Zikr, fikr and ashghal (practices) are the non-
compulsory forms of worship (nafil ibadat). These are
the best means to arouse awareness and to achieve
nearness to God.
For zikr and fikr it is imperative to
have outward and inward purity. The presence of good
fragrance is beneficial. There are several kinds of zikr
and ashghal, but here is a brief description of only a
few of them:
AZKAAR (RECITATION, RECOLLECTION Plural of Zikr)
The negating (nafi) and affirming (asbaat) zikr has
two forms -jali (aloud, with a voice) and khafi (secret).
The zikr that combines both the negation and
affirmation is considered best by the sufis and that is:
“La ilaha illallah, Mohammad ur rasoolallah.”
(There is no God but God and Mohammad is the
Prophet of God).
This ‘kalma’ is the beginning of shariat (the religious
law) and the culmination of tariqat (the path of inner
knowledge i.e. sufism).
With patience and perseverance, it leads the seeker to his goal. It is
beneficial to recite this kalma in the solitude of the
night at least 101 times before going to bed or upon
arising at midnight. In this zikr, besides a negation of
all else, there is an affirmation of the existence of God.
The other wazifa is:
Qul hu wallaahu Ahad, Allah hus-Samad
(Say, He is God, the One and Only; God, the Independent,
has no needs).
This wazifa should be repeated every night, without
fail, 1100 times, before going to sleep.
The name of Allah should be repeated under all circumstances, while standing, sitting or ambulating whether it is by tongue or in thought or in the heart
(COMMEMORATIO CORDIS ZIKR BY BREATH CONTROL)
With inhalation Allah’ should be recited and ‘Hu’
with exhalation. Some people believe that ‘Allah’ should
be recited in both instances. Visualisation of the image
of the murshid in the heart is the key to progress while
practising this shaghl..
Shaghl-i-Rab-ul-Arbab involves concentrating on the
attributes of God with body and soul. The real
performer and the Master of the soul is Rab-ul-Arbab
(Master of the masters). He is the preserver of the
universe (Rab-ul-Alameen). Through Him all movements, actions, deeds and words reach the soul and from the soul reach and terminate in the physical body.
A salik (the one treading the spiritual path) should, in
his thoughts, concentrate on the name of Allah, till
that ultimate threshold is reached where he transcends
the connection between the body and the soul and
he perceives nothing but Rab-ul-Aala (the mightiest
Preserver) both inwardly and outwardly
(THE PRACTICE OF GAZING AT A MIRROR)
O Friend! Instructions on shaghl-i-aina are imparted
thus; the murshid instructs the murid to sit before a
mirror and look at the reflection of his face, and occupy
himself with repeating the name of God. If the seeker
is blessed by the Almighty, he receives the joy he desires.
Because this shaghl is subtle, the seeker who is of a
subtle disposition will, in his meditation, soon have
experiences of a truly subtle nature.
(PRACTICE OF THE KING OF ALL ZIKRS)
This zikr (remembrance) is also called the zikr of
the soul (zikr-e-ruh). Late at night, one should lie down
in a quiet place and close the ears with thumbs or with
a piece of cotton wool dipped in either jasmine oil or
attar (fragrant oil). Then, one should try to hear the
subtle inner sound arising from within the head.
Initially this sound also comes from the heart hence
one should try to hear it by bending the head towards
the heart. This is the primordial sound, and the root
essence of all other sounds. The salik who has the
privilege to hear this sound is ahale-sama (one entitled
to attend and understand sama).
AFKAR (MEDITATION – Plural of fikr)
To meditate upon the wonders of nature is fikr. Through
fikr one can, by obtaining the knowledge about one’s
inner-self, reach up to the knowledge of the Almighty.
Allah says in the Holy Quran
Everything is within you, but you do not look.”
Prophet Mohammad (Peace be upon them )says
“He who has recognized himself, has recognized God
This establishes that man, a trustee of the Almighty
God, is the essence of the entire creation and an
embodiment of all the Divine Attributes and the Divine
essence. Hence, by knowing one’s own self, one can
obtain the knowledge of the entire creation and the
knowledge of the Almighty God, whether it be hidden
in the Realm of the Invisible (alam-e-ghaib) or apparent in the Realm of Physical Existence (alam-e-wujud).
Alliance of Grace (nisbat-e-ehsan) is the key to this
treasure. At this stage, the various parts of the body
acquire the Divine qualities, as the Holy Prophet quotes God in the Hadith:
“I become my servant’s ears, eyes, hands and feet.”
To the outward eye, the external parts of the human
body (hands, feet, eyes and ears) are visible. A doctor
or a hakim feels the pulse and uses instruments and by
a close examination ascertains the condition of the
internal organs (stomach, heart, brain etc.) of the
human body. A doctor’s vision goes as far as the form,
order and working of the various parts of the body.
Hence they say that man is formed of four basic
elements (air, water, fire and earth) and his life depends
on the orderly arrangement of these elements. And
that death is the name for the disarrangement of these
The spiritually enlightened vision of an arif can reach
further and question the source of intellect, intelligence,
discernment, skill, awareness, and percent
human body. It seeks the ‘soul’ which empowers the
body surrounding the soul with the ability to walk, see
and hear, and the One empowering the soul, the real
Performer or the Soul of the souls.
Sometimes, the vision of an arif arrives at the truth
that the man in reality is made of one element
earth, and that the other three elements are derived from
earth itself. The warm particles of the earth are fire, the
soft particles are water and the subtle particles are air.
Thus, it is the different particles of earth that manifest in
various forms in the entire creation, and it is for our
convenience that we have given them distinct names
Thus, the entire creation is a combination of different
types of earth particles and each independent minute
particle of earth, holds within itself, the essence of the
entire creation. The ultimate limit of its minuteness is
this that, while in the world of physical existence (alam-
e-maujoodat), it is hidden from sight, it continues to
exist in perception and thoughts in the invisible world
(alam-e-ghaib). In other words, the invisible world is
not apparently visible [to the eyes] but it is not non-
existent. That is to say, this invisible yet existent world
lies in the intermediate space between it is and it is
not! This implies, that it is only by the means of
knowledge [of subsistence] that [one can perceive] its
attributes [which] are both existent and apparently non-
What we know as the atomic bomb, radium or the
sun and moon are, in fact, particles of this earth and
are called thus due to their radiance, speed and other attributes and powers.
At times the vision of an arif goes as far as to
understand the origin and beginning of his own
manifestation, to find the world in which he was hidden before birth and where he will reach after his death.
These thoughts lead him towards the reality of human
life and finally, up to the ultimate Truth.
Sometimes an arif reaches a point, where he knows
from where the first man came and how he came. And
who gave the power to the ‘jewel of his seed’ to produce another human being. In fact, in a drop of the human seed, a complete man is hidden, just like a tree
in a seed. In fertile soil, a seed unfolds itself in the
form of a tree. But who is the cause for its manifestation? Who is the Real Performer? Who is that Omnipotent by whose nature and work the very first
seed has come into existence? This truth makes it
evident that the final result of the flowering and fruition
of a tree is again the seed. Hence, the seed is beginning and the seed is the end.
Sometimes an arif, while seeking the knowledge of
God, reaches the realization that, the entity which he
has so addressed as the Eternal or the Absolute Being,
is in fact, the ultimate limit of this very realization. The
Real truth, is, in fact, far beyond the limits of human
realization, feelings and perception. [The arif realizes]
that he is helpless because of human perception and
wisdom. There is Truth and only Truth. For this reason,
the Holy Prophet (Peace be upon them) has said:
“Do not Meditate on the embodiment of the Almighty, Meditate on the signs and signals.”
When the knowledge of an arif proceeds towards the
realization that everything is contained within man
himself, then the vegetative kingdom (hair etc.), the
mineral kingdom (bones) and the animal kingdom
(microbes etc.) contained within his body testify this
fact. Mountains and rivers are visible within his body.
The light of the sun and the moon, which makes the apparent world visible, seems to manifest itself in his eyes and heart. He can see the sky and the earth within
himself. The hidden secrets are found within man
himself and this testifies that man himself is the secret
of the Almighty. The destructible world (alam-e-nasut)
lies in the human body. The Realm of Angels (alam-e-
malkut) is hidden in man’s conduct. The seat of God
(alam-e-Jabrut) is manifest in the heart of man. And
the realm where only God exists and none else (alam-
e-Lahut) is the hidden secret, in fact, it is the most
Man is limited within bounds and the name of the
Almighty (Allah) has its fixed position. But in true
reality both are limitless. Neither is there a limit to the
devotion of the servant, nor is there a limit to the
benevolence and sustaining qualities of the Almighty