The Effects and Indications of Invocation (Dhikr)


The Effects and Indications of Invocation (Dhikr)

As explained earlier, invocation, witnessing and countenance are esoteric positions and genuine spiritual perfections whereby a wayfarer really attains an exalted rank of existence which was not accomplished by him earlier. If it is said that the position of witnessing is real and the positions of love, compliance, desire, union and countenance are not metaphorical; rather they are real, this will mean that the relevant position represents a rank and degree of a real existence, which is naturally accompanied with new effects and indications so that the existence of that perfection will be identified through them. Hereinafter,  the details of such effects will be discussed.


Commitment to God’s Obedience

When one attains a position whereby in his esoteric essence witnesses God’s Beauty and sees himself in His presence, he will undoubtedly obey His commands. Whatever he has been commanded to do will be performed and he will refrain himself from the forbidden acts. If a human being wants to know whether he has attained that position or not, he must evaluate his commitments towards Divine positive and negative commands and according to his performance, he may determine his relative rank. It is not possible that a human being attains the exalted position of love and witnessing without having a total commitment to the Divine commands. Imam al‑Sadiq defines the invocation as follows:

إذا وَرَدَ عَليكَ شَيءٌ أمَرَ اللهُ بهِ أخَذْتَ بهِ وَإذا وَرَدَ عَليكَ شَيءٌ نَهى عَنهُ تَرَكْتَهُ.

“Invocation is that when an act that is enjoined by Almighty God is encountered, it must be performed and when an act that Almighty God has forbidden is encountered, it must be stopped.” (Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 93. pp. 155)

Imam al-Husayn (a.s), in his Prayer of `Arafat, said:

يا مَن أذاقَ أحِبّاءَهُ حَلاوَةَ المُؤانَسَةِ فَقامُوا بَينَ يَدَيهِ مُتَمَلّقِينَ، وَيا مَن ألْبَسَ أوْلِياءَهُ مَلابِسَ هَيْبَتِهِ فَقاموا بَينَ يَدَيهِ مُستَغْفِرِينَ.

“You have poured the sweetness of Your love inside your friends’ mouths and thus they stand in prayer in front of You and adore You with humility and have dressed Your saints the robe of fear and thus they stand and repent in front of you.”

Almighty God says in the Holy Qur’an

قُلْ إِنْ كُنْتُمْ تُحِبُّونَ اللَّهَ فَاتَّبِعُونِي يُحْبِبْكُمْ اللَّهُ وَيَغْفِرْ لَكُمْ ذُنُوبَكُمْ وَاللَّهُ غَفُورٌ رَحِيمٌ.

“Say, (O Muhammad, to mankind): If ye love Allah, follow me; Allah will love you and forgive you your sins. Allah is Forgiving, Merciful. 3:31”


Humility

Whoever witnesses the Power and Majesty of Almighty God will naturally humiliate himself in front of Him and continuously lower his head in regret while realizing his omissions and negligence. Imam al‑Sadiq (a.s) said:

وَمَعرِفَتُكَ بِذِكْرِهِ لكَ يُوَرِّثُكَ الخُضوعَ وَالاسْتِحْياءَ وَالانْكِسارَ.

“Your knowledge that He mentions you will result in your becoming humble, modest and prudent.” (Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 93, pp. 158)


Excitement for Worshipping

One of the indications of attaining the position of witnessing is the strong liking for worshipping and feeling intense pleasure during its performance because one who witnesses the Majesty and Splendor of the Lord and considers himself in the presence of Almighty God—the Fountainhead of all Magnanimity and Perfection—will prefer the pleasure of hymns and humming communications with Him to any other enjoyment. Those who are deprived of spiritual pleasures keep themselves amused with transient worldly amusements which in reality are no more than a pain killer; but those who have tasted the real pleasure of worshipping and hymns of the Lord will never exchange their pleasant state and beauty with any other enjoyment. These are the purest God’s servants who worship Him only for sake of His worthiness of being worshipped and not for sake of any reward and punishment. In this regard, you must have heard about the melting and burning worshipping and intimate humming communications of the Holy Prophet, Imam `Ali, Imam al‑Sajjad and the other Imams with their Lord.


Tranquillity and Assurance

The world is a place of pains, sorrows and sufferings, which can be classified into the following three categories; (1) tragedies like sickness, death, oppression, prejudices, injustice, discard and interference, (2) regret and annoyance for lack of worldly things which are beyond one’s reach and (3) fear of loosing whatever have been accumulated, fear of theft or loss of wealth, fear of loosing children because of accidents and fear of getting sick and possibility of death.

The abovementioned fears take away ease and comfort from man whose roots can be traced to strong attachments to the world and avoidance of God’s Remembrance. Almighty God says in the Holy Qur’an:

وَمَنْ أَعْرَضَ عَنْ ذِكْرِي فَإِنَّ لَهُ مَعِيشَةً ضَنكًا.

“But he who turneth away from remembrance of Me, his will be a narrow life. 20:124”

God’s sincere servants who have reached the Source of all Blessings and Perfection have witnessed the Absolute Beauty and Splendor are contented because of God’s Remembrance and Affection. They are free from all sorts of worries and sorrows because they have Almighty God and hence possess everything. They do not become annoyed or worried for lack of worldly things because they do not have any inclinations towards them. Instead, they have attached themselves to the Fountainhead of all Blessings and Perfection, which lacks nothing. Imam al-Husayn (a.s), in his Prayer of `Arafat, said:

وَأنْتَ الّذي أزَلْتَ الأغْيارَ عَن قُلوبِ أحِبّائِكَ حَتىّ لا يُحِبّوا سِواكَ وَلَم يَلجَؤوا إلى غَيرِكَ. أنْتَ المُؤنِسُ لَهُم حَيثُ أوْحَشَتْهُمُ العَوالِمُ وَأنْتَ الّذي هَدَيْتَهُم حَيثُ اسْتَبانَتْ لَهُم المُعالِمُ. ماذا وَجَدَ مَن فَقَدَكَ؟ وَما الّذي فَقَدَ مَن وَجَدكَ؟ لَقَد خابَ مَن رَضِيَ دونَكَ بَدَلاً وَلَقَد خَسِرَ مَن بَغى عَنكَ مُتَحَوّلاً. كَيفَ يُرجى سِواكَ وَأنتَ ما قَطَعتَ الإحْسانَ! وَكَيفَ يُطلَبُ مِن غَيرِكَ وأنْتَ ما بَدَّلْتَ عادَةَ الإمتِنانِ.

“You have removed the love of others from the hearts of your favorite saints until they are not attached to anything except You and are not seeking any shelter except You. While encountering terrible calamities, they seek refuge in You. If Your Enlightenment and Nearness have been achieved by them, it was only because of Your Guidance. If they do not find You, what else there remains to be found? If they find You, what else can they lose? A big looser is he who chooses other than You and a big unfortunate is he who deviates from You. How can a human being expect things from others while Your Favors never cut off from him? How can one pray for his need before others while knowing that Your Generosity and Benevolence surround him.”

The most important effect of one’s attaining the position of invocation, witnessing and love is the attainment of heart’s peace and tranquillity, because in principle, nothing can rescue the heart’s boat inside the stormy oceans of the life except God’s Remembrance:

الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَتَطْمَئِنُّ قُلُوبُهُمْ بِذِكْرِ اللَّهِ أَلَا بِذِكْرِ اللَّهِ تَطْمَئِنُّ الْقُلُوبُ.

“Who have believed and whose hearts have rest in the remembrance of Allah. Verily in the remembrance of Allah do hearts find rest. 11:28”

The stronger the belief of a person be the greater his heart’s degree of assurance and tranquillity is.
God’s Attention to the Servants

When a servant remembers Him, Almighty God will reciprocally bestow special favor and blessing upon His servant. Almighty God says in the Holy Qur’an:

فَاذْكُرُونِي أَذْكُرْكُمْ وَاشْكُرُوا لِي وَلَا تَكْفُرُونِي.

Therefore remember Me, I will remember you. Give thanks to Me, and reject not Me. 2:152”

Imam al‑Sadiq (a.s) said:

قال الله تعالى: ابنَ آدَم، اذْكُرنِي فِي نَفسِكَ أذْكُرْكَ فِي نَفْسِي. ابْنَ آدَمَ، اذْكُرْني فِي خَلاءٍ أذْكُرْكَ فِي خَلاءٍ. ابْنَ آدمَ، اذْكُرني فِي مَلاءٍ أذْكُرْكَ في ملاءٍ خَيرٍ مِن ملائِكَ.

وقال: ما مِنْ عَبدٍ يَذكُرُ اللهَ في مَلاءٍ مِن النّاسِ إلاّ ذَكَرَهُ اللهُ في مَلاءٍ مِن المَلائِكَةِ.

Almighty God says: “O son of Adam! Remember Me in your self and I will remember you in My Self. Son of Adam! Remember Me in solitude and I will remember you in solitude. Son of Adam! Remember Me in congregation and I will remember you in a congregation much better than yours.”

If a servant who remembers Almighty God among men, Almighty God will remember him among the angels. (Wasa’il, vol. 4, pp. 1185)

God’s attention and special blessings towards a servant is not metaphorical; it is reality whose reasons may be explained as follows:


First Reason

When a servants remembers Almighty God making himself ready for acceptance of His special favors, Almighty God increases the level of his perfection and elevates him into higher spiritual positions.


Second Reason

When a servant recites God’s invocations and spiritually migrates towards Him, he will be blessed with God’s attention and special favors whereby God bestows upon him exalted spiritual positions and takes over the control of his heart. The Holy Prophet (a.s) said:

قالَ اللهُ سبحانَه: إذا عَلِمْتُ أنَّ الغالِبَ عَلى عَبدي الاشْتِغالُ بي يُقلّب شَهْوتَهُ في مَسْألَتي وَمُناجاتي فإذا كانَ عَبدي كَذلِكَ فأرادَ أنْ يَسهُوَ حِلْتُ بَينَهُ وَبَينَ أنْ يَسهُوَ. أُولئِكَ أولِيائِي حَقّاً. أُولئِكَ الأبْطالُ حَقّاً. أُولئِكَ الّذينَ إذا أرَدْتُ أنْ أُهلِكَ أهْلَ الأرْضِ بِعُقوبَةٍ زَوَيتُها عَنهُم مِن أجْلِ أولئِكَ الأبْطالِ.

“Almighty God says: Once I find a servant sincerely engaged in my invocation, I make him further interested into hymns and warshipping; and if occasionally negligence dominates over him, I prevent such occurrence. These are my real saints and heroes. If I want to annihilate all the earthly creatures, it is because of their distinguished existence that My punishment does not descend towards earth.” (Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 93, pp. 162)


GOD’S LOVE FOR THE SERVANT

One of the effects of invocation is God’s love for His servants. It has been inferred from various Qur’anic verses and traditions that when a person engages himself in God’s remembrance and obeys His commandments, God will reciprocate and start loving that person. The Holy Qur’an said:

قُلْ إِنْ كُنْتُمْ تُحِبُّونَ اللَّهَ فَاتَّبِعُونِي يُحْبِبْكُمْ اللَّهُ وَيَغْفِرْ لَكُمْ ذُنُوبَكُمْ وَاللَّهُ غَفُورٌ رَحِيمٌ.

“Say, (O Muhammad, to mankind): If ye love Allah, follow me; Allah will love you and forgive you your sins. Allah is Forgiving, Merciful. 3:31”

Imam al‑Sadiq narrated that the Holy Prophet (a.s) said:

مَن أكْثَرَ ذِكْرَ اللهِ أحَبَّهُ اللهُ؛ وَمَنْ ذَكرَ اللهَ كَثيراً كُتِبَتْ لهُ بَرائتانِ: بَرائَةٌ مِن النّارِ وَبَرائَةٌ مِن النِّفاقِ.

“Whoever offers lots of God’s invocation will achieve God’s affection and whoever continuously remembers Almighty God will be given two certificates of acquittal; one against Hellfire and the other against hypocrisy.” (Wasa’il al-Shi`ah, vol. 4, pp. 1181)

God’s love for a servant is neither a ceremonial act nor compared to the meanings of love as related to human beings. In case of human beings, love stands for heart’s attachments and inclinations towards a desirable object, but for God, such interpretation of love is not correct. Love of God must be interpreted as His special favors and graces which further enhance a servant’s sincerity, attention and worshipping towards Him and through these means, He attracts him towards the highest stages of perfection and nearness. Because He loves the servant and likes hearing his humming hymns, He bestows upon him the special favor of mo­tivating further towards prayer, invocation, worshipping and supplica­tion. Since He likes a servant’s nearness, He accordingly provides the required means for his perfection and in nutshell because of His love for the servant, He takes over his heart’s control providing him with the opportunities for better and speedy ascent towards His nearness.


The Most Important Effects

At this stage, the wayfarer is blessed with most special benefits and privileges whose explanation is not possible through the pen and tongue of strangers and except the recipient of these positions, no one knows anything about these affairs. Because of the effects of self‑purification, esoteric cleansing, worshipping, asceticism, thinking and continuous recital of invocation, the wayfarer attains exalted spiritual rank where by means of his esoteric eyes and ears, he is able to see and hear the most sublime realities which cannot be seen and heard by the apparent eyes and ears. Sometimes, he hears the praise and hymns of other creatures including angels and joins them.

While he lives in this world and socializes with its people, he, in his esoteric essence, looks towards upper horizons living in another world though he does not belong to that world. In that World, he witnesses Hellfire and Paradise and keeps in touch with angels and spirits of God’s righteous saints. He becomes familiar with the other World and utilizes its blessings but does not want to speak about it because he prefers seclusion and strictly sustains himself from fame and popularity.

The highest Divine learning is descended upon gnostics, heart and mystical sciences, which are not customary with conventional learning, are witnessed by him. The wayfarer ultimately achieves an exalted spiritual position whereby he forgets everything including his self and does not pay attention to anything except the Holy Names and Attributes of Almighty God. He sees the Lord of the Universe as Overseer of everything and everywhere as saying:

هُوَ الْأَوَّلُ وَالْآخِرُ وَالظَّاهِرُ وَالْبَاطِنُ وَهُوَ بِكُلِّ شَيْءٍ عَلِيمٌ.

“He is the First and the Last, and the Outward and the Inward; and He is Knower of all things. 57:3”

He sees the world as manifestation of God’s Attributes and considers Almighty God as the Source of all perfection and beauty. The depravity of essence of all creatures and the absolute richness of the Self-Existent Lord become apparent for him and in witnessing the Supreme Source of the Absolute Beauty and Perfection feels fascinated and absorbed.

It should be pointed out that the position of annihilation in itself consists of various degrees and ranks and it will be appropriate if this deprived servant should better refrain himself from entering into these privileged positions.