Allah Most High has said in the Holy Qur’an:
“Remember Me so that I will remember you, be thankful to Me so that you are not led to faithlessness.” (Surah al-Baqarah 2:30)
“They (people of intelligence) remember and praise Allah always while they stand or sit or lie on their sides.” (Surah Ali ‘Imran 3:191)
“Remember Allah often and praise Him day and night.” (Surah al-Anbiya 21:20)
“Remember Allah within yourself, day and night, openly and silently, with awe and fear. Beware, do not be of the heedless ones.” (Surah al-Araf 7:205)
“The wish of the hearts of the faithful can only be fulfilled with the remembrance of Allah, for hearts are only satisfied by remembering Allah.” (Surah ar-Ra’d 13:28)
“I (Allah) lessen the sustenance of those who forget Me. On the Day of Judgment I will raise them blind.” (Surah TaHa 20:124)
“Worship! For certainly worship protects man from harm, and from being led to unfaithfulness. Remembrance of Allah is the greatest of all worship.” (Surah al Ankabut 29:45)
“Those who prostrate in the late hours of night, fearing the punishment of the Hereafter, hoping for the compassion of their Lord, who stand in prayer in obedience and in the service (of Allah), will receive Allah’s mercy and beneficence.” (Surah az-Zumar 39:9)
From the lips of His Beloved Prophet (saws), Allah addresses us:
“Oh children of Adam, forget all else but Me and praise and remember Me so that I also forget the others and remember you.”
“Oh children of Adam, declare your remembrance of Me so that I remember you with My appreciation. Remember Me in your heart so that I remember you by showing Myself to you. Remember Me while lowering and humbling yourself so that I remember you by raising you above others.”
“Oh children of Adam, if you remember Me, you are thanking Me. If you forget Me, you are cursing Me.”
“Oh children of Adam, you receive abundant gifts in remembering Me. You will receive joy and comfort from Me.”
“Oh children of Adam, the one who wishes Me, seeks Me; the one who seeks Me, finds Me; the one who finds Me, serves Me. Only the one who serves Me truly remembers Me and praises Me. Then I remember him too and I become his Beloved.”
The Prophet (saws) said:
“When a congregation is gathered, praising and remembering Allah, angels come and join them. Allah praises and remembers them through the spirits of these angels, and they find peace and love and compassion in their hearts. Continue remembering Allah and reading His Qur’an, for these will bring you the light of wisdom in this world and the Divine Beauty’s attention in the heavens.”
“The one who likes to remember Allah is liked by Allah. The one who says la ilaha illa llah has the veils hiding the divine in his heart lifted.”
“The Devil escapes from the heart of the one who remembers Allah and enters into the heart of the one who forgets Allah.”
“There is no more generous almsgiving than remembering Allah.”
“The one who performs his morning prayer in congregation, remembers Allah until sunrise, and makes two cycles of prayer, receives the reward of a Pilgrimage.”
“What a great joy is given to the one who sits praising and remembering Allah following the afternoon prayer!”
“As the walls of a castle protect one from the enemy, the remembrance of Allah protects one from the Devil.”
The ones who know, say:
“The way to divine knowledge is in remembering Allah. It is the straight force which brings one close to Allah. It is the sign of faith and the consciousness of worship and the key to the door of wisdom. When you repeat inwardly the divine phrase la ilaha illa llah, it enlightens your heart and brings peace to your soul. It polishes your mind and makes it shine. It is what keeps your heart alive. It is the means to finding the Beloved.
“If you wake and remember Allah in the middle of the night, it is a sign that you are loved by the One Whom you remember.”
“When you see someone with beautiful character, whose manners are gentle, whose heart is at peace, whose eyes are shining, know that he has received this through continuous remembrance.”
“Continuous remembrance gives direction to the spirit, cures all ills, and awakens our soul. It cleanses the heart from all else but Allah and increases His love in our heart. As this remembrance descends from the tongue to the heart, and penetrates from the heart to the soul, we rise closer and closer to our Maker. In continuing repeating the phrase la ilaha illa llah, the heart joins the tongue, the mind is cleansed of imagination, the rust upon the heart is burnt, darkness turns into day, and the candle of the mind is put out by the sun of the divine light.”
At first it is like a flash of light, like lightning. That is jadhbah, momentary ecstasy. Later the light lasts longer, but again is put out. And if we continue, finally the light is permanent. Then such inner wisdom and delight occur that we are immersed in it, forgetting all else. We hear from all of our members the sound of Allah’s praise. The body shivers and waves like a willow tree in the wind, as if a bird flutters within our chest. We become forever awakened from heedlessness and are led to the Presence. That is eternal happiness.
The ones who know say that there are three degrees of Allah’s remembrance:
- The verbal declaration of remembrance.
- Descent of the remembrance from the tongue to the heart.
- The penetration of the remembrance to the soul, silent remembrance, when the essence of it spreads to the whole being. The physical manifestation of this is a violent shaking of the body, the words Allah and Hu come out in screams without our control, and finally, we lose consciousness.
If we wish for divine acquaintance, we must lengthen our remembrance until the declaration by the tongue sinks to the heart and then penetrates into our essence. If we continue to keep the remembrance of Allah in our heart day and night, the human soul, strengthened, overcomes the animal soul. Then we know and reach perfection.
Woe to those of us who start this path and then change our way, for the pain will be as intense as the joy would have been if we had continued. That is why what is necessary in this path is continuity. If we walked this path a thousand years, and turn our back for one moment, our loss would be greater than our gain.
The ones who know say that continuity in remembrance is the key to the angelic realm, the world of the souls. It is the vehicle that will bring us close to our Creator. The unseen will become visible; the unknown will become known; the joy received will make the utmost joy of this world seem like pain. We will be submerged in divine love.
The ones who know say that there are ten conditions in preparing ourselves for the remembrance of Allah.
- To take a total ablution followed by a ritual ablution.
- To perform two cycles of prayer.
- To be in a perfectly clean place.
- To erase all worldly worries from our heart.
- To sit on a sheepskin facing the qiblah, on our knees or cross-legged.
- Lightly closing our eyes, to bring our attention to the region of the heart.
- To keep the image of our shaykh in our mind.
- To be in a state of awareness.
- To have eaten a medium amount of food with a good amount of butter, and to be neither too full nor hungry.
- To expel all thought and feeling of physical comforts and pleasures.
At the end of the remembrance, we should stay awhile silent, relaxed, and at peace.
If during the ritual we feel confusion, in that the taste of the pleasure and excitement is reminiscent of worldly pleasures, this is an indication that we are under the influence of the flesh and lust. If we repeat inwardly la ma‘buda illa llah as we declare aloud la ilaha illa llah, it is expected that our worldliness will be weakened and lust extinguished, and spiritual pleasures will have their own identity.
Even when such a state is achieved during the ritual, one should then switch to inwardly repeating la mawjuda illa llah as one repeats aloud la ilaha illa llah, and direct the words illa llah towards the heart, so that the heart awakens and the eyes of the heart open. Then it is to be hoped we will see many secrets, and our heart will fill with divine knowledge.
Sixteen theologians came to Hd. Junayd al-Baghdadi (qs) and asked him to teach them what they did not know. He put each one in a room and asked them to remember Allah continuously.
After a week he summoned them all and asked them, “What have you found in your hearts?” All answered that they had found the love of this world in their hearts. He asked them to continue the remembrance of Allah in seclusion for another week.
When he summoned them after the second week, they said that they now found the love and wish for Paradise in their hearts. He sent them back as told them to rid their hearts of that love also.
At the end of the third week, when he asked them what they found in their hearts, each answered, “The love of myself.” He asked them to abandon the thought of their own existence and to continue for yet another week.
At the end of the fourth week they said that they had nothing left in their hearts but the love of Allah. Hadrat Junayd (qs) said, “Now you have everything. Continue remembering Allah, and you will be able to retain Allah’s love.”
La ilaha illa llah is the word of Allah. The sound of it is the whole material creation; the meaning of it is the soul of all the creation. The ones who can absorb this divine praise with its sound and with its meaning are protected from all evil and safe in this world and in the Hereafter. If you can place it in your heart and keep it there, no fear enters your heart; you do not need to take refuge in anyone, nor seek help elsewhere. If it has penetrated your heart, you are truly a believer. If it has entered your soul, you are truly a lover.
When you say la ilaha (There is no god) inhaling, that wind of the breath will blow away the dust upon your heart and cleanse it of all unworthy worldly things that have infested it, for you are saying that there is none worthy of worship. When, forcefully directing the words illa Llah (but Allah) toward your heart, you exhale into your heart the belief in Allah, and the love of Allah will enter it. You will be planting the seed of the tree of divine knowledge, a tree whose fruit is the knowledge of Allah.
There are three stations on the way of divine knowledge. The first is the station of cleansing: emptying your being of the accumulation of me and mine, of false knowledge, of false personality, false fears and false hopes, false property, things you think you own. The second stage is also emptying: emptying your own self, losing and ridding yourself of the many “I’s.” The first stage is to say that, “There is nothing here”; the second stage indicates, “not even I.” The third stage is to be able to hold onto that state.
La ilaha illa llah brings one to the first station, which is the station of the heart. The second station is the station of the soul, which is reached by the name Allah. The third is called the secret, where all the secrets are divulged, which is reached by the vehicle of the name Hu. La ilaha illa llah is the magnet of the heart, which pulls you there. Allah is the magnet of the soul. Hu is the magnet of the secret essence.
They are within each other, like a beautiful bird within a cage, within a room. La ilaha illa llah is the key to the room of the heart. Allah is the door to the cage of the soul. Hu is the beautiful bird of essence in the cage. The door of the room is adjacent to the house of this world of trouble, pain, and fear. The more you penetrate into the soul and into the secret, the further you will move away from this world and into the realms of comfort, joy, knowledge, and safety.
On the staircase of Sufism you will stand on the step of the ego and imagination, the step on which the heedless stand. Then you will climb onto the step of worldly things, where sinners stand. Then you will climb onto the step of what we call nature and the natural, what we call reality, and what we call human, as an excuse for our misgivings. This is where the hypocrite stands. When you climb to the level of the heart, you will submit, and stand with the servants of Allah. Above that, on the step of the soul, you will be with the lovers. When you ascend to the step of the secret, you will know the truth. You will stand close to Allah with the ones who know Him. Allah knows best.
Peace and blessings be upon the Beloved of Allah, and upon his pure family and companions, the guides to the path of truth, and upon Hadrat Pir Nureddin al-Jerrahi (may his secret soul be sanctified), and upon Hadrat Ibrahim Hakki Erzerumi (may Allah’s pleasure be upon him), from whose wisdom these words were derived.