Lecture by Shaykh Tahir ul Qadri
Summarized and Translated by Alveena Salim
Before creation Allah (swt) gathered all of humanity; the people of the past, present and future and asked us all one question: “Am I not your Lord”. We all answered Yes, we do testify (that you are our Lord, the one we love)”. This consciousness about Allah (swt); this realization and understanding is embedded deep within our souls. Our inner person, who took this oath with Almighty Allah, was then attached to the physical body and was sent to Earth; so that its love may be tested. However, on Earth we forget about the oath that we made in the other world and occupied ourselves with the transitory worldly love of wives, children and wealth.
When we attend gatherings of dhikr; feelings of peace and wellbeing wash over us. A dim flame within us flickers and lights up. Our souls faintly recollect a covenant that was made in another world to one we love. For a short moment, we feel disgusted with ourselves for occupying ourselves with petty, frivolous worldly affairs; these feelings strike a chord inside us and we reaffirm to ourselves the real purpose of our existence.
Our beloved Prophet said that there are special angels that roam the Earth, looking for gatherings of dhikr. When they find a group they call one another and encompass the gathering in layers until the first heaven. After the gathering glorifies Allah (swt) the angels return to their lord.
Allah (swt) asks His angels, Where have you been? (Even though He already knows; when one loves someone he loves hearing his name mentioned by others). The angels will inform Allah (swt) of the name of the gathering. Allah (swt) will ask His angels “What were my servants doing?” The angels will reply: “They were praising You, magnifying Your Name and glorifying You. Allah (swt) will ask them “Have they seen Me?” The angels will answer: “No, By Allah! They have not seen You.” Allah (swt) will say: “(They are praising Me without seeing Me,) what if they had seen Me” The angels would answer: “O Lord, if they had seen You, they would have glorified You more intensely. Allah (swt) will say: “What were they asking for?” the angels will reply “They were asking for Paradise!” Allah (swt) will say: “Have they seen Paradise?” The angels will say: “By Allah, no, they have not seen it.” Allah (swt) will say “What would they do if they had seen it?” The angels will reply: “If they had seen Paradise, they would become more attached and attracted to it, and would seek it with a greater zeal and enthusiasm!” Allah would ask the angels What were they seeking refuge from? The angels will reply they were seeking refuge from the Hell (fire). Allah would then ask the angels: “Have they seen the Hell (fire)?” The angels will say: “By Allah, no, they have not seen it.” Allah will say “What would they do if they had seen it?” The angels will reply: “If they had seen the Hell (fire), they would fear it even more and ask refuge from it with greater intensity. Then Allah will say to the angels I make you witnesses that I have forgiven them. One of the angels will say: “O my Lord, someone was there who did not belong to that group, but came for some other need.” (That person came for some purpose other than dhikr.) Allah will inform the angels that “The benefits of sitting in a gathering of Dhikr are such that anyone who sits with them, for whatever reason will also have his sins forgiven (Bukhari, Muslim).
Allah (swt) speech to His angels and their replies form a heart-melting dialogue that encourages and uplifts the hearts of believers. The superiority of this gathering is such that; even to sit near such a gathering though not participate in it, insures one’s forgiveness and acknowledgement in Allah (swt) divine presence.
We should transform ourselves into people whom the blessed angels of Allah (swt) come seeking. There are some people who stay up all night in the auspicious night of laila tul Qadr; just so that they may be blessed with a meeting with Allah (swt) angels. However if we transform ourselves into individuals who are always present in gathering of dhikr; the angels of Allah (swt) would come in search for us. Dr Allama Iqbal has said: “You are not for the earth nor for the heavens; the world is for you, not that you are for the world”.
One can either love Allah (swt) or love the world. However, both loves cannot be contained in one heart. The Awliya’s (friends of Allah), had devoted their entire attention to the love of Allah (swt) nothing could divert their attention from it. The Awliya’s (friends of Allah), were never inattentive to the thought of their beloved.
Man’s devout worship of Allah (swt) and submission to His will is more commendable than that of the Angels; this is because man does so on account of his faith in the unseen which in comparison is actually seen by the angels. The Holy Qur’an states “How would man have not worshipped if he had actually seen Paradise and Hell.” It is for this reason alone that Almighty Allah praises the noble deeds of those that worship and glorify Him without seeing.
It is important when sitting in a gathering of dhikr to think about Allah (swt) so that we may be able to establish a link or connection with Him. Establishing links based on the unseen is an action which Allah (swt) loves. It is for this reason alone that Allah (swt) specially asks His angels Have they seen Me? Establishing links is also the Sunnah of our Holy Prophet . This point is demonstrated in the following Hadith; ‘When the holy Prophet was passing by Thamud’s house on his way to the battle of Tabuk, he stopped to rest, whilst his companions fetched water from the wells from which the people of Thamud used to drink. They prepared their dough (for baking) and filled their water skins from the wells. The Prophet of Allah ordered them to empty the water skins and give the prepared dough to the camels. He told them fill water from the well which the she-camel of Prophet Salih used to drink from. When the Holy Prophet continued his journey he passed by the town which was destroyed. Before entering the town He told his companions to pass through the village quickly and if possible try to feel empathy.
Ibn `Umar reported that the Holy Prophet said: “When you pass by the gardens of Paradise, avail yourselves of them.” The Companions asked: “What are the gardens of Paradise, O Messenger of Allah?” He replied: The circles of dhikr (Tirmidhi).
This then raises the following question; How are the gatherings of dhikr gardens of paradise?
This question in answered in the following Hadith Qudsi The people who sit in gatherings of dhikr are actually sitting in Allah (swt) company. In another Hadith we are reminded Whoever mentions Me, I stay with him.
The Holy Prophet has narrated that “Almighty Allah says, ‘I treat my slave (man) 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 and nobler gathering (i.e. of angels). Subhanallah! If only we fully understood this concept.
We should all marvel at this honour which Allah (swt) has bestowed upon us; to be acknowledged in the Divine presence of Almighty Allah is truly a great and prestigious reward.
In another Hadith we are reminded that on the Day of Judgement the people of dhikr will have faces glittering with noor (light). Whilst people who did not make themselves present in such gatherings will have faces clouded with darkness.
Our Beloved Prophet is reported to have said, Practice dhikr so excessively that people may regard you as a maniac. It is stated in another Hadith practice dhikr so much that the hypocrite may regard you as insincere. It is clear from this Hadith that the taunts of madness and insincerity by the hypocrites and foolish people should not make one give up the spiritual wealth of dhikr. On the contrary, it should be done with such rapture and abundance that those people may consider you mad. This is so that on the Day of Judgement when the angels will ask Allah (swt) ‘Who are these people? Allah (swt) will reply on their behalf They are the people who for My sake received malicious taunts and insults from the hypocrites.
It is narrated in Bukhari hadith that the Holy Prophet sent a man as a leader of an expedition. During the journey he concluded his recitation of the Qur’an in every Prayer with Surah Ikhlas. On their return the companions complained to the Holy Prophet . Our Beloved Prophet said: “Ask him why he does so (it is important to note that the Holy Prophet could have asked the man himself, however the reason why he never asked the man himself was because the man out of Adab to the Holy Prophet , would not have given the real reason) .When the man was questioned by the companions, he replied: ” this Surah describes the attributes of my Lord; therefore, I love to recite it again and again.” When the Holy Prophet was informed of his reply, he told his companions: “Inform him that Allah also loves him and holds him esteem.”
In another incident the Holy Prophet , personally asked the man the reason why he repeated Surah Iklas in every Rak’ah. The man informed the Holy Prophet (saw) that it was because he had a fondness of it. The Holy Prophet informed the man that his fondness has earned him entry to paradise.
It is important to note that it was not the repetition of Surah Iklas that earned the man entry into paradise. Rather it was the undying love and devotion towards Allah (swt) that gained him entry into paradise.
Abu Musa al-Ash`ari was reciting the Holy Qur’an in a melodious voice and the Holy Prophet was listening to him. After he finished, the Holy Prophet congratulated him on reciting in such a melodious manner and told him, “You have a good voice.” Then Abu Musa replied, “O Messenger of Allah, if I had known that you were listening to me, I would have recited it in a much more melodious and beautiful voice such as you have never heard before.” The Holy Prophet has also said that tranquillity and mercy of Allah (swt) descends on the one who remember Him’.
In another incident the Holy Prophet was met with joy and jubilation as he proceeded to enter Medina; the women and children recited a poem in His honour. After the poem, the Holy Prophet asked them Do you love me? the women and children of Medina joyfully replied Yes. The Holy Prophet informed that that I swear by Allah I love you too. From this incident we can conclude that recitation of poetry (naats) earns the love of the Holy Prophet .
In conclusion one can either love Allah (swt) or love the world. However both loves cannot be contained in one heart. The total ideal of a man is the attainment of Allah’s (swt) pleasure; this can be achieved by regularly attending gatherings of dhikr and by permanent association with those who have already acquired the pleasure of Allah (swt).
Our Holy Prophet has stated ‘he who loves something mentions it much’; dhikr increases our love for Allah (swt); we should remember that time is such a passing phenomenon that even a fleeting moment results in a reduction of man’s life-span. This is because man has been granted a limited period of time on this earth and so he should try to earn whatever he can.