The sacred spiritual practice of dhikr, also often spelled as zikr, is a unique energetic exercise originating in Islamic Spirituality, also known as Sufism, which simply means “purification of the self,” and that which constitutes the essence of religion.
The goal of Islamic Spirituality is the transcendence of the ego-self, the one veil between the human being and his or her Eternal Lord, Allah Almighty. Towards that end, there is no practice more effective and beneficial than dhikr, which can literally be translated as “remembrance.”
“Verily, in the remembrance of Allah do hearts find tranquility.”
— Surah ar-Ra’d (Holy Quran, 13:28)
Dhikr: Presence and Remembrance
As human beings, we are continually being pulled by the gravity of the ego towards dunya, the world of form, matter and density, and so easily forget the spiritual essence of Reality and Truth, al-Haqq.
In fact, the very word used for human being in Arabic, insan, originates from the root word meaning “to forget.” Prior to manifesting in the world of form, the souls of all beings subsisted in the Divine Presence, yet upon incarnation, a loss of consciousness took place in which we began to identify with a temporal form-based sense of self, an identity limited to the mind-body, and so “forgot” who we truly are, our true selves.
“They who know themselves are as they who know their Lord.”
— Prophet Muhammad (saws)
Hence, the spiritual exercise of dhikr, which literally means “remembrance,” becomes an essential practice towards awakening to true consciousness and real self-knowledge, self-awareness that transcends the finite and temporal world, and is the bridge to eternity.
Through dhikr, you transcend the self and the ego-mind, and connect with the Eternal, beyond time and space. This is also known as Islamic Meditation, its goal being a state of pure presence, awareness and consciousness. Free from the limitations of the mind, the heart thus awakens and a greater consciousness begins to operate in the individual.
Through the divine power of dhikr, we shift from mind-based consciousness to heart-based consciousness, from ego to soul, and thus from conflict and confusion to peace and presence.
The Divine Power of Dhikr: In-Dependence
Dunya, the world which arises as a result of collective human consciousness, which is still largely based in the primitive and fearful ego-self, naturally results in near perpetual psychological stress, anxiety, worry and fear.
Forgetting the grace and power of Allah Almighty that is ever-present, accessible and real, we as a result of life in dunya become dependent on the external world for peace, comfort and security. We thus tend to seek love, acceptance and validation outside, yet in reality these are intrinsic, unconditionally given by God and to be experienced by turning inward.
Through the divine power of dhikr, which is an exercise in turning inward, you cultivate in-dependence, and so reclaim your divine and natural state of peace, security and confidence.
Connected to the Divine Presence, thus moving towards being an ever-present companion of the Almighty, you cultivate natural confidence which then arises and defines your consciousness — for fear requires time, and being present with the Eternal is the transcendence of time.
“Behold! Verily, upon the Friends of God there is no fear, nor do they grieve, they who believe and who are God-Conscious and Present.”
— Surah Yunus (Holy Quran, 10:62-63)
The Divine Power of Dhikr: Heart-Consciousness
Through the sacred practice of dhikr, the individual moves into presence, and so from mind to heart-based consciousness. This is why Sufism, or Islamic Spirituality, is often referred to as the “Way of the Heart,” for its goal is to catalyze a shift in consciousness from the mind to the soul.
“Everything has a polish, and the polish of hearts is dhikr of Allah.”
— Prophet Muhammad (saws)
The divine power of dhikr is such that it shifts attention, consciousness and focus from the outer world of form to the inner world of essence and spirit, from the mind and body to the heart, and thus to awakening and enlightenment, gnosis and God-consciousness.
Through the divine power of dhikr, our hearts and souls, our spirits, become cleansed of the fear, negativity and drama of the world, and awaken to the divine peace and beauty of the Divine Presence.
And as identity and consciousness shift from form to essence, from matter to spirit, you become subtle in nature, translucent in being, and a conduit for divine light and grace to then enter the world through your heart.
As we shift from materialism towards spirituality, as your focus and connection increasingly align with the Divine Presence, you naturally attract goodness and grace, divine support and strength, while at the same time accelerating the evolution of your consciousness, transcending fear and death, and awakening to true and eternal life, excellence in the way of the prophets, messengers and saints.
How to Practice Dhikr
The following suggestions will help you establish a simple daily dhikr practice, which when done consistently, will create a spiritual channel and connection between you and the Divine Presence through which you will receive abundance, grace and goodness.
Be in a state of ritual purity to sanctify your practice. This simply means first washing the dust of dunya by cleansing your hands, face and feet with pure water.
Consciously make the intention that you will be sitting and connecting with the Divine Presence of the Eternal, that you are seeking divine light and love, and that you are turning inwards towards truth and reality, away from the veil of form and dunya.
Seek stillness within, and allow the mind to enter a state of pure submission and surrender, a state of Islam.
Begin breathing gently and reciting dhikr, keeping it simple, enjoyable and peaceful. Be with your breath and your body. Shift from thinking to feeling, and thus from mind to heart.
Stay with your breath and the inner energy field of your body. Thus enter into presence.
As an introductory practice, I recommend using the following phrases for your dhikr practice, each to be recited 100 times or more. Prayer beads can be extremely useful in keeping a consistent daily practice.
“I seek God’s forgiveness.”
2. Auzhubillahi Minash Shaytani Rajeem.
“I seek refuge from Satan the accursed.”
3. Bismillahi Rahmani Raheem.
“In the Name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate.”
4. La Ilaha Il Allah.
“There is no god but God.”
5. Allahumma Sali ‘Ala Muhammadin wa ‘Ala Ali Muhammadin wa Sallim.
“O God, send your peace and blessings upon the Prophet Muhammad and upon the family of Muhammad.”
6. Ya Rabbi Shukr.
“O my Lord thank you.”
The Divine Power of Dhikr
Keeping a simple daily dhikr practice takes only a few minutes per day, yet the benefits are incomparable. In establishing such a daily routine, you are in effect exercising your heart and soul while at the same time aligning and connecting with the Divine Presence, allowing light, love, mercy and grace to flow to you.
Allah Almighty created us as honored servants in the Divine Presence, and the sacred spiritual practice of dhikr is the key to developing and evolving spiritually, shifting consciousness from ego to soul, and rediscovering your true, authentic and eternal self beyond time and space.
“Remember Me, and I will remember you. Give thanks to Me, and deny not Me.”
— Surah al-Baqarah (Holy Quran, 2:152)