In The Name of Allaah, The Most Merciful, The Bestower of Mercy
The purest, noblest, most beneficial and loftiest gatherings are the gatherings of Dhikr. They are the loftiest in the sight of Allaah. Many texts have been reported regarding the virtues of the gatherings of Dhikr- that they give life to heart [i.e. obedience to Allaah and the Messenger], increase Eemaan, rectification and purification for a person, unlike the gatherings of heedlessness because a person does not retire from them except [being afflicted by] a decrease in Eemaan and weakness in the heart, and that will be a cause of loss and regret [on the day of judgement].
The Salaf [pious predecessors] used to give great importance to the gatherings of Dhikr. Abdullaah Bin Rawaahah [radiyallaahu anhu] used to hold a group of his companions by the hand and say: ‘’Come let us [re-revitalise, strengthen etc] our Eemaan; come let us remember Allaah and increase in Eemaan by obeying Allaah, so that perhaps He will remember us by way of His forgiveness.’’
Umayr Al-Khatamiy [radiyallaahu anhu] used to say, “Eemaan increases and decreases”, so he was asked, ‘’What increases and decreases it?’’ He said, ‘’When we remember Allaah [The Mighty and Majestic], praise and glorify Him, that is [a cause] of its increase; and when we are heedless, negligent and forgetful, that is [a cause] of its decrease.’’
Indeed, the gatherings of Dhikr are the gardens of paradise in this worldly life. Imaam Ahmad, Imaam Tirmidhee and others have reported from Anas Bin Maalik [radiyallaahu anhu] that Allaah’s Messenger [sallal laahu alayhi wasallam] said, ‘’When you go past the gatherings of Paradise, then graze as you like.” They said, “What are the gardens of Paradise?” He said, “The Circles of Dhikr.”
Ibn Abee Dunyaa, Al-Haakim and others reported the Hadeeth of Jaabir Bin Abdillaah who said, ‘’Allaah’s Messenger [sallal laahu alayhi wasallam] came to us and said, ‘O people! Graze in the gardens of paradise’; we said, ‘O Allaah’s Messenger! What are the gardens of paradise?’ He said, ‘The gatherings of Dhikr.’’’
Imaam Ibnul Qayyim [rahimahullaah] said, ‘’Whoever wants a to live in the gardens of paradise in this worldly life, then let him stay in the gatherings of Dhikr, for indeed they are gardens of paradise.’’ [Al-Waabilus Sayyib. page 145]
The gatherings of Dhikr are the gatherings of the angels, because they do not have gatherings in the worldly life except gatherings in which Allaah [The Exalted] is mentioned. Abu Hurairah [radiyallaahu anhu] said that Allaah’s Messenger [sallal laahu alayhi wasallam] said: Allaah’s Messenger said, ‘’Allaah has some angels who look for those who remember (glorify the Praises of) Allaah on the roads and paths. And when they find some people remembering (glorifying the Praises of) Allah, they call each other, saying, ‘Come to the object of your pursuit.’’ He added, ‘’Then the angels encircle them with their wings up to the nearest heaven to us.’’ He added, ‘’[After those people remembered (glorified the Praises of) Allah, and the angels go back to Allah], their Lord asks them (those angels) – though He knows better than them –‘What do My slaves say?’ The angels reply, ‘They say: Subhãn Allah, Allahu-Akbar, and Al-Hamdu-lillãh’. Allah then says, ‘Did they see Me?’ The angels reply, ‘No! By Allaah, they didn’t see You.’ Allah says, ‘How it would have been if they saw me?’ The angels reply, ‘If they saw You, they would worship You more devoutly and remember You (glorify Your Praises) more deeply, and declare Your freedom from any resemblance to anything more often.’ Allah says (to the angels), ‘What do they ask Me for?’ The angels reply, ‘They ask You for Paradise.’ Allah says (to the angels), ‘Did they see it?’ The angels say, ‘No! By Allah, O Lord! They did not see it.’ Allah says, ‘How it would have been if they saw it?’ The angels say, ‘If they saw it, they would have greater yearning for it and would seek it with greater zeal and would have greater desire for it.’ Allah says, ‘From what do they seek refuge?’ The angels reply, ‘They seek refuge from the (Hell) Fire.’ Allah says, ‘Did they see it?’ The angels say, ‘No! By Allah, O Lord! They did not see it.’ Allah says, ‘How it would have been if they saw it?’ The angels say, ‘If they saw it they would flee from it with the extreme fleeing and would have extreme fear from it.’ Then Allah says, ‘I make you witnesses that I have forgiven them.’’’ (Allah’s Messenger ; added:) ‘’One of the angels would say, ‘There was so-and-so amongst them, and he was not one of them, but he had just come for some need.’ Allah would say, ‘These are those people whose companions will not be reduced to misery.’’’ [Bukhaari 6408]
The gatherings of Dhikr are gatherings of the angels and gatherings of heedlessness are gatherings of the devils. The gatherings of Dhikr protect a person from loss and regret on the day of judgement, unlike the gatherings of heedlessness, for ìndeed they will be a cause of loss and regret on the day of judgement. Abu Daawud reported -with a ‘Hasan chain’ of transmission- from Abu Hurairah [radiyallaahu anhu] who said that Allaah’s Messenger [sallal laahu alayhi wasallam] said: ‘’The Prophet [sallal laahu alayhi wasallam] said: If anyone sits at a place where he does not remember Allah, deprivation [i.e. he’ll be deprived of reward] will descend on him from Allah; and if he lies at a place where he does not remember Allah, deprivation will descend on him from Allah.’’ [Abu Daawud. Number 4856]
Abu Sa’id Khudri reported that Mu’awiya went to a circle in the mosque and said: ‘’What makes you sit here? They said: ‘We are sitting here in order to remember Allah.’ He said: ‘I adjure you by Allah (to tell me whether you are sitting here for this very purpose)?’ They said: ‘By Allah, we are sitting here for this very purpose’. Thereupon, he said: ‘I have not demanded you to take an oath, because of any allegation against you and there is none of my rank -in the eyes of Allah’s Messenger [sallal laahu alayhi wasallam]- a narrator of so few ahadith as I am. The fact is that Allah’s Messenger [sallal laahu alayhi wasallam] went out to the circle of his Companions and said: ‘What makes you sit?’ They said: ‘We are sitting here in order to remember Allah and to praise Him for He guided us to the path of Islam and He conferred favours upon us.’ Thereupon he adjured by Allah and asked if that only was the purpose of their sitting there. They said: ‘By Allah, we are not sitting here but for this very purpose’, whereupon he (the Messenger) said: ‘I am not asking you to take an oath because of any allegation against you but for the fact that Gabriel came to me and he informed me that Allah, the Exalted and Glorious, was talking to the angels about your magnificence.” This is [one of the proofs] regarding the nobility of Dhikr in the sight of Allaah. Allaah loves it and it has status that distinguishes it from other acts of worship.
The gatherings of Dhikr bring about tranquillity, mercy and the angel encircle with their wings around those who remember Allaah. Agharr Abi Muslim reported: ‘’I bear witness to the fact that both Abu Huraira and Abu Sa’id Khudri were present when Allah’s Messenger [sallal laahu alayhi wasallam] said: ‘The people do not sit but they are surrounded by angels and covered by Mercy, and there descends upon them tranquillity as they remember Allah, and Allah makes a mention of them to those who are near Him.’’’ [Muslim Number: 2700]
The gatherings of Dhikr are a great means of restraining one’s tongue, protecting it from backbiting, tale carrying, lies, lewd speech and falsehood, for indeed it is inevitable that a person will speak, so if he does not speak through remembrance of Allaah- by mentioning Allaah’s commandments and about something good and beneficial, then it is inevitable that he will speak about forbidden things or some of them. Therefore, whoever makes it a habit for his tongue to remember Allaah, he will protect his tongue from falsehood and idle speech. And whoever deprive his tongue of remembrance of Allaah, he will utter falsehood, idle speech and lewdness.
Source: Excerpt from ‘Fiqhul Ad-iyah Wal-Ad-kaar.’ Pages 27-31. Slightly paraphrased