Here, in the coming posts I would like to discuss how the practice of “Remembrance” has turned into something people quickly run through fingers or beads as a superstitious ritual after formal Prayer (Salat). I would also like to discuss how this act of “Remembrance” has changed from remembering God into something which can put you into a state of intentional loss of control as a type of hypnosis, usually perpetuated by Sufis in a different setting.
So on one hand it is a superstitious ritual, something people have come to do after prayer because they “have to” (and it seems for some people at least the quicker the better) and on the other hand it has been kidnapped by a bunch of mesmerists who are trying to raise our thinking to an altered state. There is also a rumour that it is permissable to mix the names with water and drink them .There is also the idea that somehow it is designed to “please” God, but yet the word in Arabic means “Remember” not “please”.
How exactly did we get to this situation, I believe it is a mixture or poorly educated leaders, superstitious ideas and misinterpretations of the writing of scholars who have long since left us. After all, a language of classical Arabic is required in order to really interpret things correctly.
May I politely mention that neither of these ways of doing Dhikr mentioned above are particularly satisfactory and I find it quite alarming that one of the Ibrahamic Religions is being reduced down to mere superstitious practices.
Firstly if reciting a name in Arabic was in any way able to bring us closer to God then we would all surely pay more attention to it, despite color, race or creed, than trying to quickly get it out of the way before we do something else. The recitation of the thing has no power or benefit, but it is the act of Love, of trying to be still and be at one with the Creator which really counts, The intention, the art of being still and listening. The names can no doubt help us to that state but the ritual of the thing is only words. Reciting of the 99 names is not even a prescribed act of worship amongst all Muslims of the world.
So how do we redeem “Dhikr” as something which can be actually useful to us? By not reciting the names but actually looking at each one and then comparing it to our lives.
eg. One name is “The Bountiful” – so, write down what God has given you in Life, what are you grateful for today?
Another is the “Hidden” – where we can ask “how does God reveal himself to us”. How do we see or meet with him daily?
This means we can see not what to “get” from God but what we have already been given, what we already have and don´t know it. It also helps us to get to know the character of God better.
Over the coming days I intend to write more about this very interesting subject and how hypnosis or mesmerism or any kind of altered state is NOT an act of worship.