Sura Al-Baqara [2:152]
Then do ye remember Me; I will remember you. Be grateful to Me and reject not faith.
The word "remember" is too pale a word for zikr, as it normally implies: to praise by frequently mentioning; to rehearse; to celebrate or commemorate; to make much of; to cherish the memory of as a precious possession.
In Sufi devotions zikr represent both a serious ritual and a spiritual state of mind or heart, in which the devotee (follower) seeks to realise the presence (being there) of God. So there is zikr of the mind and zikr of the heart.
ZIKR Lit. "Remembering." The religious ceremony or act of devotion, which is practised by the various religious orders of Faqirs, or Dervishes.
Almost every religious Muslim performs zikr. Zikr is very common in all Muslim countries; but different people practise zikr differently.
Zikrs are of two kinds: zikr jali, that which is recited aloud, and zikr khafi, that which is performed either with a low voice or mentally.
The Chishtiyah and Qadiriyah (Hazrat Sultan Bahu) orders celebrate zikr jali (recited aloud) while the Naqshbandiyah usually perform zikr khafi (mentally).
Zikr Jali (Zikr recited aloud)
There are different ways of going through the zikr exercise. In the book Qaulu 'l-Jamil, by Maulawi Shah Waliyu 'Ilah of Delhi, zikr jail is explained as:-
"The worshiper sits in the usual sitting posture and shouts the word 'Allah' (God), drawing his voice from his left side and then from his throat.
Sitting as at prayers he repeats the word 'Allah' still louder than before, first from his right knee, and then from his left side.
Folding his legs under him, he repeats the word 'Allah' first from his right knee and then from his left side, still louder!
Still remaining in the same position, he shouts the word 'Allah', first from the left knee, then from the right knee, then from the left side, and lastly in front, still louder!
Sitting as at prayer, with his face towards Makkah, he closes his eyes and says "La" - drawing the sound as from his navel up to his left shoulder; then he says "ilaha" drawing out the sound as from his brain; and last "illa 'llahu," repeated from his left side with great energy.
Each of these stages is called a zarb. They are, of course, recited many hundreds of times over and the changes we have described account for the variations of sound and motion of the body described by Eastern travellers who have witnessed the performance of a zikr.”
Zikr Khafi (Zikr recited in a low voice or mentally)
The following is a way of zikr khafi, zikr done in a low voice or mentally.
Closing his eyes and lips, he says, "with the
tongue of the heart,"
Allahu Sami'un, "God the Hearer."
Allahu Basirun, "God the Seer."
Allahu 'Alimun, "God the Knower."
The first being drawn, as it were, from the navel to the brain; the second, from the breast to the brain; the third, from the brain up to the heavens; and then again repeated stage by stage backwards and forwards.
He says in a low voice, "Allah," from the right knee, and then from the left side.
With each exhalation (breath out) of his breath, he says, "la ilaha," and with each inhalation, (breath in) "illa 'llahu."
This third zarb is a most exhausting act of devotion, performed, as it is, hundreds or even thousands of times, and is therefore considered the most praiseworthy.
It is said that Maulawi Habibu 'llah became such an expert in the performance of this zarb, that he recited the first part of the zikr 'la ilaha' with the exhalation of his breath after the mid-day prayer; and the second part, 'illa 'llahu,' with the inhalation (breath in) of his breath before the next time of prayer, thus holding his breath for the period of about three hours!
Muraqabah (meditation) as a form of Zikr
Another act of devotion, which usually goes with the zikr, is that of Muraqabah, or meditation.
The worshiper first performs zikr of the following: -
Allahu haziri, "God who is present with me."
Allahu naziri, "God who sees me."
Allahu ma'i, "God who is with me."
Having recited this zikr, either aloud or mentally, the worshiper proceeds to meditate upon some verse or verses of the Koran. Those recommended for the Qadiriyah Faqirs by Maulavi Shah Waliyu 'llah are the following, which are thought to be the most devotional and spiritual by Muslim mystics: -
1. Suratu 'l-Hadid (57:3)
"He (God) is first. He is last. The Manifest, and the Hidden, and who knoweth all things."
2. Suratu 'l-Hadid (57:4)
He (God) is with you wheresoever ye be."
3. Suratu Qaf (50: 16)
"We (God) are closer to him (man) than his jugular vein."
4. Suratu 'l-Baqarah (2:109)
Whichever way ye turn, there is the face of God."
5. Suatu 'n-Nisa (4:125)
"God encompasseth all things."
6. Suratu 'r-Rahman (55:26,27)
"All on earth shall pass away, but the face of thy God shall abide resplendent with majesty and glory."
Based on the article from an entry under "Zikr" from the "Dictionary of Islam" by T.P. Hughes.