In The Name of Allaah, The Most Merciful, The Bestower of Mercy.
Indeed, Dhikr (remembrance of Allaah) protects a person from shaytaan. Whoever leaves Dhikr, shaytaan will accompany him in that manner in which a person is accompanied by his shadow. Allaah said:
[ وَمَن يَعۡشُ عَن ذِكۡرِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ نُقَيِّضۡ لَهُ ۥ شَيۡطَـٰنً۬ا فَهُوَ لَهُ ۥ قَرِينٌ- And whosoever turns away (blinds himself) from the remembrance of the Most Beneficent (Allah) (i.e. this Qur’an and worship of Allah), We appoint for him Shaitan to be an intimate companion to him]. [Surah Az-Zukhruf. Aayah 36]
A person is not able to protect himself from shaytaan except through Dhikr. Imaam Ibnul Qayyim [may Allaah have mercy upon him] stated – in his book titled Al Waabilus Sayyib- over seventy benefits of Dhikr, and from them are:
Dhikr brings joy, happiness and relaxation in the heart of a person. It makes the heart calm and tranquil, just as Allaah [The Most High] said: [ٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُواْ وَتَطۡمَٮِٕنُّ قُلُوبُهُم بِذِكۡرِ ٱللَّهِۗ أَلَا بِذِڪۡرِ ٱللَّهِ تَطۡمَٮِٕنُّ ٱلۡقُلُوبُ – Those who believe (in the Oneness of Allah – Islamic Monotheism), and whose hearts find rest in the remembrance of Allah, Verily, in the remembrance of Allah do hearts find rest]. [Surah Ar-Ra’d. Aayah 28].
The meaning of Allaah’s statement [وَتَطۡمَٮِٕنُّ قُلُوبُهُم – and whose hearts find rest] is that the distress and unease in their hearts will cease and is replaced with cheerfulness, joy and relaxation. And the meaning of Allaah’s statement [أَلَا بِذِڪۡرِ ٱللَّهِ تَطۡمَٮِٕنُّ ٱلۡقُلُوبُ – Verily, in the remembrance of Allah do hearts find rest] is that it has to be the case that nothing else can bring (sound and everlasting) tranquility except remembrance of Allaah. If a person is deprived of remembrance of Alaah, his state would be similar to a body that is deprived of its (essential) nourishment. There’s no life (based upon virtue) for the heart except through remembrance of Allaah. Shaikhul Islaam Ibn Taymiyyah [may Allaah have mercy upon him] said, “The heart’s need of Dhikr is like a fish’s need for water, so what will be the state of a fish when isolated from the water!”
Dhikr prevents one from committing sins, wipes away sins and saves a person from Allaah’s punishment. Mu’aadh Ibn Jabal [may Allaah be pleased with him] said that Allaah’s Messenger [peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him] said, “The son of Adam never performs an act that (grants) him safety from Allaah’s punishment more than the remembrance of Allaah [The Exalted]”. [Saheeh Al-Jaami. Number 5633]
Dhikr earns a person Allaah’s favour, reward and grace (in a way) that a person cannot earn through other acts of worship, even though it is the easiest act of worship. That is because moving the tongue is easier than moving the other limbs, because if the movement of the other limbs – day and night – was to be carried out in the same way as the movement of the tongue, a person will face great difficulty; rather he will not be able to do so, but still the reward of Dhikr (with the tongue) carries great good recompense and abundant reward. Abu Hurairah [may Allaah be pleased with him] said that the Messenger [peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him] said, “If one says one hundred times in a day, ‘None has the right to be worshipped except Allaah, the (Alone), He is the One and has no partner; to Him belongs the kingdom [of the universe] and for Him are all the praises, and He has the power to do everything (the Omnipotent)’. One will get the reward of manumitting ten slaves, and one hundred good deeds will be written in his account, and one hundred bad deeds will be wiped off or erased from his account, and on that day he will be protected from the morning till evening from Satan, and nobody will be superior to him except one who has done more than that which he did”. [Al-Bukhaari Numbers 3293 & 6403; Muslim 2691]
The Prophet said, “Whoever says, ‘Subhaanallaahi Wabi-hamdihee’ one hundred times a day will be forgiven all his (minor) sins even if they were as much as the foam of the sea”. [Al-Bukhaari. Number 6405]
Abu Hurairah said that Allaah’s Messenger said,”To say Subhaanallaah, Wal-hamadulil laah, Laa Ilaaha Ilal laah and Wallaahu Akbar is more beloved to me than everything over which the sun rises”. [Saheeh Muslim 2695]
Plants are grown in Jannah for a person through Dhikr, as reported in a hadeeth that “Paradise is a vast plain with fertile soil and sweet water, and remembrance of Allaah is what makes its plants grow”. Ibn Mas’ood [may Allaah be pleased with him] said that Allaah’s Messenger [peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him] said, “On the night I was taken up to the heavens, I met Ibraaheem Al-Khaleel [peace be upon him], so he said to me, ‘O Muhammad! Convey my salaams to your Ummah and tell them that Jannah has fertile soil and sweet water, and it is a Qee’aan [i.e. a plain levelled land], and its cultivation [i.e. what makes its plants grow] is the [utterance] of Subhaanallaah, Alhamdulillaah, Laa ilaaha illallaah and Allaahu Akbar'”. [As-Saheehah 105]
Abu Ayyoub Al-Ansaariy [may Allaah be pleased with him] said that when Allaah’s Messenger [peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him] met Ibraaheem [peace be upon him] on the night in which he was taken up to the heavens, he said, “O Jibreel! Who is with you?” He [Jibreel- peace be upon him] said, “This is Muhammad”. So, he [Ibraaheem] said, “Convey to your Ummah that they increase in what cultivates [the plants of] Jannah, for indeed its soil is fertile and its land is vast”. So he said, “What is its [means] of cultivation?” He [Ibraaheem] said, “The statement: Laa Hawla Walaa Quwwata Illaa Billaah”. [Musnad Imaam ahmad 5/418. This hadeeth is a witness for the hadeeth before it]
Jaabir [may Allaah be pleased with him] said that the Prophet [peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him] said, “Whoever says Subhaanallaahi Wabihamdihee, a palm tree will be planted for him in paradise”. [Saheeh Al-Jaami. Number 6429]
Dhikr is a light for the person in this worldly life, in his grave and in the hereafter. This light will be in front of him when he crosses the bridge of Siraat. There is nothing that illuminates the heart and the grave in a manner similar to Dhikr. Allaah [The Exalted] said:
[أَوَمَن كَانَ مَيۡتً۬ا فَأَحۡيَيۡنَـٰهُ وَجَعَلۡنَا لَهُ ۥ نُورً۬ا يَمۡشِى بِهِۦ فِى ٱلنَّاسِ كَمَن مَّثَلُهُ ۥ فِى ٱلظُّلُمَـٰتِ لَيۡسَ بِخَارِجٍ۬ مِّنۡہَاۚ – Is he who was dead (without Faith by ignorance and disbelief) and We gave him life (by knowledge and Faith) and set for him a light (of Belief) whereby he can walk amongst men, like him who is in the darkness (of disbelief, polytheism and hypocrisy) from which he can never come out?] [Surah Al-An’aam Aayah 122]
The first person is a believer who is (given insight, clear guidance etc) through the light of Eemaan, love of Allaah, knowledge and awareness of Allaah and remembrance of Allaah. The second person is a heedless person who is heedless of Allaah, turns away from remembrance of Allaah and love of Allaah. [Indeed], absolute success is (achieved as a result of the) light of (Eemaan, Allaah’s guidance etc) and absolute wretchedness (befalls a person as a result of) missing this light. And because of this, the Prophet used to ask Allaah saying:
اللَّهُمَّ اجْعَلْ فِي قَلْبِي نُورًا وَفِي سَمْعِي نُورًا وَفِي بَصَرِي نُورًا وَعَنْ يَمِينِي نُورًا وَعَنْ شِمَالِي نُورًا وَأَمَامِي نُورًا وَخَلْفِي نُورًا وَفَوْقِي نُورًا وَتَحْتِي نُورًا وَاجْعَلْ لِي نُورًا أَوْ قَالَ وَاجْعَلْنِي نُورًا
“O Allah! Place light in my heart, light in my hearing, light in my sight, light on my right, light on my left, light in front of me, light behind me, light above me, light below me, make light for me”. [Muslim 763]
Dhikr is a light for a person’s face and body parts, light for him in his worldly (affairs), in the grave and on the day of resurrection.
Dhikr is a means of earning Allaah’s blessings, forgiveness, praise and benevolence, and the angels supplicate and Allaah to forgive the one who remembers Allaah. And whoever [receives this from] Allaah and the angels, then indeed he will be successful. Allaah said:
يَـٰٓأَيُّہَا ٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُواْ ٱذۡكُرُواْ ٱللَّهَ ذِكۡرً۬ا كَثِيرً۬ا
وَسَبِّحُوهُ بُكۡرَةً۬ وَأَصِيلاً
هُوَ ٱلَّذِى يُصَلِّى عَلَيۡكُمۡ وَمَلَـٰٓٮِٕكَتُهُ ۥ لِيُخۡرِجَكُم مِّنَ ٱلظُّلُمَـٰتِ إِلَى ٱلنُّورِۚ وَڪَانَ بِٱلۡمُؤۡمِنِينَ رَحِيمً۬ا
O you who believe! Remember Allaah with much remembrance. And glorify His Praises morning and afternoon [the early morning (Fajr) and ‘Asr prayers]. He it is Who sends [blessings, forgiveness, praise and benevolence] on you, and His angels too [supplicate for you and ask Allaah to forgive you(Ref2)], that He may bring you out from darkness [of disbelief and polytheism] into light [of Belief and Islamic Monotheism]. And He is Ever Most Merciful to the believers. [Surah Al-Ahzaab. Aayaat 41-43] (1)
Imaam Ibnul Qayyim [may Allaah have mercy upon him] also said:
The intent behind Dhikr is not merely to remember (Allaah) with one’s tongue; rather it is remembrance with the heart and the tongue. Remembrance of Allaah includes remembering Him by His Names and Attributes, His commandments, His prohibitions and His speech. This necessitates that a person should have knowledge and awareness of Allaah, belief in Allaah, belief in Allaah’s Perfect and Lofty Attributes, as well as (constantly) praising Allaah with various types of praise [i.e. based on what Allaah has legislated in the authentic texts of the Sharee’ah and not by way of bidah]. And this cannot be accomplished except through Tawheed [i.e. singling Allaah out in His Lordship, Names and Attributes, and devote all acts of worship to Allaah alone]. True Remembrance of Allaah necessitates all of this, as well as remembering the blessings and favours, which Allaah has bestowed upon His creatures and His kindness towards them.
As for Shukr [i.e. to be grateful or thankful to Allaah], it is to act in obedience to Allaah and seeking to draw close to Him through those apparent (actions of the limbs) and (deeds of the heart) that are beloved to Him. The religion is based on these two – remembrance of Allaah, which necessitates having knowledge and awareness of Allaah, and being grateful to Him, which necessitates obedience to Him through acts of worship and [refraining from disobedience]. This is the purpose behind the creation of the Jinn, mankind, the heavens and the earth. It is the reason for which reward and punishment are determined; [the reason for which] Allaah revealed the Books and sent the Messengers. It is the truth for which the heavens, the earth and what is between them were created, and what is in opposition to it is falsehood, such as the assumption held by the enemies of Allaah that there is no purpose behind the creation [free is Allaah from what they attribute to Him].
Allaah [The Most High] said: [وَمَا خَلَقۡنَا ٱلسَّمَآءَ وَٱلۡأَرۡضَ وَمَا بَيۡنَہُمَا بَـٰطِلاً۬ۚ ذَٲلِكَ ظَنُّ ٱلَّذِينَ كَفَرُواْۚ – And We created not the heaven and the earth and all that is between them without purpose! That is the assumption of those who disbelieve!]
Allaah [The Most High] said:
وَمَا خَلَقۡنَا ٱلسَّمَـٰوَٲتِ وَٱلۡأَرۡضَ وَمَا بَيۡنَہُمَا لَـٰعِبِينَ
مَا خَلَقۡنَـٰهُمَآ إِلَّا بِٱلۡحَقِّ
And We created not the heavens and the earth, and all that is between them, for mere play; We created them not except with truth (i.e. to examine and test those who are obedient and those who are disobedient and then reward the obedient ones and punish the disobedient ones).
Allaah [The Most High] said: [وَمَا خَلَقۡنَا ٱلسَّمَـٰوَٲتِ وَٱلۡأَرۡضَ وَمَا بَيۡنَہُمَآ إِلَّا بِٱلۡحَقِّۗ وَإِنَّ ٱلسَّاعَةَ لَأَتِيَةٌ۬ۖ – And We created not the heavens and the earth and all that is between them except with truth, and the Hour is surely coming…]
Allaah [The Most High] said: [مَا خَلَقَ ٱللَّهُ ذَٲلِكَ إِلَّا بِٱلۡحَقِّۚ – Allah did not create this but in truth]. Allaah [The Most High] said: Allaah [The Most High] said: [أَيَحۡسَبُ ٱلۡإِنسَـٰنُ أَن يُتۡرَكَ سُدًى – Does man think that he will be left Suda [neglected without being punished or rewarded for the obligatory duties enjoined by his Lord (Allah) on him]?
Allaah [The Most High] said: [أَفَحَسِبۡتُمۡ أَنَّمَا خَلَقۡنَـٰكُمۡ عَبَثً۬ا وَأَنَّكُمۡ إِلَيۡنَا لَا تُرۡجَعُونَ – Did you think that We had created you in play (without any purpose), and that you would not be brought back to Us?]
Allaah [The Most High] said: [وَمَا خَلَقۡتُ ٱلۡجِنَّ وَٱلۡإِنسَ إِلَّا لِيَعۡبُدُونِ – And I (Allah) created not the jinns and humans except they should worship Me (Alone)].
Allaah [The Most High] said:
ٱللَّهُ ٱلَّذِى خَلَقَ سَبۡعَ سَمَـٰوَٲتٍ۬ وَمِنَ ٱلۡأَرۡضِ مِثۡلَهُنَّ يَتَنَزَّلُ ٱلۡأَمۡرُ بَيۡنَہُنَّ لِتَعۡلَمُوٓاْ أَنَّ ٱللَّهَ عَلَىٰ كُلِّ شَىۡءٍ۬ قَدِيرٌ۬ وَأَنَّ ٱللَّهَ قَدۡ أَحَاطَ بِكُلِّ شَىۡءٍ عِلۡمَۢا
It is Allah Who has created seven heavens and of the earth the like thereof (i.e. seven). His Command descends between them (heavens and earth), that you may know that Allah has power over all things, and that Allah surrounds (comprehends) all things in (His) Knowledge.
Allaah [The Most High] said:
جَعَلَ ٱللَّهُ ٱلۡكَعۡبَةَ ٱلۡبَيۡتَ ٱلۡحَرَامَ قِيَـٰمً۬ا لِّلنَّاسِ وَٱلشَّہۡرَ ٱلۡحَرَامَ وَٱلۡهَدۡىَ وَٱلۡقَلَـٰٓٮِٕدَۚ ذَٲلِكَ لِتَعۡلَمُوٓاْ أَنَّ ٱللَّهَ يَعۡلَمُ مَا فِى ٱلسَّمَـٰوَٲتِ وَمَا فِى ٱلۡأَرۡضِ وَأَنَّ ٱللَّهَ بِكُلِّ شَىۡءٍ عَلِيمٌ
Allah has made the Ka’bah, the Sacred House, an asylum of security and Hajj and ‘Umrah (pilgrimage) for mankind, and also the Sacred Month and the animals of offerings and the garlanded (people or animals, etc. marked with the garlands on their necks made from the outer part of the stem of the Makkah trees for their security), that you may know that Allah has knowledge of all that is in the heavens and all that is in the earth, and that Allah is the All-Knower of each and everything.
Therefore, based on what has [already] been mentioned it has been established that the purpose behind the creation and command is so that Allaah is remembered and thanked. Allaah is to be remembered and not forgotten, and He should be thanked and one should not be ungrateful to Him. Allaah [Glorified be He and free is He from all imperfections] remembers the one who remembers Him, and He is Ready to appreciate good deeds and to recompense the one who is grateful to Him. Remembrance of Allaah is the reason Allaah remembers the one who does so. And being grateful to Allaah is the reason behind which a person is given an increase in blessings and favours.
Remembrance of Allaah is to be carried out with the heart and tongue; gratefulness is to be carried out with one’s heart- out of love for Allaah and constantly turning to Him in repentance and obedience with true faith [Islamic Monotheism]. Extolling and praising Him is to be carried out with one’s tongue and being obedient to Him [by performing acts of obedience]. (2)
[Ref 1: Fiqhul Ad-iyah Wal Ad-kaar. pages 17-21. Vol 1]
[Ref 2: An Excerpt from ‘Al-Fawaa’id’ pages 192-194. slightly paraphrased]