Thursday, February 24, 2011


Continuous, selfless remembrance of God; DHIKR

Contained in Absolute, Infinite Unity are forces which emanate and become manifested as created beings. Each being, according to its nature, receives grace from these forces. In the realm of words, the manifestations of these forces, or truths, are expressed by Divine Names. Examples are: the Living (al-Hayy), meaning the life of creation is directly connected with Him; and the Transcendent (al-’Ali), meaning the force of the universe is with Him.

The Divine Names, in the continuous, selfless remembrance of God (dhikr), are prescribed by the master of the spiritual path, in order to cure disciples of the disease of the self and its desires and fears. But this remembrance is of no value unless all of one’s senses come to be fully centered on the meaning-reality of the respective Names. It is only by full acknowledgment and love of the reality of these Divine Names that attention to the self falls away. Then, the self becomes purified and adorned by the Divine Attributes.

There is a beautiful passage in the Quran I have meditated on that i would like to refer to. This passage as well as a few others form the basis for the sufi practice of Zikr.
The Most Excellent Names belong to God, use them to call on Him, and keep away from those who abuse them- they will be requited for what they do. [The Heights 7:180]

In Sufism there are 99 beautiful names of God we meditate on these names and experience the essence of what they mean on an interior level and are asked to contemplate the nature of God, praise God, and become living examples of His 99 qualities and actions. According to the Sufi Bawa Muhaiyadden an awakened heart is one which has 99 windows that open to the grace of God – (excuse my horrible paraphrasing.)

The greatest name for God is Allah. According to an esoteric Sufi tradition, the word Allâh is composed of the article al, and lâh, one of the interpretations of which is “nothing.” Thus the actual word Allâh means “the Nothing.” For the Sufi the fact that His greatest name means “the Nothing” has great significance, because Truth, or God, is experienced as the Nothingness. To say for the greatest thing is to feel one is loved is quite one sided. To feel one is Protected, one is Guided, One is Forgiven, to feel one is nothing, one is sustained these are extremely important.

For so long did the Beloved
face my open heart
that except for His Attributes and Nature
Nothing remained of that heart
~ Maghribi

This is not limited to Sufism only. I remember in my studies reading about the 108 names of Shiva in Hinduism, some of which are the Kind hearted Lord, Redeemer from Afflictions, One Who Bestows Peace etc. I have seen this also in the many prayer books I remember going through in Church, asking for protection, Faith, Mercy, etc

For so long did the Beloved
face my open heart
That except for His Attributes and Nature,
nothing remained of that heart.
– Maghrebi

Only in such a fashion can the repetition of the Divine Names be called the selfless remembrance of God (dhikr).

The disciple is like a machine whose energy comes from devotion. This machine, by means of the selfless remembrance of God, transmutes all of the self’s desires and fears into Divine Attributes. Gradually, the disciple’s self passes away and the Divine Nature becomes manifest; then the disciple truly becomes the recipient of the sufi cloak, and the heart and soul become illuminated by the grace of the Divine Attributes. At this point the disciple is worthy of entering the spiritual feast of the sufis, which takes place in the “Tavern of Ruin” (kharabat>. This is the spiritual state of ‘passing away of the self in God’ (fana). Here, the sufi directly perceives the secrets of the Truth. As is said in the Koran,

“Only the purified experience It (the Truth).”

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