Allah, the Almighty, said:

{…And remember your Lord when you forget…}, [al-Kahf 18:24]

which means when you forget others and (then) forget yourself in your remembrance, and then you forget your remembering during His remembrance, and then you forget in (beholding) His remembrance of you any other remembrance.397

قَالَ اللهُ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ: "وَاذْكُر رَّبَّكَ إِذَا نَسِيتَ"
يَعْنِي إِذَا نَسِيتَ غَيْرَهُ وَنَسِيتَ نَفْسَكَ فِي ذِكْرِكَ ثُمَّ نَسِيتَ ذِكْرَكَ فِي ذِكْرِهِ ثُمَّ نَسِيتَ فِي ذِكْرِ الْحَقِّ إِيَّاكَ كُلَّ ذِكْر.

Dhikr here is about riddance from heedlessness and forgetfulness. It is of three levels:

وَالذِّكْرُ هُوَ التَّخَلُّصُ مِنَ الْغَفْلَةِ وَالنِّسْيَانِ. وَهُوَ عَلَى ثَلَاثِ دَرَجَاتٍ.

The first level is the manifest dhikr, including:

  1. praise

  2. invocation

  3. caring398

الدَّرَجَةُ الْأُولَى الذِّكْرُ الظَّاهِرُ مِنْ ثَنَاءٍ أَوْ دُعَاءٍ أَوْ رِعَاء.

The second level is the hidden dhikr, and this is about:

  1. riddance from lassitude

  2. subsistence in shuhood (beholding the Divine)

  3. adherence to intimate dialogue399

الدَّرَجَةُ الثَّانِيَةُ الذِّكْرُ الْخَفِيُّ وَهُوَ الْخَلَاصُ مِنَ الْفُتُورِ وَالْبَقَاءُ مَعَ الشُّهُودِ وَلُزُومُ الْمُسَامَرَةِ .

The third level is the true remembrance, and this is:

  1. beholding the True One’s remembrance of you

  2. ridding yourself from beholding your remembrance

  3. recognizing the falsehood of the one who remembers (his/her Lord) but subsists in his/her own remembering400

والدَّرَجَةُ الثَّالِثَةُ الذِّكْرُ الْحَقِيقِيُّ وَهُوَ شُهُودُ ذِكْرِ الْحَقِّ إِيَّاكَ ، وَالتَّخَلُّصُ مِنْ شُهُودِ ذِكْرِكَ ، وَمَعْرِفَةُ افْتِرَاءِ الذَّاكِرِ فِي بَقَائِهِ مَعَ الذِّكْرِ .

397 This could be of the ishârât (inferences) of the verse, not the direct meaning, which had to do with the Prophet ﷺ forgetting to say in shâ’ Allâh (God willing) when the Quraysh asked him about the soul and he promised to give them an answer. What the sheikh means here is that when one remembers Allah, they should not allow any distractions to bar them from complete shuhood, including their own self-awareness. Then, they will not observe their own act of remembrance in favor of beholding their Lord, and then their beholding of His remembrance of them will bar them from beholding anything else. This is, again, consistent with the sheikh’s favoring of the station of fanâ’ (self-annihilation) over all others. (Please see our previous discussion of this station.) The station of baqâ’ (subsistence) by Allah, with Allah, for Allah, is superior, safer, more real, truer, and consistent with the way of the first generation. However, the suppression of the ego that is emphasized in the station of fanâ’, not its annihilation, is a prerequisite of the station of baqâ’.
398 The manifest remembrance here, as Ibn al-Qayyim points out in Madârij, is that done with the tongue (while the heart is attentive). Praising Allah, invoking His assistance, and observing his rights and the proper etiquettes in dealing with Him (caring) is how you achieve this level.
399 Now the heart is in consistent remembrance, and even while among crowds of people and events, it never ceases to be with God and never ceases to converse with Him.
400 Again, the third level is about fanâ’ (self-annihilation). The sheikh’s concern here is that if one is still aware of their own act of remembering, their ego has not completely dissolved. There are some valid meanings in the station of fanâ’, as discussed before. After all, we were nothing. Had it not been for Him, we would not have existed; and had it not been for His will and His creation of our remembrance, we would not have remembered Him. This is why when Imam Ibn al-Qayyim asked Imam Ibn Taymiyyah about an explanation for how our remembrance of Allah makes Him pleased, and how a finite creature with a distinct beginning could influence the infinite Creator—eternal without beginning or end—he clarified that Allah is the One who willed that our remembrance please Him, and it is He who created us, and created our remembrance of Him, so it all goes back to Him. Therefore, al-muḥdath (temporal creation) is not influencing al-qadeem (the Eternal).

Manâzil as-Sâirin


Shaykhul-Islam Abu Isma‘il Abdullah ibn Muhammad al-Ansari al-Harawi (396-481H)

Translation and Footnotes


Hatem al-Haj