"Therefore, remember Me; I will remember you. Give thanks to Me and reject Me not."
(Suratul Baqarah 2:152)
Muhammad (sallallahu alaiyhi wa sallam) has warned of us a day that will come, a day in which there will be no soul left on earth to hymn the name of Allah and it is only by the name of Allah that the system of this world is running. This most regretful day will come nearing the timing of the end of the world. Rasoolullah (sallallahu alaiyhi wa sallam) said, "The world and all its contents are cursed and devoid of Allah's mercy, except for three things: (1) the dhikr, or remembrance, of Allah (and all other worships near it), (2) the religious (and truthful) alim, and (3) the student, who is a seeker of religious knowledge.
If we look at the world we live in today, how many people, in just our families, will we find, who are engaged in the dhikr, remembrance and glorification, of Allah? Most likely, we wouldn't find many. This, in most cases, it is a well-known fact. We see it with our own eyes and in our own relatives, if not within our ownselves. All we care about nowadays is the world: money, careers, have a "name," big houses, expensive cars--all the worldly materialistic things. This is a major deceit of Shaytaan to the believers and the believers easily fall into Satan's trap, except those who are true to Allah. These are they who are devoted to Allah's worship, who engage in His remembrance, 'sitting, standing, and reclining,' as Allah says in Al-Qur'an (3:191).
The dhikr of Allah carries immense reward and vast and unlimited blessings, which we often neglect. The peace of mind one attains with the remembrance of Allah is the sweetest experience felt in the heart. The sacred name of Allah is so full of blessings that it, alone, has the power to save one from the punishment of the grave. Khawaja Muhammad Islam narrates a story in his book, The Spectacle of Death--Glimpses of Life Beyond the Grave, an incident of a dying man. Hadhrat Abu Qatada (radiyallahu anhu) went to visit his ill nephew, Majan, who was on the verge of death. Two "black" angels appeared with hammers in their hands. One of the angels told the other to go to the patient to make certain if he had done any good deed. So, the angel came down and smelt Majan's head, belly, and feet and reported to his companion that he had smelt his head and found it empty of the knowledge of the Holy Qur'an; he had smelt his belly, but had found no sign of him keeping fasts; and he had smelt his feet and found no evidence of his standing in worship for even a single night. Therefore, the other angel came to Majan and did the same and found nothing until he squeezed the tip of his tongue and reported that he had found a Takbir (i.e. Allahu Akbar) that Majan had very sincerely uttered. And as soon as the angel wrung his tongue, the smell of musk spread in all directions and, just then, the soul was extracted. So, the dhikr of Allah has many virtues as described in the verses of the Holy Qur'an and the collections of ahaadith.
The dhikr of Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala is the most admirable and virtuous and rewardful act in the sight of Allah, not to mention the easiest deed that one could perform. Our Beloved Prophet (sallallahu alaiyhi wa sallam) said, "Those who are admitted in to Paradise will not repent over anything of this world, except the time spend without dhikr in their lives." Dhikr has so many merits that it would be difficult to list all without publishing a book about this topic.
Rasoolullah (sallallahu alaiyhi wa sallam) once asked his companions, "Shall I tell you something that is the best of all deeds, constitutes the best act of piety in the eyes of your Lord, will elevate your status in the Hereafter, and carries more virtue than the spending of gold and silver in the service of Allah or taking part in jihad or slaying or being slain in the path of Allah?" The companions (radiyallahu anhum) begged to know, whereupon the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alaiyhi wa sallam) replied, "It is the dhikr of Allah, the Almighty." In another hadith, the Prophet (sallallahu alaiyhi wa sallam) said, "Keep your tongues moist with the dhikr of Allah," meaning to keep busy in the dhikr of Allah so that way, it will prevent one from committing the major sins of telling lies, backbiting, talking unnecessarily, etc. Muhammad (sallallahu alaiyhi wa sallam) also said, "Do dhikr so much that people will think you are a maniac."
Ibn Abbas (radiyallahu anhu) narrated: "Paradise has eight gates, one of which is exclusively reserved for those engaged in dhikr." Dhikr is the source of one's spiritual elevation, whether done in bed at night or in the market, whether in good health or in sickness, or even when one is making most of the pleasures of life. Nothing, but dhikr, can take a man to such spiritual heights, the heights of the angels, whereby one's heart is so illuminated with the light of dhikr that even asleep, he is more wakeful than the one who is neglectful of Allah's remembrance, who is awake all through the night. The Prophet (sallallahu alaiyhi wa sallam) said, "The contrast between a person who glorifies Allah and one who does not remember Him is like that between the living and the dead."
There is a sort of hardness in the human heart and this hardness can only be softened by the remembrance of Allah, the Exalted. One whose heart is void of Allah's remembrance is as if he is dead. His heart becomes harder than the rocks, for, as Allah says in the Qur'an, even rocks fall down to the fear or Allah (2:74). Allah says:
"Then woe unto those whose hearts are hardened against the remembrance of Allah. Such are in plain error." (Suratuz-Zumar 39:22)
Dhikr is the remedy of all the ills of the heart. There is a corner in the heart of man, which cannot be filled with anything, but dhikr. When dhikr controls the heart, not only does it fill up this empty space, it leads one to contentment, which all the wealth in the world would fail to produce. On the other hand, the indolent comes to disgrace in the sight of Allah through neglect of Allah's remembrance, despite the fact that he may contain much wealth and riches, family and friends, strength and power.
Dhikr is also the main source of nourishment for the ruh, the soul. Allah says:
"And be not you as those who forgot Allah and therefore He caused them to forget their own souls. Such are the losers." (Suratul Hashr 59:19)
Dhikr is the key to nourishing and strengthening the soul and a nourished and healthy ruh is the key to reaching the heights of the angels, who are ever engaged in Allah's dhikr.
The Prophet (sallallahu alaiyhi wa sallam) said, "Everything has a polish, which takes away rust. The polish of the heart is dhikr." Therefore, one who has forgotten Allah, the Creator of all that is in the heavens and the earth, has a heart whose sins surround it and veil it from the nur of Allah entering.
Dhikr is so virtuous that it can save one from the punishment of the grave. In a hadith, Rasoolullah (sallallahu alaiyhi wa sallam) stated, "No other action of a person can surpass dhikr of Allah in saving him from the punishment of the grave." Dhikr is so easy to perform and for his most effortless deed, we receive such immense reward. We, in turn, should not be neglectful of it because it will help us in many many ways. If we remember Allah in our happy times, He will remember us in our afflictions. Dhikr is the key to the nearness of Allah, the Merciful, the Wise, the Mighty. The greater the amount and quality of dhikr, the greater the nearness to the Creator. And the greater the neglectfulness of dhikr, the greater the distance from Him.
Abu Hurairah (radiyallah anhu) narrated that the Prophet (sallallahu alaiyhi wa sallam) said that Allah said, "I treat My slave according to his expectations from Me and I am with him when he remembers Me. If he remembers Me in his heart, I remember him in My heart. If he remembers Me in a gathering, I remember him in a better gathering (i.e. the gathering of the angels). If he comes closer to Me by one span, I go towards him a cubit's length. If he comes towards me a cubit's length, I go towards him an arm's length, and if he walks towards Me, I run towards him." If one increases his devotion to Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala, the increase in Allah's mercy and kindness is far greater, as mentioned in his hadith by "getting near" and "running." If one wants to be successful in this world, in the akhirah, and in the eyes of Allah, he should increase his devotion to Him.
On the other hand, one who is devoid of dhikr and remembrance of Allah, becomes dry and stiff and as lifeless as a dried up leaf. If you step on it, it will crumble into pieces, but if you moisten it, it will revive.
Dhikr is the one act, which is not performed at prescribed times, as are salah, zakah, fasting, and hajj. This is one of the reasons why it is one of the most virtuous and significant acts of worship in the sight of Allah. Its rewards carry much weight. It keeps Shaytaan away and weakens his strength. Abu Sa'eed Khazaz (rahmatullahi alaiyh) stated that once, he saw in a dream that Shaytaan attacked him and he also fought back by beating him with a stick, but Shaytaan did not care for this beating. Then he heard a heavenly voice saying that the devil is not frightened by the beating. He is only frightened by the spiritual light in one's heart.
This most favorable act is the cause of Allah's pleasure, the source of happiness and joy felt in the heart, the reason for success in the Hereafter. Some brothers, who go in jamaat to different locations of the world, say that even when they are the most tired, hungry, and exhausted, they are still the happiest in the world because they know they've got Allah. If only we all could feel this! It relieves the mind of anxieties and worries and brightens the face and heart with nur and peace. It induces love for Allah, which is the spirit of Islam, the pivot of deen, the source of success and salvation in the akhirah. It helps one realize the Greatness and Grandeur of Allah, the All-Knowing, and strengthens the consciousness of his Presence and Existence. It is the key to Paradise. Rasoolullah (sallallahu alaiyhi wa sallam) said, "When you pass the Gardens of Paradise, graze in your heart's content." Someone asked, "O Prophet of Allah! What is meant by Gardens of Paradise?" He replied, "Gatherings for performing dhikr." If a person is fortunate enough to get access to such gatherings, he should not hesitate to join and should take full advantage of this, as these are the Gardens of Paradise on Earth, as the Prophet (sallallahu alaiyhi wa sallam) explained. In these gatherings, the angels of the heavens descend to also join the gathering of the dhikr of their Creator, the All-Embracing.
Muhammad (sallallahu alaiyhi wa sallam) said, "Jibreel (alaiyhis-salam) laid so much emphasis on doing dhikr that I felt, without dhikr, nothing can benefit whatsoever." Dhikr is an act most loved by Allah. It is what strengthens a person's iman, belief, and faith. The Prophet (sallallahu alaiyhi wa sallam) advised for us to keep renewing our faith by reciting 'La ilalah illallah,' and this kalimah is the most rewardful and most heavy on the scales of justice on the Day of Resurrection. It is most blessed and the one who performs dhikr and remembers Allah, the angels pray for his forgiveness. When a person does dhikr often, the angels become familiar with his voice and pray on his behalf when he is in afflictions, but if a person does not engage in Allah's glorification, the angels are unfamiliar with his voice, and therefore, do not pray on his behalf. Dhikr is a very auspicious act, which is tremendously stressed in many ahaadith and verses of the Qur'an, some of which have been mentioned in this reading.
May Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala include us among the most fortunate servants who engage in His dhikr and who are included in the 'Gardens of Paradise' on Earth. May He give us towfique to practice such a favorable, rewardful, and easy act habitually and abundantly throughout our lives. May Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala bless us with Jannatul Firdaus through this most virtuous and meritful act. And may we be included among those of whom He has favored, not those who earn His anger, nor those who go astray. And may we be included among the successful in attaining the pleasure of our Lord. Ameen. Alhumdulillahi Rabbil Alameen.