Common steps and sub-activities
Dhikr is the Sufi form of chanting –Sufism. It literally means repetition or recital and conveys the action of the ‘disciple’ repeating as many times as directed that which he has been given to repeat.
In normal chanting, the phrase often has no intrinsic meaning to the person, it is simply a series of words which are repeated. But in Dhikr, they often do have a meaning, but only in the sense that they are an affirmatory phrase that simply has the effect of making the person feel they are achieving something, without taxing the mind too much.
Do not take any notice of the website descriptions – long and involved, that talk about all the religious implications of the chanting – this is untrue and largely rubbish, the objective is to get into a trance state.
Occasionally the person will also use beads as an additional aid to mesmerising themselves. The beads are not there to help in counting, they are there to increase the effect. One of the perhaps more hilarious and pompous descriptions I came across of Dhikr was as follows:
“Known also as Tasbih, these are usually Misbaha (prayer beads) upon a string, 99 or 100 in number, which correspond to the names of God in Islam and other recitations. The beads are used to keep track of the number of recitations that make up the dhikr [this is incorrect]. When the dhikr involves the repetition of particular phrases a specific number of times, the beads are used so that the person performing dhikr can turn all of their focus on what is actually being said - as it can become difficult to concentrate simultaneously on the number and phrasing when one is doing so a substantial number of times”.
Exactly – beads and chanting have a more pronounced effect than just beads or just chanting!
And some more pretentious uninformed nonsense. ………….
“Some Islamic scholars argue that using the beads are forbidden, insisting that the usage of the fingers to count as what was practiced [sic] by Muhammad precludes the use of anything else. The vast majority of scholars, however, do not believe it is an either/or proposition and cite the documented usage of stones and pebbles by the Muhammad's Companions as evidence for their inherent lawfulness”.
Oh dear. By being simple, easily remembered and repeated over and over and over again, they both help to still the mind. You can use your toes if you want.
Some Sufi Dhikr are repetitive phrases accompanied by reed flutes, which are ideal instruments to create resonance.
Rumi from the Rubaiyat
Prayer clears the mist
And brings back peace to the soul
Every morning, every evening
Let the heart sing
La Ilaha Il Allah
There is no reality but God.
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