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The Jurisprudence Behind The Different Forms Of Zikr

Question:
Kindly comment on the different forms of zikr, loud, soft, collective, individual in the majid and elsewhere. Is it a bidah and what is the definition of bidah? Explain it contextually.

Answer:

General loud dhikr is clearly proven from many Ahadith.
See the following Hadith:
إِنَّ لِلَّهِ مَلاَئِكَةً يَطُوفُونَ فِي الطُّرُقِ يَلْتَمِسُونَ أَهْلَ الذِّكْرِ، فَإِذَا وَجَدُوا قَوْمًا يَذْكُرُونَ اللَّهَ تَنَادَوْا: هَلُمُّوا إِلَى حَاجَتِكُمْ ” قَالَ: «فَيَحُفُّونَهُمْ بِأَجْنِحَتِهِمْ إِلَى السَّمَاءِ الدُّنْيَا» قَالَ: ” فَيَسْأَلُهُمْ رَبُّهُمْ، وَهُوَ أَعْلَمُ مِنْهُمْ، مَا يَقُولُ عِبَادِي؟ قَالُوا: يَقُولُونَ: يُسَبِّحُونَكَ وَيُكَبِّرُونَكَ وَيَحْمَدُونَكَ وَيُمَجِّدُونَكَ…..
“Verily there are angels who roam around in the streets in search for people who perform zikr. When they come across a group of people who are engaged in zikr, they call upon (to other angels), “Come forth unto your sustenance!” They spread their wings upon them until the skies. Their lord asks them (the angels) while He is more aware (of the situation of the people of zikr), “What are my servants saying?” The angels reply, “They are glorifying, exalting, and praising you.”……

In another Hadith, it is stated:
«إِذَا مَرَرْتُمْ بِرِيَاضِ الجَنَّةِ فَارْتَعُوا» قَالُوا: وَمَا رِيَاضُ الجَنَّةِ؟ قَالَ: «حِلَقُ الذِّكْرِ»
“When you come across the gardens of Jannah, receive a portion from it.” The people asked, “What is the garden of Jannah?” He (Prophet) replied, “The gatherings of Zikr.”

In Mirqaat Al-Mafaateeh under the explanation of this Hadith, Mulla Ali Qari Rahmatullahi Alaih quotes with reference to Imam Nawawi Rahmatullahi Alaih:
قَالَ النَّوَوِيُّ رَحِمَهُ اللَّهُ: وَاعْلَمْ أَنَّهُ كَمَا يُسْتَحَبُّ الذِّكْرُ يُسْتَحَبُّ الْجُلُوسُ فِي حَلَقِ أَهْلِهِ، وَهُوَ قَدْ يَكُونُ بِالْقَلْبِ، وَقَدْ يَكُونُ بِاللِّسَانِ، وَأَفْضَلُ مِنْهُمَا مَا كَانَ بِالْقَلْبِ وَاللِّسَانِ جَمِيعًا، فَإِنِ اقْتُصِرَ عَلَى أَحَدِهِمَا، فَالْقَلْبُ أَفْضَلُ
“Imam Nawawi Rahmatullahi Alaih mentions: As performing zikr is regarded to be preferable, accompanying the gatherings in which zikr takes place is also preferable. Zikr may be performed with the heart or with the tongue. It is better to perform zikr together with the heart and the tongue. However, if one restricts zikr to only the heart or tongue, then doing zikr with the heart is more preferable.”

It is possible that you are referring to some specific form of loud dhikr being bidah. It is therefore important to understand the definition of bidah to be able to make the correct conclusion on the various forms of dhikr.
The educational system of Daul Ulooms and madrasas as found today were not existent at the time of Rasullullah Sallallahu Alaihi Wa Sallam. In order to be able to understand the Quran and Ahadith, the Arabic language with Sarf (etymology), Nahw (grammar), Fasahat and Balagah (rhetoric) are taught. Fiqh and Usool-ul-Fiqh, Tafseer and Usool-ut-Tafseer, Hadith and Usool-ul-Hadith are taught in order to be regarded as an Alim of Deen and having authority on Deen. The knowledge of these subjects is regarded to be compulsory yet no body regards studying these subjects as bidah and prohibits it. This was not the system at the time of Rasullullah Sallallahu Alaihi Wa Sallam.

According to Shari’ah, bidah is defined as follows:
وَالْمُرَادُ بِالْبِدْعَةِ: مَا أُحْدِثَ مِمَّا لَا أَصْلَ لَهُ فِي الشَّرِيعَةِ يَدُلُّ عَلَيْهِ، فَأَمَّا مَا كَانَ لَهُ أَصْلٌ مِنَ الشَّرْعِ يَدُلُّ عَلَيْهِ، فَلَيْسَ بِبِدْعَةٍ شَرْعًا، وَإِنْ كَانَ بِدْعَةً لُغَةً
“And the meaning of bidah is: that act which has no origin in Shariah that indicates to the origin. If the new act has an origin in Shariah, then it will not be considered as bidah in terms of Shariah even if it may be considered bidah in its literal sense.”

The above definition means that if a person innovates something in Shariah which does not have any origin in Shariah and there is no indication in the new aspect to the origin, then that will be bidah. However, if there is an origin for the new aspect in Shariah and the new aspect indicates to the origin, then it will not be considered bidah.
In order to expound on this, the following example will make the point clear. If one wants to become an Alim of Deen and be an authority on Deen, he has to learn all the sciences of Deen as previously indicated, Sarf, Nahw, Usool etc. The study of all these subjects is new but has its roots in its origin that is educating oneself in Shariah (taleem) which is one of the 3 missions of Rasullullah Sallallahu Alaihi Wa Sallam. These subjects are subsidiaries to the origin and preserves to compliment the original, educating oneself in Shariah. Hence, studying the different subjects is not bidah. Furthermore, these subjects are not principle requirements, Fardh, Wajib or Sunnah in Deen. They are administrative issues serving to support and fulfill an origin in Shariah.
In the same light as the above, tazkiyyah (purifying oneself) is Fardh like taleem (education). Both, taleem and tazkiyyah are clearly mentioned in the Quran and Ahadith. The different forms of Zikr which are not specifically stated in the Quran and Ahadith, for example, muraqabah of certain verses of the Quran like الم يعلم بان الله يري generally practiced by the Naqshbandiyyah followers or the famous 12 tasbeehaat prescribed by the Chistiyyah Mashaaikh with a specific head movement are aimed to achieve tazkiyyah. These means are tried, tested and proven to be beneficial in obtaining tazkiyyah. Muraqabah with its different forms and zikr with its different forms compliment tazkiyyah and are not regarded as fundamental principles like Fardh, Wajib etc. in Shariah. They are administrative issues to achieve the objective. Hence, these new acts point towards its origin in Shariah which is tazkiyyah. To further elaborate on this, an example of a physically sick person may be appropriate.
When a person is ill, he takes medications which are prescribed to him by a doctor to cure his sickness. Similarly, doing the dhikr of Allah is a spiritual treatment and cure for the heart. When a person does the dhikr of Allah, it removes the spiritual sicknesses and the diseases from the heart.
Tazkiyyah (purifying the soul), is Fardh upon every individual. It has been mentioned in the Quran:
كَمَا أَرْسَلْنَا فِيكُمْ رَسُولًا مِنْكُمْ يَتْلُو عَلَيْكُمْ آيَاتِنَا وَيُزَكِّيكُمْ وَيُعَلِّمُكُمُ الْكِتَابَ وَالْحِكْمَةَ وَيُعَلِّمُكُمْ مَا لَمْ تَكُونُوا تَعْلَمُونَ
(القرآن 2:151)
Just as We have sent among you a messenger from yourselves reciting to you Our verses and purifying you and teaching you the Book and wisdom and teaching you that which you did not know. (Quran 2:151)

A special form of dhikr prescribed by a spiritual guide has been tested and found to be efficient by many scholars of the past as a spiritual remedy. It has been recorded to treat many diseases of the heart such as anger, hatred, jealousy, pride love for the money, love for the world etc.
It is agreed that if a person performs dhikr loudly with the intention that it is Fardh, Wajib or Sunnah, then such an act will be considered Bidah. However, if a person does loud dhikr with the intention that it is a spiritual remedy for the sicknesses of the heart, then there is no harm in performing such dhikr performed in a particular way and with a prescribed amount as that is merely a means to attain tazkiyyah similar to learning the Arabic language and the different subjects to educate oneself on Shariah.

Learning Arabic has its roots in educating oneself in Shariah. Likewise, the different forms of zikr have its roots and origin in tazkiyyah. Just as Arabic is a ladder to learning Shariah, the different forms of zikr are also a ladder to tazkiyyah.

It is however important to confine the different means of taleem and tazkiyyah to its position and not regard them to be the actual purpose or to be Sunnah or compulsory in Shariah. If one regards the means to be compulsory in Shariah, it will now be an act of bidah.

Hereunder are at least three relevant fatwaas from our Aslaaf (pious predecessors).
1. Allamah Tahtawi Rahmatullahi Alahi, a very reliable Hanafi jurist states in Hashiyah At-Tahtaawi Ala Maraaqi Al-Falah with the reference of Allamah She’raani:
ونص الشعراني في ذكر الذاكر للمذكور والشاكر للمشكور ما لفظه وأجمع العلماء سلفا وخلفا على استحباب ذكر الله تعالى جماعة في المساجد وغيرها من غير نكير إلا أن يشوش جهرهم بالذكر على نائم أو مصل أو قارىء قرآن كما هو مقرر في كتب الفقه (حاشية الطحطاوي على مراقي الفلاح شرح نور الإيضاح، ص318، دار الكتب العلمية)
Translation: “Allamah She’raani Rahmatullahi Alahi states in his book Zikr Az-Zaakir Lil Mazkoor Wa As-Shakir Lil Mashkoor, that the former and the latter Ulama have unanimously permitted doing zikr in a gathering in a Masjid as well as anywhere else other than the Masjid without prohibiting them except that if their loud zikr cause disturbance to a sleeping person or to a person performing Salah or to the one reciting Quran as this has been established in the books of Fiqh.” (Hashiyah At-Tahtaawi Ala Maraaqi Al-Falah, Pg.318, Dar Al-Kutub Al-Ilmiyyah)
2. Hadhrat Moulana Ashraf Ali Thanvi Rahmatullahi Alaih states in Imdaadul Fatawa:
…وفي تفسير الاحمدي في بحث الجهر و الاخفاء وهذا بحث مختلف فيه بين الانام في زماننا ولا طائل تحته اذا المقصود بكل الوصول الي الله باي طريق كان-
پس ثابت ہوا کہ جہر ہر طور سے جائز ہے، کسی کو کسی طور سے منع نہ کریں، یہی ارجح واوضح ہے، بلکہ اگر عدم مشروعیت کو بھی ترجیح دی جاوے تو تب بھی عوام کو منع نہ کریں، کہ اسی بھانہ سے کچھ خیر کر گزرتے ہیں، چنانچہ خود مانعین نے اس امر کی تصریح کر دی- (امداد الفتاوي،ج5 ص169، مكتبة دار العلوم كراتشي)
Translation: “…It has been mentioned in Tafseer-e-Ahmadi under the discussion of audible and inaudible. There is a difference of opinion amongst the Ulama regarding this discussion in our time. It does not matter beyond that as the purpose is to reach Allah in any way.
This proves the fact that performing loud zikr is permissible in every way. No person shall be prohibited in any way. And this opinion is the most authentic and preferred one. In fact, even if the opinion which prohibits (performing loud zikr) is given preference to, the laymen should not be prohibited from performing loud zikr. With this, the laymen will accomplish some rewards. Hence, the ones prohibiting (from performing loud zikr) themselves have stated this.” (Imdaad Al-Fataawa, Vol.5 Pg.169, Maktabah Darul Uloom Karachi)
3. Hadhrat Mufti Mahmood Al-Hasan Al-Gangohi Rahmatullahi Alahi states in Fatawa Mahmoodiyyah:
جو علماے احناف ذکر دواز دہ تسبیح وغیرہ کو بالجہر فرماتے ہیں وہ درحقیقت علاجا ہے کہ اس سے قلب پر ضرب لگتی ہے اور حرارت پیدا ہوتی ہے جو کہ اس راہ میں معین ہے….. – (فتاوي محموديه، ج4 ص434، ادارة القرآن)
Translation: “Those Hanafi scholars who permit performing zikr audibly are in fact permitting it as a remedy from which the heart is rejuvenated. This facilitates traversing this path of tazkiyyah.”

And Allah Ta’āla Knows Best
Abdul Hannan Nizami,
Student Darul Iftaa
Chicago, USA
Checked and Approved by,
Mufti Ebrahim Desai.

) صحيح البخاري، ج8ص 87، دار طوق النجاة)
(Sahih Al-Bukhari, Vol.8 Pg.87, Dar Tauq An-Najah)
سنن الترمذي، ج5ص532، شركة مكتبة)
(Sunan At-Tirmidhi, Vol.5 Pg.532, Shirkatu Maktabah)
مرقاة المفاتيح شرح مشكاة المصابيح، ج4ص1553، دار الفكر)
(Mirqaat Al-Mafateeh Sharah Mishkat Al-Masabeeh, Vol.4 Pg.1553, Dar Al-Fikr)
قَالَ النَّوَوِيُّ: الْبِدْعَةُ كُلُّ شَيْءٍ عُمِلَ عَلَى غَيْرِ مِثَالٍ سَبَقَ، وَفِي الشَّرْعِ إِحْدَاثُ مَا لَمْ يَكُنْ فِي عَهْدِ رَسُولِ اللَّهِ – صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ – وَقَوْلُهُ: ” كُلَّ بِدْعَةٍ ضَلَالَةٌ ” عَامٌ مَخْصُوصٌ. قَالَ الشَّيْخُ عِزُّ الدِّينِ بْنُ عَبْدِ السَّلَامِ فِي آخِرِ كِتَابِ ” الْقَوَاعِدِ “: الْبِدْعَةُ إِمَّا وَاجِبَةٌ كَتَعَلُّمِ النَّحْوِ لِفَهْمِ كَلَامِ اللَّهِ وَرَسُولِهِ وَكَتَدْوِينِ أُصُولِ الْفِقْهِ وَالْكَلَامِ فِي الْجَرْحِ وَالتَّعْدِيلِ، وَإِمَّا مُحَرَّمَةٌ كَمَذْهَبِ الْجَبْرِيَّةِ وَالْقَدَرِيَّةِ وَالْمُرْجِئَةِ وَالْمُجَسِّمَةِ، وَالرَّدُّ عَلَى هَؤُلَاءِ مِنَ الْبِدَعِ الْوَاجِبَةِ لِأَنَّ حِفْظَ الشَّرِيعَةِ مِنْ هَذِهِ الْبِدَعِ فَرْضُ كِفَايَةٍ، وَإِمَّا مَنْدُوبَةٌ كَإِحْدَاثِ الرُّبُطِ وَالْمَدَارِسِ، وَكُلُّ إِحْسَانٍ لَمْ يُعْهَدْ فِي الصَّدْرِ الْأَوَّلِ، وَكَالتَّرَاوِيحِ أَيْ بِالْجَمَاعَةِ الْعَامَّةِ (مرقاة المفاتيح شرح مشكاة المصابيح، ج1ص223، دار الفكر)
وَأَحْسَنَ الْهَدْيِ هَدْيُ مُحَمَّدٍ، وَشَرُّ الْأُمُورِ مُحْدَثَاتُهَا، وَكُلُّ مُحْدَثَةٍ بِدْعَةٌ وَكُلُّ بِدْعَةٍ ضَلَالَةٌ، وَكُلُّ ضَلَالَةٍ فِي النَّارِ (سنن النسائي ج3ص188، مكتب المطبوعات الإسلامية)
(Sunnan An-Nasai, Vol.3 Pg.188, Maktabah Al-Matboo’at Al-Islamiyyah)
جامع العلوم والحكم، ج2ص 127، مؤسسة الرسالة)
وقيل الجهر أفضل لأحاديث كثيرة منها ما رواه ابن الزبير كان رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم إذا سلم من صلاته قال بصوته إلا على لا إله إلا الله وحده لا شريك له وتقدم وقد كان صلى الله عليه وسلم إذا سلم من صلاته قال بصوته إلا على لا إله إلا الله وحده لا شريك له وتقدم وقد كان صلى الله عليه وسلم يأمر من يقرأ القرآن في المسجد أن يسمع قراءته وكان ابن عمر يأمر من يقرأ عليه وعلى أصحابه وهم يستمعون ولأنه أكثر عملا وأبلغ في التدبر ونفعه متعد لإيقاظ قلوب الغافلين وجمع بين الأحاديث الواردة بأن ذلك يختلف بحسب الأشخاص والأحوال فمتى خاف الرياء أو تأذى به أحد كان الإسرار أفضل ومتى فقد ما ذكر كان الجهر أفضل قال في الفتاوى لا يمنع من الجهر بالذكر في المساجد احترازا عن الدخول تحت قوله تعالى: {وَمَنْ أَظْلَمُ مِمَّنْ مَنَعَ مَسَاجِدَ اللَّهِ أَنْ يُذْكَرَ فِيهَا اسْمُهُ} [البقرة: 114] كذا في البزازية ونص الشعراني في ذكر الذاكر للمذكور والشاكر للمشكور ما لفظه وأجمع العلماء سلفا وخلفا على استحباب ذكر الله تعالى جماعة في المساجد وغيرها من غير نكير إلا أن يشوش جهرهم بالذكر على نائم أو مصل أو قارىء قرآن كما هو مقرر في كتب الفقه (حاشية الطحطاوي على مراقي الفلاح شرح نور الإيضاح، ص318، دار الكتب العلمية)

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