For the Quranic software, see Zekr (software).

Dhikr (also Zikr, Zekr, and variants; (Arabic: ذِکْر ḏikr; plural أذكار aḏkār, meaning "remembrance") is the name of devotional acts in Islam in which short phrases or prayers are repeatedly recited silently within the mind or aloud. Rarely, it is counted on a string of beads (سلسلة صلوات) or a set of prayer beads (Misbaha مِسْبَحَة), comparable to the rosary of Catholic tradition. A person who recites the rosary is called a ḏākir (ذاكر). Most Sufis follow this practice of Dhikr although the word being recited varies. Tasbih (تسبيح) is a form of dhikr that involves the repetitive utterances of short sentences glorifying God. The content of the prayers includes the names of God, or a duʿāʾ (prayer of supplication) taken from the hadith or the Quran.

Allah as having been written on the disciple's heart according to Sarwari Qadri Order


There are several verses in the Quran that emphasize the importance of remembering the will of God by saying phrases such as "God willing," "God knows best," and "If it is your will.' This is the basis for dhikr. Sura 18 (Al-Kahf), ayah 24 states a person who forgets to say, "God Willing," should immediately remember God by saying, "May my Lord guide me to do better next time."[1] Other verses include sura 33 (Al-Ahzab), ayah 41, "O ye who believe! Celebrate the praises of Allah, and do this often,"[2] and sura 13 (Ar-Ra'd), ayah 28, "They are the ones whose hearts rejoice in remembering God. Absolutely, by remembering God, the hearts rejoice."[3] Muhammad said, 'The best [dhikr] is La ilaha illa’llah ("there is no God but God"), and the best supplicatory prayer is Al-hamdu li’llah ("praise be to God").[4]

Muslims believe dhikr is one of the best ways to enter in the higher level of Heaven and to glorify the Oneness of Allah.[5]

To Sufis, dhikr is seen as a way to gain spiritual enlightenment and achieve union (visal) or annihilation (fana) in God. All Muslim sects endorse individual rosaries as a method of meditation, the goal of which is to obtain a feeling of peace, separation from worldly values (dunya), and, in general, developing Iman.

Common phrases

There are several phrases that are usually read when remembering Allah. Here are a few:

Some of these can be said together.e.g-

Quran as Dhikr

Reciting the Quran sincerely is also considered a kind of Dhikr.

Ahadith mentioning virtues of Dhikr

See also Dua

Muhammad would often tell his companions, "Shall I tell you about the best of deeds, the most pure in the Sight of your Lord, about the one that is of the highest order and is far better for you than spending gold and silver, even better for you than meeting your enemies in the battlefield where you strike at their necks and they at yours?" The companions replied, "Yes, O Messenger of Allah!" said, "Remembrance of Allah (Sunan al-Tirmidhi).

Abu Hurairah narrated that Muhammad said, "People will not sit in an assembly in which they remember Allah without the angels surrounding them, mercy covering them, and Allah Mentioning them among those who are with Him" (Sahih Muslim).

Mu’adh ibn Jabal said, “There is nothing that is a greater cause of salvation from the punishment of Allah than the remembrance of Allah" (Sunan At-Tirmidhi, Book of Supplications, 3377, Hasan).

Hadhrat Mu'az narrated that Muhammed said, "The Inhabitants of Paradise will not be grief stricken or sorrowful about anything they did in the life of the world except for the time they spent without being in the remembrance of Allah" (Tabaraani) .

It is mentioned in hadith that where people are oblivious to dhikir, remembrance of Allah is like being steadfast in jihad when others are running away (Targhib, p. 193, vol. 3 ref. Bazar and Tibrani).

Verses of the Quran recommending dhikr

1. Sura Al Ra'd, ayah 28:[3]
الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَتَطْمَئِنُّ قُلُوبُهُم بِذِكْرِ اللَّهِ ۗ أَلَا بِذِكْرِ اللَّهِ تَطْمَئِنُّ الْقُلُوب
Transliteration: Alladhīna amanū watatmainnu qulūbuhum bidhikri Allāhi ala bidhikri Allahi tatmainnu alqulūbu
Translation: Those who believe, and whose hearts find reassurance in the remembrance of God, will undoubtedly have their hearts assured by the remembrance of God.
2.Sura 3 (Al-i-Imran), ayah 191:[6]
الَّذِينَ يَذْكُرُونَ اللّهَ قِيَامًا وَقُعُودًا وَعَلَىَ جُنُوبِهِمْ وَيَتَفَكَّرُونَ فِي خَلْقِ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالأَرْضِ رَبَّنَا مَا خَلَقْتَ هَذا بَاطِلاً سُبْحَانَكَ فَقِنَا عَذَابَ النَّارِ
Transliteration: Allatheena yathkuroona Allaha qiyaman waquAAoodan waAAala junoobihim wayatafakkaroona fee khalqi alssamawati waalardi rabbana ma khalaqta hadhā bātilān subhānaka faqinā 'adhāba alnnāri.
Translation: Those who remember God while standing, sitting, and prostrating, and who contemplate the creation in the heavens and the earth, and say: "Our Lord! You have not created this in vain! Glory to You! Give us salvation from the torment of the fire!
3. Sura 33 (Al-Ahzab), ayah 35:[7]
إِنَّ الْمُسْلِمِينَ وَالْمُسْلِمَاتِ وَالْمُؤْمِنِينَ وَالْمُؤْمِنَاتِ وَالْقَانِتِينَ وَالْقَانِتَاتِ وَالصَّادِقِينَ وَالصَّادِقَاتِ وَالصَّابِرِينَ وَالصَّابِرَاتِ وَالْخَاشِعِينَ وَالْخَاشِعَاتِ وَالْمُتَصَدِّقِينَ وَالْمُتَصَدِّقَاتِ وَالصَّائِمِينَ وَالصَّائِمَاتِ وَالْحَافِظِينَ فُرُوجَهُمْ وَالْحَافِظَاتِ وَالذَّاكِرِينَ اللَّهَ كَثِيرًا وَالذَّاكِرَاتِ أَعَدَّ اللَّهُ لَهُم مَّغْفِرَةً وَأَجْرًا عَظِيمًا
Transliteration: Inna almuslimeen waalmuslimati waalmumineena waalmuminati waalqaniteena waalqanitati waalssadiqeena waalssadiqati waalssabireena waalssabirati waalkhashiAAeena waalkhashiAAati waalmutasaddiqeena waalmutasaddiqati waalssaimeena waalssaimati waalhafitheena furoojahum waalhafithati waalththakireena Allaha katheeran waalththakirati aAAadda Allahu lahum maghfiratan waajran AAatheeman
Translation: For Muslim men and Muslim women, and believing men and believing women, and obedient men and obedient women, and truthful men and truthful women, and patient men and patient women, and men with humility and women with humility, and for men who give charity and women who give charity, and men who fast and women who fast, and chaste men and chaste women, and for men who remember God much and women who remember God much,- for them, God has prepared forgiveness and great reward.
4. Sura 87 (Al-Ala), ayat 14-15:[8]
قَدْ أَفْلَحَ مَن تَزَكَّى وَذَكَرَ اسْمَ رَبِّهِ فَصَلَّى
Transliteration: Qad aflaha man tazakka, Wathakara isma rabbihi fasalla
Translation: Whoever purifies himself and remembers the name of his Lord, and performs prayer, has achieved success.
5. Sura 63 (Al-Munafiqun), ayah 9:[9]
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا لَا تُلْهِكُمْ أَمْوَالُكُمْ وَلَا أَوْلَادُكُمْ عَن ذِكْرِ اللَّهِ وَمَن يَفْعَلْ ذَلِكَ فَأُوْلَئِكَ هُمُ الْخَاسِرُونَ
Transliteration: Ya ayyuha allatheena amanoo la tulhikum amwalukum wala awladukum AAan dhikri Allahi waman yafAAal thalika faolaika humu alkhasiroona
Translation: O you who believe! Do not allow your riches or your children to divert you from the remembrance of God. If anyone does so, the loss is his own.
6. Sura 18(Al-Kahaf), ayah 28

وَاصْبِرْ نَفْسَكَ مَعَ الَّذِينَ يَدْعُونَ رَبَّهُم بِالْغَدَاةِ وَالْعَشِيِّ يُرِيدُونَ وَجْهَهُ ۖ وَلَا تَعْدُ عَيْنَاكَ عَنْهُمْ تُرِيدُ زِينَةَ الْحَيَاةِ الدُّنْيَا ۖ وَلَا تُطِعْ مَنْ أَغْفَلْنَا قَلْبَهُ عَن ذِكْرِنَا وَاتَّبَعَ هَوَاهُ وَكَانَ أَمْرُهُ فُرُطًا

Translation: Keep yourself patiently with those who call upon their Lord in the morning and the evening, seeking His countenance. And do not let your eyes pass beyond them, desiring adornments of the worldly life, and do not obey one whose heart We have made heedless of Our remembrance and who follows his desire and whose affair is always neglected.
7. Surah 15(Al-Hijr), Ayah 9:[10]

إِنَّا نَحْنُ نَزَّلْنَا الذِّكْرَ وَإِنَّا لَهُ لَحَافِظُونَ

Arabic Translation: "Verily, It is We who sent down the remembrance, and surely, We will guard it."

Note: In the Quran, God speaks in the first-person plural, as was common in older forms English and Arabic for nobility. In this ayah, the word "remembrance" refers to the Quran, which is often memorized and repeated as a rosary or chant.

Sufi view

See also: Sema

Followers of Sufism often engage in ritualized dhikr ceremonies, the details of which sometimes vary between Sufi orders or tariqah.[11] Each order, or lineage within an order, has one or more forms for group dhikr, the liturgy of which may include recitation, singing, music, dance, costumes, incense, muraqaba (meditation), ecstasy, and trance.[12] Though the extent, usage and acceptability of many of these elements vary from order to order - with many condemning the usage of instruments (considered unlawful by most scholars)[13] and intentional loss of control. In addition, costumes are quite uncommon and is almost exclusively unique to the Mevlavi order in Turkey - which is an official cultural "heritage" of the secular Turkish state. In Sufism, group dhikr does not necessarily entail all of these forms.

The most common forms of Sufi group dhikr consist in the recital of particular litanies (e.g. Hizb al-Bahr of the Shadhilis), a composition of Quranic phrases and Prophetic supplications (e.g. Wird al-Latif of the Ba `Alawis), or a liturgical repetition of various formula and prayers (e.g. al-Wadhifa of the Tijanis [14]). All of these forms are referred to as a "hizb" (pl. "ahzab") or a "wird" (pl. "awrad"). This terminological usage is important as some critics often mistakenly believe that the word hizb only refers to a portion of the Quran.[15] In addition, many recite extended prayers upon Muhammad (known as durood) of which the Dala'il al-Khayrat is perhaps the most popular. Though common to almost all Sufi orders, some (such as the Naqsbandis) prefer to perform their dhikr silently - even in group settings.[16] In addition, most gatherings are held on Thursday or Sunday nights as part of the institutional practices of the tariqah (since Thursday is the night marks the entrance of the Muslim "holy" day of Friday and Sundays are a convenient congregational time in most contemporary societies) - though people who don't live near their official zawiya gather whenever is convenient for the most amount of people.

Another type of group dhikr ceremony that is most commonly performed in Arabic countries is called the haḍra (lit. presence).[17] The haḍra is a communal gathering for dhikr and its associated liturgical rituals, prayers, and song recitals, performing both in private or public. Though the haḍra is popular (in part because of the controversy surrounding it), it is mostly practiced in North Africa, the Middle-East and Turkey. In Turkey this ceremony is called "Zikr-i Kiyam" (Standing dhikr) and "imara" in Algeria and Morocco. In places like Syria where Sufis are a visible part of the fabric and psyche of society, each order typically has their private gathering on one day and will participate in a public haḍra at a central location to which both the affiliated and unaffiliated alike are invited as an expression of unity. Similar public ceremonies occur in Turkey, Egypt, Algeria and Morocco.

Dhikr hadrah articulation, upward beams indicating inhalation and downward beams indicating exhalation [18]

For those who perform it, the haḍra marks the climax of the Sufi's gathering regardless of any teaching or formal structure - it often follows a formal teaching session as a way of internalizing the lessons. Musically, the structure of the haḍra includes several secular Arab genres (each of which expresses a different emotion) and can last for hours.[18] It is directed by the sheikh of the tariqa or one of his representatives; monitoring the intensity, depth and duration of the phases of the haḍra, the sheikh aims to draw the circle into deep awareness of God and away from the participants own individuatedness. The dhikr ceremonies may have a ritually determined length or may last as long as the Sheikh deems his murids require. The haḍra section consists of the ostinato-like repetition of the name of God over which the soloist performs a richly ornamented song. In many haḍras, this repetition proceeds from the chest and has the effect of a percussion instrument, with the participants bending forward while exhaling and stand straight while inhaling so that both the movement and sound contribute to the overall rhythm. The climax is usually reached through cries of "Allah! Allah!" or "hu hu" (which is either the pronoun "he" or the last vowel on the word "Allah" depending on the method) while the participants are moving up and down. Universally, the haḍra is almost always followed by Quranic recital in the tarteel style - which according to al-Junayd al-Baghdadi, was a prophetic instruction received through a dream.

More common than the haḍra is the sama` (lit. audition), a type of group ceremony that consist mostly of the audition of spiritual poetry and Quranic recitation in an emotionally charged manner; and thus is not dhikr is the technical sense the word implies. However, the same debate over certain matters of decorum apply as exists with the haḍra. Even though group dhikr is popular and makes up the spiritual life of most Sufi adherents, other more private forms of dhikr are performed more routinely - usually consisting of the order's wird (daily litany) - which adherents usually recite privately, even if gathered together. So although group dhikr is seen as a hallmark of Sufism, the Sufis themselves practice the same private forms of worship that other Muslims practice, though usually more frequently and methodically; group dhikr is a less frequent occurrence and is not the end-all-and-be-all of Sufism, as some Sufi orders do not even perform it.

Sufi meaning

Dhikr takes on a wide range and various layers of meaning.[19] In some Sufi orders it is instituted as a ceremonial activity. In tasawwuf (Islamic mysticism or Sufism) dhikr is most likely the most frequent form of prayer. Among the orders of Muslims that practice dhikr, there are some who advocate silent, individual prayer, while others join together in an outward, group expression of their love for God.[20] There are also a number of hadiths that give emphasis to remembrance of God.[21]

Dhikr in Sufism

Dhikr is given great importance by some Sufi writers, among them is Najm-al-Din Razi who wrote about dhikr in the context of what it combats. In contrast to the virtues of remembrance, Razi uses the perils of forgetfulness to show the importance of dhikr. The soul and the world are veils that make people forget God.[22] The Naqshbandi Haqqani Sufi Order of America says this about dhikr:

Dhikr is the means by which Stations yield their fruit, until the seeker reaches the Divine Presence. On the journey to the Divine Presence the seed of remembrance is planted in the heart and nourished with the water of praise and the food of glorification, until the tree of dhikr becomes deeply rooted and bears its fruit. It is the power of all journeying and the foundation of all success. It is the reviver from the sleep of heedlessness, the bridge to the One remembered.


Sufi Methods

There are some Sufi orders, such as the Shadhili, that perform a ritualized form of dhikr in groups termed "haḍra" (lit. presence) - the details of which are discussed below. Another method of dhikr, but which is most commonly associated with Sufism, is the repetition of the Arabic name "Allah Hu". Sufi orders have similar practices - some with similar visualizations and others choosing to focus only on the attachment of their heart to the One they are invoking. Though this is associated almost exclusively with Sufism in modern times, many of the Quranic exegesis of the past approved of the practice (e.e. Fakhr al-Din al-Razi in his Mafatih al-Ghayb), which confirms that it has a basis in orthodoxy.

Prayer beads

Known also as Tasbih, these are usually Misbaha (prayer beads) upon a string, 99 or 100 in number, which correspond to the names of God in Islam and other recitations. The beads are used to keep track of the number of recitations that make up the dhikr.

When the dhikr involves the repetition of particular phrases a specific number of times, the beads are used to keep track so that the person performing dhikr can turn all of their focus on what is actually being said - as it can become difficult to concentrate simultaneously on the number and phrasing when one is doing so a substantial number of times.

Some Islamic scholars argue that using the beads are forbidden, insisting that the usage of the fingers to count as what was practiced by Muhammad precludes the use of anything else.[24] The vast majority of scholars, however, do not believe it is an either/or proposition[25] and cite the documented usage of stones and pebbles by the Muhammad's Companions as evidence for their inherent lawfulness.[26]

In the United States, Muslim inmates are allowed to utilize prayer beads for therapeutic effects.[27] In Alameen v. Coughlin, 892 F. Supp. 440 (E.D.N.Y 1995), Imam Hamzah S. Alameen, a/k/a Gilbert Henry, and Robert Golden brought suit against Thomas A. Coughlin III, etc., et alia (Head of the Department of Corrections) in the State of New York pursuant to 28 USC @ 1983. The plaintiffs argued that prisoners have a First Amendment Constitutional right to pursue Islamic healing therapy called KASM (قاسَمَهُ | qaasama | taking an oath ) which uses prayer beads. The rosary of oaths, which Alameen developed, was used to successfully rehabilitate inmates suffering from co-occurring mental health challenges and substance abuse issues during the 1990s. All people, including Muslims and Catholics, were allowed to use prayer beads inside prisons, lest their freedom of religion be violated when the prison administration forbade their possession as contraband in the penal system. The practice of carrying prayer beads became controversial when gang-members began carrying specific colors of prayer beads to identify themselves.

See also


  1. Quran 18:24
  2. Quran 33:41
  3. 1 2 Quran 13:28
  4. Razi, Najm al-Din. The Path of God’s Bondsman: From Origin to Return. Trans. Hamid Algar. North Haledon, New Jersey: Islamic Publications International, 1980. Print.
  5. "Dhikr, remembrance of God". sunnah.org. Retrieved 2015-09-28.
  6. Quran 3:191
  7. Quran 33:35
  8. Quran 87:14–15
  9. Quran 63:9
  10. {{cite Quran |15|9|s=ns}}
  11. Friedlander, p. 20.
  12. Touma, p.162.
  13. In his "The Whirling Dervishes and Orthodox Islam" the Nuh Ha Mim Keller (an indisputed shaykh of the Hashimi-Shadhili order) criticizes the common usage of music by the contemporary Turkish branch of the Mevlavi order in particular - arguing that the Sufis are not exempt from following Islamic law. See The Whirling Dervishes and Orthodox Islam
  14. "The Litany of Tijani Prayers". Retrieved 15 September 2011.
  15. For instance, Ahmad al-Tijani is often unfairly criticized for saying that the Salat al-Fatih which he instructed his students to recite is "more valuable than a hizb". This "hizb" that he was referring to was not a hizb of the Quran, but a hizb of the Dala'il al-Khayrat which was so commonly recited in Tijani's time that many people recited the entire composition several times a day.
  16. Ahmad, Zulfaqir. Wisdom for the Seeker (PDF). Concerning the Dhikr of the Naqsbandi-Mujaddid Tariqa.
  17. In earlier orders, the "presence" referred to was that of God, but since the 18th century it has been considered to be the spiritual presence of Muhammad (John L. Esposito, "Hadrah." The Oxford Dictionary of Islam. Oxford Islamic Studies Online. Web. 3 Apr. 2010.) The shifting focus, however, is not shared by all and is a result of the Sufi reforms which sought to mitigate the heretical belief of theopanism committed by some Sufi claimants through a greater focus on the spirit and active life of Muhammad instead of a metaphorical union with God.(Ira Lapidus, A History of Islamic Societies, p. 210)
  18. 1 2 Touma, p.165.
  19. Abdullah Jawadi Amuli, Dhikr and the Wisdom Behind It.
  20. Gardet, L. Encyclopaedia of Islam, Second Edition. Brill, 2010. Web. 4 Apr. 2010.
  21. Naqshbandi Sufi Way. Naqshbandi-Haqqani Sufi Order of America, 2010. Web. April 3, 2010.
  22. Naqshbandi Sufi Way. Naqshbandi-Haqqani Sufi Order of America, 2010. Web. 3 Apr. 2010.
  23. Geels, Antoon. "A Note on the Psychology of dhikr: The Halveti-Jerrahi Order of Dervishes in Istanbul." the International Journal for the Psychology of Religion, 6.4, 229-251 (1996). ATLA. Web. 3 Apr. 2010.
  24. Worship and Jurisprudence: "At-Tasbih with Beads (Al-Misbahah)", FatwaIslam.Com.
  25. "Are prayer beads an innovation?".
  26. Shareef, Shukheel. "Prayer Beads: Muslim Unity Hanging by a Thread" (PDF). Retrieved 15 September 2011.
  27. United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York


Further reading

External links

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