Transcript of a advises delivered by Sheikh Kamaluddin Ahmed
If a person makes zikr (remembrance)with their tongue and their heart isn’t in it, they will get the reward for that zikr, and it will be written in their good deeds but that zikr won’t purify their heart and it won’t bring them closer to Allah SWT. The biggest example of this is our own Salaah. In Salaah we are making zikr of the tongue. We’re reciting Takbir, Tasmiyah, Suratul Fatiha, but our hearts isn’t in it.
Allah SWT tells us to establish the spoken and physical Salaah so that we remember Him with our heart. The reality is that we don’t remember Allah Ta’ala with our heart even though the tongue is making zikr.
Anybody who says I pray but I don’t feel anything, it doesn’t mean that they aren’t saying anything, they are saying. It doesn’t mean that they’re not doing sajdahs, they are bowing, they are prostrating. Their body is doing zikr, their tongue is doing zikr but their heart is not doing zikr. We will get sawaab (reward) for that salaah. That salaah will be written in our book of deeds but that Salaah isn’t going to fix us the way Allah Ta’alah says it can.When Salaah is prayed with the Qalb (heart) then not only do we get the reward, but we get Tazkiyyah. The prayer affects us, the prayer purifies us. Each and every prayer brings us closer to Allah SWT. So if it is true of zikr of the tongue of Salaah it’s true for other zikr, even Durood Sharif.
If a person has love for Rasulullah SAW and they recite the Durood Sharif just once they can become closer to Allah SWT. But not if you say it 1000 times and it just rolls of your tongue. If you are doing something routinely on one day it becomes more routine. Every successive Salaah we pray without feeling, every Salaah we pray just routinely makes it even more just a routine. It’s not good to do our Tazkiyyah and it’s not good to do our closeness to Allah Ta’ala unless our heart is in it.
You can’t be ghaafil (unaware, heedless) and zikr-e-qalbi (remembrance of the heart). You can’t be doing zikr-e-lisaani (remembrance of the tongue) and be ghaafil. If you are ghaafil it means you are not remembering Allah SWT with the heart. You won’t be able to do it. By forcing yourself to do it, you have to remove the ghaflah to be doing zikr-e-qalbi. That’s why people find Muraqabah (concentration) difficult in the beginning. Because in order to muraqabah (have concentration) you must remove the ghaflah (unmindfulness). You can’t do it with ghaflat. Murakkabah is the cure. It’s good that you find it difficult. If you find Muraqabah difficult it means you’re struggling. You’re fighting the battle against ghaflah. It’s a difficult battle. It’s very good. If you get a prescribed zikr to do that you find difficult to do, it’s very good. It means you’re finally trying to push back the frontiers of ghaflat. And if you have the zikr that you find totally easy, there’s a 99% chance that you find it easy because you’re doing it while ghafila. The zikr-e-qalb is special.
If I said recite Durood Sharif 100 times and every time feel a different love for Nabi – e – Kareem SAW, every time, you’d say ‘I don’t know, I’d have to go very slow, maybe I could do it three or five times’. When people recite zikr-e-lisaani quickly, you won’t even talk to a human being like that. Can you imagine me talking to you at a very fast speed? I wouldn’t talk to anybody like that. You will get reward for it but it’s not going to affect your heart. Tilawat (recitation) of the Quraan is the greatest zikr-e-lisaani. And recitation of the Quraan inside Salaah is the greatest zikr-e-lisaani. That’s what the Ulama have taught us.
Today I sat for half an hour in Muraqabah and I couldn’t concentrate some people complain. I could only sit for five minutes. Then they lose the heart for it. There’s a reason for that. It’s because you didn’t do it with the heart. The more you remember Allah Ta’ala outside Ibaadah, whether that Ibaadah is tilawat, it’s Salaah, its Murakkabah, the more you remember Allah Ta’ala outside Ibaadah, the more you will be able to remember Him inside Ibaadah. And the less you remember Allah Ta’ala outside Ibaadah, the less you will be able to remember Him inside Ibaadah. That’s why wuqoof-e-qalbi is a very good place to start. The best part is that wuqoof-e-qalbi is that zikr that you do when you are busy. This takes away the number one excuse of being too busy to do zikr. Wuqoof-e-qalbi doesn’t require any time. You have to really chase this wuqoof-e-qalbi. Keep reminding your heart. Erase that ghaflat second by second. You have to whittle it away and chip away at that ghaflah second by second. Even if you can say that today I was 10 seconds less ghaafil (unaware) than I was yesterday, that is making progress. So don’t worry that you can’t do wuqoof and that you can’t remember Allah Ta’ala 24 hours. It’s not going to happen instantly.
Everyday there should be a mission. I want to be less ghaafil than I was yesterday. I want to be more zaakir today than I was yesterday. I want to have at least some increase in my wuqoof-e-qalbi. As you start increasing that, then your zikr in Muraqabah will go up. If a person who does a lot of wuqoof-e-qalbi sits for Murakkabah for 20 minutes, 15 minutes will be zikr and five minutes will be ghaflat. A person who doesn’t do wuqoof-e-qalbi and they try to sit one hour in Murakkabah a day. Three minutes will be zikr and 57 minutes will be ghaflah. Because that was the ratio outside of the Murakkabah in the rest of the 20 hours they were awake. For 19 and half hours they were not doing any wuqoof-e-qalbi. They were in ghaflah.
As ghaafil as you are in your wuqoof-e-qalbi, you’re going to be that ghaafil in your Murakkabah. As zaakir as you are in your wuqoof-e-qalbi, you’re going to be that zaakir in your Murakkabah. As much as you remember Allah Ta’ala in the day and night, that’s as much as you remember Him in your worship. And as little as you remember Allah Ta’ala in your day and night, then that’s as little you will remember Him in your worship. Remembering Allah Ta’ala more and more and more gives us the power to do Ibaadah. It gives us the passion and feeling in Ibaadah.
The zikr you’re doing while you’re busy, or while you’re driving or while you’re walking from one building to the next is wuqoof-e-qalbi. Remembering Allah Ta’ala in your qalb. Remind your heart to remember Allah Ta’ala. The more that you remind your heart to remember Allah Ta’ala, the more that you actually sit down to remember Allah Ta’ala, the easier it becomes.
The key in the beginning is wuqoof-e-qalbi. Many people think that wuqoof-e-qalbi is an extra thing and they go for Murakkabah first and they’re not able to do it. You have to work really, really hard in your wuqoof-e-qalbi. At night a muhasaba you can do is examine yourself and recount your day. Think about how much of your time awake your heart remembered Allah Ta’ala. You’ll be amazed at the answer you’re going to get. The reason our Deen teaches us to do muhasaba is because it motivates us. It makes us realise how much or little we have and it makes us realise how much we sin. Until you examine your remembrance of Allah Ta’ala, before you eat, after you eat etc, you won’t do wuqoof-e-qalbi. The number one thing that will stop you from examining yourself is ghaflat.
Ghaflah is a killer disease. It kills our zikr, our taqwa, our Imaan. Ghaflah is one of the major problems in this day and age. That’s why this method of zikr of the Mashaaiq is brilliant, it’s wonderful. It attacks ghaflah directly. You can walk around doing zikr-e-lisaani and you are not attacking ghaflah at all, you aren’t putting a dent in your ghaflat. Wuqoof-e-qalbi attacks ghaflah dead on.
You have to be obsessed about wuqoof-e-qalbi otherwise it won’t happen. You cannot have a light intention. We are so obsessively ghaafil. We even read whatsapp messages from strangers. Some people read the newspaper cover to cover. Even those sections that is not pertinent. The West fuels it. The maximum obsession is to do wuqoof-e-qalbi all the time. Zikr-e-qalbi is the 21st Century Tasawwuf made centuries before. The only way to get out of ghaflat is to become obsessive about your wuqoof-e-qalbi. When you’re obsessive about your wuqoof-e-qalbi then you will start remembering Allah Ta’ala outside Ibaadah. When you do that, then you will start feeling something in Murakkabah.
“And remember your Lord within yourself in humility and in fear without being apparent in speech – in the mornings and the evenings. And do not be among the heedless.” Surah al-A’raf verse 205
All things outside of worship, Shaytaan and our nafs are trying to get us to be heedless. If you are obsessed about wuqoof-e-qalbi it will all fall into place.
When you’re sweeping dust gets kicked up. And if a lot of dust gets kicked up, you realise you have a lot of sweeping to do. You are sweeping your qalb (heart) with Allah alone. Dust will get kicked up. All types of clutter and junk will come out. No problem, keep sweeping, keep sitting, keep trying, keep doing it.The only way to get out of it is to go through it. If you walk into a room and it’s full of junk and clutter, you take a couple of things out for one minute and you’ll find it’s still cluttered. That’s the way the heart is. It’s cluttered. Your room will take time to get the clutter out. Just like that, is your Qalb. Our qalb has junk and clutter in it. Some of us, our qalb has filth and najaasat in it that we polluted ourselves. When you are sitting in Murakkabah, you are cleaning.
Zikr is the purifying polish of the qalb. If there is a lot of dirt there, keep scrubbing. Muraqabah is pouring the water, keep doing it, keep sitting and scrubbing and cleaning. InshaAllah one day Allah Ta’ala will make it clean. Allah Ta’ala will ultimately have His Compassionate Mercy on us. A person who can get these two blessings of wuqoof-e-qalbi and Muraqabah, then you will see everything else open up. Salaah opens up, tilawat opens up, Durood Sharif opens, Istigfaar opens up, Kalima Tayyibah opens up. Zikr-e-qalbi is the key.
*Shaykh Kamaluddin Ahmed was born and raised in Manhattan, New York City. He recieved a BA in Political Science and Arab & Islamic Civilization from the University of Chicago. Shaykh Kamaluddin then spent many years in Pakistan, studying full-time the classical disciplines of Islamic learning including tafsir of the Qur’an, Hadith, Arabic grammar, law and legal theory. He recieved the ‘alimiyyah degree as well as formal authorization to transmit legal opinion (ifta).
From 2005-2010, he was a lecturer in Islamic Intellectual History, Legal Theory, Spirituality and Ethics at one of Pakistan’s leading universities. In 2012, he completed a Masters degree from the University of Oxford and currently is a Doctoral Fellow in Islamic Intellectual History at the Berlin Graduate School.
For over seventeen years, Shaykh Kamaluddin has consistently remained in the close company of the highly respected Shaykh Zulfiqar Ahmad, and was granted ijaza by him in tasawwuf (islamic spirituality) in 2002. Since then, he has continually tutored seekers on the path to becoming closer to Allah.
Shaykh Kamaluddin divides his time between the UK and Pakistan, guiding students and delivering lectures at masajid, universities and institutions of learning.
The Shaykh and his wife have also established Zaynab Academy, an Islamic educational institute which offers free online courses for women the world over