“The purpose of Dhikr is to experience Divine Presence… you could say the Dhikr is the very expression of the mystical quality of the dervish. He is lost in ecstasy and he communicates his ecstasy to all beings around him.” – Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan
“The essential practice in Sufism is “zikr,” which means remembrance — remembrance of God, remembrance of the source and goal of all being, remembrance of our true home… Flowing endlessly from this One the Sufi discovers a force, an emotion, which will not fit into the narrow boxes of human language. The closest we can come to naming it is to speak of “love.”
There is no higher calling than to make one’s life a pure channel for this primal force, the compassion and yearning that has given rise to all that is. Sufism is the path of purification and remembrance by which the heart is made its vessel.” – Pir Zia Inayat-Khan
The Sufi practice of zikr is directed towards the invocation and experience of Divine Presence. The most common forms encountered in New Zealand involve:
- practice alone at the direction of ones Sufi guide, or, as a group practice under the direction of an experienced zikr leader;
- using a formal mantric phrase or series of phrases, especially the Islamic “La Ilaha Illa’llah” or sequences of the Divine Names of Allah;
- sung, spoken or held with intention ‘on the breath’;
- practiced seated or as a meditative dance.
Zikr form can vary across almost any type of spiritual practice (eg. meditation, breathing), as well as any, or all, aspects of lived experience (eg. walking, working, interacting with people) as it is defined by the intention of Remembrance and Invocation, not by the form. Whether alone or in a group, the practice of zikr leads one towards deep personal inner experience of purification and Presence.
Zikr practice is a frequent element in many Sufi Group meetings alongside other practices such as breathing practices, prayer and meditation. Further useful Zikr resources:
- The Zikr Meditative Dance form in New Zealand.
- Adab in Group Zikr by Pir Zia Inayat-Khan (in this context Adab has a similar meaning to attunement and respect).
- The Stages of Zikr – 7 minute audio by Pir Zia Inayat-Khan (YouTube – new window).
- Zikr overview by Imam Bilal Hyde (YouTube video – new window).