Answered by Shaykh Abd al-Hafiz Makki
AN ANALYSIS OF THE EVIDENCE SUPPORTING THE PERMISSIBILITY OF MAJALIS (GATHERINGS) OF ZIKR IN THE MASAJID
Submitted by Shaykh Ashraf Dockrat
The subject of this paper, which analyses the permissibility of loud Zikr gatherings in Masajid, is a subject that has become a matter of substantial interest and discussion in the recent past. The visit of Mashaikh (Sufi Shaikhs) and their disciples to this country in the recent years, particularly the visit of Maulana Shaikh-al-Hadith Muhammad Zakariyya Saharanpuri (R), has given a great impetus to the establishment of Majalis-Zikr in various Masajid throughout the country. These Sufi Shaikhs have placed great emphasis on the importance and need for the establishment of Zikr gatherings in every Muslim locality and Masjid. The sources of the Qur’an and Sunnah, as well as the writings of the scholars of Islam, past and present, will be studied to understand their position on this issue. As many of the relevant texts of Qur’an, Ahadith and the practice of Sahabah (RA) and the Salaf-as-Saliheen (pious elders) as possible would be presented on this subject. Whilst it is conceded that some scholars have raised objections against the Majalis-Zikr, this paper sets out to review the subject of loud Zikr Majalis (gatherings) in the Masajid in the light of Shari’ah-based evidence.
All praises belong solely to Allah Ta’ala and salutations and peace be upon the final Messenger and upon all his family and companions. Amma-b’adu:
VERSES OF THE HOLY QUR’AN RELATING TO ZIKR
Many verses in the Qur’an exhort towards the Zikr of Allah, and they are Mutlaq (unrestricted). They encompass all types and forms of Zikr; whether individual or collective, loud or silent, in the Masjid or elsewhere. Some of these verses are quoted below:
"So remember Me (with Zikr) and I will remember you and be grateful unto Me and do not be ungrateful." 2:152
"(The intelligent ones are) Those who remember Allah standing and sitting and reclining and they ponder in the creation of the skies and the earth." 3:191
"Those who believe (in Allah) and their hearts acquire tranquility with the remembrance of Allah. Hear well! It is only through the remembrance of Allah that hearts acquire tranquility." 13:28
"(People of perfect Iman are those) Men whom trade or business does not distract from the remembrance of Allah." 24:37
"O Believers remember Allah in great abundance and glorify Him morning and evening." 33:41/42
"And as for him who (purposely) ignores the remembrance of Rahman, We assign a devil for him who is his (constant) companion." 43:36
"Has the time not dawned for the people of faith that their hearts should submit to the remembrance of Allah?" 57:16
"O Believers let not your wealth and your children distract you from the remembrance of Allah. Those who do so, they are certainly great losers." 63:9
"Shaitaan has overpowered them (the hypocrites) and hence made them forget the remembrance of Allah. They are the gang of Shaitaan and know well! The gang of Shaitaan are the (real) losers." 58:19
"And when they (hypocrites) stand up to offer Salah, they stand up with lethargy. They put up a show before the people (of offering Salah) and do not remember Allah but very little." 4:142
These and other verses regarding Zikr have been enumerated by many scholars on their works on the virtues and meritoriousness of Zikr, especially Shaikh Zakariyya (R) has accumulated many such verses in his work Fadhail-al-Zikr. A study of this work will present many other verses on this subject.
ZIKR IN THE LIGHT OF PROPHETIC TRADITIONS ( AHADITH)
After having enumerating certain verses of the Holy Qur’an, mention is now made of certain Ahadith relating to the subject of Zikr some of which are of a general nature (whether loud/soft, masjid/home, etc.) and some are quite specific i.e. Zikr in the Masjid or loud Zikr, which will be alluded to under the explanation of the said Ahadith. Ten Ahadith have been selected for this section.
Abu Hurairah (RA) narrates from Rasulullah (صلي الله عليه وسلم) that there is a group of angels who patrol the earth and wherever they find any gathering of Zikr they call out to each other and form a circle around this gathering that reaches to the sky. When this gathering disperses, they return to the sky where they are questioned by Allah Ta’ala, although He is All-knowing: Where have you come from? They reply: We come from a gathering of Your servants who are engaged in Tasbeeh, Takbeer and Tahmeed. Allah Ta’ala asks them: Have they seen Me? The angels reply: No. Allah Ta’ala asks: And what if they had seen Me? They reply: Then they would have engaged even more excessively in Your Ibadah and in Tasbeeh (glorifying of) You. Allah Ta’ala says: What are they asking for? They reply: They ask of You Jannah. Allah Ta’ala then asks: Have they seen Jannah? The angels reply: No. Allah Ta’ala asks: And what if they had seen Jannah? They reply: Then they would have been even more desirous, eager and keen for it. Allah Ta’ala says: What are they seeking refuge from? They reply: They ask refuge from the Fire (of Hell). Allah Ta’ala asks: Have they seen the Fire? The angels reply: No. Allah Ta’ala asks: And what if they had seen it? They reply: Then they would have tried harder to escape from it and they would have been more fearful of it. Allah Ta’ala says: I make you witness that I have pardoned them. One angel exclaims: A certain person was not from them. He came (coincidentally) for some work. Allah Ta’ala says: They are such a people that even those who sit with them (for other work) will not be deprived.
– Narrated by Bukhari, Muslim, Baihaqi
Shaikh Zakariyya’s (R) commentary on this Hadith:
This subject has also been narrated in numerous other traditions that the angels look for, listen to and sit with the ’gatherings‘ of Zikr.
Mu’awiyah (RA) narrates that Rasulullah (صلي الله عليه وسلم) once came forth to meet a group of the Sahabah (RA). He said: What has caused you to congregate here? They replied: We have congregated here to remember Allah Ta’ala and to praise Him for guiding us to Islam and blessing us with it. He said: By Allah! Is this the only reason for your gathering? They replied: By Allah! This is the only reason for our gathering. He said: I had not made you swear an oath because I disbelieved you but Jibraeel came to me and informed me that Allah Ta’ala is boasting about you before the angels.
- Narrated by Muslim, Tirmizi, Nasai, Ibn-Abi-Shaibah, Ahmad
Shaikh Zakariyya’s (R) commentary:
Mulla Ali Qari (R) explains that Allah boasts about these people because despite having worldly engagements, natural desires, temptations and the shaitaan trying to mislead them, they do not neglect and turn away from My remembrance; then the Zikr of the angels who are faced with none of these obstacles is no comparison to their Zikr.
Abu Hurairah (RA) narrates that Rasulullah (صلي الله عليه وسلم) said that Allah Ta’ala says: I treat my servant according to his opinion of Me and I am with him when he remembers Me; if he remembers Me privately, I remember him privately and if he remembers Me in public, I remember him in a gathering (of the angels which is) better than his gathering
- Narrated by Bukhari, Muslim, Tirmizi, Nasai, Ibn-Majah, Ahmad
Abu Hurairah and Hazrat Abu Sa’eed (RA) testify (upon oath) that Rasulullah (صلي الله عليه وسلم) said:
Any group of people who engage in the Zikr of Allah, the angels envelop them and mercy cascades upon them, tranquillity descends upon them and Allah remembers them in the presence of those who are by Him.
- Narrated by Muslim, Tirmizi, Ibn-Abi-Shaibah
It should be noted that this Hadith applies to Zikr in the Masjid and elsewhere
Anas (RA) narrates that Rasulullah (صلي الله عليه وسلم) said: When you pass the gardens of paradise then graze well. They asked: What are the gardens of paradise? He replied: The gatherings of Zikr
Shaikh Zakariyya’s (R) commentary:
It means that the fortunate one who has an opportunity of reaching such a gathering must feel privileged that he had an opportunity of going into a ‘garden of Paradise’ in this world. ‘Graze well’ means that just as an animal enjoys grazing in a pasture and cannot be moved away easily even if it is beaten by the owner, so too the person ‘grazing’ in the ‘gardens of paradise’ must not be quickly distracted by worldly concerns or fears but should try to remain there as long as possible. Just as Jannah is a place that is free from all sorts of calamities, so too the gatherings of Zikr are ‘safe-havens’; free from all worldly calamities. This Hadith is general and applies to a Masjid or any where else
Abdur Rahman bin Sahl bin Haneef (RA) reports that Rasulullah (صلي الله عليه وسلم) was in one of his homes when the following verse of the Qur’an was revealed:
"and attach yourself with those who call out to their Rabb morning and evening" 18:28
Rasulullah (صلي الله عليه وسلم) came forth in search of the people mentioned in this verse. He found a group of engaged in the remembrance of Allah; among them were those with disheveled hair and parched skin and dressed only with a single garment. He came close to them and sat down among them exclaiming: All praise belongs to Allah for having made in my Ummah such people whom (even) I have been instructed to sit with.
- Narrated by Tabrani, Ibn-Jareer
Shaikh Zakariyya’s (R) commentary:
In one Hadith it has been narrated that he searched for them and found them at the back of the Masjid, engaged in the remembrance of Allah. He stated similar words to the above Hadith and said: You (really) are my companions in life and after death. Shaikh Ibrahim Nakhai (R) says: الذين يدعون refers to those who are engaged in Zikr.
Abu Darda (RA) narrates that Rasulullah (صلي الله عليه وسلم) said: On the Day of Qiyamah certain people will be raised by Allah Ta’ala in such a manner that their faces will be illuminated and they will be seated upon thrones of pearls, envied by the people; they will neither be Messengers or Martyrs. A bedouin exclaimed: Describe them to us so that we may recognise them. He replied: Those who love each other for Allah's sake, coming from diverse tribes and different places, they gather for the remembrance of Allah.
- Narrated by Tabrani (as reported in Targheeb and Durr)
Shaikh Zakariyya’s (R) commentary:
These days, lots of criticisms are hurled against people who spend time in the Khanqah (centers for Zikr and spiritual training). Let the critics condemn as much as they wish, but tomorrow when people’s eyes will open, will they realise the value of the people of the Khanqahs who will be sitting on thrones made of pearls.
In one Hadith it has been narrated that the building wherein the Zikr of Allah is done, begins to shine for the inhabitants of the sky just as the stars shine for the people on earth. Abu Razeen (RA) a companion narrates that Rasulullah (صلي الله عليه وسلم) said: I will show you such a thing which will strengthen you in your Deen thereby causing you to succeed in both worlds; hold fast to the gatherings of Zikr and when you are in privacy, continue to engage in Zikr.
The virtues of the gatherings of Zikr have been mentioned in numerous Ahadith. In one Hadith it has been narrated that the best safeguard is Salaah and Majalis-Zikr. All of these Ahadith are mutlaq (non-specific); they could refer to Zikr gatherings in the Masjid and elsewhere.
Abu Sa’eed Khudri (RA) narrates that Rasulullah (صلي الله عليه وسلم) said: Engage so excessively in Zikr until they (wicked people) say He is mad!
- Narrated by Ahmad, Abu Ya’la, Haakim, Ibn-Hibban
Shaikh Zakariyya’s (R) commentary:
In another Hadith it has been narrated that engage so excessively in Zikr that the hypocrites call you an ostentatious person. From this Hadith it is clear that the hypocrites or foolish people may refer to you as a madman but this should not stop you from this wealth of Zikr. In fact, it is only loud and excessive Zikr that it will cause ignorant persons to regard him as a ‘madman’. Silent Zikr will not lead to this situation.
Hazrat Abdullah bin Abbas (RA) narrates that Allah did not make anything compulsory without setting a limit for it or accepting an excuse for it except Zikr. As for Zikr, there are no limits and no excuses are acceptable until a person is sane; hence Allah Ta’ala mentions that engage excessively in the ‘ Zikr of Allah’ this is under all possible circumstances.
Anas (RA) narrates that Rasulullah (صلي الله عليه وسلم) said: To sit with a group of people who engage in Zikr after Fajr until sunrise is more beloved to me than all that upon which the sun rises (i.e. all the things of this world) and from after Asr to sun set is more beloved to me than the whole world and whatever it contains.
- Narrated by Baihaqi, Isbahani
Abu Sa’eed Khudri (RA) narrates that Rasulullah (صلي الله عليه وسلم) said: Allah Ta’ala will say on the Day of Judgment: Today the multitudes shall know who are the people of esteem and honour. It was asked: Who are the people of honour O Messenger of Allah? He replied: The Majalis (gatherings) of Zikr in the Masjid - reported by Imam Suyuti in Natijatul-Fikr and Allamah Lucknowi in Sabahatul-Fikr on the authority of Ahmad, Abu-Ya’la and Ibn-Hibban
LOUD ZIKR IN THE MASJID FROM THE HADITH
After enumerating the above Ahadith on the subject of Majalis-Zikr, one Hadith that is specific to the subject of loud Zikr in the Masjid follows:
Zaid bin Aslam reports from a Sahabi (RA) that one night I walked with Rasulullah (صلي الله عليه وسلم) when he passed by a person in the Masjid who was engaged in loud Zikr. I said: O Messenger of Allah perhaps he is showing-off! He replied: No but in fact he is an Awwaah.
- Narrated by Baihaqi
Allamah Hafni (R) explains: Awwaah is that person who experiences pangs of pain in the heart due to overwhelming and ardent love for Allah. The name of that Sahabi was Abdullah Zul-Bujadain (RA)
Shaikh Zakariyya (R) comments on the incident narrated in this Hadith in greater detail. He states: Abdullah Zul-Bujadain (RA) was a Sahabi who became orphaned and was brought up by his uncle when he surreptitiously accepted Islam. When the uncle gained knowledge of this, he drove his nephew out of the house without a stitch of clothing on. His mother was equally angry at him but she was after all his mother so she spared him a coarse sheet to cover himself. Cutting the sheet into two pieces, he tied one around his waist and the other he draped around his shoulders and migrated to Madinah. Here he spent his days lying at the doorstep of Rasulullah (صلي الله عليه وسلم) engaging in excessive Zikr in a loud voice. Umar (RA) remarked that he was insincere. Rasulullah (صلي الله عليه وسلم) replied in the negative saying he was from the Awwaheen (check explanation above). He passed away at the occasion of Tabuk. Sahabah (RA) saw a light burning close to the grave and Rasulullah (صلي الله عليه وسلم) inside the grave, instructing Abu Bakr and Umar to pass the body of the deceased companion over to him. Thereafter, he prayed to Allah: "O Allah! I am pleased with him, You too be pleased with him." Observing this honour Ibn-Mas’ud (RA) exclaimed: I wish I was in his place.
Some people opine that loud Zikr is an innovation and forbidden in Islam. This is due to unawareness of the Hadith corpus. Maulana Abdul Hayy Lucknowi (R) has enumerated close onto fifty Ahadith on this subject in his work Sabahatul-Fikr which establishes the permissibility of loud Zikr. However, it is necessary to uphold the conditions and limits of the Shari’ah so that a person may not cause inconvenience to anyone ( Faza’il-Zikr)
VIEWS OF LEADING FUQAHA (JURISTS) ON THE SUBJECT OF LOUD ZIKR
VIEW OF MAULANA ABDUL HAYY (R)
The Ahadith cited in the previous pages have been recorded by Maulana Abdul Hayy in his Sabahatul-Fikr whereby he proves the permissibility of loud Zikr. He writes: "These are authentic Ahadith from which it is established that there is no karahat (aversion or abhorrence) in Islam for loud Zikr. On the contrary, the jawaz or istihbaab (approval) of it is manifest and why would it not be so when loud Zikr has the capacity to soften the heart in a way which soft Zikr cannot do."
Writing further on, he quotes extensively the statements of Shaikh Abdul Haqq Muhaddith Dehlawi (R) from his work Tawseel-al-Mureed-ilal-Murad:
"It is permissible and allowed to engage in loud Zikr and Tilawah and to congregate for Zikr in Majalis (gatherings) and the Masjids"
VIEW OF ALLAMAH DIMYAATI (R)
Writing at the beginning of his work, he quotes Allamah Abdul Mawla Dimyaati (R) from his work Ta’aleequl-Anwaar from the chapter on Ahkaam-al-Masajid in Durrul-Mukhtar where it is stated that loud Zikr is forbidden in the Masjid because of the incident of Hazrat Ibn-Mas’ud (RA) who drove out some persons engaged in loud Zikr from the Masjid stating that they were bidatis (innovators). Allamah Dimyaati clarifies this matter in the following words: "But Allamah Hafni states in his work Fadhl-Tasbeeh-wat-Tahleel that what is reported from Ibn-Mas’ud (the incident of loud Zikr) in the Masjid is not authentic, the proof of which is an authentic narration of Abu Wa’il (student of Ibn-Mas’ud) in Kitabuz-Zuhd as follows:
"This what people have attributed to Ibn-Mas’ud that he prevented loud Zikr (is incorrect) because whenever I sat with him in any gathering, he always engaged in loud Zikr". Further on he states: The evidence of the desirability of loud Zikr can also be inferred from the narration of Imam Baihaqi (R) from the incident of the person (Abdullah Zul-Bujadain) who was making loud Zikr in the Masjid when Rasulullah (صلي الله عليه وسلم) passed by him, referring to him as being an Awwah. From this it is clearly established that loud Zikr is allowed.
VIEW OF ALLAMAH RAMALI (R)
Similarly, Maulana Abdul Hayy quotes in Sabahatul-Fikr from Allamah Khairuddin Ramali Hanafi’s (R) Fatawa-Khairiyya:
"Shaikh Ibrahim from Damascus questioned with regard to the practice of the Sufis making circles of loud Zikr in the Masjid and the loud rendering of gnostic poems. Some people regard this age-old practice of the Sufis as illegal, is this true?"
Allamah Ramali (R) responded:
"The circles of Zikr and the loud Zikr and the rendering of gnostic poems is established from the Hadith such as:
- an authentic tradition of Bukhari, Muslim, Tirmizi, Nasai, Ibn-Majah, Ahmad.
Loud Zikr in a gathering is permitted. Similarly, the circles of Zikr and the surrounding of the angels of these gatherings are all established from the Hadith. Yes the practice of silent Zikr is also established from some traditions. These traditions which support silent or loud Zikr can easily be reconciled in this way that they apply to different persons under different circumstances and states, as is the case of the traditions that support loud or silent Tilawah of the Holy Qur’an. As for the Hadith that states: خير الذكر الخفي (The best Zikr is silent Zikr) this tradition is also not contradictory of the practice of loud Zikr as it refers to the situation when ostentation or disturbance to musallis or sleeping persons is feared. Some scholars opine that loud Zikr is preferable as it benefits not only the one engaged in Zikr but also serves as encouragement for those around him, thus it is superior"
VIEW OF IMAM SUYUTI (R)
Hafiz Suyuti (R) writes in his work Natijatul-Fikr on the authority of Imam Nawawi (R) that just as the traditions of loud and silent Tilawah maybe combined according to varying circumstances, so too is the case of loud and silent Zikr. In case of fear of riya (show) or disturbance to musallis or sleeping persons, silent Zikr will be preferable; but where such situations to do not exist, loud Zikr will be more estimable and meritorious as loud Zikr arouses others as much as it enlivens the heart of the Zakir, focuses his thoughts, drives away sleepiness and reinvigorates him. Hence it has been recounted from the Sufis that loud Zikr has a very powerful effect in eliminating vile thoughts and evil whisperings from the mind and heart.
Hafiz Suyuti (R) commences his work Natijatul-Fikr with the following lines:
"May Allah honour you! Your question on the practice of the Sufis forming circles of Zikr in the Masjids and reciting the Kalimah in a loud voice refers; is this permitted or not?"
Reply: There is nothing objectionable in this at all; in fact the istihbaab (approval) of loud Zikr can be established from many Ahadith … Thereafter, Imam Suyuti (R) recounts 25 Ahadith with detailed commentary regarding the subject of loud Zikr.
Imam Suyuti has further narrated a tradition from Kitabuz-Zuhd of Imam Ahmad bin Hambal (R) on the authority of Hazrat Thabit al-Bunani (R) that the Zakir sits down (in a gathering of Zikr) with heaps of sins upon his head and leaves the gathering without a single sin (as he is forgiven due to the Zikr -Majlis).
VIEWS OF ALLAMAH IBN ABIDEEN SHAMI (R)
Maulana Nisar Ahmad al-Husaini quotes Allamah Ibn-Abideen Shami (R) from his work Raddul-Muhtar in his important article on Majalis-Zikr as follows:
"On the commentary notes of Hamawi it is reported on the authority of Imam Sha’rani (R): The Ulama’, past and present are unanimous upon the Istihbaab (meritoriousness) of Zikr gatherings in the Masajid and elsewhere, except if their loud Zikr disturbs the rest of a person, a Musalli or a Qari (Reciter of Qur’an)"
VIEW OF SHAH WALIULLAH (R)
Hazrat Shah Waliullah (R) writes in his renowned Hujjatullah-al-Balighah:
"There is no doubt that the gathering of Muslims for the purpose of Zikr is a source of blessing, tranquility and proximity of the angels" (v.2/p.70)
VIEWS OF THE LEADING ULAMA (SCHOLARS) OF DEOBAND ON THE SUBJECT OF LOUD ZIKR
In this section, the incidents and viewpoints of the leading scholars of the renowned institution of Deoband are recounted:
ZIKR OF HAZRAT MAULANA RASHID AHMAD GANGOHI (R)
Maulana Aashiq-Ilahi Meeruti (R) writes in Tadhkiratur-Rasheed (p.48) regarding the initial meeting of Maulana Gangohi with his spiritual guide, Hajee Imdadullah Makki Farouqi (R). Describing the first evening, he writes:
"Finally, he awoken, performed wudhu and entered the Masjid where Hajee Sahib was already engaged in his spiritual occupations in one corner of the Masjid. Maulana Gangohi went to the other corner, offered his Tahajjud (night prayers) and engaged in loud Zikr of the Kalimah ( Nafi-Ithbaat)"
Maulana Gangohi (R) explaining the above incident in his account states: "Finally, I commenced the loud Zikr. My voice was clear and good, my body healthy and strong. That morning Hajee Sahib retorted: Your Zikr was very much like that of an accomplished, old-time Zakir. From that day on, I developed a deep attachment for loud Zikr that I never felt inclined to discarding, nor is there any Shari’ reason of prohibition that I came to know of for leaving it. When an attendant asked Maulana what happened then? He replied with an amazing reply: "After that I was annihilated."
This incident is clear evidence of Maulana Gangohi’s love for loud Zikr from the very inception, his lifelong devotion to it and the effect it had upon him. This love for loud Zikr is a common heritage of all his followers, disciples and admirers.
In one of his discourses, Qari Tayyib (R) stated that outside the Khanqah of Maulana Gangohi (R) there was a large pond. On the opposite side of this pond was a little Masjid where Maulana Yahya (father of Shaikhul-Hadith) used to live with a few associates. In the latter part of the night, loud Zikr used to start-up in the Khanqah as well as the Masjid of Maulana Yahya (R). The entire environs and surroundings of the pond area used to reverberate with the sound of loud Zikr. Such was the effect of this Zikr that the washer men around the lake also used to join in and it became their lifelong practice to make loud Zikr while occupied in their work of washing clothes.
A similar version has been written Maulana Zakariyya (R) in his impressive work Shariat-wa-Tariqat-ka-talazum (p.4):
"Even the most unlettered persons among the disciples of Maulana Gangohi adhered strictly to the Sunnah. They were so steadfast on the practice of Tahajjud that such firmness I did not encounter even among great men. Even the fifty to sixty washer men around the pond of the Khanqah would engage in loud Zikr in the latter part of the night instead of making other noises or sounds."
ZIKR AT BANGLA-WALI MASJID, TABLIGH JAMAAT HEAD-QUARTERS AT NIZAMUDDIN, NEW DELHI
There numerous accounts from many persons who had met Hazrat Maulana Ilyas (R) that it was the standing practice at Bangla-Wali Masjid in Nizamuddin for the people to awaken in the latter part of the night to offer their Tahajjud Salaah and then engage in loud Zikr in the Masjid and the courtyard, right until the time of Fajr Jamaat.
In 1959 and 1960, in the era of Maulana Yusuf (R), I personally witnessed many people engaging in loud Zikr before the Fajr Jamaat inside and outside the Masjid. The entire Masjid area would reverberate with the sound of their loud Zikr.
ZIKR AT KHANQAH IMDADIYYAH ASHRAFIYYA IN THANABHAWAN
In his article entitled Khanqah Ashrafiyyah Imdadiyyah Mufti Abdur-Rauf Sukkarwi describes the details of the Khanqah under different headings. He writes under the sub-heading ‘Practices of the people of the Khanqah’:
"The people would recite their Wazaif in the Masjid after Fajr and some would recite the Holy Qur’an, while others would engage in loud Zikr until sunrise. Then lessons would commence."
Hajee Farouq (R) writes in his Majalis-Zikr (p.3): "When Maulana Thanwi would engage in his Zikr after Tahajjud, Khwaja Sahib and others would join him in his Zikr; Maulana would not prevent them from doing so."
Mufti Shafi (R) writes in his work Aadabul-Masajid: "It is impermissible to make loud Zikr in the Masjid and to recite the Qur’an loudly.. "
At the time of the second edition, Mufti Shafi (R) requested Maulana Thanwi (R) to review certain sections ear-marked for this purpose. Maulana Thanwi undertook the reviewing and wrote an addendum to this entitled Da’bul-Masajid-fi-Aadabil-Masajid. In this section he comments on this mas’ala: "It is impermissible to make loud Zikr in the Masjid and to recite the Qur’an loudly…" There are numerous views on this issue. The summation of all of these views is what has been mentioned by Allamah Ibn-Abideen Shami (R) as follows:
"On the commentary notes of Hamawi it is reported on the authority of Imam Sha’rani (R): The Ulama’, past and present are unanimous upon the Istihbaab (meritoriousness) of Zikr gatherings in Masajid and elsewhere, except if their loud Zikr disturbs the rest of a person, a Musalli or a Qari (Reciter of Qur’an)."
In the above synopsis, all views are covered and those who have prohibited it, have most probably done so on the basis of saddan-lil-baab (as a preventative measure) - this prohibition applies to the Masjid particularly. As for loud Zikr by itself, the preferable view is it is allowed if it is not excessively loud. And Allah knows best.
ZIKR OF MAULANA FAQEER MUHAMMAD (R) AT KHANQAH ASHRAFIYYAH IN PESHAWAR
Maulana Thanwi’s (R) senior Khalifa, Maulana Faqeer Muhammad (R), like Shaikh Zakariyya (R) was greatly concerned in the latter years about the revitalisation of the Khanqah system. Hence in his Khanqah-Ashrafiyya in Peshawar, the Majalis of loud Zikr were commenced in his lifetime and continue even after his demise. Maulana used to participate himself and used to encourage others also. Maulana Azizur-Rahman Hazarwi, Khalifah of Shaikh Zakariyya (R) narrates: "Mufti Mukhtar, Prof. Masarrat Hussain and myself would go together to visit Maulana at his Khanqah. He would inquire if we had completed our Zikr and we would reply in the affirmative. He would urge us to make more Zikr and he would also join us in Zikr. At times he would call upon the students to join in and at times he would get the students and Musallis to join him in loud Zikr after Fajr Salaah. Once Maulana (R) went to Rawalpindi to visit Maulana Najmul-Hasan (R). Prof. Masarrat Shah was with him. He called for me and in that one day, loud Zikr-Majlis was held in three Masajid. After Fajr at Masjid-Siddiq, after Zuhr at Saddar Masjid and after Asr at Wah Cantt. After Zuhr there was a huge gathering and Hazrat had the entire congregation join him in Barah-Tasbeeh Zikr. Maulana then emphasised upon me and Maulana Najmul-Hasan to continue this practice here and called upon the gathering to continue inviting us to conduct such Zikr-Majlis programs."
Once Maulana was engaged in loud Zikr in the Haram of Makkah, when some person tried to prevent him from doing so, he recited the verse:
"Who can be a greater oppressor than the person who prevents the Zikr of Allah’s name in the Houses of Allah" 2:114
VIEW OF MAULANA MADANI (R)
An article appeared in the monthly journal Anwar-Madinah entitled: The Shari’ position of Zikr Majalis in the light of a letter of Maulana Madani (R) from Maktoobat v.2/p.11. We reproduce this letter here due to its general benefit:
Question: A narration of Abdullah bin Abbas (RA) in Musnad Darimi (p.38) states:
"We used to sit at the door of Ibn-Mas’ud (RA) before Fajr to accompany him to the Masjid for Fajr Salaah. One day, Abu Musa Ash’ari (RA) suddenly arrived appearing disconcerted and perturbed, enquiring if Ibn-Mas’ud had already left for the Masjid or not? We said he had not left as yet. When Ibn-Mas’ud appeared, Abu Musa explained: I have just come from the Masjid-Nabawi and I observed an innovated practice there, though superficially it appeared to be good. I saw a number of people seated in circles, awaiting Salaah, with pebbles in their hands (for Zikr); one person in each circle would call out: Read a hundred Takbeers and they would do so. Then he would call out: Read a hundred Tahleel and they would do so and he would say: Read a hundred Tasbeehs and they would follow. Ibn-Mas’ud asked what he said to them. He replied that he said nothing as he was awaiting Ibn-Mas’ud to address them. When they arrived at the Masjid, they found the group engaged in their Zikr as described by Abu Musa. Ibn-Mas’ud asked them what they were doing. They replied that they were counting their Zikr on the pebbles. He said to them: Instead of counting Zikr rather count your sins on these pebbles. Lamentable is your situation, O Ummah of Muhammad (صلي الله عليه وسلم)! How quickly have you deviated! The companions of Rasulullah (صلي الله عليه وسلم) are still in your midst in large numbers! The utensils of Rasulullah (صلي الله عليه وسلم) have not as yet broken! Have you gone on a way that is better and more rightly-guided than that of Muhammad (صلي الله عليه وسلم)? The people apologised profusely for their action, saying: By Allah! We had not intended anything but good! Ibn-Mas’ud retorted: How many desire good but are unable to attain good!"
(The purpose of posing this question to Maulana Madani (R) was to get clarification regarding the many practices of the Sufis which appear to be innovations in the light of the above Hadith. Maulana responded in a manner that dispels all misgivings surrounding the practices of the Sufis)
Answer: Maulana Madani quotes three narrations; Hadith 1 & 3 of this booklet and a third narration of Darimi as follows:
Abdullah bin Amr (RA) narrates that Rasulullah (صلي الله عليه وسلم) passed by two groups of people in his Holy Masjid and stated: Both of them are meritorious but one group is superior to the other. This group is engaged heart and soul in Dua (supplication) to Allah Ta’ala; if He wishes, He may grant them and if He wishes, He may withhold from them. As for the other group, they are engaged in learning and understanding (of Islam) and teaching the ignorant, they are superior, and I have only been sent as a teacher. Saying so, he sat down with them (the group engaged in teaching and learning). Thereafter, Maulana Madani (R) writes:
"These (three) and numerous other traditions of this nature are narrated by Shaikhain (Imams Bukhari & Muslim) and others. In the light of these authentic Marfu’ (prophetic) traditions, what is the merit of the Mua’quf traditions of Darimi cited by you, more so when the narrators are not even unanimously accepted? Even if the narrators are considered authentic, on a comparative basis, the above narrations will certainly be given preference, moreover when these traditions are endorsed by verses of the Holy Qur’an such as the verse:
"(The intelligent ones are) Those who remember Allah standing and sitting and reclining and they ponder in the creation of the skies and the earth" 3:191; and the verse:
"O Believers! remember Allah in great abundance and glorify Him morning and evening" 33:41/42 from which the individual and collective and all other forms of Zikr are established. If an attempt is made to reconcile this narration (of Daarimi) with the Qur’anic verses and authentic Ahadith, then it could be surmised that these leading companions noticed some abnormality or deviation from the norm which prompted their censure of this group, not the fact that collective Zikr itself was the action worthy of censure. If it is not understood in this light (above explanation) then would it not lead to a situation where verses of the Holy Qur’an and confirmed Ahadith will have to be rejected and renounced? This prohibition (of the two Sahabah) will thus be taken on the basis of some unusual misdoing of these people that they observed. And Allah knows best." - Hussain Ahmad, 22/11/1370
ZIKR OF MAULANA GHULAM MUHAMMAD DEENPURI (R)
Hafiz Nisar Ahmad, Khalifa of Qazi Zahid al-Hussaini (R) writes in his article Majalis-Zikr regarding Maulana Deenpuri (R):
He was rated among the senior Awliya (saints). He played an invaluable role in the Reshmi Rumal movement of Shaikhul-Hind (R). He was the spiritual mentor of Maulana Ubaidullah Sindhi (R). Maulana Madani (R) was honoured with Khilafah (spiritual vicegerency) by him. Maulana Ahmad Ali Lahori (R) was his Khalifah. In his Khanqah at Deenpur, a Zikr-Majlis used to be held daily. Haami Ubaidi writes in his biography:
"After Maghrib Maulana Deenpuri used to conduct the loud Zikr-Majlis on the Qadiriyyah method which is referred to as Halqa-Zikr. Maulana used to participate in this gathering himself, at home and on journey. The duration was between twenty to twenty-five minutes. In Ramadhan, after every four Rak’ats of Taraweeh Salaah, one Tasbeeh (count of hundred) used to be completed. Upon the completion of the Zikr-Halqa, Muraqabah (contemplation) and Dua used to take place" - Yade-Baidhaa
ZIKR OF MAULANA AHMAD ALI LAHORI (R)
Maulana Lahori (R) is regarded among the senior saints of this era. In the Deeni, political and other fronts, he was an acclaimed guide of the Ummah. He was the Khalifah of Maulana Deenpuri (R). Thousands of Ulama and laymen were spiritually linked to him. On the pattern of his Shaikh he held a loud Zikr-Majlis every Thursday evening after Maghrib Salah. This was his lifelong practice. He established numerous such Zikr-Majalis on his authority, and even to this day, besides Indo-Pak, his silsilah (spiritual following) is found in the Middle-East and Europe.
After his demise, his spiritual successor (and his son), Maulana Ubaidullah Anwar (R) continued with the Zikr-Majlis every Thursday in the Sherawala-Masjid and this humble one also had on several occasions joined his Zikr gathering in which about two hundred people participated.
ZIKR OF MAULANA QAZI MUHAMMAD ZAHID AL-HUSAINI (R)
Hafiz Nisar Ahmed writes: Maulana Qazi Muhammad Zahid al-Husaini Sahib (R) is regarded among the leading scholars of this era. He was the student of Maulana Madani (R) and the Khalifah of Maulana Lahori (R). He combined in himself the sciences of Shari’ah and Tariqah and was equally adept at writing and oratory, in which his services will always be remembered. Excessive Zikr was ingrained in his life and he always impressed this upon his disciplines as well. He considered Zikr and Majalis-Zikr as the panacea of all evils in this era and was very active in establishing the Zikr-Majlis. The Madinah Masjid, Attock is witness to his engrossment with Zikr. He used to regard the Zikr-Majlis as the cure for all spiritual and social maladies. Towards the latter part of his life, he was very active in the propagation of Zikr-Majalis.
THE DAILY ZIKR-MAJALIS OF SHAIKH MAULANA ZAKARIYYA (R)
Maulana Zakariyya (R), in the years of his teaching, used to engage in writing from seven to eleven in the morning, in his upstairs room. In the courtyard, outside his room, floor mats were laid out, on which various persons used to come and complete their stipulated Zikr.
Then every Friday, between Asr and Maghrib, Shaikh Zakariyya’s practice was to sit for I’itikaaf (seclusion) in the Masjid. At this time, many of his associates and disciples used to join him. Most of them used to engage in loud Zikr at this time as a result of which the Masjid used to reverberate with the sound of their Zikr. It was common knowledge that Shaikh Zakariyya used to dedicate this time in the Masjid every week and as such many people from all over used to join him. Lecturers and students from Deoband used to come and Mufti Mahmood Gangohi (R) used to attend with utmost punctuality. This after Asr gathering of loud Zikr in the Masjid on Fridays continued all year round. The leading Ulama and Muftiyan of India (and elsewhere) used to occasionally attend these gatherings and none is reported to have objected to it at any time.
The time fixed for loud Zikr during the period of I’itikaaf of Shaikh Zakariyya’s (R) Ramadhan Khanqah Program used to be between Zuhr and Asr. Leading Ulama, Muftis, Mashaikh and luminaries used to participate in this gathering of loud Zikr in the Masjid. The Ramadhan of 1400 was spent at the Masjid of Mufti Zainul-Aabideen in Faisalabad, Pakistan. On this occasion, besides the multitudes of common people, great personalities such as Mufti Mahmood Gangohi, Mufti Wali Hasan (R) and other great persons were not only present but actively participated in the loud Zikr-Majalis.
In 1968, Shaikh Zakariyya (R) gave up teaching and commenced his travels the year after this, right until his demise on 1 Shabaan 1403 (1982). In this entire duration, it was his heart-felt desire and burning concern that somehow, the gatherings of Zikr must become established everywhere so that people could move away from materialism and carnality towards the Zikr and obedience of Allah.
Not only did Shaikh Zakariyya (R) consider this practice to be extremely beneficial for the Awaam (general public), but he also considered it important for the Khawaas (the elite) and the Madaris (Institutes of higher learning). The Shaikh was not only a great Alim and Mudarris (teacher), but he was a patron and benefactor of innumerable Madaris, he therefore, drew the attention of the leading authorities of his time towards this.
SHAIKH ZAKARIYYA (R) MEETS MUFTI SHAFI (R) IN PRIVACY TO EXPRESS HIS CONCERNS
In this respect, he once met privately with Mufti Shafi (R) and expressed his concerns in this regard which was recorded by the son of Mufti Shafi, Mufti Rafi Usmani, present Rector of Darul-Uloom, Karachi under the heading An important advice of Hazrat Shaikh. He writes: "It was the norm with Shaikh (R) that whenever he came to Karachi, there would be huge multitudes of people around him at all times. He however, emphasised to his attendants to set aside some time for a visit to Darul-Uloom Karachi. On his last visit to Karachi, he requested a private meeting with my father (Mufti Shafi). The room was cleared and they held their private meeting. After he left, my respected father told me: Shaikh (R) mentioned to me that the practice of Zikr and Shagl (spiritual exercises) was almost extinct in the Madaris resulting in Fitnahs, power-struggles and in-fighting. It is my humble appeal that just as you have arranged for the board and lodge of students here, also make similar arrangements for your spiritual disciples to come and stay over here so that they could engage in Zikr and Shagl and for a short period daily, even the Asaatiza (lecturers) and students should participate in the Zikr program" - Akabir-ka-Ikhlas p.33
Similarly, Shaikh’s (R) letters to Maulana Binnori in this respect have been printed in al-Bayyinat and in his Aap-Beti. It appears as though it was Shaikh’s mission now to re-establish the decrepit Khanqahs, to establish new ones and in the interim period, to at least establish daily or weekly Zikr-Majalis in Masjids or homes even. Shaikh used to weep sorrowfully upon the opposition or disinterest shown to the importance of Khanqah and Zikr-Majalis from opponents, but more so, even from certain associates and friends. He used to engage in lots of Dua upon this. This matter has been covered in captivating detail by Sufi Iqbal Muhajir-Madani (R) in his Majalis-Zikr-aur-Hazrat-Shaikh.
THE VIEW OF SHAIKH ZAKARIYYA (R) ON THE IMPORTANCE OF THE MAJALIS-ZIKR
The views of Shaikh Zakariyya (R) and his untiring efforts for the establishment of the Zikr-Majalis is known and was witnessed by hundreds of his disciples and servants. Shaikh Zakariyya (R) was eager and desirous for the chronicles of his journeys ( Safarnamah) should be published for this very reason (that the main purpose of his journeys must become known). In the introduction of his Safarnamah, his letter to the compiler, Mufti Muhammad Shahid of Karachi is included. An extract of his letter is quoted here:
"It is a source of happiness that the Safarnamah is being published. May Allah allow it to reach completion. Innumerable requests for me to spend the coming Ramadhan are being received by me in Madinah from many people. My dear ones! For how long are you people going to drag this old man along all over? Now all of you should start the work off in your own centres, establish the gatherings of Zikr, and get down to work. After all, it is you people who now have to take over this work."
SHAIKH ZAKARIYYA’S LETTER TO MAULANA ABUL HASAN ALI NADWI (R)
"It is my firm conviction that the remedy for all evils is the Zikr of Allah. For this very aim I am wandering from country to country, because the Khanqahs have become extinct all over the world." These types of letters were written in large numbers to many persons in different countries of the world. When ever a reply came that Majalis-Zikr was established in a certain place, Shaikh Zakariyya (R) would write a letter to the people there, expressing his immense joy and blessing them with Duas. There are several hundred such letters.
THE VIEW OF MAULANA YUSUF LUDHIANWI ON THE REASONS FOR SHAIKH ZAKARIYYA’S (R) ZEAL FOR THE ESTABLISHMENT OF ZIKR-MAJALIS
Maulana Yusuf Ludhianwi writes in the Safarnamah that in the modern times, due to the preponderance of materialism, Beliefs have become shaky, the value of righteous deeds have dwindled and the attributes of Yaqeen, Ikhlas, Ihsaan and Zikrullah have all but departed from the hearts of people. The Khanqahs are vacant and forsaken, as a result of which the Ummah is deprived not only of the wealth of Ta’alluq-ma’allah (attachment with Allah) but even in the external forms of dress, appearance, mannerism, social customs, practices, ideology and thoughts; it has become difficult to distinguish between a Muslim and non-Muslim. This pitiable and miserable condition of the Ummah is sufficient to fill the heart of every sensitive person with worry and concern for the Ummah. What could then be said about the extent of grief and worry for the Ummah of that person who was the carrier of the combined spiritual force of the Akaabireen (spiritual elders) and their spokesperson, Shaikh Zakariyya (R)? Like an expert specialist doctor, he was able to diagnose the spiritual diseases and disorders of the Ummah and prescribe its effective treatment and cure. Therefore, in the latter part of his life, he was passionately consumed by the mission of reviving the system of Zikrullah and to join the broken ties of the creation with the Creator. This was the actual panacea of this spiritual sickness. It was for this purpose that Shaikh Zakariyya (R) undertook his arduous journeys; this was the main topic of discussion in his gatherings, the primary subject of all his letters and correspondences; all of this was to enliven the Majalis of Zikr and to get maximum participation of people for these gatherings of Zikr.
THE ESTABLISHMENT OF MAJALIS-ZIKR IN SOUTH AFRICA
At one instance he writes regarding the establishment of Zikr Majalis in South Africa as follows: "A substantial amount of time was spent in South Africa (by Shaikh Zakariyya). Even Ramadhan was spent in the Masjid of Stanger. In Ramadhan and especially during I’itikaaf, Shaikh Zakariyya used to intensely dislike any unnecessary talk; announcements were regularly made that ‘eat as much as you wish, sleep as you like, read as much as you want, but do not speak at all. I have only one restriction - Do not talk!’ Despite this, in the last ten days of I’itikaaf, Shaikh Zakariyya instructed all of his South African Khulafa to be gathered (for consultation) to set up the system of Majalis-Zikr in the country; where will these be held, who will attend, how these gatherings will be established and strengthened, etc. These consultation gatherings continued for four nights and up to two hours per session were spent for these. Shaikh Zakariyya used to be informed regularly about the outcome of these consultations, which he listened to very attentively and used to express happiness and give lots of Dua for it. The following six noteworthy gatherings were setup out of these consultations:
At these places, daily Majalis-Zikr were decided and besides these, another seven places also indicated similar intentions.
ZIKR-MAJALIS OF MUFTI MAHMOOD GANGOHI (R)
Despite the extensive journeys of Shaikh Zakariyya (R) and his concern and personal involvement in establishing the Zikr-Majalis in various countries of the world, no word of protest or objection was ever raised against this mission of his, though senior Muftis and ‘Ulama’ always accompanied him and were part of his entourage. A steady stream of these learned scholars were always coming to meet him, yet never was any objection raised before him about the Zikr-Majalis in the Masajid, but in fact approval and praises were heaped upon him from all sides for the benefit that was being witnessed from these Majalis.
From the senior and accomplished ‘Ulama’ who were associated with him, the name of Mufti Mahmood Hasan Gangohi (R) tops the list. Previously it was mentioned (p.41-42) that Mufti Mahmood, accompanied by a group of lecturers and students of Darul-Uloom Deoband, used to regularly visit Shaikh Zakariyya (R) every Friday in Saharanpur and participate in the loud Zikr-Majlis that used to take place in the Masjid of the old Madrasah from Asr till Maghrib.
After the demise of Shaikh Zakariyya (R), Mufti Mahmood’s practice remained the same as that of Shaikh Zakariyya (R) in his Ramadhan I’itikaaf programs. In this program, after Zuhr, all the Mu’takifeen and other persons used to engage in loud Zikr in the Masjid with intense engrossment.
During the rest of the year, this loud Zikr-Majlis used to be held daily in the Chattha Masjid in Darul-Uloom Deoband. Upon enquiry from the Khadime-Khaas (Personal attendant) of Mufti Mahmood, Maulana Ibrahim Pandor, it was learnt that in the beginning the Zaakireen were not that many, so the Zikr-Majlis used to be held in Mufti Mahmood’s chambers (adjacent to the Masjid), but as the number of persons grew towards the last three years of his life, the crowd could not be accommodated in his quarters so all the Zaakireen used to congregate in the Masjid for the daily loud Zikr-Majlis. During Mufti Mahmood’s extensive journeys, Zikr-Majalis were held daily where ever he used to go, at times in Masajid and at times elsewhere.
Locally and abroad, Zikr-Majlis was the constant practice of Mufti Mahmood. In Darul-Uloom, he would be based at the Chattha Masjid where daily after Fajr, the Zikr-Majlis would be held with utmost regularity. His very being and personage was ‘a mobile Khanqah’.
The editor of Darul-Uloom Monthly Journal writes: "Even towards the latter part of his life, lengthy ilmi (academic) and islahi (reformatory) Majlis-sessions were conducted by Mufti Mahmood. Wa’z (Discourses) and Majlis-Zikr were a regular feature. Long and short journeys would also be undertaken during which the administrators and management of numerous Madaris and spiritual associates and disciples would be met. Huge Ijtimas (gatherings) would also be addressed. It has been the outstanding feature of Darul-Uloom that from its very inception, effort was expended on both the branches of Ilm and Zikr. Until the era of Maulana Madani (R), without any type of interruption or deficiency, this blessed arrangement and system continued at the Darul-Uloom. Upon the arrival of Mufti Mahmood in Darul-Uloom, this system has once more been revived and Chattha Masjid, Mufti Mahmood’s residence at Darul-Uloom has become transformed into a Khanqah. In the last ten to fifteen years, such has been the attraction of people towards Mufti Mahmood that Chattha Masjid virtually echoes continuously with the Zikr of Allah." (p.10-12)
From these instances, it is understood without doubt that it was the consensus of the senior scholars that they regarded the loud Zikr-Majalis in the Masajid as not only permissible but in fact, Mustahab (meritorious).
Furthermore, it is to be noted that the actual objective is the establishment and setting-up of Majalis-Zikr which has been emphasised in Qur’an and Sunnah. As has been stated previously, it is better to establish these in homes or private venues due to certain factors, but if this is not possible due to space restrictions or other reasons, as is commonly the case, then there is absolutely no prohibition of holding loud Zikr sessions ( Majalis) in the Masjid, but is in fact deemed to be Mustahab (preferable) as has been substantiated from the research and findings of the experts and authorities of Ifta. However, it is necessary to uphold all the conditions stipulated for loud Zikr in the Masjid at all times, which however are easy and simple, and to the best of our knowledge are being complied with. An appeal is also being directed towards them to further ensure that all the conditions are complied with greater regularity, as the objective is to acquire the pleasure of Allah and may it not be that due to contravention of the etiquette of the Masjid the reward of this act is diminished in anyway or in fact, total deprivation of rewards occur.
THE ZIKR-MAJALIS OF KHANQAH OF RAIPUR
Regarding the nights and days of this Khanqah and the resonance of Zikrullah here, Maulana Abul Hasan Ali Nadwi (R) writes under the chapter, "The Khanqah of Raipur Shareef" in the biography of Maulana Raipuri (R): "In the silent atmosphere of the jungles of Raipur, the sounds of the Zikr of Allah would permeate the air and according to their abilities and propensities, people would derive great benefit from this. A general sense and feeling of spiritual joy would prevail. At such a time, everyone would be free to be occupied in his own world, none would intervene with another at this time."
Writing further on, Maulana Nadwi (R) states:
"The first, foremost and most conspicuous thing that would assail the first time or frequent visitor to Raipur would be the abundance of Zikr. It would appear as if the sound of Allah’s Zikr was emanating from every leaf and twig of every tree. Hardly any time of day or night would pass when the sound of Zikrullah could not be heard." (p.121)
Maulana Nadwi records an important advice of Maulana Raipuri (R) on the account of Maulana Abdul Waheed: "I advise you with just one advice; Hold fast onto the Zikr of Allah with utmost firmness, do not listen to anyone in this regard no matter how much proof they may present to you (to the contrary). Take my personal experience to be your guide in this matter." (p.338)
THE BENEFITS OF MAJALIS-ZIKR ACCORDING TO OTHER ‘ ULAMA’
Maulana Ashraf Ali Thanwi (R) writes in at-Takashshuf (p.329): Imam Abu Da’ud records from Abu Hurairah (RA) that Rasulullah (صلي الله عليه وسلم) said: Never do a people gather in a house of Allah (Masjid) to recite the Book of Allah (Qur’an) and to learn and teach each other but that peace of heart, special mercies and Angels envelop them and Allah Ta’ala speaks of them before the angels.
N.B. The ‘gatherings of Zikr’ where numerous Zaakireen are gathered, increases the keenness for Zikr, the Anwaar (effulgence) of hearts are reflected upon each other and enthusiasm, punctuality and determination grows; while lethargy is removed and other benefits are achieved. These gatherings are referred to as ‘ Zikr-Halqa’ which is mentioned in this and other Ahadith.
Shaikh Zakariyya (R) writes in Fadhail-Zikr that the accumulation of hearts has a special effect in drawing the help and mercy of Allah just as Salaah with Jama’ah (congregation) and the gathering of Hajees in Arafah does. This theme has been expounded in numerous places by Shah Waliyullah (R) in his Hujjatullah-al-Baalighah.
No special place is required for the gatherings of Zikr. The objective is simply to establish the Zikr-Majlis (gathering) whether it be in a home or Masjid. In some senses, a home is a better place, but there is no prohibition if it is established in a Masjid; in fact it is proven to be Mustahab as established by the findings of the great scholars in the light of Qur’an and Sunnah. Sufi Iqbal also throws some light on this matter as we will now quote from his work.
MAJALIS-ZIKR IN THE MASJID
The establishment of Masajid for the purpose of Allah’s remembrance and obedience is evident; which includes actions such as Salaah, Tilawah, Azkaar, Wa’z, Dars, etc. Congregational Salaah is offered on fixed times, but the rest of the time, the Masjid is free for the performance of any Nafl Ibadah (voluntary acts). However, since the Masjid is a public place, it is regulated by certain etiquette in order to ensure that no person is disturbed by another in anyway. The Hadith clearly states that a true Muslim is one who does not cause inconvenience to the next Muslim by way of his tongue or hand.
The desirability of Zikr, whether individually or collectively has been established from the Ahadith. If the Majlis-Zikr is arranged in such a way so as not to cause inconvenience to those performing I’itikaaf or Salaah, there is no harm in it. This is documented by Maulana Khalil Ahmad (R) in his Fatawa-Khaliliyyah. In the annexture of Aadaabul-Masajid Maulana Thanwi (R) relates the famous view of Imam Sha’rani (R):
"It is reported on the authority of Imam Sha’rani (R): The Ulama’, past and present are unanimous upon the Istihbaab (meritoriousness) of Zikr gatherings in Masjids and elsewhere, except if their loud Zikr disturbs the rest of a person, a Musalli or a Qari (Reciter of Qur’an)."
In summation, if a suitable room or building or even a private home is not available for the establishment of Zikr-Majalis then any Masjid of the locality where the conditions are fulfilled (of not disturbing the Musallis, etc.) is suitable for this purpose. If it is not possible to arrange for this in the Masjid of one’s own locality it should be arranged in the Masjid of another locality respecting the rules of the other Masjid.
Sufi Iqbal (R) summarises at the end of his work the importance of Majalis-Zikr:
1. The primary objective is to develop a special Ta’alluq (relationship) with Allah Ta’ala which requires purity and sincerity of intention which is not easily attainable without special training, as a person is easily mistaken in these matters; sincerity and purity of intention is not merely attained by wishful thinking or mere words, but it is a great spiritual deed which is not possible to achieve without rectifying the heart.
2. The way of reforming the heart is the companionship of saintly, pious persons and great abundance of Zikr
3. During these times, certain forms of service to Deen and certain movements for reformation of the Ummah, this important aspect (of spiritual reformation) is being entirely neglected. In fact Zikrullah is being opposed, resulting in a variety of fitnah and fasaad (corruption and degeneration) assailing these efforts.
4. Just as Madaris are essential for the acquisition of Ilm (knowledge), similarly, Khanqahs are essential for the establishment of Zikr, which have been generally neglected. For the establishment of Khanqahs, the first step is the establishment of Zikr-Majalis (gatherings) in homes and Masajid and these can in a sense serve as a substitute or proxy for the Khanqah.
5. In conclusion it can be stated that observing the total decimation of the spirit of Islam, Shaikh Zakariyya (R) strongly emphasized the system of Majalis-Zikr and understanding the burning need of the Ummah at this time, emphatically advised the Ummah in the correct direction and even commenced the practical implementation of this during his lifetime
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