What is Remembrance?
God says in His Holy Book, “When you remember Me, I remember you.” The remembrance is the foundational spiritual practice in Sufism. In its simplest form, it is the practice of repeating the Name of God (Allah) silently or aloud, until you are replete with what the Most Generous wants to give you at that time.. It is a practice of returning (consciously turning toward the Divine Presence), connecting, and receiving.
Many forms of meditation expand us upward and outward. Remembrance takes us downward and inward, returning us back to our sacredness. It brings our attention to that part of our being that has never lost connection with the Divine. Remembrance expands on this connection. Doing the Remembrance practice helps us return and taste the Truth of who we really are.
“Light has dominion over darkness.”
What Happens When You Practice Remembrance?
During the remembrance we receive Divine Light, Divine Love, Divine Mercy, and much, much more. This Light/Love/Mercy that we draw into our beings when we Remember is like “mother’s milk” for the body, the heart, and the soul. Everything we actually need is in this milk.
As the Light is received into your being, all forms of darkness begin to break up and be released. That which is false cannot persist in the Light of Truth. If we are caught by an image, emotion, picture, or belief that is not true, then the remembrance will break up these misconceptions and reveal what is actually true.
Listen to a Dhikr with Sidi
There are many ways to practice remembrance. The recommended amount of time to devote to remembrance is one hour. There is great wisdom in this recommendation. Many times it may take 30-45 minutes just to break through all the static and chatter of the mind. If you find that after 30 minutes you are not feeling anything, keep going. Check to be sure you are grounded, relaxed, and focused only on speaking and listening to the Name. Come to your Lord with humility and sincerity and you will not be turned away.
You can actually do the Remembrance practice at any time, anywhere, standing, sitting or laying on your side. Our Guide recommends that the best time to do it is during the last third of the night, which is usually between the hours of 2:00 am – 6:00 a.m., depending on the season. During this time period it is said that the veils that keep you separate from the Divine are at their thinnest, meaning the opportunity to connect and receive is greatest. The second best time to do Remembrance is in the evening after sunset before retiring to sleep.
How to Practice Remembrance (with Explanation)
- Begin by sitting in an upright seated position. Make sure that your feet and behind are anchored and solid. If possible, allow for your back and head to feel supported, also. Tip: When doing the Remembrance it is important to be grounded and in your body. Remembrance is not about escaping, it’s about purifying and beautifying the heart.
- Scan your body from head to toe and make sure your whole being is grounded, supported, soft, and relaxed. Note any areas of constriction and attempt to soften and loosen up those areas. If you find a place of constriction that is resistant, then accept it as it is and be merciful with it. As you do the practice you will come back to those areas and focus the receiving directly into them.
- Close your eyes and turn them inward with a soft and compassionate gaze. Place one hand upon your upper chest, just a few inches below the collarbone and centered on your chest. If you know the opening prayer (the Fātiḥa), you may begin by saying it, or you can make any personal prayer that feels right for you.
- Set your intention to return, connect and receive directly from the Divine through the remembrance. Setting your intention is very important.
- Repeat the Name “Allah” or the phrase “la ilaha illa-llah” (nothing is worthy of worship except God).
It is recommended that in the beginning you practice with the name of God which in Arabic is, “Allah.” In Arabic “Allah” literally means “the God.” Arabic-speaking Jews, Christians and Muslims all use the name “Allah” when they refer to God. The Name itself predates all the formalized monotheistic traditions and was commonly used in the earliest languages.
Note: What is important about using this name when doing remembrance is the sonic resonance of the name “Allah.” The “Ahhh” sound opens and expands the heart/chest and the “laa” sound pulls the Divine Light into that expanded space.
- Start by saying the Name softly, yet loud enough so that you can hear it. Repeat the Name softly and rhythmically, feeling for a pace and tone that feels natural and gentle for you. While you are saying the Name, be aware of your intention to turn toward God, to connect, and most importantly, to receive/
Tip: If you are dealing with any strong negative voices or other distractions, try saying the Name loudly and firmly until things settle out, then ease into a softer remembrance.
- It is recommended to use your beads as you do remembrance. The tactile sensation of clicking a bead each time you remember the Name will help you stay present and in your body. After each round of 100, pause and check in with your heart. Note any changes in how your heart feels and allow yourself to just receive for a moment before starting the next round.
- Keep saying the Name and focus your attention on the sound. This is another important secret. Listen intently to the sound of the name “Ahhhh-laaaa.” As Sidi would say, “Speak it with the tongue of your heart and listen to it with the ear of your heart.
As thoughts and other distractions enter the mind, gently come back to the repetition of the Name and listen to the sound of the Name.
- As the connection opens and you begin to receive, keep saying the Name more deeply and softly. Allow your heart to fill with the secret of the Name. Whatever rises up from the depths of your being, keep saying the Name right into it. Whatever arises is asking to be cleaned. Let the Name, and all that is contained in the Name, wash, heal, and purify whatever comes up.
- Keep going with the repetition of the Name. Whatever happens during this sacred process is an intimate exchange between you and The Beloved. The more you surrender and open, the more The Beloved can give. There is no limit to what The Beloved can give in the form of healing, Love, revelation, beautification, and guidance. Remembrance is all about Receiving, not making.
Tip: If you have difficulty receiving the many benefits of this practice after several attempts, seek guidance from a teacher who is familiar with the practice. They can walk you through it and get you past whatever is blocking your way.
Each sound we utter has a vibration and a frequency. Properly pronouncing these sacred sounds will transmit the energy encoded in the sounds exactly you intended. Use the example below as a guide.
For more about the practice of remembrance, see what our guide Sidi has written in a few of his books:
- Music of the Soul, page 24 and page 426
- He Who Knows Himself Knows His Lord, page 77
- The Path to Allah Most High, page 286
How to Practice Remembrance (Checklist)
- Sit comfortably, with your body fully supported and grounded. Scan your body for areas of discomfort or resistance..
- Set your intention.
- One hand on your upper chest. Preferably, have your eyes closed.
- Drop into your heart.
- Repeat the Name or la illaha illa-llah softly but audibly.
- Use your beads to count off the repetitions. Listen to the sound of your voice.
- Allow whatever arises to be washed.
- Keep going behind and behind. Your job is to receive and witness what is revealed.
- Thank Allah for what you receive.