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Some General Guidelines for Performing Dhikr

1. Performing dhikr is an action of worship, as such it is to be done in the manner enjoined by the Sharī`ah and it is not allowed to invent new methods of performing it.

Shaykh al-Islām ibn Taymiyyah said,

“there is no doubt that the adhkār and supplications are from the best forms of worship. Worship is built upon tawqīf [sticking to what the texts state] and ittibā [following]…

Therefore it is not allowed for anyone to legislate new adhkār and supplications and take them as actions of worship that the people must constantly perform just as they constantly perform the five daily prayers. Rather this is innovating into the religion that which Allāh has not given permission for. However if a person were to supplicate with these new supplication on occasion and individually without making this supplication a Sunnah for the people then this would not be an innovation. As for the one who takes to a formula of dhikr (wird) that has not been legislated and makes this to be a Sunnah to be followed then this is from those things that are forbidden.

Not only this but the legislated supplications and adhkār contain all the correct goals and all the lofty intentions that a person could ever require and no one but an ignoramus or an extremist would turn away from these and recourse to these newly invented adhkār. As for what is reported from the Prophet (Sall Allāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) with regards to what is performed after the obligatory prayers then this is the well known adhkār that can be found in the Sahīhs, the Musnads and other books of hadīth. As for the Imām and the followers supplicating in congregation after the obligatory prayers then this is a bid`ah that did not exist at the time of the Prophet (Sall Allāhu ‘alayhi wasallam), indeed his supplication used to be within the prayer. This is because the one who is praying is discoursing with his Lord and supplicating at this time would be most fitting, as for supplicating after completing the prayer and the discourse with his Lord then this is not the most fitting time to supplicate.” [Majmoo` Fatāwā (22/510,595)]

2. The general course with dhikr is that it be said quietly.

The least meaning of ‘quietness’ is that one says the dhikr such that the words reach his ears as stated by Imām an-Nawawī and others. It is also allowed to perform dhikr in an audible voice but not a loud voice. The proof for this lies with the saying of Allāh,

“And perform the dhikr of your Lord in your very soul with humility and without loudness in words in the mornings and evenings and do not be of those who are unheedful.” [al-A`rāf (7):205]

The Salaf and commentators differed about what this verse refers to, some saying that it refers to the prayers, others that it refers to supplication and others that it refers to dhikr in general. However they all agreed that the intent behind the verse was to point out that one should not be loud when performing dhikr as a general principle. [Refer to the commentaries of: at-Tabarī, al-Qurtobī, ibn Kathīr, al-Baghawī, ash-Shawkānī, as-Samā`ānī and as-Sa`dī]

In fact at-Tabarī quotes the following narrations:

a) Ibn Zayd said about this verse, “do not do so loudly”
b) Mujāhid said, “they have been commanded to perform His dhikr within themselves with humility”
c) Ibn Juraij said, “…it is detested to raise the voice and shout when performing supplication.” Al-Qurtobī comments on the meaning of, “without loudness in words” stating, “Meaning such that only you can hear your words as Allāh said,

‘Neither say your prayer loudly nor in a low voice but seek a middle course.’ (Between loudness and silence.) [al-Isrā (17): 110]

This proves that raising ones voice is prohibited based on what has been previously discussed in a number of places.” Ibn Kathīr said, “this is how it is recommended to perform dhikr – that it not be like a call nor very loud.”

3. As for the saying of Allāh,

“So when you have accomplished your holy rites, celebrate the praises of Allāh, as you used to celebrate the praises of your fathers – indeed, with far more heart and soul.” [al-Baqarah (2):200]

Then al-Baghawī and as-Sa`dī state that the meaning of ‘aw ashadda dhikrā’ is that this dhikr be performed more frequently and with more desire then their celebration of the praises of their fathers. Hence there is absolutely no proof here that one can shout or dance etc. as claimed by some innovators.

4. However on some occasions it is allowed to say some adhkār loudly such as those that openly manifest a sign from the signs of Islām, in which it is legislated to raise the voice at specific occasions or for specific phrases. For example the talbiyyah for Hajj and the takbīr after completing the Salāh. It is in this way that the great Hanafī Imām, at-Tahāwī reconciles the ahādīth commanding one to be silent when performing dhikr and those that say that one should say the talbiyyah for Hajj loudly in his amazing book ‘Sharh Mushkil al-Āthār’ [14/491-501]

5. The hadīth of Abu Musā, “We were in the company of the Prophet (Sall Allāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) on a journey, and whenever we ascended a high place, we used to say takbīr [in a loud voice]. The Prophet (Sall Allāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) said, ‘O people! Be kind to yourselves for you are not calling upon One Who is deaf or absent, rather You are calling upon One Who is All-Hearing, and All-Seeing.’ Then he came to me as I was silently reciting, ‘Lā hawla walā quwwata illā billāh.’ [There is no might or motion except with Allāh]. He said, ‘O Abdullah bin Qays! Say: Lā hawla walā quwwata illā billāh for it is one of the treasures of Paradise.’ Or he said, ‘Shall I tell you a word which is one of the treasures of Paradise? It is: Lā hawla walā quwwata illā billāh.'”

6. The hadīth of Abu Musā, “We were in the company of the Messenger of Allāh (Sall Allāhu ‘alayhi wasallam). Whenever we went up a high place we used to say the takbīr and tahlīl loudly.

The Prophet (Sall Allāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) said, ‘O People be merciful to yourselves for you are not calling upon One who is deaf or absent. Indeed He is with you, indeed He Sees and is close.'” Ibn Hajr al-Asqalānī said in ‘Fath al-Bārī’ [6/166], “at-Tabarī said, ‘this hadīth constitutes evidence that is disliked to raise ones voice when supplicating and performing dhikr, this was the opinion of generality of the Salaf from the Sahābah and Tābi`īn.’ [However] the style [of writing] of Bukhārī dictates that this [hadīth] specifically refers to the takbīr said [when going to and returning from] war. As for raising the voice on other occasions then it has preceded in the Book of Prayer from the hadīth of ibn Abbās that they used to say the dhikr loudly during the lifetime of the Prophet (Sall Allāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) after they had completed the obligatory prayers. The discussion concerning this has preceded there.”

7. While discussing the hadīth of ibn Abbās in ‘Fath’ [2/414] It seems that ibn Hajr determines that the meaning of dhikr in the hadīth of ibn Abbās is the takbīr as mentioned in another narration of ibn Abbās also reported by Bukhārī and that the first thing the Sahābah said after completing the prayer was the takbīr. He also quotes the saying of an-Nawawī, “ash-Shāfi`ī said concerning this dhikr after the Salāh that they said it loudly for a short time only for the purpose of teaching the mannerism of the dhikr and they did not persist in doing so. The preferred course is that the Imām and followers say the dhikr in a low voice unless there exists the need to teach others.” Hence it would be preferred to say the takbīr loudly after the prayer and the rest of the dhikr quietly. And in conclusion the general course for dhikr is that it be done quietly, in the way legislated by Allāh and His Messenger (Sall Allāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) and that there is no leeway in introducing new mannerisms of performing it. Our Lord Most High knows best.

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Notes: This article has been reposted, last posted on 21 September 2010

Source: www.islam21c.com

About Shaykh Abu Rumaysah Refi Shafi

Abu Rumaysah Refi Shafi was born and brought up in High Wycombe. He currently studies with Shaykh Haitham Al-Haddad and, previously, Shaykh Abu AbdiRahman Al-Libee. He graduated from Imperial College from the faculty of Electronic Engineering. He currently works as a Software Engineer and is the chairman of WISE (Wycombe Islamic Society). He is very active in his local community, especially with his Masjid and working with youth. He has translated a number of books such as 'The Criterion between the Friends of Allah and the Friends of Shaytan,' and 'Relief from Distress (the Dua of Yunus 'alayhī al-Salām),' both by Ibn Taymiyyah as well as many others. He has also written an explanation of Surah al-Fatihah called ‘The Spiritual Cure.’ He currently gives weekly circles in High Wycombe on a variety of topics covering aqidah, fiqh, hadith, tafsir and Arabic Language. He is also a Lecturer for MRDF.


  1. Its very useful to make adhkar in the morning (between Fajr and sunrise) and evening (between Asr and sunset) although having missed those specific times for whatever a reason is ok. Selected morning and evening adhkar (e.g. mu’awidhatayn) can be found in dedicated books of dhikr/adhkar (e.g. Fortress of the Muslim), small booklets, pamphlets and leaflets.

    (This comment is not intended to reflect this article).

  2. Dear Sister. Its very simple and clear that, Supplication is asking for some rewards/ favor etc. from Allah and Dhikr is praising God or his beloved prophet (S.A.W)

  3. Fariz Ahmed Choudhury

    The writings on Islamic way of life must have more clarity and authenticity supported by ample proof drawn from the life of our beloved rasool pbuh

  4. I am more inclined to agree with Mac here. I am not familiar with the writings of the author and have not heard them. A good piece of writing Max. Thankyou for the clarification. Succinct and precise.

  5. sulaiman [sky gumel]

    may, Allah [swa] make us to be the people of obeying the rules/regulations of prohet muhammad [saw]

  6. Writer forgove to quote what else Quran and Hadith say about Dhikr
    some ayah from quran in relation to dhikr which writer forgot to mention as they are only trying to push their point of view not what really mention in Quran and Sunnah.

    Those who remember Allah while standing , sitting, and lying on their sides” (3:191)
    “Those men and women who engage much in Allah’s praise. For them has Allah prepared forgiveness and a great reward.” (33:35)
    “He is successful who purifies himself, and remembers the name of his Lord, and so prays.” (87:14-15)
    clearly indicate not referening to Salat only
    “And mention the name of your Lord and devote yourself to Him with a complete devotion” (73:8).
    Those who believe, and whose hearts find comfort in the remembrance of Allah! ” Behold in the Remembrance of Allah do hearts find satisfaction.” (13-28)
    “O ye who believe let not your riches or your children divert you from the Remembrance of Allah if any act thus, the loss is their own.” (63:9)
    “Then do ye remember Me I will remember you.” (2-152)
    “Men whom neither traffic nor merchandise can divert from Remembrance of Allah nor from regular Salaat, nor from regular practice of Zakaat.” (24-37)
    “He who turns away from the remembrance of His Lord He will cause him to undergo a severe Penalty.” (72-17)

    Hadith Qudsi, “Those that remember Me in their heart, I remember them in My heart; and those that remember Me in a gathering (i.e. that make mention of Me), I remember them (i.e. make mention of them) in a gathering better than theirs.”

    Hadhrat Jabir (Radi Allahu anhu) reported that the Prophet (Peace be upon him), said: “The best remembrance of Allah is to repeat la ilaha illallah and the best prayer (du’a) is al-hamdu lillah (all praise belongs to Allah).” (Narrated by Nasa’i, Ibn Majah, and Hakim who declared its chain sound)

    In Bukhari and Muslim: The Prophet (Peace be upon him) said that Allah Ta’ala has angels roaming the roads to find the people of dhikr, i.e. those who say La Ilaha Illallah and similar expressions, and when they find a group of people (qawm) reciting dhikr, they call each other and encompass them in layers until the first heaven — the location of which is in Allah’s knowledge.
    This is further indicated by the hadith Qudsi which runs: “Allah says: I am to my servant as he expects of Me, I am with him when he remembers Me. If he remembers Me in his heart, I remember him to Myself, and if he remembers me in an assembly, I mention him in an assembly better than his…” (Bukhari and Muslim)

    Thus, silent dhikr is differentiated fron dhikr said outloud by His saying: “Remembers Me within himself,” meaning: “silently,” and “in an assembly,” meaning “aloud.”

    The Holy Prophet (Peace be upon him) said: hatta yaqulu majnun “Remember Allah Ta’ala as much as you want, until people say that you are crazy and foolish”

    (Narrated by Ahmad in his Musnad, Ibn Hibban in his Sahih, and al-Hakim who declared it sahih); that is: do not care about them!

    Abu Sa`id Al-Khudri and Abu Huraira (Radi Allahu anhum ajma’een)reported that the Prophet (Peace be upon him) said, “When any group of men remember Allah, angels surround them and mercy covers them, tranquility descends upon them, and Allah mentions them to those who are with Him.” Narrated by Muslim, Tirmidhi, Ahmad, Ibn Majah, and Bayhaqi.

    Muslim, Ahmad, and Tirmidhi narrate from Mu`awiya (Radi Allahu anhu) that the Prophet (Peace be upon him) went out to a circle of his Companions and asked: “What made you sit here?” They said: “We are sitting here in order to remember / Allah (nadhkurullaha) and to glorify Him (wa nahmaduhu) because He guided us to the path of Islam and he conferred favours upon us.” Thereupon he adjured them by Allah and asked if that was the only purpose of their sitting there. They said: “By Allah, we are sitting here for this purpose only.” At this the Prophet (Peace be upon him) said: “I am not asking you to take an oath because of any misapprehension against you, but only because Jibraeel (‘alahis salam) came to me and informed me that Allah, the Exalted and Glorious, was telling the angels that He is proud of you!” Note that the hadith stated jalasna — we sat — in the plural, not singular. It referred to an association of people in a group, not one person.

    The Prophet, peace be upon him, would often tell his Companions, “Shall I tell you about the best of deeds, the most pure in the sight of your Lord, about the one that is of the highest order and is far better for you than spending gold and silver, even better for you than meeting your enemies in the battlefield where you strike at their necks and they at yours?” The Companions replied, “Yes, O Messenger of Allah!” The Prophet, peace be upon him, said, “Remembrance of Allah.” (Narrated by Tirmidhi, Ahmad, and Hakim who declared its chain of narrators sound.

  7. dhikr, confused
    so are you saying that the dua (supplication)that the Imaam and the followers in congregation make after the obligatory prayers is bidah. im just a little confused. could you also explain the difference between dhikr and supplication and also if you could would you please give me an example of dhikr as im confused with the terminology. jzk

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