul becomes, eventually becoming capable of seeing the hidden.
What is an example of invocation?
There are many different types of invocation. For example reading Quran or performing the daily prayers or reciting Islamic creed and sending salutations upon the Holy Prophet (pbuh). They are all different forms of invocation. In Sufi circles, people adopt different ways of invocation, the best of all is the invocation that is done through breaths without moving one’s tongue. For this type of invocation, the invoker remembers Allah with every inhale and exhale. In Sarwari Qadri order of Sultan Bahoo, the present Imam of this order, Sultan ul Ashiqeen Sultan Mohammad Najib ur Rehman grants the seekers, Sultan ul Azkar Hoo. This is the king of all invocations and when done under the guidance of the perfect spiritual guide enlivens the disciple’s soul and enables it for Divine vision and closeness.