ZIKR                          &               MURAQABA



Zikr-  Zikr in Urdu and Zekr in Persian  (Arabic "pronouncement", "invocation" or "remembrance") also called Zikrullah is the remembrance of God. According to some, to engage in dhikr is to have awareness of God. Dhikr as a devotional act includes the repetition of divine names, supplications and aphorisms from hadith literature, and sections of the Quran Origins

The origins of dhikr and its practice is an issue which is disputed within the Muslim community. While some claim it has sanction in both the Qur'an and sunnah, others consider it to be bid'ah, or an unlawful innovation into religious practice.

Zikr Bead 
Known also as tasbih, these are usually beads upon a string, 99 or 100 in number, which correspond to the ninety-nine names of God and other recitations. The beads are used to keep track of the number of recitations that make up the dhikr.

Some Islamic scholars argue that using the beads are forbidden, however. Many claim that the usage of the fingers to count is better as that is what was practiced by Muhammad S.A.W. The issue is still hotly debated in some communities and there are a number of differing opinions on the matter.

Sufi view
The Sufi orders engage in ritualized dhikr ceremonies. Each order or lineage within an order has one or more forms for group dhikr, the liturgy of which may include recitation, incense, meditation, ecstasy, and trance. Dhikr in a group is not limited to these rules but most often done on Thursday and/or Sunday nights as part of the institutional practice of most orders. Dhikr is sometimes accompanied with traditional instruments such as the Daf, Ney, Dombak, Tar (lute), Setar (lute), Santur, and so on. Recently, modern instruments have also been used to perform dhikr.

A group dhikr ceremony in Arabic countries is usually called the hadrah. The hadrah marks the climax of the Sufi's gathering regardless of any teaching or formal structure. Musically this structure includes several secular Arab genres and can last for hours. (ibid, p.165)

The hadrah section consists of the ostinato-like repetition of the name of God over which the soloist performs a richly ornamented song. Often the climax is reached through cries of "Allah! Allah!" or "hu hu" ("He! He!"), with the participants bending forward while exhaling and stand straight while inhaling. The articulation of the name of God progresses as follows, with upward beams indicating inhalation.

Turkic View of the Zikr

The dhikr had been practiced in Turkistan up until the 1950's, however the practicing of the public dhikr was suppressed in the 1930's. These dances of praise took place every Friday at the local Yasawi Shrine. By the end of the 20th century, the dhirk was all but a memory to the Turks and the actual word "zikir" became confused with the performance of the Kazak baqst, which derived itself from the mimicking of Islamic termonology and forms by shamans.

Much like the other practices of the dhikr, this practice includes the verbal chanting of Quranic praises to God, the spinning trance-like state of the dancer, hyper-ventilation, and ecstacy.In Turkistan practices the dance accompanying dhikr increases in spead as the chanting increases in speed. These factors contributed to the final ban of the dhikr in Turkistan. Many Kazaks in Turkistan did not praise God in accordance with the Islamic tradition of the Five Pillars of Islam, but praticed soley the dhirk in the privacy of their own homes. The positiion of the God in the common phrase of the dhirk, "Allam zikir qilu", shows that God is the direct object of the verb "to do zikir", and that zikir means "remembering".

Modes of Zikr
Depending upon the mode of dhikr, it has been divided into 3 kinds:

Dhikr-e-Jalli — Dhikr with tongue loudly

Dhikr-e-Khaffi— Dhikr in heart (hidden dhikr - i.e not from tongue)

Sufis further divide the mode of meditative dhikr according to the Latifa in which they are done. These include:


Forms of Zikr

Different Sufi Orders have different syllabus of dhikr. Most common ones are as follows:

                    Allah (The name of God)
                    Ya-Hayyu-Ya-Qayyum (O Living & Giver of life)
                    La illaha illallah (There is no god but God)
                    Allah Hu (God Is)
                    99 Names of God[2]
                    Verses from Qur'an

Poetry of the Sufi Masters

                      Darud Sharif (Asking God to send peace & blessings upon Muhammad)
                      Istaghfar (Asking forgiveness from God)

Muraqaba is the Sufi word for meditation. Literally it means "to watch over", "to take care of", or "to keep an eye". Metaphorically, it implies that with meditation, a person watches over or takes care of his spiritual heart (or soul), and acquires knowledge about it, its surroundings, and its creator.

        Stages of Muraqaba

Following are the maqamat (stages) in which sufis have broadly categorised their journey of ascension. This categorization is an arbitrary one, and each level is generally further divided into several sub-levels. During the process of enlightenment, some stages can merge or overlap each other.

         Gnosis of self

Ghanood (Somnolence)- This is the starting level of meditation. When a person starts meditation, he enters into a somnolent or sleep state often. With the passage of time, the person goes into a state between sleep and wakefulness. So the person can remember that he saw something, but not specifically what it is.

Adraak (experience)- With continuous practice of meditation, the sleepiness from meditation decreases. When the conscious mind is not suppressed by sleep and is able to focus, the person can receive the spiritual knowledge from his subconscious mind. At this stage, the person is unable to see or hear anything, but he is able to experience or perceive it.

Warood (coming, beginning)- When adraak (experience) becomes deep, it is exhibited as sight. The stage of warood starts when mental concentration is sustained and somnolence is at its minimum. As soon as the mind is focused, the spiritual eye is activated. The conscious mind is not used to see through the spiritual eye, so concentration comes and goes. Gradually, the mind gets used to this kind of visions and the mental focus is sustained. With practice, the visions/experience becomes so deep that the person starts considering himself a part of the experience rather than considering himself an observer.

  Gnosis of the universe

        Kashaf/Ilhaam (unveiling of arcane knowledge)- Kashaf, or Ilhaam is the stage where man starts getting information that most people are unable to observe. In the beginning, this condition occurs suddenly without personal control. With practice, the mind gets so energized that it can get this knowledge by will.

           Shahood (evidence)- When a person can get any information about any event/person with his will, this condition is called Shahood. This stage is broadly categorized according to activation of the senses:

                 The person can see things anywhere in the universe
                 The person can hear things anywhere in the universe
                 The person can smell things anywhere in the universe
                 The person can touch things anywhere in the universe (hadith)

           Fatah (opening, victory)- The peak of Shahood is called Fatah. At this stage, the person doesn't need to close his eyes for meditation. Here the person is freed from both space and time. He can see/hear/taste/touch anything that are present anywhere in time and space.

Gnosis of the creator

        Fanaa (extinction, annihilation)- Through a series of stages (maqamat) and subjective experiences (ahwal), this process of absorbation develops until complete annihilation of the self (fana) takes place and the person becomes al-insanul-kamil, the "perfect man". It is the disintegration of a person's narrow self-concept, social self- and limited intellect (feeling like a drop of water aware of being part of the ocean). The stage is also called Fana fit tawheed ("extinction with the unity"), and Fana fil Haq (Extinction in the reality).

         Sair illallah (journey towards the God)- Here the person starts his spiritual journey towards the ultimate reality of the universe, i.e. God. Also called Safr-e-Urooji

          Fana fillah (Extinction of the self in God)- One of the important phases of mystical experience which is attained by the grace of God by a traveler on the mystical path is the state of fana fi Allah, "extinction of the self in God". This is the state where the person becomes extinct in the will of God. It is important to mention that this is not incarnation or union. Most Sufis, while passing through this experience, have preferred to live in the greatest depth of silence which transcends all forms and sounds, and enjoy their union with the beloved

The highest stage of fana is reached when even the consciousness of having attained fana disappears. This is what the Sufis call "the passing-away of passing-away" (fana al-fana). The mystic is now wrapped in contemplation of the divine essence. 
Since it is a state of complete annihilation of carnal self, absorption or intoxication in God, the pilgrim is unable to participate in worldly affairs, he is made to pass into another state known as Fana-al-Fana (forgetfulness of annihilation). It is a sort of oblivion of unconsciousness. Since two negatives make one positive, the pilgrim at this stage regains his individuality as he was when he started the journey. The only difference is that in the beginning he was self-conscious, but after having reposed in the Divine Being, he regains that sort of individuality which is God-consciousness or absorption in God. This state is known as Baqa-bi-Allah — living or subsisting with God. 

         Sair min allah (journey from the God)- ere the person comes back to his existence. Also called Safr-e-Nuzooli.

No one can subsist with The Supreme Creator and to believe as such is shirk. What really happens is the person's awareness of Allah increases so much so that he forgets his own self and is totally lost in Allah's magnificence.

          Baqaa billah (eternal life in union with God)- This is the state where man comes back to his existence and God appoints him to guide the humans. This is a state in which the individual is part of the world, but unconcerned about his or her rewards or position in it. This doctrine is further explained in an authentic tradition of the prophet which states that God said:

And the most beloved things with which My slave comes nearer to Me, is what I have enjoined upon him; and My slave keeps on coming closer to Me through performing Nawafil (praying or doing extra deeds besides what is obligatory) till I love him, so I become his sense of hearing with which he hears, and his sense of sight with which he sees, and his hand with which he grips, and his leg with which he walks.

There is another verse from Qur'an , that is used to explain this concept.

We (Allah) are nearer to him (man) than his jugular vein.(50:6)

When Sufis have come out of the Fana fillah state and enter Baqa billah, many of them have produced works of unsurpassed glory, especially in the fields of philosophy, literature, and music. These works have crowned the culture of the entire Islamic world and inspired Sufis and non-Sufis for generations. As the great Persian Sufi poet, Hafiz of Shiraz, who is fondly remembered as the "tongue of the unseen", said centuries ago: "He whose heart is alive with love, never dies.". Allah says about these people in the Qur'an:

"Lo, indeed, the friends of God have no fear, nor are they grieved."

             Types of muraqaba

There are many different kinds of muraqaba that are practiced in various Sufi schools in different parts of the world. Following is a list of the ones commonly practiced.

Beginner level muraqabas

         Muraqaba of light
         These are usually used for beginners, or for cure of various diseases.

         Noor (Invisible Light)
         Haatif-e-Ghabi (Unhearable sound of Cosmos)
         Names of God -- For getting acquaintance with attributes of God
         Allah (Proper name of God) -- Final level of Muraqaba of names of God

Middle level muraqabas

          Moat (Death) -- For getting acquaintance with life after Death
          Qalb (Heart) -- For getting acquaintance with Spiritual Heart
          Wahdat (Unity) -- For getting acquaintance with the reason behind cosmic unity i.e. God's will
          La (Nothingness) -- For getting acquaintance with material lessness, or non-material universe
          Fana -- Annihilation of Self, getting acquaintance with the alpha and omega of universe.


          High level muraqabas

        Tasawwur-e-Sheikh (Focussing mind on master) -- To facilitate the transfer of spiritual knowledge from master to student.

         Tasawwur-e-Rasool (Focussing mind on prophet) -- To facilitate the transfer of Faiz (arcane spiritual knowledge) from prophet to student. For Muslims, this focussing of mind is done on Muhammad. For people following other religions, their particular holy figures are used to focus mind upon.

          Tasawwur-e-zat-e-Ilaahi (Focussing Mind on God) -- With the help of this Muraqaba, the student experiences the Tajalli-e-Zaat of God.